Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The East Bay's "Green Corridor"

Four major East Bay cities--Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and Richmond--have announced that they will work together to create what they call the "Green Corridor," a business region comparable to the Silicon Valley that will focus on Green technologies and solutions. This is a terrific commitment that should greatly benefit the local economy and, of course, the earth.

According to the Oakland Tribune, the cities will work together to "create programs and policies that promote energy conservation, green construction, a green industry and more. They plan collectively to seek state, federal and private money for research, job training and job placement targeting high school and community college students."

I hope to see this take off in the coming years, and it feels like we have a huge head start with so many leading edge eco-friendly developers and companies like the Alameda County Computer Resource Center, the City of Berkeley's new solar initiatives, and companies like EcoHome Improvement, Build It Green, and Bio-Diesel Hauling. These are just the tip of the iceberg, of course, and don't forget Lawton Associates own green condo development Gate 48 in the Temescal district!

Living in the East Bay, it is just so easy to go green, and I am happy to see the local city governments providing the incentives and vision to take us even further.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Berkeley's Golden Duplex Rule

Every town has obscure laws that can be confusing, and one to be aware of in Berkeley is the "Golden Duplex" rule. If you are buying a duplex with tenants in Berkeley, or if you are a tenant in a duplex that is being sold, it would be wise to find out if your duplex qualifies as a "golden duplex."

Strictly speaking, a Golden Duplex must meet two criteria. First, back in 1979, one of the two units must have been occupied by the owner at that time. Second, one of the units must now be occupied by the current property owner. The property is allowed to have changed owners (and tenants) during this time, but if these two criteria are met, then the property is a Golden Duplex.

Why is this important to know? Because properties that qualify as Golden Duplexes are generally exempt from Berkeley's strict eviction protection laws. Normally, tenants have a lot of protection from the City of Berkeley, but tenants in a Golden Duplex can typically be given a standard 30-day eviction under almost any circumstance.

This seems like quite an arbitrary rule, but there is a logical history. Duplexes are generally considered to have tenants who have a more familial relationship, especially when one of the units is occupied by the owner, so strict eviction protections should not be necessary. The rule does not apply to all duplexes in the city out of concern that all duplexes would become owner-occupied and there would be fewer rental units available. So, the dividing line was drawn at 1979, which was the year that rent control was introduced in Berkeley.

Obviously, this can be a complicated matter, and a lot of research and lawyers might be necessary. But, having a duplex confirmed as a Golden Duplex can be done. If you have questions about Golden Duplexes or other Berkeley rent control issues, just let me know. I am always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

Monday, December 3, 2007

Getting Ready to Move

So, you have sold your house and bought another one. You thought that was challenging, but now comes the hard part--actually moving all of your stuff from one home to another. Whether you are moving across town or across the country, moving has the potential to be one of the most stressful events in your life. Here are some tips to help make moving day a little bit easier.

Make your moving van reservation two to three weeks ahead of time, and call to confirm regularly. For a standard two or three bedroom house, you will probably need at least a 20-foot truck. Consider reserving a dolly to help you move your larger items.

Get your boxes ahead of time, and consider spending a little more money on "auto bottom boxes." These are standard-sized moving boxes that pop into place and have an easy folding mechanism to close the box. No tape needed, and the box is securely closed in seconds.

Other supplies to have on hand include marking pens, strong packing tape and a tape gun, strong scissors, bubble wrap or other padding material for dishes and small fragile items, and blankets or furniture pads for protecting larger items.

You will need to keep some necessary possessions unpacked until the last minute. Keep a few changes of clothes and a toiletry bag handy, as well as a few towels and sheets. With all this activity is recommended to keep a first aid kit handy, too. Keep some disposable kitchen items around for simple meals, plus some activities to keep kids and pets happy. And, make sure to leave all of your cleaning materials easy to access.

Moving with pets can be very stressful for them. On moving day, keep them confined to one room, so that they will be the last members of your family to go into the car. When you get to your new home, take care of them first by placing them with love and attention in a room while the truck is being unloaded.

There are so many complicated aspects to moving, and everyone's situation is unique. If you have questions, or would like a complimentary Moving Tips guide, please let me know. I am always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or