Meet the Oak Canyon Neighborhood of Almaden Valley in San Jose

Almaden Valley in San Jose is comprised of many neighborhoods and subdivisions. One of them, close to the border with Los Gatos and Cambrian Park, is particularly popular: the Oak Canyon neighborhood.

There are many reasons for its draw among Silicon Valley home buyers: the houses were well built by Shea Homes in about 1980, so they are relatively newer by Silicon Valley standards. They’re larger homes on comfortable lots, often 8000 sf or so but some as small as 6500 sf and others larger than a quarter acre in the Oak Canyon corner of Almaden.

Most of the homes boast a 3 car garage, which is a big help with storage of stuff, if not storage of cars. The roads gently turn, which makes a more pleasing look. It’s a very “conforming” neighborhood where everyone keeps up the homes and yards. Much of Almaden is viewed by consumers as somewhat remote, but this section, near the mouth of Almaden, is not too deep into the valley and is a better commute location for most. One of the largest pulls for the area, though, is the nearby elementary school, Guadalupe School, which has an excellent reputation for quality education and ranks exceedingly well on testing.


Where is the Oak Canyon neighborhood in Almaden Valley, San Jose?

Oak Canyon is found near the intersection of Camden Avenue and Coleman Road in San Jose but is bordered by Coleman on one side and the Guadalue Creek on the other sides. (The far side of the Guadalupe Creek at this point is Cambrian Park.)  Just the other side of Coleman Road is the Montevideo neighborhood, and next to that is the Almaden Meadows neighborhood.


Oak Canyon Neighborhood Map


And to provide some bearings, here’s a map of the Almaden Valley district of San Jose generally:


Almaden Valley Map



Historic Topigraphical Maps of Saratoga, Los Gatos, Almaden, and Nearby Areas

Saratoga Historical Map ShadowThe other day I was hunting for local maps of Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) dating back 100 years or so, and although I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, I did find a treasure trove that I hadn’t expected to find at all.

Here please find a tiny snippet of a USGS Map from the late 1890s (actually part of the Palo Alto Map). According to my husband, who has a hobby of viewing and collecting maps, each “dot” on this image represents a house. If that is the case, you can see how sparcely populated Saratoga and Cupertino were at this time.

And what is that Azule Springs? Was it another hot springs type resort, like Saratoga Springs? A map like this raises a lot of questions!

If you love – or at least enjoy – history, I invite you to visit the USGS website and look at the historic maps there. One section includes Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino and the coastal areas such as Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. Another section of the map includes Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Campbell, Almaden, Cambrian Park, Santa Clara and many parts of San Jose.

It’s fun to see where things “used to be” and how they “used to be called”. Take a few minutes and enjoy!

Halloween Events in Silicon Valley 2010

The weather’s great and there’s plenty to do to celebrate Halloween in and near Silicon Valley! Here are a few events you might consider in our Santa Clara County area:


10/22/2010Haunted Harvest FestivalOak Meadow Park, Los Gatos6 – 9pm
10/23/2010Howling HalloweenDowntown Los Gatos5 – 6:30pm
10/23/2010 Flashlight TourWinchester Mystery House6:30 and later
10/23/2010Haunted Harvest FestivalOak Meadow Park, Los Gatos6 – 9pm
10/24/2010Haunted Harvest FestivalOak Meadow Park, Los Gatos6 – 9pm
10/29/2010Trick or TreatingPruneyard in Campbell11am – 2pm
10/29/2010Spooky NightCampbell Historical Museum2 – 6pm
10/29/2010 Flashlight TourWinchester Mystery House6:30 and later
10/29/2010Trick or TreatingDowntown Campbell5-7pm
10/29/2010Children’s Ghost TrainRoaring Camp & Big Trees6:30pm & 8pm
10/29/2010Eastridge Mall, San Jose7pm
10/29/2010Haunted Harvest FestivalOak Meadow Park, Los Gatos6 – 9pm
10/30/2010Children’s Ghost TrainRoaring Camp & Big Trees6:30pm & 8pm
10/30/2010Trick or TREE tourSt James Park2 – 4pm
10/30/2010 Flashlight TourWinchester Mystery House6:30 and later
10/30/2010Haunted Harvest FestivalOak Meadow Park, Los Gatos6 – 9pm
10/31/2010Eastridge Mall, San Jose12 noon
10/31/2010 Flashlight TourWinchester Mystery House6:30 and later
10/31/2010Haunted Harvest FestivalOak Meadow Park, Los Gatos6 – 9pm
dailyCorn Maze & Pumpkin PatchRodoni Farms (5 mi n of S. Cruz)9am – dusk


And if you like “real” ghost stories, please stop by my Haunted Real Estate blog.

Happy Halloween!




Comparing Real Estate List Prices in Four San Jose Districts

Here in the Valley of Hearts Delight, aka Silicon Valley, the market continues to be a buyers market with downward pressure on prices, longer days on market, and bigger gaps between list price and sales price. What is happening area wide or county wide is not always exactly what we find in smaller market areas. Some parts of Silicon Valley, and some price points, are doing quite well relatively, while others are falling through the floor.

What is happening with San Jose real estate? Let’s look at four San Jose districts, mostly in the west valley area, by their zip code (or main zip): Almaden Valley (95120), Willow Glen (95125), Cambrian Park (95124) and West San Jose (95129).
Below, please find the trends for the median list price of single family homes for sale in these four areas of San Jose:

For the most part, it appears that the west valley area of San Jose real estate is continuing to experience noticeable declines in list prices throughout these districts. Interestingly, Almaden Valley and West San Jose (zip 95129) both saw improvement in spring before returning to the downward trend. By comparison, how is San Jose as a whole (the entire city) looking?

Congratulations to Sunnyvale, Making CNN’s Top 100 Best Places To Live

Silicon Valley residents are aware that Sunnyvale has a particularly low level
of crime, good schools, and a lot of strong businesses that call it home. Even
so, it’s nice to see that CNN took note too, and listed Sunnyvale in its top 100
of Best Places to Live.

Why Sunnyvale, as opposed to nearby Mountain View (a “contender”), Los Altos,
Cupertino (a “contender”), Saratoga, Los Gatos, Campbell, Santa Clara (also a
“contender”) or San Jose?

Apparently it’s the combination of affordability, schools, low crime, and short
commutes that did the trick. Sunnyvale does a lot of programs in a more
efficient way, such as the amazing public safety department there.

The award is well deserved. Congratulations, Sunnyvale!




Stressed Out Over Silicon Valley Home Values and Sinking Stocks? You Are Not Alone!

There’s a lot for those of us in Silicon Valley to be feeling stressed out about lately. Between the stock market’s wild ride and sinking home values in Santa Clara County (and around the country), it’s a little nerve-wracking. These times are especially upsetting if you’re a senior and plan to retire soon. For years, people looked at their homes with the fond sense of “this is my retirement fund” – or at least a good part of it. Some of that value is now gone.

It’s also stressful for those of us who’ve put money into retirement funds or college savings plans and need it soon. Here in California, the 529 College Savings Plan is an “index fund”. That means it’s a combination of stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. In my house, we have one kid who’s a freshman in college and one who’s a senior in high school, and we’re seeing the 529 Plan shrink right when we need it.

The stock market, the financial crisis and the housing market are bigger than all of us. We are on the verge of a recession, if not already in one now. There’s a lot that’s beyond our control. But what CAN we do to maximize the current situation?

I cannot say what to do about the stock market, though my hunch is that when people advise “buy low”, they are talking about today. I can say something about the housing market in the San Jose area, though, because I’ve got experience with it, both professionally and personally. There are opportunities in this market for those who are able to act on them.


San Jose Neighborhoods Make Walkscore’s Most Walkable List – Top 40 Cities in US!

Silicon Valley, which consists of San Jose in large part, is sprawling city. We have lousy public transportation (though it’s getting better) and one of the unfortunate hallmarks of San Jose or Santa Clara County as a whole is that you really need a car to get around here.

Don’t tell Walkscore. They just ranked a few San Jose neighborhoods on the “most walkable” list in the country. Walk – in San Jose? OK, we do have 300 sunny days a year and only about 20″ of rain per year, so walking is pleasant. But where can you really live and walk and not use a car?
Walkscore put San Jose’s Buena Vista, Rosegarden, and Burbank neighborhoods at #17 of the top 40 US cities for walkability. No, I’m not kidding.

Does this surprise you? It does me, and I’m a valley native.

Walkable areas: I’d have said San Jose’s Willow Glen area, the original Cambrian Village area of Cambrian Park (lots of homes near lots of shops) as well as other Silicon Valley neighborhoods. There are several walkable areas in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Los Altos, Santa Clara
(esp near the University of Santa Clara. There’s a lot of walk-to in downtown areas in San Jose such as Japantown and Nagelee Park, though in fairness they are needing a large grocery store there.