Trail running in the Bay Area

This past Sunday, tons of people showed up at Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland to voluntarily run. For fun. At 7:00 a.m. on a weekend.

Coastal Trail Runs
Courtesy CoastalTrailRuns.com.

I don’t know why, but running for fun seems to be a thing here in the Bay Area. Give me an hour walking my dog or a light jog for exercise purposes all day, but full-on running for enjoyment? Yikes.

Anyway, as someone who passes along lifestyle options in the East Bay, I feel obligated to stop joking around and share this awfully cool organization with you! It’s called Coastal Trail Runs, and they just hosted the aforementioned Cinderella Run in Oakland.

There was a marathon, half-marathon, kids run, 5-mile run, and more. On Sunday, August 27th, they will be hosting another one on Mt. Diablo. This will consist of similar distances, and like most of the Coastal Trail Runs events, will get each runner a t-shirt and medal, and award the fastest finishers in each gender and age group separately.

forest person trail running recreation jogging race sports endurance mountain biking physical exercise outdoor recreation human action endurance sports ultramarathon duathlon cross country running cross country cycling

The Coastal Trail Runs group’s mission is to share trail running around the coast of California, and many of their events take place in the Bay Area. Though unaffiliated, their organization also brings to mind The Dipsea Run in Mill Valley that traverses the popular hiking trail to Stinson Beach.

Coastal Trail Runs organized more than 400 races in the past 16 years, and according to their website, about 25 percent of runners in a given race are first-timers. And they do have options for flatter, slower runs called “Zoom” and “Zombie.”

Almost makes me want to give running for fun a shot! Almost…

Tax returns and your loan approval!

Our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending came up with another relatable blog recently: Tax Transcripts and 4506-T forms. It generally explains how those forms work, and reminded me of an experience of my own. First, a summary of Jay’s blog:

Every time a lender gets a loan from a borrower, they also have to get the last two years of tax returns. This is why borrowers sign IRS Form 4506-T as part of their disclosures. It formally authorizes lenders to request tax transcripts, which then show the filer’s status and income information.

Lenders are required to request transcripts from the IRS before a borrower can (borrowers can only request them directly if the IRS reject’s a lender’s request). If there is a minor error between the 4506-T and the tax return, this rejection may occur, so it happens pretty often.

That covers the basics of how the 4506-T form works and the role it plays in a real estate transaction. It’s a more subtle part of the process, but can cause huge headaches when done incorrectly. Take, for example, my experience with a property at Madeira in Pleasant Hill last year.

I represented the seller, and the buyer had their lender in Oakland, with a Bank out of L.A. Unbeknownst to us, the bank was being bought out and the new bank was called Bank of Hope – yes, really. But it turned out to be the Bank of Hopelessness.

Abode, Advertising, Banking, Building, Buy, Buyer

Processes changed, the lender in Oakland was let go and nobody knew what they were doing. Communication was terrible. One of the balls that got dropped was getting the tax returns. We closed almost two weeks late and the only way this ended up closing at all is by the processor who I had been speaking with regarding other issues. They actually went down to the IRS office and got the tax returns. She went beyond what is required (and probably got tired of our phone calls), but my seller is an attorney and also made multiple phone calls as they had already purchased a new home that was about to close.

This is one of the best reasons to get fully underwritten before you start to write offers. If all the documentation is in upfront, there won’t be any surprises or delays once you get into contract. Selecting the right lender can be the difference between smooth sailing and dark nightmares.

Moving? Save a tree!

Are you planning to move soon? Already initiating that process? Then you know you’ll need an endless supply of cardboard boxes to get the job done!

According to RecycleSmart.org, the average home move requires 60 cardboard boxes, or more than half of a one-ton pine tree. So, make sure when you’re done with your move that you recycle those boxes in the proper can. Don’t leave them in the regular garbage can, and only compost them if they were food boxes with grease that can’t be recycled.

Cardboard can be recycled over and over again, and you can even leave tape and labels on them to make the process easier. If you really want to save space in that recycling bin, break down each box so they’re flat.

Again according to RecycleSmart.org, the average person moves 11 times, which is about six trees’ worth of boxes. If you recycle those, you can still get the job done and save a few trees while you’re at it!

For more info on recycling cardboard and to order a bigger recycling bin at no charge, visit www.RecycleSmart.org.

Art Town: Secret Garden

This is one of the more “flowery” utility boxes in downtown Walnut Creek. Most of them have cool, unique designs but you really have to look at them to get the picture.  This piece by Casey Rasmussen White, entitled “Secret Garden,” is one you can just enjoy.

On the corner of N. Broadway and Mt. Diablo, this beautiful piece really catches your eye. It is simple and colorful.

If the name of the artist sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve featured another great piece by her on a separate utility box in downtown Walnut Creek. That one is called Sea Queen and is on a different corner of the same street.

I am always amazed at how much art there is to look at in downtown Walnut Creek if you just take a moment to observe.

Broadway Plaza summer concert series kicks off tonight!

If you’re looking for a good activity to get out of the house this evening, I have good news for you. The Broadway Plaza summer concert series is back in downtown Walnut Creek!

Image result for outdoor concert guitarist

Tonight, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., marks the first in a series of shows played at Event Plaza. If you like what you hear and see, you can go again on any Thursday in August.

First up tonight is SuperHuey, followed by The Purple Ones on August 10th, and Fleetwood Mask (that’s “Mask,” before you get too excited…) on August 17th. Festivities include the music, vendors, shopping, and more.

It’s a perfect family outing for people of all ages. Bring a blanket or chair and a few dollars for a glass of wine, and enjoy the summer air with your fellow East Bay music lovers!’s

Note:  with the new development, the events plaza is in front of Macy’s and I find the area not that welcoming to large crowds.  it gets really tight with limited seating, so many people are just standing around.  If you are there to shop, you will find yourself in tight quarters and a swarm of people.  Personally I miss the old parking lot space.

Don’t hold your breath for another recession

According to an Inman.com article, Kevin Thorpe (Global Chief Economist at Cushman & Wakefield) says we are going to have a very long economic expansion.

At the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference, Thorpe said, “The U.S. will not be going into recessions anytime soon. Recessions don’t just happen. First, we need to see imbalances somewhere in the economy — too much credit, too much exuberance in any particular sector.”

A frequent speaker in the local real estate arena, Carol Rodini and some Bay Area economists agree that some changes Donald Trump’s Republican cabinet will make – redoing the tax code, trying to replace Obamacare, etc. – will be good for the economy.

Carol recently noted the top 10 tech companies in Silicon Valley are sitting on about $3 trillion in cash between their domestic and foreign accounts. Those companies grew about 7 percent last year and they believe that will continue this year.

Related image

So, if and when we end up in a recession, she believes it will be about a 4 percent dip. The Bay Area, because of Silicon Valley, will not feel it like the rest of the nation. For those buyers who are hoping for a dip so housing will be more affordable, you might want to buy now, before interest rates go up. For sellers: now and the near future is a good time to list!

Tips for surviving the next drought

Last winter, the rains were plentiful. This spring and summer, the rivers have been gushing, lakes have been full and waterfalls have been crashing.

It’s a scene we haven’t had in the Bay Area in quite some time. But since the drought ended, all the regular water usage has returned – flushing normally, watering our gardens more than once a month, leaving the water going occasionally and not worrying about it…

That said, we’re still in California and we’re still in an accelerated state of global warming (according to most climatologists, anyway). So, there will be another drought. Here are some Bay Area-specific tips from the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) for surviving the next one:

Know your water provider’s Drought Program and its requirements

Every water provider should have a Drought Program. Contact them to make sure you know what their requirements are, ahead of the next drought. If you have CCWD, you can sign up for their newsletter to get updates.

Know how much water you are using

You can read your water meter to better understand how much water you’re using. However, that can be tricky. Here are some tips on CCWD’s website: www.ccwater.com.

Check for leaks

You can also utilize your meter to check for leaks. One of the most common leaks and wastes of water comes from the toilet. Check regularly!

Use efficient fixtures and appliances

You should always get EnergyStar appliances if possible, and you should have a toilet with 1.28gpf or less. Check if yours does at www.map-testing.com. Also, make sure your laundry loads are always full and don’t leave faucets running!

Convert lawns to gardens

Some water providers offer rebates for converting a lawn to a garden. For example, CCWD offers $1 per square foot of lawn converted ($1,000 maximum residential, $20,000 maximum Commercial/HOA). And California will give you a state rebate for front and back lawn conversions as well. Plus, it just looks prettier!

If you irrigate, do it efficiently

If you irrigate or have sprinklers, make sure the system is in good shape (no blocked or broken heads) so there’s no water waste. Try to water after the sun goes down or before it goes up to avoid evaporation. And turn the system off when rain is coming.

There are a million different simple ways to avoid water loss when the next drought occurs. Water is a still a precious commodity!

It’s not too late to jump on the Walnut Creek summer bike challenge!

Are you an avid biker? Is that your summertime physical activity of choice? Even if that’s not the case, you might want to give this cool bike challenge in Walnut Creek a try!

It’s a great way to force yourself outside to enjoy the beautiful Bay Area summer weather, get a little exercise, and be environmentally-friendly all at once. Basically, there is a Walnut Creek Summer Bike Challenge that asks you to download a challenge card and complete it before the summer is over.

Destinations include Cream in downtown Walnut Creek (what better motivation for going on a ride is there than having ice cream at the finish line?), Heather Farm and Civic Park.

If the exercise, enjoyment and gas savings aren’t enough incentive, there are also prizes! Some squares on the challenge card offer instant prizes or free stuff upon completion, and the program’s grand prize is an iPad.

Other Bay Area cities hosting a challenge like this are Brentwood, Martinez, Oakley and Pleasant Hill. Give it a shot and explore our wonderful little town in a whole new way. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a SoulCycle subscription!