April 29, 2010

$300,000 for a Water Meter

Thanks to Burbed reader madhaus for this guest post!

Everyone knows construction costs in the Bay Area are “through the roof” because it’s so Special here.  What everyone did not know is that some places are so Special that it will cost more for a water meter than a house almost anywhere else.

image Bolinas is north of San Francisco, but the residents don’t want you to find them.  The state has given up replacing any direction signs to the town, because they keep getting torn down.  And even if you can find your way there, don’t plan on moving into a new house.  There are exactly 580 water meters allowed in Bolinas, and they don’t come up for sale very often.  No water meter, no new construction.

One is coming up for sale very soon, and it’s going up for auction.  Minimum bid: $300,000.  It’s for sale because a the town, aided by billionaire venture capitalist Michael Moritz, bought a house that burnt down and is turning the lot into a park.  The auction ended Friday, April 16th, after this NY Times article was published.

For most of the last 39 years, “the only way a water meter came free was when a house burnt down, or fell off a cliff,” said Barbara Rothwell, a longtime Bolinas resident.

The meter moratorium has survived, even through protracted litigation, with the support of residents who like this isolated town the way it is.

The last water meter to come up for auction was in 2005, and it sold for $310,000.  Now, that’s Special!  How are your Special communities keeping out the riff-raff?
Incidentally, don’t you think The Bolinas Water Meters would be an awesome name for a rock band?


Update, 4/20/10:  Nobody submitted a bid for the coveted water meter. The deadline has been extended another week, ending on Friday April 24th.

Update, 4/28/10:  No bidders on water meter, auction extended to May 14th

Your chance to get a rare Bolinas water meter has been extended to May 14.

“We want to give people more time,” said Flower Fraser, owner of Seadrift Realty, who is ready to collect the bids.

The original deadline was April 16, then was extended to Friday and now until mid-May. Seven parties have inquired about the meter, but no one has submitted a bid.

Maybe some properties outside the RBA aren’t all that Special.

Comments (20) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:16 am

20 Responses to “$300,000 for a Water Meter”

  1. SEA Says:

    Is a water meter a moving part?

  2. SEA Says:

    From the NY Times article, “As long as the moratorium remains, “they’ll just get more and more valuable,” said James Kirkham, who has been spending time in Bolinas since the 1950s. Mr. Kirkham thinks the water meter may be undervalued.”

    First it was, “They are not making any more land.” That’s so old school! Now it’s moved to “No new water meters.”

    What never seems to cease, however, is owners perception of how ‘undervalued’ their property is. It’s like the neighborhood gathering where all the owners talk about the big value of the area homes. I’d love to hear Real Estater speaking to his neighbors.

  3. Petsmart groomer Says:

    > “We want to give people more time,” said Flower Fraser, owner of Seadrift Realty, who is ready to collect the bids.

    Supply: 1. Demand: 0. Market always wins.

  4. nobody Says:

    Lol – ready to collect bids!

    These idiots need to get jobs instead of sitting around expecting people to overpay for trash.

  5. sonarrat Says:

    And don’t even think about getting a well either!

  6. madhaus Says:

    What a terrific article! Too bad burbed forgot to mention that it’s one of mine.

    That’s why there’s all those updates. I submitted it before the auction had concluded. 🙂

  7. burbed Says:


  8. Gavin Says:

    Isn’t it cheaper to buy a water tanker truck and fill water every week from the next town rather than spend $300,000?

  9. nomadic Says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to buy this place on .28 acres with a water view (and meter) for $700k?


  10. nomadic Says:

    correction – it doesn’t quite have an ocean view.

  11. anon Says:

    Guys, settle down. Bolinas is special. People who live there know this.

  12. madhaus Says:

    Sold in 2005 for $610K, asking $704K, on Redfin 23 days so therefore overpriced. Even Zillow thinks the high Zestimate for this place is $636K, eppraisal is similar, Cyberhomes says… (loll) $386K.

    Therefore Cyberhomes believes this house is worth $86,000 since the water meter is included.

  13. madhaus Says:

    Sunnyvale is Special, not just special. I live there so I know this.

    I also know it isn’t RBA anymore, but since my house is there, it is, by definition, Special.

    nomadic, while I wait for my earlier post to be resurrected, let me note that CyberHomes thinks the high estimate on 130 Juniper is $386K. So with the water meter, that means the house and land are only worth $86K for a quarter acre.

  14. SEA Says:

    Only the RBA is Real Special.

  15. nomadic Says:

    madhaus, it just goes to show that Bolinas isn’t all the Special anymore either. Meter values have fallen just like everything else.

  16. Petsmart groomer Says:

    I think burbed should feature a personality every other week.

    For example, Ted C. Jones, PhD (more info here).

  17. The Govenator Says:

    Ted is a tool. What if rates rise then home values go down. Think about it? If income stays around the same. Another shell game.

  18. SEA Says:

    #16 Ted C. Jones, PhD. – “Just look at your monthly payments.” “We’ve never, in my lifetime, and I’m 56 years old, seen housing so affordable on a monthly basis.”

    I’m guessing he’s a Stanford PhD.

  19. nomadic Says:

    Even better, the PhD is from Texas (A&M).

  20. madEstater Says:

    Well, that explains it nomadic. Ted just doesn’t understand how Real Estate works in the RBA. In Texas, they’re constantly making more land.

Leave a Reply

Please be nice. No name calling, no personal attacks, no racist stuff, no baiting, etc. Let's be nice to each other in the true Bay Area spirit! (Comments may be edited/removed without notice.)