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?

Remember to vote tomorrow!

voteTomorrow is Super Tuesday, and in addition to the presidential primary, there are a number of other issues on the ballot. Please remember to vote!

This year voting is being done a little differently. Ballots and booklets on the propositions were mailed out a few weeks back. A number of locations have been open for dropping off ballots for awhile. If you aren’t sure where to go, please check the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website. Or phone them at 408-299-8683.

There are two types of locations: some are drop off only, and others are voting locations.

Ballot Drop Box locations in and near Los Gatos include these:

  • Los Gatos Public Library
  • Los Gatos Town Hall
  • Monte Sereno City Hall
  • Saratoga City Hall
  • Saratoga Library
  • West Valley College Fox Center
  • Campbell Library
  • Vineland Branch Library (Cambrian)

Vote Centers – locations where you can actually vote and not simply turn in your ballot

  • Los Gatos Lodge – El Gato Room
  • The Pavilion at Redwood Estates
  • Belwood Cabana Club (east Los Gatos)

And MANY other locations – please check the link above for the complete list.

 

 

One-way pilot program

This summer, the town of Los Gatos will begin a one-way pilot program along N Santa Cruz Avenue, in the south bound direction, between Bachman Avenue and Elm Street. The trial will run from July through October and will also include the addition of a southbound bike lane, angled parking on the east side of the street, and 7 parklets. Parklets are spaces carved out of the roadway for people to gather and dine, along the lines of a sidewalk cafe. To learn more about what’s coming, please see all the details on the town’s website:

Experience Los Gatos – Town of Los Gatos summary of changes coming this July – October

Town of Los Gatos: One-Way Pilot details

One way pilot FAQs – a PDF on the town’s website

When I first heard about this program, I wondered if it was intended to address the problem with beach traffic. The FAQ page, though, states that “This project provides an opportunity to envision a future downtown with wider sidewalks (demonstrated by parklets) which leads to areas for sidewalk dining and casual gathering. Combined with other placemaking efforts, the goal is to provide for a vibrant downtown.” The downtown businesses do suffer each summer when traffic makes the area difficult to access, so perhaps this will be helpful to bring more cyclists and pedestrians into the beautiful downtown area (and perhaps the foot traffic will discourage cut-through motorists?).

Los Gatos pilot one-way program
Los Gatos pilot one-way program

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!

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

Should Los Gatos outsource its police services?

The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department has a bit of a struggle over a $200,000 or more “bill” that Los Gatos handed to the city of Monte Sereno for overtime and other expenses relating to the  murder investigation of Ravi Kumra.  Monte Sereno feels that the contract it has with the town of Los Gatos covers those inevitable overruns so has refused to pay. As a result of this financial burden, it’s being suggested that Los Gatos outsource its police services to the county sheriff’s office.

Is that a good idea?

Many locals don’t seem to think so, and state that if outsourced, the quality of policing in town will fall.  “The police won’t really know the areas or the community”, said one neighbor of mine.   Other objections include the lack of ties to the community, slower response times projected, and potentially higher costs, too.

What do you think?

The issue will be addressed at the April 21st 2015 Town Council meeting, located at the Los Gatos Civic Center Council Chambers. 110 E. Main Street Los Gatos, CA 95030.  I’d bet that it will be the most packed meeting Los Gatans have ever seen.

 

 

Additional information

The Los Gatos Town Council meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month at 7pm in the council chambers. http://www.losgatosca.gov/16/Town-Council

Link to the town’s Police Dept page: http://www.losgatosca.gov/43/Police-Services

San Jose Mercury News Article:    Los Gatos: Police outsourcing issue delayed

More information can be found under the Los Gatos Town Council’s agenda’s on the town’s site.  May take some time to find and read all of them – the site isn’t entirely intuitive.

 

Los Gatos leaf blower ordinance

Leaves mapleMost likely, everyone in the town of Los Gatos is aware that gas powered leaf blowers are no longer legal to use here. What some may not know is that the “grace period” ended January 1st, 2014.

I don’t know about your neighborhood, but in mine, the gas blowers are continuing like nothing has changed.

We spoke with our gardeners when the law passed.  There was some grumbling and a comment that the consumer would pay more in the end, but it was understood.  But guess what – nothing changed: nothing, nada, zilch, zip, niente.

This week I spoke about this with our gardener, whom we have hired to mow and blow for years.  He shrugged it off, saying that he worked in all kinds of places with leaf blower ordinances, and they were NEVER enforced.  And besides, the electric ones don’t do a good job. Oh, and he doesn’t own an electric one to boot.

I let him know that it does matter to me and that I don’t want gas blowers used.  He said he’d use a rake and buy an electric blower.

My sense is that this is what it’s going to take – not a law so much as home owners saying that we care about the noise and the pollution.

That was last week.  We will see what this week brings.  Meanwhile, my neighbors’ gardeners are continuing to make a racket.  I’m hoping that they will step up and talk to their gardeners, too.

 

FAQs on the Los Gatos Leaf Blower Ordinance:

http://www.losgatosca.gov/2059/Leaf-Blower-Ordinance