Monday, July 27, 2009

National Association of Realtors Releases Existing Homes Sales Stats

Washington, July 23, 2009

Existing-home sales rose for the third consecutive month with inventory easing and home prices declining less sharply in June, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised pace of 4.72 million in May, but are 0.2 percent lower than the 4.90 million-unit level in June 2008.

Source: National Association of Realtors

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Town Hall Meeting on the High-speed Rail Issue

Senator Joe Simitian and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo invite you to attend a Town hall Meeting on High Speed Rail.

This from Joe "I'll be joining Congresswoman Anna Eshoo for a town hall meeting on California's high-speed rail project. If you'd like to learn more or get a question answered, I hope you'll attend.

"WHAT: Town Hall Meeting on High-Speed Rail hosted by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo
(State Senator Joe Simitian will also be there.)

WHEN: Saturday, July 25 at 2:00 PM

WHERE: Menlo Park City Council Chambers, 701 Laurel Street, Menlo Park, CA

Live webcast at and a video will be available soon afterwards at This town hall is open to the public, and no RSVP is necessary.

For more information, call (650) 688-6384 or (408) 277-9460.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Housing Info from the Urban Land Institute

Housing starts increased to 582,000 in June, the second straight month of increases after reaching the lowest point since 1970 in April. Single-family home starts are driving this growth, with 470,000 housing starts in June, while multifamily starts declined from 143,000 in May to 101,000 in June. Single-family starts in June were 28 percent lower than in June 2008 while multifamily were 75 percent lower.

Prices for new homes rose slightly in May and are now just 3.6 percent lower than in May 2008. Prices for existing single-family homes increased very slightly according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) data, but remain 16 percent lower than the previous May. At the same time, the S&P/Case-Shiller Index remained about the same. Prices of existing condominiums remained about the same as well but are almost 22 percent lower than last May. Housing affordability remains near historic highs although it declined slightly, reflecting the rise in prices and mortgage rates.

Total existing home sales increased slightly in May, a welcome positive sign, and the inventory of homes for sale decreased, with a nine-month supply, down from 9.5 months’ supply in April. Still, this remains above the historic average of 7.2 months’ supply (since 1982). The number of new homes sold decreased slightly from 344,000 in April to 342,000 in May, and the inventory of new homes for sale declined as well—the months’ supply decreased to 10.2 from 10.4.

Home mortgage rates (30-year fixed) rose slightly in June to 5.42 percent, but remain very favorable by historic standards. Mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates remain very high.

These housing trends in total suggest continued movement in the right direction, but a healthy and balanced housing market is still not in view.

Source: Urban Land Institute

Huge Losses in Sharon Heights Fire

A Sharon Heights fire Thursday night destroyed two townhouses and caused major damage to a third, according to Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

He estimated the loss at 15 Susan Gale Court, where the three townhouses are in one structure, at between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Firefighters battled the five-alarm fire for about two hours Thursday night.

The fire, reported at 5:11 p.m., was contained by around 7:15 p.m.

More than 50 firefighters, including crews from Redwood City, Woodside, Palo Alto and San Mateo, as well as Menlo Park, fought the blaze. A total of 17 engines, five ladder trucks and two breathing units were involved, supervised by six battalion chiefs.

The fire started in the middle unit of the structure, said Chief Schapelhouman. The fire spread through the walls from the center of the middle unit, and got in between the first and second floors of the middle unit, he said.

One firefighter was injured slightly, with a minor burn to his ear, the chief said.

Source: Dave Boyce, the Almanac

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gibson's Chicago

This picture inspired me to commit to booking this restaurant NEXT YEAR!

My friend, John Getze, looking quite satisfied with his very cold, dry martini from Gibson's Chicago...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This Week-end in Menlo Park

Connoisseur's Marketplace
For festival lovers, it’s a can’t-miss event on the summer calendar!

Connoisseur's Marketplace celebrates the Bay Area’s best in culinary, visual, and performing arts on July 18-19, along charming Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park.

Presented by the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, thousands of visitors are expected to pour onto the downtown streets for this vibrant extravaganza of art, music, food, wine and all-around family fun.

For Artist information, see; for Food Vendor information, see; for Sponsor information, see

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bastille Day

Bastille Day

The French national holiday celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution

Date: 14 July

Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on 14 July 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of Louis the 16th's Ancient Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signaled that the king's power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers.

Although the Bastille only held seven prisoners at the time of its capture, the storming of the prison was a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression for all French citizens; like the Tricolore flag, it symbolized the Republic's three ideals: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity for all French citizens. It marked the end of absolute monarchy, the birth of the sovereign Nation, and, eventually, the creation of the (First) Republic, in 1792.

Bastille Day was declared the French national holiday on 6 July 1880, on Benjamin Raspail's recommendation, when the new Republic was firmly entrenched. Bastille Day has such a strong signification for the French because the holiday symbolizes the birth of the Republic. As in the US, where the signing of the Declaration of Independence signaled the start of the American Revolution, in France the storming of the Bastille began the Great Revolution. In both countries, the national holiday thus symbolizes the beginning of a new form of government.


La Marseillaise was written in 1792 and declared the French national anthem in 1795.
Read and listen to the words.

On the one-year anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, delegates from every region of France proclaimed their allegiance to a single national community during the Fête de la Fédération in Paris - the first time in history that a people had claimed their right to self-determination.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sales are Up and Months of Inventory Down Sharply in West Menlo Park

These Charts represent West Menlo Park Area #303 (Central Menlo Park) ONLY.
Source: Trendgraphix

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New "Hyperlocal" Blog -- InMenlo

My friends, Linda Hubbard and Chris Gulker each have their own Blogs --

See for Linda's Blog about early morning joggers and much more .

Find Chris at for commentary on technology, photography, brain tumors, France, wine & food and more...

Now they are the co-creators of a new "hyperlocal" Blog -- not just about Menlo Park, but about West Menlo Park; it's doin's, people, scenic spots, good wi-fi and coffee, etc.

Discover the new Blog at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NAR Data on Existing Home Sales

Earlier this week, when the NAR released data on existing home sales, their statement about appraisers’ role in killing purchase transactions was dead on the mark:

“The increase in sales is less than expected because poor appraisals are stalling transactions.
Pending home sales indicated much stronger activity, but some contracts are falling through from faulty valuations that keep buyers from getting a loan. Lenders are using appraisers who may not be familiar with a neighborhood, or who compare traditional homes with distressed and discounted sales.”

Friday, July 3, 2009

Chambers Landing at Tahoe

THIS is where the truly blessed are right this moment. I hope they were all smart enough to drive up late, or early, or several days ago...

Happy 4th of July!!!

Affordable French Rose

2008 mas Carlot

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Meridian 2006 Chardonnay, California

Meridian Chardonnay is grown in the coolest regions of Santa Barbara County where classic, sought-after characteristics are typical. About half of this wine comes from our coolest vineyard, White Hills, so named for its rolling sand dunes. The soil keeps vigor in check so that yield is not huge, but fruit intensity is quite the opposite. The pineapple, floral, citrus and apple aromas typical of Santa Barbara County occur in abundance in the White Hills Chardonnay.

The other Santa Barbara County Chardonnays in the blend are from the Santa Maria Valley and the cool Los Alamos area to the south. They contribute floral, grapefruit and textural components to the blend. Designed to show off this lush fruit, the oak was kept to a minimum.

Exotic aromas mingle pleasingly in this wine and include notes of fresh cut flowers, lychee, vanilla and nutmeg. A dash of toasted almond brings about an intriguing mid-note. This is not a shy Chardonnay. On the palate expect flavors of pineapple, lime and grapefruit essence with a touch of oak, followed by a lengthy finish. Appellation Santa Barbara County

I feel like the recession has had some effect on all of us. Some are entertaining less, the trips are shorter, or more local, some are shopping in their own closets for long-ago purchases that may still fit and seem approprite.

Some of my friends are downright struggling; with the mortgage payment, the kids' expensive school and extracuricular activities, the tickets to games and plays they have "always" gone to...choices they must make and explanations they must proffer to their friends, colleagues and co-conspiriors. YIKES! It's not easy to observe.

I've been in recession mode for YEARS. My son, Andrew, dubbed my house wine "Windsor Kool-Aide" because we always had copious amounts of it chilled and ready to go here on Windsor Way. It is actually non-vintage Chardonnay from Meridian Vineyards coastal vineyard on the Central Coast of California, very tasty wine from near the Santa Barbara Coast.