Belwood, Belgatos, and Surmont neighborhood

The Belwood, Belgatos, and Surmont neighborhood in east Los Gatos is a tidy community at the base of the hills and close to beautiful Belgatos Park. It includes 4 subdivisions which all share access to the Belwood of Los Gatos cabana. They include:

  • Surmont, the oldest section of the neighborhood, with semi custom homes (“Class D” optional cabana membership)
  • Belgatos, which was built next and is on the west side of Belgatos Road (“Class D” optional cabana membership)
  • Belwood of Los Gatos, a large tract neighborhood with the cabana at its heart (mandatory cabana membership, many homes now extensively remodeled or rebuilt)
  • A small subdivision with 14 homes built between 1977 and 1979 that wasn’t given a name, unfortunately: Tract 5921 (10 homes) and Lots A – D. (“Class D” optional cabana membership)

 

Where is the Belwoood, Belgatos, and Surmont neighborhood?

The community is located on the south side of Blossom Hill Road, generally between Westhill Drive and Harwood Road.

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 newly added cake shop.

 

Belwood Belgatos Surmont Heritage Grove neighborhoods map

 

There’s a fair amount of confusion about what is or isn’t in this neighborhood or who can use or join the pool. Adding to the location confusion, 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.

What are the schools for this neighborhood?

The public schools for this area are Noddin Elementary, Union Middle, and Leigh High School.

What’s the neighborhood like?

The terrain is nearly level, with very low, gentle hills over most of the area. 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.

With winding, mostly tree-lined roads and tidy houses as a rule (there are only a very few exceptions). It is a very attractive neighborhood overall.

Some streets have sidewalks, but many do not. There are not a lot of street lamps, which makes for wonderful night sky viewing.

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. There are 2 nearby places for horse boarding, too.

 

Aerial view of Belwood of Los Gatos neighborhood 2016

 

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 this part of town?

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National and Los Gatos-Almaden neighborhood

Today I visited a friend in the convenient National and Los Gatos-Almaden neighborhood and wanted to write about it as it is super convenient, particularly for medical workers wanting a short commute to Good Samaritan Hospital or the many offices nearby.

Honestly I didn’t know what to call that residential area (and not every part of town has a name). Often we Realtors refer to neighborhoods by their major roads or cross streets, so when I saw it named Los Gatos-Almaden neighborhood on the Nextdoor site, I thought it was as good a name as could be found.

 

Los Gatos-Almaden neighborhood - Street view on Mary Alice Drive, Los Gatos

 

There are a lot of things to love about this area. First, it has highly prized schools (more on that below), second it’s a great commute location (both Highway 17 and 880 are easily accessed, and if someone is working in the nearby hospitals or medical offices, it’s pretty quick!), and third, there are loads of wonderful things within a short ride or even by bike or on foot.

Very close by is the Live Oak Manor Park, which can be entered at the end of Blackwell Drive. It’s also a short jaunt to Vasona Lake County Park, downtown Los Gatos, Campbell, and many other areas. Shopping venues abound.

 

Where is the National and Los Gatos-Almaden neighborhood?

Generally, this area is fairly close to Good Samaritan Hospital and even closer to its branch, Mission Oaks. It’s very close to the border with Cambrian Park (and also abuts against the school district border between Union and Los Gatos School Districts.

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The Vista del Monte neighborhood in Los Gatos

The Vista del Monte neighborhood is a cherished and attractive area in Los Gatos 95030.

Few quick points about why the Vista del Monte neighborhood is so popular:

  • scenic area close to the hills, tree lined streets
  • many streets have sidewalks
  • enjoys a beautiful neighborhood park
  • highly prized Los Gatos schools
  • out of the downtown hustle and bustle – but close by!
    • most sections have a wonderfully quiet sound score on the HowLoud.com website
  • the terrain is mostly level or gently sloping, but there are a few homes with views.
  • there’s a video drive through at the end of this article – click through to see it!

 

Vista del Monte tree lined street

 

Like most of Los Gatos, there is some variation in the size of the houses and lots, but to describe the area generally, it’s fair to say that most are ranch style homes (single story, split level and 2 story homes) built in the late 1950s to mid 1960s, with some built in the late 70s. The average home size is about 2300 SF (most range between 1500 and 3000 SF) and the average lot size is about a quarter acre (many are 8000 to 10,000 SF, but a few are far larger). Most houses include attached 2 car garages, but a few of the larger homes or those built more recently offer 3 car garages.

This is a nicely maintained area where you’ll find pride of ownership in the upkeep of homes and yards.

 

Vista del Monte corner home

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Rinconada Hills

Rinconada Hills, which sits on the northwest side of Los Gatos, adjacent to Saratoga and Cambpell, is a resort-like community with many luxurious amenities. It is one of the few gated communities anywhere in Silicon Valley, and one of the largest in the greater San Jose area.

Built in stages between 1968 and 1981, the homes here were built by Brown & Kaufmann in 5 different sections. The campus is quite large, 107 acres (almost as big as Vasona Lake County Park) and includes 394 townhomes (see floorplans here) and 40 houses, or single family homes. Approximately 1,000 people live here (in a town of about 30,000). Most everyone in LG knows someone who lives at Rinconada Hills!

Rinconada Hills homes

 

The campus includes a remodeled clubhouse (Great Room, library alcove, commercial kitchen, lockers, showers), 10 pools (1 at the clubhouse), spa, and 3 tennis courts. The residents may utilize an extra parking lot for cars or the RV lot for boats/ trailers etc. – though there is a waiting list for that. Additonally, there are 3 ponds plus a lake,  and great views to be enjoyed while walking up the hill in the private grounds.

What are homes like at Rinconada Hills?

All of the homes, whether townhouses or single family homes, have stucco exteriors and tiled roofs, although there’s quite a bit of diversity within the areas and styles. Home sizes range from small 2 bedroom townhouses to large 3000 + SF homes on big lots with views. There’s a little bit of everything, but a typical residence might be an 1800 SF 2 story townhouse with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, an attached 2 car garage. There are a few single story townhomes as well as single story houses, though.

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Creekside Village neighborhood

Creekside Village on Google MapsCreekside Village is one of the youngest subdivisions in Los Gatos, and it’s located in a prime “walk to town” neighborhood with the highly prized Los Gatos schools. As the name implies, this community of houses sits alongside the scenic Los Gatos Creek (the Los Gatos Creek Trail is on the far side of the water from these properties).  All of these factors make the Creekside Village neighborhood a very attractive option for house hunters.

This subdivision was built by Barry Swenson with prefab or manufactured housing between 2005 and 2006 on the former site of a mobile home park.

There are 60 single family homes, ranging in size from 1251 square feet to 1747 SF (average home size is 1503 SF). Lots are mostly smaller, ranging from 1845 to 8909 SF, with the average parcel being 2846.

The garages are either single car or 2 car tandem. While the Creekside Village houses are not big, the interiors are beautifully appointed and there’s nothing modest feeling about them in that regard.

All homes are on Creekside Village Drive and are assigned the 95032 zip code. It’s a very tidy community and includes a home owner’s association for the shared amenities such as the clubhouse, pool, workout room, private road, and parking. While there is an HOA, it is not a condominium community. The preliminary title reports for these homes states that ownership is “in fee”. So not held in condo ownership.

Here’s a street view close to the clubhouse and entrance to the neighborhood. Note that there are narrow, private roads, and no parking allowed on the street. There are also no sidewalks. (There are guest parking spots.)

 

Creekside Village - Los Gatos - street view 1

 

Next, a view of the clubhouse.

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Moving to Los Gatos? Some Place Names You’ll Want to Know

The iconic cats of Los Gatos (one shown) with the word WELCOME!If you are soon relocating to Los Gatos or new to town, you may hear people drop the names of places and feel a little lost.  In some cases, it may be trouble spelling an unfamiliar name, in others that the same place is known by more than one name or that one name has several potential meanings. Here are some place names and local terminology you’ll want to know:

Vasona – also Vasona Lake or Vasona Lake County Park: this one gets a lot of typos when people are trying to find it (I see them via the search terms people use to find this blog), sometimes typing in Verona or Vesona. This park is the largest in Los Gatos, consisting of over 100 acres, directly attached to Oak Meadow (which belongs to the town, while Vasona belongs to the county). The entrance to the park is on Blossom Hill Road close to University Avenue (don’t try to enter off of Lark – that’s a locked gate). More info on both parks.

The Manor – also Blossom Manor or Blossom Hill Manor: this is a residential neighborhood bordered by Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos Blvd, Los Gatos Almaden and Longwood. Homes in this area are in the Los Gatos School District. (See post and photos of this neighborhood.)

The Boulevard – Los Gatos Boulevard, which is the road that Main Street turns into as it heads towards San Jose.  This is the area where normal shopping happens for many of the town’s residents. It’s where you find grocery stores, drug stores, fast food and other inexpensive restaurants, etc.

East Los Gatos – definitions vary, sometimes referencing everything from approximately Harwood Road to Highway 17, other times Harwood Road to Los Gatos Blvd. (Post on this topic.)

Downtown – usually references Main Street, Santa Cruz Avenue (north or south), University Avenue and areas closest to all of these.  (Usually does not include areas as far as Highway 9, aka Los Gatos Saratoga Road.)  Most of downtown is business related but there are some neighborhoods that are right in downtown too.

The Hill – Los Gatos has tons of hills, but “the hill” actually means the Santa Cruz Mountains and the pass through them.

Blossom Hill – can mean Blossom Hill School, Blossom Hill Park, Blossom Hill Road, or perhaps even the hill which is called “Blossom Hill”. (If you traverse Blossom Hill Road, you’ll drive up a little bit at one stretch between Camino del Cerro and Blossom Dale Drive – at this point you’re up on the base of the hill which is Blossom Hill.)   Yes, it is confusing.

Old Town – shopping center on University Avenue in downtown, once the site of the town’s elementary school. (It’s where you’ll find the Border’s bookstore and a number of nice shops and restaurants.)

In town – a contrast to “in the mountains” or perhaps “in a county pocket” but in the general area of the town of Los Gatos. There are areas with a Los Gatos mailing address but are not actually part of the town of Los Gatos. This is true for all of the 95033 zip code (which is in the mountains and reached via Hwy 17 – some of that is actually in Santa Cruz County and not Santa Clara County) as well as some of the county pockets in 95030 and 95032 (which are mostly “in town”).

The Chart House – people still refer to the old Coggeshall Mansion on North Santa Cruz Avenue by that name, but the Chart House closed several years ago and had other restaurants at that site afterwards. It’s a lovely old Victorian, one of many which initially lined that street but now the only one remaining.  Initially it was a private home, then a mortuary, then a series of restaurants. It has a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in town.  At this writing,  it is The Palms, and I hear their food is great!

NUMU – the town’s museum, both an art museum (formerly in the old firehouse on West Main) and a history museum (formerly at Forbes Mill). Located in the Civic Center on Main Street, it has changing exhibits and is worth popping by at least a couple of times a year.

In the Schools – a phrase meaning that homes in a particular area are within the Los Gatos School District. Los Gatos has several school districts, including Union Schools (shared with the Cambrian Park area of San Jose) and Moreland Schools (shared with Campbell).

Almond Grove, Edelen, Glenridge, Fairview Plaza – older residential neighborhoods either in or very near to downtown Los Gatos.  Many of these areas have homes dating back to the late 1800s. (To read about these and other neighborhoods (such as Surrey Farms, Strathmore, Belwood, Heritage Grove and many more), please click on this link for all the neighborhood posts on Live in Los Gatos.)

 

Glenridge & Bachman Park neighborhood

The Glenridge neighborhood of Los Gatos s one of the most scenic residential areas anywhere in Silicon Valley. It features beautiful, custom, mostly historic homes on meandering streets. Set just above the Almond Grove neighborhood on a gentle hill it, too is close to town but with a little more altitude and better vistas.

Bachman Park is set in this area too and includes several acres alongside a creek. The park offers picnic tables, a playground, basketball courts and a large grassy field for picnics or play. A paved path follows the creek on one side of it – making a wonderful place just for strolling.

Where is the Glenridge area?

This charming older Los Gatos neighborhood is set just up the hill from the Almond Grove Historic District and adjacent to Fairview Plaza.

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