September 11, 2010

Disincorporation: It’s Not Just For SoCal Anymore

Thanks to burbed reader Herve for sending in this cheery news!  Wow, cleared for takeoff!

The end of Half Moon Bay?

By Julia Scott, San Mateo County Times

Posted: 08/27/2010 11:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 08/28/2010 01:55:27 PM PDT

HALF MOON BAY — Between budget losses and lawsuit payments, Half Moon Bay’s financials have become so dire that if a local sales tax measure doesn’t pass this November, officials say they may have to disincorporate.

City leaders have been using the "D" word for a few weeks now as they try to persuade voters to pass Measure K, a one-cent sales tax increase that would help the city balance its budget with an extra infusion of $1.4 million per year for the next seven years.

Dissolving Half Moon Bay — handing the city’s budget, operations and services to San Mateo County — would be an absolute last resort, but the city may not have many other options left, City Councilman John Muller said.

"The council has done everything in its power to keep the city whole," Muller said. "If it doesn’t pass, we could seriously not be in business much longer."

Half Moon Bay was never part of the Real Bay Area, what with the pumpkins and the fog and being on the other end of Highway 92.  But now they’re talking about quitting as a municipal entity and turning over the keys to San Mateo County.  There’s nothing left to pay the bills.

City Manager Michael Dolder admits disincorporation is one of the options on the table now. The City Council already cut $900,000 from the current budget — including half its employees — and imposed furloughs on those who remain. Some of the cuts were needed to pay for the Beachwood lawsuit settlement, a $15 million burden the city will shoulder in bond payments for the next 20 years.

bellIt’s not clear this would bail the residents out of their woes.  If San Mateo County steps in, they get the property taxes, the hotel taxes, the sales taxes.  But the county doesn’t assume any liabilities.  HMB has those bonds outstanding, and the debt would transfer to every city real estate owner, via liens placed on their properties.  Another joy of homeownership!  Bet you never thought of that one!

"The costs don’t go away just because the cities go away. You still need to provide the services. You still have the same problems out there," explained Bob Adler, Assistant Controller for the county.

Plenty of cities have been cutting services and letting workers go.  But there are other cities considering the same thing, most of them nowhere near the RBA.  We hope.  But Half Moon Bay can’t be the only one, or why would unions be pushing for new legislation preventing cities from disincorporating without explaining why to a commission?

What kind of shape are your city’s services in?  What’s been cut?

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

September 10, 2010

A girl on a swing for sale in Moss Beach.



Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,500
$/Sq. Ft.: $483
Lot Size: 7,800 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Ranch
Stories: 1
View: Green Belt
Year Built: 1965
Community: West of Highway 1
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81039167
Source: MLSListings
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 30 days
Classic California Beach House. .. Open beams. Next Fitzgerald Marine Reserve & park lands. Large level parcel. Kitchen makeover. . black granite counter tops, light cherrywood cabinets appliances, great oak flooring. Master bath beautifully updated. real fireplace. newer milgard low/ e windows. Parklike, bordered by majestic monterey cypress. Separate, refinished artist studio with slate floor & more

Thanks to Burbed reader The Klek for this find!

It’s Friday! Who’s ready to go to the beach? Moss Beach that is!

Here’s what the Klek had to say.

This listing seems about $100K overpriced considering the other properties in the neighborhood.  Still, this seems like a decent house on a unusually large lot.  What’s interesting is that none of the listing photos shows the ‘wild’ right side of the lot where a huge dumpster was still parked as of last week (from the touted kitchen remodel, I assume).
What really caught my attention was the 7th photo in the listing which seems to indicate a real estate agent with some truly remedial Photoshop skills!  That is indeed part of the nearby Fitzgerald Marine Reserve but I was at that spot last night and didn’t see a carefree and barefoot woman on a swing who looked cropped right out of a feminine hygiene ad.  Kudos to the real estate agent for some real misguided creativity.  If his other listings have similar gems, he should consider putting out a coffee table book!

Huh? What’s this?


Whoa. I’m not sure about a feminine hygiene ad… perhaps a scene from a horror movie? I can just imagine it now – she’s a ghost of a homebuyer who was wrong… who didn’t get her god-given Californian 10% year over year appreciation (she only got 5%). Now, she’s destined to roam the planet in a limbo-like state until someone turns her house into a rental, benefitting from Prop 13 for eternity.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:43 am

September 9, 2010

Delightful Home in West Atherton with Many Upgrades

Real estate has always been all about location, location, location, since some places are more Special than others.  If you’re looking for property in Redwood City, then the right side of El Camino is south and west, as you head toward 280 and away from 101.  Here’s a Right Side of 82 property that burbed reader sonarrat wished to share, noting that the price was closer to 2006 than 2010.

301 ENCINA Ave Redwood City, CA 94061


Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 950
$/Sq. Ft.: $631
Lot Size: 5,500 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Cottage/Bungalow
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1915
Community: Horgan Ranch
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81004537
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 218 days


Quite a find, indeed!  It’s not every Redwood City house that can boast it’s just one block from Atherton!  Sure, the streets are built to keep 94027 and 94061 in their separate corners:


But that means those toffee-nosed nobs won’t be coming ‘round to sneer at your landscaping!  I’m sure the current sellers did the best they could.  imageBesides, you aren’t buying this home so you can water your own lawn, because there isn’t any.  You’re buying it for the cash flow up front.  As the agent tells us, “THERE IS A "RENTABLE" GUEST AREA, PLUS THE GARAGE HAS BEEN USED FOR HABITATION.”

Perfect!  You can rent out the garage to the hired help who work for nouveaux riches in Atherton who didn’t build a servants’ wing.

Plus “THIS PROPERTY HAS MANY UPGRADES INCLUDING NEW KITCHEN, BATHS AND LANDSCAPE.”  I bet those upgrades are spectacular!  They’re so good the agent doesn’t want us to see any photos, except the landscape.  Boy, can you imagine what the landscape looked like before the upgrade?

Maybe it was just dirt.  Now that it’s all paved, good thing there’s air-conditioning inside, because you are going to roast if you host a garden party.  But why did they pave paradise?  Is this house near a Superfund site too?  They weren’t kidding about the many features!

So, readers: is this a 2006 price on a Redwood City hovel or a 2010 price on a West Atherton cottage?

Comments (37) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

September 8, 2010

The saga of Gable’s End continues!


First time ever at Gables End: 3.5 percent down and a 2.875 percent rate
Gables End, in prestigious Mountain View, is down to its last few homes available. And it’s no surprise why – these homes are simply stunning, loaded with the latest high-end interior finishes, and they are located in a highly desirable location. There are already over 100 happy homeowners at Gables End.
And now, for the first time ever, Gables End is offering a super low 3.5 percent down and 2.875 percent rate. If you thought you couldn’t afford to purchase a gorgeous brand new home, you stand corrected. With an incredibly low down payment of only 3.5 percent and an excellent rate of 2.875 percent, purchasing a home has never been so attainable.
The quality of these exquisite homes is high and the prices are affordable. Now is the time to take advantage of this amazing offer. Three-bedroom homes with attached two-car garages start at $659,900. And if you are looking for something a bit more extravagant, there is a luxurious model home released for sale. The model home is loaded with upgrades and lavish interiors – it is simply stunning, and there is only one available! Not to mention it is in a prime location on the park. Time is running out to own at this highly sought after community. Hurry in to select your favorite home today.
The picturesque enclave of 108 homes is reminiscent of a New England Village. The floor plans are designed for multi-level living with the choice of three or four bedrooms. Sizes range from 1,524 to 1,872 square feet. Spaces are luxurious, light-filled and are complete with the highest quality features and finishes. Expansive windows, volume ceilings and cozy nooks inside add variety and interest. Each home has a private two-care garage with direct access.
Gables End is located in the center of Silicon Valley in the City of Mountain View. This high-efficient metropolis is extraordinarily civic-minding providing its citizens with a wealth of engaging amenities and progressive services (one of the first to offer free WiFi to its residence). The many city parks, along with Shoreline Regional Park, are a bonanza for outdoor activities. Charming cafes, inviting restaurants, all manner of shopping and entertainment, a state-of-the-art library and civic center can all be found within the heart of the country’s most dynamic business environment.
The community is punctuated with peaceful fenced courtyards, charming seating areas and colorful planted arbors. The lovely town homes have porches and front stoops that are perfect place to barbecue, read a book, nap or simply unwind and enjoy the fresh air. Richly landscaped streets, meandering walkways, mature trees, quiet sitting spaces, the Central Lawn with its grand arbor, and especially the adjacent Sierra Vista Park, are all wonderful places to enjoy the great outdoors. There’s even a charming recreational building for community gathering or special events.
Gables End recreated the kind of comfortable, congenial and intimate spaces so familiar to traditional neighborhoods. Everything at Gables End is designed to make life easy and to allow neighbors to enjoy one another. Regis Homes invites you to enjoy the village lifestyle now available in this lovely community.
Gables End is developed by Regis Homes of Northern California, Inc., one of Northern California’s leading homebuilding companies, specializing in well-designed, well-located, high quality homes. Regis Homes has built more than 1,000 residencies throughout Northern California and has earned a reputation for employing sustainable land use, innovative design, quality construction and attention to detail. The company’s design approach has garnered many industry awards together with the respect of its homebuyers.
The Gables End Information Center is located at 1925 Cambridge Drive, Plymouth Street at Sierra Vista, Mountain View, CA. Office hours are Monday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information please call 650-988-9955 or visit

Thanks to Burbed reader Herve for continuing to track the saga of Gables End.

As a refresher, here it is:


Herve notes:

Mountain View is a metropolis by the way. Or so it says.

Heck, it also says that Wifi is provided by the city – not really. I’m also not sure I’d want to have a BBQ or nap outside there – though who knows, maybe 101 flavored ribs taste better!

I’ve gotta ask… does anyone actually know anyone who lives at Gable’s End? What’s it like? How do they like their investment? Has it gone up 15% yet?

Comments (29) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:48 am

September 7, 2010

A healthy priced property in Palo Alto



Beds: 1
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 570
$/Sq. Ft.: $2,630
Lot Size: 2,000 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1932
Community: College
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81026433
Source: MLSListings
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 101 days
Three contiguous parcel with unlimited development potential. Parcel at 845 El Camino vacant and zoned CN. Parcel at 1829 Ash St. has one bedroom home in fair condition. Needs TLC. Zoned RM15. Unit on parcel behind 1920 Ash St to be considered not suitable for habitation without significant improvements. Zoned RM15. One structure may be encroaching on adjoining parcel and requires access easement.

Thanks to Burbed reader Jeff for this find!

I thought it would be great to start off the week with a healthy listing from Palo Alto. Yum yum! $2630 per square foot. This is beyond Real Bay Area! This is Super Real Bay Area!

Here’s what Jeff had to say:

Granted, the listing is suggesting redeveloping it, but with a 2000sqft lot that doesn’t seem to have unlimited development potential.

Of course this has unlimited development potential. All you need is unlimited money and unlimited time. And if you want to live in Palo Alto, shouldn’t you have those?

Or at least pretend to have those?

What would you do with this amazing property? I’m thinking… pergo, granite, and stainless steel everything.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:27 am

September 6, 2010

What are you laboring for?

It’s Labor Day! Everyone’s favorite holiday!

This is the day where we celebrate our privilege to work in Silicon Valley!

It’s where we celebrate the fact that we can spend all year, working in cubes (if you’re lucky), on the next game changing disruptive social sharing music video coupon synergy open graph mobile app! And BECOME RICH from it!

That’s why you’re reading this at work. Because you want to!

So… what do you do for a living? And how many hundreds of thousands of dollars do you get paid?

(Do you agree with the assessments on

Comments (45) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:58 am

September 5, 2010

Los Altos NIMBYs Protest Cell Phone Towers

Los Altos area residents won’t drop call to arms over cell tower

By Diana Samuels, Daily News Staff Writer

Posted: 09/03/2010 10:13:58 PM PDT
Updated: 09/04/2010 07:37:40 AM PDT

A group of Los Altos area residents who lost their bid this week to keep a 55-foot-tall cell phone tower out of their neighborhood said they plan to take their fight to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

The county’s planning commission voted 4-2 Thursday to reject an appeal from residents of the San Antonio Hills neighborhood in an unincorporated part of the county. The residents say neighbors Marshall and Nadja Jackson are operating a commercial “cell tower farm” on their Whitham Avenue property, in violation of county zoning regulation.

The Jacksons already have three cell towers on their property and won approval from the planning commission in June to build a fourth for Verizon Wireless. Marshall Jackson declined to comment Friday, but said earlier this week he believes the 55-foot-tall “monopine” — a tower disguised as a pine tree — will make the community safer thanks to the better coverage it will provide.

Tower opponent Chris Hyrne [in photo at right] said he and other residents plan to appeal the commission’s decision to the board of supervisors.

This site has long discussed one of the true pleasures of homeownership: the joy of watering one’s own lawn.  How come nobody ever brought up the delight of collecting fees for hosting a “cell tower farm” on your own property?  You don’t even have to water the monopine!  Just sit back, relax, and watch those checks start rolling in.  Sure, you’ll earn the enmity of your neighbors and your kids won’t be able to show their faces at recess, but so what?  If you’re tough enough to have become a Real Bay Area homeowner, you (and your kids) can handle a little ostracism.

We are not talking about beer money.  The Jacksons are currently hosting towers for AT&T, Sprint, Metro PCS, and T-Mobile. They earn between $500 and $3500 a month per tower for having them on their property.  The new Verizon tower would be 15 feet taller than the existing structures, and by law that means the other carriers can raise their towers to the same height as the new one.

Meanwhile, the neighbors against the towers have their petition against the “antenna farm” online, complete with address of the “butt-ugly” towers.  They have a website as well.  But we’ll save you the trouble of driving over to Whitham Avenue, as the website has this lovely view of the towers:


Can’t imagine why the neighbors are complaining.  They must get cell reception like no tomorrow.  Heck, Marshall Jackson, who just happens to be a Realtor, said the house across the street from him sold in two days, over asking price, because of the awesome bar count.  “I’m concerned for the greater good,” Jackson said. “I certainly want to make profits myself; I’m a capitalist and I’m profit-motivated. … but I also don’t do things I think will hurt people.”

Here is the house in question, sold for $1,000 over asking.  (Something very funny is going on with that house, take a look at the sale records.)

Now that the cellular antenna farm idea has been featured on burbed (an award-winning site, you know!), everyone will want to be the first on their block to plant an antenna farm!  So hurry!  Unless you’re a renter, in which case you can spend Labor Day Weekend watering your landlord’s lawn.

Comments (20) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

September 4, 2010

Did this really exist?

Low mortgage rates go lower. Better days ahead for housing market?

Low mortgage rates fell still more this week – to the lowest level ever in four decades of tracking. Also, the number of pending home sales posted a rise for the month of July.
A home for sale is posted at a reduced price in Palo Alto, California, in this June 24 file photo. Low mortgage rates fell still lower this week, and the number of pending home sales posted a rise for the month of July.
Paul Sakuma/AP/File

Now, granted, this photo was from June 24 – which is like 2 years ago in Palo Alto/Silicon Valley time.

But seriously? Aren’t “Price Reduced” signs banned within the city limits of Palo Alto? Did this really ever exist?

OR is this the work on the clueless “Main Street Media” (MSM), based out of NY, that is intent on destroying the famed Real Bay Area?

You have this long weekend to figure it out.

Comments (21) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:05 am

September 3, 2010

Bank Owned!!! Rehabbed!!! Spacious Driveway!! Convenient Location!!!

Yesterday’s featured listing got a warm burbed welcome, especially from Ted O’Malley. So let’s spend another day in central Sunnyvale!

801 Birch Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086


Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 770
$/Sq. Ft.: $480
Lot Size: 5,000 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1944
Community: Sunnyvale
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81043450
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 1 day
New Listing (24 hours)

Bank Owned!!! Rehabbed!!! Maintained 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath with spacious driveway and plenty street parking space. New Interior paint and New Carpet. Updated Kitchen and bath with granite counter tops and tile flooring. Hardwood floors, dual pane windows and a good size deck to entertain guest!!! A Must See!!!

So much to say about this New Listing.  A good size deck to entertain one guest.  Would that be a double pinochle deck?  Those have 98 cards.  Double pinochle, what does this mean?

I especially like the exclamation points in the copy after the terms “bank-owned” and rehabbed,” two terms not usually associated with realty gushing.  Does it have stainless steel appliances to go with the hardwood floors and “granite counter tops”?  That’s gotta cause an REO trifecta.

Also, you can’t beat the location, location, location of this place!  Not only is there a street sign right in front of your house so you won’t get lost, it’s in a great neighborhood!  Just take a look!


Convenient to so many places, like Central Expressway, Fair Oaks Avenue, and a really expensive place right across the street!  Wow, not every house gets a view like this one!  This is an historic property that you’ll get to admire every time you leave your house.  Formerly the Joshua Hendy Ironworks (built right after the 1906 SF Earthquake, thus even older than yesterday’s house!), it was acquired by Westinghouse in 1946. 


And it is a super view, because all 75 acres qualify as a Superfund site.  A few thousand gallons of PCB-laced oil in the aquifer won’t hurt anybody.  Plus it’s now an operating Northrop-Grumman Marine Systems plant, so you could nip across the street and see if they need any spare crane operators.  Alternatively you could sneak a few of their Trident II Launch subsystems under your sweater and sell them to any Russian spies you meet at the nearby Home Depot.

Be sure to admire the low-maintenance back yard!  The agent’s pictures truly don’t do it justice.  You have to see the whole place at once to appreciate the benefits of paving every square foot.  For one, the PCBs will stay in the ground where they belong!


Comments (33) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

September 2, 2010

Downtown Sunnyvale: So Convenient to Construction Sites

It’s been a while since we featured a property in Sunnyvale.  Sunnyvale isn’t considered a “prestige” address such as Portola Valley or Woodside.  But there are plenty of advantages to living in Sunnyvale.  How about a two-for-one special?

297 CHARLES St Sunnyvale, CA 94086


Beds: 7
Baths: 3
Sq. Ft.: 2,516
$/Sq. Ft.: $437
Lot Size: 6,500 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Colonial
Stories: 2
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1908
Community: Sunnyvale
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81025224
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 104 days

Open house July 24th today 1-4. AMAZING!!!2 homes on one parcel!First time on market ever!2 car detached garage. 297 Charles St. 1908 Colonial Revival Historical 5bd/2ba, 2,516+-sqft, newer kitchen, carpet, beautiful floors-545W. McKinley 2bd/1ba-700+-sqft. Both have large basements. Gabel dormer, original hardware, Full kitchen upstairs can be used as a rental-separate address 295 Charles.

See, not only do you get two houses for the price of one (if that one were in the Cupertino school district), you also get an agent who doesn’t believe in using both spaces and punctuation at the same time.  Plus you can use the full kitchen upstairs as a rental!  Seriously, talk about prestige!  Two basements! 

297_charles_svlAnd talk about convenience!  These houses are walking distance to both Sunnyvale Town Center and Town & Country Village.  That means they’re  smack-dab in Downtown, but for some reason the agent doesn’t want you to know that.  Maybe it’s because “Downtown” reminds people of the endless reconstruction of both shopping malls.

Alert burbed reader Pralay sent in this news update on the problems.  Poor Town & Country Village!  Not only did it get a mall in Palo Alto named after it, but it’s now serving as a wildlife refuge.  What a boon to property values!

New developer buys Town & Country parcel in Sunnyvale for $19 million

By John Dugan

Posted: 08/31/2010 06:02:44 PM PDT
Updated: 08/31/2010 07:19:26 PM PDT

A San Francisco development company has bought part of the former Town and Country shopping center in downtown Sunnyvale for $19 million, with plans to put 280 housing units and possible street-level retail on the site.

BRE Properties Inc. announced the purchase of 2.4 acres of land in downtown Sunnyvale in a press release Tuesday. The release said the "transit-oriented" site was one block from the Caltrain station and adjacent to the Sunnyvale Town Center.

Santa Clara County property records show that BRE purchased parcels at 101, 201, 301 and 401 Town and Country Village Way, or roughly half of the 4.6-acre Town and Country site, from Capella Holdings, LLC, on Aug. 20.

A BRE spokesman said there is no timetable to begin construction on the site, which has been vacant since the old shopping center was demolished in April. Previous to the demolition, the buildings sat empty for more than a year, and the site drew complaints from citizens and Sunnyvale City Council members alike for its decrepit appearance and rat infestation.

Yes, The Excitement Is Building in Sunnyvale!  The property is definitely easy walking distance to shops… if any of them were open.  Or standing.

Sunnyvale isn’t a prestige address?  Get real.  Not only is this a hundred-year-old million dollar property, the houses are on the corner of Charles Street and McKinley Avenue.  That’s a Prince and a President!  How much more prestige do you need?  And if Elizabeth II ever keels over, then it’s a King and a President!  The only thing that could make it any more prestigious would be a nearby Starbucks.  If only someone would open a shopping mall.

Comments (27) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am