Are Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton boring?

Website says there are few more boring places in the state

For several years running, Atherton has been in the news as having the most expensive residential real estate in the country, with other local communities not far behind. We top lists of education and income levels. But some online data gatherers at the "infotainment" website Roadsnacks say Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton are also all near the top of another list – the most boring places in California.

The website's Nick James didn't just make up his list, which places Woodside at third most boring, Portola Valley sixth and Atherton seventh, at random. Boring, in Mr. James' study means more residents over age 35, more married residents, a higher average age, more households with children and lower population density.

The good news: Menlo Park is not so boring. It's number 165 of the list, which includes the boring score for 452 communities of more than 2,000 people in California.

Redwood City is even less boring at number 273, but Palo Alto has a pretty high boring score; it's number 65.

There are a few places even more boring than the rest of our local communities. Ross and Hillsborough are 1 and 2, respectively, and Los Altos Hills and La Habra Heights are 4 and 5.

Mountain View is quite a bit less boring, apparently, at number 402. East Palo Alto is way down the list, at number 442.

And the least boring place in the state according to the statistics? It's Davis.

There are a lot of things the list doesn't take into consideration: entertainment options, restaurants or cultural institutions among them. The authors even start off with a disclaimer: "This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don't freak out."

In the end, the biggest lesson that might be learned from this is that statistics can be interesting, but sometimes they don't actually mean a lot.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


3 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 23, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Well everything else around here is so extremely expensive it just follows that boring is going to cost you big bucks too.

1 person likes this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm

There's a concept, whatever -- "We're so wealthy, we can afford the best. Heck, even our boredom is the best that money can buy!"

3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 23, 2016 at 5:12 pm

"infotainment website" is another term for troll, right? Kind of like FOX NEWS. They are in the business of advertising, not legitimate information.

4 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2016 at 6:04 pm

The survey's methodology has major shortcomings. That's really the only takeaway from this study.

1 person likes this
Posted by 30 years here
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 24, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Been here in Woodside and portola valley for 30 years. And had a place in SF. Traveled around the world during that timeframe as well. Been here for work and family. Yes, this place is great for work (making ridiculous amounts of money), safety, great outdoors, etc. But. It is so so so boring. There is no town square for residents to get together. Buck's is the only place with any semblance of a get together. The rest of the area including PV, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, are the equivalent of homogenized tofu. Snore. And yes, I have a plan of exit since it doesn't plan to change.

3 people like this
Posted by snore
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2016 at 8:16 pm

Every time I go to San Francisco I hear sirens a few times an hour. I'll take boring.

3 people like this
Posted by 30 years here
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 25, 2016 at 12:38 am

Hi Snore - I agree with you about SF sirens. I don't want to live there either.

I am suggesting that boring is something else entirely.

When I say boring is that nothing changes here. A calcification in the town has set the boring in place. For example, in another article in This issue about the Woodside Bakey closing, Ms. Roberts states that "Nothing will change" in the new "Woodside Bakery.". Some vocal group of people, maybe connected to the Roberts must want it not change. And Roberts controls most of the real estate across their market, which makes thing convenient for them to not change. Not changing could lead to boring

Their is no outside square ala European small cities and towns for use to sit outside, enjoy the weather, and have an open community setting. To meet some new friends who just in the spirit of friendship. And to use the local commerce around us to support that.

Right now what we have in Woodside is an empty space where people just go home behind their gates. And wonder about why something doesn't feel right.

To reverse the boring in Woodside, What's needed is for people to get together and open their mouths up at town meetings and then force action if the town won't change anything just be cause they thinK that change is bad.

4 people like this
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 9:03 am

I think a majority of people in Woodside like it just the way it is.

When we want a downtown like Palo Alto or Menlo Park or Redwood City, we simply get in our car and drive the 10 minutes. But we always seem to find our way home.

8 people like this
Posted by Susan Smith
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 25, 2016 at 10:27 am

Smells Like Teen Spirit has reached middle age: Here we are, now entertain us. Only bores get bored and there are many many amazing things going on in Woodside outside of a commercial natures. Wake up!

5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 25, 2016 at 11:52 am

@snore - a lot of the San Francisco sirens are paramedics trying to help pedestrians who got whacked by car drivers. Woodside, Portola Valley and Atherton proactively avoid that problem by not installing sidewalks on most streets and thus discouraging people from walking around town where they could get hit by cars. Is a car-first culture boring or just safer?

Like this comment
Posted by Not Bored
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 25, 2016 at 12:23 pm

The fact that Davis is listed as the least boring city pretty much says it all.

7 people like this
Posted by Exponentially Bored
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 25, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Hahahahaha! This story is hilarious because it's so, so true! Money does NOT equal interesting. If you're wondering, just get yourself invited to one of the insufferable cocktail parties. Catered and decorated to the hilt but the only things people talk about are their kids, their brand-name top-notch schools, and their Tesslas while they do tequila shots and smoke weed to pretend they're hip. You'd think in the heart of Silicon Valley you'd find people who wanted to talk about ideas, but no. If they're really well-lubricated you may here about a First World problem or two, but other than that it's completely vacuous. If you go downtown you can eat Italian, Italian, Italian or Italian. Or French-like theme food -- the really "edgy" people venture into Galata. All the food, clothes, cards, furniture has to have a designer name stamped on it, or Sergey Brin shops there and you might bump into him. You have a better chance of being struck by lightening than to find anything alternative. BORING. Counting the days until we're empty-nesters (soon!) so we can live somewhere with a pulse.

5 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 25, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Could not agree more. I've been to parties where the conversation centers on vacations of the variety "You simply have to go to South Africa" or Antarctica or Tierra del Fuego. The other main topics are what one is doing with one's house, and the next big thing in high technology.

These are boring because they require you to a) own a house, b) be able to afford to go to South Africa or Tierra del Fuego, and c) work in high technology. Unless you fulfill at least two of these requirements, you're in the cold.

Hunter Thompson used to allude to good times at a mythical place he called "The Losers Club." That's where I want to be. Winners are boring, and these three communities are filled to the brim with winners.

And the absence of sidewalks and a street culture is huge in the boring competition. You want boring? Rip up the sidewalks.

3 people like this
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 25, 2016 at 1:29 pm

These comments about boring parties say more about you and your friends than anything else.

Perhaps you should try to find more interesting people to hang with.

1 person likes this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 25, 2016 at 1:36 pm

That may be true about people to hang with, but the people I'm referring to seemed very typical of these three communities. I'm sure interesting people abound in the Bay Area, but I haven't been able to find them around here.

I think my last point stands. Losers can't make it around here, and that makes all the difference, at least for me.

3 people like this
Posted by The Disappointment of Allied Arts
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 25, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Agree, Joe. Ironically, one of the biggest disappointments of moving here was finding out there was no ART in Allied Arts. I assumed I'd find a collaborative colony of artists and artisans but...alas. Just another Disney-esque Stanford pet project.

You need some type of arts and music scene to have an interesting community and there's none of that here, or if it's here it's pretty well hidden. You can trip over the doctors and computer technicians but they're a fairly introverted rule-followers not known for thinking outside the box. Atherton has always been an enclave for wealthy SF bankers (reinvented now as venture capitalists), but there was a time long ago when Palo Alto and Menlo Park had a thriving counterculture of writers, artists and thinkers. Now the rents are high and police, firefighters and teachers can't afford to live here, let alone a painter or poet. Boring is here to stay, I'm afraid -- no one is willing to risk the messiness of creative rule-breakers.

1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jan 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Joe and Exponentially, I really enjoyed your comments. Losers like me who live in East Palo Alto aren't bored because we have a mix of problems to solve, lots of things to learn and we all must rub along together in pretty close quarters compared to the boring communities. There are even some cultural pursuits here, which are a lot of fun. We have a place in a land far, far away and its quiet homogeneity is often a shock to us.

I do think that our local villages would benefit from a plaza because I've heard complaints about the lack for a long time. Or even community salons in various locations in this part of the Peninsula would be a boon. Heck, Paul Stein and his wife lived locally with their art after leaving Europe. I did used to attend an art/tech salon in Woodside years ago and it was a lot of fun. But when folks start to have families their priorities change.

I've found that overall, a strong inner life can help combat the blahs, and can aid in the survival of cocktail parties and summer BBQs. But it would be interesting if some of the Merry Pranksters were still around, or that former Menlo librarian with the wild past. I miss him.

Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 25, 2016 at 9:37 pm

We pay extra for boring.

Like this comment
Posted by Trump/Windrip 2016
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Newsflash: You all live in the suburbs, which by default are almost always boring. Palo Alto and Menlo Park sort of get a pass due to being close to Stanford. Even then, Palo Alto is a sad excuse for a college town compared to places like Berkeley; overpriced restaurants aplenty and only one friggin' bookstore in the entirety of downtown. At least the Aquarius serves beer now.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Good point.

If you've ever lived in the downtown of a major city that literally buzzes all night, you realize that by comparison every city on the Peninsula pretty much rolls up shortly after the dinner table is cleared.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 25, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

After experiencing harassment, owner of Zareen's restaurants speaks out about Islamophobia, racism
By Elena Kadvany | 28 comments | 8,102 views

Good News: The New Menlo Park Rail Subcommittee Hits A Home Run
By Dana Hendrickson | 12 comments | 1,720 views

Premarital and Couples: Tips for Hearing (Listening) and Being Known
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,337 views

Two degrees can do all that?
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 852 views

Tame, Maim and Claim the Wild Sea Vegetable
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 427 views


Register today!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More