Combined fire map with evacuation zones

A combined fire map with evacuation zones is now available! As the various fire complexes engulf the San Francisco Bay Area, the Monterey Bay Area, and much of the state, it’s been challenging to see regional maps since Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties were using Garmin Maps and Santa Clara and other counties were using Google map. Yesterday I found a new combined fire map with the evacuation zones published on Garmin and am happy to share that link with you here.

 

Combined fire map with evacuation areas shows

 

There are disclaimers, of course, as you log into the site. Because it is collecting info from several counties, that info may not be as updated as from the county in question.  The CZU fire, though, now has warning zones in Santa Clara County (from the heights of Montebello Road in Cupertino down to Redwood Estates in Los Gatos), so creating a map that would include Santa Clara County makes sense.

For me, this is  far more helpful than a list of roads and directions such as “east of xyz road” etc. It appears to be updated frequently

Saratoga Highlands, Rio Rinconada, Granada Way and La Rinconada Park Neighborhood

Saratoga Highlands, Rio Rinconada, Granada Way and La Rinconada Park neighborhood are situated in west Los Gatos near the Campbell and Saratoga borders. As they are close to the large Safeway and surrounding shops along Pollard Road, this is a very convenient community.In this area you’ll find a beautiful park and tidy neighborhood with homes of varying sizes and price tags. From looking at the plat maps, I believe that originally this entire area was part of the Rinconada Hills tract of land, but today just part of the area, the gated community, bears that name. (Video below of a sampling of the area that I took from 2014!)

 

 

Please continue reading for much more information on the neighborhood!

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Gooseberry Designs

Gooseberry Designs pillow with stylized Los Gatos and Saratoga mapLooking for a clever, locally made gift? Check out the offerings at Gooseberry Designs in downtown Los Gatos! Their website and Etsy page give the viewer an idea of their reason for being: “Whimsically Stylish Home & Paper Goodies”

For a recent birthday, my daughter gave me a pillow (shown here) with a very cute map of Los Gatos and Saratoga created by the owner of Gooseberry Designs, Nina Kulick (a Saratoga native, as I understand it). I love it!

In addition to pillows, the shop features a wide variety of items with similar maps from everywhere: prints, stickers, bamboo boards, tea towels, and  totes.  A few of the locations highlighted on the items are Monterey, San Francisco, Oakland, LA, Seattle, Boston, Long Island, Maui, Palm Springs, and many more.

Take some time and browse their offerings online (links below) or in the store. The items are loads of fun and great to purchase for yourself or as gifts for others.

 

Gooseberry Designs Studio + Shop

Nina Kulick
(Located at the corner of S Santa Cruz and Main, at the Lyndon Plaza shopping center)
20 South Santa Cruz Avenue, Suite 105
Los Gatos CA 95030

408-402-5270

hello@gooseberrypress.com

Gooseberry Designs

Etsy page 

Do you have a high water table?

How high is the water table at your property? (Why would you care?) In Los Gatos, like Almaden, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, and many other parts of Santa Clara County, there are pockets in which the water table, meaning groundwater, is quite high. This can come with some risks.

What are some of the potential issues with high ground water?

In some cases, that groundwater is at such a shallow level that there’s an actual spring with water bubbling up at times. This can happen particularly in times of heavy rainfall. Should it occur directly under your house and into your crawlspace, that would not be good. Water can cause havoc with foundations, so the standard advice from home inspectors and structural engineers is to divert water away from the house. In most cases, that means correct any faulty grading (the soil around the house should case any rainfall to be directed away from the house), to extend downspouts away from the home, etc. If you have a spring bring water up from underground, that is a whole different approach to the challenge.

Another concern with higher water tables is the possibility of environmental problems spreading from the site of a leaking underground storage tank to nearby neighbors (who would get stuck paying the cleanup). Underground plumes of water can carry chemicals from a spill site to some distance away. That’s why home buyers receive a natural and environmental report which includes contamination sites within one mile of the property they’re interested in purchasing.

How can you learn about your neighborhood’s water table?

It seems like experts have mapped just about everything, and one of those things does include the depth at which first groundwater can be found. Today I was curious about this question and was delighted to find a Valley Water map which lays out the various depths of the water table throughout much (but not all) of the Santa Clara Valley.

How shallow is the water in Los Gatos? Per this map, it appears that:

  • At the intersection of N Santa Cruz and Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, it’s 0 – 10 feet on the northwest corner and 10 – 20 feet on the southeast and southwest corner
  • Much of the Almond Grove area appears to have 0 – 10 ft depth for water
  • Old Town seems to have 10 – 20 feet
  • Los Gatos High and the Civic Center look to have 20 – 30 feet (interesting as there was a cleanup  at the Hotel Los Gatos and the high school from a leak at the Dry Cleaner next to the hotel a few years back)
  • The Town Park Plaza is in the 10 – 20 foot area

Click on the link to the Valley Water Open Data site and scroll around to see your part of town! (Unfortunately there are some big pockets missing.)

 

Image of the Valley Water open data map, including Los Gatos and Saratoga - click on image to visit the Valley Water website
Image of the Valley Water open data map, including Los Gatos and Saratoga – click on image to visit the Valley Water website

Belwood, Belgatos & Surmont neighborhood

Belwood Belgatos Surmont and nearby area mapJust west and south of the intersection of Blossom Hill Road and Harwood Road sits a neighborhood of Los Gatos homes with three subdivisions: Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos & Surmont. Nearby public landmarks are Belgatos Park and the Walgreen’s shopping center (corner of Blossom Hill and Harwood), with a Mountain Mike’s Pizza and a Starbucks coffee shop.

For many Los Gatans, all three of these east Los Gatos areas (and sometimes a broader one still) are generally referred to as “Belwood” or “Belwood-Belgatos.” (The Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police cert map identifies the whole region plus the Strathmore neighborhood, which is across Blossom Hill Road, as “Belwood” generally.)

The terrain is nearly level, with very low, gentle hills over most of the area. With winding, mostly tree-lined roads and tidy houses, it’s a very attractive neighborhood overall. For those looking for an arduous climb on foot or bike, though, Harwood Road provides a nice challenge. At the top, you’ll see a fantastic view of downtown San Jose and Silicon Valley for your trouble. (There are some challenges to be found in the open space trails, too.)

Belgatos Park and trails

Grassy fields at Belgatos Park Los GatosAt the middle of this community is the very inviting Belgatos Park, a scenic, setting which includes a playground near the parking lot, picnic areas, restrooms, trails into the hills (with some wonderful valley views), and access to the Heinz Open Space Preserve and its network of trails also. (And it’s not far to the Santa Rosa Open Space area either.)

One hill attracts kids who enjoy sliding down it on bits of cardboard, and thus has been nicknamed “cardboard hill” for decades. Most of the time these cardboard sledding enthusiasts are pretty good about picking up their “sledding vehicles” when done.

The paths are popular with people on foot, but also those on mountain bikes or horseback. As there are a few larger properties which are zoned for horses in the area, this is a very nice equestrian option.

Aerial view of Belwood of Los Gatos neighborhood 2016

For photographers, the park has abundant worthy subjects year round, both of the open space and the valley views below. In the early morning hours, or near sunset, you may see some deer too. But be careful: bobcats and mountain lions are in these hills also.

What are homes like in Belwood, Belgatos and Surmont?

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Is Your Home in a Dam Failure Inundation Area?

Vasona Lake dam in Los Gatos
Vasona Lake dam in Los Gatos

When Los Gatos, Monte Sereno or other Santa Clara County residents buy or sell homes here, one of the reports provided by the sellers is the Natural Hazard Report.  In it, there’s a statement as to whether or not the subject property is in an area of potential flooding if a dam were to give way.

In Los Gatos, most of the zones marked as potential flooding from dam failure are along the path of the Los Gatos Creek. Lexington is a good sized reservoir, so most of the risk comes from there.  Vasona Lake is far smaller, but there are a number of houses just below the dam (which, by the way, sits atop the apparently dormant county mapped Shannon Fault).

Most of us are somewhat “downhill” of a reservoir or two, but not everyone is in an area that would be flooded should the dam burst.

Town of Los Gatos Flood ZonesThe town of Los Gatos has a flood evacuation map and identifies a number of different zones. This map does not show ALL of the town, but presumably all of the areas at risk from flood from dam failure. To view it, click on on this link: Town of Los Gatos Flood Zones

There are maps for the county, as well. It takes some digging to find these things, and the best one I have found so far is not very easy for seeing the details, but it becomes clear that the largest risk is Anderson Dam, and after that it’s Lexington. Santa Clara County Dam Failure Inundation zones – go to page 95 of 223 

Santa Clara County Dam Failure Inundation zones

Los Gatos Terrain Map

Do you ever wonder about the hills that create so much beauty in and near Los Gatos?  Here’s a Los Gatos terrain map (also called an elevation map) that you can play with – zoom in and out, scroll around the valley and generally investigate the varying hills, valleys, and elevations in Silicon Valley. It is a fun way to check out the altitude or grade of hills.

http://maps.stamen.com/#terrain/12/37.2410/-121.8959