Live in Los Gatos

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

Plein Art Show in Los Gatos

PaintingThe Plein Art Show in Los Gatos returns this weekend!

  • Preview and sale at 100 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos on Sat., June 22nd from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • The show itself is Sunday, June 23rd from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Los Gatos Town Plaza. These will be works of art created here in recent days. Beer & wine will be available for purchase.

 

What is Plein Air?  Plein Air is a French phrase which refers to the way of painting in the open air, which was especially popular in the 19th century with many impressionists.  There will be dozens of artists coming to town and over 100 pieces of art on display (and to purchase). Also found at the event will be wine tasting, music, and mini art sessions for kids.

Thanks to the Los Gatos morning Rotary for sponsoring this great event yet again. Learn more on the Los Gatos Plein Air website:
http://www.lgpleinair.org/

Los Gatos CERT Event

Wildfire Evacuation Route in Los Gatos The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is a nationwide effort at preparing individuals and communities to be better prepared in disasters. In some areas, the focus may be more on terrorist threats, and in others, natural hazards such as earthquakes, fire, tornadoes, tsunamis, flooding etc. Los Gatos and Monte Sereno have received funding and CERT has been getting rolled out here. Last night in my area, Belwood (one of 13 CERT communities), there was a meeting about safety generally and CERT in particular, and I believe these meetings are happening or will happen in the various CERT areas.

On July 13, there will be a CERT event at the Los Gatos Civic Center from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.,for a CERT Fire extinguisher training, unveiling of the new Civic Center Neighborhood Incident Command Post (NICP) and a B.B.Q. All are welcome! You can register for this event on the Eventbrite page.

Learn more about CERT – wonderful video produced by FEMA. The opening segment has to do with the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989.

 

 

Looking to get trained as a CERT volunteer? You can sign up here for the course, which begins in October.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-emergency-response-team-cert-academy-los-gatosmonte-sereno-tickets-50498156345

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

Los Gatos Free Music Concert Series: Music in the Park, Jazz on the Plazz and Vasona Vibrations Schedule of Events and Performers

Summer 2019 is just around the corner and we’re all revved up and ready for those free concerts around Los Gatos. Most artists and schedules have been announced and, knowing that you are as excited about these as I am, I have compiled a calendar of free outdoor music events for us all! Below please find a compilation of the FOUR different Los Gatos free musical concert series (and don’t forget Independence Day festivities)! As always, the information below should be reliable but as with any concert or outdoors event it is subject to change, so double check the website prior to going and always read the rules (especially if you plan to picnic). Hope to see you there!

Los Gatos Free Music Concert Series List of EventsVasona - Los Gatos Free Music Concert Series: Music in the Park, Jazz on the Plazz and Vasona Vibrations Schedule of Events and Performers

Music - Los Gatos Free Music Concert Series: Music in the Park, Jazz on the Plazz and Vasona Vibrations Schedule of Events and Performers(1) Vasona Vibrations  5-7pm every Saturday of June & July (pl;us a bonus Open Mic on Aug 3) at Vasona Lake County Park, schedule of performers has recently been announced here at the event’s website. Performances are held on the lawn near the Ranger Office, just down the hill from the pedestrian entrance at University Ave and Pepper Tree Lane. Consider bringing food and cash donations to Second Harvest Food Bank, which are accepted at every concert. Please note that a $6 fee is charged for parking within the County Parks.

(2) Music in the Park   5-7pm Sundays from July 7th – August 4th, usually with a dance party finale at the Los Gatos Civic Center campus lawn.  Get more information (rules, dates, location, schedule and lineup) when available at the website, closer to June.000 Jazz - Los Gatos Free Music Concert Series: Music in the Park, Jazz on the Plazz and Vasona Vibrations Schedule of Events and Performers

(3)  Jazz on the Plazz 6:30-8:30pm Wednesdays, June 19 – August 21 at the Los Gatos Town Plaza (where the farmers market is held) on West Main St and Santa Cruz Ave by the post office. More information and a schedule is available on the website. Please note that while the other music venues are 100% free, with Jazz on the Plazz, the “best” seats come with a price tag.

(4) Fiesta de Artes open 10am-6pm August 10th – 11th, at the Civic Center Lawn in Downtown Los Gatos. The Fiesta is the only art and wine festival in Los Gatos and offers musical performances both days from start to finish. Find the schedule here.

Don’t forget to include the Fourth of July in your plans – it is always spectacular, and is one of the more child-
friendly concerts! The events are held at Oak Meadow Park, and Los Gatos residents park for free. Event page is showing information from 2017, this is normally updated as we approach July. Last year, a new event was held the weekend prior, the Red, White, & Blue Block Party on sjws 4thSaturday, July 1st, 2017. Santa Cruz Avenue in Downtown was closed for festivities including, music, family games, a bike parade, and dunk tank. No updated information has been given yet, but we hope the party will be back in 2018!

Now for the full schedule of performances. Once again, please double check all rules, directions, and schedule information with the information on the festival website so you can enjoy the music to the fullest. A complete list of performers is not yet available, the chart will be filled in as details become available.

 

Series Date Day Time Performer & Link
Vasona Vibrations 1-Jun Sat 5:00-7:00pm Top Shelf Big Band
Vasona Vibrations 8-Jun Sat 5:00-7:00pm Blue House
Vasona Vibrations 15-Jun Sat 5:00-7:00pm The Jones Gang
Jazz on the Plazz 19-Jun Wed 6:30-8:30pm Jane Monheit
Vasona Vibrations 22-Jun Sat 5:00-7:00pm Andre Thierry
Jazz on the Plazz 26-Jun Wed 6:30-8:30pm Tiffany Austin
Vasona Vibrations 29-Jun Sat 5:00-7:00pm Windy Hill
Vasona Vibrations 30-Jun Sat 5:00-7:00pm Andre Thierry
Jazz on the Plazz 3-Jul Wed 6:30-8:30pm Curtis Stigers with Full Spectrum Jazz
4th of July Celebration 4-Jul Thurs 1:00pm Symphony in the Park – San Jose Wind Symphony
4th of July Celebration 4-Jul Thurs 11:00am The Hipwaders (for kids) on 2nd stage
Vasona Vibrations 6-Jul Sat 5:00-7:00pm Blue Summit
Music in the Park 7-Jul Sun 5:00-7:00pm The Sun Kings (Beatles tribute)
Jazz on the Plazz 10-Jul Wed 6:30-8:30pm Paula West (Facebook Link)
Vasona Vibrations 13-Jul Sat 5:00-7:00pm Jessica Johnson
Music in the Park 14-Jul Sun 5:00-7:00pm Sweet HayaH
Jazz on the Plazz 17-Jul Wed 6:30-8:30pm John Proulx
Vasona Vibrations 20-Jul Sat 5:00-7:00pm Isis and The Cold Truth
Music in the Park 21-Jul Sun 5:00-7:00pm Ryan Scripps
Jazz on the Plazz 24-Jul Wed 6:30-8:30pm To Be Announced
Vasona Vibrations 27-Jul Sat 5:00-7:00pm Bean Creek
Music in the Park 28-Jul Sun 5:00-7:00pm Stealin’ Chicago
Jazz on the Plazz 31-Jul Wed 6:30-8:30pm Jamie Davis
Vasona Vibrations 3-Aug Sat 4:00-7:00pm Vasona Vibrations Acoustic Open Mike
Music in the Park 4-Aug Sun 5:00-7:00pm Caravansarai (Santana Tribute)
Jazz on the Plazz 7-Aug Wed 6:30-8:30pm Monterey Jazz Festival County High School All Stars
Jazz on the Plazz 14-Aug Wed  6:30-8:30pm  Roberta Gambarini
 Jazz on the Plazz  21-Aug Wed  6:30-8:30pm The Funky Godfather
Los Gatos Dance Party 31-Aug Sat 7 – 9:30 pm See https://liveinlosgatosblog.com/los-gatos-park-dance-3/
Fiesta de Artes 21 & 22-Sept Sat & Sun 10am –  6 pm See https://losgatosfiesta.com/
That is quite the roundup! Los Gatos is a fantastic place in which to live and recreate, but no time more than in the summer. Enjoy!

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

Tree pruning, tree removal in Los Gatos

A canopy of trees

A canopy of trees

Most Los Gatans know that you cannot just remove any tree you like in town – some older and larger trees are protected, and some are deemed so important as to be known as heritage trees.

Did you know that the protections extend to pruning certain trees, and not just removing them?

Not all trees are protected, and not all pruning is prohibited.

  • At what point is it required to get permits to prune or remove a tree in Los Gatos?
  • How old and how large do they have to be to need a permit for pruning (let alone removing) them?

I was surprised at the answers, so thought I’d share some of the highlights of them here. If you’d like to just jump to the town’s document, here it  is: Town of Los Gatos Parks and Public Works Tree Removal and Pruning Permit

The town’s info all uses the diameter of the tree’s trunk at 4.5′ above grade, but I think it’s easier to measure the circumference. Jim, my better half and a guy who thinks math problems are recreation, reminded me that you can learn the circumference of a circle simply by multiplying the diameter by pi, or 3.12 (appx!).

The town has three categories, protected, large protected, and heritage.

What is a protected tree in Los Gatos?

Protected trees are classified as such by meeting any of a variety of criteria: diameter of trunk at 4.5′ above natural grade, type of tree, or some combination of the two of them together with the type of location in town.

In addition to the criteria, there are a few exceptions, such as fruit or nut trees up to 18″ in diameter, or a short list of others up to 24″ in diameter, including most palm trees.

A protected tree may be as small as 4″ diameter (appx 9″ circumference)  on vacant or non-residential property.

For residential lots which are developed (a home exists on the property), all trees which have a 12″ or greater diameter (less exceptions). For the developed hillside areas (see the map for the designated Town of Los Gatos residential hillside areas), it’s just an 8″ diameter (about 24-25″).

There are additional criteria, and specific trees named in the town’s document, including some oaks, buckeye, and madrone. And, as you’d expect, if there’s a development review or related requirement from the town, there are other requirements, too.

Protected trees need permits to be removed OR to be pruned by more than 25% over 3 years

What is a large protected tree?

A large protected tree has a diameter of 48 inches or more, or could also be an Oak, California Buckeye, or Pacific Madrone with a diameter of 24 inches or more.

What is a heritage tree?

A heritage tree is “specifically designated by action of the Town Council which possesses exceptional aesthetic, biological, cultural, or historic value to the community”(quote from the link above).

Permits are needed to remove or cut any branch or root greater than 4 inches in diameter of any Large Protected Tree or Heritage Tree

These are just the highlights – if you are thinking of doing major pruning or removal of a tree in Los Gatos, please read this document thoroughly, and if in down, check with the town:
Town of Los Gatos Parks and Public Works Tree Removal and Pruning Permit

 

Related reading:

TOWN CODE Chapter 29 – ZONING REGULATIONS ARTICLE I. – IN GENERAL  DIVISION 2. TREE PROTECTION

Los Gatos: private trees

Los Gatos: street trees

Trees, Branches, and Property Lines in Silicon Valley (older post on my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)

 

Los Gatos welcomes new residents

Recently while looking for something on the town’s website, I stumbled upon something new to me – a way in which the town of Los Gatos welcomes new residents. This comes from the FAQ page. Similar info can be found on resident services / welcoming new residents page.

Residents receive packets of useful community information, including letters from the Town Manager and Chief of Police, an overview of Town services, emergency preparedness and home safety information and gift certificates from local businesses. Children receive Town pins, stickers, and police badges.

Read all of the info on the link provided above, or contact the Personnel and Community Services Divison at (408) 354-6842.

ALSO, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga offers a Newcomers Club. You can check out the membership and activities at http://www.NewComersOfLosGatos.com/

Los Gatos Cat Word Cloud - designed by Mary Pope-Handy

Flapjacks & Railroad Tracks

BJWRR-Flapjacks-Breakfast_W300H237-cOn Saturday, June 8, 2019,  the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad (which runs from Oak Meadow Park through part of Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos) is hosting a fun, affordable pancake breakfast from 8:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

The website states:

There are two options for breakfast: Regular Breakfast is $8.00 and includes 3 large pancakes & 2 sausage links. Small Breakfast includes 1 large pancake & 2 sausage links. A la cart items will also be available.

Tickets for the train are at the regular pricing. It’s a great fundraiser to support the small gauge railroad, and kick off the summer schedule for both the train and carousel.

In addition, the train and carousel will be open bright and early. Rides will begin at 8:00am and run until 4:30pm. Standard ticket pricing applies.

For more information and details, please have a look at the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad website.

If you’re on Facebook, find and “like” the Facebook page for the BJWRR.

 

Average & median sale prices in Los Gatos

My RE Report stats come out between the 5th and the 10th of each month, but I like to get a sneak peak, so crunch my own numbers some of the time. Today I wanted a window into Los Gatos real estate pricing. First, here are the average and median sale prices for the Los Gatos market in the two “in town” zip codes of 95030 and 95032 (for single family homes):

2019-5-2 Los Gatos 95030, 95032 average and median sale prices

Next, the Los Gatos Mountains (MLS area 23, zip code 95033):

2019-5-2 Los Gatos 95033 average and median sale prices

Additional market info to follow in just a few days!

Los Gatos homes: class and land use

When scouring the MLS for properties to view,  Los Gatos home buyers would be wise to pay attention to the property class and land use data. A few years back, I discussed a little on this topic with this article: Is that Los Gatos house or townhouse actually a condo? Today I want to focus on the MLS information that Los Gatos home buyers are viewing online, and what to look for to understand these issues better. I’ve taken screen shots from the MLS, so what you see will appear differently on other portals, but the info should be present somewhere on the page if it shows up in our local MLS.

Getting the best data means getting it from a local MLS

First, our MLS, MLSListings.com, cooperates with other MLS organizations around the state. Often, though, when info comes into our system from an outside one, some info is dropped. That can be very frustrating. The most obvious one is the days on market or DOM – it is blank when it’s an out of area MLS entry. Today I was looking for examples of property class, meaning what kind of structure is it, and the land use to share here when I found this one, below:

Class and land use - Land use blank with TH - not MLS Listings

Normally you will find info on the “class” which means the building type, such as a single family  home (if detached, a house, if attached, a duet home), a townhouse, a condominium, a duplex / triplex / fourplex, etc.  Also there should be land use – is it a condo, a PUD, or a single family home? (With condos and townhomes, there’s also a line for “ownership type.)

In the photo above, “Land use” is blank. Not helpful for a home buyer! This one was from a non-MLSListings.com entry. When that happens, you may want to make note of the info you could not find so you remember to chase it down later.

Most, however, will include the land use information, such as the next one:

Land use - townhouse in condo ownership

Many of the townhouses in Los Gatos and nearby are held in condo ownership. That means you do not own the land under the unit, even though it is a townhouse. The owner of this kind of property owns the interior space between the walls and the floor and the ceiling.   The Home Owner’s Association (HOA) has responsibility for the exterior of the structure, the roof, etc. The attic may or may not be community property. In some cases, there is a shared, open attic over all the units. In those cases, only one unit will have an opening to get into the attic.

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Mary Pope-Handy

Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
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