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

Mary Pope-Handy

Collord’s Peak

Although locals refer to the Santa Cruz Mountains as “the hill”, the coastal ranges have seemingly countless hills, peaks, valleys, and gluches winding between the Santa Clara Valley and the beach. Several of the hills and peaks have names (if they all do, I’m not aware of it), one of them being Collord’s Peak, which you can read about at the corner of East Main Street and High School Court.  In the image below, there’s a very tall peak, El Sombroso, with a nearer and lower peak in the foreground – that one is Collord’s peak.

 

Collord's Peak - plaque and hilltop

Plaque at the edge of Los Gatos High School which honors Victor R. Collord and names a peak in the Los Gatos Mountains after him.

It was not possible for me to show both the hills in the distance and the plaque equally well lit, so here’s a closeup of the plaque honoring Victor R. Collord.

Collord Peak Plaque closeup - Victor R Collord

Colord Peak Plaque closeup – Victor R Collord

And one more closeup of his good deeds named: Continue reading

What is an Easement and Why Should You Care?

What is an easement?What is an easement? In a nutshell, it is the right to use someone else’s property for a particular purpose.

Common types of easements

The most common types of easements in Silicon Valley are ones we can’t easily escape: they are for power, water, perhaps phone lines. The utility companies have a right to go onto your land to get to the power or telephone lines in your backyard. They have a right to go there and do not need your permission, generally speaking, if the need arises.  Pacific Gas & Electric can trim the trees under the power lines with or without your permission, but they will notify you that they are doing it.

Unless it’s an emergency, the utility companies don’t go on your property without advance notice.

For the owners of townhouses held in PUD ownership (not condo), the land on which the townhouse sits is owned and not just the airspace inside the unit. If there are private driveways to get to the home, normally that access is via an easement that the townhome owner has over the other parcel (the private driveway).

Less common easements

Easements can be given by the landowner to the person or organization that wants to use it too. This can be done for charitable reasons (such as access to a park being donated) or for a private road or driveway to a parcel that needs to be able to come and go over that road (often for payment of cash).  F

For instance, the right to use a driveway or private road from one parcel to access another might be a great convenience to the person who wants the easement (it might be a much shorter route home than another alternative, or it may be the only possible access to that land).  The Santa Cruz Mountains and the hilly areas of Los Gatos and Monte Sereno have many areas where this type of easement is in use. With shared driveways or private roads, there is normally a private road agreement in place to spell out how repairs are paid for and by what percentage. Some communities collect money annually to fund these driveways or roads, and others do not.

As a charitable example, an easement might be granted by a property owner to the general public to have a shortcut to a park or trail. In this case, the landowner might close the access off once a year and also post a “right to pass by permission” type of notice so that this easement is as a temporary gift and not a permanent loss of rights of the landowner. (An interruption in the use of the easement to make sure it’s still voluntarily given and not taken as a permanent right.)

In my career, I’ve seen odd easements. The strangest one was allowing a neighbor to place an above ground pool on the next door neighbor’s property.

How to learn about recorded easements

When buying or selling a home, easements will be listed on the preliminary title report. Normally these are simply the utility easements. Not every easement is recorded, though, so do not rely on the preliminary title report for assurance that there are no easements. Home or landowners must pay attention to the use of the land and be aware of any risk of the formation of prescriptive easements.  Home buyers should check the land too and see if it appears that the property is being used by others.

Some title companies will automatically provide a color coded easement map. If you feel you aren’t sure about your home’s easement situation, you can request this. With complicated easements, it can be a big help to get a general sense of where the easements are located. Below is part of a color coded easement map – there would also be a “key” telling you which color is for what type of easement.

 

Color coded easement map

Prescriptive easements

Village Lane Los Gatos: Permission to pass is hereby granted at the option of the property owner

Seen on Village Lane, Los Gatos, an effort to prevent a prescriptive easement from being formed.

A “prescriptive easement” is one that happens by accident as far as the landowner is concerned. In this case, others openly and notoriously used the property owner’s land without interruption (as a shortcut, a driveway, etc.) for a period of years without the owner objecting or preventing that use. Eventually, the right to use the land for those purposes can become permanent. To form a prescriptive easement, the use must be open, notorious, for a period of years, and uninterrupted.

Near Village Lane in Los Gatos, there are some shops that sit along a walkway between Village Lane and the public parking lot (in the old train line area). The owner of the shopping center has placed a plaque in the aggregate walkway to make sure that the visitors know that this access is by permission (intending that it can be revoked at any time).  This is important to keep the future use of that land in the owner’s hands. Imagine if in the years to come these owners wanted to tear down the current buildings and put in one large two or three story building with no walkway between Village Lane and the parking lot. Could the public object to the removed access? Perhaps. Will the notice in the ground prevent that from happening? That is up to the attorneys and judges to decide.

To give another example of trying to prevent a prescriptive easement, there were two homes in Cambrian Park with fences and gates – we’ll call them lots A and B.  The the fence for Lot A extended further toward the street than that of Lot B. And the gate for Lot A opened not onto its own front yard, but onto the front yard of Lot B. (The gate was at a 90 degree angle to where it should have been.)

If the homeowner of Lot B did not object, but allowed the folks in Lot A to go through their gate and onto the land of Lot B for a period of time, it would become a prescriptive easement.

What to do? The only thing to do to prevent the prescriptive easement being formed is to object and to request (insist upon) the gate being removed or rebuilt such that no one had to cross onto Lot B anymore. Hopefully that would not require legal action. But to allow someone to cross your property without objection for a period of years is to invite the formation of a permanent prescriptive easement.

Could anything be worse for a homeowner than a prescriptive easement?

Yes.

Adverse possession.

What is adverse possession?

Adverse possession happens when a prescriptive easement is in place AND the person trying to gain access of the land permanently also pays the property tax for that parcel for a period of years. It is a legal way to take someone else’s property in California.

Café Dio Espresso Bar & Café

Situated along Main Street and adjacent to Los Gatos High School, Café Dio (connected with Dio Deka across the street and within the Hotel Los Gatos) is ideally placed for those wanting to grab a quick coffee, breakfast, or simple lunch. The menu is not extensive, but there’s a little something for just about everyone available. Most of all, Café Dio is a good place to pop in if all you want is something to drink and something modest to nibble on.

Cafe Dio in Los Gatos

Parking can be a major headache in downtown Los Gatos, but on weekdays, I’ve found that parking is not hard unless visiting when school is starting or ending.

Café Dio in Los Gatos

Menu items include a good assortment of beverages (coffee, tea, espresso drinks, water, soft drinks) plus pastries, oatmeal, wraps, Greek salad, one sandwich offering, pizza, and things like chips.

An outdoor area makes this a fun place to people-watch, and a very dog-friendly place, too.

Café Dio wall menu and counter

Dio Deka, the full restaurant within the Hotel Los Gatos, is not open for breakfast or lunch, so having Cafe Dio just across the street makes a lot of sense. It’s low key and easy for guests, but just as easy for Los Gatos High School students.

Got a little time? Swing by Café Dio and enjoy the friendly, casual ambiance and a cup of your favorite beverage.

 

 

Hooker Gulch in the Los Gatos Mountains

Hooker Gulch, Los Gatos - satellite viewMaps can be so intriguing, and they can be a dangerous rabbit hole into which my time somehow disappears if I’m not careful. Today I was viewing a topographical map of Los Gatos when I stumbled upon a place in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Los Gatos (aka the Los Gatos Mountains) with the curious name of Hooker Gulch.  That same site is an interactive map with many place names that I never heard of in the coastal range, all of them begging for research. (Click at your own risk.)

Here are a few of odd and fascinating place names in the hills:

  • Hooker Gulch (also Hooker Gulch Creek, which feeds into the Los Gatos Creek)
  • Nibbs Knob
  • Rattlesnake Gulch
  • Buzzard Lagoon
  • Beehive
  • Priest Rock
  • Bull Run
  • Badger Spring
  • And many other “gulch” names: Moody Gulch, Austrian Gulch, Jacques Gulch, etc.

Where is Hooker Gulch?

The steep valley is located near the end of Aldercroft Heights Road (public section of the road), close to Aldercroft Heights, Lexington Hills, and Holy City in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is just south of Old Gold Mine Road. Continue reading

Belwood, Belgatos & Surmont neighborhood

Belwood Belgatos Surmont and nearby area mapJust west and south of the intersection of Blossom Hill Road and Harwood Road sits a neighborhood of Los Gatos homes with three subdivisions: Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos & Surmont. Nearby public landmarks are Belgatos Park and the Walgreen’s shopping center (corner of Blossom Hill and Harwood), with a Mountain Mike’s Pizza and a Starbucks coffee shop.

For many Los Gatans, all three of these east Los Gatos areas (and sometimes a broader one still) are generally referred to as “Belwood” or “Belwood-Belgatos.” (The Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police cert map identifies the whole region plus the Strathmore neighborhood, which is across Blossom Hill Road, as “Belwood” generally.)

The terrain is nearly level, with very low, gentle hills over most of the area. With winding, mostly tree-lined roads and tidy houses, it’s a very attractive neighborhood overall. For those looking for an arduous climb on foot or bike, though, Harwood Road provides a nice challenge. At the top, you’ll see a fantastic view of downtown San Jose and Silicon Valley for your trouble. (There are some challenges to be found in the open space trails, too.)

Belgatos Park and trails

Grassy fields at Belgatos Park Los GatosAt the middle of this community is the very inviting Belgatos Park, a scenic, setting which includes a playground near the parking lot, picnic areas, restrooms, trails into the hills (with some wonderful valley views), and access to the Heinz Open Space Preserve and its network of trails also. (And it’s not far to the Santa Rosa Open Space area either.)

One hill attracts kids who enjoy sliding down it on bits of cardboard, and thus has been nicknamed “cardboard hill” for decades. Most of the time these cardboard sledding enthusiasts are pretty good about picking up their “sledding vehicles” when done.

The paths are popular with people on foot, but also those on mountain bikes or horseback. As there are a few larger properties which are zoned for horses in the area, this is a very nice equestrian option.

Aerial view of Belwood of Los Gatos neighborhood 2016

For photographers, the park has abundant worthy subjects year round, both of the open space and the valley views below. In the early morning hours, or near sunset, you may see some deer too. But be careful: bobcats and mountain lions are in these hills also.

What are homes like in Belwood, Belgatos and Surmont?

Continue reading

Critically Low Inventory of Homes for Sale in Los Gatos

The inventory of single family homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030, 95032, and 95033 (the mountains) has not been lower in recent memory. This morning I pulled the data and saw that we now have a critically low inventory of homes for sale in Los Gatos. Here are the numbers so that you can see what a more typical month in the Gem City of the Foothills looks like.

Housing Inventory Los Gatos 95030 95032 95033 single family homes for sale Jan 2002 - April 2019

Of that low inventory of just 66 homes, which part of Los Gatos are they in?

Los Gatos 95030 (MLS area 16, excluding Monte Sereno) – 16 single family homes for sale

Los Gatos 95032 (MLS area 16, excluding Monte Sereno) – 34 single family homes for sale

Los Gatos Mountains 95033 (MLS area 23) – 13 single family homes for sale

PLUS one in the Morgan Hill / Gilroy area of the Los Gatos Mountains (MLS area 1) and 2 in the Saratoga area (MLS area 17)

Continue reading

The Monte Sereno real estate market

Elm Park in Monte Sereno, sold by Mary Pope-Handy

Ranch style home on Elm Park in Monte Sereno, sold by Mary Pope-Handy

The City of Monte Sereno is quite small, with just about 4,000 residents, so the number of houses sold in any given month will always be extremely small.

For that reason, the data may appear to jump around wildly compared to Los Gatos or Saratoga, which each have about 30,000 people living there. Please take all the stats with a tablespoon of salt, and be sure to view the Los Gatos housing market data to get a more accurate picture of what’s happening with Monte Sereno homes (just add a little to the price tag as homes there tend to sell for a bit more than LG properties).

More commentary below, near the end of the post. – Next, the data.

Altos Research weekly profile for Monte Sereno (uses list prices):

2a2a7ee - The Monte Sereno real estate market

 

Monte Sereno Real Estate Report (click to view the Real Estate Report)

Trends at a Glance from the RE Report:

Trends At a Glance Mar 2019 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $0 (-100.0%) $2,675,000 $5,800,000 (-100.0%)
Average Price $0 (-100.0%) $2,675,000 $5,800,000 (-100.0%)
No. of Sales (-100.0%) 2 (-100.0%)
Pending (N/A) 0 (-100.0%)
Active 13 (+116.7%) 6 (+85.7%)
Sale vs. List Price 0.0% (-100.0%) 97.3% 96.7% (-100.0%)
Days on Market (-100.0%) 8 72 (-100.0%)
Days of Inventory (-100.0%) 81 210 (-100.0%)

 

And from February 2019:

 

Trends At a Glance Feb 2019 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $2,675,000 (N/A) $0 $3,225,000 (-17.1%)
Average Price $2,675,000 (N/A) $0 $3,686,880 (-27.4%)
No. of Sales (N/A) 0 (-50.0%)
Pending (-100.0%) 1 (N/A)
Active (+100.0%) 3 (+20.0%)
Sale vs. List Price 97.3% (N/A) 0.0% 96.4% (+0.9%)
Days on Market (N/A) 0 (-13.5%)
Days of Inventory 81 (N/A) 0 34 (+140.0%)

 

Continue reading

JCO Art Haus holds its annual The Very Very Rare Affordable Art Fair this spring!

0001c 169x300 - JCO Art Haus holds its annual The Very Very Rare Affordable Art Fair this spring!Art lovers, this one’s for you! JCO’s Art Haus, an appointment-only gallery on University Avenue in Los Gatos, will be open to the public for one weekend only selling their curated collection at studio prices. The Very Very Rare Affordable Art Fair will take place at the studio and will represent local and international artists in a warehouse space.

Dates & Times:
•Thursday, April 25 4 pm to 9 pm
     (Reservations required – opening reception, 6 pm   — 8 pm)*
•Fri., April 26  10  — 7
•Sat, April 27 10  — 7
•Sun., April 28 12  — 6
(MEET THE ARTISTS, 4  — 6)

Whether you’re planning on decorating your new home, or just want to window shop, this is a great opportunity to check out a large collection you might not otherwise see.

For more information and to RSVP, visit the JCO event page at this link: http://www.jcosplace.com/art-fair/

Planning on going? Check in or share your interest on the Facebook Event Page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/258144291756420/

 

List of Los Gatos neighborhoods

The Town of Los Gatos is about 11 square miles and is comprised of dozens of neighborhoods in various parts of town, with different schools, zip codes, price points, plusses and minuses.  Here on the Live in Los Gatos blog there have been many, many real estate articles devoted to residential areas of town.  Below please find links to neighborhood descriptions, primarily on “Live in Los Gatos” but in some cases on one of my other sites.
West Los Gatos neighborhoods
(More neighborhoods to come as time permits – I have about 25 on my list.  Want your subdivision included? Please email me and I will put it on the To Do list!)
Downtown or Central Los Gatos neighborhoods (many historic areas):

East Los Gatos neighborhoods

West Los Gatos neighborhoods

And also:

North Los Gatos /
Lark Avenue area neighborhoods

 

Posts relating to Los Gatos neighborhoods:

East Los Gatos, West Los Gatos (what’s where?)

Where are the high voltage power lines in Los Gatos?

 

I’m also adding neighborhood videos as I am driving through town.  They aren’t professional grade, but they will give a good sense to newcomers of what various neighborhoods are like.  You can see them on my YouTube channel too.

Interested in neighborhoods in nearby areas? Please also see my SanJoseRealEstateLosGatosHomes.com blog – the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog.

The Annual Great Race

2019 Great RaceThe annual Great Race from downtown Saratoga to downtown Los Gatos takes place on Sunday April 28, 2019, commencing at 8:30 a.m.. While many participants do jog or run, others walk or stroll. It’s a family-friendly fundraiser sponsored by the Rotary Club of Los Gatos and is open to all.

The Great Race course is 4 miles long, but some who wish to go both ways can put in 8 miles, known as the Gr8er Race.

The Rotary club offers this fun event each year with the help of a number of sponsors. For many years in a row, Sereno Group, where I work, has been a major sponsor for years. Many other local business back this great fundraiser too. See the list of sponsors, a map of the route, and run information at the Rotory Club link below.

To get all of the details for the Great Race, including pricing and links to register early, visit the Los Gatos Rotary’s website page dedicated to this event.

 

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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
Silicon Valley, with
special focus on
Los Gatos 

and nearby areas,
including
Monte Sereno,
Saratoga,
Campbell,
and the San Jose areas of
Cambrian and Almaden Valley

Helping Nice Folks to
Buy & Sell Homes
in Silicon Valley
since 1993

 

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Photo of Mary Pope-Handy, August 2018

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