Lokanta is the new Mediterranean spot downtown

Mediterranean food is a favorite of mine – from hummus to kebobs 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!

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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 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 community table  to eat 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?

New City Manager & the Walnut Festival is coming!

Walnut Creek has a new City Manager as of August 7th: Dan Buckshi. I attended a welcoming reception at Lesher last week. After 15 years in San Luis Obispo County and the last five as County Administrative Officer (similar to County Manager), Dan is excited to be in Walnut Creek.

He just wrote his first City Manager’s Update, including a nugget about the Walnut Festival …

via Patch.com

If you’re new to Walnut Creek  – or haven’t been in some time like myself – I recommend going to the festival! I especially have wonderful memories with my boys and as they got into their tweens. It was a safe place to drop them off for a couple of hours, allowing them to gain some independence. You’ll be amazed by the number of people who show up to ride the rides, test out the carnival food and play games.

There is also live music and performances, and the nearby glory of Heather Farm Park in and of itself. This is truly the biggest event of the year in Walnut Creek.

Don’t forget about the nostalgic twilight parade that kicks off the event is this Saturday at 6 p.m.  It will travel along Walnut Creek’s Main Street from Mt. Diablo Boulevard to Civic Drive, ending at Civic Park.

This year’s theme, “Through The Wide Eyes of a Child,” is all about imagination and whimsically-created costumes, floats, decorated cars, motorcycles, bicycles, bands, drill teams, cheer teams
and all others who will entertain us with their talents and creativity.  They are encouraging people to join in on the theme and attend the parade in costume.

The Carnival portion of the 81st Annual Walnut Festival will take place from September 21-24 at Heather Farms.

Did you know the original festival was held in 1911 and was called The Grape Festival? For more information and a little bit of history, you can visit The Walnut Festival Association website here.

Enjoy this wonderful Walnut Creek tradition!!!

Beat the heat with San Francisco Creamery!

What’s better than ice cream on a hot day? San Francisco Creamery packs it on! This picture below is a “1 scoop” with two different flavors. If you get the 2 scoop, you’re eating an entire pint of ice cream!

Most people who live in or around Walnut Creek have probably stopped into the Creamery for a quick bite – they have food and drinks in addition to their delicious ice cream!

There are a lot of great spots in Walnut Creek for ice cream and frozen yogurt, but San Francisco Creamery is one of the tastiest and most recognizable. Did you know there was even a Man vs. Food episode taped there? He took on the “Kitchen Sink,” which is an insurmountable mountain of ice cream!

With the hot, late-summer weather engulfing the East Bay, take the family, stroll down Locust St. and grab a scoop or two from the Creamery. You won’t be disappointed!

Open House: 4391 Pembroke Dr. (Concord)

The Kristin Lanham Team has another beautiful home going on the market – this one is in Concord, on Pembroke Dr. Take a look at some of the pictures below, and swing by for a peek at our Open House this weekend!
 
The home is a cozy, mid-century charmer with a serene, quiet backyard. There is room for an RV or a boat, which includes a spa and storage shed, all surrounded by professional landscaping and lots of plants and flowers.
An open concept makes it warm and welcoming. The updated kitchen with its expansive island is the centerpiece for family gatherings and additional storage. The open-beamed ceilings add to the interior charm. There are stylish updated bathrooms, dual-pane windows, lots of natural light and great flow from outdoor to indoor for entertaining.
 
This house has been meticulously loved – an updated, warm interior and a vibrant backyard planted specifically to attract hummingbirds, butterfiles, and bees.  A perfect place to call home!
Come take a look at the Open House this weekend from 1-4 p.m. on both Saturday (9/9) and Sunday (9/10)!
3 bedrooms | 2 baths | 1250 sq. ft. |.17 acre lot
Offered at $580,000
To take a virtual tour of 4391 Pembroke Dr., click HERE!

What is the most expensive zip code in CA?

If you had to guess which California city has the most expensive real estate, what would you say? San Francisco, maybe? Certain parts of Los Angeles – remember the show 90210?
Watkins-Cartan House, 98 Alejandra Ave., Atherton, CA
Nope, the honor goes to the 94027 zip code – Atherton, CA. For those not familiar, Atherton is right above Palo Alto and the average cost of a home there is…wait for it…$6.17 million. According to Zillow, home values in Atherton reached a low point in summer 2009, dipping below $3 million.
I asked my friend Jay Vorhees of JVM Lending what kind of average income would be necessary to afford a home in Atherton at 25 percent and 50 percent down.
Given that the average income in Atherton is about $250,000, I was wondering how exactly a median home price of $6.17 million was affordable there! Here’s his assessment:
Assuming no consumer debt, a 4.0% rate and a 42% debt ratio, with 25% down, PITI would be about $29,000 per month (rounded). This would require $69,000 of monthly income or $828,000 annually.
With 50% down, PITI would be about $22,000 per month (rounded). This would require about $52,500 of monthly income or $630,000 annually.
So how does the average income earner in that area afford Atherton? Most likely people have had these homes for years, thus the lower income. For new purchases, stock options from IPOs are not usually included in your annual income, thus allowing the the nouveau riche of Silicon Valley to buy with cash or put 50% or more down.

Art Town: Liliales

This piece by Cliff Garten was created in 2016 and blends aluminum sheets and mesh with LED lights. It currently adorns one of the new S. Broadway entrances to the Broadway Plaza parking structure.

According to its listing on walkwc.oncell.com, the abstract floral motif of Liliales references two flowers essential to the lives of the area’s original inhabitants – the Volvons, and one of the early Bay Miwok tribes based around Mt. Diablo.

Garten is an award-winning artist and often incorporates light and space into his large designs. His other work in town is the Walnut Creek Veteran’s Memorial.

The LED lights on Liliales change colors with each season, too! You can get more info on Liliales on one of the public art walking tours downtown.

How do appraisers value a property?

Our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending has posted another great blog recently about appraisers. I have taken some liberty with his original blog and modified it to some of my personal experiences. Check it out below!

Lenders are not ever allowed to communicate directly with appraisers. They are only allowed to order appraisals through an Appraisal Management Company, which in turn contacts the appraiser. This arose out of the mortgage meltdown in the efforts to prevent fraud.  Overall, I think it hurt the buyer because the cost of appraisals rose.

Realtors, however, can communicate directly with appraisers and I highly recommend that they do so.  I meet the appraiser at the home, provide them with the comps I used to come up with the list price and let them know how many offers I had and the offer price of them.  It is important to be nice, and not tell them ‘how’ to do their job, but provide them with data that they may not have.

Below is the criteria appraisers use for Comparable Sales Data guidelines.

1. Size: Comps need to be within 20% of the size of the subject property. For example, they usually cannot use a 1,300 square foot comp for a 1,000 square foot subject property. Likewise, they cannot use a 700 square foot comp for a 1,000 square foot property.

2. Distance: Comps need to be within one mile of the subject property, and not over any major barriers like a freeway or a river.

3. Same Town/City: Comps need to be in the same city as the subject property in most cases, even if the comp is less than a block from the subject property.

4. Closed: Comps need to have closed in the last 90 days. Pending sales and listings are not acceptable.

5. Lot Size: Lot sizes must be accounted for too. If the subject property is on a small lot of 6,000 square feet, for example, a comp and a 12,000 square foot lot will have to be downwardly adjusted significantly in most cases.

6. Adverse Influences: If the subject is on a busy street or abuts a school, a freeway or an industrial area, valid comps will need to have similar adverse influences or they will make adjustments to equalize the value.

7. Bracketing Comps: Valid comps need to “bracket” the appraised value. Hence, at least one comp needs to be priced higher than the appraised value, and one should be priced lower.

At the end of the day. Appraisals are still subjective based on the appraiser’s interpretation and experience. Most of the time they are trying to do their best, and as markets shift, they have to adjust. They do not always have some inside information about a neighboring sale or a credit and if you can make their job a bit easier, I find everybody’s job becomes a bit easier.

I should also note that Mortgage Bankers have AMC – Appraisal Management Companies, where they can cherry pick the appraisers that are in the pool, even though they can’t talk to them about value.  These are usually much better than the big banks and that is a whole other story that only frustrates me….

Brewery madness in the Bay!

I occasionally like a good beer and love trying new brews, especially with all the microbreweries popping up around the Bay Area. We had our annual Parkmead Community Associate block party this past Saturday and Adam, one of our Board members, was adamant about getting a keg of quality beer. He was given a budget and the task of ordering it. He got a beer called Simtra, a triple IPA by Knee Deep Brewery in CA with 11.25% alcohol. Apparently, there are folks who are very serious about their beer. This blog is for you.

We’ve blogged about Farm Creek Brewing and Calicraft in the past, and they remain standouts in Walnut Creek. There is also no shortage of amazing breweries in San Francisco, where the craft beer scene is unmatched in Northern California. Check out this list of lesser-known places to try next time you’re craving a beer in the city.

In the intro of that article, they mention my writer’s favorite local brewery, 21st Amendment. They recently built a massive new brewery and factory in San Leandro.

Of course, Oakland is also stocked full of good spots to check out the beer scene. Oakland Brewing Company, Faction, and Golden Gate Brewing come to mind, but I’ve heard great things about all the little breweries popping up in Oakland!

If you’re into beer, you’ll want to try as many of these cool places as possible. Start here in Walnut Creek and then move West from there. Make sure you take Lyft, and give a shout-out to your favorites!