Silicon Valley: A Word About the Climate

Silicon Valley Climate - sub-tropical tempsPeople coming from out of the area to relocate to Silicon Valley might not know what to expect from the weather in the San Jose, Santa Clara County, or Silicon Valley Area.  Does this part of California ever rain? How hot is the summer? What is the climate like?

In a nutshell, this is a “sub-tropical” area, or a place that enjoys a mild “Mediterranean climate” that is most heavily influenced by the close proximity of the shoreline and the Pacific Ocean.  Temps are mild, we get little rainfall compared to many parts of the country.

More specifically, we usually get about 10-20 inches of rainfall a year (less on the east and more on the west) and enjoy as many as 300 sunny days a year. Winters seldom see many hard freezes (but they can happen).

A typical summer day has highs in the mid to upper eighties but very low humidity – so it feels much cooler. Heat waves and heat inversions can run the temps up to the low to mid 100s in the hottest parts of the valley. Luckily it doesn’t happen much, or stay for long! Once in awhile, a rare storm in summer will bring high humidity and thundershowers, but for the most part, summers are dry. The hottest month is typically August.

The coldest month, usually, is December. A January day will often have a high in the 60s or 50s, depending. A cold day here is when it does not get into the 50s (not too common). By February, though, the worst is usually over and it’s even possible to have freak warm days that hit 80 degrees!

Our weather varies from year to year. Some years we get drought conditions and may require water rationing . Other years we get lots of wet weather from the Pacific – temps are warmer but there’s much too much rain: those are the El Niño years. Most often, though, winters aren’t that bad – evenings can be nippy as temps drop into the 20s on the worst nights in December or January. It will make the news that people should cover their citrus trees so they aren’t damaged by the freezing temps. (more…)

What about living in the Los Gatos Mountains (or Santa Cruz Mountains)?

When people relocating to Silicon Valley get “sticker shock” on our real estate prices, most of the time they look for more affordable places in which to live that are close by.  Often finding neighborhoods with good schools comes into play.  Or perhaps they simply love the scenic town of Los Gatos but can’t buy in town (95030 and 95032 zip codes are “in town” and 95033 is the unincorporated county areas with a Los Gatos mailing address). The mountains between San Jose and Santa Cruz – the coastal range – is home to a number of communities such as Chemeketa Park, Holy City, Aldercroft Heights, the Lexington Reservoir area (the town of Lexington is under the reservoir now!), Alma, Redwood Estates (Upper Redwood Estates, Lower Redwood Estates) and more.

The Los Gatos Mountains are a specialty area and I don’t usually work them. I frequently will refer them out or team up with someone else who knows a lot more than I do about the unique things you need to worry about if buying up there.

There are many plusses to living in the Los Gatos Mountains: clean air, more open space (less crowding), beautiful vistas, great schools (top rated public schools), lower housing costs. It’s a fabulous place if you have horses or just love more seclusion.  The folks who live in the hills absolutely love their communities and homes.

At the same time, there are special consideration if you live in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Here’s a list of potential issues that mountain residents may face:

  • Many residential roads are private & there are private road agreements in place (so owners must agree on paving, clearing brush or trees too close to the road, pay if the road washes out in a mudslide to clear it or if soil beneath it gives way, etc.)
  • Utilities: in the valley, we have Pacific Gas & Electric (PG & E) and public water (most of us have San Jose Water).  In the mountains most or many of them have propane gas (not P G & E), they do have electric from PG & E though, and well water.  Our recent drought  – which ended officially this week – was not severe but with a worse drought the wells can run dry and then mountain residents have to truck water in, which is very expensive.  You also must periodically check well water for arsenic and other elements and purity. (Also there’s septic instead of sewer. Not a big deal but it’s one more thing to maintain.)
  • Fire concerns – the wildland areas are at risk of fire in summer, so the fire marshall’s regulations are to keep brush cleared a certain distance from your house to help lessen the risk. (Google “fire santa cruz mountains” and you will get a lot of news returns on fire danger and past fires).
  • Winter weather issues – the higher elevations can get snow a couple of times a year – doesn’t last long but can make roads impassable (not as low as Chemeketa Park but near the summit and perhaps upper Redwood Estates).  Trees sometimes fall and block roads and driveways during heavy rainfall.  Our redwood trees have VERY shallow roots and I think this is why they come down in strong winds and rain, but I’m not sure.  The lovely trees are green year round, including winter.  They can keep the sun away if you’re in a heavily forrested area, though.  I had friends who lived near the summit and they said that in winter, sunshine never touched their property.  Finally, with all the trees and more severe winter weather in the Mtns, residents there lose electricity more often than we do in the valley (due to trees falling I am sure).
  • Beach traffic – the mountain communities are all pretty dependent on Hwy 17 (there are few alternatives) and there’s a wave of traffic tie ups as coast visitors come and go with the warm weather.
  • San Andreas Earthquake Fault – runs pretty much down the spine of the coastal range (on or close to Summit Road).  The summit is the “sunniest” area in the mountains, so if I lived there I’d want to be where there’s more sunlight – but that would mean straddling one of the most powerful and most scary earthquake faults on the globe.  I won’t do it!
  • Travel time – hwy 17 can be pretty smooth but once off the road, it can be 10 to 20 or more minutes until you get to the house, so the total travel time to whereever you’re going can be long.  That’s especially true if there’s an accident on 17, which is not so uncommon with all the curves in the road.  There is a large grocery store on Summit Road so it is not necessary to drive to the valley for the basics.
  • Resale issues – even in a “hot” market, it takes far longer to sell a mountain home than one on the valley floor.  Agents in my office say that on a typical open house up there they get one or two people per hour.  It is not uncommon for a mountain house to take a year to sell. I just checked the average Days on Market and it’s 63. In todays hot sellers market, that’s significantly longer than in the valley but far less than when I last updated this post in March 2011 when the Days on Market were 212.
  • Bugs – in addition to drywood termites and subterranean termites, up in the SC Mountains they also have dampwood termites.

If you’re interested in learning more about the mountains, please email me!  I can get you more info and partner with a “mountain agent” to get you the best deal on a property in the coastal range near the San Jose area.

Finally, if you are not sure which area is in Los Gatos vs having a Los Gatos mailing address (which can also happen in pockets on the valley floor), the best resource is the map of the town’s boundaries, which you can find here: http://www.losgatosca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/338

What’s available in the mountains today?

See what’s listed for sale in the Los Gatos Mountain area today.

 

How’s the market in 95033 this week?

Remodeled and expanded Cupertino home for sale with Monta Vista High

1190 Crestline Dr. Sold with 4 offers

Listed at $2,000,000 and sold with 4 offers for $2,300,000. Closed on August 14, 2018

Original post on this listing is below:

If you’ve been hunting for a move-in ready Cupertino home for sale with Monta Vista High School, this is your lucky week! Set in the beautiful Three Oaks neighborhood, close to Rainbow Drive and S Stelling Road, this sunny house was expanded in 2011 and more updates were done in 2018, including fully remodeling both bathrooms.  The addition brought 600 SF of kitchen, family, and office space to the home – and they are exquisite!

The home at 1190 Crestline Drive, Cupertino CA 95014 features 3 bedrooms plus an office (which could be converted to a bedroom), 2 remodeled baths, a spacious living room, dining room, alcove off the dining room (originally the location of the “old” kitchen), a spacious kitchen – family room combination with a large, vaulted ceiling. There are recessed lights in the living, dining, kitchen, and family rooms. The kitchen-family room area offers 2 skylights with retractable shades. Both bathrooms and also the dining room provide sun tunnels. There’s loads of natural light!

Kitchen & Family 1Kitchen and family room -1190 Crestline Drive, Cupertino

Flexible floor plan and more options for another bed, bath, or?

The space which was the original kitchen is now an alcove, but it is possible to create another bedroom there – or use it as a study, music room, hobby room, or play area.  It’s got a sewer line there, since it was previously a kitchen, so it may be possible to add a bathroom, too.

Dining and alcove - Crestline Drive, Cupertino California

Quick facts:

  • 3 bedrooms + office and alcove
  • Office has closet adjacent – could possibly convert office to bedroom
  • 2 newly remodeled baths in 2018
  • 1715 SF (per county)
  • Lot size 6007 SF (per county)
  • Built in 1963, expanded in 2011
  • No carpeting – mostly hardwood floors, some laminate, some Italian porcelain tile
  • Flexible layout—sewer plumbed to possibly add 3rd bathroom and another in original kitchen area
  • Schools: Regnart Elementary, Kennedy Middle & Monta Vista High
  • MLS # ML81714661

 

OPEN HOUSE SCHEDULE:

Thurs., 7-19-2018 9:30am to 12:30pm (broker tour AND public open house)
Sat., 7-21-2018  2pm to 4pm
Sun., 7-22-2018 2pm to 4pm

You can learn more about this Cupertino home for sale and see all the photos on either of these two sites:

http://www.valleyofheartsdelight.com/property/1190-crestline-dr-cupertino-ca-95014/

http://sanjoserealestatelosgatoshomes.com/1190-crestline-dr-cupertino-ca-95014/

Los Gatos neighborhood videos

As you may know, I have a number of blogs relating to Silicon Valley real estate (I will list them below). My family and I live in Los Gatos, and my office is in Los Gatos too, so my focus is that town and the nearby areas, such as Saratoga, Cupertino, Campbell, Monte Sereno, and parts of San Jose such as Cambrian and Almaden and Willow Glen. One area I’m working on for the blogs, as well as for my Facebook business page, Google + and Twitter are video “drive throughs” of neighborhoods. I’m starting in Los Gatos but eventually hope to get to all of the areas listed above.

Right now, I’ve got 5 Los Gatos neighborhood videos on my YouTube channel, plus slideshows of a few more areas and parks. Additionally there are some slideshows up of Saratoga and parts of San Jose. Interested in an up close view of these parts of Silicon Valley? Please visit my channel:  http://www.youtube.com/PopeHandy Or start with the Los Gatos playlist, below. The first one is a slideshow of Los Gatos as a general intro, and after that there is a mixture of slideshows and drive throughs. Enjoy!

 

Other blogs about Silicon Valley real estate, homes and neigbhorhoods:

 

Live in Los Gatos blog

Valley of Hearts Delight – aka San Jose Real Estate Los Gatos Homes

Belwood of Los Gatos blog

 

View available listed Los Gatos and Monte Sereno houses for sale.

 

More affordable homes to buy or rent in Silicon Valley with better schools

Edit: I originally wrote this post on August 12, 2013, but it is still accurate today, January 25, 2018, and probably will be for years to come. 

This morning I received an email from folks wanting to find a good area in which to move where they’ll have good schools but not pay the kind of prices they see in Palo Alto.  Below is my response to them.  I focus on Santa Clara County, and in particular the west valley areas from Los Altos to Almaden Valley or Blossom Valley areas of Willow Glen to Downtown San Jose, Santa Clara, Campbell, and back toward Los Gatos and its nearest parts.  Below is my response – hope it is helpful to many of my readers!   (The list is not exhaustive.)

 

The easiest way to check school scores is to use the site www.SchoolAndHousing.com.  It’s good for showing what house has which schools.  The home search feature is not very good, though, so don’t use that.  Best for home searching is www.MLSListings.com, as it is the public branch of our agent MLS and it is updated continuously.   Something to consider, though, is that the school scores do not tell the entire story.  There are many factors to include in your evaluation of a school, such as the variety of coursework offered (some schools may not have art or music, for instance), the availability of sports (for a balanced upbringing) and the overall feeling of a school (are the kids happy or are they overly pressured into excellence at a very young age?).  For many of these things, the best approach is to visit the schools personally and request a tour.  See if you can chat with the parents who are waiting to pick their kids up after school to hear about their experiences.  And of course read reviews online.

 

In terms of general areas to consider for schools near Mountain View, Palo Alto or Sunnyvale, in general, the better the schools, the more expensive the housing (whether to buy or to rent).  Hence Palo Alto is extremely pricey because the schools are absolutely top. Here are some communities that have great schools or good to very good schools:
  1. Palo Alto (very costly)
  2. Cupertino (less expensive for the school scores compared to other areas up to #5 on this list)
  3. Saratoga (very expensive)
  4. Los Altos & Los Altos Hills
  5. Los Gatos & Monte Sereno (95030 & 95032)
  6. Parts of San Jose in Cambrian 95124 and Almaden 95120 (very good value)
  7. The Los Gatos Mountains (zip code 95033)
  8. Parts of Fremont (Mission San Jose area)
Also it should be noted that in many cases, it makes more economic sense to utilize private schools and to live in an area which is a little less costly, such as Santa Clara (part of SC has Cupertino schools, so that will be expensive) or parts of San Jose (part of west San Jose 95129 has Cupertino schools, and part does not).  Many of my global clients initially do not see private schools as an option, for fear that all the kids in them will be from wealthy families and spoiled.  But often that is not the case at all – the kids are from families who like the curriculum, the teachers, the overall approach of the school and literally make sacrifices to send their kids there.  So I would advise that you at least have a look at that option since homes in the areas with the very best schools can be extremely costly.

Relocating from San Francisco to Silicon Valley

Coit Tower in San Francisco

Coit Tower in San Francisco

How hard could relocating from San Francisco to Silicon Valley be? It’s the same time zone, the same “San Francisco Bay Area” region, and depending on which part of Silicon Valley you target, the drive time could be all of 20 minutes – or perhaps well over an hour.

Relocating from San Francisco to Silicon Valley can be a little bit of a culture shock, which is surprising given the close proximity of the two areas.  What’s so different?

(1) Most noticeably, the scenery is different.

You won’t be seeing the Golden Gate Bridge,  facing frighteningly steep hills, or catching a view of the Pacific Ocean from the Cliff House when you’re in Silicon Valley. Nob Hill, the Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Union Square, Market Street, Mission Dolores, the SOMA district and so many other colorful parts of the city will be places you visit on weekends rather than drop in on some evening for supper. The scenic beauty of San Francisco may be the thing you will miss the most if you move out of that fabled city.

Beauty isn’t absent from Silicon Valley, though!  There are views of the San Francisco Bay in many places (Foster City and Redwood Shores especially).  Scenic vistas of the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains can be enjoyed from many locations in the South Bay, especially Los Altos, Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Gatos, and the Almaden Valley in San Jose. Part of Silicon Valley reaches into North San Jose, Milpitas, and Fremont, where views of the eastern foothills can be quite lovely, too.  Some of these communities have a high elevation and can see the bay as well as the valley.

San Mateo County - Crystal Springs path by water

San Mateo County – Crystal Springs path by water

If you are relocating from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, you’ll want to be outdoors more and enjoy the many open spaces available to you. Parks and hiking areas abound on the Peninsula and in Santa Clara County. For example, you’ve probably driven past Crystal Springs Reservoir many times- but did you know that you can hike there?  Santa Clara County has a network of trails following various creeks.  The Los Gatos Creek Trail (with some adjacent percolation ponds) runs from Lexington Reservoir down into the valley, stopping at Meridian Avenue. There are also trails around parts of the bay – and eventually trails should ring the whole SF Bay Area, but that may take quite awhile.

At Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos you can rent a paddle boat and roam the lake in style! Or how about sauntering on horseback in the low foothills of Saratoga at Garrod’s? A day at Filoli in Woodside is always good for the soul – lovely places to walk around both outdoors and in. (Really spectacular during the holidays, too.)

Got wine?  You’ll get great views if you take in some wine tasting in Saratoga (several spots, also at Cooper-Garrod’s if you want to sip wine after riding horses) or Cupertino at Ridge Vineyards, too. There are dozens of wineries in Silicon Valley, including J Lohr near the San Jose airport.

Lovely sights are bountiful in The Valley(more…)