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Town of Portola Valley Information

Community Information for Portola Valley

Portola Valley, is an incorporated town in San Mateo County.  The town is compiled of rolling hills, valleys and open space with views from the Bay to San Francisco.  Portola Valley is bordered by Stanford University, Woodside, Los Altos and Palo Alto. The town of Portola Valley was named after Gaspar de Portola, a Spanish explorer who led the first European explorers to the San Francisco Peninsula. The town features a 60 acre horse riding training center which sponsors a variety of events throughout the year.  The town of Portola Valley has focused its efforts through the years on limiting over-building with in the town in order to preserve the rural and quiet living of this area.



 The peaceful valley that Portola Valley sits in was originally part of a 13,000-acre Mexican government land grant in 1834. After 1863 the ranch was sold off in parts and the logging town of Searsville was born from one of the fractions.   Searsville sat along Sand Hill Road from 1850-1891 and eventually became the town of Portola Valley.   By the beginning of the twentieth century, the redwoods had all been logged and the town of Searsville had been abandoned.   Searsville reservoir and a historical marker which sits at the corner of Sand Hill Rd and Portola Valley are all that remain as reminders of this once thriving town.  Since the abandonment of Searsville, the surrounding area had been populated by small family farms and large estates. Not until after 1960s did the pressure of increasing the local residential development and businesses begin. In 1964, alarmed residents voted to incorporate the town in order to insure local control over development.   The goals of this newly formed town were to preserve the “beauty of the land”, keep the housing density low and keep government cost low.

Since 1964 the town has focused on creating and preserving the appropriate balance between modern development and rural slow pace community living. The town currently holds nineteen hundred acres of permanent open space open to the public, excellent public schools and a town government staffed by a multitude of volunteers.

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