Redwood City

Clifford Heights

Clifford Heights real estate is among the Redwood City area’s most desirable - and most expensive

Forgive the less than 1,000 residents of the unincorporated Clifford Heights neighborhood if they feel neighboring Emerald Lake Hills is too crowded. With a population density of around 1,300 residents per square mile (one-third that of Redwood City as a whole), Clifford Heights – also known as Palomar Park – is every bit a Peninsula oddity: secluded, almost rural in nature, yet less than two miles from downtowns in Redwood City and San Carlos. Once part of a large plot of unimproved land owned by the Bulletin Publishing Company, Clifford Heights is now Emerald Lake Hills’ equal not only in topography but also in its housing inventory. Clifford Heights real estate is among the Redwood City area’s most desirable – and most expensive.

This is a neighborhood of winding roads, heavy greenery and split-rail fences, a place proud of its colorful past (“Several homes on the hill still have prohibition-type bars in their basement cellars,” says an article in the Spring, 2009, issue of “Palomar Park Perspectives,” the Palomar Property Owners’ quarterly newsletter) and comfortable with its casual relationship with the present. Within its borders are numerous dead-end roads abruptly ending at strands of trees, one-and-a-half-lane streets whose only hint of its residents’ homes is an occasional mailbox or fence gate. Even in an area that includes Emerald Lake Hills, Clifford Heights/Palomar Park is unique.

From the beginning, homeowners in Clifford Heights/Palomar Park were very protective of their turf. The Palomar Property Owners, a very strong homeowners association, was established in 1956, when the neighborhood's population was well under 500. According to its website at, the group holds an annual summer picnic, cleans up local roads, repairs and maintains signs and mailboxes and “even painted (their) own fire hydrants recently!” Locals refer to their neighborhood as “the hill” and coalesce around issues like tree maintenance and the well-regarded K-8 Clifford Elementary School.

Homes in Clifford Heights are difficult to pigeonhole. With development sporadic and homes tailored to meet the challenges of their lots, neighborhod properties are very diverse, ranging from the more traditional suburban homes of “lower” Clifford Heights/Palomar Park –two-story and ranch homes built during the 1960s and 1970s, with three and four bedrooms, multiple baths and around 2,000 square feet of living space – to the 16 mini-mansions of gated Belle Roche Estates, a small collection of 4,000-plus square-foot residences built during the 1990s and 2000s. Homes in Belle Roche Estates sit on level half-acre lots and sell for upwards of $2 million, sometimes topping the $3 million mark.

The rest of Clifford Heights is a miscellany of property types. There are the properties built by A.J. and Laura Harwood in the 1920s and 1930s, including a handful of elegant homes on the 300 block of Palomar Drive built in the late 1930s, while several blocks west, the 1000 and 1100 blocks of Palomar are populated by homes built in the 1950s, some with breathtaking views. Recent data shows that the jumble of properties making up Clifford Heights/Palomar Park sells for between $1.5 and $2.5 million -- with the bulk of properties coming it at or above $2 million.

With such a diverse housing stock, prospective Clifford Heights homebuyers should keep in mind that the area can pose challenges unseen in more densely-developed neighborhoods. Some homes still operate on a septic tank system, for example, while others are linked into sewers.

To view a detailed google map of the Clifford Heights neighborhood, click here. The MLS area is 337.

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