Garden Against Fire!

Landscaping for Wildfire ProtectionThe Los Gatos Library will host an online class, Landscaping for Wildfire Protection

Coming up Thursday, September 24th from 6-7pm Pacific.

Does your garden fight fires? With fire season growing longer and fiercer each year with devastating losses, you might be wondering what you can do to lower risks and protect your property against wildfires. Especially if you live near one of the Bay Area’s beautiful greenspaces! Join the Los Gatos Library with speaker Barbara Hunt, UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County, to learn about how wildfires spread and how to landscape to protect your home, from hardscapes to fire-resistant plants. This is a free lecture aimed at California homeowners but open to all.

For more information and the Zoom link, please view the event page.

Join the event on Facebook and set a reminder.

Want to learn more about fire in Los Gatos? Check out some of my other posts on this topic:

Los Gatos Fire Risk

Wildfire Evacuation Route Signs Being Installed (2016)

Fighting Fire With … Wine

A History of Los Gatos Fires and the Los Gatos Fire Department

View Permits Online

Did you know that you can view permits online for Los Gatos properties? (Use this link to do a search, and the permits can be seen on the next screen.) Not every city or town in Silicon Valley has this capability, though most do now. San Jose’s can be accessed via SJPermits.org.  You don’t need to register or provide any information to check out the permits. Property records are part of the public domain.

Why view permits online?

If you are a homeowner, it’s a good idea to check this site to make sure that work you’ve done with permits and finals is reflected there. If you have permits and finals for work and it’s not showing up online, contact the building department to see how you can get the records corrected. Normally we’d bring the originals to the town for copying, but right now they may have a workaround due to the pandemic.

It’s also wise to make sure that someone else’s work was not inaccurately attributed to your home. A few years back we saw a re-roof ascribed to our house that didn’t belong – it was probably a neighbor with a slightly different house number. One quick call to the town’s building department and it was changed.

If you are a Los Gatos home buyer or a real estate agent, it’s a helpful tool to view permits online to get a sense of what permitted improvements have been made and when. It is possible that items not on the town’s site are permitted even if not listed, but it would be good to investigate. This is especially true if someone added square footage to the living area and it’s not showing as permitted in the county’s living space records. It could be an insurance liability.

 

Screenshot of the page - Los Gatos view permits online form

 

Related reading:

Los Gatos homes: class and land use

What do you need to know before buying a home in Los Gatos?

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!