Remember to vote by November 3rd!

voteElection Day is less than two weeks away, and in addition to the presidential election, there are a number of other candidates and issues on the ballot. Please remember to vote!

This year voting is being done a little differently here in California. Back in 2019, Santa Clara County became the 10th county in California to adopt the Voter’s Choice Act, adopting practices to make voting in elections more convenient, expedient, and accessible. Ballots and booklets on the propositions were mailed out to every registered voter early this month. All voters have the option to vote in-person or remotely by mail or official Ballot Drop Box. The Act also replaces designated Polling Places, assigned by address, with universal Vote Centers, where any Santa Clara County registered voter can vote.

Due to the pandemic, residents have been encouraged to vote early and vote by mail to reduce crowds at Vote Centers. In-person voting remains available throughout the county, but locations have been reduced for the upcoming election. If you aren’t sure where to go, or have more questions about voting, please check the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website or phone them at 408-299-8683.

There are two types of locations: drop off only Ballot Drop Boxes, and Voting Centers where you can either drop-off your mailed ballot or fill one out in-person.

Ballot Drop Box locations in and near Los Gatos

Ballot Drop Boxes are open 24 hours a day between October 5th and November 2nd, and on Election Day, November 3rd, from midnight to 8pm when polls close. You can also find your nearest Ballot Drop Box location using the County Registrar of Voters search by address using the tab on the left titled “Find Ballot Drop Off” or by checking the complete list of locations. All of the boxes listed below are outdoor sites.

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2020 Local Election for the Town of Los Gatos

Patriot CatIt’s a big election year – are you ready for it?

Registered voters in California will begin to receive ballots in the mail on October 5th – that’s less than 2 weeks away! So let’s have a look at what’s going on in the local, Town of Los Gatos this voting season.

The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce wants to make sure your voice is heard. Their campaign, Vote LG, and it’s web page are set up to answer all of your election questions. Visit that page for a timeline of important dates, links to register online, information on candidates and measures, and most importantly how to vote whether you submit your ballot in-person, by mail, or by drop box.

Another resource for the local election is the League of Women Voters Southwest Santa Clara Valley division which hosts a variety of events for voters. Coming up on October 5th, they will have a non-partisan discussion of the Pros & Cons of the state propositions, county, and local measures that affect this area. Recordings of their past Candidate Forums for this election year are also available online.

Town of Los Gatos Election

This year, voters for the Town of Los Gatos have 3 open seats to fill in the Town Council and 2 Los Gatos specific measures in addition to a few County measures, state propositions, and federal elections to consider. But let’s just focus on the Los Gatos election. Who’s running and for what position?

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Los Gatos Election: Virtual Candidate Forum

Patriot Cat Vote the Los Gatos ElectionIt’s an election year for the Town of Los Gatos! The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce is hosting a virtual seminar for voters to meet the candidates. This is a free event, but you must sign up to receive the link to view. Public questions can be submitted at registration (one question per registration) and all questions will be curated for relevance to the topic of focus:  local business and economy. This is not a town-hall style meeting, but a moderated forum presented in a Zoom webinar.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

7pm – 8:30pm

For information, changes, and registration, please go to the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce page for this event, called Candidate Forum or through the URL listed below.

https://www.losgatoschamber.com/events/details/candidate-forum-14798

 

If you missed the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum for the Town of Los Gatos that happened on September 21st and you would like to view it, a recording of the session is available on the LWV Southwest Santa Clara Valley Youtube page through this link.

And remember to cast your vote on November 3rd or sooner!

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?

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