A resource for folks living in or moving to Los Gatos, by Mary Pope-Handy

LG Lifestyle

Wildfire Evacuation Route signs being installed

Wildfire Evacuation Route in Los GatosThe Town of Los Gatos takes its responsibility for minimizing risk from flood, fire, earthquake, or other disasters seriously.  A few months ago, I began to notice “Flood evacuation route” signs.  First I noticed it along Blossom Hill Road, close to the Highway 17 over crossing, and later on Lark Avenue.  (Lexington Reservoir  is located further down the highway and a break in the dam would bring tons of water screaming down the highway 17 corridor.)  Seemed like a wise idea, given that we have that and also Vasona Lake right here.

Additionally, though, last week I saw a “Wildfire Evacuation Route” sign too.  It was located on Prospect Avenue and Kimble Avenue, across from the new Sorellas housing development which is currently under construction by Summerhill (formerly the Holy Names Sisters convent and Casa Maria Montessori School).

If you live in a woodsy or mountainous area, the odds are good that your property is located in a zone earmarked as high risk for wildfires, and you’ve been notified that brush must be cleared 100 feet away from your house or structure annually to create “defensible space”. (Some of the best Los Gatos real estate can be found in those areas!) What isn’t always so apparent is where to go in the case of a wildfire.  These new signs should help to improve safety in case of a serious fire.

You may not know that the town has some helpful resources online, too.  You can find them here:

http://www.losgatosca.gov/1359/Fire-Safety-and-Wildfire-Preparedness

CalFire flier on creating 100′ of defensible space around your home (pdf)

Other helpful info:

Flood evacuation information on the town’s website

72-Hour Emergency Preparedness Kit Checklist (pdf)

“Los Gatos Prepared” revised

Statement of purpose on the Los Gatos Prepared page:
Empowering Community Self-Sufficiency towards the ultimate goal of every resident and business in Los Gatos having the awareness, skills, and resources necessary to be self-sufficient in the event of an  earthquake, fire, flood, or possible flu pandemic

Los Gatos historical walking tour app: LOST GATOS

Michael Kane as Mountain Charlie 2007 Historic Walking Tour in Los Gatos

Michael Kane as Mountain Charlie in the 2007 Historic Walking Tour in Los Gatos

Locals may remember that a few years back, there was a wonderful “Los Gatos History Walk” put on every year or so.  Town residents would don garments from a bygone era and take on the persona of legendary Los Gatos figures for a few hours. Both fun and educational, it provided a sense of the town’s past – both the buildings and the people’s.  It was absolutely wonderful while we had it.

Today, there’s an app for that!  It’s called Discover LOST Gatos and as of this writing, there are 3 different tours:

  1. The Heart of Los Gatos (approximately a 35 minute walking tour with 12 stops)
  2. Los Gatos: The Gem City (a 45 minute walk with 12 stops
  3. The Cradle of Los Gatos (50 minute stroll with 13 stops)

The Mercury News did a nice article on this and will fill in the details on who’s behind this wonderful idea.

http://www.mercurynews.com/los-gatos/ci_30098778/los-gatos-discover-lost-gatos

As for me, I just downloaded it to my phone and look forward to getting to know our beautiful town a little more.  You can find it online wherever you get your phone’s apps – just search for LOST Gatos.

April is Green! It’s "Keep Los Gatos Beautiful" Month

DocumentDid you know that April “Keep Los Gatos Beautiful” Month? There’s a lot of emphasis on the town being “green” too. Events include:

For detailed information on these events and MORE, please see the Los Gatos town newsletter, “Keep Los Gatos Beautiful”. Check out the Town’s Environmental Services page or sign up for the Growing Greener newsletter to stay up to date throughout the year.

 

(Originally posted April 04, 2014, updated for this year April 5, 2016)

Holiday Encore Sale benefitting EMQ

EMQFFEMQ (previously known as Eastfield Ming Quong) is hosting a “Holiday Encore Sale” Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 2015 from 9 – 4 at the EMQ FamiliesFirst Community Room at its center in Campbell.  This fundraiser is being run by the EMQ Auxilary and the Butter Paddle (the Los Gatos store run by volunteers, many of whom are Los Gatans, with profits supporting EMQ)  in support of children and their families who are in crisis.  Locals know, but newcomers may not, that EMQ has a site here in Los Gatos, too.)

Donations are being sought for like new and very gently used holiday items.

Address: EMQFF Community Room 251 Llewellyn Avenue, Campbell, CA 95008

For more details:

http://business.losgatoschamber.com/events/details/holiday-encore-sale-3999

 

Learn more:

EMQ represents the merger years ago of two organizations: Eastfield and Ming Quong.

To learn about EMQFF’s work:  http://emqff.org/

Interesting history of Ming Quong: Ming Quong: A History of Rescuing Chinese American Girls (the stuff of movies!)

Info on Donaldina Cameron, who founded the Ming Quong Home for girls and the Chung Mei Home for boys.

Cameron House in San Francisco

Whole Foods in Los Gatos: don’t donate outside, donate at the cash register

Whole foods distraction free shoppingOn Tuesday of this week, I dashed into the Whole Foods in Los Gatos to pick up a couple of items. It was more crowded than usual, apparently due to the Labor Day weekend we’d just finished.   The staff was cheerful and moved fast.  But when it got time to pay, the requests for donations came one after the other.  I’d brought my bag from the trunk of my car and the first question I got was whether I wanted to donate the bag discount or take a few pennies off my bill.  Then I was asked if I wanted to donate to a charity.  And finally, I was asked if I wanted to “round up” my purchase price and give the rest to a worthy cause.

In short, within about 60 seconds, I was asked to donate three times.

That felt excessive, even though the amounts were small.

As I emerged from the store, I noticed for the first time a large placard, proudly notifying the consumers who shop at Whole Foods that they should ignore anyone asking them for money outside, that this shopping center, Cornerstone, supports a “distraction free” shopping experience.

What hit me, though, was the irony:  Whole Foods doesn’t want veterants, Girl Scouts, Teen Challenge, or anyone else volunteering for a worthy cause asking for donations outside of their store.

No, they want you and me to donate inside, instead, through them.

Does that seem right to you?

Just moved to Los Gatos with kids?

Dolce Spazio Los GatosAre you moving to Los Gatos with kids? Or just arrived?  This is a wonderful town for young people and the cool things to see and do continue year round. Below please find a list of my personal favorite places (shops, restaurants, parks etc.) and things to do with children in Los Gatos.

Things to do year round:
Los Gatos Saratoga Community Education & Recreation (all ages – classes, camps, fun things to do)
Petroglyph – decorate ceramics
Beading classes (older kids) at Natural Expressions in the Opera House
Oak Meadow and Vasona Lake County Parks carousel and small gauge train
Local parks and open space trails for hiking – see town of Los Gatos website for link

Summer fun:
Hillbrook School summer camp (horseback riding)
Youth Science Institute at Vasona
Vasona Lake County Parkpaddle boat rides, Parks & Rec classes on sailing and more
Los Gatos Creek Trail

Shops:
Affordable Treasures (wonderful for party favors, piñatas and stuffing, little gifts and trinkets!)
The Wooden Horse (fantastic toy store – get kids to think)

Food & restaurants:
Classic Burger (very casual)
Happy Hound  (very casual)
Shangri-La – Chinese food (casual)
Andale – Mexican food (casual)
Purple Onion (2 locations) (casual)
The Diner of Los Gatos (hot dogs and hamburgers in cardboard “cars”)
Double D’s  Sports Bar
Los Gatos Cafe (cinnamon buns, breakfast for all)
Also: the Farmers’ Market on Sundays has a wonderful crepe booth!
—>Add link to article on patio dining in Live in Los Gatos blog

Desserts and sweet stuff:
Icing on the Cake – bakery and desserts
Dolce Spazio – gelato
Powell’s Sweet Shop

Seasonal events:
Holiday tree lighting (usually 1st Friday night in December)  & Holiday Parade (usually 1st Sat in Dec)
Screen on the Green – free movie night each September at Oak Meadow
Summer free music concert series: Jazz on the Plazz, Music in the Park, Vasona Vibrations

 

Another article which includes things to do NEAR Los Gatos with kids, and not just IN LG:
http://liveinlosgatosblog.com/kid-friendly-things-to-do-in-and-near-los-gatos/

Chocolate Dream Box – a Los Gatos Treasure!

Chocolate Dream box name and logoChocolate Dream Box has been a part of the Los Gatos landscape, in one location or another, for many years.  It first opened in downtown along North Santa Cruz Avenue, then was located on Los Gatos Boulevard and Blossom Hill Road at King’s Court Shopping Center, and now calls The Downing Center (at the corner of Union & Los Gatos-Almaden Road) home.

Today I stopped in to see the new shop, to buy a gourmet chocolate gift and see how the owner, Holly Westbrook, and staff are doing.  I’d blogged about it in 2011, back at the old location, and thought an update was in order, too, for their new location (and my blog’s new location).

Things seem to be great overall.  The new store is bigger and brighter than the former one was and feels comfortably roomy.  The decor is always beautiful, with a hint of Europe here and there to remind visitors of the inspiration.

What’s selling?  Old favorites, such as the dark and milk chocolate cats, can still be found, and as always, there’s an abundance of specialty candies and exceptionally beautiful and tasty truffles.    There are non-candy gift items too, pretty affordably priced also.  Today I saw a pewter fleur de lis that was quite tempting…

The move was, of course, a lot of work for them, and if you’re local, you know that they hadn’t wanted to move but got forced out by their former landlord.  Any business owner would be concerned about losing customers with a new location, but I imagine in time everyone will find their way to the new shop – it’s only 1.5 miles away from the old one.   An unexpected element, though, happened too – the Yelp reviews from the old location could not transfer to the new one – ouch! If you are a fan, cruise on over there and give them a shout out.  I did that today; it’s great to support our local Los Gatos businesses!

Truffles

 

Truffles, truffles, and more truffles.  The biggest problem with visiting the Chocolate Dream Box is figuring out which one(s) to buy! Continue reading

Visit the Los Gatos Farmer’s Market!

The Los Gatos Farmers’ Market is a community treasure and gathering point for the townsfolk.  Every Sunday, Los Gatans gather downtown at the Town Plaza Park area for a little shopping, casual munching and entertainment.    The outdoors market iss full of organic produce, plants and cut flowers, ready made food, include delicious crepes, and often music or other entertainment.  While many Santa Clara County Farmers’ Markets are seasonal or subject to weather conditions, this one is open year round, every Sunday, from 8am to 1pm (though some booths begin to break down around 12:30 or so)

The Los Gatos Farmers’ Market is located in Downtown Los Gatos at the Town Park Plaza on Main Street & N. Santa Cruz Avenue (Montabello Way & Broadway).  Pets are not allowed in the market, which wraps around the park on the paved roadway, but may be in the park itself.

Over the years, I’ve taken a number of photos of this local gathering spot.  Some are current images and others are 5-10 years old.

  • 2 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • 3 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Produce 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • IMG00189 20101203 1757 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Onions 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • IMG00186 20101203 1756 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Veggies 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • 4 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Farmers Market wild boar sausage 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Crowd view 300x230 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Tomatoes 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Farmers market no dogs 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Red Grapes 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Greenlees Booth 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Farmers mkt bird 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!
  • Farmers Market Crepes 650x500 - Visit the Los Gatos Farmer's Market!

Kid friendly things to do in and near Los Gatos

Kids sailing at VasonaWill you be visiting Los Gatos for a day or weekend, or staying for a lifetime?  Either way, there are tons of things to do for children of all ages both in and near Los Gatos.

Outdoors

If the weather’s fine, as it often is here, you might start by introducing your kids to Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, which are adjacent to each other.  Oak Meadow includes a great airplane that kids can climb on, a beautiful carousel and a small train that loops into Vasona and back. Vasona has paddle boats that can be rented (seasonally).  And of course there’s lots of playground equipment and sprawling lawn for those who want to toss a ball or frisbee around.  For time outdoors, these parks are hard to beat.  Read more about these very cool parks here:  http://liveinlosgatosblog.com/vasona-and-oak-meadow/

The Youth Science Institute is a program offered at Vasona to help educate students on nature.  This is not a one day event but is extremely worthwhile.  Check it out: http://www.ysi-ca.org/

If your little people like to hike and explore, the Montalvo estate and grounds in Saratoga is a great nearby option on a dry day, too.  Montalvo is an arts center but there are wonderful trails which can be enjoyed.  But no picnicing, sorry!  Learn more at my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog: http://sanjoserealestatelosgatoshomes.com/great-time-of-year-to-visit-villa-montalvo/

All ages: any of the free music events, all of which are out doors, virtually all summer long in Los Gatos!
http://liveinlosgatosblog.com/los-gatos-free-music-concert-series-music-in-the-park-jazz-on-the-plazz-and-vasona-vibrations-schedule-of-events-and-performers/

Touristy but still fun

Roaring Camp and Big Trees   http://www.roaringcamp.com/

The Mystery Spot http://www.mysteryspot.com/

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk  http://beachboardwalk.com/

California’s Great America in Santa Clara (amusement park, rides)   https://www.cagreatamerica.com/

Time to eat!

There are MANY great kid-friendly restaurants in Los Gatos.  A few of my favorites are these:

 Indoor Fun

The Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose https://www.cdm.org/

The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose  https://www.thetech.org/

Petroglyph (in Los Gatos, Willow Glen, and Santa Cruz locally) http://www.petroglyph.com/

More?

Looking for more ideas?  There’s a slightly longer list of kid friendly things to do on another of my blogs. Have a read:

http://sanjoserealestatelosgatoshomes.com/kids-in-silicon-valley-fun-places-to-go/

Convent tear down

Holy names convent locationA couple of weeks ago, my family and I were up at the old Jesuit Novitiate, Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, visiting my uncle, and saw the demolition of the nearby Holy Names Sisters old convent as we left.

The sisters’ property is where the wonderful Casa Maria Montessori School stood and has been near and dear to our now grown kids and to us.  It was a very loving environment and the expansive grounds provided a myriad of exploration opportunities for the youngsters.

Additionally, though, of course we ar eall very sympathetic to the nuns need to sell the land to support the elderly members of their community. Sadly for them, the elderly sisters had to be moved not entirely together, but with one group going to one location and another going elsewhere.  (I would love to see a larger Catholic retirement home in the San Jose area that could accommodate them and others, and have blogged about that elsewhere.   Such a place would have provided an alternative that could have kept the sisters together.  Mercy Care & Retirement Center in Oakland is such a place….)

While the houses will be beautiful, no doubt, and perhaps I will be fortunate enough to sell one or more of them, even so, it’s hard to see the convent and grounds get torn up. Here are a few photos that my husband, Jim, took from that day.

  • View of convent from Sacred Heart Jesuit Center
    View of the convent from Sacred Heart Jesuit Center (the old Novitiate)
  • 2 convent 700x500 - Convent tear down
    Closer view of the convent from Sacred Heart Jesuit Center (the old Novitiate)
  • 3 convent 700x500 - Convent tear down
    This is where the Holy Names Sisters lived and had their provincial headquarters.
  • 4 convent demolition 638x455 - Convent tear down
    The buildings are being knocked down as the land was sold and houses will be going in.
  • 5 convent demo 639x456 - Convent tear down
    More demolition work
  • 6 convent demo 700x500 - Convent tear down
    A few trees have been felled as well
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Mary Pope-Handy

Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
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special focus on
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