Controlled burn near Morgan Hill creates smokey skies in Silicon Valley

Yesterday Jim and I attended the Los Gatos Creekside Sports Park kickoff celebration (will nearly touch Vasona Lake County Park and is just off of University Avenue) and as we often do, drove east on Blossom Hill Road to get home.  Straight ahead of us, hanging over south San Jose and Santa Teresa and extending north, was a huge and darkened cloud.  Smoke? Smog? Rainclouds?

We drove up Harwood Road and to the top of Harwood Court to get a better view of it.  It did look like it started in south San Jose or further south than that.  Some hikers were trekking up the challenging hill and we asked them if they knew if it were a fire. “Can’t smell it,” one replied “so it must be smog – just awful!”  Smog, though, tends to dissipate from side to side and not hang together so tightly as what we saw.

Controlled burn Oct 18 2011 cropped - Controlled burn near Morgan Hill creates smokey skies in Silicon Valley

View from Harwood Court in Los Gatos of the smokey skies created by the Cal Fire "controlled burn" in south county


We flipped on KLIV, the San Jose based AM radio station (channel 1590) that best covers local news & traffic, and learned right away that it was a controlled burn.  This morning I googled the fire and learned that it’s a 2 day burn at part of Henry Coe State Park, overseen by Cal Fire, with more scheduled for today.

The Morgan Hill Times reports that “The prescribed burn is part of the ‘Western Zone Complex’ controlled fire in the remote area of the park. The fire will take place on the Middle Ridge Trail off Hobbs Road, about eight miles northeast of Morgan Hill, according to Calfire fire prevention specialist Chris Morgan. “

Halloween in Surmont, Belgatos and Belwood of Los Gatos

Westhill Cemetery 300x225 - Halloween in Surmont, Belgatos and Belwood of Los Gatos

"Westhill Cemetery"

It’s mid-October and little ghosties, Jack-o-Lanterns, grave stones, witches, over sized spider webs and other trappings of Halloween have begun to appear in the Surmont, Belgatos and Belwood neighborhoods of east Los Gatos.  There’s no shortage of the “Halloween Spirit” – so to speak – in this corner of town!  It sure is fun to see.

What’s your favorite haunt in the hood?

If you’d like to share your photos of ultra cool Halloween decorating, I’d be very happy to post them here!  Whether it’s effects that show up on October 1st or October 31st, we’d love to share them with the neighbors!

As the month goes on, I will add images of local streets, yards and homes where the decor is noteworthy.

Here’s one of my very favorites – a great little ghost western style town up the street from Jim & me.

IMG 20111026 00842 Small - Halloween in Surmont, Belgatos and Belwood of Los Gatos

Great halloween decor on Bacigalupi Drive

And another one with some serious spider webbing:

Belwood webs 1024x768 - Halloween in Surmont, Belgatos and Belwood of Los Gatos

Belwood spider webs for Halloween

And yet another with quite a few ghosts – this one on Westhill Drive’s Belgatos area.


Westhill ghosties1 - Halloween in Surmont, Belgatos and Belwood of Los Gatos

Westhill Drive ghosties, goblins and webs

PumpkinContestSmaller - Halloween in Surmont, Belgatos and Belwood of Los GatosMeanwhile, if your not-so-haunted house has children who’d like to participate in a pumpkin decorating contest, I’d like to invite you and them to dive into the project asap.  My real estate brokerage, Sereno Group, is hosting its annual pumpkin decorating (not carving) contest and the DEADline is this Friday, October 21 at 5pm.

Read all about the contest on my Live in Los Gatos blog.  Hope to see loads of the spooky, cute, funny, and outrageous creations next week!




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.

IMG 20110927 00652 Custom - Cardboard Hill in Belgatos Park: Remember to Clean Up After You Play!

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

IMG 20110927 00653 Custom - Cardboard Hill in Belgatos Park: Remember to Clean Up After You Play!

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

IMG 20110927 00654 Custom - Cardboard Hill in Belgatos Park: Remember to Clean Up After You Play!

Sliding down “cardboard hill” at Belgatos Park in the Belwood neighborhood of Los Gatos. (more…)

Speed bumps for Belwood Gateway

Two speed bumps have been planned for Belwood Gateway, one between Blossom Hill and Bacigalupi (close to Bacigalupi, actually between Belwood Lane and Belwood Court) and the second one between Bacigalupi and Harwood Roads.

Today I noticed that the areas with the speed humps have been painted.  Have a look at 2 images of the second one:

Speed bump 1 - Speed bumps for Belwood Gateway

And closer, it looks like this –

Speed bump 2 - Speed bumps for Belwood Gateway

While the first stretch’s traffic calming measure seems to be well accepted, that’s not really the case for this second one which I photographed today.  (See recent, previous post on traffic calming measures in Belwood.)  So – we’ll see what happens.

In case you missed the prior discussions, there are really two or three main problems in the neighborhood generally but apparently worse on Belwood Gateway:

  1. Speeding – primarily, it’s residents doing this
  2. Running stop signs – ditto the source: it’s neighbors here too
  3. Traffic cutting through from Belwood Gateway to Almond Blossom rather than taking Blossom Hill Road (would seem to be not as much traffic as locals perceive, according to the data)

Most days Jim and I take Bella, our aging and very lovable black lab, on a walk to the park or elsewhere in the neighborhood.  Virtually every time we step out, we see folks zooming down the streets at 35, 40 mph or more and just as often rolling through the stop signs – and sometimes not even slowing.  (The worse offenses I’ve seen are on Harwood but they happen everywhere.)  It’s especially dangerous near corners as people race through the turn and have no idea if there is a kid on a bike in the street, a car backing out of a driveway or what.

Please, neighbors and friends – watch your speedometer.  Look out for the stop signs and make sure you really do stop and not roll.

View of Belwood of Los Gatos Neighborhood from Harwood Court in Los Gatos

A couple of days ago I was visiting a beautiful home for sale on Harwood Court during the Realtor tour or “broker’s open house”.  We have hiked the trail from Belgatos Park up to the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve, which goes just past this house, and I’d always been curious about it.  Also, we live not too far below that area in Belwood, so it’s fun to see the neighborhood view from way up top.  I took a photograph off one of the back balconies (the view was stunning) and thought my Belwood & Belgatos neighbors might enjoy seeing it too.

Can you make out any landmarks?

View of Belwood from Harwood Court 1024x510 - View of Belwood of Los Gatos Neighborhood from Harwood Court in Los Gatos

Near the top, just left of center, you can see a whitish splotch – those are the buildings in the Wallgreen’s Shopping Center.  A little to the right of them and a little closer to where the pic was taken you might be able to distinguish some tall vertical green lines.  Those are some Italian Cypress trees growing across the back and side yards of a home on Jamie Court, just off Harwood Road.

And here’s a view over the top of Belwood, downtown San Jose, the east foothills and into the rest of Silicon Valley. Unfortunately it was a little hazy/smoggy that day – but lovely nonetheless!
View from Harwood Ct Los Gatos 1024x699 - View of Belwood of Los Gatos Neighborhood from Harwood Court in Los Gatos

Of course, you don’t have to see an open house to enjoy a similar view. Go hiking in Belgatos Park or through the trails at the Heintz Open Space Preserve (or cheat and just drive to the top of Harwood Road or Harwood Court!) and take in the beautiful Santa Clara Valley.

Los Gatos Pizza has been remodeled

If you haven’t been to our neighborhood pizzeria, Los Gatos Pizza, the new remodel is a great reason to pop by (rather than get it by delivery)!

They’ve added a lot more flat screen TVs, improved the lighting and seating and de-cluttered the walls, making the restaurant more upscale feeling.

Remaining are, of course, the salad bar, the pool table and a few games.  The pizza is still the best around!

LG Pizza 300x180 - Los Gatos Pizza has been remodeledHere’s a photo I took last night but it doesn’t do it justice. The store’s website has the old look featured in a photo from a different angle (from the entry), if you want to compare it.

Details on location:

Los Gatos Pizza
in the Walgreen’s Shopping Center
Harwood Road and Blossom Hill Road
14080 Blossom Hill Road
Los Gatos, CA 95032
408 358-5545

Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont area pet issues

dogs off the lawn - Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont area pet issuesBelwood, Belgatos and Surmont – we have a problem.

It’s your pets and where they do their doo doo.

People in Los Gatos love their pets.  Not all of them – residents or pets – are well behaved, though.

One neighbor of ours in Belwood who recently planted new sod in his front yard got tired of locals allowing (encouraging?) their pets to relieve themselves on his newly laid lawn and put up two signs telling them not to do it.

Another neighbor, on another street, placed graphic “no pooping” signs along one side of the yard because not only were pooches defecating there, but their owners were not cleaning up after them, either.

Dogs are usually on leashes, so it’s hard to say that their owners don’t know any better.  But what about cats who are allowed to roam freely and do what they want and where they want?  Their messes become everyone’s problem too – the owners just don’t have direct knowledge of it.

We have this issue in our front yard, where a neighborhood cat seems to love to return again and again, and the stench from its markings can be unbearable – especially early in the morning when stumbling out to get the newspaper.  (Maybe it’s to taunt our black lab, who can’t get at the cat?)  Jim periodically uses some nasty sprinkles from a company called Predator Pee (not making this up!) to keep the felines away. It works, but it, too, is smelly.  Wouldn’t it be nicer if cats only stunk up their own yards?  (Aren’t cats safer if kept indoors, too?) (more…)