Walnut Creeks Fiscal Future

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Walnut Creek has a budget problem – so do many other cities with the down turn in our economy over the past few years and we have managed better than most.   The city has been smart in previous years as it did not borrow money and it requires and operates within a balanced budget.  Walnut Creek also has many wonderful programs that makes it a great city to work, play and live.  There are extended library hours, open space, (aging) public pools & buildings, parks, fields, an amazing Civic Arts community, museums and theater.  There are also many services we do not directly see such as the crew that cleans up downtown at the crack of dawn on Saturday & Sunday mornings from the revelers the night before.  Many of these services will be at risk as there is not enough money to continue to fund them and retro fit buildings/pools.  There will be either drastic cuts or tax increase.
I am not advocating either, however I do think it is important to understand what the impact will be, where the city gets their revenue and voice what services you are willing or not willing to be cut.  The city values the communities voice and input.

The City Manager – Ken Nordhoff will be at the Walnut Creek Library – Oak View Room at 7 pm on February 25.   Come, Listen, Speak Up, Participate – this is your community!
 Ken Nordhoff is speaking to a number of groups, in case you cannot meet at the Library:2/11-Grace Presbyterian Church, 3:00PM
3/5-Lindsay Wildlife Museum, 6:30PM
3/19-Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, 6:30PM
3/12, Peak Education Foundation, City Hall 3rd Floor Conference Room, 6:30PM
3/18, DRAA/Chamber/WCD, City Hall 3rd Floor Conference Room, 9:30AM

Walnut Creek Plastic Bag Ordinance

The City of Walnut Creek is considering an ordinance to prohibit the distribution of single-use carryout bags in all retailers (except restaurants and non-profit charitable thrift stores). Under the ordinance, all grocery and retail stores in Walnut Creek would no longer provide single-use carryout plastic bags. Stores may sell paper bags for a minimum of 10 cents for each bag. Protective plastic or paper bags, without handles, for items such as meat, fresh produce, dry-cleaned clothes and prescription medications will be allowed. Consumers will have the option to bring their own reusable bags or pay for recycled paper bags.   In the on-line town hall survey, you can state how you feel about the non-profits and restaurants being exempt, about the the price of a paper bag and when should it go into affect.

The City of Walnut Creek aims to see a significant reduction in litter in our neighborhoods and streets, improve water quality of our creeks and bay, and conserve valuable resources by passing this ordinance.   Europe has been doing this for years.  Hawaii recently has banned plastic bags as they accumulate in the ocean at specific areas around the islands and sea life gets entangled.  For me, it is just remembering to grab my re-usable bags from the trunk.  I love having them when I go to Costco and wonder why I haven’t thought about bringing them into the store sooner.

                                                   otter                      Plastic bags

 

You can voice your thoughts by going to this link http://www.walnut-creek.org/citygov/opentownhall.asp#peak_democracy or attend a community meeting Feb. 11 from 6:00 – 7:00 P.M.  at City Hall, 3rd Floor Conference Room, 1666 N. Main Street, Walnut Creek.

To view the proposed orinance language, visit www.walnut-creek.org/bringyourbag

FHA as an Option to Purchase

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During the market downturn, FHA became the darling of buyers.  It has gone thru some changes these past years and now as the credit market is easing up, there are more options that make FHA loans not as desirable.  Here are some of the reasons why:
All FHA buyers are required to get mortgage insurance (MI) no matter how large their down payment.
Currently, all FHA buyers must pay an Up Front Fee of 1.75% of the loan amount.
Most FHA buyers also must pay an MI annual fee of 1.35% of the loan amount (divided into 12 payments).
This annual MI jumps to 1.55% if the loan amount is over $625,500 and under $729,750.
The above rates apply when LTVs are at 96.5%. If LTVs drop below 95%, the MI rates drop by only 0.05%.
Most FHA Loans:
Up Front MI:     1.75%
Annual MI:        1.35%
Annual MI:        1.55% (Loan Amount above $625,500).
FHA MI is very high and permanent but necessary to insure much more flexible FHA loans that are often the only option for many borrowers.  Some of the other options making a come back are 80/10/10 loans that have no MI and the buyer is putting down 10% with a 10% interest only second. 5% conventional, but you still have to pay MI, but not the FHA fee.  This is where it becomes important to discuss your options with a mortgage broker and see what makes the most sense for you and your finances.

‘Tis the Season for Real Estate!

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Rates have edged up over the last week. Ironically, incoming Fed Chairperson, Janet Yellen, has been making comments about keeping rates low (and not tapering). Her comments have been bolstering the stock market, however, and moving money from bonds to stocks. This has the unintended consequence of pushing interest rates higher, as the demand for bonds diminishes.
If you have been on the fence thinking about buying or selling, now may be the time before the spring selling cycle goes into full bloom.  Cyclically the holidays are a slower period of time and we traditionally don’t see much activity until after Superbowl Sunday.  As a seller, if you don’t want to your home to be vying for the buyers attention because 3 more in your neighborhood go on the market the same week as you or as a buyer don’t want a higher interest rate then now thru January is a great time.

Upcoming events- December 2013

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The holidays are a time for family, friends, and community. Below are community events you can attend with your loved ones to get into the holiday spirit!

Rockin’ Holiday Free Concerts

Fridays, Nov 29th-Dec 20th: 6pm-8pm

Gather in Blakchawk Plaza for live holiday music performed by local artists. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.shopblackhawkplaza.com/center_events.html.

9th Annual Walnut Creek on Ice

Nov 15th-Jan 12th

It may not be snowing, but there will be plenty of ice in downtown Walnut Creek this holiday season! Visit the ice rink in Civic Park for fundraisers, birthday parties, group events and more. Hours and admission prices can be found at http://iceskatewalnutcreek.com/.

Light Up the Night

Wednesday, Dec 4th: 5pm-8pm

Join Santa and others in lighting up Downtown Pleasant Hill for the holiday
season. Holiday Crafts Fair, Carriage Rides, Caroling & Studio A Dancers on
the Plaza stage, free hot chocolate & cookies, merchant give-a-ways and lots
more fun for the whole family!

Broadway Plaza Parade of Lights

Thursday, December 5th: 6pm-9pm

Music and festivity will fill the Plaza, beginning with a Retailer Open House at 6pm.  At 7pm, find a good spot on Broadway Plaza Street for the Parade of Lights, which will end with a very special appearance by Santa Claus himself, who will light Broadway Plaza’s magical Christmas Tree and make it snow!

Messiah Sing

Friday, December 6th: 7:30pm

A community sing of Handel’s Messiah will be held at Orinda’s St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Friday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m. This event is free, with an offering taken for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties. Childcare is available by reservation. For more information contact the church at office@ststephensorinda.org or 925-254-3770 x10.

The Christmas Carol

December 2nd-22nd

Make the Christmas Carol at the Lesher Center part of your holiday tradition! Visit http://www.lesherartscenter.org/a-christmas-carol/ for more information and to purchase tickets

Bay Area Football!

Watch the San Francisco Forty-Niners and Oakland Raiders battle it out as they wrap up their seasons.

49ers

Sunday, Dec 1st |1:05pm vs. St. Louis Rams

Sunday, Dec 8th | 1:25pm vs. Seattle Seahawks

Sunday, Dec 15th | 10am @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Monday, December 23rd | 5:40pm vs. Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, Dec 29th | 1:25pm @ Arizona Cardinals

Raiders

Sunday, Dec 8th | 1pm @ New York Jets

Sunday, Dec 15th | 1:05pm vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday, Dec 22nd | 1:25pm @ San Diego Chargers

Sunday, Dec 29th | 1:25pm vs. Denver Broncos

 

 

 

Fundraising event, TONIGHT!

Nothing to do on a Friday Night?  Join me at Sport Basement in Walnut Creek!
I will be joining my friends  David & his wife Mary doing a fundraising event for  Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation, Inc. (AA&MDS IF),a non-profit organization that provides support and hope to patients with bone marrow failure diseases. On November 17th, 2013, a group.of 15 of their friends are running the Napa Valley Harvest Half Marathon, 10K & 5K and are dedicating our run to benefit the AA&MDS IF.
Tonight, November 8th, at Sports Basement there is a raffle, with a reception and store discount. People can come, mingle, eat, shop and hang out
Buy raffle tickets and maybe you will win the basket I donated “A Woman’s Favorite Things”

2013’s Last Second Saturday Spotlight

 

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The last second Saturday Spotlight for the year will take place at Lindsey Wildlife Museum on November 9th at 8:30am. Guests will get a behind-the-scene’s look at the animal hospital and exhibit halls that host numerous species of native California wildlife. Don’t miss this opportunity, be one of the first 90 registrants at http://fs6.formsite.com/CSD2012/form58/index.html. Registration will begin at 8am in the community hall. Hope to see you all there as I will be a docent at the event!

“The New Norm is There is no Norm”- Kristin Comments on Market Trends for KPIX Channel 5

In the following clip, Kristin shares her views on recent changes in the Real Estate market and her predictions for the future.

Bay Area Housing Market Cools Slightly As Prices Rise « CBS San Francisco.

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming events- October 2013

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Fall Festival

Visit the Ruth Bancroft garden on Saturday, October 5th from 12pm-3pm for the Fall Festival featuring carnival games, crafts, a learning station and a scarecrow contest! Admission is free, activity tickets are only $1. For more info, call 925-944-9352

Clayton October Fest

Join the Clayton community for the 10th annual Oktoberfest Saturday, October 5th from 11am-8pm and Sunday October 6th from 11am-6pm for live music, crafts, a carnival, and of course….brews! Entry is free. Visit claytonoktoberfest.com for more information.

Pleasant Hill Art, Wine & Jazz Festival

If you appreciate art, good music, or just want a fine glass of wine…you won’t want to miss this event! Live music, a wine pavilion, arts & crafts, wine & beer, and kids activities are just a few things you can look forward to at the Pleasant Hill Art, Wine & Jazz festival Saturday, October 5th from 10am-6pm and Sunday, October 6th from 10am-5pm. Come down Saturday evening from 6:30-8:45pm for a free live performance by Big Cat Tole Free and The Hipnotics. Event admission is free, visit pleasanthillchamberofcommerce.com/artjazzwinefest13 for details.

Zombie Brew Crawl

Feeling ghoulish? Attend the 2nd annual Zombie Brew Crawl in downtown Martinez on Saturday, October 19th from 2:30-5:30pm for craft beers from over 25 local breweries hosted at downtown businesses. Costumes are optional however, prizes will go to the best dressed zombie and hoard of zombies. Shuttles will be offered to the North Concord BART station. Tickets are $25 dollars in advance or $35 at the door (they will sell out quickly!). To purchase tickets, visit www.zombiebarcrawl.com.

 

Ghost Walk

Paranormal activity is more than a movie on Friday, October 5th from 8-9:30pm during the Martinez Ghost Walk. On this 1.5 hour tour through the historic town, discover tales of the past hosted by Central Valley Paranormal. Please no children under 12. Be sure to bring a flash light and comfortable shoes. Tickets for this event are $25. Visit www.mainstreetmartinez.org for more information.

Top Notch Concord Remodel- 4432 Crestwood Circle

Gorgeous remodeled home awaiting you! Brand new front landscaping with new paver walkway & trim. Open floor plan, an entertainers delight with updated kitchen that includes new cabinets, granite counters, tile floor and stainless steel appliances. Other features include a corner lot, RV parking, and dual pane windows. Open house Saturday 10/5 and Sunday 10/6.

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