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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

Things to Do in the East Bay – February 2017

What a rainy and wet 2017 we have had, but it looks as if our concerns for a drought have been waylaid for at least the time being! Some fun things to do in February are to enjoy the spaces and places that are fun to see when there has been plenty of water in the area. Also, it’s Lunar New Year where there are plenty of ways to celebrate the advent of the Year of the Rooster in the East Bay. Here is our list of ideas for fun in the East Bay and interesting things to do in our beautiful community!       What: Celebrate Valentine’s Day All Month With Berkeley Hills When: All of February! What: Berkeley Hills Realty’s friends and past clients, Abraham and Bonnee Elterman, recently opened (January 14th) a coffee shop next to their popular frozen yogurt sundae shop called, As You Wish.  The new location was formerly the real estate office of a long time Albany resident, Hal Hoffman and is called Hal’s Office Coffee. (read about the opening)   Bonnee is offering 25% off to Berkeley Hills clients for the month of February.  Stop by our office for a coupon this month and get 25% off at As You Wish or at Hal’s Office!   Outdoor Activities   What: Sunday Stroll at Redwood Regional Park When: Sunday February 5th 10 am- 2 pm Where: The Skyline Serpentine Prairie in Redwood Regional Park, Oakland Wake up and walk into nature. Enjoy the lush green hills and forest on this 3-mile diverse loop from prairie to redwoods and back. Explore the natural wonders within this beautiful park.   What: Salamandering! When: Sunday February 5th 9:30-11:30 am Where: Sunol Regional Wilderness It’s salamander season! Cool, moist, muddy days make for perfect salamander weather! Families will gently search for salamanders with worm-like bodies, golden eyes and bumpy skins! Drop-in, meet at Wilderness Room. $5/vehicle. Wear clothes and shoes that can get muddy, dress for weather. May be handling live animals.   What: Love the Beach Clean Up When: Sunday February 12 10:30-noon ‘ Where: Crab Cove Visitor Center, Alameda Make the shoreline your Valentine and show it some love by lending a hand to volunteer to pick up the trash to beautify the shoreline. Bring your own gloves and bucket or borrow ours. Meet at the Crab Cove Visitor Center. For more information, call: (510) 544-3187.   Entertainment   What: Lunar New Year Celebration- Berkeley When: Saturday February 4 Where: Corner and Delaware and Fourth Street in Berkeley Celebrate the year of the rooster of the Lunar calendar! Delaware at Fourth Street in front of Sur La Table and the Fourth Street Flower stand. This event has charmed its’ fans for 9 years now. A great event for families and children. 12-3 pm Candy Give-aways. 12-1 pm Martial Arts Demonstrations. 1-2 pm Lion Dance by the famous performers at Kei Lun. 2-3:30pm Store Blessing & Parade.   What: Lunar New Year Celebration Where: Oakland Asian Cultural Center When: Saturday February 4 from 11 am- 3 pm. Come and celebrate Lunar New Year at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center! There will be cultural performances such as Chinese dance, traditional music, lion dancing, and many more! There will be activities for kids such as arts and crafts, book readings, and balloon animals! Also, there will be a demonstration by Jimmy Zhang on the art of food and fruit carving. Admission is free.   What: Black History Month – Frankye Kelly When: February 4 at 8 pm Where: California Jazz Conservatory, 2087 Addison St, Berkeley Frankye Kelly, a well known local jazz singer and teacher,  pays tribute to some of the great African American jazz and blues singers from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Cost: $15   What: OMCA Lunar New Year When: Sunday February 12 from 12 pm- 4:30 pm Where: Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. This 16th annual event welcomes the Year of the Rooster with an array of Asian traditions in arts, crafts, food, demonstrations, live music, dance, martial arts and more. Cost: $15.95 adults, $10.95 students/seniors, $6.95 ages 9-17, children under 8 FREE. 510-318-8459. Museumca.org.   SF Beer Week: The Bay Area’s annual craft beer extravaganza includes special beer releases, festivals, meet-the-brewer opportunities, beer dinners, tastings, demonstrations and more. Find out what is happening in Oakland, Berkeley and the East Bay between Feb. 10-19. www.sfbeerweek.org.   Valentine’s Day Offerings   What: Chocolate & Wine Cruise Sip wine and sample chocolates from local chocolatiers during a two-hour cruise on the bay. Must be 21 or older. 1-3 p.m. Feb. 11. Pier 40, 89 King St., San Francisco. $50. http://www.tastetv.com. Read More

Gem of the East Bay-Tilden Park

Located high in the hills of North Berkeley lies Tilden Park, popularly considered “the Jewel of the East Bay.” Hiking trails with names like Seaview or Skyline wind past creeks, mineral springs, and green meadows, up to the sweeping panorama offered at Inspiration Point. The numerous vistas in Tilden Park inspire and delight and provide respite from the busy city life below.   Encompassing the Tilden Nature Area, most of the park’s 2,077 acres serve as tranquil shelters for native plants and wildlife. Rangers here are serious about preserving this magnificent habitat—they even close South Park Drive to automobile traffic to protect migrating California newts who make their annual trip from dry land to streams and ponds to breed, from the end of October to the end March each year. The attention to preservation results in an abundance of natural beauty. Local residents and visitors alike enjoy the wide variety of recreational activities, including steam trains, a golf course, and an antique merry-go-round.   In an effort that started during the Great Depression, the park is part of a 100,000 acre park system with 1,100 miles of trails, preserved for and by the residents of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Many of the roads, buildings, trails and dam were created by the CCC and WPA in the 1930’s and add a historic aspect to this beautiful park.   We recently went on a short hike through Tilden Park to see the flowing waterfall from the runoff from Anza Lake. On the way to the waterfall, we passed under majestic Coastal Redwoods and saw many trees still with vibrant fall foliage. The sound of cascading water coming down the stream in the quiet morning belies the fact that we were only a few miles from the homes and businesses in the area.   Learn more about Tilden Park and the expanse of the East Bay regional park system, the largest in the USA, by watching this insightful and educational video  created by the  East Bay Regional Park District.   Do you enjoy biking, hiking, rollerblading, walking and running? Here is a link to all the interpark regional trails.   One of our favorite things to do during the holidays is bring our children and friends to Tilden Park to ride the  Herschell Spillman Merry Go Round which has been in the park for 60 years. It boasts four rows of hand hewn horses, cats, dogs, chariots and more! The merry go round is located at the intersection of Central Park Drive and Lake Anza Road. During the holidays, the Merry Go Round is decorated with festive lights , Santa greets children and refreshments are available.  The Merry Go Round is open each night until 8:30 through the holidays.   If you are ready to explore and discover the park and all the trails, take part in the 2017 Trails Challenge. To complete the challenge, hike five of the trails – or 26.2 miles of trails – by December 1st, and submit a trail log to receive a commemorative pin, while supplies last. As in past challenges, the honor system applies.  Beginning Tuesday, January 3 you can obtain a free Trails Challenge t-shirt and/or a printed copy of the Guidebook, while supplies last, at select Visitor Centers.   Tilden Park and the entire East Bay park system are treasures to our area. If you are considering a move to this area, we highly suggest you visit! And if you would like information about the neighborhoods and homes for sale in the area, please contact us directly, we would be glad to share our knowledge! Happy Holidays! Read More

November Calendar of Events

Berkeley Events: 7th Annual East Bay Jewel Ball Location: Claremont Club & Spa – 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley CA Date: Saturday, November 19th, 2016 The American Cancer Society’s presents a Great Gatsby themed Gala. Price: $300 Per ticket/$3500 per table. Website: http://www.acsjewelball.org Holiday Boot Camp Cooking Class in Berkeley: Everything But the Bird Date: Sat, November 5, 2016 Time: 10:00 AM – 2:30 PM Where: Rocket Restaurant Resource – 2940 Seventh Street, Berkeley, CA 94710 Price $130 What will you be cooking? Sourdough, Fennel and Sweet Sausage Stuffing Fresh Cranberry Ginger Chutney Cream of Chestnut Soup Sweet and Russet Potato Gratin Gingerbread Cake with Molasses Cream Website: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2595105 Social Media Business Strategies Date: Tuesday Nov 8, 2016 Time: 2:00 pm Cost: Free Where: Berkeley Public Library – 2090 Kittredge St. (at Shattuck) Berkeley, CA 94704 Presented by the Alameda County Small Business Development Center this seminar will help entrepreneurs use social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to increase visibility and develop customer loyalty.= Website: www.acsbdc.org 14th Annual Bay Area Firkin Festival When: November 19th from 11:30am-4:30pm, Where: Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse What: 16 local breweries will be pouring their finest, freshest and strangest cask-conditioned ales, a phenomenon that doesn’t happen often. Breweries will be competing for Best Firkin with never-before-tasted brews, created specially for this event, and attendees will be among the first people in the world to taste them! Cost: $30.00 Website: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2706329 Berkeley Half Marathon When: November 20th Where: Experience a running tour of our exceptional city starting with iconic Telegraph Avenue, tracing through UC Berkeley Campus, winding through the serene residential streets of North Berkeley, cruising along the waterfront near the Berkeley Marina and much more. Half Marathon at 8:00AM @ Milvia St. at Kittredge St., Berkeley, California 94704 10K Start at 9:00AM @ Page St and 4th St, Berkeley, California 94710 5K Race Start at 9:15AM @ Milvia St. at Kittredge St., Berkeley, California 94704 Choose your distance: The Half Marathon (13.1 miles), the 10K (6.2 miles) and the 5K (3.1 miles). All offer rewarding and fun experiences for runners of all types. Website: http://berkeleyhalfmarathon.com/the-races/ Oakland Events: “Jack of All Trades” Indie Craft & Antique Market Location: Jack London Square Date: November 12 Time: 11 am- 5 pm The every 2nd Saturday market features: What: 95+ local vendors (makers, artists, antiques, start-ups and more!) DIY Workshops: over half a dozen workshops from “make your own terrarium” to “make your own leather belts” Local Eats: Not only is Jack London Square home to some of the best restaurants on the water, but the market also features local food startups and food trucks. Live Entertainment: free local bands and musical performances, magicians, and street dancers. Bay Area Bead Extravaganza: When: Saturday November 12 Where: Oakland Marriott City Center What:  Jewelry makers, designers, shoppers…get set for two days of inspiration, creativity, shopping and fun! Price: $10 The Bay Area Bead Extravaganza, the largest bead event in the West, is two days of inspiration, classes/demos, creativity, and shopping fun. Browse 130 booths of unique jewelry-making treasures. For makers there are beads, components & supplies (handmade, upcycled, natural material, stones, glass, metal, and pearls) Classes are November 11th. Website:  https://www.beadextravaganza.com Black Friday 5K Fun Run When: Fri, November 25 Time: 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Where: See Jane Run, 5817 College Avenue. Oakland Cost: Free Join us at our Rockridge location for a free 5K adventure run with T-shirt giveaway (limited to first 100 to register), goody bags, prizes, raffles, food and drinks. Organizers will send you on a team adventure through Rockridge/Oakland, gathering goodies, shooting pictures, running / walking stairs, meeting cool people and just having a great running adventure. This is a free event and open to all. Grab your friends and come run off some of that turkey with us. This is open to all levels, genders, ages and abilities. Walkers are welcome. Piedmont Turkey Trot When:  November 24 Time: 8:30 a.m Where: Piedmont High School. 800 Magnolia Ave., Piedmont Cost: $15-25 Website: piedmontturkeytrot.com Gear up before your big dinner with a five-kilometer (3.1 miles) course through some of Piedmont’s most beautiful streets. Meet in front of Piedmont High School bright and early and then run, jog, walk, or stroll with family, friends, and neighbors. Plus, the race benefits the PHS Cross Country and Track Teams.   Albany Plant natives on historic Cerrito Creek at Albany Hill Rain has come — hooray! Let’s get plants into soil so roots get down before summer’s drought. Help wildlife, control erosion — and learn about the exciting history of Native American settlements, Spanish land grants, dynamite making — even a train robbery! All ages welcome. Snacks, tools, and gloves provided. Wear closed-toed shoes with good traction and clothes that can get dirty. Dress in layers, prepared for changing weather. Meet at 10 AM at Creekside Park, S. end of Santa Clara Ave., El Cerrito (3499 Santa Clara). Short walk from AC Transit 72 or 25 or El Cerrito Plaza BART. Heavy rain moves to Sun.Nov. 13, or Sat. Nov. 19 if that is rained out. Click here for full schedule. Alameda County Community Food Bank Food Drive Starting on November 19, the Food Bank needs your help kick starting one of their biggest food drives of the year at Safeway stores across Alameda County. Donate food or consider volunteering to distribute. In 2015, 15,000 volunteers were instrumental in helping the Food Bank distribute more than 30 million pounds of food throughout the County. Want to make a bigger impact? Organize a Food Drive! It’s easy, it’s fun and it helps our community! There is a shortage of donated food and the Food Bank needs your help. Consider a Food Drive at your work, school, church or with your community group. Go to http://www.accfb.org/volunteering/ for more information. Berkeley Hills Realty is organizing a food drive! We are a drop off center, so folks can bring by non-perishable food items to our food drive for the Alameda County Community […] Read More

Catch “The Wild Bride” at Berkeley Rep!

Go see the magic happen. The fairytale unfolds at Berkeley Repertory Theatre until February 17. The Wild Bride at Berkeley Repertory Theatre is a high-energy, self-described “feminist fairytale” that follows a young girl from her accidental sale to the devil through the many crossroads of her life.Three actors perform the life stages of the title role—The Girl, The Wild, and The Woman. One actor plays both Father and Prince. A fifth actor plays the Devil. The show features a killer soundscape. The ever-present band with core musicians Damon Daunno and Ian Ross balances being fabulous yet non-intrusive while rocking (or blues-ing) out to Stu Barker’s compositions. Carl Gross’s writing creates both full-on silliness and many moments of what I call “horraughter,”which is an acute involuntarily sound—somewhere between gasp and guffaw—that escapes when one sees or hears something horrible that is also, somehow, hilarious. Audrey Brisson as The Girl harbors more than the allotted amount of spectacular per square inch. Her from-the-toes-and-gut vocal delivery of “The Crossroads”; her chilling embodiment of The Girl’s anquish; and her deft support, in her turn, of the other performers seem central to the success of the production. She is (fortunately? unfortunately?) so convincing as a young girl that the audience gasps with shock and discomfort when the devil holds her tiny body like a guitar and strums her pelvis. Patrycja Kujawska as The Wild displays a “How is that even possible?” level of talent and is responsible for a remarkably heartrending moment when she displays her skill as a violinist just before the ability to play is taken from her. Even as one forcefully rejects the fairytale’s depiction of physical disability as loss of virtue, the moment emerges as a poignant rendering of potential being abruptly and violently stunted. As The Wild, Kujawska’s wolf-cub playfulness is endearing and her every movement is so precise and skillful that I observed many audience members nodding in appreciation of the magic she made by, say, standing up after being seated. Etta Murfitt’s Woman is a force, but it is Murfitt’s choreography that creates the most deliciously haunting images: the visual fugue of girls dancing while the conversation between Father and Devil thunders on; The Woman’s tripartite “community of self” slow-dancing with the prince; and the repetitive, cycling, debilitating “fallback” dance of war. There is just enough “too much”in the movements Murfitt designs. Stuart Godwin’s Prince leaps joyfully into hearts and other loving openings as he portrays a man navigating through a lifetime of love– from the unabashed goofiness of new love to the challenge of loving when half the bright is gone. As The Father, Godwin moves seamlessly into improvisation that delights the participating audience. Andrew Durand’s Devil somehow reminded me of the following: Humbert Humbert from Nobokov’s Lolita; Robert Westenberg’s wolf from Into the Woods; and–from Glee, forgive me –Kurt Hummel’s smile. In order to make fun of gospel singers’ vocal embellishments during the The Devil’s churchy-sounding moments, Durand deploys his own solid singing voice as a weapon. He does not fail to entertain. Durand’s devil reads as more playful and demanding than seductive and is immensely likable when he isn’t being abominable. Emma Rice’s direction enables The Wild Bride’s tumble of movements and sets to read as “hot damn” instead of “hot mess.” This play is a stunning testament to the magic of theater. Where else can you explore what good can come of a leafless ladder tree, a mirror, two chairs, a disco ball, a broom, an oversized portrait, a few buckets of fire, a thumping good cluster of musicians, a small group of talented actors, a spot-on technical staff, and a grove of royal lightbulb pears? Go see the magic happen. The fairytale unfolds at Berkeley Repertory Theatre until February 17. Read More

Check out TOAST wine bar in Rockridge!

Several people have now told me that the new chef at TOAST in Oakland is off the hook – aka exceptional! Her food is “divine”, “really good”, “I’m going back”, are just a few descriptions. Toast has always been one of my favorite places because of their incredible and consistent service and their ever changing wine menu. And, they are baby and dog friendly. What else could you want! Oh that’s right, amazing food. Well, they now have that too. Check it out: http://www.toastoakland.com/ And if you’re a dog lover, they have a special evening set aside called the Dog Days of Summer. Super fun. By, Gina Odom pic taken from insidescoopsf.sfgate.com Read More

Go check out B-Side BBQ!

Here is reason #549 to LOVE the East Bay and especially OAKLAND – B Side BBQ! The food choices here are off the hook. Located in West Oakland (Yup, that’s right in “the hood”), Chef-Extraordinaire, Tanya Holland, who also owns Brown Sugar Kitchen has opened this cool, new joint. What style BBQ is it? Well, I don’t know but it’s good and it even impressed my hubby and he is from Texas. Of course, my daughter devoured the Mac-N-Cheese. Way to go West Oakland! Go check them out at 3303 San Pablo. (*pic copied from Yelp) written by, Gina Odom Read More

The Standard Relationship Disclosure Packet:

  Wouldn’t it be great if we exchanged disclosure packets at the beginning of every life relationship? *For those of you who aren’t real estate professionals, every home sold yields a substantial stack of paper called the disclosure packet. This is where the home seller tells the truth about what changes have been made to the house, what issues may arise with the house—basically everything that buyers might want to know about the house as they decide whether or not to invest in it. The Standard Relationship Disclosure Packet (henceforth referred to as the SRDP because real estate professionals are second only to military recruits in the use of acronyms) would list useful things to know about a new friend or sweetheart before you choose to weave your lives together. The SRDP would include but not be limited to the following: Specific Terms of Contract: In which we define why we are here and what we plan to do about it. Statement of Common Interest: In which we notice how our dreams, hobbies, and habits intersect. Notice to Disclose Intent to Convert: In which we are upfront about all the ways we plan to change each other. Notice of Security Bars: In which we discuss how heightened emotional security measures have been implemented due to past violations. Likelihood of Blanket Encumbrance: In which we admit we will probably steal the covers. Political, Religious, and Emotional Hazards Report: In which we define our belief systems and establish firm boundaries. Termination Rights: In which we define when it makes sense to call it quits and how we would plan to go about it. Notice of Closing Terms: In which we decide when to admit we’ve made a life-connection and wish to waive our termination rights. What other disclosures do you wish were exchanged at the beginning of relationships? Read More
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