Election 2008 – Voting in Los Gatos

November 02, 2008


Where Do Los Gatos Residents Vote?

This Tuesday is the general election and many in the town may be wondering where can you vote? Click on the link and you’ll be able to input your address and see your assigned polling location.

Vote in Los Gatos Tuesday, November 4, 2008This year, some Los Gatos residents were informed that they are voting by mail or dropping off a completed ballot at a nearby polling place.

For those of us in the east Los Gatos neighborhood of Belwood, Alerche Road and Harwood Road near Belwood, the place to drop off ballots is Noddin School, 1755 Gilda Way (at Harwood Road), San Jose 95124.

I wondered why this time around we got a vote-by-mail ballot when normally we just go to the cabana on Belwood Gateway to vote. The California Elections code determines that if there are fewer than 250 registered voters in a precinct, it must be a “mail ballot” area. (It apparently can vary from one election to the next as to how a precinct will be designated in terms of having a polling place or not. ) This seems to be happening all over the state, particularly in areas where jurisdictions are more complicated.

For more information on voting by mail, or dropping off ballots, please see the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters page on the SCCGOV site. There are multiple ways to get your vote turned in.

Please note, all completed ballots must be received no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 4, 2008.

What about the Los Gatos Town Council race?

If you find that the election is looming quickly and you remain undecided about your town council vote, here are some resources for you to check out:

League of Women Voters Information on the candidates for Los Gatos Town Council

Los Gatos Town Council Forum (1 hour video in which each candidate responds to questions and areas of concern)

Peggy Dallas www.Peggy4Council.org

Michael Kane www.MichaelKane4LG.com

Steve Ricewww.SteveRice4LG.com

Barbara Spector www.spector-re-elect-her.org

I would encourage everyone to take time in reading each candidate’s site, view what the League of Women Voters presents, watch the forum online and choose after becoming informed. Some of the candidates put an amazing and helpful amount of information into their sites.

As we go into the election, I can see strengths in each one of the candidates. Some of the plusses in each one as I see it:

Peggy Dallas – will bring a fresh voice and architectural background to the council

Michael Kane – focus on protecting hillsides, wants to stick to the town’s general plan

Steve Rice – very highly experienced volunteer in the town, broad vision of town’s needs

Barbara Spector – incumbant, extremely experienced

Thank you, candidates, for caring so much about our town that you’re running for council, and for all the volunteer work that you do for our town. Best of luck to all of you.

Meet the Blossom Manor Neighborhood of Los Gatos

November 01, 2008

View of Lilac Way in Blossom Manor neighborhood of Los GatosBlossom Manor is a highly popular residential area in Los Gatos which is close to shops, parks and the highly acclaimed Los Gatos schools.  There are many gently winding roads, a few very minor hills and some perfectly tree lined streets. It’s a tidy area where homes old and new all tend to be well kept.

Where is the Blossom Manor Neighborhood?

Located in east Los Gatos, Blossom Manor is bordered by Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos Boulevard, Los Gatos Almaden Road, and Longwood Drive. Below, please find an enhanced map of the area. I added the location of the shopping centers (3 grocery stores between them, many restaurants, coffee places, video rental, Noah’s Bagels, drug store, banks, etc.) and I added the two nearby public schools for this neighborhood of town. (Google can add schools but adds all of them as dots – but no names.) To see the live Google map and be able to zoom in and out and pan the area generally, use this link.)

Map of Blossom Hill Manor neighborhood in Los Gatos, CA

There are many shops, stores, and restaurants along Los Gatos Boulevard, and especially at the intersection of Los Gatos Boulevard and Blossom Hill Road, but also at Los Gatos Blvd. For instance, there are three grocery stores all within a few blocks: Nob Hill, Lunardi’s and Whole Foods are all along the border of The Manor.. Restaurants run from upscale (Viva)  to grab & go (Chinese take out) with everything in between (new Los Gatos Cafe, Jamba Juice, High Tech Burrito, Japanese food, a chocolate shop)..

A Little History of The Manor

Before the Manor was developed, it was a fruit orchard (I believe apricot and prune). The lots were generous, about a quarter acre or so in most cases. It was a county area, not part of the town of Los Gatos but having a Los Gatos mailing address, which is still the case today for some of it.  The homes that were in this county area have 5 digit addresses.

Because the area was somewhat rural and was in the county, it was not on the sewer system. Yards had septic tanks to handle sewage. (When buying in the area, it’s good to find out if there is a buried septic tank still in the yard.)

Newer streets in Blossom Manor are Cherrystone Drive, Cherrystone Court, Lilac Way and a ittle of Cherry Blossom Lane, which are part of the Stonehedge development. These streets look and feel a little different then the rest of the neighborhood and were built being part of the town of Los Gatos, so have sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and uniform looking trees linking the streets. Also they have a private cabana club – a pool for the folks whose homes are part of Stonehedge. Many of these lots are closer to 8000 SF than a quarter acre. These homes have 3 digit addresses (e.g., 123 Street Name Drive).

What Are Homes Like in Blossom Manor?
What Does It Cost to Live in Blossom Hill Manor?

The original homes in the older part of the Manor offered 3 to 4 bedrooms, a living room with brick fireplace, sometimes a small family room or formal dining room area that had the backside of the fireplace used as an indoors barbeque, 2 tiled bathrooms and an attached two car garage.

Today, most homes average around 1800 to 3000 square feet and sell between the low 1 million range to about  $2 million range or $650 per square foot to $750 per square foot on average. Homes do go higher or lower but they are the exception. It is possible to find a home in the neighborhood but which borders a busy road selling for around $1 million to $1.1 million, or a tear-down (or big fixer upper project) in that price range, and it’s also possible to find a completely new, super sharp, very large home with all high end amenities offered at $2.2 mil but those are the extremes.

Also, there are a few duplexes around the edge of Blossom Manor. They can be found on Blossom Hill Road, Camilia Terrace, and Los Gatos – Almaden Road. These are not often on the market, but they make good investment properties for all the same reasons why homes in the Manor are ever desireable.

Have a look at some photos taken the last week in October, 2008:

It’s Often About the Great Los Gatos Schools

The schools are a major reason why this neighborhood has enduring popularity: Blossm Hill Elementary, Fisher Middle School, and Los Gatos High School all serve Blossom Manor students.  Fisher is about a mile away and Blossom Hill is just a few blocks. The schools for the younger kids are close enough to walk or ride a bike so the convenience factor is very high. Combine that with outstanding API scores and a huge amount of parental involvement and the appeal is clear!

Other Things to Know About the Manor

Downtown Los Gatos has lots of charm and fantastic shops. This area of east Los Gatos though, where Los Gatos Blvd meets Blossom Hill Road and also Los Gatos-Almaden Road, is where a lot of the “practical living” stuff takes place in town. This is the area where you’ll find Trader Joes, fast food (mom and pop varieties as well as chains), Affordable Treasures, car part shops, pet supply stores, and the everyday things that families need from grocery stores and banks to Peets and Starbucks.

From Blossom Manor to Vasona Park it’s about a mile. From the Manor to a freeway entrance (85 or 17) it’s about a mile. To downtown Los Gatos, it’s about two miles. Everything is close.

View of Blossom HIll Elementary School in Los Gatos from Cherry Blossom Lane in The Manor - the hill in the background is called El Sombroso.

The issue of county vs town areas has been hotly contested in recent years. Some neighbors who are in the county want to be made part of the town. Others feel the opposite. Feelings are strong because of a number of factors. One is the less restrictive nature of improvements, remodeling and rebuilding homes in the county (the town tends to be pickier). Folks who want to tear down and rebuild would often prefer to work with the county so they have more leeway in what they want to do. On the opposite side, some folks prefer more conformity – and perhaps less of the “monster house” effect that can happen.

Another factor may be policing. The town of Los Gatos and city of Monte Sereno are served by the Los Gatos – Monte Sereno Police Department. But the county pockets in Los Gatos and elsewhere in the county are usually serviced by sheriffs, not police, and their turf may be so large as to make response times slow and coverage difficult.

Voting may be a reason why some want to become part of the town of Los Gatos. Living in the Manor but not being able to vote on local polical representatives may be very frustrating for some.

In terms of natural hazards, there may be a little of the Shannon Fault running through one corner of the Manor, according to the Barclay’s Locaide. The locaide is not always correct and at least a couple of times I’ve sold homes that appeared to be on fault zones when in fact they were not. The JPC company, which provides geologic and natural hazard reports, has geologists on staff and can tell you, when you buy their report for a particular property, if the home is truly on a fault (or has other n
atural hazard issues)or not and c
an explain the ramifications of it.  Do not simply rely on the maps in the locaide. Whether buying or selling in Blossom Manor, this is an important thing to understand.

Find Homes for Sale in the Blossom Hill Manor Neighborhood of Los Gatos

Browse homes for sale in the Blossom Manor area on my popehandy.com website. No registration, easy viewing by map!

If you would like to discuss or plan buying or selling a home in the Blossom Manor neighborhood of Los Gatos, or anywhere in or near Los Gatos, please contact me today!

Mary Pope-Handy
Mary@PopeHandy.com  408 204-7673

Is The Economic Crisis Impacting Los Gatos Home Sales?

October 25, 2008

Several of my buyers have recently decided to hold off until things calm down with the economy. So I wondered if this was widespread or not. Tonight I checked the sales in Los Gatos (zips 95030 and 95032) for the period of 10/1 – 10/25 this year and last year. Sales are slower than last month but still ahead of last year, generally.

Among single family homes in Los Gatos, there have been 15 homes that went sale pending in that time frame this year, wheras there were 8 last year. For condos and townhomes it was 4 this year and 5 last year – close enough to not be significant in my opinion.

Right now, it does not look terribly bad. Sales are mostly ahead of last year at this same time. That said, we’ll know more when ALL the factors are in – price points, list price to sales price ratio, days on market, etc.

Step Back in Time with Historic Topographical Map of Los Gatos

October 17, 2008

While trying to find an old map of Los Gatos online, I stumbled upon some interesting and historic topographical maps of San Jose, Los Gatos, Gilroy, Santa Clara, and other areas nearby care of the USGS. I will place a tiny segment of one here so that you can get the idea and visit the site yourself:

1919 Map of Los Gatos

My husband, Jim, loves maps and he tells me that each one of those “dots” visible on the map represents a house. Amazing! Another surprise, to me anyway, is that Kennedy Road looks like it used to be called Rinconada. Other, nearby parts of the map reveal that Camden Avenue was where the rail line used to run to the mines in Almaden and Guadalupe. Cool stuff – hope you enjoy it!