The Suburbs

MarinCounty is home to several interesting housing developments. Marinwood, a planned community north of San Rafael, was developed by Gerald G. Hoytt in the 1950s. Its house styles are a blend of Hoytt-developed homes and the more renowned houses made famous by architect Joseph Eichler. Although the homes were originally constructed to appeal to middle-class families, they have become an emblem of days gone by and originality sought by homeowners today. In the 1950s and ‘60s Joseph Eichler/Eichler Homes built hundreds of his unique modern homes in numerous Bay Area locations including LucasValley, adjacent to Marinwood.


One of the largest planned developments of its time, the 1950s, TropicanaVillage was promoted by its builder, Branden Enterprises, as “paradise on a budget.” To encourage expansion and much-needed housing, San Jose city planners created a progressive zoning ordinance that allowed the developer to use smaller-than-standard lot sizes and depart from other usual requirements. Most of the single-family housing was built for lower- to middle-income families and sold with no- or minimum-equity Veterans Administration or FHA mortgages. Its one-story, rectangular box-like houses on concrete slab foundations lined streets with such exotic sounding names as Bermuda Way, Harbor View, Biscayne and Jamaica, though no body of water, palm tree or inviting scenery was anywhere in sight. By the late 1960s only 1,621 housing units had been built. By the 1970s the neighborhood was in decline.


Strawberry Manor, off Highway 101 also in MarinCounty, was planned by DeLuca Construction Company builders for 1,500 homes. The houses’ contemporary designs included “every possible electric feature” and the “leveling of each entire lot.”


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