If you took Driver’s Ed in Saratoga or Los Gatos, you were probably made to park on the steepest hill around – Nicholson Avenue with its 23 degree grade. Positively frightening! But local bicycle enthusiasts take on Nicholson not with motor vehicles, but on their bikes in a race that has become a Los Gatos classic – the Cat’s Hill Classic, which runs through the Almond Grove, Glenridge and Bachman Park neighborhoods of Los Gatos Saturday, April 27th, 2019. There’s even a kid set too.
Please get the full scoop here on the organization’s website.
Each spring, Los Gatos hosts a “Spring into Green” event. The next one will be at the Town Plaza Park on Sunday, April 14, 2019 from 10am to 1pm.
The town’s website states “Join us in celebrating Earth Day, Keep Los Gatos Beautiful Month and environmental awareness. The festivities will include a tree planting ceremony, the weekly Los Gatos Farmer’s Market, family-friendly activities, live music and more.”
There will be kid friendly events as well as interesting and fun things to do for people of all ages.
Full details on the town’s website:
The Los Gatos Spring Wine Walk will take place on Saturday, May 4 2019 from 1:00 to 5:00pm. Stroll through downtown Los Gatos and enjoy wine tasting, free music, shopping, and the ambiance of our Gem City. Sponsored by the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, this popular event is $45 in advance (available to the first 300 ticket purchases) and $50 general admission online, plus processing fee. If there are tickets remaining they will go up for sale on the day of the event for $55 at the door IF it’s not sold out, so get your tickets today!
For more details and info on how to register, please see the Los Gatos Chamber’s website. Cheers!
By all standards, winter in Los Gatos is mild, and any rain we get is overdue and welcomed with gratitude. Even so, the colder and wetter temps can tend to keep us from some of our beloved outdoor activities – at least for a little bit.
Where do you like to go on a rainy day, or one which is unusually chilly? Here are a few suggestions:
- The Los Gatos Public Library is stunning, filled with natural light, includes WiFi and even has a little cafe on the first floor. One thing it doesn’t have is a whole lot of quiet, though (and this is before the high school let out, so no finger pointing at teens). Twice recently I’ve been in the quiet zone areas and had a variety of loud noises – mostly people talking on cell phones, but not only that. So go – but bring headphones or ear buds so you can listen to your own music and not someone crinkling bags or catching up by phone.
- Right next to the new public library… The Museums of Los Gatos recently combined and are now in the location where the old Los Gatos Library used to be – on the Civic Center campus. What could be better than a museum on a wet day? Check out the NUMU site and plan your trip – come rain or come shine!
- There aren’t many sports which you can play indoors in Los Gatos but Bocce Ball is one of them! How about lunch or dinner at Campo di Bocce, which has both indoors and outdoors courts? The ambiance and food are great, and it’s a super atmosphere for a family get-together or company party.
- How about a movie? The Los Gatos Theater has been renovated recently and is stunning! If you haven’t had a chance to visit there since it reopened, the inclement weather is your perfect excuse!
- Visit Petroglyph in downtown Los Gatos and make something beautiful!
There are lots of options in and around San Jose, too.
Do you love video games? Check out the AFK Video Game Lounge in downtown San Jose.
A rainy winter may just be the very best time to finally see all the local Silicon Valley museums you’ve been putting off seeing since the weather was just too good to be indoors:
- Children’s Discovery Museum
- The Tech Museum of Innovation
- San Jose Museum of Art
- Intel Museum
- Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
- San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
- De Sassiet Museum
- Los Altos History Museum
- Japanese American Museum of San Jose
- Portuguese Historical Museum
- Computer History Museum
- Silicon Valley Art Museum (“a virtual online art gallery”)
Have fun, and please email me if I’m missing anything that should be added to this list!
It’s February and, for couples, that means it’s time to plan your Valentine’s Day! And what better place to celebrate your love than in the Valley of Heart’s Delight (Silicon Valley’s old nickname), or more specifically, in the Gem of the Foothills – our very own LG! Here we’ll give you some ideas on how to celebrate a romantic Valentine’s Day in Los Gatos.
Valentine’s Day on a tight budget: picnic with your sweetie
Los Gatos is filled with beautiful parks, and lately the weather has been in the low 70s. If you want or need to be frugal, get a simple assortment of cheeses, crackers, grapes and wine and enjoy a picnic at Vasona Park or your favorite of any one of the lovely parks in town. It’s affordable, easy, and you can enjoy some lovely views.
How about a walking tour of Los Gatos?
Stroll through scenic downtown Los Gatos. The “village” area is full of neat shops. Head over to Old Town too, and while there, walk across the pedestrian bridge between Old Town and Forbes Mill. There is something about being still on this little bridge with the world passing by underneath that’s very special. Have a look at the old mill. This was the first commercial venture in Los Gatos – and it’s tucked away, off the beaten path. . . . But easy to find if you know what to look for.
You might also consider doing the “LOST Gatos” historic walking tour – just put it on speaker. Check out the free app the various tours you can hear at the link above.
After you’ve dined, head back to North Santa Cruz Avenue and pick up some dessert at Dolce Spazio.
Dinner out in Los Gatos for Valentine’s Day? Reserve early!
Need to do the official Valentine’s meal out? Los Gatos is oozing with great restaurants. Just don’t wait until the last minute to call in for a table. Some of my favorites include the Wine Cellar, I Gatti, Viva, and Pedro’s, Looking to totally “wow” him or her? A world class restaurant is Manresa. I haven’t eaten there yet but understand that it’s one of the finest restaurants to be found anywhere (it’s just not as affordable as the other places I’ve suggested). You might also try Flights – it’s fun to share your food with a sweetheart!
Shopping for Valentine’s Day in Los Gatos : Flowers, Chocolates, and Lace
Need flowers? Bunches in downtown is very nice. Do yourself a favor and visit a proper flower shop if you’re going to do it. The grocery store flowers just don’t tend to last very long. And Bunches has a bonus, the resident pet duck!
Need chocolate? I love Chocolate Dream Box on Union Ave by Safeway (this shop was previously in King’s Court Shopping Center after moving out of downtown), it makes mouth watering truffles in beautifully delicate shapes and prints. Another good option is Fleur de Cocao, which sells truffles, artisan chocolate bars, and cakes. Their downtown location is also a cafe, so you can sit with your sweetie over a cappucino and some sugary treats.
Need something sensual? Romantiques on University Avenue near Old Town, Los Gatos, is worth a visit! Ladies intimates line the wall, beautiful silk goodies that you are not likely to find in a chain store, with articles ranging from the luxurious yet practical to the, well… less practical and significantly more luxurious. Maybe don’t bring the kids on this shopping trip.
Wishing you all a wonderful Valentine’s Day, no matter where or how you celebrate it!
Related – please also read:
Love fine art? A fun place to stop in and get tempted by the work of creative people can be found in downtown Los Gatos at JCO’S Place, located on University Avenue (address is near the bottom of this article).
A few years back, when JCO’s was located on N Santa Cruz Avenue near the theater, I was strolling past this gallery with my daughter, plus my visiting niece and nephew, who hail from Boston, and noticed some beautiful, over-sized paintings. I did a double take when I saw one of Tom Brady, # 12, as you don’t normally find a lot of Patriots art here in Los Gatos. Stepping in, that wasn’t the only piece from the Northeast. It was a surprising find!
Not everything is Brady, Patriots, and Boston – there was plenty of other football art on display to keep in the theme of the game for this season and the multiple celebrations of SuperBowl 50 here in Silicon Valley. To get a better sense of the diverse offerings, check out the blog portion of her website: http://www.jcosplace.com/art-blog .
Why the Tom Brady and Patriots focus? I wish it were because they would have been in an upcoming game. Instead, it turns out that the proprietor of the store, Julie Jenkins, hails from Boston. I had a fun talk with her. She is very warm and welcoming, and I’d love to come back to see what she brings in next.
The shop also had an artist painting and visible from the window, Nick Brown, a very talented guy. What I saw looked quite a bit like our eastern foothills, but I didn’t get a chance to talk much as my younger relatives were ready to continue our walk through downtown Los Gatos.
Next time you are out for fun in downtown LG, take a few minutes and stop by JCO’s Place. I think you will enjoy it!
JCO’s Place for Fine Art
805 University Avenue #E • Los Gatos CA 95032
Hours: As of this writing, closed or by appointment Mon and Tues. Check the most current hours on the site: http://www.jcosplace.com/visit.html
One of my favorite shops in downtown Los Gatos is Black Cat Hats, which features all kinds of accessories in addition to hats for men and women. The folks there are friendly and knowledgeable and take a personal interest in helping customers to find just the right item they want or need.
Yesterday I paid a visit to Aileen Larson, a co-owner of and buyer for Black Cat Hats, and got to browse the tempting inventory and ask her a few questions about her experience and working in the shop.
A little history
The business was established in 2007 by Janet Dashiell, whom Aileen met in 2008 at an exercise class at the JCC in Los Gatos. In 2014, Aileen stepped in as a co-owner with Janet. Janet now does the books and buys inventory with Aileen, but is mostly behind-the-scenes. Aileen is the warm proprietor you meet while browsing the offerings: jewelry, scarves, some clothing, handbags, umbrellas, but most of all, chapeaus of every kind for both men and women. There are Stetson hats for men, newsboy caps, knit hats, wide brimmed sun hats, pill box hats, and millinery of all types.
There are also some great employees, with low turnover, who seem to be like family to Aileen.
Prior to Black Cat Hats, Aileen had 30+ years in retail sales, including women’s clothing and makeup. That background has helped her to be comfortable working in close proximity to customers and to develop an eye for what will work well for each one.
Hats are important and sell well year round, whether for health reasons (keeping warm or keeping out of the sun), to cover the head when hair’s been lost due to cancer or other medical issues, and just for fun. Interestingly, the biggest season for the shop is Christmas and second is the Kentucky Derby. The latter surprised me, but Aileen explained that there are many themed parties and events around it, so people come in to snag the perfect apparel items.
Future trends anticipated include more items for outdoors recreation, such as hiking.
Fun & challenges
I asked Aileen about the things she enjoys most about Black Cat Hat, and the biggest challenges she faces.
“I am always excited about going to work every day. I love working with the customers, getting the right look and fit for them.” She does get a lot of repeat customers, but also tourists, so it’s a nice mix of people coming through the doors.
There are two main challenges. First, as with many stores or shops, there’s a risk that people will come in, try on the merchandise, and then go home to buy the same item online. Aileen called that the showroom challenge. (It’s a little similar in real estate when we show people homes, and at the last minute a different Realtor steps in to write the contract – truly frustrating.)
Second, sometimes people aren’t used to wearing hats, and initially they feel a little silly. In the worst cases, people get the giggles or put down others trying on hats or other merchandise. That can set a bad tone for the store, of course. Aileen tries to transform the mindset so that people find hats and accessories that do look good on them, and that in turn helps them to feel comfortable and better about themselves.
The atmosphere at Black Cat Hats is attractive but also homey and caring, which makes it a pleasant place to shop. If you have the opportunity to visit North Santa Cruz Avenue, do stop by Black Cat Hats and check out the wares.
Black Cat Hats
(Near the intersection of N Santa Cruz and Bean, across from We Olive)
59 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95030
Related Reading on downtown LG businesses:
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
What do we expect for the 2019 real estate market?
It’s all about supply and demand. Right now, demand is decent and supply is low. Here’s a look at the inventory of single family homes for sale in recent years by month, first in town and then for the county.
Inventory of single family homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 from Jan 2012 – Jan 2019:
In town (not including the Los Gatos mountains area), Los Gatos has extremely low inventory. I ran the numbers and this is lower than any other January since 2002, the longest back that the MLS will let me go. Locally, that bodes well for those looking to sell in Los Gatos. (Currently there are NO homes for sale in the Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont, or nearby areas of LG.)
What about the broader area? Most of the county has looser inventory than we do in LG. Have a look:
Inventory of single family homes for sale in Santa Clara County Jan 2012 – Jan 2019:
I think it is really important to view this month’s inventory for the county not just in relation to January 2018 (“inventory is up 8% from last year, oh no!”) but in the context of all the recent years since we’ve been in recovery from the Great Recession. Yes, inventory IS up from last year for Santa Clara County, when the first 6 months of 2018 saw prices shooting up like a geyser due to highly restricted inventory and ongoing demand. Most of 2017 and early 2018 were off-the-charts into overdrive. From early 2012 through 2016, we had a market that was appreciating at a good pace – too fast for some buyers, who opted to become permanent renters rather than to participate. Current inventory levels are very low relative to 2012 and later.
A return of some of the normal patterns?
Inventory Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 2016-2019
Inventory tends to rise throughout the first half of the year, so I am expecting that to happen again in 2019. To the left, see a chart displaying the inventory of homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 from Jan 2016 to today. This is a pattern we usually see – though of course, it’s not a rule, and it can change.
Prices also tend to rise in the early part of the new year as inventory does not keep pace with demand, and I see no reason why that would not happen again.
Equally important is to understand that in the 2nd half of any given year, prices often soften. Home sellers sometimes believe that “summer is the right time to sell”, so get their homes on the market then. But activity from buyers slackens after the spring buying season, so in many years, inventory is higher than demand – so prices level off or even decline.
In 2018, prices in LG and the county did decline dramatically from the spring peaks, perhaps in the 12-15% range, generally.
Economists tell us that they expect the first half of 2019 to be decent to good, but not as wild a ride as early 2018. (Milder appreciation, 3-5%?) Some believe that the second half of 2019 will be much softer. A real estate correction is expected sometime between now and 2-3 years from now. We do believe that locally, in Silicon Valley, we are at or near the top of this real estate cycle. For those wishing to sell and move out of the area, 2019 could be a good year in which to do that. It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact top or bottom of the market, though. That is something we only know when it’s passed, just like with the stock market.
It’s time to decorate some pumpkins! Sereno Group is hosting its 10th annual pumpkin decorating contest and invites kids to transform a small pumpkin into a work of art! This is not a carving contest and there should be no punctures of any kind as these works of art will need to last, and any cuts will cause rotting.
Every child who enters will get a small gift. Voting on the best work of art will take place during office meetings for each of three age groups, with the winner of each getting a prize.
Small pumpkins are being given away at the Sereno Group office locations in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Willow Glen, Aptos / Santa Cruz, Los Altos and Palo Alto – please see flier for office hours. O[tionally, entrants may bring their own small pumpkin.
The deadline is Friday, October 19th, 2018. Have fun – we cannot wait to see the decorated pumpkins!