Latest News Articles From The San Ramon Tribune

Monday, December 31, 2007

Contra Costa Home Sales Down 46 Percent year to year

Home Sales in the East Bay took a turn for the worst in November. DataQuick Information Systems issued a report showing that Bay Area Home Sales were down on average 36% with Contra Costa County showing a decrease of 46% from previous November 2006 total home sales. Median sales prices also dropped in Contra Costa County of 6.9 percent.

All Homes

Number Sold

Number Sold


November 2006

November 2007


Contra Costa1,627879-46.0%$567,500$528,500-6.9%
Santa Clara2,0281,317-35.1%$673,000$678,0000.7%
San Francisco568479-15.7%$760,000$814,7507.2%
San Mateo678504-25.7%$749,000$780,0004.1%
Bay Area8,0425,127-36.2%$620,000$629,0001.5%

Source: DataQuick Information Systems, Report

Bay Area home sales stuck at two-decade low; price picture mixed
The Bay Area's housing market remained in a bit of deep freeze in November, when sluggish demand kept sales at a two-decade low for the third straight month. Prices continued to hold up best in the region's core markets, while some outlying areas posted more double-digit annual declines, a real estate information service reported.

East Bay Business Times Reports

Mortgage crisis front and center: Biggest risk for economy is real estate

The housing market dominated economic and financial headlines in 2007, and is expected to be a major driver next year as well.

"Housing is front and center, and a major risk factor going forward," said Scott Anderson, a senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co. who puts the chances of California entering a short, shallow recession at almost 50 percent.

Business spending generally follows consumer spending, Thornberg said, so a slowdown in consumer spending will typically be followed several months later by a slowdown in business spending. He will be watching to see if there are dramatic decreases in business spending in the second and third quarters of 2008.

Anderson at Wells sees a potential slowdown in commercial real estate next year, which in 2007 stayed fairly strong as the residential market tanked. With banks tightening credit and scrutinizing loan portfolios, "we've seen the best days in commercial real estate," Anderson said. "Our fear is it could deteriorate more than expected."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Toys For Tots Dancing With The Stars

Toys For Tots

A Toys For Tots Event will be held on Saturday, December 22, 2007 from 12 pm to 2 pm at Taqueria El Balazo 250 Market Place San Ramon, CA 94583.

Through the gift of a shiny new toy, the Toys for Tots Foundation provides happiness and hope to disadvantaged children who might otherwise be overlooked this holiday season. Sponsor a toy and give a child recognition, confidence and a positive memory for a lifetime.

There will be a special guest appearance by Dancing With The Stars professional dancers Mark Ballas and Derek Hough.

We will be collecting new, unwrapped toys and our goal is to collect 500 toys in 2 hours.

You can contact Nicole Pizani if you need more information at 510-604-2204.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

City Council Votes Against Downtown Appeals

Two Appeals Were Denied By City Council Pertaining to the Certification of the City Center Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report and Approval of the Associated Project Entitlements.

John Nunes and the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 5 filed an appeal with the City of San Ramon. After hearing public testimony, and testimony from the appellant and respondent, the City Council voted against the appeal. They voted for the downtown project with the addition of an amendment that would positively block (restrict) "Big Box Retail", 75,000 sq. ft. or more with 10% of non sales tax items from being allowed to reside in the Downtown Center without a vote of the City Council.

Solar Gone To Waste
PollutionAlso included and passed by City Council was an energy savings amendment for the Downtown Center, which would include some solar and/or energy saving switching of lights off when not in use. However, the language on this amendment was somewhat more of a acquiescent olive branch offering than having any real teeth in promoting green or energy savings.

Jim Gibbon, representing San Ramon for Open Government also had submitted an appeal to the City of San Ramon pertaining to the certification of the City Center Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report and approval of the Associated Project Entitlements. After hearing public testimony and testimony from the appellant and respondent, the City Council voted against this appeal also.

An interesting amendment was included in voting for the Downtown Center in relation to this appeal in regards to "Congesting Pricing" and/or paid for parking. In essence, the City of San Ramon, Alex Mehran of Sunset Development, and the City Council voted for this amendment, that if Congestion Pricing and or paid for parking was implemented at a regional level, that San Ramon would also implement paid for parking at the Downtown Center.

It is interesting to note that there seems to be a conflict of interest between the City of San Ramon, the City Council, Alex Mehran of Sunset Development Company and the passage of the City Center Downtown plan. Because the City is in a partnership with Alex Mehran, there were blatant signs from the City Manager, Herb Moniz, of deferring issues to Alex Mehran for approval or not approval of selected items. In a somewhat of a comical situation, Councilman David Hudson came out and strongly and totally apposed the additional Congestion Pricing Amendment be added, but then when Alex Mehran spoke out in favor of adding the amendment, Councilmemeber Hudson sheepishly found himself on the wrong side of the majority and quietly and disgruntling voted for it.

You have to wonder, does the City really get any land out of this deal. Because of the past land deals with Alex Mehran, in which he allegedly sold (escrow shows it was sold on paper) the prime pieces of property to the City which includes the 7.5 acre property and 11 acre "City Center" property, Alex in fact maintained a type of veto right on what the property could be used for, and he could exercise his right to buy back the property from the City for any reason for just the cost that he sold it plus cost of living increases. This is a sweetheart deal for Alex Mehran and Sunset Development Company, because the land is worth so much more now. So, now the City is going to be giving up prime real estate land for a building. But, is the City really going to own the land the building is standing on? Will the City even own the building or will it be leased to the City of San Ramon? Additionally, it is interesting to note that because the financials have remained hidden from public scrutiny, there simply is no way to analyze the true merits of this partnership between Sunset Development Company and the City of San Ramon, and how this Downtown Center will ultimately play out for the stakeholders, the Citizens of San Ramon.

Feel free to submit your news stories for publication consideration. Read the introduction to the San Ramon Tribune Newspaper for information.

Speed Limits Set Higher in Windemere

The San Ramon City Council passed an ordinance increasing the speed limits on Albion Road, East Branch Parkway, Monarch Road and Windemere Parkway.

  • 30 MPH on Albion Road, from Bollinger Canyon Road to Windemere Parkway.
  • 40 MPH on East Branch Parkway, from Bollinger Canyon Road to Windemere Parkway.
  • 40 MPH on Monarch Road, from Bollinger Canyon Road to Dougherty Road,
  • 40 MPH on Windemere Parkway, from Bollinger Canyon Road to East Branch Parkway.
Doug Burr, who has brought two proposed initiatives to include stop signs and a speed limit of 30 MPH for all of Windemere Parkway and East Branch Parkway spoke out against the increased 40 MPH speed limits on these roads. Doug reported that other cities have implemented exactly what his initiatives are to reduce speeds and make it safer for the children. Doug asked the City Council to vote against the 40 MPH increase in speeds indicating that setting the speed limits higher will likely result in even higher speeds in the future.

City Staff reported that because a traffic study showed that the average speeds are currently above the 30 MPH speed limits (45.8 miles per hour on Windemere Parkway and 40.17 miles per hour on East Branch Parkway based on the traffic study) that setting the speed limits at 30 MPH would make it unenforceable by the police using radar according to state law. According to staff, the 85'th percentile speed is set in 5 mph increments, rounded to the nearest 5 mph. The City Traffic Engineer has the discretion to lower the rounded 85'th percentile speed by 5 miles per hour. If the posted speed limit is not based on an Engineering and Traffic Survey, then the roadway is considered a speed trap and unenforceable by radar in the State of California.

Areas within 500 ft of schools would still have a 25 mph school zone, but only when children are present. There is a legislative proposal that would increase the area to include 1000 ft where schools are present. City staff is also formulating increased coverage for parks and recreation areas to also be included in the 25 mph zones, but only when children are present. This would have to be voted on by City Council to incorporate this into the entire City of San Ramon Parks and Recreation areas.

Traffic LightDoughery Valley Traffic Signals are being planned for many of the intersections on Windemere Parkway and East Branch Parkway. According to the Traffic Signal Engineer, lights can be timed to allow for a smooth flow of traffic through the area with lights timed in waves to any speed limit desired.

While traffic lights are in fact generally designed to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic, they are not exactly an effective measure for reducing speeds.

Under a coordinated control system for synchronizing the signals speed is self-regulated; drivers traveling too fast will arrive on a red indication and end up stopping, drivers traveling too slowly will not arrive at the next signal in time to utilize the green indication. In synchronized systems, however, drivers will often use excessive speed in order to "make" as many lights as possible. (See traffic lights)

It is also important to note that the scheduled opening in the spring of 2008 of Windemere Parkway to Camino Tassajara connection will significantly increase traffic on the roadway, and is anticipated that speeds will increase once that occurs.

Feel free to submit your news stories for publication consideration. Read the introduction to the San Ramon Tribune Newspaper for information.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

City Council Elves : Elf Yourself

The San Ramon City Council Gets in the Holiday Mood.
San Ramon City Council ElvesSan Ramon City Council ElfCouncilmember David E. Hudson, Councilmember Scott Perkins, Mayor H. Abram Wilson, Vice Mayor Jim Livingstone, and Councilmember Carol J. Rowley perform for the citizens of San Ramon. Here they are putting on the Santa Elf costumes to get us all ready for the holidays.

See them live for a limited engagement at Elf Yourself. Links to each Dance number are found here.

The first production number is called: Santa's Four Elves

The second production is a solo by: Councilmember Rowley titled: Santa's Favorite

From all of us to all of you, Happy Holidays San Ramon City Council Members. Keep the smile on your faces. You guys look good in the elf costumes. Ho Ho Ho!

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