“Location, Location, Location!” The most important element when buying or selling a home is the one thing you can’t change – it’s location. Because of that, you’ll need to know some location-specific things, naturally occurring and man-made. Like high voltage power lines.
What about this location?
If you own or are thinking of buying a home in Silicon Valley, here are a few location-specific things you want to know upfront so that you can make informed decisions:
- where are the earthquake fault lines?
- where are the geologic hazard zones, such as liquefaction areas?
- where are the flood plains?
- where are man-made things that will negatively or positively impact a home’s value? Things such as
- train lines
- electrical transmission
- school district boundaries
- zip code boundaries
- proximity to entertainment venues
When looking at maps, sometimes these items show up and sometimes they don’t. Realtors and other real estate professionals in the San Jose area often use a Barclay’s Locaide and various online resources to locate the natural hazard areas. There are other tools to help locate school districts and zoning restrictions.
Google maps can help uncover some other areas, like distance to shops and freeways, but sometimes it raises more questions than it answers. For instance, a years ago a Realtor who didn’t know the Belwood of Los Gatos area too well phoned me to ask what a large object showing up on satellite view in the hills of Belgatos Park was. It is just a covered reservoir, but since it was not identified on the map it concerned some buyers. Local knowledge is still extremely helpful.
Mapping the Grid: High Voltage Power Lines
High voltage power lines and major utilities have always been one of those items of concern for potential buyers. Properties closer to major transmission might not fetch as high a resale value, may be a nuisance if there is an easement through the property, or may even cause a health and safety concern. A couple of years ago, PG&E published an interactive map where you can view the location of electric lines (I’ve filtered the embeded map below to show Electric Transmission Lines in the South Bay), and another map of natural gas pipelines, searchable by address.
When I first wrote about this topic more than 12 years ago now, I was working with clients who wanted to avoid major power lines, but there weren’t any maps to find them! So I spent time manually zooming in on Google Maps satellite view to identify and map many of the paths of the power towers running through Los Gatos and nearby areas, such as Saratoga, Cupertino, Almaden Valley, Santa Teresa, and South San Jose. In 2015, I added schools to the map. There are a few playgrounds and schoolyards next to and even under high voltage power lines, and I have had clients with school aged children who have found this to be material information!
Below, please find the fruit of that labor. I do not claim to have tracked all of the high voltage electrical lines in the west valley area of Santa Clara County, but I think I got many – maybe even most – of them. I hope you find the information helpful!