"There's one playground 200 yards away, there's another in the other direction," she says. "There are two playgrounds within a few hundred yards. On weekends we go from one playground to the other."
"The trail system was a big plus for us," says John Privara, who moved to the neighborhood from Chicago in 1991 with his wife Diana, originally from Uzbekistan. The Privaras chose Davis after research revealed it was a ‘bicycle town,' and a college town with an appealing downtown. Every Monday Diana walks the greenbelt with a regular group of friends.
The architecture was also an appeal. "We walked in, saw the skylight," John says, referring to the Streng-style domed atrium, "and said, this is cool."
Diana has livened up the home with a turquoise-colored, Native American-styled gate and interior furnishings.
Jeanette Ganahl, a 12-year resident, enjoys several routes along the greenbelt, which she walks, jogs, and bikes. She keeps an extra bike at home for friends to use when they visit.
She appreciates how much wildlife the greenbelt attracts—geese to the pond, and other birds. Her favorite, a scrub jay she's named Sammy, will land in her hand when she offers a peanut.
"His mate will come to the tree but won't come into my hand," Ganahl says. "In the morning, if I whistle, he'll come."
The neighborhood is also home to rabbits, turkeys, river otters, and frogs.
When the Strengs were built in the late 1970s, the area was the northern limit to Davis. "We were told this was going to be the last development to the north," recalls Garda Johnson, who, with her late husband, was among the first residents in the neighborhood.
But in the 1990s several blocks of larger homes were built just to the north, forming the Northstar neighborhood. When that happened, Northstar Park was built, its broad soccer field and manicured pond strengthening the greenbelt.
The more natural-looking pond alongside Northstar Park was built by Streng as part of the neighborhood's drainage.
Northstar remains the city's northern limit. Past the Northstar homes is a drainage ditch, which Handy and other naturalists have been planting with native plants as part of the North Davis Riparian Greenbelt Project.
Handy appreciates that Davis has "such a strong edge. We don't just sprawl outward and have the city fade away. They're right there, the tomato fields or the corn fields."
• Take a hike: The Streng homes of North Davis can be found mostly on Hermosa Place, Isla Place, Catalina Drive, Anza Avenue, Iris Place, Lago Place, Inca Place, Lindo Place, Mercedes Avenue, Norte Avenue, Luz Place, and Grande Avenue.
Photos: David Toerge