Maps of Los Gatos
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.)
Just 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
At 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.
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?
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.
The 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
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.
Coming soon – info on the Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood. For now, though, here are some photos of the Shannon Valley open space and trail – a lovely area with fantastic views.
These photos date back almost two years, to January 2013 (a dry, pleasant winter day!) so views of the housing that was going in then will be quite different looking now.
On the right: in the distance, see the Guadalupe Landfill, also known simply as “the dump” locally, which is accessed off of Guadalupe Mines Road. Below it , see the Brookside Development in Almaden (with Los Gatos schools) getting ready for building. Those homes are in now – at least many are!
Same photo – The Shannon Valley Ranch neighborhood is off to the right, in Los Gatos at the far eastern edge. The dividing line between Almaden and Los Gatos is the Guadalupe Creek – though the school district does not stop at the creek boundary, oddly enough.
The next image, seen on the left, is of the Shannon Valley Ranch Open Space Trail. This connects to a network of trails in east Los Gatos though you have to cross Santa Rosa Drive to go from one to the next. Even so, from here you can reach the Santa Rosa Open Space, Heinz Open Space, and also Belgatos Park trails – whether you are walking, mountain biking, or riding horseback, it’s possible to go and go with only a very short patch on asphalt as you traverse Santa Rosa Drive.
The views are gorgeous from the Shannon Open Space trails, which is situated on the back side of Blossom Hill (the actual hill, not the road). Looking across, you see the coastal foothills and local landmarks such as Loma Prieta. To the east, you can enjoy views of Almaden and the east foothills, depending on your vantage point. The hill is not too steep – though I’m the first to admit that I’d rather be walking down than up!
Something to be aware of is that with all this open space there also comes wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats, deer, mountain lions, skunks, possums, racoons, rats, mice and snakes. Rattlesnakes are indigenous to this area and they sometimes like to come out on the trails to sun themselves, so please be careful when walking, running, or hiking or otherwise moving across these spaces. You don’t want to find a rattler with your foot!
Here’s a sign that I found both disturbing and amusing regarding the presence of snakes (and also who’s got the right of way on the trail). I never knew who was supposed to yield to whom vis-a-vis horses, pedestrians and bicyclists – did you? But according to this sign, folks riding horseback are to give way to those on foot or bikes.
This upcoming winter it is expected (and frankly, after the prolonged drought, HOPED) that we will have an El Nino year with abundant rain. If you have never been out to the Shannon Valley Open Space area – do it sooner rather than later.
My better half, Jim Handy, used to be a volunteer Los Gatos Parks Commissioner (for about 7 years) and he created a map of the trails which you can see on Google for this part of town. Here’s the link to the Shannon Open Space and nearby trail areas.
But do watch for snakes!
There’s an embedded google map below, but for those who would prefer a narrative, here’s a summary of the trail of these lines (deemed reliable but not guaranteed, and not every street is mentioned, this is only a very general description):
These towers and electric lines are fairly parallel to Highway 85 on the west and north side of town, adjacent to Pollard and Wedgewood (near the Rio Rinconada neighborhood) and following both the highway and train tracks immediately.
Heading south, the power line trail courses through the Wimbleton townhousecomplex, moves across Winchester Boulevard near Lark Avenue, and then continues its distancing from the freeway by cutting in further just north of the Vasona Dam (between there and Lark Avenue).
From there, the lines are seen over the the Live Oak Manor Park & play ground, and makes its way down the middle of Blackwell Drive, emerging near Mission Oaks Hospital (a campus of Good Samaritan Hospital nearby), then across Los Gatos Almaden and the Los Gatos Village townhome community.
Now the meandering path will straighten out and lie between the backyard fences of residential streets, such as between Coronet and Blossom Valley Drive in the Alta Vista neighborhood, behind Anne Way (the Strathmore neighborhood) and into the Drysdale tract in San Jose’s Cambrian area, moving toward Camden Avenue and behind the Oak Canyon neighborhood at the beginning of Almaden Valley.
The trail of the high voltage lines somehow gripped me so much that I ended up tracing it all the way from the hills in Cupertino into Saratoga before Los Gatos, then on through our town and into Cambrian, Almaden, Blossom Valley and Santa Teresa (areas of San Jose for any newcomers). Just to be complete, I tracked them all the way to the substation in Coyote Valley and then up into the Santa Cruz Mountains near Montevina Rd and through the Lexington area. (You can see all of this on my Valley of Hearts Delight blog.)
Below is the embedded map. If for any reason it’s not working, you can see the same info by clicking on this link.
View High Voltage Power Lines in Los Gatos and the West Valley in a larger map
Looking for a more “walkable” Los Gatos neighborhood? Take a look at the west Los Gatos area between the La Rinconada Golf Course and the Rinconada Hills gated community, where 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!)
Please continue reading for much more information on the neighborhood!
Have you ever needed to mail something but just did not have the time to run to the main post office? Sometimes those blue United States Postal Service mailboxes are just the thing you need. But try finding one if you are stressed or in a hurry and cannot think straight!
Websites and apps to locate a USPS collection box
Available for both iPhone and Android smart phones, Mail Box Locator is a free app which will assist you in discovering the box in closest proximity to you. (Find it on iTunes or Google Play.) Ont the Google Play site, it’s given about 3 1/2 stars out of five. Regular websites may be preferable.
Browsing the web, are a few sites for finding the nearest blue collection box. One is Mailbox Map. Something cool about Mailbox Map is that it allows users to add maps, which should help to keep it current. (Though I believe it’s more likely for boxes to be removed than added with current budget constraints.) Mailbox Map uses cute mini blue box icons for its markers – see image below.
I found another site, also not affiliated with the USPS, which offers a couple of ways of locating those blue collection boxes – by list or by geo mash up map. (Apparently the website began as a way of finding public pay phones, but it covers these ubiquitous blue boxes as well). They do, of course, include the actual post office locations as well. What the maps and lists don’t do is combine zip codes. Sometimes you’re on the border of two zip codes and it would be ideal to simply put in your own address and see what’s nearby rather than searching only by zip.
Below are links to that information by our three Los Gatos and Monte Sereno area zip codes, 95030, 95032, 95033.
Too often, we think that the search engines know it all, and that includes the maps and names for neighborhoods or subdivisions and where they’re located. Real estate agents or Los Gatos Realtors who want to get ahead sometimes begin by using Bing maps (since Bing has been volunteering subdivision names for awhile now) and create searches of homes for sale based on them, and articles reliant on these mislabeled maps, so getting it all wrong. Surmont and Heritage Grove in east Los Gatos are prime examples!
What’s the matter?
Bing has Heritage Grove north of Blossom Hill Road and set between Leigh and Union. It has Surmont spanning both where it belongs and where Heritage Grove actually sits. Bing doesn’t know what to do with Belgatos and Belwood, so put one slightly north of the other.
No, no, no, no.
For the record, I did submit a “ticket” to Bing to alert the good folks there to the problem. Not a peep back so far, though.
The divider between Belwood of Los Gatos and the Belgatos area is Belgatos Road (think east-west, not north-south). Surmont is to the west of them…but only the area which is contiguous with Belgatos and Belwood. The part that isn’t contiguous (that you have to reach via Blossom Hill Road) is the much, much younger Heritage Grove.
I mapped it out myself based on plat maps from preliminary title reports. I know it’s not elegant looking but it is pretty accurate overall.
Sometimes it is really not clear where one subdivision or neighborhood ends and another begins. That’s when it is especially handy to be able to look at a plat map, which sets forth all kinds of very cool information.
Not sure what a plat map is or does? Have a read at my Valley of Hearts Delight blog:
Want more information on the beautiful Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos or Surmont areas? Check out the mini blog for this corner of east Los Gatos:
Have you ever tried to figure out the Los Gatos zip codes? The only easy one is 95031, and that refers to PO boxes only! To the left, please see a map of the Los Gatos zip codes*: 95030, 95032 and 95033. The large area is the 95033 or “Los Gatos Mountains” area. Just above it is 95030 and above that is 95032.
Los Gatos Zip Code commentary: A few years back, the post office reorganized the way that 95030 and 95032 split up most of the 9 or 10 square miles which comprise the “town of Los Gatos”. It used to be an east-west divide, and now it’s closer to a north and south split, but not exactly that either.
I love this map because it looks as odd as the new distribution feels! The 95033 zip code is unincorporated, mostly in Santa Clara County, but as you can see, much of it falls west of highway 35 (Skyline Blvd) and is in Santa Cruz County. When a home has the 95033 zip code, it is analogous to the property being “in the mountains”.
Zip codes and schools:
Neither the town’s boundaries nor the zip code boundaries line up with the school district boundaries. There are homes in both 95032 and 95030 which are in the Los Gatos School District, for instance – though nearly all of 95030 is “in the schools”. (And just as confusing – a few homes in San Jose’s Almaden Valley with a 95120 zip code are in the Los Gatos School District too.)
*A couple more notes:
(1) Monte Sereno shares the 95030 zip code with Los Gatos
(2) There are some funky pockets near the town’s borders where the homes may actually belong to Los Gatos but have a zip code of the neighboring community or vice versa – this is rare, but it happens. A patch of Campbell near Pollard and Quito has a Los Gatos 95032 mailing address, but it’s actually Campbell. Another pocket of Los Gatos near National and Carlton has a mailing address of San Jose 95124, but it’s actually part of the town of Los Gatos. Weird, but true.