Los Gatos is a charming town snuggled into the base of the coastal range between San Jose/Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz, which is on the other side of ˜the hill as locals call it. Its an upscale community with great schools, shopping, restaurants, and community involvement. Diversity abounds in things to do, from sailing, rollerblading and picnicking at Vasona Lake County Park to wine tasting at the Testarossa Vineyards to strolling down the main streets in search of dining or shopping. Every season offers something in this smallish community of 30,000 or so.
The hills help to define Los Gatos. Facing the coastal range and the pass that leads to Santa Cruz, you see El Sombroso rising on the left and El Sereno on the right. Other well known peaks are Loma Prieta (the epicenter of the 1989 earthquake) and Mt.Umunhum, which rises over Almaden Valley (Ununhum was the Ohlone word for Hummingbird). Closer in, Blossom Hill is a small hill in front of El Sombroso over which you drive on Blossom Hill Road. Behind it is the Kennedy-Shannon Road area, which is delightfully remote feeling while really being close in. Near downtown, St. Josephs Hill overlooks Main Street and is the home to the old Jesuit Novitiate, Sacred Heart, as well as Testarossa Vineyards tasting room (formerly the Novitiate Winery).
A sub-tropical climate makes it easy to enjoy events year-round. While palm trees are not native to northern California, they do thrive here! Our annual rainfall is only about 20 a year. If we get cold temperatures, its because the wind happens to be blowing south from Alaska. On those rare cold snaps, it might even snow – to everyones delight since it only happens about once in every decade, and at most will stick to the ground for an hour or two! Los Gatos does have its micro-climates. The pass through which highway 17 runs to Santa Cruz is a low spot that allows the cooler coastal weather to come through can make downtown a little colder, windier and wetter than parts of town to the south of Blossom Hill or toward the Saratoga limit. In summer this can make downtown more comfortable and in winter it can make the outlying areas more so.
Have you always dreamed of buying a home close to, or in, the western foothills in Santa Clara County, such as Almaden, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga? Some of the prettiest parts of Silicon Valley are snuggled into the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. With views of downtown San Jose and the southern San Francisco Bay Area on one side, and rolling, grassy and redwood & oak filled hills on the other, its certainly scenic. Additionally, these areas all tend to have very low crime and good schools.
As a saavy foothill-area buyer, you will want to understand some of the unique issues that this geography may present. The most important of these may well be the issue of water control and drainage.
The Santa Clara Valley, and most of the neighboring Silicon Valley areas, is composed of mostly clay soil. This is an extremely strong substance – so much so that settlers used it, mixed only with a little straw and water, to form adobe bricks for building.
The caveat with clay soil is that when it becomes wet, it expands, and when dry, it contracts. In fact, we call this condition ˜expansive. The amazing thing is that the clay is more powerful than concrete. And that is the problem for houses and other buildings if the ground is expanding, contracting, or alternating between the two.
What can a homeowner do? Its imperative to try to control the amount of water near (or under) the home as much as possible.