Greet the morning with the sweet smell of fresh Garlic in the air – the Gilroy Garlic Festival is back!
If you’ve ever caught the vivid aroma of the stinking rose early in the day it’s likely a breeze coming over the southern Santa Clara County city of Gilroy, the Garlic capital of the world. Whether you love or hate the pungent allium, this herb is a favorite for many foodies in Silicon Valley and around the world.
Gilroy celebrates their favorite bulb one weekend of the year during the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the last weekend in July. This year it’s back for the 38th annual event held on July 29, 30, and 31, 2016. So what to should you expect from “summer’s ultimate food fair?” Food, food, food, fun, shopping, music, and more!
Gourmet Alley is “all about the food” – classics like garlic bread, garlic fries, calamari, scampi, and sausage are available at the booths, and at the end aisle, watch the Pyro-Chefs stoke up five foot tall blazes from their frying pans. Weird food lovers will enjoy a plenitude of flavors from other booths around the festival, including free samples of garlic ice-cream, alligator and buffalo meat, or ice cream in a half cantaloupe. There’s also the range of standard festival food stalls, beer, wine, coolers, and non-alcoholic chilled drinks.
What makes an expensive house in the San Jose area more than just a pricey bit of real estate, but instead a Silicon Valley luxury home? How is high end real estate different from the rest of the market? When is a property not just a home with land, but an estate?
In other parts of the U.S., spending $1,200,000 may fetch a 4000 square foot home, new construction, in an upscale gated community with country club amenities such as a golf course, tennis courts, and more. Here, that same $1,200,000 will procure an entry to mid-level single family home in many parts of Santa Clara County. It won’t necessarily be a Silicon Valley luxury home.
Luxury connotes a combination of qualities, features, and amenities. And it includes pricing (relative to the nearby market), condition, land, design.
Pricing Luxury Homes in Silicon Valley: What Do They Cost?
Expensive Silicon Valley homes are not necessarily luxury homes. Depending on the city or town, the price tag could be higher or lower. For instance, a fabulous house on a large lot in Gilroy’s Eagle Ridge might sell for 1/3 as much as the identical type of home, land and neighborhood found in Saratoga, Monte Sereno, or Los Gatos, or Los Altos, if a similar home happened to be available. Generally, though, luxury homes could cost as little as $1,000,000 or so in some parts of Silicon Valley or in neighboring counties, but in most parts of Silicon Valley, a true estate type property will be valued at $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 or more. In some areas, such as Palo Alto, that $2 million doesn’t go too far and the home you can purchase at that price tag may need major updating – or it could be “land value”. For our purposes today, we’ll use $2 million as the bottom number for estate properties, but it may or may not be the case in some areas.
Please continue reading to view the real estate trend charts for the various areas & elementary school districts across Santa Clara County (San Jose, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Milpitas, Campbell, Saratoga, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Los Altos, etc.)
Gilroy is a scenic area well known for wineries, farmland and fruit stands. More than anything, it’s most iconic produce is garlic, which is celebrated late each July with the annual Garlic Festival, which began yesterday and continues through the weekend. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it! Go early and bring your appetite! There’s more than just eating to be enjoyed, but eating is surely high up on the list of priorities! Click on the link above to see what’s on the schedule this weekend. (Be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat. It is very hot…so drink a lot of water…)
In the days and weeks leading up to this fun food festival, the scent of garlic fills the early morning air and blows north along the coastal foothills so that those of us in Silicon Valley get a healthy nose full when grabbing our morning paper off the driveway. This has been my experience since I was a small child and I’m happy that all the progress of the last 40 or 50 years hasn’t changed the smell of garlic heralding mid-summer.
Garlic is king in Gilroy, but it’s not all that’s happening there
A nice easy, and fairly fast trip by car will bring you to South County and to Gilroy. It’s a wonderful day trip to explore the backyard of Silicon Valley, or better, take a whole weekend to get to know the area. There’s a nice downtown area where you can do some shopping and dining. Go out a bit and there are a number of fabulous wineries to check out. And lest we forget, Gilroy is a local epicenter of bargain shopping.
At the intersection of highways 101 and 152, the Gilroy Premium Outlet Mall is found. Go with the intention of spending money, because resistance is futile once you park your car. This afternoon I spent a few hours there with my daughter and we found some especially good pricing on clothes – perhaps because of the Garlic Festival and the anticipated crowds.
Many will attest that cars are found for a better price there, too.
What’s Are The Fun Places for Kids In and Near San Jose?
In San Jose, Santa Clara and nearby
The Children’s Discovery Museum in downtown San Jose can’t be beat, especially on a too warm, too cold, or too rainy day! It is a hands on, fun place for kids. One of the most popular items is a stagecoach which kids can climb into. Warning to parents: the acoustics could be better and sometimes it’s overly loud in there.
California’s Great America in Santa Clara. Suitable for all ages but teens will like this best! This park does offer some water play areas and some little kid areas (but it’s expensive for that). Shows in air conditioned theaters will be welcome on warm days. Check out the Wow Card (or VIP Pass if you want to park close) if you’ll be back again in the same season.
List of Attractions Throughout Santa Clara County and Beyond
Gilroy (south of San Jose)
Gilroy Gardens (formerly Bonfante Gardens)Want to make a bigger trip of it to The Garlic Capital of the World? Gilroy offers great shopping to dress up those kids (or yourself)! . And maybe when that’s all done, do some wine tasting. If you can take a tour, the kids may not even get bored. List of wineries (and breweries) in and near Gilroy. And lastly, don’t forget the Garlic Festival! It happens in late July every year. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, they do really serve Garlic Ice Cream. You need to try it at least once! The Gilroy Garlic Festival – information, recipes, calendar, fun stuff for kids.
The annual market report is out at popehandy.REReport.com and we can now learn how 2011 compared to 2010. The median sales price for houses in Santa Clara County was off 5.3% overall. But from one part of the valley to the next it varied wildly with 6 cities or areas finding themselves in positive territory while others were off by double digits.
What is it that makes Gilroy, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Mountain View and Palo Alto “in the black”?
Most of these cities/towns are upscale, west valley communities. But so are Saratoga, Cupertino, and Monte Sereno.
Gilroy was especially hard-hit with the housing downturn so perhaps in that case, it’s just coming back into more of a balance. (Then again, so was Morgan Hill and it’s still off by 12%.)
The LinkedIn IPO and others in the Palo Alto area drove prices up for some parts of the housing market nearby and it’s likely that this explains the positive growth for Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Los Altos Hills. That said, it would seem that Los Altos, and perhaps even Sunnyvale would have seen stronger numbers on the same account. Perhaps school scores are the key driver here.
Los Gatos, Saratoga and Monte Sereno often behave somewhat similarly as they are adjacent to one another and often attract similar home buyers who want good schools, a nice downtown area nearby and scenic beauty with the hills. The annual numbers show Monte Sereno down 6.7%, Saratoga down 2% but Los Gatos up 6.4%. With Monte Sereno, there are very few sales each month and each year (only about 4,000 residents), so there can be a wider swing without it necessarily being accurate. Saratoga and Los Gatos each have about 30,000 people who call these areas home, though, so the data is much more helpful. Saratoga and Los Gatos both have multiple school districts, views, homes with better proximity to “downtown” and more variables – I think we’d have to dig a lot deeper to learn why these two neighboring markets are so diverse. We might also have to look at multiple years of data to see if Saratoga spiked while LG slumped to explain the difference. Continue reading
The Williamson Act, also known as the California Land Conservation Act, was passed by our California Legislature in 1965 in order to encourage rural & agricultural lands to remain undeveloped longer. When land owners enter into a contract under the act, they benefit from lower property taxes, which are based on the property’s current use, rather than paying market value based tax rates. In exchange, the property is to remain undeveloped and continue to function the same way for the duration of that contract. The contracts run for 10 years and are automatically renewed unless the farmer or rancher cancels it.
Why does the Williamson Act matter?
According to the Committee for Green Foothills, there are 362,000 acres of land in Santa Clara County under the Williamson Act (that article appears to have been written in 2003, so the numbers may have changed a little since then). Much of it is in the east foothills of east San Jose and the south county areas near Morgan Hill and Gilroy, but there are patches of it in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Almaden Valley, Blossom Valley and throughout Silicon Valley. The tax breaks make it possible for many farmers and ranchers to stay in business and not feel forced to sell their land for development. If they were paying “market rate” taxes, it would not be long before most or all of our rural and agricultural uses gave way to housing and other development.