Tag Archives: bay area

Mountain Lions in Sunnyvale?

Apparently, a Mountain Lion was spotted in Sunnyvale, along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. This is the last place I’d expect to see a cougar roaming about. Yikes. I wonder if Mountain View posted warnings at Shoreline Park or Sunnyvale at Baylands Park.

This email was sent by my company this week.

Subject: Mountain Lion Sighting: Be Cautious on Trails Surrounding the Sunnyvale Campus

Yahoos,

Please use caution when using the trails surrounding the Sunnyvale campus. This past Saturday, several trail users reported seeing a mountain lion within 100 yards of our campus, just north of Twin Creeks Field #4 near the trail of Baylands Park.

If you plan to use the trails

Mountain lions are quiet, solitary and elusive, and typically avoid people — attacks on humans are extremely rare.  However, conflicts are increasing as California â??s human population expands into mountain lion habitat.

Here are a few tips to follow:

  • Do not hike, bike or jog alone.
  • Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most activeâ??dawn, dusk, and at night.
  • Keep a close watch on small children.
  • Do not approach a mountain lion.
  • If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects.  Pick up small children.
  • If attacked, fight back.
  • If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.

For more information about mountain lions, visit the California Department of Fish and Game:  http://www.dfg.ca.gov.

lost and found

We noticed these flyers a block apart while walking downtown yesterday. I know the bay area is likely just a little out of the norm; whether these flyers makes it more or less normal is left to be determined.

Lost: Tortoise

[flickr]photo:2703056574[/flickr]

Found: Duck

[flickr]photo:2703055554[/flickr]

If only the flyer regarding the duck was in regard to a rabbit. But then again that would be a truly hare-ey situation. 😉

Something is rotten in the State of California

It is no secret California housing prices have gone to the moon over the past several years. It is so expensive in California that only a small percentage truly can afford a home. But the bubble has popped, prices have stopped increasing, and foreclosures, although minimal, have climbed up. Three things that will happen as a result: (1) prices will come back to earth; or (2) inflation eventually will catch up to home prices; or (3) a little bit of both.

Merced, California is in the Great Central Valley near Yosemite. It is also home to the newest University of California (UC). And it has been a hot bed of property investing by people who thought a new UC would bring boom to the town and quick profits. Unfortunately for them, it’ll take fifteen to twenty years before the UC is fully built out. For now, it has about 1,800 students.

Today, Merced has 988 houses for sale, according to Realtor.com. Trulia shows 1,269 homes for sale in Merced, of which 938 (74%) are in some stage of foreclosure. That means only 331 homes (26%) are not officially distressed sales. RealtyTrac, a company that tracks foreclosure activity says 1577 properties are in some stage of the foreclosure process: 716 in pre-foreclosure, 240 at auction, 548 bank-owned, and a smattering of others in other foreclosure categories. That is a huge, huge number in relation to the number of homes for sale. The RealtyTrac number is likely a harbinger of things to come. There are 25,000 housing units in Merced, according to the Census Bureau fact finder, thus approximately 6.3% of all homes in Merced are in some stage of foreclosure right now. Also, according to the Census Bureau median household income is $31,000 and the median home price is $344,000. Note: In the three days it took me to compile this post (between all the other things I’m working on) the number of homes for sale and in foreclosure on Trulia increased by about 10 each and the percentage of homes for sale in some stage of foreclosure ticked up a percentage point. In those same three days, the RealtyTrac numbers also increased: (a) homes in some stage of foreclosure: +48; (b) homes at auction: +23; and (c) bank owned: +23.

Compare Merced with Rancho Cucamonga, a sprawling city east of Los Angeles. Rancho Cucamonga sprung up as a bedroom community to house the many commuters and their families over the past decade.

Today, Rancho Cucamonga has 931 houses for sale, according to Realtor.com. Trulia shows 1,272 homes for sale in Rancho Cucamonga, of which 754 (59%) are in some stage of foreclosure. That means only 518 homes (41%) are not officially distressed sales. RealtyTrac, a company that tracks foreclosure activity says 1,451 properties are in some stage of the foreclosure process: 703 in pre-foreclosure, 252 at auction, 423 bank-owned, and a smattering of others in other foreclosure categories. The RealtyTrac number is likely a harbinger of things to come. There are 52,000 housing units in Rancho Cucamonga, according to the Census Bureau fact finder, thus approximately 2.8% of all homes in Rancho Cucamonga are in some stage of foreclosure right now. Also, according to the Census Bureau median household income is $75,000 and the median home price is $525,000.

Now compare Merced and Rancho Cucamonga with San Jose, heart of the Silicon Valley which is in turn the heart of the technology and information economies. There are some who say prices never go down in the Silicon Valley.

San Jose has 3,100 houses for sale, according to Realtor.com. Trulia shows 4,000 homes for sale of which 2,500 (63%) are in some stage of foreclosure. That means, only 1,500 homes are not officially distressed sales. RealtyTrac says 4,200 properties are in some stage of foreclosure: 2100 are in pre-foreclosure, 820 are up at auction, 1150 are bank owned. San Jose has 310,000 housing units according to the Census Bureau, in which case approximately 1.3% of homes are in some stage in the foreclosure process. Median household income is $89,000 and median home price is $683,000.

I know I’m relying upon web site listings of homes for sale which may not accurately reflect the true situation, but I think it is good enough to show a snapshot in time and the current trend. I’m not an economist but even I can tell this spells trouble. I dare say it is likely to spell trouble for the state as a whole if most every other community is facing numbers.

I wish I had more time to gather more of this information and plug the numbers into a spreadsheet, to research and forecast housing prices for when we’re ready to buy. Without much more, I dare say this is just the beginning. If there is a recession, subsequent lay offs are likely to push the housing market further toward a precipice. In the end, I think prices will return to a level that the average person with an average income in an area will be able to afford the monthly payments for, including San Jose.

Studying has its [near] dangers

I love California weather. One reason is I can study outside most of the year. As much of the midwest slips out of its indian summer and into an autumn chill, California has remained temperate and comfortable. This week in Santa Clara has been no exception.

One of my favorite places to study is on a deck behind the law school library. A wisteria vine shades the patio during summer and then sheds its leaves to let the sun through during winter. But it hasn’t been a very pleasant place this week.

The wisteria pods that have been ripening all summer long are spontaneously exploding this week. That’s right, exploding. Without being touched or molested by animal or even a light breeze, the wisteria pods suddenly pop open with a small bang and send shards of pod skin and seeds flying in a number of directions. Every few minutes a pod explodes.

The danger isn’t in being hit. I have been hit several times by seeds and pod shrapnel but am not even scratched. The danger is the distraction from studying to watch the show or watch people watching the show. The other danger is having wisteria parts fall into a drink before realizing it was left open to attack.

The snapping has even been loud enough to bring folks out of neighboring buildings to determine what all that racket is about. One older woman even stood on a table while wearing her comfortable heels (can heels ever be comfortable) to touch a pod. It didn’t explode, but she quickly retreated when one exploded several feet to her left and sent seeds far to her right.

Needless to say, I studied under the wisteria for only a short while on Monday and yesterday. Today, I walked by without stopping after I heard the familiar crackling sounds. There’s always tomorrow. 🙂

Sorry, no Alza puppies

Alza, part of Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson, is closing its Mountain View campus and moving someplace cheaper. Its departure gave someone an opportunity to start a chain letter about Alza needing to adopt out some beagle puppies … or else. This is only one of the emails we’ve received:

  [X Group] “has been made aware of an urgent need for people wanting to adopt 16-month-old Beagle puppies.

We are told that the Johsnon & Johnson Mountain View facility is closing and that they have 15 beagle puppies that need to find homes WITHIN THE NEXT 10 DAYS, or they will put them to sleep (i.e. kill them); these puppies have not been used as testing animals. If you have been waiting to get a dog or know someone who has been wanting to adopt a dog, there is no better time then now.

To help, contact:”

However, Alza has posted a press release to the contrary.
http://www.alza.com/alza/press_room

ALZA Responds to Inaccurate and Misleading Information Regarding Dogs Housed at Its Campus

October 4, 2007

Unfortunately, inaccurate and misleading information has been circulating on the Internet about ALZA’s plans for dogs housed at its campus. There is no public adoption program. The animals will be properly cared for and relocated to a different facility when ALZA closes at the end of the year. We regret this unfortunate misunderstanding and appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

Time to break the chain.

That said, there really are animals looking for a place to call home. Visit the Humane Society today if you’d like to save an animal from a life behind bars.

Trusting in Levees, City Builds on Flood Plains – New York Times

Trusting in Levees, City Builds on Flood Plains – New York Times

“Levees constrict a riverâ??s path and raise its water level, which causes higher, faster flow. A flood plain, conversely, exists in nature to absorb a riverâ??s overflow.â??The more levees we build, the higher we have to build them,â? Professor Kusky said. â??Itâ??s a self-perpetuating problem.â? “

Smart!

dragon

IMG_5976, originally uploaded by dfb.

This was taken at the San Francisco Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade this year. It is a blurry photo of the long dragon at the end of the parade.