When trees are pruned, fall or are removed at Belgatos Park in Los Gatos, what happens to them? Many, if not all, are recycled on the spot and become wood mulch for use back in the same park. The path between the side gate on Bacigalupi Drive and the parking lot at Belgatos Park is the occasional recipient of tanbark or mulch. This makes walking the area after a rain a whole lot safer (less slippery) and pleasant (since heavy mud doesn’t stick to feet – or paws).
Saw this the other day and chuckled to see part of a yellow plastic tape included with the mulch (probably used to advise people to keep away from an unstable tree). Also noticed that a small hole had been burrowed into one pile already – I imagine that for the time being, the mound makes an ideal home for a field mouse or two.
Los Gatos is a “Tree City USA” town. Isn’t it nice to know that even when a tree dies or has to be removed, it’s still useful and immediately recycled into the same park?
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.
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. “
“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.
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. (more…)
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.
Here’s a photo of the fire at the switchback. No lightening when this broke out. What caused it – a cigarette?
Finally, here’s what the fire retardant looks like after the fact – orange goo all over the plants and trees which didn’t burn.
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!
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)
- 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.
Need 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.
The town of Los Gatos has a trail map for the Heinz Open Space Preserve and also one for the Belgatos Park Trails and the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve Trail.
My husband, Jim Handy, drew out the local trails on Google Maps and this provides a much better sense of what’s where. Enjoy!
View Blossom Hill Trails in a larger map
I took these images in the Spring of 2007. You can view more slideshows of Los Gatos and the greater Silicon Valley community by visiting the following link, which goes to the category of my community shows:
Los Gatos and Silicon Valley Community Photo Slideshows by Mary Pope-Handy