Happy Halloween!

It’s that time again, ghosts and ghouls! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (not sure it is technically a holiday, but it was in Nevada where I grew up – that was the day Nevada became a state!).  I want to wish everyone out there a Happy, scary, sugar-filled Halloween tonight.

If you want to swing by my house and get treats from the best neighborhood in town, come to Parkmead! I usually get 200-300 Trick-or-Treater’s on Halloween, depending if it falls on a school night or a weekend. Our neighborhood is flat and on a horseshoe, so all the ghosts and goblins come to our street where many of the families have decorated or are hosting parties in their garages.

I usually invite friends over, make my famous Willie’s Chili, stoke up the chimney and pass out candy in my front driveway while having a mini-party with friends. I have even seen little red wagons carrying a child and a six-pack in the back as the parents roam their way around the neighborhood and their kids run from house to house!

My favorite part is seeing all the creative costumes and hearing the really young kids say “trick-or-treat!” You can see some of the awesome costumes from years past in the slideshow below! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Enjoy spook-tacular events all weekend long!

This weekend, you’ll be sure to see hundreds of little cats, vampires and ghosts running around Walnut Creek and the East Bay. It’s one of the most festive times of the year: Hallo-weekend!

Though the actual holiday is a week from today, there are plenty of events coming up over the weekend to take part in. For example, there’s a cool annual Candlelight Tour at the Winchester Mystery House. You get to tour the 160-room mansion with just a flickering candlelight to guide your way. The entire tour takes about 1 hour and tickets start at $20.

Another cool option is spending the night in a haunted jail cell in an underground dungeon on Halloween. For those of you who are really into scaring yourselves, the Ghosts of Alcatraz event by San Francisco Dungeon might be for you. Enjoy the darkness of an authentically reproduced Alcatraz cell for the night, and try not to faint from the terror.

For a couple more family-friendly, laid-back Halloween options, check out the pumpkin patch at Speer Family Farms in Alameda. It’s close enough to Walnut Creek but also worth the trek to see what they have available for you and the kids!

Lastly, on Friday from 2-5 pm, Walnut Creek Downtown is hosting a trick-or-treat for people of all ages! They ask you to bring your favorite costume and your own candy bag to collect treats from participating downtown businesses. Start at the Lesher Center and wind your way through from there. Broadway Plaza will host a similar event on the actual day of Halloween.

Whatever you do for Halloween weekend, make sure to be clever and creative with those costumes, not eat too much candy, and be safe while walking at night!

SaveSave

SaveSave

Art Town: Bullman With Bulldog

Well, this one kind of sprung up out of nowhere, huh? I love it, though! This piece on the corner of Mt. Diablo Blvd. and N. Main St. is just so unique, you can’t miss it – or you might, as it blends in with the crowds. This shot was taken late at night but look at the contrast of the day-time photo at the bottom of the blog.

The piece was donated by local developer Brian Hirahara and sculpted by Gerald Heffernon. It’s a life-size bronze statue of a half-man, half-bull dressed nicely and leaning against the pole on that street corner. His bulldog is on a leash, and there is unbelievable detail on the piece.

According to Heffernon, human figures depicted with animal heads is imagery deeply embedded in our psyches because we have a desire to acquire the power of other animals by getting inside their minds. If you think about it, even as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece there were minotaurs, hawk-headed humans, and more.

“A bullman is a hybrid of two animals,” Heffernon says. “A bulldog is all dog, but one bred to battle bulls. In this case, the bull(man) seems to control the bulldog, but those roles can reverse, as they can with humans and their dogs.”

The piece prompts us to consider which animal is in charge, as is often the case with dogs and their human owners. There is a triangle of competing wills. Heffernon, who hails from Winters, CA, calls himself a conceptual wildlife artist and wants his human/animal hybrid sculptures to be surreal, funny and thought-provoking.

Unsurprisingly, Hirahara also had a hand in approving the creepy downtown fountain with the head in it!

The piece definitely has mixed reviews – what do you think of it? Love or hate?

SaveSave

SaveSave

Walnut Creek experimenting with long-term street parking meters

These days, Walnut Creek is the hip place to be. But at its heart, our city is still the little town of 60,000 suburban residents, nestled in the shadow of Mt. Diablo. So, with the influx of visitors to Walnut Creek, one of the issues that have cropped up has been especially glaring: parking.

Or, rather, the lack thereof. With a rising demand in downtown parking options, Walnut Creek has started offering long-term street parking in “underutilized” areas outside the downtown core center.

We actually have some long-term meters just outside our offices here at Better Homes and Gardens, which are marked with purple poles. The new meters will cost $1 per hour, and do not contain the 2-hour limit imposed by regular meters downtown.

It will be interesting to see if this move pays off to unclog the downtown area during peak hours. I haven’t personally noticed a difference yet, but the idea is a bit retro. Another thought, how about outside the core downtown parking is free on Sundays? I can’t park in my office garage on Sundays, but can still get a ticket. You can see more about the long-term street parking below.

SaveSave

Our first ever Doggie Photoshoot was a woofing success!

Last weekend, we held an event in my neighborhood – Doggie Photoshoot, Take One! I invited my neighbors, past clients and friends to have a picture taken of their dogs in costume (with or without family members). It was so much fun, and we got a ton of great shots:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I want to give a shout-out to the photographer, Leo, of Fishbowl Photography, who did a fabulous job of capturing each dog’s personality! I also loved the sense of community with people connecting and chatting over coffee and donuts.

No automatic alt text available.

Lots of “oohs and aahs” ensued that morning – I hope everyone who attended had a good time and loved their pictures!  I can’t wait until the next one and don’t forget to hug your dog(s)!

Open House this weekend: This home is a hole in one!

Get your swimsuit, invite your friends and enjoy your new home. But first, you must swing by our Open House this weekend at 1915 Blackstone Dr. in Walnut Creek. You’ll see an absolutely gorgeous home with more than $100,000 put into customizing and updating everything that has to do with the backyard and the view you have from the house.

Included in those updates are a custom home office, larger double-paned windows, a brand gas pool heater, plantation shutters and french doors. But perhaps the most exciting updates came by the way of the backyard, a major selling point:

  • Custom island kitchen for BBQ’s
  • Putting green
  • Full landscape remodel
  • Well pump for no-cost irrigation
  • Custom-built day bed for relaxing

More than $75,000 later, the seller has built a backyard one could only dream of. You can grill or host a party under the cabana while the kids swim in the pool and any avid golfer’s in the group hit the putting green. Plus, you get to enjoy a partial view of Mt. Diablo.

This single story Northgate rancher is an entertainer’s delight, with a great floor plan made for luxurious living, right in the heart of Walnut Creek.

Built in 1961, move in ready, yet some buyers may want to update the kitchens and baths,  a slight remodel would put those pieces on par with the rest of this remarkable home.  There are also plans for a deck off the master bedroom with a fire pit.

The 4-bed, 2-bath, 2,062-square foot property is on a 15,225-square foot lot and right near Berean Christian High School, Northgate High School, Foothill Middle School and Walnut Avenue Preschool.

You can’t beat this location, just down the road from John Muir, and five minutes from BART, the new shopping area with Whole Foods, Heather Farms and Arbolado Park. And you definitely can’t beat the comfort of living in such a perfect home.

Come check it out from 1-4 p.m. on both Saturday 9/30 and Sunday 10/1!

Art Town: Hummingbirds on Broadway Paseo

Walnut Creek has done a lot of cool things with the rebuilding of Broadway Plaza, but one of my favorite new additions is all the art that’s going in to complement the buildings!

Recently, I was wandering the Broadway Paseo near the parking garage and saw Joyce Hsu’s hummingbird statues in front of Tommy Bahama’s. I think they look awesome and really draw a pedestrian’s eye to the color and form (they look as if they’re in flight)!

After doing a little research, I discovered that it’s part of a larger art installation called “Rawr,” which will also consist of a large robot T-Rex and a dinosaur bench just outside Macy’s. They are meant as both art and as a place for children to take a break when shopping.

According to the official approval documents, Hsu has always been intrigued by childhood fables, because it’s a reinterpretation of how the “adult” society works. She created the sculptures to remind visitors to Broadway Plaza of the importance of fun, play and imagination when building a stronger community.

Here’s a fun fact that also inspired Hsu’s hummingbirds and helped make them an obvious inclusion in the theme of her overall project: hummingbirds are, in fact, the smallest living dinosaurs!

Lokanta is the new Mediterranean spot downtown

Mediterranean food is a favorite of mine – from hummus to kebabs to fish, they always make their dishes with savory flavors that keep me happy. Here in Walnut Creek, we just got a new place for all you foodies to try and will probably give Opa a run for their money: Lokanta!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lokanta has menus for all types of occasions: brunch, lunch, dinner, happy hour, dessert, kids’ menu and more. I tried the Lokanta Classic Martini – it was perfect! The St. George Botanivore Gin made a big difference. Of course, the flaming cheese is an attraction (and delicious) along with the mixed platter.

Their daily happy hour is from 3-6 p.m., and their delicious appetizers (hummus, pita, meatballs, dolmas, soup, salad, calamari, lamb burger, shish kebab…to name a few) are all $10 or less at that time. Beers and wine are $5 or less and they have bottomless mimosa brunches both Saturday and Sunday.

Lokanta has another popular location in Pleasanton, but only recently opened its doors on Locust St. in Walnut Creek where you will see the owner making his rounds to ensure that everything is running smoothly and the customers are happy.

For you wine-lovers, there is a half-off wine deal on Mondays and no corkage fee on Tuesdays if you want to bring your own bottle to the restaurant.  The atmosphere is cozy, a great bar area and a community table to eat at as seats become available.

All in all, I highly recommend giving Lokanta a shot next time you’re downtown or craving some Mediterranean/Greek food in Walnut Creek. I give it 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s!

WC Proposed Land Use Survey

In a recent survey given by the Walnut Creek City Council about proposed land use and circulation concepts, we saw some interesting results about what citizens want to see in the future. Take a look at the survey results here.

Residents may want more bike lanes like these ones in Portland, OR, as long as they don’t interfere with parking!

For example, people really seem to like the idea of bike lanes, but want landscaping and extra parking even more, and most don’t want additional living spaces.

One theme throughout the results was that people want more creative, walkable spaces. One question asks if facilitating a “Makers’ Row” along Pine St. for hand-crafted manufacturing spaces like brewing, ceramics and jewelry-making was a priority. An overwhelming 75.1 percent of respondents supported that idea.

Most questions regarding more office or living developments were either split evenly or heavily disfavored. It seems like residents of Walnut Creek are more interested in retail and restaurant spaces, publicly usable areas and space that encourages outdoor activity than just another apartment building.

Beautiful parklets like Coffee Shop’s might start gracing the Walnut Creek streets if poll respondents have their way! (From Coffee Shop’s Instagram feed)

In fact, 74.2 percent of respondents support an arts-entertainment-hospitality district that might include an outdoor plaza for events and with a focus on public art. A general question about enhancing the public realm with small public plazas, parklets and seating areas received a whopping 79 percent approval on the survey.

When the survey then asked what that proposed arts-entertainment-hospitality district would look like, hotels, conference facilities and mixed-use living/work spaces were all not supported by the majority of respondents. Anywhere from 65 to 81 percent of people who responded did support restaurants, retail, art galleries and theaters in that section of the survey, though.

This is an interesting glimpse into the potential future of our great little city. What do you have to say about the poll? Do you agree or disagree with the results?