Alameda real estate gaining assessment value

Alameda houses growing in assessed value.

Alameda houses growing in assessed value.

“Alameda, Piedmont, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda have all seen their assessed property values increase, albeit slightly, according to data from the Alameda and Contra Costa counties’ assessors’ offices.”

Remember good news? It seems it may not have left the planet after all, at least in terms of property value. Check out this story from the Alameda Journal.


AUSD master planning meeting tonight at Haight School

Tonight is the first of three Alameda Unified School District community meetings about the future of Alameda schools. The idea, as I understand it, is to create a master plan for the public school system in Alameda. The meeting starts at 6:30 and Superintendent Kirsten Vital as well as members of the school board will be discussing three possible scenarios for addressing the long term fiscal sustainability of public education in Alameda. They’ll be discussing how dwindling state funding impacts the district, the possibility of chartering the district as on whole, as well as the possibility of generating more funds for Alameda schools at the local level. The meeting is at Haight Elementary.


Touching sacred cows: Alameda’s Measure A

Last week I wrote a column for the Alameda Journal about Measure A, a sacred cow of Alameda politics. I said that we ought to think about means of controlling growth that allow for thoughtful and comprehensive (rather than reactionary) planning. I wrote:

It is well within human ingenuity to craft laws that allow for the construction of apartments where it is appropriate and still protect handsome old houses. And it is folly to cling so tightly to a law passed out of fear and anger. It’s time for Alameda to show that it can protect what is valuable about its past at the same time as it embraces the future.

You can, of course, read the whole column here.


Fall upon me: Alameda real estate update

Local agent Pacita Dimacali made this observation on a recent blog post, My heart truly bleeds for…

NEWSFLASH…[T]here are 131 homes actively offered for sale in my island city of Alameda, CA. Of these, 22 are short sales, and 7 are bank-owned. All in all, 29 homes or 22% of total. And more are coming up.

For a different sort of take on local real estate, there’s Knife Catchers, which has been tracking, with seeming glee, many properties in Alameda. And 94501 Real Estate has a recent update on February sales.

When you’re up with insomnia (or a baby) and tired of Facebook, you can always track the slide of local home values on Zillow.


Orinda passes $502 permanent parcel tax

While many here in Alameda like to blame fiscal mismanagement, administrator pay, unions, or you name if for the financial challenges facing the Alameda Unified School District, other communities are stepping up and funding their schools as the dollars provided by the State of California continue to fall short of what a community actually requires to provide a meaningful education for a community’s schools. Orinda’s parcel tax passed with 70 percent of the voters saying yes.


Little boxes: Alameda real estate update

If you’re a house-or-condo-owing Zillow watcher, you have seen the value of your house tumble over the last year, more quickly in the last six months. Nonetheless, Alameda has been so far relatively insulated from the larger drops in value, foreclosures and short sales that have plagued many Bay Area cities and towns as well as the nation.

A recent report looking at real estate sales based on price per square foot, found prices down 8.5 percent in the last year in 94502 and 4.9 percent in 94501. (By way of extreme contrast, in the last year, Richmond’s 94801 zip code had the steepest price plunge in the Bay Area, a 68.8 percent drop from $311 per square foot to $97.)

Alameda real estate agent Pacita Dimacali has this summary of recent real estate activity. She writes, “Some positive things are happening in our local real estate market.” John Oldham’s new blog, 94501 Real Estate, is tracking local market conditions in national context. Oldham reports 13 foreclosures in Alameda in his November 30 report. And for an almost-always-snarky view of local homes for sale check out Knife Catchers.


Alameda Journal letters to the editor

With the switch to once-weekly, there wasn’t enough room in last Friday’s print edition of the Alameda Journal for all the letters to the editor. But you can find them online here. The letters include a note from Dianne Richmond, the president of the Alameda Association of Realtors—written in opposition to Measure P. There are submissions both for and against Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to make marriage between people of the same gender illegal. And you can also find two letters in support of Ron Mooney‘s candidacy for school board. For more on endorsements, Lauren Do has a nice election roundup page here.


Alameda’s Measure P

Measure P, which Alamedans will vote on in a few short weeks, would increase the city’s property transfer tax, the tax paid to the city when a property is bought or sold. Currently the tax is $5.40 per $1,000 property value. Measure P would raise it to $12 per $1,000. Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson has a pro-P opinion piece in today’s Alameda Journal.

The Mayor’s argument is pretty straight-forward: The city has already been cutting, police and fire costs are two thirds of the city’s budget, and without a cash infusion the city may have to begin trimming those areas nearest and dearest to people’s hearts…in addition to the cuts that have already been made, the maintenance that has already been deferred and the library hours that have already been cut. Those who oppose P have a pretty well-funded campaign against (with chart and graphs and everything).

Back story: Before putting P on the ballot, the city did some polling to see what was most likely to win approval from the voters, and this transfer tax increase is what was seen as most likely to pass. Really, it’s the same old story: if you want services, they must be paid for.

[Ed. note: The Journal also has this editorial about P.]


Alameda real estate not immune from national crisis

With the federal government in the midst of hashing out the details of a massive rescue of country’s largest financial institutions, the news on the local front, in terms of falling home values and foreclosures, is bleak, too. In her September 11 blog post, real estate agent Pacita Dimacali, calculated that 14 percent of the 166 homes on the market in Alameda are either short sales (when they’re selling for less than is owed) or ‘bank owned.” Scary. And for always-edgy take on the local housing market, check out Knife Catchers, a blog dedicated to Alameda real estate. Anyone willing to talk about their home ownership problems with me, please send me an email, I’d like to hear your story. Anonymous is fine.