Joe Whelan is best known as the developer of Portola Valley Ranch in the 1970s.
Although the subdivision was controversial at first because of the significant change clustering homes made in the town’s usual one-acre zoning, the brilliant design and emphasis on living with nature has resulted in many awards and happy residents within and without the neighborhood. The clustering of homes has resulted in 365 of the 453 acres being preserved as open space in perpetuity.
Joe grew up in Atherton and became interested in building in high school when he and a pal build a cabin on Kings Mountain. He had several successful projects in the area before undertaking the PVR development. He and his wife Betty lived in four different houses in the subdivision and also spent several years at Clear Lake.
Their son, Mike, one of five children, has worked with his dad from the earliest days of PVR.