California’s Student Testing the Next Battleground

I have been so preoccupied with writing columns on the local war between charter and traditional public schools that I have unwittingly neglected another contentious public battle. The standards for testing in California’s public schools are changing, and the looming fight could be as partisan and ugly as the roll out of the Affordable Care Act.

County Assessor Report Notes Resurgence in Housing Prices

Silicon Valley home values saw double-digit appreciation in the past year, outpacing the nation’s rebounding real estate market. Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone last week released a detailed breakdown of single-family home and condo prices. The report of prices in 25 South Bay neighborhoods shows growth in single-family home values ranging from 4 to 24 percent, and 13 to 46 percent for condos.

Historic Faber’s Cyclery Building Burns as Writer Predicted

Once known as the “mecca for vintage bike enthusiasts,” the historic Faber’s Cyclery building is no more. The 129-year-old building on South First Street was the site of a three-alarm fire Thursday night, leaving the structure with heavy damage and a slight lean to one side. One writer predicted this would happen almost five years ago to the day.

Investor Groups with Cash Pushing Middle-Class Homebuyers out of the Market

A trend has emerged in the Silicon Valley real estate market, where middle-class homebuyers are losing out to cash buyers—often investment groups from overseas—who convert owner-occupied homes into rentals. The natural tendency of sellers to choose quick, guaranteed sales over offers with financing contingencies is a new assault on middle-class home ownership, a shift likely to expand the ranks of landlords and tenants and make home ownership an increasingly elusive American dream.

City Council to Discuss Selling Properties

The City Council’s agenda has few items to discuss Tuesday, but there is an item pertaining to an annual Greek flag raising ceremony, which could always spiral out of control. Other issues on the agenda include a labor negotiations update, an application for strategic growth grants and the likely approval of streamlining the process to sell the city’s surplus real estate properties.

Call before the Housewarming Party

About twice a month, I get an inquiry from someone who is considering purchasing a home in my council district. I think it is good idea as it shows they are doing their due diligence.

Councilmembers are often the conduit in which information flows about neighborhoods. We are on the receiving end of emails, phone calls and conversations at the grocery store where residents share information and perspectives that they often do not want to vent in a public forum amongst their neighbors. Thus councilmembers are able to have both a top-level and detail-oriented perspective of the neighborhoods in their districts.