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

Los Gatos Neighborhoods

Santa Rosa Drive and Sierra Azule neighborhood

About seventy five to eighty spacious homes sit along the scenic eastern ridge tops of Blossom Hill along or just off of Santa Rosa Drive. It’s a stunning neighborhood which enjoys views both of the Santa Clara Valley on one side and the Santa Cruz Mountains on the other. That part of the coastal foothills located south of highway 17, including Loma Prieta and Mt. Umunhum, was once known as Sierra Azul, or Blue Mountain. Hence one of the streets in this Los Gatos community is Sierra Azule (why an extra “e” is added, I do not know).

Santa Rosa Drive - Santa Clara Valley view

Not only are there gorgeous views of the mountains and Silicon Valley, but there are trail heads that connect here, too. Love to mountain bike, hike, or just take photos? You will love the network of trails that weave between the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve, the Shannon Valley Open Space Preserve, and the paths that lead to Belgatos Park and the Heintz Open Space Preserve, which begins in the Heritage Grove neighborhood.

Santa Rosa trail head

One other neighborhood perk is that the roads here are really not hard to drive. With many view homes, the streets in the neighborhood can be hair pin and scary. This is a newer tract or subdivision, and the area is not hard to drive once you are inside of it. (The street leading up from Shannon Road is a little steep, so going downhill for a new driver might take some practice.)

What are the houses like in the Santa Rosa and Sierra Azule neighborhood?

The bulk of the neighoborhood is found on Santa Rosa and off of it on the east end of the area: Madera Court, Alta Tierra, Auzerais Court, and Colorado Court. These properties were mostly built in the 1980s and 1990s, though a few were before or after that period. There are just a dozen homes on Sierra Azule, most of them a little younger, built between 1995 and 2000. In general, they are not ostentatious or pretentious, but they are fairly large. Continue reading

Kennedy Meadows and Kennedy Estates


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Kennedy Meadows and Kennedy Estates are adjoining upscale residential neighborhoods in east Los Gatos, both along Kennedy Road and just a little further from the downtown area than the Surrey Farm subdivision. Below, please find the approximate boundaries that I mapped out.

Kennedy Meadows and Kennedy Estates in east Los Gatos

Kennedy Meadows is a small subdivision on Kennedy Court. It consists 10 of homes built between 1995 and 1997. The average lot size is just under a half acre, and the average home size is  about 4000 SF. This is a very scenic area as the hills are nearby. Properties there sell upwards of $3 million, often $4 million (if not much, much more).

Kennedy Estates sign Kennedy Estates consists about two dozen large, estate quality homes primarily along Forrester Road or just off of it on Leotar Court. Most of the houses are 2 story and were built in the 1980s or 1990s, but a few are newer or older than that. There’s a broad range of home size, from 3500 SF to over 8,000 SF, but the majority of houses are between 4,000 SF and 6,000 SF. Most lots are 1-2 acres, and most are hillside (as Forrester runs at the bottom of a little valley). Because it’s a small valley, this area can get quite toasty in summer, as few of the coastal breezes make it through. These luxury properties all enjoy central air conditioning, of course. If you want to live in Kennedy Estates, you’ll probably need to budget $4 million or more to purchase a house there.

 

Why are Kennedy Meadows and Kennedy Estates in east Los Gatos neighborhoods so popular?

First, of course, they are not far from “town” and they enjoy the highly regarded Los Gatos Union School District Continue reading

Loma Vista, El Gato Terrace, Rancho Padre subdivisions

El Gato Terrace, Loma Vista and Rancho Padre areasIn East Los Gatos, between Ross Creek and Los Gatos-Almaden Road sits a county pocket with a very unique neighborhood. This scenic area has a little bit of everything.

Where is it?

This area is the combination of three adjacent subdivisions, built between the 1940s into the mid 1950s. As seen on the map below, these are:

  • El Gato Terrace
  • The Loma Vista Tract
  • Rancho Padre (Rancho Padre is the only one to touch Ross creek).

Addresses in these subdivisions include Loma Vista Avenue, Linda Avenue, El Gato Lane and part of Escobar Avenue. To the West of this pocket is the Blossom Hill Manor area, which begins at Longwood Drive (the Manor is in a different school district – Los Gatos Unified Schools).

4

Learn more about the area by clicking through to the rest of the article!

Continue reading

Shannon Valley Ranch


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The Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood is a young, small luxury community in far east Los Gatos found on just two roads: Shannon Oaks Lane and Mountain Laurel Lane, located just off Hicks Road near Shannon Road. This area is part of the Los Gatos Union School District (it’s very close to the border of the Union School District). There are just 14 of these estate quality properties here, mostly on 2-4 acre parcels with between 4000 and 5000 square feet. The homes were built between 2006 and 2008, with most completed in 2008. Naturally, these are multi-million dollar houses. Because it’s a small enclave, turnover is low. The most recent sale named on the multiple listing service was almost 2 years ago (as of late 2016) and was at $3.65 million with 6 bedrooms, so you could reasonably expect that homes in this area would be worth between $4 and $5 today in most cases, perhaps more.

A recent visit to the neighborhood reveals that much of the landscaping is now fairly mature. Many neighbors have landscaped for privacy, which is understandable, but doesn’t afford a very good view of these gorgeous properties. Here are a couple to give you an idea. The homes, the land, and the scenery nearby area all exceptional.

Shannon Valley Ranch house 2015

One of the things I love about these houses is that they are comfortably spread out, mostly “ranch style,” and it fits so well with the setting.

Shannon Valley Ranch home 2015

Where is Shannon Valley Ranch?

Shannon Valley Ranch luxury estates in east Los GatosShannon Valley Ranch is close to the intersection of Hicks and Shannon Road, not too far from Camden Avenue (but it feels a world away) and close to the San Jose / Almaden border. When I pulled the boundaries of the subdivision, the map of the parcels’ location had a funny “jog” up toward Santa Rosa. I believe that segment is not yet built out, and I cannot explain the shape. It is what can be found on the county records, however.

One of the nicest things about this location is the scenery and hiking available. There’s a trail that connects this area with the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve and the network of paths that meanders over Blossom Hill (the hill, not the road) to the Heintz Open Space Preserve and Belgatos Park. I’ll post a trail map below the open space trail slideshow. Some of it does require traversing streets, but probably 98% is dirt walkways.

From a few years ago – here are some photos from the Shannon Valley Open Space trail. In the distance, see the Guadalupe Landfill, and below it, the Brookside Development in Almaden (with Los Gatos schools), which is now fully built. The Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood is off to the right of this photo and when these photos were taken, the neighborhood was not yet built out.

Trail Map

 

Strathmore neighborhood of Los Gatos


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View of Hills from Strathmore neighborhood in Los GatosTake in a view of the hills from the Strathmore neighborhood of Los Gatos. Beside Blossom Hill with the coastal range rising behind it, homes here enjoy a beautiful backdrop and nature close by with plenty of access to parks and trails. But the beauty and nature is only one part of the wonderful neighborhood.

Despite itss quiet charm, this neighborhood is anything but rural. Access to the freeway and shopping are within a mile, and to east Los Gatos shopping on The Boulevard is a little farther. A pedestrian friendly area with sidewalks and tree lined streets, Strathmore is a popular spot for locals to stroll, jog, bike or otherwise enjoy a little sunshine and shade.

Residents also have the opportunity to benefit from a community pool with a neighborhood youth swim team. But perhaps the biggest draw for Strathmore residents, especially for families with young children, is that it lies within the bounds of a prestigious public school system.

What’s not to love about Strathmore?!

Where is the Strathmore neighborhood?

Map of Strathmore neighborhood area - please click to go to live Google map

Please click this link to go to a live Google map for the Strathmore neighborhood.

Strathmore is considered to be in East Los Gatos. Entrance into the neighborhood is generally through Anne Way off of Union Avenue, or by Meadowbrook Drive off of Blossom Hill Road. Anne Way is the main road through Strathmore and is home to the community pool.

Local amenities include Howes Play Lot, Strathmore School, and the Downing Center on Union Avenue, with a Safeway, Chase Bank, restaurants, and the ever popular icecream shop, Sweet Retreat. Freeway access is only a mile North on Union Avenue to the ramp to Highway 85. Vasona Lake County Park is only 2.5 miles West on Blossom Hill, and just a little further to downtown Los Gatos. Southeast from Blossom Hill, in the nearby hills, is access to Belgatos Park and the Hines Open Space Preserve with miles of trails for hiking, biking, and equestrian activities.

In other words, the location is wonderfully convenient. Continue reading

Ohlone Court

Ohlone Court, Los GatosLooking for a neighborhood with attractive, younger homes that’s still close to everything in Los Gatos? The properties along Ohlone Court fill that bill as the community sits along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, across from Vasona and Oak Meadow Parks, and is equally near to downtown Los Gatos on one side and the main shopping district on Los Gatos Boulevard on the other.

Built in 1996 by Summerhill Homes, a very well respected local builder, the residences on Ohlone Court are relatively young by Los Gatos standards, and feature many elements prized in newer construction, such as open floor plans. It’s a pretty area where the neighbors all seem to care about maintaining their homes and yards nicely,  and it enjoys the highly regarded Los Gatos Schools, too.

How’s the terrain? The road climbs from Roberts Road, where it is near the Los Gatos Creek, up a knoll. The top is of course sunny and some homes enjoy fantastic views. Some homes are nearer to the creek and toward the bottom of the hill, where it’s shadier. There’s an easy to miss staircase that allows pedestrians to take a shortcut to access Blossom Hill Road and the parks from the top of the court.

This is not a big subdivision. The 25 properties are mostly single family homes, but there are also a couple of duplexes. And the surprise element is that they are condominiums. That is, although most are houses, they are held in condominium ownership (local Realtors will recognize the same situation from the Villas of Almaden, though that community has the houses show up in the MLS under condos, whereas Ohlone Court appears under single family homes). Learn more on what the different type of ownership means here: What Is the Difference Between CID Ownership in a Condo, Townhouse or PUD?

A few weeks back, I did a “drive through” of the area.  My daughter was at the wheel so I could try to capture a sense of the neighborhood for my viewers.  Hope you find it helpful.

Every neighborhood has good and not-so-good features.  What’s the catch here?  It sounds too good to be true! One issue for some buyers is the close proximity of highway 17.  Not all homes are impacted, and only a few back up directly to the freeway, but it is noticeable. This is especially true when you’re high up as there’s nothing much to block the noise. One other issue is that some of the homes are in very shady locations at the bottom of the hill.  This may bother some people who want sunnier homes. Homes on the side of a hill or at the bottom of a hill sometimes have hill related water issues. These are not insurmountable problems but it’s very important to have good drainage, proper grading, and possibly other elements such as sump pumps to keep the water out from the crawl space.

Ohlone Court plat map

Above: Ohlone Court plat map.

Creffield Heights and San Benito Avenue area


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From from San Benito Ave next to Ashler

From from San Benito Ave next to Ashler

A charming Los Gatos neighborhood with diverse architecture in the central part of town, if not quite downtown, is the San Benito Avenue area. This neighborhood sits on a gentle hill, a bit of a ridge, and many of the homes in this section of town enjoy lovely views due to the mild elevation. Here, a small road named Creffield Heights starts at San Benito Avenue and slides back into the hill, where the far point of the road stetches into Monte Sereno before looping back into Los Gatos.

The pluses for this neighborhood are huge: proximity to downtown Los Gatos, proximity to Oak Meadow Park and Vasona Lake County Park, the scenic vistas of the hills, the diverse architecture, the well-maintained homes, the highly regarded Los Gatos schools, and much more.

The negatives are few and far between. In some areas, especially some of the streets running between San Benito and North Santa Cruz Avenue, roads are narrow and overcrowded with cars. In some areas, residents may only park on one side of the street. Another issue is the hill itself. Often with hillside properties and neighborhoods, water running off the hill, or under it until it finds level ground, can cause home owners tremendous headaches. See “What To Consider When Buying a Hillside Home in Silicon Valley

Creffield Heights

I’ve been curious about the inviting little pocket of homes for over 20 years – who could resist the signs on stucco which announce the street and neighborhood name with so much dignity? When I checked the county records, I found just 11 parcels on this street (and some are flag lots). Of those, 2 are vacant but one looks so small as to be close to unbuildable – is it used as an easement for one of the flag lots? Things like that do happen. Three of the parcels are in the city of Monte Sereno. So it’s kind of a funny pocket! Even so, that area has a little more altitude, so I bet the views are delightful

Terrain for the San Benito Avenue area

Below please find a terrain map with the very approximate neighborhood boundaries marked. The bright green marker is for the appx middle of Creffield Heights, and the pale green one is where the impressive “Creffield Heights” signs may be seen (photos below in slideshow).

San Benito Avenue and Creffield Heights

Photographs of the Creffield Heights and San Benito Avenue neighborhood

Please enjoy some photos I took recently, mostly on San Benito Avenue in Los Gatos

Real estate prices & homes for sale in the San Benito area

This area has so much diversity that it would be very difficult to give an estimate of what it would take to buy a home in this area. Houses vary in age (from historic to only 30 or so years old), size, grandeur, condition, view, and lot size. Many smaller homes on smaller lots will sell for between $1.4 and $2 million. Large homes on large lots, perhaps will views, will sell for considerably more. This month (October 2016) a younger home on a large lot sold for nearly $3 million. That said, this is a “low turnover” area! Only a eight houses have sold in this area so far in 2016.

Below please find homes for sale by map for this area, and a list of available homes through the link. Continue reading

Charter Oaks townhome community

The Charter Oaks townhome community was built in 3 phases between 1972 and 1975,  and consists of 101 units on a verdant, green campus. I’m told that the builder was the highly regarded Blackwell Homes.  Each townhome enjoys between 960 square feet and 1,760 sf, with the average being 1452. Most are 2 story but there are a few single story homes as well. Lot sizes are small (1,920-3,205 SF, average is 2477 SF) as there is a great deal of common, outdoors space to enjoy.

Charter Oaks townhome community

Charter Oaks Circle mapLos Gatans are drawn to Charter Oaks for many reasons. First, it offers well built homes that are thoughtfully designed in a beautiful setting. The community features include expansive greenbelt areas and a pool.

The location is a huge plus. It is located alongside the Los Gatos Creek Trail, making it an easy walking or bike commute to Netflix, a simple bike ride to Vasona or downtown Los Gatos, or a convenient route for a longer ride, jog, or stroll. To top it off, this area includes the highly regarded Los Gatos Schools and is close enough to the freeways to make commuting less stressful.

Every area has some location challenges. Because it’s close to two freeways, there’s a bit of noise from the highways but it’s not too bad. The other thing to know is that there’s just one road in and out, and trying to turn left from Charter Oaks Drive onto Lark Avenue can sometimes be frustrating as the cars just keep coming and there’s no traffic signal to help there.

Charter Oaks real estate pricing

Homes in Charter Oaks are selling for about $1,100,000 to $1,200,00 as of spring 2017. (See my listing at 126 Charter Oaks Circle here.) As with every complex, some areas will sell for more than others. In this case, because the townhomes are fairly close to highway 17, some areas have road noise and will be a little less desirable.  Some will have better or lesser views, access to parking, natural light, and so on. The condition and size of the unit have an enormous impact on housing values too, of course.

 

Which streets are a part of Charter Oaks?

Includes streets are these: Walnut Hill Court, Charter Oaks Circle, Willow Hill Court, Cherry Hill Court, Almond Hill Court, Spruce Hill Court

Continue reading

Hillbrook neighborhood in east Los Gatos

Hillbrook Drive at Fairmead LaneThe Hillbrook neighborhood is a beautifully maintained part of east Los Gatos. It sits just off Blossom Hill Road, about one block from Blossom Hill Park, with several homes backing to that park. It consists of Hillbrook Drive and a little park at Hillbrook & Blossom Hill, Fairmead Lane, and Eastridge Drive. For area newcomers who might be confused – this is not the area right next to Hillbrook School, which is at the end of Marchmont Drive.

Built between 1962 and 1965, the three dozen or so homes here are comfortably sized between 1600 and 3100 square feet and sit upon lots that are approximately a quarter acre. Nearly all of the houses are ranch style, but the few on Fairview represent a subset of the ranch style: mid century modern (most people think of Eichler, which is the predominant mid century modern type found in Silicon Valley, but these aren’t Eichlers per se). Although the houses are older, most have been updated and remodeled over the years, and are in great shape.

The name Hillbrook appears to derive from the area’s proximity to nearby Blossom Hill (the foothill, not the road named for it) and for Ross Creek, which runs through the the neighborhood.

One of the major draws to this neighborhood is the close proximity of Blossom Hill Elementary School, which is part of the highly regarded Los Gatos Union School District.

Hillbrook neighborhood real estate

Hillbrook neighborhood in Los GatosHomes in this little pocket do not turn over much, but the homes that do sell are running between about $1,500,000 and $2 million. The price naturally depends on many factors: home size, lot size, condition of the home, exact location, and so on.

Neighborhood access

Although this small neighborhood is found just off Blossom Hill Road, it is not necessary to turn left on that busy street to get to downtown Los Gatos.  Hillbrook Drive turns into Eastridge, and that leads to Lansberry, which can take you to Shannon Road. From Shannon there is a traffic signal for crossing Los Gatos Boulevard – often an easier way to go during rush hour. It’s easy to get to the park, to Blossom Hill Elementary, and to town from this location.

Recently I was driven through the area and shot some video to share.  Right now it’s August 2015 and we are in the middle of a very longstanding drought, so you will notice many “California gold” colored front yards.  This is not typical at all – it’s just a response to the request for water conservation from the governor and our local water utilities.

Narrated video drive-through of the Hillbrook neighborhood:

University or Edelen Historic District neighborhood in Los Gatos


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Edelen University historic district neighborhood Los Gatos collage 1000

This Los Gatos real estate article was originally written in 2007 but updated in late August 2015. Some of the photos are from the original post, and some from this last week.  – mph

One of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Los Gatos is the Edelen District, also called the University District. Originally a vineyard just north of the town’s school (where Old Town stands today), this residential neighborhood runs alongside the Los Gatos Creek to University Avenue or North Santa Cruz. Streets include University Avenue (south of Highway 9), Miles, Miller, and Edelen Avenues. (For more information on the location, please visit the town of Los Gatos’ statement on the Edelen District,ordinance 2168 on the University/Edelen District.).

This officially designated historic area also once included homes downhill (off Miles), along the banks of the Los Gatos Creek. But frequent flooding made that untenable. Now the lower area, by the edge of the Los Gatos Creek, is home to the town’s recycling center, truckyard and carlot as well as the parks department’s building (Department of Parks and Public Works). And it houses the relocated Maria’s Berry Farm buildings too (formerly near Highway 17 and Lark Avenue and moved when Highway 85 was constructed in the early 90’s).

Filled with beautiful Victorian homes, many built in the late 1800s, the Edelen District boasts an incredible proximity to downtown Los Gatos (as does the Almond Grove, but this area is even closer “in”). The streets are tree-lined and delightful looking, and most owners clearly prize their distinctive and historically important homes and have restored and maintained them lovingly. This is a highly prized bunch of Los Gatos real estate!

129 Edelen Avenue, Los GatosFor visitors to the Edelen District, parking is a pain. Most of the area is permit parking only, 24 hours a day. And it makes sense. These residences were constructed largely without garages in mind. The folks who live there need to park at home without competing for space with visitors to Old Town or other downtown draws. To further protect this area from undesired traffic, Miller Avenue is closed to automobile traffic where it intersects with Edelen. Shoppers are therefore not tempted to park illicitly.

There are countless architectural treasures in this area, but let’s have a peek at just a couple so you can get a flavor of the neighborhood. (Thanks in advance to the fabulous book, Los Gatos Observed by Alastair Dallas and to the Town of Los Gatos for its Hooked on History Project, sponsored by the Los Gatos Library and History Museum)

The home I photographed this week at the upper right is at 129 Edelen Avenue. It’s a gorgeous Queen Anne Victorian and was built in 1892. Because of the large bushes and trees, it is difficult to get a clear view of the home today from one photographable angle. The “Hooked on History” project of Los Gatos has a wonderful photo on its site, though, and it provides a better view of the house (if in black and white).

130 Edelen, Los GatosDirectly across the street is another gorgeous house, located at 130 Edelen Avenue. It was built in 1886 and has been the setting for a movie and a television show. It, too, is a gracious Queen Ann Victorian with lots of splendid detailing. This was the winter residence of John Miles, a founder and developer of this district.

My suggestion for seeing this historic neighborhood is to park at the public lot behind the newer section of Old Town, stroll down University Avenue to Miller and walk down the street to Edelen. Cars cannot pass through the intersection, but pedestrians can. Enjoy a leisurely walk up the tree lined street and then turn back toward University on Miles Avenue.

Bring your camera!

 

 

Photo slideshow of Edelen Avenue historic homes

 

 

Homes for sale in the Edelen or University Historic neighborhood in Los Gatos

Below please view any homes for sale in this historic Los Gatos neighborhood by map or by list view through the link. Continue reading

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Mary Pope-Handy

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Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
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