Christopher, Thank you so much for your thorough response!
I just determined the steepness of the slope using http://www.mytopo.com/search.cfm?type=pns
(A really awesome tool that overlays topographic maps over google maps)
I've determined that the overall slope is 14% gradient, or a gain in 1 foot of elevation every 4 feet.
This is the overall slope, however. In reality, the slope that is closer to the house is probably about 10%, whereas the slope farthest from the house is probably about 20% (the house is at the downhill most part of the property)
I have found a geologic report of Scotts Valley online. I have a difficult time ascertaining anything significant from the report, however, it does mention that the location is marked by "moderate to high landslide risk"
(if you feel so inclined, you can read the report here
Now, if I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that the best strategy is to create swales on contour that have hard even edges all the way along, to prevent erosion and promote sheet flow is that correct?
If this is incorrect, please let me know what I am missing. If this is correct, could you point me in the right direction as to where I can learn to do this effectively?
Thanks again, your input is greatly appreciated!