Mirassou site construction update

The Preserve Belwood Neighborhood Association has been working to get the Union School District to reconsider the land use at the Mirassou site, and they are making progress. The new proposal is for just 12 homes, and the lot sizes are more in keeping with the neighborhood, 11,000 to 13,000 SF. Robson Homes is the selected contractor. Want to provide your input? Please attend the meeting – details below.

 

Mirassou site new plan for homes - Robson

Preserve Belwood Neighborhood Association’s Mirassou site: USD Feb 12th at 6 pm

Mirassou Site Update sign in field of flowersWe are on the email list for this group. There is a new Request for Proposals by the Union School District. The Preserve Belwood Neighborhood Association sent a reminder note out about the meeting, which will be held on Monday February 12 at 6PM at the Union School District Office (5175 Union Ave, San Jose, CA 95124).

“The next Union School District Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Monday February 12 at 6PM at the Union School District Office (5175 Union Ave, San Jose, CA 95124).  The USD board has received their responses to the RFP for the development of the Mirassou property.  There will be a presentation by the potential developer at this board meeting.  We would like to have a great presence of Belwood neighbors at this board meeting to show our interest in the Mirassou property development.

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All information for USD board meetings can be found at https://www.unionsd.org/about/board-of-trustees.  The final agenda for this meeting will be posted on Friday February 9 at 5PM.”

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Sent out this afternoon regarding tonight’s meeting:

 

1.  Tonight’s USD board meeting will be the standard formal board meeting where the attached slides will be presented.  There is a  public comments part of the agenda, but there will not be an opportunity to interact and get questions answered.
2.  There will be a community meeting on February 22 at 7PM at the Belwood Cabana where Robson will be in attendance to present the plans and interact with the community.
3.  As requested by homeowners, Robson will also meet individually with homeowners who are directly impacted by the development plans to try to work out any concerns.
All information for USD board meetings can be found at https://www.unionsd.org/about/board-of-trustees

Earlier info:
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Belwood Annual Halloween Party: Details & Request for Volunteers

Haunted RE Sign

Volunteers are needed for the annual Belwood Halloween party!

The event is scheduled for Sunday October 29th, 2023 in the afternoon. Planning is still underway, so check the HOA’s event page for more information and future updates.

Expect games, costumes, and fun for kids, or get involved as a volunteer to help make this day special. Celebrations will be held at the Cabaña.

Per the September 2023 Bellringer newsletter:

Belwood Halloween party needs your help

Come join the commiee organizing the Halloween party.

Need some help planning the games prior to the event. Day of the event will need some Ghosts
and Goblins to run some kids games for a couple hours, great job for some young teens.

Party is Sunday Oct. 29th in aernoon. This is a Belwood tradion for the lile ones to wear their
costumes and have some fun. It will be fairly low key event with decoraons, food, drinks and
some games for kids.

If can join our commiee or have some ideas you can contact Debbie Gary
debbiegary@comcast.net

Belwood Halloween PartyPast years have run from around 3pm – 6pm or 7pm. Activities have included games with prizes set up on the Cabaña lawn, pizza, snacks, and beverages (non alcoholic) for sale, a costume parade, and a haunted house or Halloween movie.

Help is needed for committee planing, running the games, and set-up / clean-up – it’s a great opportunity to accumulate Community Service hours and get to know your neighbors! If you’d like to sign up as a volunteer, contact Debbie Gary at debbiegary@comcast.net .

Belwood of Los Gatos July 4th Celebration

Belwood 4th of July PartyThe Belwood of Los Gatos community is hosting its annual Independence Day or 4th of July celebration and the details will soon be announced on the Belwood HOA website. Last year, neighborhood festivities ran from 1pm – 5pm at the cabaña.  Read all about it on the Belwood HOA site!

Annual 4th of July Party

The party is open to Belwood members and their invited guests only. This will be the second July 4th community party out of lockdown (they were annual until 2019, but were put on hold from 2020-2021), and it’s a great opportunity for newer residents, especially, to get to know their neighbors.

Please note that our warm, dry, and windy summers make the risk of fire danger very high. Fireworks are illegal in most of Santa Clara County without a permit due to the safety hazard. A sign at Belgatos Park warns that fireworks are strictly prohibited. There are some spectacular professional firework displays and festivities around the Valley that you can enjoy, including the, which is less than 10 minutes by car and 20 minutes by bike from Belwood!

Belwood Cabaña is on FacebookGot Facebook? If so, you might consider tagging photos shared of the event with the unofficial Belwood Cabaña page on Facebook. It’s another great way to keep in-touch and stay updated with the community.

Flipped or nicely remodeled Los Gatos home for sale?

"Beware" button - warning article on buying a flipped homeWant to buy a house in the Los Gatos neighborhoods of Belwood, Belgatos or Surmont?  There are a few things you should know about properties may be flipped that look “turnkey”, especially as the market heats up or inventory more available.

What is a flipped home?

Some contractors buy homes with deferred maintenance, often “off market”, do some quick remodeling (often without permits) and then put it on the open market as soon as possible. This is what we usually think of with flipped homes.

Also, some sellers quickly improve houses for a fast profit, sometimes when a house has been inherited to maximize their net.  Some regular property owners do this, too, moving out for a quick rehab rather than remodeling for enjoying the house for their own use, often cut corners. These two categories are a spinoff of the contractor-builder flip. We see all of them in our real estate market.

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.

Questions to ask, some things to look for in flipped or similar properties

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

Please note, 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. These are not in the category of flipping, but more like normal refreshing a home to sell.

When does it move from refreshing to flipping? If the kitchen and bathrooms were hastily remodeled in the recent past, you may be looking at a flip of some kind.

  • Look for expensive but less seen areas such as
    • the electrical system (some electric panels may be at risk of fire)
    • furnace (heater)
    • water heater
    • roof, gutters & downspouts
    • drainage system (often needed, seldom there in Los Gatos)
    • back yard landscaping
    • the foundation (always a potential issue in our east Los Gatos neighborhood if drainage hasn’t been properly addressed)
    • insulation in the attic (often minimal)
    • 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.

Finally, check the permits to see if improvements that needed permits and finals obtained them. Click here for the online Los Gatos permit search.

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.

Halloween Party at Belwood of Los Gatos

 

Belwood Halloween Party Returns

It’s official – the Halloween party is back!

The September 2022 Bellringer, the community’s newsletter, has announced it. After a two-year hiatus, Belwood is ready to have this family-friendly monster bash yet again. This event is held at the cabana club for members. The party will start around 3pm with wrap-up at 7pm on Sunday, October 30, check the Belwood event page and newsletters for updates. Feel free to reach out to Belwood’s Events Coordinator, Mary Schepman, by email through hoa@belwoodhomes.org if you have ideas or would like to help! Volunteers needed!

Info below is from previous years

Halloween fun in the Belwood of Los Gatos Community!

Put on a costume and celebrate Halloween at the Belwood of Los Gatos cabana club, Sunday Oct 27th, 2019 from 3- 6pm. Enjoy games, prizes,  pizza, snacks & the spirit of All Hallows Eve. The featured event will be either a spooky haunted house or a movie, beginning at 6pm. Costumes highly encouraged!

Belwood residents and invited guests only, please. Free admission, donations appreciated.

Learn more at the Belwood Homes Halloween Party event page.

Volunteers needed! Find sign-up information through the link above.

Racoons wreaking havoc with lawns in Belwood and east Los Gatos

Racoon Lawn damage Has your yard been hit by racoons yet? For the last month or two, many Belwood and nearby residents have been awakening in the morning to damaged landscaping, particularly front lawns.  One home owner phoned the Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police to complain about his vandalized front yard. But this time, it’s not human caused damage.

On several social media sites, neighbors vent that they have been victims of wild pigs or boars.  But that’s not it – at least not for most of us.  Boars do far more destruction and they are further in the hills, though perhaps if you are in the east Los Gatos foothills around Santa Rosa, or in parts of Almaden near open space that could be a risk.

Although sometimes the damage is quite extensive, involving a large percentage of one’s front lawn, the guilty parties are usually hungry racoons.  Crows may be assisting too, but they don’t create problems on as large of a scale.

They are after a meal in the form of tasty lawn grubs.  Grubs find their way into the soil to eat the roots of the grass, and those grubs seem to be the best eating in town for some of the local wildlife.

If that’s not enough,  squirrels like to bury food in lawns, too (someone used to give out peanuts in the shell near us – the squirrels kept burying them in our lawn – I’ve watched them!).

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The Bacigalupi family of Los Gatos – some history

We happen to live on Bacigalupi Drive in Belwood of Los Gatos, a lovely street you might walk to get to Belgatos Park. A classmate of mine at Saratoga High School was a Bacigalupi and I have noticed that one of the old buildings in downtown Los Gatos is the Bacigalupi Building (it houses Mountain Charley’s, I believe – it is in the La Canada or Hofstra block near the corner of Main and North Santa Cruz).  So I wondered, who were these people with the hard to  pronounce name? (I can say it, but I speak some Italian!)

The Bacigalupi Family of Los Gatos

The Bacigalupi Family c.1922 – click to visit the Los Gatos Local History Research Collection and see a larger image and info on this family

The Hooked on Los Gatos project was a collaborative project by the Library and History Museum which appears to have since become the Los Gatos Local History Research Collection. This collection includes page after page of online resources, including all the photos in their archives relating to the Bacigalupi clan. Clicking on each image leads to more information.  For instance, here I found information on James A. Bacigalupi, Sr.

I was very impressed to learn that he was the first president of the Bank of Italy, and then worked with A.P. Giannini to form the Bank of America. He may not be the most famous Los Gatan, but he’s certainly a big deal! To the right, this photo features Mr. Bacigalupi with his family, in approximately the year 1922. Click on the image to visit the original photo on the Local History Research Collection page, see a larger image and learn more about the family in this image.

As you probably know, the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake did a great deal of damage to many of the older, historic buildings in downtown Los Gatos.  The La Canada (Hofstra) block was no exception.  The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce reported on its “walking tour” page (which has since disappeared, but thankfully has been archived) after the quake, that block was restored by the Bacigalupi, Farwell, Brady and VanDalsem families, so we can thank them for their continued love of our town and its history. (On a side note, if you’re interested in a Los Gatos walking tour don’t despair! The old walking tour has been swapped with a high-tech model: LOST Gatos the walking tour App.)