Neighborhood eyesores in Los Gatos – what does the town code say?

Los Gatos town sealAlmost every neighborhood has (at least) one house that either isn’t kept up or is somehow an eyesore. You know the sort of thing that drives neighbors a little crazy: cars parked on the front lawn, junk piled up which is visible to the street, homes or yards in a sorry state of disrepair, appliances stored outdoors – though clearly not usable, and many other things too numerous to list.

While this is perhaps less true in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Almaden, or Saratoga than in some other parts of Silicon Valley, our scenic and upscale areas near the foothills are not immune. What does the town say about it? What are the regulations? Being a “go to the source” type of writer, I did just that and looked up the Town of Los Gatos’ ordinance for property condition requirements. (Click the link to see the text on the municode site.)

While some issues named below are cosmetic, many, perhaps most, are safety related and represent nuisances if not stopped. Most surprising to me is that dumpsters and pods are not supposed to be in the driveway for more than 72 hours at a stretch (item J below).

Have you ever read it? Have a read – and if any of it surprises you, please leave a comment!


Sec. 30.10.030. – Conditions of property.

An owner of real property shall not allow or maintain any of the following on his or her property:

a. Overgrown, diseased, dead or decayed trees, weeds or other vegetation, which:

(i) In the opinion of the Fire Marshal constitutes a fire hazard; or

(ii) In the opinion of the Town Engineer constitutes a danger to those using the property or adjacent public or private property.

b. The storage of equipment, materials, standing water, and/or vegetation overgrowth which are likely to harbor or provide habitat for rats, vermin, mosquitoes, and other pests;

c. Garbage, refuse, trash, debris or waste, except as stored in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 11 of the Town of Los Gatos Municipal Code;

d. Garbage receptacles in view from a public right-of-way, except within twenty-four (24) hours of the designated day and time the garbage is scheduled to be collected;

e. Graffiti which remains for a period longer than ten (10) days;

f. Conditions which, due to their accessibility to the public, may prove hazardous or dangerous, including, but not limited to:

(1) Unused and/or broken equipment;

(2) Abandoned wells, shafts or basements;

(3) Hazardous or unprotected pools, ponds or excavations;

(4) Structurally unsound fences or other structures;

(5) Machinery which is inadequately secured or protected;

(6) Lumber, trash, or debris;

(7) Storing or keeping of chemicals or motor oil;

(8) Refrigerators or appliances with the door(s) still attached.

g. Any airplane or other aircraft, or any parts thereof on residentially zoned property;

Read moreNeighborhood eyesores in Los Gatos – what does the town code say?

Monster Homes

April 19, 2007

What do you think about enormous homes being built in Los Gatos?

Should folks be able to do whatever they want, if they have enough land, as long as it’s in good taste? 

Or is building a super-sized estate a scar on the land, a permanent change to the landscape that everyone has to live with afterwards?

I can’t provide an easy answer, but as a valley native and local Realtor since 1993, I do have a few opinions.

I think the sizes of the homes reflect not just on the individual owner (which is a very American kind of concept) but on the whole town – because we permit it (or not).  Are we after a look of money and prestige?  Are we wanting to be more like Woodside and keep the “I have money” houses down and the hedges high?

I think that you can have too much of a good thing.  I used to have a “whatever they want to build” kind of mentality until a decade ago when I viewed a home with large diamonds built into the faucets of the half bath…and three more diamonds built into the toilet flusher in the master bedroom.  You know, there are starving people in the world.  What were they thinking when they put diamonds in a room associated with human waste?  Yes, it’s crass. Crass consumerism.  It was – it is – too much.

Right now a gentleman wants to build a home of nearly 10,000 square feet off Kennedy Road – a beautiful street with oodles of oaks that courses through a small valley out from Los Gatos toward Almaden.  There are modest homes out there, there are big ones, but he wants to build a huge home. Apparently the guidelines for hillside homes now state that they need to be no more than about 6000 square feet. (That’s still not small. The average American home is about 2200 SF.)

Before going into real estate, I would have said, “what could you possibly do with that large a house?” But I have seen amazing things in Los Gatos homes.  There are places with indoor firing ranges, movie theaters, ballrooms, racquetball courts, wine cellars and tasting rooms, pools, driving ranges and on and on.  Silicon Valley people can be very creative with their money and space.  And we don’t even have harsh winters and a need to hide out.

I don’t know what this large home is going to look like if completed. I do know that people in town will fight about whether or not a particular tree can be removed or not – so I know that the townsfolk care a LOT about appearance.

Should the landowner be limited to 6000 SF or allowed to go to 10,000? I am no town planner, I don’t know. I tend to think that “less is more”, but hey, I live in 2500 sf and grew up in homes ranging from 1400 to 4000. Anything past 6000 seems a little extreme to me.

But could we at least prohibit putting diamonds into the bathroom?

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, CRS, ABR, e-PRO, SRES, ASP, RECS, CNHS
Helping Nice Folks to Buy & Sell Homes Since 1993
Co-Author: “Get The Best Deal When Selling Your Home In Silicon Valley”
Intero Real Estate Services, Los Gatos, CA (Silicon Valley)
408 357-5760 (Direct); 408 204-7673 (Cell); 408 715-0201 (eFax)  
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