March 20, 2011

2010 Census Data Displays Diverse Diversity Diversions

Thanks to Burbed reader Real Estater for nominating this article by posting it in the comments on Friday.


Image from USA Today

East Bay tops among California’s most diverse places

By Eric Kurhi and Matt O’Brien, Contra Costa Times
Posted: 03/18/2011 03:20:18 PM PDT

HAYWARD — Close to the geographic center of a city known as the “Heart of the Bay,” Luciano Ruiz peered out the pickup window of a burger joint in what is, by one measure, the most racially diverse neighborhood in California.

“There’s been a mix of people here ever since I grew up,” said Ruiz, 18. “It’s always been mainly Latino down here in South Hayward, but now you see more African-Americans, a lot more Asians. I’ve seen a little increase in Middle Eastern people.”

The 2010 census shows a collection of census tracts in the Hayward flatlands as the most diverse in California and a microcosm of the state’s likely future. Latinos are the largest group, but share the space with many other people. Multicultural churches, mosques and businesses are in walking distance.

Thirty-five miles away, in the Walnut Creek retirement community of Rossmoor, a cluster of census tracts reflect an older, less integrated California. About 90 percent of residents are white and less than 1 percent are African-American in the Bay Area’s least-diverse neighborhood.

“It’s probably accurate,” said Rossmoor resident David Smith of the newly released statistics. “Our population is overwhelmingly white.”

imageSince this is from the Contra Costa Times, there’s little about neighborhoods in Santa Clara or San Mateo County, and which would be the most or least diverse. East Palo Alto was specifically called out as one of the 10 most diverse communities in California. The diversity index is the probability that two randomly picked people from the area would be of different race or ethnicity. Maybe you might have an idea which neighborhoods you’d nominate?

imageAnyway, I looked up the data, and East Palo Alto has a DI of 83.4 (the highest was 86.4 and Hayward was 85.1).  Oakland was 81.1. Not mentioned in the article are Sacramento, 79.6, South San Francisco, 79.0, San Jose, 77.1, San Bruno, 76.3, Santa Clara, Cholula Half Gallon - Click Image to Close71.8, and Sunnyvale, 70.7.  On the other end of the scale we find Belvedere, 16.4, Portola Valley, 22.3, Woodside, 25.2, and Boulder Creek at 26.  Don’t assume that a low DI means white-bread; the Central Valley’s Mendota is 96.6% Hispanic and has a DI of 26.0.

In case you’re wondering how some areas end up with lots of diversity, here’s the secret, according to the above article:

It didn’t happen overnight,” Bogue said. “Just like anywhere, somebody puts a house up for sale, somebody looks at it and somebody buys it.”

Yeah, that couldn’t happen in Atherton, where houses are bequeathed.  But while houses are occasionally listed for sale in homogenous census tracts, the diverse ones, such as Richmond, San Pablo, Pittsburg, Hayward, Vallejo, Oakland and San Leandro have another interesting thing in common.

imageLocal historian Frank Goulart said affordability has also long attracted a broad spectrum of people to parts of Hayward.

“If you want an honest answer, it’s the cheap housing,” Goulart said.

He said many of the homes in the city’s most diverse tracts “were built like shacks.”

There you go.  Diversity is code for crapboxes (like this one above, in Hayward, the City of Diversity).  But don’t worry about it.  The majority of California public school students are now Hispanic, so the Diversity Index must be heading down (see Mendota, above).  That means housing quality will go up, so the Real Bay Area will get bigger!

imageThere’s no danger of that in Silicon Valley, though.  Santa Clara County’s index is a kumbayah 74, almost as multicultural as Alameda County’s state-topping 78.  The least diverse Bay Area County?  Marin, at 45. The overall state index is 72.9, second only to Hawaii’s 81.1.

But what’s more important is housing!  And the county with the highest percentage of vacant housing units goes to Alpine, with a whopping 71% of its housing sitting empty.  For the Bay Area, the winner is Sonoma, with 9.2%, imagebut Santa Cruz’s 9.7% would have beaten it had any of the county physically come into contact with the Bay.  Meanwhile San Mateo and Santa Clara county are both in the 4’s, while San Francisco managed double: 8.3% of the housing units sitting empty.

There’s stats, stats, stats to play with, so have fun courtesy of USA Today.  Data is available by city as well, so go wild and wonder why the city (town?) of Almanor has 100% of their 75 housing units empty.

Photo above: foreclosed home in Hayward, showcasing diversity.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

February 20, 2011

Great News for Buyers on a Budget: More Foreclosures on the Way!

Enough gloom and doom.  We’ve got good news today!  Now is definitely the time to buy!  Or maybe sell.

Silicon Valley real estate: Foreclosure lull ends in Santa Clara County

By Pete Carey, SJ Mercury News

Posted: 02/15/2011 02:54:55 PM PST, Updated: 02/16/2011 12:45:57 PM PST

After a two-month lull because of a national paperwork scandal, foreclosures in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in January returned to levels that have prevailed since 2008, indicating the crisis will continue this year but also putting more low-priced homes on the market.

Last month’s increase in foreclosures may be followed by bigger increases in the next few months, according to some real estate professionals.

In Santa Clara County in January, 398 home were either repossessed or sold by lenders to third-party buyers, a nearly 70 percent jump from the month before, according to real estate information service ForeclosureRadar. San Mateo County had 160 foreclosures in January, a 75 percent jump from December.

Paperwork scandal?  You know what the scandal is?  The banks have all those borrowers by their balls liens, and won’t just get on with it.  Seize the property, auction it, and get the prices down to where they need to be, so the overbidding can start again.  Nobody is going to overbid if they’re just sitting around waiting for the banks to dispose of their ginormous shadow inventory.

Well, I don’t know if we have a Silicon Valley version of a groundhog, but it was sunny on February 2nd, so there must have been plenty of shadows.  So keep watching for that shadow inventory to cast itself on a real estate site near you!

We’re hoping some of those places were painted interesting colors, or replaced the front lawn with crushed automobiles, or maybe even set up a commercial-grade pharmaceuticals lab right in the kitchen!  And we’re really hoping they’re priced for lucky amounts, like $888,000.

Meanwhile if you find a great place like that, please pass it on to us so we can share it.  After all, we have to make sure those Open Houses have lots of people passing through, because nothing says Real Estate is Back like running out of flyers!

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

January 12, 2011

Most Expensive Sale 2010 – Santa Clara County

Yesterday we showcased the most expensive sale last year in San Mateo County, a $15M property in Woodside.  Can Santa Clara beat that?  Yes we can! But only if we count the sale of a mobile home park.  If we want to stick to single-family houses, the answer is NO WAY, SAN JOSE.

16331 Matilija Dr, Los Gatos, CA 95030

Sold on 06/15/2010: $10,000,000

<img missing due to burbed’s terrible admin skills. working on restoring>

BATHS: 7.5
TOTAL SQFT: 14,691
LOT SIZE: 82,328
STYLE: Single Family Residential
COUNTY: Santa Clara County
APN: 51030027
LAST UPDATED: August 26, 2010

<img missing due to burbed’s terrible admin skills. working on restoring>

Alas, the original sales description and images are gone.  But check this out.  Looks like the asking price on this megamansion was once $14,900,000.  And it has the agent’s description (even if the pictures are gone), so let’s enjoy what they were so eager to hide:


Wow.  Artesian workmanship.  So there should be deep and narrow wells all over the property – or the construction crew came from France. And nothing was sparred.  Glad they weren’t fighting while installing all those tiles on the roof.  Although if the house was really “below replacement cost” at $14.9M, there was probably a lot of fighting when it sold for ten million with that 33% haircut.

Also I’m going to call shenanigans on “below replacement cost,” since tax records say additions are valued at $5.2 million. This house is ten years old, not a hundred. Maybe you can convert a garage into a couple of bedrooms without anyone noticing (until you try to sell the place), but there’s no way the FB put up a quarter acre worth of house and “forgot” to file construction permits.  That addition value shouldn’t be too far out of line with actual building costs.

If we ranked the homes on Sunday’s Zillow list by how much of a discount off original asking price they sold for, this Los Gatos hyperhouse that takes up more floor area than some strip malls would be tied for fifth place.  No question about it, Los Gatos has an insanely overpriced, oversized home smacked down by market forces.  Booyah!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 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

July 11, 2010

County Grand Jury Recommends School District Consolidation. Expect Massive Migration to Palo Alto.

What puts a house in rather than out of the Real Bay Area (RBA)?  A damned good school district.  Now watch some meddlesome busybodies try and ruin everything!

Consolidate Santa Clara County school districts to save millions, grand jury recommends


By Sharon Noguchi

Posted: 07/04/2010 07:15:28 PM PDT
Updated: 07/04/2010 10:24:07 PM PDT

When budgets are tight, businesses often consolidate — so why not school districts?

After all, Santa Clara County school districts are a hodgepodge of large and tiny agencies, each with its own administration, and with century-old boundaries that randomly join disparate regions while dividing other communities. Some superintendents oversee 25,000 students, while others supervise only a few hundred.

So the Santa Clara County civil grand jury has recommended unifying and consolidating the county’s 31 school districts, which it projects could save $51 million annually.

District officials dispute the estimated savings, and question the benefits. In past decades, similar suggestion have been shunned as politically implausible. Why should this time be any different? For one, schools are facing unprecedented cuts to their budgets now.

The grand jury released two reports on June 24th: “Achieving School District Efficiency through Consolidation” and “Looking at Policies Our Schools Use to Find and Place Employees.”  These thrilling potboilers describe that “while the school districts in Santa Clara County are doing well in all areas, there are redundant administrative functions that can be made more cost effective through school district  consolidation.”  I tell you, I couldn’t put it down!

By merging elementary and high school districts that share attendance areas, the county’s 31 distinct school districts could be reduced to 16, unless the county actually has 34 districts (per 2008-09 Grand Jury report “Who Really Benefits from Education Dollars? (Hint: It’s Not the Students)“).  That’s the fun of an official report; you just never know what alternate facts could emerge!  Last year’s report had six findings and suggested actions, and it’s number 6 that must have led to this year’s threat to school administrators:

Finding 6

The operation of 34 K–12 school districts and four (4) community college districts
creates excessively high management and administrative costs. Five K-12 school
districts have excessively high Superintendent costs per student which is reflective of
the district’s having only one or two schools.

Recommendation 6

A consolidation of districts should be considered to reduce the numbers and costs of
Superintendents/Chancellors, Boards of Trustees, administrative staff and overhead.

One piece of good news for administrators and board members is the grand jury didn’t recommend all 31 school districts be rolled up into one countywide nightmare like Los Angeles Unified.  Instead, they selected feeder elementary districts that could be merged with high school districts, creating “Unified School Districts” that serve the same boundaries.  These are the four “lucky” high school districts and corresponding K-8 districts singled out:

  • Campbell Union HSD with Burbank SD, Cambrian SD, Campbell USD, Moreland USD and Union ESD
  • Fremont Union HSD with Cupertino USD and Sunnyvale SD
  • Los Gatos-Saratoga HSD with Lakeside JSD, Loma Prieta JSD, Los Gatos USD and Saratoga USD
  • Mountain View-Los Altos HSD with Los Altos SD and Mountain View-Whisman SD

imageThe civil grand jury’s reasoning is that unified school districts save money and can operate more efficiently than smaller districts with just a few schools.  The grand jury holds up these unified districts in Santa Clara County to support the concept: Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Milpitas, Palo Alto, San Jose, and Santa Clara.  And their gold standard of the benefits of school district unification is last year’s formation of Twin Rivers Unified.  In Sacramento.  Puh-leeeeeze!

Are they seriously suggesting that RBA cities such as Saratoga, Cupertino and Los Altos should emulate mediocrities such as Milpitas and Morgan Hill?  Seriously?  The only RBA city on the Unified list is Palo Alto, and they’re so Special none of the regular rules apply anyway.

Can you see parents who paid the RBA premium to live in Los Gatos wanting to share a school district with the hillbillies of Lakeside?  Or the families who paid the big bucks to live south of Fremont Avenue now finding themselves sharing a school district with North Sunnyvalers?  Wouldn’t every Los Altan sooner pull their kids out of public school than consort with those troublemakers from Latham Street?

image Obviously I’m not going to comment about the proposed Campbell Unified District, because they aren’t in the RBA so nobody much cares.  The Grand Jury also wants to merge four East San Jose school districts into two union districts, and even fewer burbed readers would ask. (Berryessa + Orchard, Alum Rock + Mt. Pleasant, if you insist.  You’re welcome.)  All 21 school districts suggested for consolidation have 90 days to respond to the civil grand jury, and expect the replies to be even more thrilling reading.

Now, some of these recommendations make sense.  There is only one school in Lakeside, Luther Burbank and Orchard School Districts.  One-school districts are clearly wasteful, and the Grand Jury has already noted criminal behavior in Burbank SD.  But some of the proposed unified districts will be much, much larger than others.  The proposed Mountain View-Los Altos Unified would have 21 schools, and the proposed Los Gatos-Saratoga Unified, 14.  But both proposed Campbell and Fremont Unifieds would have 41 schools each, which isn’t much smaller than San Jose Unified’s 43.  All the other current Unified Districts (which the Grand Jury report specifies as an ideal model) have between 14-24 schools.

41 schools?  Are they serious?  Does this fit the reasoning behind “Five K-12 school districts have excessively high Superintendent costs per student which is reflective of the district’s having only one or two schools”?  Cupertino USD, a K-8 district, already has 25 schools, which is more than all but one existing SC County unified district.  This is not a school district with excessively high costs, the complaint of the 2009 report.  This is a district that manages to produce perfect API test scores despite below-average funding.  But someone took the idea of merging feeder schools into high school districts and ran all the way to Twin Rivers Unified with it.

image At a certain point, large school districts lose the ability to respond to parental concerns, and nobody could call a 41 school unified district anything but large.  Effective and responsive school districts are exactly what parents expect when they spend the big bucks to buy in the RBA.  So recognize this plan for what it is: a recipe to remove Cupertino from the RBA forever. 

It’s clearly a plot by Palo Alto real estate agents.

Comments (99) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

May 29, 2010

Good news! Record number of property value reductions in county

Record number of property value reductions in county

The Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office today announced $21.4 billion in property value reductions on approximately 118,000 properties in the county.

The figures, based on an initial analysis of the assessment roll by the assessor’s office, represent a record number of reductions. The numbers won’t be final until the roll is completed on July 1.
The decrease in assessed values means a further hit to already cash-strapped schools as they see their revenue from property taxes drop.

Assessor Larry Stone said the number of reductions in assessed value will likely greatly exceed the number of increases.

"The last 36 months is by far the worst economy I’ve experienced in the 45 years since I left graduate school for Wall Street," Stone said in a statement.

The reduction in assessed values is $4 billion greater than last year, Stone said.

To someone who is outside of California, this may seem like bad news… but in reality, this is excellent news. This means that homeowners will have low property taxes from now until forever thanks to Prop 13. This means less revenue for government, which means a smaller government, less services for people, which means more opportunities for businesses and private enterprise to fill in the gaps! And for these homeowners to become landlords and increase GDP.

Woot! Even better, according to the comments for this thread, houses in the Real Bay Area were not impacted at all! Double woot!

Comments (57) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

January 11, 2009

Santa Clara County: preforeclosure activity spikes 234%

Report says foreclosures, defaults up in 2008
Santa Clara County saw the biggest jump in preforeclosure activity among the counties last year, up 234 percent to 18,610, according to Default Research. Los Angeles County experienced the highest number, 122,408.

In a word… Gilroyandmorganhill.

Ok… maybe 4 words then: Gilroy and Morgan Hill.

Maybe it’s time for a new term: Real Santa Clara!

Comments (20) -- Posted by: burbed @ 6:30 am

June 19, 2008

Phones ringing off the hook – deals soaring to 2005 levels!

Lower prices luring home buyers in Silicon Valley – San Jose Mercury News
Far fewer homes sold last month in Santa Clara County than in May last year, and median prices fell 12 percent. But amid the grim figures may be a glimmer of good news.

Sellers and buyers are striking as many deals now as they did in 2005 at the height of the boom, according to data from local brokerages, and the number of homes for sale in the county has been falling steadily – not at all typical for this time of year.

Real estate information firm DataQuick Information Systems reported Wednesday that the sales of 1,040 previously owned single-family houses closed escrow in Santa Clara County last month, up from 924 in April, but down 27 percent from May 2007. And the median price paid for those houses was $696,500, down 12.3 percent from $793,750 a year earlier.

The figures will strike some homeowners – loath to see their property values fall – as somber. The bright side is that the Silicon Valley market has sped up recently. More houses are selling, and the supply of homes on the market is falling.

“Were getting more consumers putting deals together,” said Dave Walsh, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.


Howard Bloom, an agent with Intero Real Estate, said he recently listed a fourplex in San Jose’s Berryessa neighborhood, a bank-owned foreclosure priced at $759,000. The property got more than 12 offers and will sell for about $100,000 over its list price, he said. “It was a pretty attractive price. The phone was ringing off the wall,” he said.

The bust is OVER.

Spring Bounce worked!

Silicon Valley is back and on track! Is it no surprise? After all, Apple’s introducing iPhone 3G, Yahoo struck a deal with Google, and LinkedIn is now valued at $1billion.

Now, let’s be clear, things aren’t perfect – we might not return to our god given 15% YoY appreciation just yet – but I think we have a good shot at something reasonable like 8%.

Another reason? Sushi has been getting better and better here!

Comments (10) -- Posted by: burbed @ 10:49 am

June 21, 2006

Latest Real Estate Trends – Better than stock options!

Let’s see what’s in the news…


Wow… who knew that it was a Buyers’ Market back in 2003. Well, times have changed … and Bay Area real estate is clearly better than stock options: it always goes up.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

May 24, 2006

Santa Clara SFH Trends for April 2006

The Santa Clara County Real Estate Report


Wow that’s a growing inventory. Wow that’s a dropping home sales count. What does this real estate company have to say?

For buyers, if you’re an investor, this is not the market to be in. But, I suspect you are already out of this market. If you are a buyer planning to stay in your home for over five years, go ahead and buy. Although prices are still increasing, the rate of increase has slowed quite a bit. There’s a good deal of inventory, so there’s no need to be frantic. For sellers, right now it is all about the pricing. Price it right and your home will sell. Also, make sure it shows well. Buyers are looking for fairly priced homes, if not bargains. The question is how do you make your home a bargain, or at least look like a bargain, to attract many buyers and offers.

Some more stats:


Pretty interesting numbers. What’s your take?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am