Thursday, July 30, 2009

National Night Out In our Hood

The Neighbors of 66th Street in Berkeley will be closing down the street between Idaho and Acton and bringing out their grills for National Night Out on Tuesday, August 4. Folks from neighboring streets have been invited to bring a hot dog or something else to grill. Guests from the city police and fire departments will be on hand to talk with neighbors. If you live down here or are thinking about moving in this area you might want to come out and meet your neighbors

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Farewell Party at Spud's Pizza

It saddens me to see us lose this great asset. But, that's what happens when you allegedly sell alcohol to under aged kids. These guys were great, friendly and the pizza and weekend music were terrific. Well as a way of saying goodbye they are hosting a free all you can eat pizza party this Sunday at 6:00PM! C'mon down and meet the neighbors, and if you've never had Spud's pizza here's your final opportunity. I'll miss you Spud (at the corner of Alcatraz and Adeline). by the way their Karaoke finals are Friday night.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Global Day of Action United for Iran

East Bay Neighbor has learned about a rally and protest in San Franciso at City Hall on July 25th from12-4 to show support for the people of Iran as part of a world wide demostration of solidarity. On July 26th in Berkeley at Ashkenaz there will be music at 8:00PM. You don't have to be of Persian descent to support the rights of people from that country. You can find out more about the events at this website: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Berkeley Kite Festival this Weekend. woohoo!

We can start with "Go fly a kite," move on to "no strings attached." and end with "Kite Flyers keep it up longer." This Saturday and Sunday the Marina will be a great place to visit. The skys will be colorful as they display a dance of kites of various kinds and sizes.....and parking and traffic horrific! For more information you can go to Berkeley says expect delays if you're driving in that area.

The Good Guide!

Developed in Berkeley, located in San Francisco, here is another example of the cutting edge work that comes out of the Bay Area, another example of the creativity and forward thinking of this part of the world. If you haven't used the Good Guide, you are missing out on a fabulous resource. This is a guide to products that we use everyday. It assesses how these products are made, the materials used how they affect health and the environment. They are given a score and ranked. You can use different filters for example on how you do your searches so if you are only interested in the environmental impact of a product then you use that filter to rank the product. You can sign up for their email updates and every so often you will get a blurb like I did this morning. My email was about toothpastes, harmful chemicals that many of them contain, and which toothpaste companies test on animals, etc. Try this site out: You'll be glad you did.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cliff Bars moving its Headquarters

Est Bay Neighbor has learned that Cliff Bars is moving its headquarters into our neighborhood. True it is leaving Berekely for Emeryville but smack dab in the middle of the berkeley, Oakland, emeryville edge. Their energy will continue to bring good vibes our way. The company's new digs on 65th Street will include a wellness center, bike garage and theater for employee events. Awesome!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Actual Cafe Coming Soon!

East Bay Neighbor has learned that the old tackle shop at the corner of Alcatraz and San Pablo is being readied to become a new neighborhood meeting place. Its concept is Coffee, Beer wine, light food, open after dark, indoor parking for bicycles, a focus on the Arts! I'll be posting more about this new great addition to the neighborhood, another sign of the changing demographics. If you want a great place to invest in living then I suggest you seriously consider this little corner of the East Bay!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Parking in Oakland? Beware the new rules!

Well, I hate to be the deliverer of bad news but Oakland has lengthened the parking meter day, and has raised the price, all in one fell swoop! check the kiosk but it looks to me like you have to pay, at least in some areas (like Rockridge) until 8:00PM and the price is now $2.00 an hour. And to add insult to injury (I'm full of cliches today) there's no more using the same ticket for different spaces. Up till now, if you had time left on your ticket and had to go somewhere else, you could use that time. well, these days are gone. You have to have your car parked on the same block as the kiosk where you bought your ticket.

66th Street Residents will meet on Saturday, 7/18

East Bay Neighbor has learned that the residents of 66th street in Berkeley will be meeting this Saturday, 7/18, in Roxanne Schwartz's back yard - 1319 66th Street - at 10:30 a.m. to discuss their plans for National Night Out. I haven't heard what some of the ideas are but will post them when I do. The City of Berkeley is installing a new traffic circle at Mable and 66th St and part of Saturday's neighborhood discussion will be to get ideas of what will be planted in that area. They have invited the City council Rep as well as the Berkeley Police Department to talk about recent crime in the neighborhood and other topics.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oakland Market is Hot! Hot! Hot!

A year ago we had a market in Oakland with 10 months worth of inventory. Foreclosures were coming on the market faster than a salad-master salesman comes on to you. Boy have things changed since then. You don't have to be the sharpest tool in the shead to know that it makes sense to buy a house for 50% or less of the cost of building one. The public, has figured it out. Now, as I write this, there just isn't enough good inventory out there. Well priced REO's (bank owned) homes are currently selling within 72 hours of their list date. And many of them for all cash. If you're a buyer, you want to be ready, pre-approved, knowledgeable, questions all answered. When the property shows up you be ready to write the contract.

Right now there is a window of opportunity for sellers. If you need to sell and have been waiting, this might be the time. Word in the office is there will be more foreclosures coming, that the banks have been holding back houses out of fear of deflating the market even further. Well, if you want to sell consider doing it before these properties are released. If you are priced well you'll have no problem selling. There are loads of buyers out there competing. Don't expect bidding wars like in the old days but do expect there to be a lot of activity.

Monday, July 13, 2009

City of Richmond to ban smoking in Apartments and Condos

Yup, they received an F on their report card last year from the American Lung Association and decided to do something about it. By January 2011 you won't be allowed to light up in an apartment or condo in Richmond. It might be noted here that while no city in the Bay area got an A on their report card a few did get B's. These were Berkeley, Oakland, Belmont and Novato

3 Gang members arrested by Police from Berkeley, Oakland, Hercules and ATF Agents

According to the Berkeley Daily Planet and the San Francisco Chronicle, An investigation into two rival gangs from North Oakland and South Berkeley led to the arrests on July 9th of several suspects, including one who was shot by a Hercules police officer, authorities said.

Oakland and Berkeley police have been investigating the feud between the two gangs since 2001. Oakland police said the gangs, mostly consisting of males between the ages of 16 and 30, may be behind a recent escalation of shootings in Oakland and Berkeley.

For complete details see the details in the Berkeley Daily Planet

Celebrate Community During National NIght Out!

I just received this email from Ryan Lau of Council Member, Darryl Moore's Office, and thought I'd pass it on to anyone out there interested.

It's Time to Celebrate Community During National Night Out 2009 ! The City of Berkeley community is participating in the 26th annual National Night Out on Tuesday, August 4, 2009. What had started many years ago as a unique crime and drug prevention event has evolved in the City of Berkeley into a celebration of community.
Last year's National Night Out involved community members, law enforcement, fire personnel, community groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from over 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories and Canada. In all, over 37 million people participated in National Night Out 2008.
We are encouraging community members to participate. You need not be an organized group to join in the celebration. In the past, groups have hosted BBQ's, pot lucks, picnics, ice cream/dessert socials, kids parades, neighborhood clean-ups and music performances. Members of a diversity of City of Berkeley departments visit celebrations throughout the city that night.
To be part of National Night Out in Berkeley, please complete a National Night Out Registration Form and fax to 510-981-5819.or mail to :

Berkeley Police Department
Community Services Bureau
ATTN: Sgt. Mary Kusmiss S-6
2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley, CA. 94704-1109

<> <> This information is also available on the BPD website. <>
Please share this with whomever you wish.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Fond Farewell to Smith and Hawkin

Located on 1oth Street near Gilman, this "gold standard" of organic gardening equipment and suppllies will be saying good bye forever by the end of this year. All 50 of the nationwide stores are set to close. Founded in Mill Valley 30 years ago Smith and Hawkin have been an exceptional resource for many organic gardeners. The sale has started. Take advantage now, beofre they're gone forever. I'll miss you, smith and Hawkin!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Have you tried Berkeley Bowl West?

If you haven't then its time to try it out. This grocery store is a bigger better version of the one at Shattuck and Oregon. It has wider aisles, plenty of parking, fast moving lines, lots of shoppers, plenty of fresh, exotic and organic produce, and a great location for those of us living in the West or South side of Berkeley, Emeryville, or North Oakland. Its at the corner of 9th and Heinz, right across the street from Ecole Bilingue, two bocks off Ashby and one block off San Pablo. If you live in the neighborhood you'll certainly appreciate this amenity which is sure to help with your property values and is a great alternative to the Pac and Save and the Grocery Outlet. I give Berkeley Bowl West a big thumbs up!

New Program for Home Buyers

This program launched by the California Association of Realtors is little known but, a big plus for those who would like to take advantage of the current market conditions and purchase a home but may be hesitant because of job insecurity. My understanding of this program is that to qualify you must be a first time buyer and you must use a Realtor who is amember of CAR. Here is a blurb from thier website with a link for further information:

"To help provide first-time home buyers with peace of mind when purchasing a home, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) Housing Affordability Fund is offering a new mortgage protection program to first-time home buyers. Through the C.A.R. Housing Affordability Fund’s Mortgage Protection Program, first-time home buyers who lose their jobs due to layoffs may be eligible to receive up to $1,500 per month, for six months, to help make their mortgage payments. A qualified co-buyer also can participate in the program, and receive a monthly benefit of $750 per month for up to six months. Program benefits also include coverage for accidental disability and a $10,000 death benefit. For more information including eligibility requirements and information on applying for the C.A.R.H.A.F. Mortgage Protection Program, please visit "

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Today's Real Estate Markets

I think its important for Buyers and Sellers to understand that when we talk about the "market" we are actually talking about many different markets. Just as in the BayArea there are many different eco-systems and climate zones there are also many different markets. With the changes in Housing over the past few years there have emerged some very distinct market areas.

Even if we're talking about REO's (foreclosures), the market in East Oakland is similar yet different from West Oakland, and quite different from Montclaire. And the market in Antioch, Richmond, El Sobrante and Berkeley are quite different from each other as well. Then we have the high end market, short sales, condos, lofts, first time buyers, and the list goes on with each area having its own specific personality and quirks. For example, right now in Berkeley the inventory for good homes is very low and there are only a few foreclosures which means multiple offers on any decently priced property, while at the very same time, in East Oakland there are many foreclosed properties available for sale which tend to keep values depressed. The point of all this is that if you are thinking about buying or sellling a property it is probably a good idea to consult with someone who is in the field everyday and who knows the particular market appropriate to you. Each market is a changing, fluid entity and there is some cross over between or among markets. If you read about it in the newspaper or hear about it on the radio it is probably not what is happening in the market place today. a good realtor is ahead of the news because s/he is in the field everyday looking at homes and watching the dynamics of the marketplace.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall Who's the Greenest of them All

And the answer seems to be "the Bay Area." In a recent ranking by Mother nature Network, 3 Bay area cities ranked in the "greenest" top 10 in the United States. While Portland, Oregon took the number 1 spot, SanFrancisco came in at #2, Oakland at #4, and Berkeley at #7!

San Francisco was named for its goal to be America's solar energy leader, its innovative recycling program, and for being the first US city to ban plastic grocery bags, as part of its effort to divert 75% of landfill waste by 2010.

Oakland received its honor by being home to the nation's cleanest tap water, hydrogen-powered public transit and the country's oldest wildlife refuge. The port city also plans to have zero waste and be oil-independent by 2020, and already gets 17% of its energy from renewable sources.

And Berkeley is well, ....Berkeley , a leader in the incubation of clean technology for wind power, solar power, biofuels and hydropower.