First Friday event: “Valentine’s Sweets Tour”

Posted on January 30, 2013 by  
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First Friday festivities with a “Valentine’s Sweets Tour” theme are scheduled 6-8 p.m. Friday in downtown Los Altos.

Stores and galleries, many providing First Friday discounts and refreshments, will remain open.

The event will offer a number of activities for visitors of all ages.

• More than 20 restaurants serving a wide selection of cuisines will be open.

• Musicians will play throughout downtown, including 37th Parallel, The Latin Band and Woody Arnold.

• Merchants will participate in the “Find the Sweets” game.

• Local stores and restaurants donated gift certificates for drawings. Enter the drawings by purchasing merchandise during the First Friday event (one entry per $25 spent that evening) or by participating in the “Find the Sweets” game.

All activities are indoors, so the event will take place rain or shine.

For information, to register for the drawing or to obtain programs, visit First Friday Headquarters at 164 Main St.

Participating merchants include Adventure Toys & Teachers’ Supplies, Alabasta The Flower Shop, Apricot Lane, Aurobora, Baskin-Robbins Los Altos, BK Collections, Bubble Kids, Christian, Cooks’ Junction, Cover Story, Cranberry Scoop, Discovery Shop, Earthworks, Footwear etc., Gallery 9 Los Altos, Gitane, Gourmet Works, JB&B Jewelers, Linden Tree Books, Maria’s Antiques, Nature Gallery, On Your Mark, Peninsula Beauty Supply, Pet’s Delight, Present, Viewpoints Gallery and Village Stationers.

The Los Altos Community Foundation and the Los Altos Town Crier co-sponsor this month’s First Friday.

Los Altos Forward, a grassroots all-volunteer group dedicated to promoting downtown vibrancy, initiated and organizes the events.

For more information, email or visit


Great Investment Opportunity

Posted on January 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Sold Properties · Tagged: , , , ,

979 PINTO PALM TERRACE, #19, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Listed at $388,000 / Sold at $410,000
1 Bed / 1 Baths / Home: 764 sqft / Lot Size: 465 sqft
Represented: Seller & Buyer


New development hits Downtown

Posted on January 23, 2013 by  
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Years from now, 2013 may well be remembered as the year of construction in downtown Los Altos.

With a handful of projects under way or set to kick off later this year in and around the downtown triangle, the presence of cranes, bulldozers and construction crews has become a part of the landscape – at least for now.

The Town Crier gathered updates on downtown’s development projects. Details follow.


Wendy Gutshall, Safeway public affairs and government relations manager, told the Town Crier that the groundbreaking for a 45,000-square-foot podium-style grocery store at 160 First St. is scheduled for March.

She added that while a closing date for the existing

market has yet to be finalized, the company anticipates a two-month period to decommission and demolish the existing 45-year-old structure.

From there, she noted, construction on the new store is projected to take 10 months to complete, with a proposed completion date of March 2014.

In the meantime, the company continues to make refinements to the project.

In December, Safeway received a Planning and Transportation Commission recommendation to approve an interior ceiling height change for the store. According to a city staff report, the company specifically requested the removal of a drop ceiling to allow for “a greater architectural aesthetic, and allow for natural lighting through skylights in the roof.”

The Los Altos City Council approved the ceiling change at their last meeting.


The next phase of the city’s First Street streetscape project is slated to begin May 1, according to Los Altos Assistant City Manager James Walgren.

The $1.3 million project’s Phase 1B construction calls for, among other things, sidewalk improvements stretching from the intersection of First and State streets to Shasta Street. Project work includes sidewalk widening to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, additional landscaping with centralized irrigation lines and utility undergrounding.

Walgren said sidewalk construction along the east side of First Street is scheduled for completion just before the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival in July. Intersection work at State and First streets will begin shortly after the festival, with a targeted completion date of Oct. 1, he added.

Walgren noted that “there is some question” as to when the city can undertake the final component of the Phase 1B project – street resurfacing from the corner of State Street to Edith Avenue.

Because it hinges on the completion of construction and sidewalk work by Safeway and developer Randy Lamb’s housing project at 100 First St., the city may opt to wait on street resurfacing until 2014 to minimize disruption for merchants during the holidays, he said.


Construction crews began work on the 90-day San Antonio Road streetscape project Jan. 7.

According to Los Altos Economic Development Manager Kathy Kleinbaum, the project calls for sidewalk widening along the downtown side of the road to comply with ADA requirements, the construction of a 4-foot plant wall that will serve as screening for Parking Plaza 3 and the relandscaping of medians between First Street and West Edith Avenue, among other upgrades.

Kleinbaum noted that the project will – at times – reduce San Antonio Road to one lane each way between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. during median work.

Updates on the project are available at


The Lennar Homes development of 20 condominium units at the former site of Adobe Animal Hospital is nearing the finish line, according to Laura Kilgore, the company’s director of marketing for Northern California.

All told, Kilgore said the company is “hoping” to complete the project in late January or early February, though no specific opening date has been determined. Kilgore noted that the company recently released its first three homes for sale at the site.

The first units entered the market with prices ranging from $740,000 for an 804-square-foot unit with one bedroom and one bathroom to $1.19 million for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,534-square-foot unit.


Lamb’s 48-unit condominium project kicked off in September when crews demolished the nearly 50-year-old post office at 100 First St.

Calls and emails to Lamb seeking additional information were not returned by the Town Crier’s press deadline.

Walgren, however, said he anticipates that the 14- to 16-month project won’t be completed until early 2014.

“I’d say they’re probably a year, or maybe more, out,” he said, adding that the next step for construction crews at the site involves excavation for an underground parking structure.


Developer Jeffrey A. Morris declined to comment about his project at the corner of First and Main streets, which calls for a pair of two-story retail and Class A office buildings connected by a second-floor span.

Walgren said that while Morris hasn’t submitted final construction drawings to the city for approval, he’s expected to do so before May.

“My expectation is they’ll be submitting shortly for plan checks and permits,” said Walgren, who added that the project is expected to take 14 to 16 months to complete.


According to developer Abby Ahrens, construction crews began pouring concrete to form the foundation of her 18-room hotel at 1 Main St. during the first week of January.

Framing for the $8 million project at the corner of First Street and San Antonio Road is scheduled for spring, added Ahrens, who held a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 28.

The project is expected to take 15 months to complete.


Los Altos #1 in average list price

Posted on January 15, 2013 by  
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U.S. home prices have begun to rebound in the past year. And in the most expensive markets, where the average home sells for well over $1 million, recoveries are among the strongest, increasing between 20% and 50% in most cases.

According to a recent analysis, there are at least 10 U.S. cities where the average listing price for a home in the first six months of this year exceeded $1.2 million.

The majority of these cities are on or near the California coast. For example, in Los Altos, homes sold in the first half of the year averaged a $1.7 million price tag.

These expensive markets are concentrated around the tech industry, which has remained strong throughout the recession. As a result, most of these cities and suburbs are near the heart of Silicon Valley.

Income in the expensive housing markets is among the highest in the country. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, median household income in these cities far exceeds the U.S. median income by at least $20,000. In Los Altos, the median income is nearly triple the U.S. figure of $51,914.

Two cities outside California are on the top 10 list, one of which isn’t even the continental U.S.

Based on the published data, 24/7 Wall St. identified the country’s most expensive cities for buying a home. Homes in these cities had the highest average listing price between January and June of this year. Markets with less than ten four-bedroom, two-bath homes were excluded from the survey.

And now, the Top 10 …

1. Los Altos, CA

Avg. listing price: $1,706,688
Median household income: $149,964
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 43.6%

In Los Altos, the average four-bedroom, two-bathroom home lists for nearly $50,000 more than any other city in the nation. For that price, a buyer could purchase 28 similar homes in Redford, Mich., the nation’s cheapest housing market. In Redford, the average home lists for just $60,490. Currently, asking prices in the San Jose metro area have risen 12.7% year-over-year. This is more than nearly every other metro area in the country.

Carol & I have two new Los Altos homes coming to market in the next week. We also have additional properties that we’ll bring to market in the coming months. If you are thinking about selling in 2013, let us help you get your home ready for market.

2. Newport Beach, CA

Avg. listing price: $1,658,000
Median household income: $107,007
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 37.6%

Located in Southern California, Newport Beach is the 2nd most expensive city to buy a home. Orange County as a whole has a vacancy rate of just 1.5%, among the ten lowest in the nation. Despite a 32.7% drop in home prices from peak to trough during the recession, Orange County’s median price per square foot is $265. This trails only the Honolulu, New York, San Francisco and San Jose metro areas.

3. Saratoga, CA

Avg. listing price: $1,582,434
Median household income: $145,023
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 43.1%

Though home prices in the nearby metro area fell by 25.1% peak-to-trough, Saratoga is yet another example of how the Silicon Valley housing market has recovered. Currently, the median price per square foot for homes in San Jose is $337, more than all housing markets except San Francisco and Honolulu. As of 2010, 43.1% of Saratoga households earned more than $200,000 per year, while 40.9% of adult residents had a graduate degree, versus 10.3% nationwide.

4. Menlo Park, CA

Avg. listing price: $1,506,909
Median household income: $107,860
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 34.9%

Menlo Park is one of just four cities where the average listing price for a four-bedroom home exceeds $1.5 million. As of 2010, the median income in the city was slightly below $108,000. However, the recent Facebook IPO has been a windfall to the area. In June, a real estate listing service reported that the “proportion of million-dollar listings” in Menlo Park — where Facebook is headquartered — rose by 87% between the company’s IPO filing and its first day as a public company.

5. Palo Alto, CA

Avg. listing price: $1,495,364
Median household income: $120,670
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 39.3%

In Palo Alto, 48.7% of adults have a graduate or professional degree — well more than four times the national rate of 10.3%. The city’s proximity to Stanford University, one of the top universities in the nation, may be partly the reason behind the city’s highly educated population. Among the companies headquartered in the city are Hewlett-Packard and Tesla Motors. The city is a large employer of highly skilled employees, as 25.3% of its workers are employed in professional, scientific and management occupations, well above the 10.4% of workers nationwide.

6. Los Gatos, CA

Avg. listing price: $1,444,214
Median household income: $120,971
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 37.5%

Los Gatos is one of several cities near the Los Altos on this list. Like these cities, Los Gatos likely benefits from the overall boom in the local real estate market, which currently has the lowest vacancy rate of all metro areas at just 1%. Currently, a number of unique properties are available in the city, including an 11,000 square feet property with an eight-stall horse barn and a garage that fits 12 cars listed at slightly under $13 million.

7. Rye, NY

Avg. listing price: $1,312,250
Median household income: $146,069
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 53.0%

The average listing price for a four-bedroom home in Rye is more than $1,300,000, or more-than $1 million above the U.S. average. Employees in the often high-paying finance and insurance industries accounted for a 27.8% of employed population in Rye in 2010, well above the 7% average rate nationwide. Among the properties available for sale is a five-bedroom, 7,446 square feet waterfront home for $12.9 million and a 34.2-acre plot of land for $19 million.

8. Kailua, HI

Avg. listing price: $1,238,208
Median household income: $91,082
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 14.7%

Kailua is one of just two cities on this list not located in California. The Oahu Island city is 12 miles northeast of Honolulu, which had a vacancy rate of 2.7% — better than most areas but considerably worse than the other areas on the list. As of October, the median price per square foot for a home in the Honolulu area was $398, more than in any other metro except for San Francisco. A 3/4-acre plot of land, which includes 128 feet of beachfront, is currently for sale for $16 million in Kailua.

9. Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Avg. listing price: $1,232,167
Median household income: $74,489
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 18.7%

Carmel-by-the-Sea, a small coastal city in California, is well known for its former mayor, actor Clint Eastwood. Currently, the average four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the city lists for more than four times the nationwide average listing price of $292,152. One house, despite being not much larger than 2,000 square feet, is currently listed for nearly $4.5 million.

10. San Carlos, CA

Avg. listing price: $1,230,880
Median household income: $110,929
Pct. households $200,000+ income: 30.3%

As of 2010, the median income of households in San Carlos was more than double the U.S. median of $51,914. Over 30% of households in San Carlos earned more than $200,000 per year, more than five times the national rate of 5.4%. Over a twelve-month period, ending in October, it had the nation’s highest median home price per square foot at $473 among all homes listed. In San Francisco, the median age of home inventory was just 45 days as of the third quarter of 2012, lower than in all but seven markets.


To get more information about 24/7 Wall St., the original article, or the data they analyzed … click here


Los Altos raises money for Chromebooks

Posted on January 6, 2013 by  
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Photo by Gordon JackThe Los Altos High School community recently raised money to purchase three Google Chromebooks for the library – a hot-ticket item for students.

“Ever since we got them, they have been in use every period,” said Gordon Jack, Los Altos High librarian. “We have kids racing to the library to be able to check one out before they are all gone.”

Chromebook laptops, approximately $250 per computer, have no hard drives and boast long-lasting batteries. Jack said they work well for students, who do a lot of their composing for school projects in Google Documents, a free online-based program.

“We love the Google Chromebooks because they are fast, have a long battery life and are relatively inexpensive,” Jack said. “This makes them a better option for us than tablets.”

Jack noted that nearly 750 students visit the library on a daily basis to search for information, work on school assignments and collaborate on projects.

“More and more students are using online resources to help them with their schoolwork,” he said. “Our more affluent students bring their laptops, tablets and smartphones, while the less affluent depend on the library computers – which are slowing down from overuse. For these students, the library is an essential resource to learn about and use the latest technology.”

Jack initiated an online fundraiser with the goal of purchasing 30 Chromebooks for the library. The campaign aims to raise $7,000. All donations are tax deductible.

“By increasing the number of laptops, we can bring more classes into the library to research and alleviate some of the crowding in the one computer lab we have on campus,” wrote Principal Wynne Satterwhite in her weekly newsletter to Los Altos High families.

To donate, visit  Or, for more information on the fundraiser, email