Pleasanton at its best…

Community Presents Pleasanton Family With New Home

When a fire devastated the home of April Martinez, community members came together to help her get back on her feet. | February 27, 2013 | link


From Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s Office

Many local businesses and city and county agencies came together last week to raise enough money to buy April Boag Martinez and her family a new (gently used) trailer, which was presented in a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday.

April Boag Martinez is a jockey and horse trainer, who works on the Alameda County Fairgrounds and also lives there in the R.V. South trailer park with her two young children.

Due to a devastating fire, which took place the family’s trailer on Monday, February 11, Martinez and her children (ages 12 and 5) have been staying with a friend in same the R.V. park with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing the day of the fire.

Martinez, a Pleasanton resident of nearly 12 years, said the fire began
in the bedroom of her 32-foot trailer, and then consumed the entire trailer within only a couple of minutes.

Luckily, she, her 5-year-old son, and the family dog were able to escape unharmed with only the clothes on their backs, and no shoes. Martinez’s 12-year-old daughter was not home when the fire started.

When asked what she thought of all of the people and organizations who came out for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and those who made the new trailer possible, Martinez was gracious.

“This is incredible! I am at a loss for words,” Martinez said. “The amount of support we have received from the community and the race track is amazing. We are just normal, everyday people, and after such a devastating turn of events, this is like winning the lottery.”

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern said of the fire and the trailer presentation, “I’m just glad that nobody was hurt. I am happy to help, and I wish April and her family the best. Welcome to [their] new home!”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in the field across from the R.V. South trailer park located on Road 8, near gate 12 on the Alameda County fairgrounds.

During the presentation, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty addressed Ms. Martinez and the crowd of contributors and supporters, “All that has taken place following this unfortunate event is a direct reflection of the strength of our great community. This has truly been a community effort, and one which I am beyond proud to be a part of. This is what happens when people get together to make things better.”

Frank Imhof of Imhof Tractor Services, who worked for 10 days to coordinate much of the donors list and facilitate the purchase of the trailer said, “It was a sad story of a single mom in need. She needed help, and I could, so I did.”

“It’s our community, and it’s the right thing to do. It is my pleasure to help the family get back on their feet, and to be associated with so many others who feel the same,” said Jim McGrail of McGrail Vineyards.

If any member of the community wishes to contribute to Martinez family as they begin to put together the pieces of their new lives in their new home, a bank account has been set up at the Fremont Bank-Pleasanton branch located at 6654 Koll Center Pkwy., suite 345 in the name of April Boag Martinez.

Spring has Sprung!

Spice Up Your Garden for Spring: Plant Cool-Weather Crops

Jennifer Noonan | Zillow Blog | March 14, 2013 | link

Bob Vila Plants 1


Though Punxsutawney Phil has barely gotten back into his den, you’re already itching to start spring planting! Unfortunately, the last frost is still a month or so away. What’s a gardener to do?

Simple answer: Plant cool-weather crops in containers on your deck or front stoop! You’ll have homegrown salad on your table before you can even get one seed into your garden.

After all, greens like spinach, lettuce, arugula, swiss chard and kale thrive in the cooler temperatures — between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit — and they’re as happy to grow in a pot or planter as anywhere. So fill some empty containers with dirt and get yourself some seeds!



If you plant seeds mid- to late-March, you should begin seeing sprouts by the middle of April (maybe sooner, weather depending). By mid-May, you’ll be bringing a harvest of leaf lettuce and spinach to the table — perhaps before you’ve planted your summer veggie garden. Bitter greens like kale and Swiss chard take a bit longer to reach maturity, but they won’t be far behind.

Sow your seeds according to the package directions for each variety. It’s really as simple as poking your finger in the dirt (or creating a trowel line), planting the seeds, and covering them with a little soil.

Don’t be afraid to over-plant. You can always thin your plantings later. Just be mindful that the soil in containers dries out far more quickly than soil in the ground, so be sure to watch the moisture level and keep your plants watered well.

Once the hotter days of late June and early July arrive, these crops will start to sputter. Be ready to replace them with some pretty annuals to brighten your summer days. And then, once those flowers start to look shabby in late September, you can plant another crop of salad greens, harvesting through Thanksgiving.

Tip: When you buy your seeds for early spring, get an extra package or two to plant in fall. By the time you think about it at the end of summer, they’ll be long gone in the stores, and you won’t be able to find them.

Growing salad and bitter greens in containers is a great way for a beginning gardener to experience success. These plants don’t require much in the way of labor or space, and they bring so much to the table — literally!

Spring into Design: The Future is Back

Homes of the Future: Atomic Age Design Lives On

Catherine Sherman | Zillow Blog | March 18, 2013 | link

For some, architecture is a purely aesthetic experience. Others are drawn in by the story told by a home.

After World War II, a new wave of architects ditched the white picket fence and dared to dream about the future. Termed Atomic Age designers, these architects channeled concerns about nuclear war dominating Western society at the time. Meanwhile, with “The Jetsons” and “The Flinstones” hitting prime-time television, a Space Age of animated styles, futuristic patterns and flying-saucer imitations infiltrated every facet of pop culture.

Today, homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner and Richard Neutra are held up as iconic designs — designs that defined a generation more interested in imagining what could be than relishing the past.

Celebrities have walked their halls and historians have built museum exhibits to commemorate their unique floorplans, but with several 1940s-60s homes currently on the market, Atomic Age design lives on as it was intended to be: a place to call home.

Dick Clark’s Home

Dick Clark's home
Described as an “imaginative architectural creation,” this house is straight out of Bedrock. Home to Dick Clark until 2007, the design is truly one of a kind. From the kitchen to the living room, the home maintains an animated feel with jagged-cut windows and purposely crooked kitchen cabinets.

While the design and oceanfront location at 10124 Pacific View Rd, Malibu, CA 90265 are undeniable selling points, the home received a $250,000 price cut last month. The asking price is now $3.25 million.

Bob Hope’s Estate

Bob Hope's Home
The 23,366-square-foot marvel above was designed by the legendary John Lautner in 1973. He built the home exclusively for Bob and Dolores Hope with the image of a volcano in mind. In addition to the trademark curved copper-and-concrete roof, the interior has 6 bedrooms and 12 baths. Outside, a pool, tennis court and outdoor fireplace are main attractions.

This is the largest private residence designed by Lautner, though not the first to hit the market. The architectural treasure was listed for $50 million in late February.

Neutra Modernist Triplex

Rajagopal Family Home
When architectural geniuses Richard Neutra and Paul Hoag put their heads together, this was the result. Owner Rosalind Rajagopal, a founding member of the Happy Valley School in Ojai, asked the pair to design an upper addition to the original Spanish-style home. The jigsaw puzzle-like masterpiece at 2122 N Gower St, Los Angeles, CA 90068 is now on the market for $1.2 million.

“It’s very ahead of its time for the early ’30s,” said real estate agent Patricia Ruben.

“It feels much bigger than it is, and no one was really doing that. That’s what modern is about, and the whole living room is a wall of windows,” added partnering agent Robert Kallick.

The Elrod House

Source: blog.robertpashukarchitecture.comSource:

Lautner commissioned designer Arthur Elrod to build this flying saucer-inspired home in 1968. The 60-foot-wide circular living room has a conical dome that fans out in nine petals between nine clerestories.

Known as “The Elrod House,” the 8,901-square-foot structure has been featured in numerous books, magazines and museum exhibits.

Now listed as a foreclosure auction property, the home last sold in November 2003 for $5.5 million. The listing describes it as “literally one of the the most architecturally significant homes in all the world.”

Jules Gregory’s Home

Jules Gregory House
When architects are paid to design homes for a living, you might wonder what kind of house they create for themselves. Architect Jules Gregory designed his New Jersey abode on 10 wooded acres with a striking double-conoid roof.

“Like a bird in flight or a wave rising in the ocean, the undulating roof of this mid-century modern masterpiece seems to defy gravity,” agent Barbara Blackwell writes in the house listing.

With a $1.1 million price tag, the owner-to-be can look forward to walls of windows paying tribute to the natural landscape at 315 Goat Hill Rod, Lambertville, NJ 08530. A studio or guest house is also connected to the main 4-bedroom house by a stone footpath and bridge, adding pastoral touches to the modern design.

Gerald B. Tonkens House

Gerald B. Tonkens House
Described as one of the most important Frank Lloyd Wright designs, the Gerald B. Tonkens house is currently on the market for the first time ever for $1.788 million.

Without a doubt, the most stand-out feature is the home’s concrete exterior with more than 400 inset windows. While the aesthetic is notably different from other Atomic Age homes, Wright was aiming for something more practical. He called the home Usonian, a design theme with no attics, basements and little ornamentation. Wright hoped to produce a “national” style affordable for the average American after the war.

Using cost-effective materials, the home represents post-Depression simplicity in contrast to the Jetsons-style futurism seen in Lautner’s homes.

The 1955 property spans 4+ acres at 6980 Knoll Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45237. As an added bonus, the home comes with original Wright furniture designed specifically for the space.

Foster Carling House

Foster Carling House by John Lautner
Designed by Lautner, the “Foster Carling House” was reportedly one of his earliest and most significant works. The Los Angeles property has several innovative features including a pool that flows from the exterior into the living room, separated by a retractable glass wall. According to the home’s for-sale listing, controls move both the glass wall and the entire living room, swinging out the couch to face the downtown skyline.

Located at 7144 Hockey Trl, Los Angeles, CA 90068, the 1950 construction also shows off the work of yacht builder John de la Vaux, from the redwood plank walls and polished concrete floors to built-in furniture.

The modern mansion is currently on the market for $2.995 million.

Spring into Design: Make A Statement

Get This Look: Statement Wall

Erika Riggs | Zillow Blog | February 12, 2013 | link

If you’re looking to add a bold look to your home, creating a statement wall in a room can be a simple and affordable option. Ranging from a wall painted in deep jewel tones to a space dominated by brick, how bold you go depends on the look you want for your room.

As far as home projects go, painting one wall is the easiest way to tackle the look, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or money.

Getting started

A soft tangerine wall is warms up this master bedroom.

A soft tangerine wall warms up this master bedroom designed by Eric Ross Interiors.

Decide which wall you want to highlight. Maybe it’s the wall behind your bed in the master bedroom or the wall the stove sits against in the kitchen.

A turquoise wall makes a statement opposite the stove.

A turquoise wall makes a statement opposite the stove.

Pick out colors, and test a few sample colors on the wall (or tape up paint chips). Look at the colors at all hours of the day to see how lighting affects the shade. Keep in mind that the color does not need to match everything perfectly in the space. If you go with an accent wall, leave the rest of the finishes or walls neutral. You don’t want too much competing against what can be a dramatic space.

Bold is beautiful

Go bold with a red, glossy wall in the bedroom.

Go bold with a red, glossy wall in the bedroom.

Get ready to paint! If you’re planning on doing it yourself, wipe down the walls, prime (if needed) and prep the space with drop cloths and painters tape.

Do one light, even coat, and let it dry as suggested by the paint’s manufacturer. It’s better to paint several light coats rather than one thick coat.

Paint alternatives

Wallpaper is enjoying a resurgence of sorts in the design world and can be another easy way to add visual interest to a space. Like paint, it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to apply.

wallpaper 1

A lush emerald wallpaper pairs well with other green shades.

If you’re looking for a more bold look, statement walls in brick, salvaged wood or graphic tile are other design options.


Wood pieces are a creative way to add interest to this dining room. Designed by Beckwith Interiors.

Spring Into Design: Neutrals Are In

The New Neutrals: Infusing Bold Color Into the Home

Erika Riggs | Zillow Blogs | March 12, 2013 | link

Neutral shades such as white and beige will always work in a home, but sometimes a space calls for bolder colors.

orange room

Orange punches up a guest bedroom, pictured above, by San Francisco designer Kimball Starr.

In fact, couches, walls and even appliances are showing up in hues of orange, emerald green, lavender and peacock blue. Named the “it colors” for spring by Pantone, these shades are surprisingly easy to work with and, when used as a base or accent, are nearly a neutral, says designer David Scott.

“I love orange,” he said. “I’m always constantly trying to work it into every interior. Persian blue, peacock blue [too]. I love mixing them and the warm and cool together.”

People, overall, are becoming more comfortable with using color in the home, says designer Chris Barrett.

“People are becoming more aware how color can be used. Where a lot of people felt beiges and taupes were easier to live with, now people can see color. Even strong color can be almost a neutral if you use it right,” she said.

chris barrett

Barrett added a coat of orange-red paint to liven up the vanity in the bathroom of a modern boutique hotel she designed in California.

Here are a few tips from designers on how to add these new neutrals to your home.

Start with shades and swatches

If you’re set on adding peacock blue to a space, how do you find other colors to pair with it? Barrett says the easiest way is to layer various shades of that color in the space. If you want a bolder, yet cohesive look, search for the color’s complement on the color wheel. Blue, for example, pairs well with orange, and purple pairs well with touches of yellow.

Still lost? Start with a swatch of fabric you love.

“Often we find just one fabric or one rug that has all the colors we like and build off of that,” Barrett said.

chris barrett 2

Cheerful printed pillows provide the palette for a sunny room designed by Barrett.

Add colorful furniture

Non-traditional colors, such as lavender, can become neutrals if you use them where you may have used beige in the past, explains Barrett.

“You use it as a background, say a sofa, and you can accent it with other colors,” she said. “If you do use it as a neutral, it isn’t trendy — it’s just very chic because you are using it in balance with other colors.”

Green couch
This dark green couch becomes a neutral against the brighter pink wall and gray rug.

light green couch
Another green couch, this time in a lighter spring green, works as a neutral when it’s paired with white, brown and black in this contemporary living room, designed by John Willey.


Whether you coat your walls or cabinets, paint is an easy way to add bold color to a space.

blue cabinets
Painting the cabinets below the counters is a subtle way to infuse color into an otherwise all-white kitchen.

green lacquer
If you’re bold, says Barrett, add a lot of color to a space by painting the walls. Make a statement with a shiny, lacquered green on the walls, as seen above.

blue white bath
Or, use a coat of blue paint to make a bathroom cottage-chic and kid-friendly.


“If you want to add color slowly, slowly use it in small touches such as accent pillows,” advises Barrett.

orange and white bath
Touches of color — such as an orange towel and piece of art — add interest to an all-white space.

purple pillows
Taupe couches get an update with green and purple pillows in this design by Scarsdale interior designer Claire Paquin.

orange lamp
Red-orange lamps are unexpected additions in a green entryway.

Luxury Abroad Comes Home

Global luxury real estate market showing ‘strong momentum’

Inman News | Monday, March 11, 2013 | link

<a href="" target="_blank">Australian mansion</a> image via Shutterstock.Australian mansion image via Shutterstock.

The international luxury real estate market remains relatively immune to the economic and political trends that drive the general housing market and is off to strong start in 2013, according to a report from high-end real estate affiliate network Christie’s International Real Estate.

The report compared 10 top property markets around the world: London, New York, Hong Kong, Paris, San Francisco, France’s Cote d’Azur, Toronto, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Miami. The company, a subsidiary of Christie’s auction house, also rolled out a new index, the Christie’s International Real Estate Index, which ranks markets across metrics such as record sales price, prices per square foot, percentage of non-local and international purchasers, and the number of luxury listings relative to population.

The 10 markets were also chosen for the network’s strong market share locally. Christie’s International Real Estate has 125 affiliated brokerages in 41 countries.

London, which topped the index, achieved a record sales price of more than $121 million for a residential property in 2012, followed by an $88 million sale in New York. In all of the cities studied except Dallas and Toronto, the highest sales price for the year exceeded $35 million, the report said.

Economist Robert Shiller has predicted U.S. home prices will rise only one or two percent a year in inflation-adjusted terms for the next half decade due to “lingering uncertainties” in world economies, the report said. By contrast, a study by the The Boston Consulting Group expects global sales of personal luxury goods, such as fine art, to grow about 7 percent annually through 2014, assuming there are no new major economic crises, the report added.

“Except where there is government intervention luxury residential real estate values will likely follow luxury goods and not the general housing market, and are therefore poised to increase in many of the cities studied in 2013,”  the report said. “This is particularly true as (high-net-worth individuals) turn their luxury investments toward nonconsumables and experiential luxury products that have lasting value.”

Bonnie Stone Sellers, CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate, said in a statement that “strong momentum” in the luxury property market “is also being driven by scarcity of quality inventory and demand from international buyers in many of the world’s top destinations.”

There are more billionaires worldwide now than before the 2008 financial crisis and 55 percent more millionaires than in 2000, the report said.

“This is a large part of the reason the cities surveyed have done so well: the international crossborder purchaser has continued to buy the trophy properties at top dollar,” the report said.

This is particularly true for buyers from countries where local economic uncertainty encourages the rich to park their cash in international cities least affected by the global downturn. In seven of the 10 cities studied, more than 30 percent of the luxury homebuyers were from other countries.

High-net-worth individuals “find the world to be a small place, and geographical distances between cities are not relevant to purchasing patterns, which are more similar to each other in the 10 cities surveyed than other cities within the same country,” the report said. “Globalization, economic development, wealth deposits, and technology attract HNWIs to the key global urban centers, where knowledge, capital, and culture intersect.”

In the most of the cities studied, the share of all-cash deals rose with the sales price. Nearly 100 percent of Los Angeles transactions above $5 million were in cash, followed by 90 percent in New York and 70 percent each in San Francisco and Miami.

Recent tax law changes in many of these markets will likely have a negative effect on 2013 high-end market activity, the report said. For instance, in Toronto, new restrictions on mortgage financing intended to cool the housing market, are expected to lengthen days on market for luxury properties, which have hovered at 46 days for the past two years.

“Government actions relating to taxation and lending standards can significantly influence buyers worldwide, including luxury home buyers. In nearly all of the cities examined, recent changes to capital gains taxes, wealth taxes, transfer taxes, mortgage restrictions, and secondary residence taxes have created notable catalysts in the market,” the report said.

About Town: Time to Sell, Pleasantonians!

Home Prices In Pleasanton Expected To Rise This Year

Real estate website forecasts price increases for 2013 in all but one Bay Area zip code

David Mills | | February 20, 2013 | link


Home prices in Pleasanton will rise about 5 to 7 percent this year, according to a study done by an online real estate site.

The site,, predicts home prices in 244 of the 245 zip codes in the Bay Area will rise in 2013. The only exception will be the 94515 area in Calistoga, according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The story says the biggest reason for the projected price increase is a lack of homes for sale on the market.

Even with the increase, prices are still well below the peak prices of a few years ago in most zip codes.

Here is the individual zip code data for the Pleasanton area.

Zip Code Dec. 2012 median Dec. 2013 projection Increase % decrease from peak price
94566 $795,300 $853,000 7.3% -13.1 percent
94588 $657,200 $692,581 5.4 -16.3 percent

About Town: What Next on Main Street?

What Should Replace Domus on Main Street?

This now empty storefront on the 600 block of Main Street needs a new tenant? Have any suggestions?

Patrick Creaven | | February 8, 2013 | link


With Domus closing last year, prime Pleasanton real estate has opened up on Main Street.

The large storefront is on the 600 block.

What do you want to see next?

About Town: Taking Our Town Back

What Pleasanton wants from the city of San Francisco

Robert Jordan | Contra Costa Times | February 4, 2013 | link
A pair of cyclist ride past a plot of land across from the Pleasanton Public Library at the…

PLEASANTON — Close to a decade after a handshake deal fell apart for a prime piece of downtown real estate, the cities of Pleasanton and San Francisco have restarted talks over the land.

Pleasanton city leaders and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, a department of the city and county of San Francisco, began negotiations Jan. 15 over a 3.3-acre parcel of land on Old Bernal Avenue, just west of the Pleasanton Public Library.

Negotiations have been in closed sessions and city officials have said little about the discussion, but Mayor Jerry Thorne confirmed talks involve the land directly across the street from the library. The land, next to Pleasanton’s Civic Center, ¿yet belonging to San Francisco, is a vital piece to Pleasanton’s desire for an expanded Civic Center and library that has been in the works for at least the past 15 years.

“We have the master plan for the library and it involves the land, so at some point we would like to own it,” Thorne said. “I can’t say there has been one driving force on why talks began now, but we have always wanted to expand the Civic Center.”

In October 2009, the city and the Library Commission began considering an expansion of the Civic Center and library at a cost of $71 million. The plan would more than double the library’s 30,000-square-foot facility to 72,000 square feet, and it would also increase the size of the Civic Center from 48,000 square feet to 56,000 square feet.

Talks focusing on the purchase of the land come nearly 10 years after a court ruled in favor of San Francisco and said it did not have to honor a promise by Willie Brown, the outgoing San Francisco mayor at the time, who agreed to sell the land at a reduced price.

Pleasanton sued San Francisco in the summer of 2003, claiming San Francisco had reneged on its promise to sell the 3.3 acres for $500,000 as part of the larger $126 million property on the south side of Bernal Avenue.

“There are stories about a handshake agreement with Willie Brown and one of our former mayors,” Thorne said. “When we went to buy the land, the price went up, and there was no written agreement.”

The assessed value of the land a year before the verbal agreement was struck was more than $3 million. Current tax records show that Alameda County had assessed just the land at a little more than $31,000.

Helping Your Home: Keep it Interesting

Catch a wave at this Calif. home

Erika Riggs | NBC News | February 22, 2013 | link

The Wave House in Goleta, Calif., was engineered to not only look like a wave but to capture the sound as well.


The Wave House in Goleta, Calif., was engineered to not only look like a wave but to capture the sound as well.

Normally you wouldn’t be able to hear the sound of waves in a home perched 60 feet above the beach, but the Wave House in Goleta was engineered to not only look like a wave but to capture the sound as well.

“You hear the waves pounding even though they are quite a ways away,” said agent. “It’s part of the treats offered up.”

There are several other design “treats” revealed throughout the home — from the spectacular views of the ocean to the curved exterior. The residence was reportedly designed by Michael Carmichael, who was given free rein to engineer the one-of-kind home.

The two-bed, one-bath dome includes an office, large kitchen and living room framed by spiraling glass windows facing the water.

“It’s hard to put into words the sensation that you get when you’re inside the property and around the grounds,” said Richardson. “Most of the inside of the house draws the outside in. From the sounds and the views — [they] all blend and mix around you.”

A guest tower provides additional whimsy. Measuring 30-feet high, the tower is topped by an ocean-facing observation deck. At the edge of the property, another deck and hot tub also provide an unobstructed view of the water.

Newly constructed stairs lead to the beach below. The California home is also situated beyond a gated street, ensuring privacy.

And, as you could guess, Richardson said the sunsets are incredible.