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Earth Day 2017-How Small Changes Have A Big Impact In the East Bay

Earth Day should be every day, as it pertains to the day to day, moment by moment actions each of us takes as we move about our homes, businesses and natural environment. As one of the bright spots in the world for sustainable awareness, residents of Berkeley and the Greater SF Bay Area have an acute social consciousness about how their actions may impact the environment. As a designated Green Business by the City of Berkeley,  Berkeley Hills Realty takes every step that we can to ensure that our footprint is mitigated as much as possible. How? Some of us are NAR Green certified.  This means we went through specialized training by the National Association of Realtors to understand all the ways we can help our clients be as energy efficient and sustainable as possible. We are a certified Green Business with the City of Berkeley. The program certifies and promotes businesses that have met rigorous standards of environmental performance. Our office, by using cloud technology, is almost paperless. By using a cloud transaction management platform, not only have we cut paper waste, but have increased the transparency of the real estate transaction for our client. Each of our clients has the ability to view all of the transaction documents on the cloud at any time they choose. (We are happy to show you how efficient we are in our transactions!) We recycle, use eco-friendly cleaners and even hold E-Waste drop off days during the year to help our neighbors. Our website has links to dozens of resources for homeowners and businesses to “go green”, too. https://berkhills.com/green-living/ Being located right on Solano Avenue gives our staff and fellow Realtors a chance to stay out of their cars as the walkability of the neighborhood is fantastic. We are surrounded with great restaurants, cafes and small shops. When working with home sellers, oftentimes, we will point out ways to make the home more energy efficient to increase the value of the home. We also lend our advice to new homebuyers, so they can realize the cost savings of such things as LED lighting, insulation, energy efficient appliances, and more. We also work with our clients to look at aspects of the area to help them reduce their carbon footprint such as the walkability of the neighborhood, how close they are to public transportation such as BART and buses, and farmers markets and stores that sell locally grown food. Here are some great resources to help you Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!   PG&E Resources  City Resources: PG&E Rebates Albany PG&E Energy Saving Resources Berkeley PG&E Energy Saving Calculators El Cerrito Energy Star Oakland Recycles H2ouse Water Saver Home Everyone can make a difference on Earth Day and every day. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about our green business goals and how we make “going green” for our clients easy! Read More

Introducing Lisa Hedrick To the Berkeley Hills Realty Team

Berkeley Hills Realty is proud to announce the addition of Lisa Hedrick to our real estate team. Lisa brings many years of investment property expertise to our brokerage, and we welcome her passion for helping buyers and sellers in Berkeley and the East Bay area.   Lisa began her real estate career in San Francisco in 1999 with a flip of investment property. She has successfully purchased, renovated and sold residential and commercial real estate in the Bay Area. Lisa obtained her broker license in 2006 and worked as an independent Broker/Owner with distressed property sales for ten years. She moved into residential home sales recently and accepted the invitation to join Berkeley Hills Realty.   With dozens of transactions behind her, Lisa has found that her innate instincts in negotiations, as well as her passion for working with her clients is why she loves being in real estate. Lisa fell in love with houses and architectural design while looking at houses as a child with her mother. She feels the history and energy each house has is unique, and feels like houses speak to her. Lisa believes it is important to match each buyer with the correct house – exceeding the specifications and style/location match to create a partnership.   Lisa found an opportunity in distressed sales during the recession, performing valuations for the banks. To date, she has completed over 135,000 valuations for corporate clients in the last 11 years. With her extensive background in dealing with the foreclosure crisis in San Francisco, Lisa has a strong knowledge of real estate law, rent control and stabilization and is familiar with commercial property management and valuation. During the time she worked with bank owned properties, she also became intimately familiar with the people who were affected by the crisis. Many of those affected had addiction problems. “I was a patient advocate for addiction treatment. I worked with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to help create a program that serves hundreds of addicts to this day – 10 years later, and worked as a patient advocate consultant (volunteer) with the SF Department of Public Health”, Lisa shares about her community work.   Lisa says her strengths are integrity, loyalty, organization, dedication and discipline. She goes hard for her clients and gets the deal done. WIth her extensive investment background, she excels in creative negotiation and gaining the upper hand at the negotiation stage.   “My philosophy is to assist my clients in a sound financial decision that will aid them for years to come,” Lisa states.  “I guide clients through the intimidating and daunting process of buying in a seller’s market, and can assist them in the very detail oriented process of buying a property that needs repair or is income producing, which requires an agent with more than basic knowledge in traditional residential sales”.   Lisa has a keen creative eye and can envision the potential of a property, often times when others can not. This same eye for potential allows Lisa to help sellers showcase their property in a way that appeals to buyers. Her background in valuations greatly assists her in pricing, as she is intimately familiar with the area’s ever changing micro-markets.   As a resident of Berkeley since 2000, Lisa is looking forward to working in a team environment at Berkeley Hills Realty, lending knowledge and support to the other agents and gaining from their expertise, as well.   You may find Lisa enjoying the outdoor life of Berkeley, as she enjoys running, jogging, and hiking as well as enjoying the local art, music and poetry scene. She knows that a balanced life is a good life and focuses on constant evolution, personal growth, enjoys wellness and natural medicine. “I have continually adapted as the market changed and found new ways to promote my business and evolve as a real estate professional. The market has changed and I am ready for a change as well, so here I am in residential real estate and happy to be at Berkeley Hills Realty. Life changes; we must, as well.” Read More

Magnificent Berkeley Mediterranean Home of Art Rosenfeld Comes On The Market

When Art Rosenfeld passed away in January at the age of 90, he left behind a legacy of being the “godfather” of energy efficiency and helped formulate the idea that it was better to save energy than it was to create it. His stunning Mediterranean home in Berkeley on Southampton Avenue, which he and his wife purchased in 1960, is a testament to the man who encouraged millions of Californians to turn off the lights and use energy efficient appliances.   In the spirit of Professor Rosenfeld’s passion towards energy efficiency, the 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath, 4,160 square foot (per assessor) home boasts year round living enjoyment. The south facing sun room captures its warmth during the winter and the sunken living room with massive beams features a majestic fireplace for warm seasonal and evening gatherings. With large glass French doors, the living room opens up to a large deck for al fresco dining in the afternoon or under the stars. The adjoining small library/study is perfect for reflection and solitude. The home, built in 1928 (according to BAHA), boasts classic Mediterranean details including high ceilings, an excellent floor plan, large hand crafted mission-style oak doors, a wrought iron chandelier in the entryway, and a commanding staircase. The large picture windows bring the natural light in and frame the stunning views of the Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and distant views of Mt. Tamalpais. The 13,200 square foot lot features mature landscaping around outdoor entertainment spaces. The formal dining room accommodates large sit down dinners and is perfectly located with two doors to the remodeled kitchen. Meticulous planning went into the spacious kitchen remodel. Special features include a large eating area, ample storage with a spacious pantry, leaded glass windows, a side door to the outside and even a special place for a serving cart. The large master bedroom has a dressing room and adjoins the master bathroom with original tile and large windows to enjoy the spectacular views. There are three additional bedrooms on the upper bedroom level and a second bathroom with beautiful original tile from the 1930’s.   A lower level ¾ basement with a laundry area has plenty of potential. It is located next to the two-car garage. The home is situated in a neighborhood with stately homes and is within walking distance of John Hinkle Park, Solano Avenue with its many boutiques and restaurants, and public transportation.   Professor Rosenfeld was recognized with a number of remarkable awards including National Medal of Technology and innovation presented to him by President Barack Obama in 2012. Governor Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, dined last late Summer on the deck with the Rosenfeld family. Upon learning of Rosenfeld’s passing, Governor Brown said, “Art Rosenfeld helped make California the world leader in energy efficiency. His path-breaking ideas transformed our energy sector from one of massive waste to increasingly elegant efficiency. I will miss him.” Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, under Barack Obama’s first term, called Art Rosenfeld “his hero”.   The home is listed at $2,190,000 with Maya Trilling, Berkeley Hills Realty and she can be reached at 510-524.9888 ext. 18. Read More

Where To Enjoy The 2017 Wildflower Bloom in the East Bay

More than 2,000 species of native and naturalized plants grow wild in the San Francisco Bay Area with over 140 native plants  right in the East Bay hills.  The historical rainfall we experienced this winter promised an epic bloom around the region and it is unfolding all around the area!  If you can get out to the regional parks and even to a few wildflower based events, you will be delighted with the gift Mother Nature has brought this year for those who love flowers! You can even see colorful displays right in town (in fact, we captured a front yard a few blocks from our Berkeley Hills office that show the riot of color!) Below are some of the best places in the East Bay to view the “bloom” this year. Yelp has some excellent advice about specific trails to go on and most of these parks also have naturalists on staff to point out the best displays and where to find them when you go. For photographers and hikers, the next few months will be Nirvana! Wildcat Regional Park Large coast live oaks, bay laurels, and a scattering of bigleaf maples and madrones grow on the park’s east-facing slopes. North-facing hillsides support some beautiful, nearly pure stands of bay laurel, fringed with coast live oak.The west- and south-facing canyon slopes are covered with introduced annual grasses (oat, rye, barley, etc.). A few stands of native bunch grasses persist. There are many native wildflower species.   Briones Regional Park Briones’ 6,255 acres are home to many animals and birds, which forage on the grasslands or find shelter among the oaks and bays. There are gorgeous wildflower displays in season. You may see black-tailed deer, coyotes, squirrels, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and, if you are lucky, other more reclusive creatures. Park District naturalists often lead walks to view the park’s natural and historic features. Tilden Regional Park Nestled between the Berkeley Hills and San Pablo Ridge, Tilden Park is rife with wildflowers and offers panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay. Right now, you can hike and wander through the open spaces of the park and see golden California poppies, vibrant purple lupine and dozens of wild flowers in bloom. To learn more about the wildflowers and plants you are viewing, review this Wild Flower Guide To Tilden Park. Botanic Garden If you don’t have the time, inclination or stamina to hike to see spring flowers, you can visit the Botanic Garden situated in Tilden Regional Park’s beautiful Wildcat Canyon in the heart of the north Berkeley Hills. The Botanic Garden is devoted to the collection, growth, display, and preservation of the native plants of California. In one afternoon you can visit the floral communities of the entire state with a variety of plants from seacoast bluffs and coastal mountains, interior valleys, arid foothills, alpine zones, and two kinds of desert. The Botanical Garden is open daily: October – May 8:30am – 5pm June – September 8:30am – 5:30pm Note: West Gate closes at 4:30pm The Annual Botanic Garden plant sale is Saturday April 29th. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/springplantsale/ Ohlone Regional Wilderness This magnificent 9,737-acre parkland, accessible only by way of the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, includes a landscape of oak and bay woodlands, grassy uplands carpeted with springtime wildflowers, and wilderness ridges and peaks. Its centerpiece is 3,817-foot Rose Peak, just 32 feet lower than Mount Diablo..Surrounding Rose Peak are grassy ridges, profusely flowered in season. Staging areas and vehicle parking lots that give access to the Ohlone Wilderness are located at Del Valle Regional Park outside Livermore, Sunol Regional Wilderness near Pleasanton, and Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont   Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve   Huckleberry is considered one of the gems of the East Bay Park system.  The botanic preserve covers 235 acres with a vast array of native plants, many of them rare to the East Bay. Sibley, one of the first parks established by the East Bay Regional Park District, features volcanic lava flow from 10 million years ago. Both offer a show of blossoming plants. It’s mostly covered by an oak and California Bay canopy with lush ferns and wildflowers that hug the trail.   For more information about where to see wildflowers, contact: — East Bay Regional Parks District headquarters. (510) 635-0135. — Tilden Botanic Garden, Wildcat Canyon Road and South Park Drive. Plant sale takes place Saturday April 39, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., (510) 841-8732. — Sunol Visitor Center. end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road. (925) 862- 2601. — Black Diamond Mines. 5175 Somersville Road, Antioch. Information and hikes. (925) 757-2620.   East Bay Wildflower Events Mount Diablo In Bloom Mount Diablo State Park Clayton, Contra Costa County Sunday, April 2, 2017 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. $6 per vehicle park entrance fee (exact change required) Kick off the spring wildflower season with a guided hike through a Bay Area botanical hotspot. More Info: http://www.greenbelt.org/events/mount-diablo-in-bloom/   Spring Wildflower Festival at Sunol Regional Wilderness Sunol Regional Wilderness 1895 Geary Road, Sunol, CA (MAP) Sunday, April 9 11am – 4pm The festival is FREE!   It’s time to celebrate the season of the birds, bees, flowers and trees! Join us for hikes, crafts, music, and nature activities. Hikes are geared for different ages, distances and topics ? There is something for everyone. Pack a picnic lunch, put on your hiking boots and join us for a glorious day filled with flowers in this very special wilderness! Fun for the whole family. Carpooling encouraged.   FREE event, parking is $5 cash. Please carpool as parking is limited. http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/Features/widlflower+fest/Wildflower+Poster+2017.pdf Feel free to post your wildflower photos on our Facebook page, Berkeley Hills Realty. Read More

How Following Zillow’s “List Your Home” Crowd Could Cost You

Making news this week in the real estate industry was an announcement by Zillow about a new tool for home sellers. The listing portal’s “Best Time to List” tool estimates how much the timing of when a property is listed will influence its sales price, based on the sales history of the property’s local market. “Sellers can use this information to have a more informed conversation with their local real estate agent to determine the best time to put their home on the market,” Zillow said when announcing the tool. Click here to enlarge chart. Everyone knows that the spring is a hot time to sell in San Francisco Bay Area, but Zillow shares specific dates to list your home. However, there are two caveats that Zillow does not include.  If sellers held their listings from the market and took Zillow’s advice, there would be a spike of inventory on the market during the two week window they suggest which would have the exact opposite effect of what benefit they are purporting and “cluster the competition”. Prices would actually drop. The second caveat is that with such low inventory that the San Francisco and East Bay housing markets are currently experiencing, the statistics they are using to find the “best dates” can be a less than accurate data pull.   “Big data works on so many levels in determining what consumers are doing or about to do”, says Berkeley Hills Realty Broker, Tracy Sichterman. “However, when you ask your Realtor, “When’s the best time to list my home?” to get top dollar for your property, the answer is in the local expertise. We have specific knowledge of the Berkeley, Oakland and East Bay market and we track local sales statistics daily.”   “We encourage home sellers and buyers to do internet research”, Sichterman added, “But when it’s time to get the local story with the real time housing statistics for this area, we suggest talking to a local Realtor.”   Berkeley Hills Realty offers complimentary comparative market analysis to determine the value of your home and advice about the selling or buying process. Contact us today! Read More

A Family’s Love Letter To Their Home

Houses are homes when the people living inside of them create the atmosphere of contentment. Homes are bastions of peace and love when the owners imbue four walls with great memories. We were delighted when one of our clients, who is selling their home on 1827 Capistrano Avenue in Berkeley, wrote a “love” letter about their family home.  On the market soon for $1.125 million, this home is not just about the bedroom count and floor plan. The spirit of how well loved and lived in this home is becomes apparent in this letter and we look forward to finding a buyer who can feel the special energy of this home.     Portal To the Sierra And A Sanctuary For the Soul In Berkeley I believe that houses have souls, that they absorb the stories of former owners in the wood and paint.  This house has a good soul, and our family’s 13 years here have been memorable.  Listen closely enough and you will hear the joy of our daughters’ births, first steps, midnight visits from the tooth faeries, nightly improvised good night stories told of a fictional girl, Solana, as the kids drift to sleep, spontaneous dance parties, raucous Thanksgivings, lemonade stands, fiddle concerts put on by the kids to collect money for refugees, and many a rainbow chalk hopscotch drawn from one end of the block to the other.   We will miss working in the back office, gazing into a wall of coastal oaks and a redwood that was planted years ago by a previous owner.  The morning sun streams through the front windows of the house and the skylights, and lying on the master bed, every morning treated to the sight of squirrels frolicking among the branches.  On hot days, three sets of French Doors open from the dining room and both plus rooms, and the side deck transformed into a playground sanctuary for the kids.  We strung up lights on the Pittosporum on the side deck, which lit up like fireflies during dinner parties.  We love the backyard, particularly on starry nights, when everyone sits around a fire under the oak, making s’mores.  I always felt it was a portal to the Sierra, because it felt like we were transported.   The kids relished the deluge of water from their bathroom shower, and the deep tub, which when they were little, accommodated both kids and one adult.  There is so much to love in this house! The vaulted wooden ceilings in the spacious master bedroom, and plus rooms, which were designed by an architect who once lived here, the accessibility into the house, convenience of the layout, hardwood floors, skylights, decks, and the proximity to Solano Ave, which hosts the yearly Solano Stroll. The Stroll is one of the largest East Bay food, music and art festivals, and home to countless Mexican, Chinese, Italian, and Thai restaurants that dot the street like sprinkles on an Iscream ice cream cone (the kids favorite).  But what makes this house so very, very special to us is what one cannot easily see.   You cannot see the strong sense of community that exists here, which we witnessed from the first day when our neighbors across the creek, who arrived with wine and bread in hand and smiles on their faces, graciously welcomed us; or the yearly surprise packages left for the kids at the front door by the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus (a.k.a. our lovely neighbor just to the west), or know that many a late night, I would be lying in bed, only to receive a late text photo from another neighbor of his backyard fire, inviting me to come over with my guitar, and a drink or two, after the kids were asleep, and join him and several other neighbors in a spontaneous jam by the fire (many of the people on the block are amazing musicians).  Every Wednesday night was designated “Sushi Night” in our house, and the kids would delight in knocking on various neighbors’ doors to distribute a portion.  The spontaneous giving of food is invariably reciprocated.  You cannot see the murals (a labor of love) that my 80 year-old mother, the artist extraordinaire, painted across the walls of our first child’s room when she was an infant.   The yearly block party is hands down the best in Berkeley, as we have a master smoker of meats, who takes it as a personal challenge to surprise the block with his latest BBQ masterpiece, the music runs late, everyone pitches in to rent a jumpy house for the littles, and the block elders, provide all of us an oral history of the block.  Halloweens are magical, thanks in part, perhaps in whole, to our neighbors who construct haunted houses, complete with strobe lights, plastic body parts emerging from the soil, fog, and eerie music…and an outdoor bar offering juice to the young, and other kinds of spirits to the old.  Many of the houses throw open their doors to serve food, and we stopped counting the hundreds of pieces of candy we distribute to the throngs, which have only increased over the years.  With many of our neighbors we celebrate all the special occasions—graduations, birthdays, new jobs, an Oscar nomination (true story)—as well as are there for each other in more challenging times.  On full moons, our kids in their pajamas gather a few of their block friends for what we call “Full Moon Walks,” around the block before bedtime, and they delight in playing hide-n-seek by the moonlight.  The Capistrano Creek that runs in back of the house all the way up and down the block serves as a natural playground; and Old Stoneface Park and Indian Rock, which is the community’s choice for viewing sunsets, all provide a sacred place for the kids to connect with nature.  Yes, this house has a good soul, it is so very special to us and so is this community that you may […] Read More

March 2017 Housing Market Update for Oakland/Berkeley

The housing story in the East Bay for March continues to be one of low inventory, high demand and houses selling for more than asking price.   Berkeley: A bright spot in the Berkeley housing market for buyers? According to Altos Research, the Market Action Index for Berkeley is showing that demand is tapering down to show a sizzling seller’s market and not a RED HOT seller’s market as it appeared on their charts in July 2016. However, reports of homes getting forty offers, with sales vs list price hitting 20-25% over asking is still occurring in the Berkeley market. Good news? A few more properties ARE coming on the market, pushing inventory levels up to around 30. Oakland: Just as is the case in Berkeley, Oakland hit a high for market activity last July. We are bouncing out of the low in December to steadily increasing inventory, which provides more options for buyers in the market as we head into spring. However, average days on the market are plummeting, starting at 83 in December and falling to 50 as of March 5th, according to the real time data by Altos Research. This means buyers are definitely out making offers and scooping up homes. According to the Trulia Trend Report for Berkeley, median sales price is holding relatively steady at $1 million for the median price (although recent reports of listings going for over asking price have not appeared yet on the charts) and sales are down, which is due to lack of inventory, not buyer demand. Oakland is following a similar trend line with the median price at $600k (a 10% increase year over year) and sales falling as inventory falls. The inclement weather the Bay Area has been experiencing for the past few months may have hampered potential sellers from placing their homes on the market. With Spring approaching in a few weeks and warmer weather ahead, there may be a jump in more homes on the market. Patience is key and revisiting homes that have sat on the market the longest could be a strategic play for buyers, as those homes have not gotten the multiple offers other homes have experienced driving up the purchase price by thousands of dollars.   For homeowners considering selling soon, we have found that thoughtful staging and creating a great story around the home for marketing, draws the best offers, even in a hot market where many sellers think just putting a sign in the yard is enough. Berkeley Hills Realty is available to provide buyers in depth information about the surrounding towns and cities of the East Bay and can offer complimentary comparative market analysis reports for your home. Read More

Berkeley-Oakland Calendar of Events for March 2017

What: Sail Upon The “High Seas” of Sausalito on a Tall Ship! When: Recurring tours Thurs-Sun March 1-16, 2017 Where: Jack London Square, 1 Broadway and Water Street, Oakland Cost: Tours are a $5 donation and charters run from $42-$79 Take a three hour tour of San Francisco Bay aboard an historical tall ship.  The ships, Lady Washington, the official tall ship of Washington State and her companion vessel Hawaiian Chieftain, offer education programs to students K-12, vessel tours, and public sailing. To book your education program or to buy sailing tickets call the office at 800-200-5239 and see the sailing schedule. What: 58th White Elephant Sale When: March 4 & 5, Saturday & Sunday Where: 33 Lancaster Street, Oakland Cost: Free Organized and presented by the Oakland Museum Women’s Board, sale proceeds benefit the Oakland Museum of California. White Elephant Sale Website What: First Free Wednesday at the UC Botanical Garden When: Wednesday, March 1 Where: 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley Cost: Free The 34-acre UC Botanical Garden is one of the most diverse landscapes in the world, with over 10,000 types of plants including many rare and endangered species.  Organized geographically, the Garden features 9 regions of naturalistic plantings from Italy to South Africa, along with a major collection of California native plants.  The Garden was established in 1890 and its living collections are invaluable resources for international research and conservation. UC Botanical Garden Website   What: First Free Thursday at the Berkeley Art Museum When: Thursday, March 2 Where: 2155 Center St, Berkeley Cost: Free The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is the visual arts center of the university. Our mission is to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film, engaging audiences from the UC Berkeley campus, the Bay Area, and beyond. Each year BAMPFA presents more than twenty art exhibitions, 450 film programs, and dozens of performances, as well as lectures, symposia, and tours. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive   What: $5 First Friday at the Chabot Space and Science Center This month the Center is featuring Animation and Storytelling When: Friday, March 3 6-10 pm Where: 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland Cost: $5.00 Chabot Space and Science Center Website   What: North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto Wine Walk When: Saturday March 9th  5-8 pm Where: Along Shattuck Avenue and Vine, Berkeley Cost: $25 Ticket  Link   Sample local small production wines (along with some craft beers and mead) and enjoy small bites at 20 participating businesses along Shattuck Ave. & Vine St.Local and regional wineries are paired with participating neighborhood shops – hosting businesses will have a variety of special tastings think chocolate, gelato, nuts, soups, cheese, and other sweet and savory bites.   What: “Jack of All Trades” Indie Craft & Antique Market When: Saturday, March 11 Where: Jack London Square, Oakland Cost: Free This eclectic market event features a curated mix of nearly 100 local makers, indie designers, antiquers, collectors, artists, start-ups and more. Jack of All Trades Website   What: Playdate For The Imagination When: Saturday, March 11th (10am – 8pm) Screenings and workshops begin at 10am, doors open at 9:30am *$5.00 admission for adults and children after 5pm for festival screening only. Exhibits will close at normal hours. Sunday, March 12th (10am – 5pm) Screenings and workshops begin at 10am, doors open at 9:30am Where: Chabot Space & Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland Chabot Space & Science Center and the Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival have joined forces to present the 9th annual Playdate for the Imagination™ where education and imagination collide. In its 9th year, the festival continues to delight and inspire Bay Area families with a full weekend of events and special programs that include internationally celebrated family-friendly films, special presentations from Award-Winning Pixar filmmakers, hands-on animation workshops and more. This year’s theme of science, technology, engineering, art and math, STEAM, will be featured in the films and with the hands-on programs offered in the Center. SATURDAY AND SUNDAY FILM FESTIVAL TICKETS BAICFF is an annual Playdate for the Imagination™ where education and imagination collide. The festival offers families a cinematic view of the world’s varied cultures and traditions. The films inspire curiosity and conversation, and allow children to experience a wide range of cultural perspectives. Cost Guest Adult: $25 / Youth: $14 (includes admission to the center) 2 Day Weekend Pass: Adult $35 / Youth: $20 Member Adult: $15 / Youth: $7 (includes admission to the center) 2 Day Weekend Pass: Adult $21 / Youth: $10   What: St. Patrick’s Day When: Friday, March 17 from 6-9PM Where: Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley Cost: $38-$48 Chef Alaun will prepare traditional Irish fare including roasted salmon with dill sauce, corned beef and cabbage, mixed greens with assorted dressings, Irish colcannon and buttered seasonal vegetables. For dessert, treat yourself to sticky pudding cake with caramelized apples & whiskey toffee sauce. Wear something green, everyone is Irish on St. Paddy’s Day!   What: Free Acting Class at the Berkeley Repertory When: Sunday March 26 Where: 2025 Addison St., Berkeley Cost: Free Berkeley Repertory Theater Website Read More

3 Reasons To Visit Lake Merritt for Runners, Parents and Photographers

So you’re thinking to yourself, “What should I do today where I can get great exercise and do some people watching while I am at it?”  Or you think to yourself, “My kids need to get out today and I want to go somewhere that is fun for them and not too draining on me.” Or you may think, “I want to take some beautiful photos and my teen wants to get some great Instagram shots. Where should I go?” The answer to all of them is..Lake Merritt in Oakland! Running/Walking/Strolling Lake Merritt is exactly a 5k all the way around, 3.2 miles and a 45 minute walk. If you are jogging at a normal pace, you can do it in 30 minutes, which is a perfect work out. Best part? You get to see natural beauty, as well as other people enjoying their time along the way. If you park at 7th and Oak street, parking is free and you can add a few blocks of warm up time to your routine. You can also park at 22nd Street near Kaiser Plaza for $12, which puts you two blocks from the lake and running path and you can run to the lake and check out the Cathedral Christ of the Light church for its beautiful architecture.   Children’s FairyLand If you are a parent of a child under the age of 10, you may have heard of Children’s FairyLand. This is Oakland’s answer to where you can take your kids and have fun in a “throwback” park that caters to young children. Arguably the centerpiece of Fairyland is the children’s theater on the southern end and the 61-year-old puppet theater to the north – which still uses marionettes that were costumed by Frank Oz‘s mother, and hosts the oldest continuously run puppet show in the nation. Insta-Good Photos So your teenager won’t go out with you in public, but if you tell them there is a great place for them to take selfies, Tumblr photos, and “Instagood” photos, they just may go with you to Lake Merritt. And if YOU enjoy taking photos of local wildlife, including a myriad of birds, as well as reflection photos, this will be a great day for you both. Check out Instagram using the hashtag #LakeMerrittOakland for ideas for photos or take your camera and let life unfold in front of you for photos that capture life. For you garden/flower/landscape nuts, there are no less than five different gardens at Lake Merritt. Check out the Bonsai Garden, the Rhododendron Garden, Torii Gate Garden, Vireya Garden, and the Sensory Garden for fantastic photo opportunities.   The Future– Slated for construction is the Lake Merritt to Bay Trail (LM2BT) Connection which will close a key gap between the San Francisco Bay Trail and Lake Merritt trail systems. It will provide a safe ADA-accessible Class I multi-use pathway that connects BART, AC Transit, and Chinatown to the Oakland Estuary, Amtrak Capitol Corridor, Jack London Square, and the Brooklyn Basin Development for commuters and recreational users.  This will be another place to run, discover with your children and photograph!   Learn more about Lake Merritt’s history and an interesting story about its “Necklace of Lights” featuring 126 lamp posts first lit in 1925. Berkeley Hills Realty Realtors love their community and would love to share more about it with you if you are considering a move. Contact us at (510) 524-9888 for your home buying or selling desires!     Read More
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