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

Mary Pope-Handy

Los Gatos Spring Wine Walk

Los Gatos spring wine walk May 4 2019The Los Gatos Spring Wine Walk will take place on Saturday, May 4 2019 from 1:00 to 5:00pm. Stroll through downtown Los Gatos and enjoy wine tasting, free music, shopping, and the ambiance of our Gem City. Sponsored by the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, this popular event is $45 in advance (available to the first 300 ticket purchases) and $50 general admission online, plus processing fee. If there are tickets remaining they will go up for sale on the day of the event for $55 at the door IF it’s not sold out, so get your tickets today!

For more details and info on how to register, please see the Los Gatos Chamber’s website. Cheers!

Live Oak Manor Park & west Carlton area

There is a small pocket of Los Gatos with Los Gatos High School (Los Gatos schools) close to Ace Hardware and Live Oak Manor Park just off of Los Gatos-Almaden Road and Los Gatos Boulevard. It’s sometimes called the Live Oak Manor neighborhood. Some may call it the Carlton area, after the major street that runs through it. I have heard Realtors refer to it as “the Garcia tract” after the main builder in that neighborhood. For our purposes, I’ll call it the Live Oak Manor Park & west Carlton area to distinguish other parts of Carlton which have a different school district (Union School District) or are in the Cambrian area of San Jose.

Neighborhood map for Live Oak Manor and west Carlton area

Live Oak Manor Park & west Carlton area: location, location, location

This area is super convenient for commuters. It’s only about a half mile to the on ramp to Highway 17, and about 1 mile to Highway 85. If the freeway is backed up, it’s easy enough to get to alternate routes, such as Highway 9 or San Tomas Expressway. For those who work at Good Samaritan Hospital or one of the nearby medical offices, work is a short walk or bike ride away.

It’s not so close to downtown Los Gatos that it gets socked in with beach traffic on summer weekends. It’s easy to get to restaurants and shops along Los Gatos Boulevard, a short jaunt to the Los Gatos Creek Trail, and a quick trip to get to the JCC on Oka Road. Need groceries? Nob Hill is only a half mile away, as is the Los Gatos Cafe Uptown, Una Mas, and several other tempting destinations.

A huge plus, of course, are the highly regarded Los Gatos schools. This area is a little less expensive than nearby neighborhoods such as Blossom Manor to the south.

For many, being close to a neighborhood park is another important perk – a place to run the dogs, for kids to play, or just to get out of the house without needing a car.

Something else that should be noted is that this is a scenic pocket and most of the streets are tree lined, making it a pleasant place to be even if none of the neighborhood amenities are enjoyed.

Street view along Carlester Drive, Los Gatos, near Live Oak Manor Park

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Los Gatos crime score

AreaVibes.com has livability scores that include crime, cost of housing, employment, education, and other factors. Los Gatos scores well in all but housing. How does Los Gatos compare to the rest of California and the rest of the nation in terms of crime?  The AreaVibes.com site gives Los Gatos an A+ for crime:

 

Area Vibes Crime info on Los Gatos

Area Vibes Crime info on Los Gatos

There are links for comparing two cities, too. I had a look at Los Gatos versus Saratoga and it compared favorably, though worst for the cost of housing.  Here’s the AreaVibes livability scoring page for Saratoga CA.

These types of sites can be especially helpful for folks wanting to downsize and who are actively comparing one area to the next.

Water heater bracing requirements in Los Gatos

Water Heater straps too close to the controls

The lower strap is required to be at least 4 inches away from the controls. This is an example of one that is improperly done as the controls are closer than 4″.

The state of California has water heater bracing requirements for both gas and electric water heaters, but so do individual cities and towns. Some of those municipalities have rules that go beyond what is required by the state.  (Permits and finals are required everywhere, by the way.)

Recently I found the requirements for the town of Los Gatos, and a couple of them surprised me, so I’m sharing the link here in case I’m not the only one caught a little off guard by it:

TOWN OF LOS GATOS WATER HEATER BRACING REQUIREMENTS (link to the town’s page)

San Jose’s requirements can be found here (for comparison and because they are pretty thorough by comparison to ours):

City of San Jose requirements for water heater installation (strapping, bracing, anchoring, blocking, etc.)

One concept that seems to differ between Los Gatos and San Jose has to do with the pressure release valve.

Los Gatos requirements for the pressure release valve state:

“Pressure relieve valve shall terminate to the exterior, 6 in. to 24 in. above grade with a nothread fitting pointing downward. Minimum ¼ in. per foot downward slope shall be maintained at pressure relief drain line.”

San Jose requirements for the pressure release valve:

There is a full page, and 12 numbered requirements, for the temperature & pressure relief value (T & P). Item 6 conveys that if the water heater is in a garage, the T & P does not have to drain to the exterior: “When a water heater is located in a garage, the T&P drainpipe may terminate in the garage. The piping must extend from the valve to within 12 inches but not less than 6
inches above the floor and point downward.”

Los Gatos has no such exemption for water heaters located in the garage!

BOTTOM LINE:  if you are replacing your Los Gatos water heater, you might want to double check the town’s requirements to be sure that yours will be in line with the requirements of the town. There are a lot of odd water heater strapping cases around Santa Clara County, don’t let your home be one of them!

Willow Street Pizza in downtown Los Gatos

 Willow Street Pizza in downtown Los Gatos One of my favorite go-to eateries for lunch or dinner in Los Gatos is Willow Street Pizza. This casual, kid-friendly restaurant offers both indoor and patio dining, has a nicely varied menu, delicious food, good service, and decent prices for the heart of Los Gatos. It also enjoys an ideal location directly across the street from the Town Plaza Park.

Indoors

The dining area is large and provides large windows, comfortable booths as well as tables and chairs. Kids may find the TV a helpful distraction, and there is a children’s menu (though I’m not seeing it online). The room has good acoustics, so most of the time, even if the restaurant is full, the sound level is not bad. Restrooms are shared with other tenants at Lyndon Plaza, and you must go outside to access them (small warning: they can be cold in winter).

Outdoor seating

Patio dining is fun even if nothing else is going on. Should the weather get a little nippy, there are heat lamps.

In summer, many sponsors host Jazz on the Plazz on Wednesday evenings in the Town Plaza Park across the street. Smart diners arrive early enough to snag an outside table and enjoy their meal with live music.

On Sundays a year round farmer’s market takes places on the interior streets that line the park, Montebello Road and Broadway. It’s a great time to people watch, and the vantage from the patio dining area is hard to beat.

Willow Street Pizza menu

At Willow Street, pizza is king and there are many different types of pizza available. The menu is much broader, though, with some more typical dinner entrees (salmon and chicken), salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches, appetizers, and desserts. There’s also a coffee and tea service, soft drinks, craft beers, and a full bar.

While it’s most famous for its pizza, which is delicious, my favorite food there tends to be the salads, especially the warm Brussels Sprouts salad and some of the seasonal salads (in summer I’ve sometimes had steak salad with peaches or other fruits). They do mix it up a bit throughout the year.

I should mention that they also do take out, but I cannot comment on that as I haven’t tried it.

You can browse the Willow Street Pizza menu online here.

Where is Willow Street Pizza in Los Gatos?

Willow Street Pizza can be found in Lyndon Plaza, once the site of the Lyndon Hotel. It’s at the southeast corner of West Main Street and South Santa Cruz Avenue, directly across from the Town Park Plaza.  The address is 20 South Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos.

Parking is sometimes challenging in downtown Los Gatos, but there is valet parking on site and a public parking lot just across the street on West Main (behind Mountain Charlie’s). Additionally, there’s the Montebello parking lot which can be accessed from Montebello Road at Broadway (look for a driveway next to the post office).

Willow Street Pizza website (for this location and the original in Willow Glen, San Jose)

Sacred Heart Jesuit Center Grotto

The Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos is a place I visit frequently, as I have an elderly uncle, a retired Jesuit priest, in the infirmary there. (Another uncle, also a member of the Society of Jesus, passed away there in late 2017.) I try to go about once a week, but if he’s ill, I’ll pop in more frequently. We visit, attend Mass, and have lunch together.

This is private property, just past the Testarossa Winery, so I’m not encouraging people to wander up there. But it is very serene and beautiful, and often I’m taken with the peace and beauty of the place. Most Los Gatans will never visit in person, so I like to share some of my favorite photos of Sacred Heart Jesuit Center here from time to time. The link in the first sentence will bring you to another article about what used to be “The Novitiate” with a slideshow at the bottom.

At the end of the driveway is a lookout point, but before that is a Grotto honoring Our Lady of Lourdes and showing a statue of St. Bernadette in prayer.

Taken this week, below please find a closeup of the statue of St. Bernadette in prayer, gazing upward toward the apparition of Our Lady, surrounded by beautiful calla lilies.

Sacred Heart Jesuit Center - Bernadette of Lourdes statue

Sacred Heart Jesuit Center – Bernadette of Lourdes statue

 

Next, a photo of the Grotto taken in summer 2016 (during the drought), and found in the slideshow at my earlier post about SHJC. (If you Google Lourdes Grotto and see the photos, you’ll recognize the layout.) On crowded days, this area fills up with cars, unfortunately, as there are not a lot of parking areas. In recent years, two Jesuit provinces have merged and now all of the west coast Jesuits in a retirement home, assisted living, or infirmary living situation are here.  More care takers and other employees are here as well, hence the parking overflow.

 

The Grotto at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center - the Jesuit Novitiate in Los Gatos - 2016

Photo of The Grotto at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center taken in June 2016

I’m fortunate to be able to visit family here at Sacred Heart. An added bonus for me is seeing some of my former college professors and classmates there as well. It feels like an extension of home since I have been there countless times. And yet I often see something new, or see something in a new light.

There are moments where both the natural beauty and the religious meaning of artwork truly strike me. St. Bernadette’s feast day is April 16th, yesterday, the day I took the photo of her statue among the lilies. Getting in my car, parked right next to it, I was inspired by the way the light hit the statue and the flowers. I had not realized that it was her feast day when I felt pulled to photograph it. Isn’t life just like that sometimes?

 

You can read more about the Society of Jesus, also known as The Jesuits, here:

http://Jesuits.org/ (site for the order, which is the largest religious order of Catholic men in the world)

https://JesuitsWest.org/ the site for this province, which includes California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and Hawaii

You can read about St. Bernadette on the Franciscan Media website.

Community Emergency Response Team – CERT

Los Gatos and Monte Sereno provide opportunities to volunteer in case of disaster through a program overseen by the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department. It’s called CERT, or Community Emergency Response Team.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is one of the most visible Town emergency preparedness programs, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This 20-hour course offers training in disaster preparation response and recovery skills. (From the CERT page on the town’s website.)

A new series of training events begins on April 30th, 2019, so if you are interested in getting involved, this is the perfect time to check it out. The cost is $35.

Volunteer with CERT in Los Gatos Monte Sereno

There are a number of topics covered, such as disaster preparedness, light search and rescue, damage assessment, and much more. You can see the details on the town’s page for the CERT Training.

CERT Neighborhoods

The police department has grouped neighborhoods into 13 sets (part of the map is below – click on it to go to the page, or click this link to go to the LGMS Cert Map):

  • Almond Grove / Downtown
  • Belwood
  • Blossom Hill / Shannon
  • Civic Center
  • Kennedy East
  • Kennedy North
  • Los Gatos-Almaden
  • Monte Sereno West
  • N Santa Cruz
  • Rinconada
  • Santa Rosa Hicks
  • Vasona
  • Vista del Monte

The white or gray areas are either county pockets not served by the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department or are nearby cities: San Jose, Campbell, or Saratoga.

I’m hoping that the effort is not overly rigid in these boundaries as some of them don’t really make sense to my way of thinking. Part of the Santa Rosa Hicks area can only be driven to from Belwood, for instance. And there are some areas that are San Jose parcels with a Los Gatos mailing address that can only be accessed from Los Gatos – hopefully they would be included even if they aren’t technically in town.

CERT Map for Los Gatos Monte Sereno

 

 

 

Comparing the Los Gatos real estate market to others

Market comparison_ Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Los AltosSilicon Valley real estate market comparison: Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Los Altos on the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog, SanJoseRealEstateLosGatosHomes.com

Today we’re looking at the real estate market for houses in some of the “west valley” communities along the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains – areas where schools are good, crime is low, residents enjoy scenic views of the hills (or of the valley from the hills, depending on the location) and overall, a highly educated population not too far from Highway 85.

Please hop on over to my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog to check out how the Los Gatos market is doing as compared to Saratoga, Cupertino, and Los Altos.

https://sanjoserealestatelosgatoshomes.com/market-comparison-los-gatos-saratoga-cupertino-and-los-altos/

Arroyo Rinconada

Map of Arroyo Rinconada and Rinconada HillsIn the far northwest corner of the town of Los Gatos sits a small, picturesque community, Arroyo Rinconada (Cats Creek Corner), consisting of three streets and 41 homes: Casa Grande (Big House), Rio Visa (River View), and Sierra Linda (Beautiful Mountain Range).

What are homes like in Arroyo Rinconada?

The neighborhood features Spanish style architecture and red tiled roofs and gently curving roads with loads of nearby trees, making the area scenic and charming.

In Arroyo Rinconada there are 40 townhouses and one large house, built in 1935 (and later expanded). The townhouses are held in condominium ownership (not PUD).

The two story townhomes were all built in 1984, with square footage at 1280 SF (2 bed, 2 bath model), 2152 SF (3 bed 3 bath model), and 2319 SF (3 bed 3 bath model). Average square footage is 2131 SF. These homes all enjoy attached 2 car garages.  Lots range 1372 SF to 2427 SF, with the average land area being 2152 square feet.

The house is on Casa Grande (“Big House”). It was built in 1935 with about 2600 SF but has been expanded  to 3090 SF.  Sitting on top of a knoll with a 55,000 SF lot, it sold a couple of years ago for more than $2 million.

Where is Arroyo Rinconada?

Arroyo Rinconada is set next to the corner of Quito and Pollard Roads in the northeast end of the town of Los Gatos, which are the borders for Saratoga (Quito) and Campbell (Pollard).

The San Tomas Aquino Creek separates it from the larger Rinconada Hills community to the east. You can see a map of this area, and nearby subdivisions, on my Google MyMaps page for west Los Gatos.

Arroyo Rinconada Amenities

The community enjoys a pool with spa plus a clubhouse and tennis courts. There is a gate at the entrance along Pollard Road, but it does not appear to be in use anymore.

HOA fees vary depending on the home size, but are generally around $750 to $800 per month. The monthly cost covers the private roads as well as the amenities listed above, and more.

The home owners association has a website which includes a slideshow of the homes and grounds:  http://arroyorinconada.org

Arroyo Rinconada homes for sale or sold recently

Below please find a a list with photos and descriptions of Arroyo Rinconada homes for sale, pending, or sold in the last 24 months.

  • List View
  • Map View
  • Grid View

See all Arroyo Rinconada in Los Gatos, California Real Estate.
(all data current as of 10/20/2019)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

 
 

Rinconada Hills

Rinconada Hills, which sits on the northwest side of Los Gatos, adjacent to Saratoga and Cambpell, is a resort-like community with many luxurious amenities. It is one of the few gated communities anywhere in Silicon Valley, and one of the largest in the greater San Jose area.

Built in stages between 1968 and 1981, the homes here were built by Brown & Kaufmann in 5 different sections. The campus is quite large, 107 acres (almost as big as Vasona Lake County Park) and includes 394 townhomes (see floorplans here) and 40 houses, or single family homes. Approximately 1,000 people live here (in a town of about 30,000). Most everyone in LG knows someone who lives at Rinconada Hills!

Rinconada Hills homes

 

The campus includes a remodeled clubhouse (Great Room, library alcove, commercial kitchen, lockers, showers), 10 pools (1 at the clubhouse), spa, and 3 tennis courts. The residents may utilize an extra parking lot for cars or the RV lot for boats/ trailers etc. – though there is a waiting list for that. Additonally, there are 3 ponds plus a lake,  and great views to be enjoyed while walking up the hill in the private grounds.

What are homes like at Rinconada Hills?

All of the homes, whether townhouses or single family homes, have stucco exteriors and tiled roofs, although there’s quite a bit of diversity within the areas and styles. Home sizes range from small 2 bedroom townhouses to large 3000 + SF homes on big lots with views. There’s a little bit of everything, but a typical residence might be an 1800 SF 2 story townhouse with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, an attached 2 car garage. There are a few single story townhomes as well as single story houses, though.

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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
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since 1993

 

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