Marion Softky was a trail blazing environmentalist. She was also an excellent writer who crafted her skills as a News Reporter for the Country Almanac. She covered San Mateo County particularly the communities in the southern part.
Marion had unique insights into land planning and development in Portola Valley and San Mateo County.
She carefully selected information she had collected over the years. We were fortunate she shared it with us just 6 weeks before she died. Her legacy is that she has provided us unique insights into more than 50 years of our history.
You’ll find her work documented in this lengthy video.
George and Marjorie Mader, long-time Ladera residents, know more about Portola Valley and its residents than most people who have lived in town for a long time. Marjorie was a reporter for the Almanac for decades, and the Portola Valley School District was her beat.
She has witnessed the passage of countless school boards, has worked with parents, teachers and other community members and thus has a comprehensive understanding of how the district works. George was the town planner from 1965 until 2011.
As a county planner, he worked on a study of Portola Valley before it was incorporated. His remarkable vision in planning strategies to implement the will of the councils has been instrumental in preserving the beauty of the land as development has occurred. A pioneer in planning for geologic safety, he has crafted the technical ordinances designed to protect life and property from landslides and earthquakes. He has carried the Portola Valley story around the world to countries endangered by faulting to pass on the knowledge learned here. The Maders were Blues and Barbecue honorees in 2001.
George’s insights into how planning in Portola Valley has evolved from early days can be seen in these two videos. They are lengthy and quite detailed.
Although Ryland Kelley and his family have never lived in Portola Valley, his career in real estate and as a developer have had a significant impact on the area.
When the Peninsula Housing Association could not complete their housing project in Ladera in the early 1950s, Ry’s firm, the Portola Development Company, took over and completed the development of our 500-house neighbor, including the shopping center. Hidden Valley, the little incursion of Woodside into Portola Valley near the Town Center, was also his project in the 1950s. When plans for housing on Windy Hill couldn’t be worked out in 1979, he and his company, Corte Madera Associates, donated 535 acres to POST, the private land trust’s first acquisition. The land was subsequently transferred to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD.)
[As an interesting sidelight, Ry was a kindergarten buddy of Bob Brown, one of our most influential town founders.]
You may enjoy this hour plus video where he explains his role and that of others.
Documenting life and times in the Town of Portola Valley, California