Is your sump pump ready for winter rains?

Graphic image: how's your sump pump?Many residents in Los Gatos and nearby communities such as the Los Gatos mountain communities, Almaden Valley, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, the Cupertino foothills, etc. have sump pumps in their crawl space to pull off water that can accumulate below the house.

Water can get there for a variety of reasons, such as reverse grading (the soil should slope gently away from the house, but in some cases the slope is unfortunately toward the house), downspouts not being extended to carry roof water away from the structure, or even underground water bubbling up from below (that’s a problem for a drainage expert, not a do-it-yourself job). These situations often happen during periods of heavy rain.

Sump Pump Options

Like any other appliance, sump pumps come in all ranges of quality and performance from bare bones and portable to full of bells and whistles. They also get old and need maintenance from time to time, and they can fail. Some will turn on automatically, some must be switched on manually (assuming you are home to do it). Some run only on electricity, and will be no good to you during a power outage. Others come equipped with a battery backup.

If it’s been a long time since you have checked in on your sump pump, now is a good time to do it (or pay someone else to inspect it). Also check to see if the soil under the houses is graded or has channels to bring water to the sump pump. Also double check the downspouts to insure that they are carrying water away from your home / foundation.  The best time to inspect all of this is before you need it. (Anyone with air conditioning knows how hard it is to get a service call on a malfunctioning AC unit during a heat wave!)

Time to upgrade? I would suggest looking into sump pumps with battery backups so that it works even if the power goes off – that may be when you need it most. It would also be good to have one that can register water accumulating and turn on automatically.

 

Related reading:

Cracked Foundations, Adobe Clay Soils and Water in Silicon Valley (on the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog)

What is a cripple wall? (on popehandy.com)

What To Consider When Buying a Hillside Home in Silicon Valley

Water Table (on this site)

Jamie Court & Bacigalupi Drive, Tract 5921 & Lots A – D

Adjacent to Belwood of Los Gatos is a small subdivision with 14 homes along Jamie Court and Bacigalupi Drive. Ten homes are in Tract 5921, and 4 are Lots A – D.

Not every subdivision has a name, and that is true for this pocket of Los Gatos.  It would have been great if the builder had labelled it Belwood Foothills or some clever name, but no such luck.

This is a tidy little neighborhood (even if some lawns are a bit brown from drought restrictions) and from here it’s super convenient to get to Noddin Elementary School, Walgreen’s Shopping Center, or the Belwood Cabaña and pool.

The houses were all constructed between 1977 and 1979, so generally about 10 years younger than the Belwood of Los Gatos houses.

 

A house in Tract 5921 on Bacigalupi Drive, Los Gatos

Where are tract 5921 and Lots A – D?

Here’s a map that I created to show Belwood of Los Gatos along with the “Class D” membership areas. The small pocket on the right is the subject of today’s post: homes along Jamie Court and part of Bacigalupi Drive.

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Tract 2921 and Lots A - D are along Jamie Court and Bacigalupi Drive, Los Gatos

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This area is not part of Belwood of Los Gatos proper, but is an adjacent community which has optional membership with the Cabana, also known as a Class D membership area. The larger and older Surmont and Belgatos areas are likewise Class D areas.

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Where is the Surmont neighborhood? Where is Belwood? Belgatos? Heritage Grove?

Bing map of east Los Gatos neighborhoods is largely wrongSometimes the search engines cause more harm than good when they begin to label Los Gatos neighborhoods for us.  In the case of Surmont, as well as Heritage Grove, Belwood and Belgatos, that is certainly the case.

Bing has published a map with the wrong answers.  So let’s set it right for the good people trying to figure out what is where.  This mislabeled map puts Surmont across both where it does belong and neighboring Heritage Grove.  It has Heritage Grove north of Strathmore neighborhood (which is correctly placed).  Belwood and Belgatos seem to be either one and the same or north/south of each other.

Of 5 named neighborhoods, one of them is correct.

So let’s set the record straight.

Where is the Surmont neighborhood of Los Gatos?

Surmont starts with Westhill Drive and runs through approximately halfway between Old Orchard and Belblossom.  These homes are a little older than those in Belwood and Belgatos.  Many of them are custom or semi-custom, and a few have large lots with views. The streets include Westhill Drive, Surmont Drive, Surmont Court, Old Orchard Drive and Campos Verde.

Where is the Belgatos neighborhood of Los Gatos?

Belgatos begins with the end of the Surmont subdivision and continues up to Belgatos Road.  Like Surmont, some of the homes along Westhill have bigger lots and views.  These seem to be custom homes built to take advantage of valley vistas.  Other houses down on the flatter area look to be semi custom in many cases. Streets found here are part of Westhill, part of Belblossom, part of Belvue, and part of Belgatos.

Where is the Belwood neighborhood of Los Gatos?

Belwood of Los Gatos runs approximately between Belgatos Road and Harwood.  Some of this area was added about 10 years later (part of Bacigalupi Drive and Jamie Court behind it) and they are not part of the original Belwood subdivision.  This area has optional dues and may use the pool if paying that year.  The rest of Belwood pays lower dues but it’s not option.  The newer stretch also has smaller lots, mostly about 8,000 SF lots instead of 10,000 SF lots. Please see the HOA’s website, BelwoodHomes.org, to get more precise boundary information for Belwood and the pool.  Westhill continues into this area, though the homes appear more semi custom than Belwood generally.  Most of the streets begin with “Bel” as in Belridge, Belcrest, Belglen, Belwood Gateway.

Where is the Heritage Grove neighborhood of Los Gatos?

Heritage Grove is a newer (for Los Gatos) subdivision just off of Blossom Hill Road.   The roads there are Regent Drive, Heintz Court, Ayala Court and Ramohs Way.  If you’d like more information on this younger, upscale subdivision, please read the following article in my Valley of Hearts Delight blog, which includes a slideshow and a bit of local history:
The Heritage Grove Neighborhood in Los Gatos and the Heintz Open Space Preserve
Heritage Grove Surmont Belgatos Belwood of Los Gatos

If you enjoy this blog and would like more information on Los Gatos or the San Jose and Silicon Valley areas generally, please have a look at my other blogs:

Live in Los Gatos blog (newly moved to WordPress, better than ever!)
Valley of Hearts Delight blog (SanJoseRealEstateLosGatosHomes.com)

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.)

The Old Oil Well… in Belwood?

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!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~* 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.