Almaden Valley (SJ)

Almaden Valley San Jose

Where are the mercury mines near Los Gatos, Cambrian and Almaden?

San Jose’s New Almaden Quicksilver Mine is well known and needs no introduction.  But did you know that there are many other mercury or quicksilver mines in the area? Several are nearby, just south of the Guadalupe Creek, but others are surprisingly far flung, both in Santa Clara County and throughout California.  My home buyer clients are sometimes concerned about purchasing real estate close to a natural or environmental hazard, so a few times this issue has come up: where are the mercury mines?

Quicksilver Legend for Santa Clara CountyFirst, a disclaimer that there are oodles of unmapped mines of all kinds dotting the San Francisco Bay Area, the delta, and beyond.  Approximately 31% of all mines in California are on private land.  So it may not be possible to know where each and every mine is.  However, mercury mines were big business during the gold rush and the civil war, so they may not have been so secretly guarded as a gold mine.

Today I went hunting for information on the location of mercury mines and found an online map of Santa Clara County with incredible details on not only quicksilver, but many other fascinating things: types of rock, miderals (copper), soil types, earthquake faults and so on.  This map is not all that easy to read as it requires blowing it up to well past 100% to actually decipher the numbers and geographical markers, but for the patient, it’s a gold mine – so to speak!

To see the WHOLE MAP, please click on the following link, which is a bid pdf file:

Geologic Map of Santa Clara County, California, Showing Mines and Mineral Deposits

I blew up part of it, saved it, and annotated it with just the names of the mercury mines closest to Los Gatos and Cambrian.  This is not comprehensive, of course – but I often get the question of “how close are the mines” to either Los Gatos or Cambrian, hence this focus.

Mercury mines near Los Gatos and Cambrian

Related reading on mercury

Mercury Contamination from Historic Gold Mining in Califoria (pdf from USGS)

The Legacy of Mercury Pollution in California’s Bay Area

 

Related reading for real estate in Almaden, Cambrian, and Los Gatos:

Hacienda Cemetery and Memorial Park in New Almaden

Almaden Valley area of San Jose (on popehandy.com)

What Are the Advantages of Buying a Home in Almaden Valley?

Where are the high voltage power lines in Los Gatos? (Live in Los Gatos blog)

Selling a home in one of San Jose’s Almaden Valley neighborhoods? Understand home buyer concerns in 95120

List of Los Gatos neighborhoods (Live in Los Gatos blog)

San Jose – Cambrian Park (an introduction with market stats and homes for sale also, on popehandy.com)

High Voltage Power Lines and Public School Proximity in Los Gatos, Cambrian and Almaden

How close is too close?  For people house hunting in Silicon Valley, the quality of local public schools is often a huge priority – in fact, it’s something that most home buyers insist upon even if they intend to enroll their kids in a parochial or other private school.  Similarly, most home buyers do not want to purchase a house, townhome or condo that’s too close to high voltage power lines. Sometimes it’s just a “resale issue” to them, but other times they have health concerns and not just real estate home value concerns.

But what about the relationship between public schoools and these high voltage power lines?  If your child will be at school 35 hours a week for 9 months of the year, should that be a concern, too?  So far, only two of my buyers have made that a criteria – and when they did, it became apparent that most of the schools in the border areas of Los Gatos, Cambrian and Almaden were going to be eliminated.

A couple of years back, I mapped out the high voltage power lines using Google Maps (click on link to view it).  This morning I added a few public schools to it in a “layer”.  This is not comprehensive, as I only mapped a few in these three areas mentioned already in this article.  For the named schools, many are directly adjacent to the lines (Alta Vista, Union, Leigh, Noddin) usually on the far side of the playing field) and the furthest is about 1/5 of a mile from them (Carlton).

High Voltage Power lines in LG Cambrian Almaden

Almaden Valley Real Estate Market Conditions

The Almaden Valley real estate market is up substantially both month over month and year over year. Although inventory is rising slowly, we could use a whole lot more of it before we see anything close to a balanced market.

Please find the current statistics for single family homes (houses & duet homes) from my Almaden Valley real estate report (click on link for more info):

Almaden Valley Stats At A Glance

San Jose 95120 Year-Over-Year

  • Median home prices increased by 10.7% year-over-year to $1,350,000 from $1,220,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 8.0% year-over-year to $1,421,170 from $1,315,770.
  • Home sales fell by 16.7% year-over-year to 35 from 42.
  • Active listings fell 10.6% year-over-year to 76 from 85.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio fell by 2.8% year-over-year to 101.6% from 104.5%.
  • The average days on market rose by 70.9% year-over-year to 28 from 17.

Compared To Last Month

  • Median home prices improved by 5.1% to $1,350,000 from $1,285,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 2.0% to $1,421,170 from $1,393,420.
  • Home sales down by 18.6% to 35 from 43.
  • Active listings dropped 1.3% to 76 from 77.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio dropped by 4.5% to 101.6% from 106.3%.
  • The average days on market increased by 43.4% to 28 from 20.

Almaden Valley San Jose 95120 Statistics At A Glance

 

 

Prices are very high for Almaden now, and the best homes are often seeing 5-10 offers, which is the cause.

Altos Research charts for houses in Almaden (San Jose 95120)

Please note that Altos Research uses list prices, not sold prices.

An overview:

90-day stats for Single Family properties in
SAN JOSE, CA 95120 as of August 28, 2015
Median List Price:$1,375,790Average List Price:$1,627,690
Total Inventory:58Price per Square Foot:$568
Average Home Size:2,484Median Lot Size:11,944
Average # Beds:4.04Average # Baths:3.17
Homes Absorbed:9Newly Listed:9
Days on Market:67Average Age:41

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

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Glencrest Patio Homes in the Williams area of Almaden Valley

Glencrest Patios neighborhood in San Jose's Almaden Valley 95120The popular Glencrest neighborhood in Almaden is located at the end of Serenity Way near Glenview Park and Cathedral Park in the Williams area, and it is shaped like a pentagram (a five sided object) so is easy to spot on the map. There is a shared pool. The outside ring of homes are single family houses on large, normal lots of about 10,000 to 13,000 square feet (on Valley Quail Circle, Hollow Lake). The more modest patio or zero lot line properties are found on the inside streets and have about 6,000 SF lots – the streets are Quail Creek Circle, Mountain Quail Circle, and Quail Cove Way. These houses were built by Shapell, a company which is known for a very high quality. Most were built in 1987 or 1988.
The big draws for these homes are as follows:

  • The best Almaden schools are close by: Williams, Bret Harte and Leland
  • Shappell is a highly regarded builder, perhaps the most valued in Santa Clara County
  • The Glencrest area homes, whether regular houses or patio homes, are fairly young by local standards

Because the patio homes are smaller, they are more affordable. Many people consider them entry level houses for Williams Elementary School. For this reason, real estate sales in the Glencrest area often command surprisingly high prices given that structures are built on one of the property lines and that there are no windows on that side of the home.

Real estate listings and homes for sale in and near the Glencrest neighborhood of San Jose’s Almaden Valley

Updated!: Mount Umunhum, Near South San Jose, Almaden Valley and Los Gatos: When Will The Public Have Access?

Update at bottom. For original article (May 21, 2010) begin to read below:

Mount Umunhum sits high on the Santa Cruz Mountain range, and from there enjoys spectacular views. Looking inland, you can see San Jose & most of Santa Clara County, on a clear day even as far north as San Francisco from Mt. Umunhum. Turning toward the Pacific Ocean, from Mt. Umunhum’s heights you can see Santa Cruz and Monterey on a fogless day.

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Why are the hardwood floors cupping?

Cupped Hardwood FloorsIn Almaden, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga and anywhere near hills in Silicon Valley, there are homes with cupped hardwood floors.  Cupping is when the sides of the plants curl upward a little.  If you view cupped floors in lighting at an angle, the “lines” between the pieces of wood are more prominent, as shown in the photo to the right. Should you walk across them barefoot, you will feel the elevated sides.  When it is severe, there are very distinct ridges.

What causes cupping?  It can be caused by installing hardwood that hasn’t cured or sat in the home for a few days first.  But often that’s not the issue.  Most of the time, it seems to result from water in the crawl space below.  As the moisture evaporates, it moves up through the home and through the hardwood flooring.

This doesn’t happen everywhere, but is most common in hillside locations, places that are flat but have hills nearby (as water can travel underground and then pop up, potentially under your house), locations with high water tables (such as Willow Glen, many areas of Almaden such as Almaden Springs, or Los Gatos), or properties where the grading is wrong and water gets pulled toward the home instead of away from it. Although in many parts of the U.S. the soil is sandy and the water drains through, in most of Santa Clara County, we have expansive clay soils.  With clay it’s harder for the water to soak through, but also when the soil gets wet it, it expands and pushes on the foundation and anything else in its way.

Are your floors beginning to cup?  If so, it’s a red flag to pay attention and find the cause of the cupping before the damage is permanent, or much harder to fix.  Check your crawl space for dampness and efflorescence (this requires going all the way into the crawl space).  If you aren’t able or don’t want to go into the crawl, make sure to hire someone competant to evaluate the situation.  Having a damp crawl space is not good (and if you find it in summer after a 3 year drought you do have an issue!).  I would suggest getting an ASHI or CREIA certified home inspector to check it out and advise you on the cause of the cupping and what to do to remediate it.  It may be that a hardwood flooring professional would also address this very well – I cannot speak to that but it may also be worth considering.

Appreciation in several west valley zip codes: median sale price year over year

Appreciation by west valley zip code for July median sale priceHome values in Silicon Valley have been rising over the last few years, and in some segments the appreciation has been incredibly steep.  This happens when a big influx of home buyers want to purchase but the supply of real estate inventory is too limited for the demand.  This is happening in the most popular areas especially: those with either short commutes, great schools, a vibrant downtown, or some combination of these three.

Today I wanted to look at the median sale price of houses which closed escrow in July 2014 and the preceding few years for the same month only in a handful of zip codes in San Jose and Los Gatos along the west valley areas.  Considered for this study are 95070 – Saratoga, 95030 7 95032 – Los Gatos & Monte Sereno, 95008 – Campbell, 95124 – Cambrian area of San Jose, and 95120 – Almaden Valley area of San Jose.  The only month plotted is July for each year.

When charted, it appears that most of these west valley areas are appreciating somewhat steadily, though 95032 came down in the month of July 2014 as opposed to 2013 (one month does not make a trend, and please remember that ONLY July for each year was considered here).  At the other end of the spectrum is Campbell, 95008, which has been immensely popular in recent years.

Next let’s take a look at the numbers themselves for July in the years 2010 – 2014.

Median sale price for west valley zip codes

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Mary Pope-Handy
Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805


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