October 19, 2013

San Francisco & San Jose: Two Different Metros. WTFF? WHY?

131014-sfsj-bayareaThe conventional definition of the Bay Area was always the nine counties that touched SF Bay somewhere.  These were:

  • San Francisco, which everyone used to acknowledge as The City, because it was a City and a County both!
  • Alameda, its close-by yet cheaper urban commuter residence, home to Oakland, Berkeley, and of course, Hayward.
  • Contra Costa, further away, and featuring the lovely features of Richmond contrasted with the excitement of the I-680 corridor.
  • San Mateo, the nicer bedroom county. Not as nice as Marin, but easier to get to, and more importantly now, waaaaay closer to Google.
  • Santa Clara, formerly the valley of fruits and nuts, now home to the real economic engines. As in Google and Apple and Facebook and Intel and Cisco and a bunch of other places that make it possible for you to read this blog every day.
  • Marin, home to aging hippies and even more aging real estate, it’s the whitest part of the Bay Area
  • Sonoma, rural and removed from, well, everything above.
  • Napa, even more rural and removed except when the tourists clog up the wineries.
  • Solano, our very own Stockton on the Bay. That’s a reference to their finances, not their cattle ranching. Vallejo has a different economy.

Yet The Bay Area is often missing from lists comparing different parts of the country because the Census Bureau (now in shutdown mode!) decided to break The Bay Area into two different metropolitan areas.  There’s the San Francisco Metropolitan Statistical Area, and there’s the San Jose one.  San Francisco also got Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin counties. 

What did San Jose get?  San fucking Benito.  Thanks a LOT, Census anal-retentives.  You take the fifth largest metro area in the country and bust us into number 11. And number 34. Thanks a fucking lot, people counting geeks.  We really appreciate all the respect for our geographic integrity.


Breaking SF and SJ into different metros is utterly stupid. Also, SF gets San Mateo AND Alameda Counties, which have plenty of commuters crossing into Santa Clara County.

I finally found some actual commuting numbers in this chart here.  72 thousand San Mateo County residents commute to SF and 61 thousand commute to Santa Clara County.  But… this was in 2010. Lots more people even in SF taking the Google Bus now.  (SF-to-SCC commuters was 18K, the reverse was 7K)

You know what else is stupid? This graph. The size of the arrows seems to have little to do with how many commuters they represent when compared to the same size arrow in another county.  That big-assed snot-green one coming out of Contra Costa to Alameda?  It actually is the biggest inter-county commute, with 120 thousand people crossing the line to get to work. But the two opposed arrows out of San Mateo County, going to SF and Santa Clara County?  The baby shit brown one is longer but the purple one represents 10,000 more people.  Similarly, the same two colors coming out of Alameda?  That fabulous purple arrow is longer and just as wide, but there’s 6,000 more people heading to Silicon Valley than The City.

The chart key says arrow width is what matters, not length. But that’s bad design.  A stubby arrow connotes direction but also represents area.  A longer arrow should either show a longer commute or also more commuters.  And both SF vs SJ (well, SCC) arrows are not equilinear, yet the danged chart doesn’t tell us why that is.

131014-sfsj-commuteThere are more jobs in SCC than any other county in the Bay Area, too, 953K.  The next biggest job center is Alameda County with 737K, and The So-Called City is third with 621K.

Feel free to talk about your commute, where your job is in relation to your house, or anything you want. It’s not like we’ve ever removed a post for being off-topic.

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:01 am

January 13, 2013

San Francisco is the Brooklyn to Silicon Valley’s Unbuilt Manhattan


130112-sfbrooklyn-startrekAs disappointed visitors and new employees discover, Silicon Valley is a dull and ugly landscape of low-rise stucco office parks and immense traffic-clogged boulevards. The fancy restaurants are in strip malls, like you’d find in Arizona or something. There is nothing to do, nowhere to go. Massive arcologies like the new Apple campus are where the tech giants are headed, but until there are living urban neighborhoods connecting these monstrosities, anyone with hopes for a life outside of work will pay a ridiculous premium to live in San Francisco and spend two hours of every day sitting on a bus.

Meanwhile, the areas around and in between the tech giants of Silicon Valley are mostly ready to be razed and rebuilt. There are miles and miles of half-empty retail space, hideous 1970s’ two-story apartment complexes, most of it lacking the basic human infrastructure of public transportation, playgrounds, bicycle and running and walking paths, outdoor cafes and blocks loaded with bars and late-night restaurants. This is where the new metropolis must be built, in this unloved but sunny valley.

And then the new supercity gets linked to San Francisco by an existing boulevard of run-down old malls and decrepit car lots that pours right into the Mission District and downtown SF, 40 miles north. The boulevard is El Camino Real, or California Route 82, the one-time king’s highway that could be a new corridor of high-rise apartments and HQs and restaurants and museums filling in the long gaps between downtown San Jose and Apple/Google/HP/Yahoo/Intel and Stanford University and San Francisco. With local light rail at street level and express trains overhead or underground, the whole route could be lined with native-landscaped sidewalks dotted with pocket parks and filled on both sides with ground-floor retail, farmers markets and nightlife districts around every station. Caltrain already runs just east of Route 82, and BART already reaches south to Millbrae now.

130112-sfbrooklyn-bartconceptThe above is from a piece in The Awl that notes the large number of young, hip techies who may work in Silicon Valley but definitely don’t want to live in a ginormous, boring suburb.  Yes, there are well-paid people out there who don’t want to spend a million dollars for a sixty year old tract house, or even three thousand a month to merely rent one.  So what would you replace the endless clone houses of San Jose with?  Or would you simply raze most of Redwood City and rebuild Manhattan there?

This is also a great time to whip out this map of the region again, to remind everyone what makes The Bay Area So Special.  Pay careful attention to the region along The Street of Kings.

Thanks very much to Apocryphon at MetaFilter for linking to these sites above.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

December 28, 2012

Relax and Golf at the Boulder Creek Hilton

Our post-Christmas closeouts continue!  Today we’re heading up the hill to Santa Cruz County to show that you, yes YOU!! Can!! Afford!! To buy a house!! Thanks very much to Burbed reader wahnny for sending us this bodacious Boulder Creek craptacular.

121227-hilton-redfin273 W HILTON Dr
San Lorenzo Valley, CA 95006

3 Beds 
2 Baths 
1,400 Sq. Ft.
$36 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1965 
Lot Size: 0.32 Acres 
On Redfin: 21 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Community: Boulder Creek
MLS#: 81242647
Stories: 2
County: Santa Cruz

Property damaged by 2006 slide on Boulder Creek golf course. Engineering reports and county reports on file. Drive by only. DO NOT ENTER PROPERTY. CASH OFFER ONLY.

121227-hilton-bathHere’s what wahnny said about this resort location:

Although the photos and listing appear to match the reality of the area (made worse with recent rains), the dreaming still continues.

You’ll be having pleasant dreams in this Golf Course abode!  They’ll be so amazing that’s why you’re only allowed to drive by. 

Nobody’s allowed to enter the property until you’ve paid your cash offer.  If that isn’t proof that The Bubbles Are Back, we don’t know what is.


We’re sure you can clean up that 2006 slide on Boulder Creek golf course, if you can find where the engineering and county reports are “on file.”

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

November 23, 2012

Day After Thanksgiving? Time for Black Friday Sales!

121122-blackfridayIf you haven’t already gotten up at 5 a.m. to start shopping for holiday bargains, you’ve still come to the right place!  Thanksgiving is over, so get on your steel-toed cyber boots, the better to kick your fellow shoppers out of your way!  Yes, it’s time for Burbed‘s Black Friday Sales, where we find the absolute rock-bottom in housing prices all around the Bay!  And we’re opening an hour early just for you!

Here’s how Black Friday Sales will work this year. We’ll again feature the cheapest properties in each county all around the Bay Area, plus some of our favorite cities.  But we won’t forget that our readers are sending in listings as well, so you just never know if each day will be a Sale Property or something else entirely.  You’ll just have to tune in every day to find out.

Let’s begin our sales in Silicon Valley, because even Googlers like to bargain-hunt.  Here we go, the absolutely cheapest house in all of Santa Clara County!  Ready?

121122-murray-redfin8282 Murray Ave #97
Gilroy, CA 95020

1 Beds 
1 Baths 
542 Sq. Ft.
$33 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1966 
Lot Size: — 
On Redfin: 38 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Mobile Home (Single Wide), Mobile Home (Expando)
County: Santa Clara
Community: Morgan Hill/Gilroy/San Martin
MLS#: 81237950

Pre-owned, 1966 Kit, 1 bedroom/ 1 bath Single-wide mobile home in a senior park (one owner must be at least 55 years of age). Includes refrigerator, washer & dryer and window air conditioner. Low space rent!

Oh, not what you had in mind?  Even with a low space rent of $560 (which will probably double as soon as you finish signing those papers at the title company)?  Even with 15 pictures?

If you insist, there’s this.

121122-carryback-redfin5591 CARRYBACK Ave
San Jose, CA 95111

2 Beds
2 Baths
1,121 Sq. Ft.
$219 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1989
Lot Size: 2,184 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 265 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Attached Single Family
Community South San Jose
MLS# 81208122
Stories: 2
County Santa Clara

Good home conveniently located. This is a short sale. Please do not disturb occupants.

Whatever developer named this street sure has a twisted sense of humor, because it’s a short sale.  There ought to be a Piggyback Lane here too.  Be sure to check out the listing history, because this place has gone pending four different times in the last three years, plus it sold in 2000, yes, twelve years ago, for $247K.

What? You want a detached house?  Okay, but this is your very last chance.

121122-huran-redfin2138 HURAN Dr
San Jose, CA 95122

3 Beds
1 Baths
912 Sq. Ft.
$272 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1960
Lot Size: 5,150 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 16 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
View: Neighborhood
County Santa Clara
Stories: 1
Community Alum Rock
MLS# 81240311

Another opportunity to own this 3 bedroom 1 bathroom single Family home located in San Jose. Very close to shopping centers, mall, and schools. Easy access to freeway 101. Sell is an “AS IS “ condition. Some dual Pane windows. Garage converted but permits unknown.

Oh, we’ve got a winner here! This one has everything! It’s also selling shortly, plus questionable permits and for sale as-is.  The listing copy mentioned the “easy access” to 101, but they didn’t mention the just as easy access to Reid-Hillview Airport. Hope you like the sound of takeoffs and landings!

And remember, more Black Friday Sales to come!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 4:01 am

March 18, 2012

Handy Local Dump Site actually had a house under it

San Jose: Crews use huge trucks to clear junk from hoarder home

By Mark Gomez, San Jose Mercury News
Posted:   03/15/2012 06:24:40 AM PDT, Updated:   03/15/2012 08:03:03 AM PDT

120317-claremont-cleanupCrews were in their second day at a San Jose home removing mountains of debris so massive that workers used two hauling trucks, each capable of carrying 72,380 pounds of material, to get the job done.

As of Wednesday morning, they still hadn’t made their way into the backyard.

The extreme makeover at 226 S. Claremont Ave. began Tuesday after a vote last month by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to declare the residence a public nuisance. The piles of junk, garbage and other items, including worn out bicycles, car tires and animal cages, had become so vast that it was visible from satellite photos.

The cleanup, which is expected to take about five days, ends a years-long struggle for neighbors who live in the otherwise well-kept neighborhood located off Alum Rock Avenue.

120317-claremont-pilesThanks very much to Burbed reader Tracy Tea House, who had sent in an earlier story about the residents complaining about the massive piles of garbage at this house.  Looks like once this story hit both what’s left of a newspaper as well as on KGO-7 television news, the County finally took action.

Neighbors have been trying to have the grounds cleaned up since 2005.  Cleanup orders and fines were ignored by Richard Baker, the 58 year old son of the registered homeowners.  People fortunate enough to live near this local attraction suggested that Richard might be a few hundred square feet short of a McMansion.

120317-claremont-satelliteRobert and Bessie Baker, Richard Baker’s parents, have both been deceased for ten years, so management of the house was transferred to the Office of the Public Guardian.  This agency will be responsible for inventorying whatever is in the house, as opposed to the mountains of garbage outside mostly headed for the landfill.  Anything of value inside or out would be saved for the Bakers’ estate, over and above this valuable residence.  In addition to Richard, the Bakers also have a daughter living in Santa Cruz who was only located recently.

Richard had been living in the house while collecting treasures, but not recently.  He did show up at the County hearing to object to the the home’s being declared a public nuisance, although the neither the Murk nor KGO-7 reported on what his reasons were.  He attempted to postpone the hearing because he had been in the hospital, but was unsuccessful. We’d guess the County’s embarrassment over things getting to this point trumped a hospital stay.  Remember all those fines Richard blew off?  Guess they did.

Okay, enough rewording the newspaper and TV articles.  Let’s have a look at this house.


Better have a good look at the driveway, too.


120317-claremont-richardbakerWow, the Streetviews actually look worse than the satellite view.  And someone updated this record recently even though the house wasn’t for sale.

So here’s a way Richard (right) and his sister (who had the sense not to show up when cameras were rolling) could save even more money.  We know the County’s going to stick them with that clean-up bill, so every little bit is going to help!


Thanks for the advice, Trulia!  Anyway, do you have a neighbor building a fortification on the front lawn like this?  Tell us about it in today’s Weekend Open Thread!

Comments (23) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

November 25, 2011

BLACK FRIDAY DEALS: Cheapest house in Santa Clara County

imageIt’s time for our post-Thanksgiving Black Friday Deals, Deals, Deals!  This series was a big hit last year, so we’ve brought it back, better than ever.  That’s why we opened an hour early this morning.

Every day we’ll feature the cheapest property we could find in a featured place.  We’re also going to keep bringing you the regular listings, because It’s Still Special Here.

Today, the cheapest house in the entire County of Santa Clara!  How much would you pay for an actual house (NOT A CONDO) on an actual lot (NOT PAVEMENT) in an actual city (NOT IN GILROY)?  And it’s not even one of those micro-cottages.  This is a real 3 bedroom, 2 bath house well over 1,000 square feet in size.

But, it’s BLACK FRIDAY, so you have to HURRY!  This one won’t last long because someone’s going to get it in the shorts.

548 SCOTTSVILLE Ct, San Jose, CA 95133


SQ. FT.: 1,101
$/SQ. FT.: $136
LOT SIZE: 3,484 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: Berryessa
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81129498
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 142 days

Pre-Foreclosure. Must sell 11/27/11. Open House Sunday 11/27/11 2:00-4:00PM. Close to schools, cul-de sac.

Yes, this house must be sold by SUNDAY!  Wow, it isn’t even 80 years old.  An actual house for $150K.  That means if you earn $50K a year, like if you were a really lazy engineer and only worked 20 hours a week while whining at Occupy San Jose the other 148 hours a week, YOU COULD STILL QUALIFY TO BUY THIS HOUSE (provided you haven’t completely messed up your credit by, say, buying a house in the last 10 years.)

No more excuses.  NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 4:00 am

August 22, 2011

Don’t miss the opportunity… to be annexed to Campbell!

Here’s an on-the-ground report from Burbed reader Sam Adu, direct from comments.  In case you were wondering if they were making any more land, it looks like they are.  Unfortunately, this county land is going to end up in Campbell.  Hurry, offers are due Wednesday! Thanks very much for the Open House report, Sam!

The best ‘burbed-esque house I visited yesterday was, of course, in Campbell…or should I say a soon-to-be annexed part of Campbell.


1125 SHAMROCK Dr, Campbell, CA 95008


SQ. FT.: 791
$/SQ. FT.: $480
LOT SIZE: 9,558 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Neighborhood
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81135861
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 5 days

Ready for expansion or to bring out the city gardener in you! Adorable home on an almost 10,000 sf lot. Updated – Kitchen, bathroom, dual paned windows, hardwood floors, electrical panel, foam insulation. Schools, Farnham, Price, Branham. This county area to be annexed to Campbell. HAFA approved short sale-can close in 45 days! Open Sat 8/20 1-4pm. Don’t miss this opportunity. Offers 8/23.

imageI’m always captivated by homes with huge walls surrounding them (i.e. 183 Dillon, Campbell). It must be how they remind me of my very short stay in a Ghanaian prison during some unrest we had in the late 90s. I wasn’t mistreated in there but all the guys on my street were definitely fearful and we were surrounded by these humongous walls in prison.

Anyways, we visited 1125 Shamrock yesterday. There is a zero lot line in the rear of the house with a giant rear hotel wall (easily seen in pics) abutting the property.

The real estate agent recommended that we paint a mural (or graffiti?) on the hotel wall to pretty it up. I liked to imagine myself throwing a tennis ball against that wall all day long for my lab and waking up all the hotel guests. Who the hell would be getting a hotel room in that part of Campbell though?


imageRedfin picture #3 of the place has a ‘cat on a dresser’, which is almost as good as ‘dudes on a couch’. It was funny visiting the place because that dang cat was sitting in the exact same spot when we were there.

Right next to that cat (and cropped out of the picture) is a bookshelf full of scientology dvds+books. Black cat + Scientology material + foreboding wall = Mr. and Mrs. Adu high-tailing it out of there.

Too much bad ju-ju at that house for us…not to mention that the house is smaller than the Adus’ current apartment.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

July 3, 2011

Great News! More People Gearing Up to Die In Their Houses!

Santa Clara County’s fastest-growing population is over 85

By Julia Prodis Sulek and Leigh Poitinger, SJ Mercury News
Posted:   07/02/2011 04:11:05 PM PDT

Phyllis Harding is slowing down now that she’s 89. She’s a bit forgetful and can’t walk too far or too fast. But she’ll be line dancing with her walker at the “Old Fogies Follies” this month, thanks to organized activities at her senior housing community in Los Gatos that is doing its best to keep her healthy longer.

“I’m living forever!” she said with a plucky smile as she got ready to order a new swimming suit for her water aerobics class at The Terraces of Los Gatos.

For Harding and the over-85 set, it certainly seems that way. New census numbers show that Harding is part of the “oldest olds” — the fastest growing population in Santa Clara County as well as the country. The over-85 population increased a stunning 52.7 percent in Santa Clara County between 2000 and 2010, more than any other age group, including 55-to-64-year-old Baby Boomers, which grew 37.4 percent. In San Mateo County, the over-85 population increased 34.9 percent, slightly less than the Baby Boomer population, which grew by 40.4 percent.

In other words, Silicon Valley — a place known since the 1960s for luring millions of young workers and their families to launch the technology revolution — is graying. Over the next 10 years, the number of people over 60 is expected to nearly double, while the number of those 75 or older is expected to triple by 2030, according to a report from the Silicon Valley Council on Aging.  Over the next decade, the 20-to-39 age bracket will decrease the most, by about 2.4 percent, the report says.  [emphasis mine]

The Merc summarized this article as “The over 85 folks are mostly whites living in wealthy suburbs of Los Gatos and Los Altos, but Latino and Asian ‘oldest olds’ are growing quickly.”

Want a house in Los Gatos or Los Altos?  Just wait for these folks to slow down a little more.  Other “wealthy white communities” where you’ll find the growing community of the “oldest old” are “…Saratoga, Monte Sereno… Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto.”

And at some point those homes will change ownership.  According to Nancy Hikoyeda, associate director of the Stanford Geriatric Education Center, 85-plussers are hit with  “compression of morbidity… multiple illnesses, often including some form of dementia, which make them more frail.”

That’s great news for all those idle kitchen and bath contractors, because the homes probably are as frail as their owners and could use about 40 years’ worth of updates.

This is an Open Thread.  Any homes in your neighborhood that could be up for sale soon due to a little morbidity compression?

Comments (1) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:20 am

June 21, 2011

Cheapest house in Santa Clara County


Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 872
$/Sq. Ft.: $172
Lot Size: 10,240 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Ranch
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1948
Community: Alum Rock
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81045651
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active

On Redfin: 262 days
2 bedroom, 1 bath, across from school. OPEN HOUSE Sunday 6/5/11 2:00-4:00PM.

This is the cheapest house in Santa Clara county north of Morgan Hill. Wow, just look at the size of that lot! This is huge huge huge!

If this isn’t the perfect investment property, I’m not sure what is. Plus, just look at the instant equity waiting for you to tap:


What’s stopping you from buying this house? I bet most of you could buy this with your credit card!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:50 am

May 29, 2011

Open Houses, Open Thread, Not So Open Libraries

Isn’t everyone on vacation?  No?  Well, you can worry about this, then.

April 29, 2011

Santa Clara County Library Authority to Charge New Library Card Fee for Non-Residents of Library District

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.‑ In response to dramatic reductions in State funding and an increasing demand for library services, on Thursday the Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority approved an $80 annual library card fee for non-residents of the District, effective July 1, 2011.

Since 1988, the State has reimbursed public libraries for lending materials to non-residents of their district, and any resident of California could get a card at any public library in the state. Demands for service have increased to a point that the Santa Clara County Library District lends far more books to non-residents than District residents borrow from other libraries. At one time, the Library received over $2 million annually to partially reimburse the cost of this service.

In the midst of an increasing deficit, the Governor’s proposed budget includes the elimination of $30.4 million in state funding for three of California’s most valuable public library programs: The Public Library Foundation, the California Literacy Program and the Transaction Based Reimbursement, a cooperative system of borrowing and loaning books that has existed statewide for several decades. The State Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 eliminates all funding for public libraries, including those that are part of the Santa Clara County Library District.

Bet you skimmed the article and thought, okay, they’re dinging nonresidents of the County for using the libraries.  But that’s not what it said.

Cough up another $80 even if you live in Santa Clara County but happen to have picked one of the cities that didn’t ally with the County Library System.  Those unlucky cities, for those of you foolish enough to have chosen where to live without researching your library services first, are:

  • Los Gatos
  • Mountain View
  • Palo Alto
  • San Jose
  • Santa Clara
  • Sunnyvale

You free-riders have been using the Country Library System long enough without paying extra property taxes.  No more!  The party is over on July 1st.  Now if you try to check a book out of a County Library, you’ll be called out as the illegal aliens you are!

But don’t worry, since it’s a holiday weekend, the libraries are probably all closed!  So go check out some Open Houses and let us know what’s HOT!  Or use this Open Thread to bring up anything at all, like you’re working too hard to go on vacation.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:43 am