Best Performing Cities

January 22, 2013

Cities on the Peninsula and in Silicon Valley have made the list of Best-Performing Cities nationwide by the Milken Institute.

The United States’ best-performing metro area is San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley. Other cities with strong exposure to technological innovation scored high in the new ranking: Austin, Texas (No. 2, up from fourth place); Raleigh, N.C. (No. 3, up from No. 14); the Washington, D.C., metro (No. 5 from No. 17); and Cambridge, Mass. (No. 8 from No. 12).

San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City were ranked 36 on the list in 2012, compared to their 52 spot in 2011.

“People expect tech to be one of the most dynamic sectors of the economy, and it was,” Ross DeVol, chief research officer of the Milken Institute and one of the report’s authors, said in a statement.

“A perhaps less expected highlight of this year’s rankings is how the national resurgence in manufacturing is reflected in the greatly improved fortune of local economies, especially in the upper Midwest,” he said.

Among this year’s biggest gainers in large metros is Holland-Grand Haven, Mich., leaping 108 places to No. 40. Other Midwestern hotspots include Minneapolis-St. Paul; Gary, Ind.; Warren, Mich.; and Indianapolis. Each city moved up at least 70 spots in this year’s index.

The Best-Performing Cities index includes measures of job, wage, and technology performance to rank the nation’s 200 large metropolitan areas and 179 smaller metros.

Unlike other “best places” rankings, it does not use quality-of-life metrics, such as commute times or housing costs. In the Institute’s index, employment growth is weighted most heavily due to its critical importance to community vitality. Wage and salary growth measures the quality of jobs created and sustained.

Article compliments from Patch.

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Mixed Economic Signals: Better GDP & Housing vs. Worse Corporate Earnings

October 26, 2012

 In the last year alone, we’ve seen inventory in San Francisco drop 62 percent from 2,003 units to just 758 units for sale; while the price has climbed 27 percent, as this chart shows:


By now it’s clear that this will not be an easy economic recovery. For every two steps forward we take one step back, as this week’s mixed economic signals show.

On one hand, it was good to see improved GDP growth figures announced Friday. The U.S. economy grew at a better-than-expected 2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department announced. That’s up from a 1.3 percent growth rate in the second quarter.

The improvement was driven in part by greater consumer spending, but also defense spending and the government sector. Many analysts cautioned that the economy is still facing significant headwinds and warned that GDP isn’t likely to climb much above this level through the coming year.

On the bright side, real estate continues to be one of the better performing sectors of the economy, as the recent Bay Area housing report from DataQuick reaffirmed. The La Jolla-based real estate research firm reported that Bay Area home prices last month rose to their highest level in more than four years and attributed it to a slowly improving economy, low mortgage interest rates and shifts in market mix.

The median sale price for all new and resale homes in the nine-county Bay Area rose to $429,000 in September, up 17.5 percent from a year ago. It was the highest since August 2008 when it was $447,000, according DataQuick.

Additionally, sales continue to climb steadily. A total of 6,850 new and resale homes were sold in the Bay Area last month, up 1.5 percent from 6,749 for September 2011. And the mix of homes is encouraging with a continued decline in the percentage of foreclosures and distressed sales and a steady increase in “regular” sales and transactions in the middle and upper ends of the market.

“It’s obvious that a lot of fence-sitters are getting active,” John Walsh, DataQuick president, said in a statement. “We’re probably past that most attractive of mathematical sweet spots, the one that combines low interest rates and low prices. In other words, price increases the past few months outweigh mortgage rate declines.”

What was particularly interesting to me is that higher-priced markets around the Bay saw the biggest uptick in sales. San Francisco led the way with a whopping 23.3 percent increase in sales volume, followed by Marin County with 12.1 percent, San Mateo with 7.9 percent, and Santa Clara with 2.6 percent.

Those sales volume gains were offset by declines in less expensive markets in our region, including an 11.4 percent drop in Solano, 5.5 percent decline in Sonoma, and 1.9 percent in Alameda. Contra Costa was up fractionally while Napa was 1.6 percent higher.

In the last year alone, we’ve seen inventory in San Francisco drop 62 percent from 2,003 units to just 758 units for sale; while the price has climbed 27 percent, as this chart shows:

Silicon Valley has seen the same trend with Santa Clara County inventory down 66 percent over the past year and the price up 31 percent.

Of course, in this choppy economic recovery we continue to expect setbacks. And Wall Street has given us those in recent weeks. The majority of companies reporting earnings this season are announcing they have fallen short of forecasts. The market has responded to the disappointing numbers with the Dow off about 4 percent from its peak level and hovering just about 13,000.

With the upcoming presidential election and the impending “fiscal cliff” staring us in the face, I suspect we’ll see more volatility in the financial markets and the economy in the weeks and months ahead. But all indications are pointing to a continued healthy, if not robust, housing market.


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Historical Home On-The-Market

January 29, 2012

Storied “House-On-Hill” In Hillsborough Listed for $29 Million

I once had an open house (Verbalee Lane) on the street from this estate and “no” mine was a mere $2 Million. It is on a short street with very different houses along the way. When you got to the end of the street you could see this big estate with the front gates. A lot of history in this home. I just wanted to share this with you. I think those of you that love Historical Homes will find this fascinating.


At a list price of $29 million, it might be a stretch to call this fabled San Francisco-area property a bargain.

But considering the history and quality of this 30-room, 35,000-sq-ft Hillsborough real estate market gem — called one of the most spectacular private residences ever created — “House-On-Hill” should turn a few heads, especially since the price has dropped dramatically since the estate was first offered for sale at $45 million in 2002.

“The owners are very realistic now and there is no other property on the market like this one,” said listing agent Daniel J. DerVartanian.

“You could not recreate this property now, not for the quality of the $20 million renovation that the current owners undertook or for the fact that they wouldn’t let you build this size home on six acres,” he said.

While the house has been marketed by the owners for the past two years, listing it with a real estate brokerage has appeared to been a boon. In the week since House-On-Hill has been listed, DerVartanian said the property has been shown to several interested and qualified buyers — not a tough demographic in a region where Silicon Valley millionaires may be looking to make their own impressive mark on the real estate map.

House-On-Hill as it looked in 1930. SOURCE: Chicago Treasures

Designed by architect David Adler as a Cotswold-style Tudor, the mansion is nestled in the hills overlooking San Francisco and was completed in 1931 for Hibernia bank heiress Celia Tobin Clark.

In 1992, the property was purchased from the Tobin-Clark family by Sam J. Bamieh, a prominent businessman at American Intertrade Group and major Republican Party donor. While the property had already boasted an illustrious history of world-famous visitors, that tradition continued under Bamieh, whose connections to the Saudi royal family and others is its own intriguing story.

A special VIP suite of rooms has been the guest residence of a prestigious list of U.S. Presidents and other world leaders including, Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Ford, and Bush, as well as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and His Majesty King Hussein. The list of other notable guests who visited Bamieh for parties or fundraisers is much longer.

DerVartanian said Bamieh and his wife meticulously renovated the entire property with an attention to detail and an eye for the preserving the original design features. All the systems have been updated, from the opulent music room to the lovely Otis lift to the hand-mill work, and no detail was overlooked.

The list of features includes:

  • Carved front entry opening to an elegant black and white marble reception foyer
  • Carved balustrade staircase leading to opulent public rooms including a banquet-sized formal dining room with carved marble fireplace
  • Over-sized French doors leading to the loggia and grand terrace
  • Cozy library with 17th-century English paneling featured in Helen Comstock’s “One Hundred Most Beautiful Rooms in America.”
  • Grand music room
  • The mansion includes 12 bedrooms, including 4 master suites
  • 12 full baths and 3 half baths
  • Four kitchens
  • 12 fireplaces
  • In-ground pool
  • A six-car garage

It’s tough to argue with a sales pitch that calls House-On-Hill a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but given the location, the restoration and the history of the place, that pitch sounds right on key.

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$100 Million Home

June 19, 2011

A Russian investor has reportedly bought a Silicon Valley, Calif., mansion for a record $100 million – and plans to use it as his second home.

In a secret deal, Yuri Milner bought the 30,000-square-foot Los Altos Hills estate for the hefty price tag, according to the Wall Street Journal.  

The home took eight years to build (2001-2009), and the architect William Hablinski told the Journal that “there wasn’t a real budget” when it came to the design.  The Daily Mail reports that Milner doesn’t even plan to live there full time.

So what do you get for $100 million these days? Um, everything.

The five-bedroom home reportedly features a ballroom, home theater and indoor pool. Also on the French chateau-style estate: a tennis court, outdoor pool and manicured gardens.

The deal was reportedly handled by Sotheby‘s International and Keller Williams Realty.

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San Carlos Suffered Loss with Major Dead at 46

May 11, 2011

The city of San Carlos has announced San Carlos Mayor Omar Ahmad died after suffering a heart attack early this morning. He was 46.

Ahmad was elected to the San Carlos City Council in 2007. He had previously served as a member of the City‘s Economic Development Advisory Commission (EDAC). While on the City Council, Omar selected to serve as the Mayor of San Carlos in November by his fellow Council Members.

He was a well known entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, having been involved in the start up of a number of companies including the Discovery Channel, @Home, Trusted ID, Grand Central Communications, Napster, Netscape and most recently as the co-founder and CEO of SynCH Energy Corporation.

“Those of us at City Hall who had the opportunity to work with and get to know him are devastated by his loss,” said City Manager Jeff Maltbie. “Omar’s dedication to the citizens of San Carlos and his passion for democracy will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

Ahmad also served on the San Mateo County Transit District Board of Directors and was the Vice Chair of the Peninsula Joint Powers Board. The Transit District has lowered the flags at all its facilities to half-staff in memory and honor of Ahmad.

Caltrain Board President Sean Elsbernd said Ahmad was everything anyone could want in a human being, a public servant, and a friend. He had a good sense of humor. He was absolutely dedicated to public transit and his dedication was matched by his commitment. He also had something you don’t see often – an ability and a willingness, an eagerness, really, to look ahead, to see what the future could hold and to plan and prepare for that future. He loved working on the problems of today, but he loved even more thinking about the possibilities tomorrow could bring. I will miss him dearly.”

SamTrans Board President Karyl Matsumoto said, “We are all devastated by Omar’s passing. He was kind and funny, warm and genuine and he believed in the work he was doing on behalf of the public. Omar was not afraid to ask the tough questions or make difficult decisions. He was committed to the people who ride our buses and use our Paratransit service.

SamTrans General Manager/CEO and Caltrain Executive Director Michael J. Scanlon said, “He made things better – by his courage, by his vision, by his creativity, and, perhaps most especially, by his sense of humor and fun. He was deeply supportive of the men and women who work in the public arena and respectful of the work they do and the working people he served have lost a true champion.

“We were all very shocked and saddened by the news this morning when we heard that the mayor of San Carlos had suffered a heart attack,” Lieberman said. “We lost someone who had a very, very strong sense of civic responsibility and community. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to his family and friends and to all of San Carlos.”

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Devil’s Canyon Brewers

February 18, 2011

Beer Bottle of 'Nieuw Ligt', Dutch beer from t...

Image via Wikipedia

Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company

111 Industrial Road #7, Belmont.

Meet the Brewers: Food Truck – the Brewers Edition

Tied House Brewery and Hermitage Brewing Company

1627 S. 7th St. San Jose, CA 95112

February 19, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Admission: $25

Join us for the best mobile eats paired with the best local breweries from Silicon Valley and beyond. Just like the great minds that brought you Google and the microchip, these foodies and breweries are ahead of their time, and just all-around awesome. Don’t miss these great eats, local brews, and fantastically fun times.


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Angelica’s Bistro, Mother’s Day Ideas

May 8, 2010

One of my favorite places is Angelica’s. Another good spot for Mother’s Day. Check out all their other venues…. If you are still in need of Mother’s Day reservations, give them a call. I put down their information for you.
image If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, one that is unlike any on this continent, the place is Angelica’s Bistro. Quietly nestled in the back of one of the area’s most impressive antique emporiums, Angelica’s Bistro feels like it has been here since the 18th Century. But in fact it is the latest endeavor by entrepreneurs Peter and Angelica Cuschieri.Sit in the cozy alcoves and listen to live romantic music as you enjoy your meal. Or lean at the large counter and order your unique micro-brew beer. Or if you prefer, sit in the garden among dozens of gorgeous fountains and sculptures taking in the Redwood City sunshine on your afternoon tea.

While the surroundings are a delight, you’ll find Angleica’s Bistro is first and foremost about the food and drink. Come and enjoy!
Create Your Own Experience
imageAngelica’s Bistro is a place where you can design an event as simple as dinner for two, or a reception for 100 or more. Talk with restaurateur, Peter Cuschieri to customize the event you want to create.

Angelica’s Bistro
863 Main Street
Redwood City, CA 94063
Map and Directions
Main Queries
Phone: (650)365-3226 • Fax: (650)556-0800
E-mail Us

Entertainment Information
Live Entertainment Operations Manager – e-mail

For the Website
Send artist photo/poster with one paragraph description and url to webmaster.


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February 27, 2010

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 19:  A garbage truck ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Fifteen months after beating back a challenge from environmental groups at the ballot box, an Arizona developer’s plans to build the largest housing development on the shores of San Francisco Bay since Foster City was constructed 50 years ago are running into an increasing headwind.

 On Thursday, 92 current and former elected officials from all nine Bay Area counties signed a letter opposing the project — which would construct up to 12,000 homes on vacant land owned by Cargill Salt into a community of 25,000 people.

 Those coming out in opposition to the project — which would be east of Highway 101 next to the Port of Redwood City — included longtime Silicon Valley conservation leaders, such as former state senators Rebecca Morgan and Byron Sher.

Redwood City is undertaking an EIR process,” Hillan said. “That is the place where all comers are going to have their concerns raised and vetted in an open and transparent process. We’re disappointed that any elected official would seek to circumvent the process by which the public can seek to become more informed about not only the benefits, but the impact, that our project would have. 

In November 2008, Redwood City voters defeated Measure W, an initiative backed by environmentalists that would have required a two-thirds vote of city residents for any development on open space such as the 1,436-acre salt evaporation pond site at issue. Cargill and DMB then submitted a development application to the city in May.

But in the past six months, the project has faced a number of substantial new obstacles that foreshadow years of challenges, political headaches and almost-certain lawsuits if Redwood City eventually approves the plan.

  • On Feb. 9, the City Council of neighboring Menlo Park voted 4-1 to formally oppose the project
  • On Jan. 5, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which will have to issue a permit for development to go forward, wrote in a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers about the proposal that “San Francisco Bay and its adjacent waters are critically important aquatic resources that warrant special attention and protection.” The letter, from EPA regional water chief Alexis Strauss, also noted that any federal agency considering a permit must take into account “the recent successes in restoring aquatic functions to salt production facilities elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.”
  • In September, the leading shipping industry organization in Northern California came out in opposition, asserting that the project would create conflicts by putting new residents adjacent to the industrial facilities at the Port of Redwood City. Mike Jacob, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, called the project “a direct threat to the port’s operations and its long-term viability” in an editorial published in the Palo Alto Daily News.

    Hillan said that the project, which developers hope to start in 2013, remains on track.”It’s moving forward,” he said. “I wouldn’t characterize these as major bumps in the road.” He said the project is environmentally friendly because DMB and Cargill will build on only half of the site, used for salt crystallization for a century, and convert the rest to wetlands and parks. It also will provide infill housing, Hillan added, so Silicon Valley workers don’t have to commute as far to their jobs. And he noted that the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce and other organizations support the plan. The environmental opponents say the salt ponds are essentially part of the bay and none of them should be developed.

    “This project is DOA,” said Lennie Roberts, with the Committee for Green Foothills in Palo Alto. “There are huge hurdles that are becoming more and more evident.”

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