Belwood of Los Gatos

Cardboard Hill in Belgatos Park: Remember to Clean Up After You Play!

“Cardboard Hill” is a much beloved spot in Belgatos Park, but sometimes it looks more like “big trash hill” when the cardboard sledders neglect to clean up after themselves.  Pack it in, pack it out! This is true for all the wonderful parks and trails in Los Gatos.

Here are a few shots from a couple days ago – typical fun on a sunny September afternoon.

About a half dozen kids gather to slide down "cardboard hill" at Belgatos Park in Los Gatos

About a half dozen kids gather to slide down “cardboard hill” at Belgatos Park in Los Gatos.

What goes up with some work comes down with some fun at Cardboard Hill.

What goes up with some work comes down with some fun at Cardboard Hill.

Sliding down "cardboard hill" at Belgatos Park in the Belwood neighborhood of Los Gatos.

Sliding down “cardboard hill” at Belgatos Park in the Belwood neighborhood of Los Gatos. Continue reading

Heintz Open Space Preserve in East Los Gatos has small brush fire

On Friday, September 9th, in the late morning a brush fire ignited at the Heintz Open Space Preserve in east Los Gatos (close to Belgatos Park, the Heritage Grove neighborhood and Surmont area).  Jim and I were at home, working at our computers that morning, and our first hint of the problem was the repeated flyovers by low flying airplanes and seemingly omnipresent helicopter  nearby.  It seemed like another “fire drill” of sorts – except that this time there were several planes plus the helicopter.

Turns out it was a very small fire not so far out of reach from the fire hydrant at the Heritage Grove neighborhood where the trailhead is…just a couple of sitchbacks up the trail.

Jim hiked up there yesterday and took some photos of the burned trail area, which we hope you’ll enjoy.

Heintz fire panorama - east Los Gatos (photo by Jim Handy)

Here’s a photo of the fire at the switchback.  No lightening when this broke out.  What caused it – a cigarette?

Heintz Open space fire 9-9-2011 (east Los Gatos, CA) - photo by Jim Handy

And…

Heintz Open Space Preserve in Los Gatos - fire on 9-9-2011 - photo by Jim Handy

Finally, here’s what the fire retardant looks like after the fact – orange goo all over the plants and trees which didn’t burn.

Orange fire fighting chemicals at Heintz Open Space Preserve in Los Gatos - photo by Jim Handy

So the next time we all gripe about the planes flying over Belwood, let’s be grateful that they practice and that the little fires don’t turn into big ones!

Is that east Los Gatos home nicely remodeled or simply flipped?

Beware!Want to buy a house in the Los Gatos neighborhoods of Belwood, Belgatos or Surmont?  There are a few things you should know about properties that look “turnkey”, especially as the market heats up or inventory more available.

Home sellers who quickly improve houses for a fast profit, rather than for enjoying the house for their own use, often cut corners.  Whether it’s owners doing a quick makeover or investors remodeling or improving select items, beware! Some of these properties give the impression of being “perfect” but in fact may only have been cleaned up in the most visible areas.

Here are some questions for you to ask or investigate when looking at homes for sale in east Los Gatos, particularly near the foothills :

  • Owners or sellers who prepare the home for the maximum return on investment will probably add fresh paint & carpet (or pull up the carpet to expose the hardwood floors), swap out light fixtures, door and drawer or cabinet hardware, and tidy the front landscaping.  But what about expensive but less seen areas such as
    • the electrical system
    • furnace (heater)
    • water heater
    • roof, gutters & downspouts
    • drainage system (often needed, seldom there)
    • back yard landscaping
    • the foundation (always a potential issue in our east Los Gatos neighborhood if drainage hasn’t been properly addressed)
    • insulation
    • plumbing – has the home been re-piped, or are the old galvanized steel pipes still in the walls and under the house, ready to give up the ghost?
    • condition of retaining walls, if any
    • condition of concrete or hardscape
    • large trees – have they been trimmed, or are they an expense which will fall on you?
  • Is this an investment property (purchased by investors at a foreclosure auction or as a distress sale)?  Or is it a trustee sale where the family or friends inheriting the property are fixing it up for sale (almost like a flipped house)?
    • If it’s a house being sold by investors who’ve fixed it up, how experienced are they?  Some clients of mine purchased an out-of-area house from first time investors.  The kitchen remodel was made such that a full size fridge wouldn’t fit.  Fail!(Some trustee sales are in a similar category as first time investors – this isn’t something they have experience with, most likely.  They may make costly mistakes by either over-improving the home for sale or not fixing the right things. They may or may not be local and have a true sense of market value, too, so may set themselves up with unrealistic expectations.)
  • Were there pre-sale inspections? If so, did the owners or investors do the Section 1 work from the termite report and the health & safety issues called out in the home inspection?  The home inspection (not the termite or pest) should flag any major issues with the foundation, electrical, mechanical etc. systems in the home.  If there’s no home inspection, prepare for surprises in these older homes.
  • In Surmont, Belgatos, Belwood, and all of the east Los Gatos, Cambrian and Almaden hillside areas, water and drainage is an issue, as mentioned above regarding foundations.  Left unchecked, water seeps into the crawl spaces under the houses and can create real havoc as our clay soil expands and pushes on the foundation.  So look at the downspouts and see if they simply dump the water at the base of the house (which you will see most of the time – but it’s not a good idea, usually), or did the owner take the time and spend the money to handle drainage issues well? How’s the grading? Soil and landscaping should slope away from the house so that any water coming down will run away rather than seep into the crawlspace.

Browse neighborhood homes for sale online on this site.  When you visit in person, bring a notepad and jot down concerns or questions.  It is so easy to fall in love with remodeling that’s been done that it may be easy to miss the expensive items not easily seen that may have been ignored.

Contact MaryNeed a good, local Realtor?  Call or email me.  I’ve been in real estate a long time (since early 1993), am very accomplished and recently was named “best real estate agent in Silicon Valley” by readers of the San Jose Mercury News.  I’m also a Belwood resident and I know the area and its values well.

Oil in Belwood of Los Gatos

Los Gatos is a great place to live, but the early explorers must have been truly thrilled when oil was discovered at Moody Gulch and later in areas that are now part of the Town of Los Gatos. A few years ago, my Live in Los Gatos blog covered the topic of the old oil pump that can be seen in a parking lot on Los Gatos Boulevard.  My better half  became intrigued by this topic, did some research and is providing a guest blog here, this time on the Belwood connection to oil. (Jim’s previous contribution was April 22nd, when he posted on Harwood Road being a meridian.)

Oil in Belwood? Guest post by Jim Handy, originally published on Live in Los Gatos

It may come as a surprise to most of us that there was oil drilling as far north as Los Gatos.  After all, that’s a southern California phenomenon, isn’t it?

Well, the truth is that there were ten oil wells in the Los Gatos area around the turn of the last century, and one of them was right here in the Belwood neighborhood.

Old Los Gatos map showing location of oil well in Belwood neighborhood

Old Los Gatos map showing location of oil well in Belwood neighborhood

 

A USGS map found in 2000 shows that there was an “old oil well” near the intersection of Harwood and Belridge*.  This map was drawn about 100 years ago, and there was oil exploration here as early as the 1860s, so there’s no telling when it was drilled.  In those days citizens weren’t as circumspect about telling the state what they were up to as they are today.
I’ve looked around that intersection, and have found no trace of the well, but by the time these homes were built it may have been long gone, along with any traces of its existence.

Los Gatos was not much of an oil producer.  There is no evidence of any commercial activity except in the Moody Gulch area on the other side of the summit.  The USGS says that most wells on this side of the hill were used privately.  Still it’s interesting to think that a little part of this history happened right here in Belwood!
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* Note on the map: This map shows railroad lines and trolly car lines that don’t now exist, roads with different names then the ones we know today and major thoroughfares like Blossom Hill Road entirely missing. I have taken the liberty to add a few notes to clarify the spot. Many of the numbers on the map (13, 14, 18) indicate townships and some of the straight black lines are the limits of the township and not streets. Also, the squiggly line running through most of the image is the base of Blossom Hill – the hill for which the major road was named.

BelwoodOfLosGatos.com

This website is provided by Mary Pope-Handy, a Belwood resident and real estate agent.

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For the HOA site,
and phone numbers for the Cabana or HOA, please visit
BelwoodHomes.org


************************* Mary Pope-Handy
Belwood area resident
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
BRE License #01153805

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