Vasona Park’s Fantasy of Lights (Light Festival)

21st Annual Fantasy of Lights logo, from the SCCP holiday event page 2020
22nd Annual Fantasy of Lights logo, from the SCCP event page.

The 22nd annual Fantasy of Lights show at Vasona Lake County Park begins soon! Occasionally people call me to ask about it – please note that I do not run the event – I am only posting information about it. Full info can be found on the county’s park website, linked below.

22nd annual Fantasy of Lights

When: The Fantasy of Lights runs from Friday, December 4th to Saturday, December 30th, 2020 from 6 – 9pm. This year there will be no Fantasy of Lights Walk-Thru, an opening tradition, only the drive-through spectacular. As always, the Fantasy of Lights is closed on Christmas Day.

Where: Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Road (near University Avenue) Los Gatos, CA

How much: Tickets must be purchased in advance available online through EventBrite. Cost is $20 – per vehicle. One household per vehicle! As of this writing, November 30th, all dates and times for the 2020 Fantasy of Lights are already sold out!

More details:

Please visit the Santa Clara County Parks page for the Fantasy of Lights to get more information and updates on this event.

This year the pandemic is bringing changes on this holiday tradition. However, the socially-distant nature of this event has made it especially popular in 2020! As mentioned above, there will be no walk-through event, no bus admission, limit to one household per vehicle, and nights will run an hour shorter than last year to comply with the mandatory curfew. Visitors health and safety is given top priority for this event!

The annual Holiday Train ride with the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad does not appear on the BJWRR calendar, and it is unclear whether it will be open for operation during the Fantasy of Lights Season. (In summer I learned the railroad was closed under the directive for Amusement Parks, however their social media pages show that they planned to be open the weekend of November 21-22, so they may be operating under different sector currently.) Check their social media or contact BJWRR for information on operations.

More questions? PLEASE do NOT call me about this event – I’m a Realtor in Los Gatos, I’m not in charge of this venue! Please contact the SCC Parks Dept and check out their website for the Fantasy of Lights! The Vasona phone number is (408) 355-2201.

Please visit Live in Los Gatos for year round events, neighborhood information, photos around the town, interesting real estate market data, haunted places and the occasional historical tidbit.

 

Los Gatos is a wonderful place to visit during the holidays, but it’s also a great place to live year round! If you are interested in buying a home in Los Gatos (or selling one), please contact me, Mary Pope-Handy. I’m both a Realtor in town and a resident myself, working full time in helping nice folks to buy & sell homes here and throughout the west valley.

If you aren’t familiar with the area, here are a few things to know!
Buy a home in Los Gatos (info on neighborhoods, school districts, homes for sale to browse online, links to important local sites & info)
Relocating and buying a house in Los Gatos
Los Gatos real estate on Facebook
Los Gatos real estate market statistics & trends for houses
Los Gatos realty trends and stats for condos & townhouses

 

 

Los Gatos duet homes

Likely the most misunderstood properties in town are the Los Gatos duet homes. This is some of the more affordable housing for buyers looking to get into Los Gatos schools, so is popular for that reason especially.  When offered for sale, they sometimes show up in the MLS as condos, at other times as townhouses, and at other times still as single family homes. If you want to buy one, how would you know where to look? And why is there so much confusion?

 

 

Los Gatos duet homes facing Lark Avenue

 

What are duet homes?

Let’s start with what a duet home is and is not. A duet home is also known as an attached single family home. Architecturally, it looks a bit like a townhouse, though usually larger, that is only attached on one side. This is not a duplex (which has one owner for both sides and is considered “income producing property” since either one or both sides is rented out). With duet homes, normally there is a different owner for each side.

A duet home is an architectural style, and in most cases it’s like owning a normal house – you own not just the airspace of the structure, but also the exterior and the land beneath it. Naturally, they can be exceptions. In the Cambrian area there are duet style homes which are held in condo ownership – the Lone Hill Highlands HOA. You’ll only know which type of ownership you’re getting if you carefully read the preliminary title report. A buyer’s lender will care which it is – if it’s a planned unit development and not a condo, it is often easier to get the loan as the HOA won’t need to get bank approval.

 

Tract 9069 – Los Gatos duet homes

 

Los Gatos Duet Homes - greenbelt view

The small community of duet homes is named Tract 9069 and is built around a pretty greenbelt area.  There’s a bit of grass, some walkways, lovely Japanese maple trees along one side, and a pergola and what appears to be a heritage tree on the side next to the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Sadly, this lovely tract of homes has no name! All three streets serving the two dozen or so properties here have the word Mill in the name – Mill Court, Mill Creek, and Mill Road.

If you want to purchase real estate here, the best best is to watch for streets with Mill in the name. Or do a “map search” on the mls (I have results at the end of this article).

Read moreLos Gatos duet homes

Thanksgiving Interfaith Service in Los Gatos

Cornucopia - Thanksgiving Interfaith ServiceThe annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service is a longstanding holiday tradition here in Los Gatos, and this year it’s going virtual. Join in on Zoom by registering online to attend the celebration on Tuesday, November 24th from 7pm – 9pm. The organization under which this happens is the Los Gatos Interfaith Clergy Association. All are welcome!

Each year, an ecumenical service is held at a different house of worship with the theme of Thanksgiving. This year, it’s being held at all of them! The first ever Los Gatos Virtual Interfaith Thanksgiving will be hosted on Zoom and streaming directly from the many sanctuaries of our community.

A big highlight of the event, which often draws about 350 attendees, is the joint choir, which is also going virtual for this event. This year’s event also features a sermon from Rabbi Aron of Congregation Shir Hadash.

Attendance is free and attendees must register online to receive the Zoom link to join this virtual celebration. No in-person celebration or reception will be held this year.

Thanksgiving Interfaith Service sponsors from recent years have included:

Congregation Shir Hadash
Faith Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Los Gatos United Methodist Church
St. Luke’s Ediviscopal Church
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
The Baha’i Faith of Los Gatos
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Los Gatos Ward
The Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos

 

In the past, this also included chaplains from Good Samaritan Hospital, the Terraces and Stanford Health Care.

In past celebrations, those attending the Thanksgiving Interfaith Service were encouraged to bring canned food to donate to West Valley Community Services and St. Luke’s Lunch Program, and cash donations to other charities were encouraged. If you are able, consider donating food, items, money, or your time to a local charity to help the South Bay community during this difficult holiday season. Here are the names of a few:

 

I wish each and every one of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Los Gatos condo sales: what does your money buy?

Los Gatos condo sales are good to watch as it provides info on the most affordable segment of the local real estate market. The condo / townhome market in Los Gatos includes a broad spectrum of housing and affordability across the 95030 and 95032 zip codes and its various school districts.

Included are senior condominiums (mostly but not exclusively at the Los Gatos Commons), which are usually the lowest priced homes and which are residences with age restrictions (mostly 55+). This can skew the data a little, so remember that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is (for all the non-seniors who would love the prices at the Commons in a non seniors complex).

Also incorporated in the chart below are townhouses. A townhouse is an architectural style, not a type of ownership. A townhouse really refers to properties with no other units above or below them. They are either in condo style ownership (essentially a condominium in the shape of a townhouse) or they are planned unit developments (PUDs), which are not condos and in which the ownership includes the land under the unit.  (See also: Is that Los Gatos house or townhouse actually a condo? on this blog.)

Chart of Los Gatos condo sales in 2020

Below please find data on the Los Gatos 95030 and 95032 condominium and townhome sales.

 

Los Gatos condo sales in 2020 year to date

 

How do these condo and townhome prices compare to other nearby areas? Here’s the most recent data from my RE Report (link is to the main site, the PDF with this chart is listed in left column).

Read moreLos Gatos condo sales: what does your money buy?

Bring the Indoors Outside: the California Room Trend

If you are house-hunting and find yourself looking at new or recently developed homes in the Bay Area, you may have seen properties advertised to have a “California Room,” but what exactly is a California room?

California room or luxury porch image from Pixabay
Image by andre casti from Pixabay

What is a California Room?

Sometimes when a house has beautiful views, large sunny windows, and plenty of access to outdoor spaces we might promote it as “bringing the outdoors in.” With the popular trend of California Rooms, however, Bay Area new homes are bringing the indoors outside!

Outdoor living features are as old as the art of architecture itself. The California room is very similar to the classical loggia. It is a living and entertaining space open to the outdoors on at least one side and always covered by a roof. More protected than a lanai, not fully enclosed like a sunroom, and more multi-purpose than a patio, the California room is a luxury space that can be described as a hybrid between a porch and a room.

Read moreBring the Indoors Outside: the California Room Trend

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.

Read moreRemember to vote by November 3rd!

Cheeky Los Gatos Article from 1892

Tucked away on the back page of the San Jose Daily Mercury from Monday September 5th, 1892 is an amusing and impudent little article titled “The Effect of the ‘Mercury’ on the Gem of the Foothills”.

It reads:San Jose Mercury-news, Volume XLII, Number 67, 5 September 1892

San Jose, says the Los Gatos News, is making a lively bid for Los Gatos favors. The Mercury has arranged for a daily news budget and an agent (his name is Dennis) is canvassing the town for subscribers. Like the Novitiate College and Glenridge, the Garden City will soon be applying for annexation to Los Gatos. No doubt San Jose envies us our felicitous zephyrs and the picturesqueness of our mountain scenery and would like us to divide the honor which the Gem of the Foothills monopolizes on the Pacific Coast. We advise our Town Board to go slow on San Jose. It would be well to modestly suggest that our patronizing sister first purge herself of the discordant elements which have been blazoned from the electric tower and have been made so conspicuous in the councils of the body politic before we risk the chances of admitting her to our peaceful realm. We will take the Mercury on probation and if the evidences of peace and good will develop a tendency to reform in these important particulars, we may, at some future time, consider a proposition to admit San Jose as a suburb, providing she will allow us the privilege of attaching to her main sewer to the Bay, or offer some other equally persuasive inducement.

The author sets up the joke right at the start. The News and the Mercury are competing daily papers; the Mercury (based in San Jose) is hawking subscriptions in Los Gatos (home of the News) while condescending to the Town in it’s publications, at least in the author’s opinion. In response the author (presumably from our little Town and proud of it) turns right around and patronizes them back! This article references contemporary issues, from overtly bragging about annexations and reputations, to addressing the desired expansion of public utilities (sewage, in this case), and takes jabs at San Jose’s first attempt at electric street lighting and the “San Jose Electric-Light War”! What a cheeky piece of history!