Wildfire Alert – Guidelines from Marin County Open Space

Today, I received the ANNUAL FIRE LETTER from the Marin County Department of Parks and Open Space.

This letter is especially critical at this time of year when fire risk is increasing; particularly with the fact that we are already facing a very dry summer season.

Here is the information on the letter, which can be found on the county website Wildfire Safety Information as well.

Excerpt from Marin County Open Space District:


It is extremely important that your clearance work does not start a fire and that you follow the guidelines below:

  • Confirm that the property you want to mow is owned by the Marin County Open Space District, not your neighbor or another agency. Information on lot lines and property ownership is available at the County Assessor-Recorder’s Office (499-7215, or go to http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/AR/main/index.cfm) and the County Community Development Agency (499-6269, or go to http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/CD/main/index.cfm).
  • Mow only grass. If you wish to cut brush or trees on Open Space District lands, you will need a permit; please call the District field office at 415-507-2816.
  • Never mow under high fire hazard RED FLAG conditions; call 415-499-7191 for current conditions.
  • In the heat of summer, mow early in the morning or during the evening when it is cooler and less likely that you could start a fire. Use extra caution with power mowers or other spark-producing tools.
  • Keep a 5-pound “ABC” fire extinguisher AND a fully charged garden hose at the work site while mowing or other work is taking place.
  • Do not use metal mowing heads on power scythes (weed whips) as they can spark from contact with rocks.
  • Make sure spark arrestors are in place and functioning.
  • Do not lay power tools in dry grass where hot metals may ignite flammable vegetation.
  • Re-fuel tools away from vegetation — on paved surfaces or cleared areas. Store gasoline away from site.
  • If possible, have someone spot you (keep a close watch) while you are working to watch for problems.
  • Watch for hikers and other open space visitors; cease work until they are clear from the work area.

Information on the Open Space District is available on the internet at: http://www.marinopenspace.org.

For guidelines on fire protection, call your local fire agency or check the internet:

Fire Safe Marin

Marin County Fire Prevention Officers


Marin County Fire Services

City of Novato Fire Services

FEMA – Wildfire brochure


Novato Real Estate Market Overview as of May 28, 2008

Interesting Novato Real Estate Market Trend, May 28, 2008

As there are more Short Sales and Bank Owned (REO) properties on the market, the trend is driving prices for short sales and REO properties downwards; attracting bargain hunters while higher end properties move slower and more cautiously.   

Coupled with the new programs since the announcement of the new Jumbo Loan limits, the consumers are out shopping again and will not wait when the right property comes along.  Instead of two loan threasholds, conforming (up to $417,000) and Jumbo (over $417,000); there are now three brackets – Conforming (up to $417,000), Super Conforming (between $417,000 and $729,250) and Jumbo ($729,250 and up).  The consumers are certainly taking advantage of that! 

For the lower end properties, some borrowers are checking into certain low income financing plan as well as the revived FHA loans (Check out FHA loans in another post). 

Many first time home buyers and people relocating from out of state or other california housing markets are quite excited about the prospect of finally being able to own a home in Marin county.  

Keep a close eye on the market. Make sure you get all your ducks in a row and jump in when a great deal comes along! you informed!   



Total Units/ In Escrow


% Active


% Pending

% +/- since 4/30

All SFD’s and CID’s
























$0 -$500K SFD
















$600,001 – $700K








$700,001 – $800K








$800,001 – $999,999








$1M – $1.25M








$1.25M – $1.5M
















  • Buyer’s Market  < 25%
  • Neutral                25% – 40%
  • Seller’s Market   > 40%

Marin County Farmers Market Up and Running

Marin County Farmers Market - Courtsey of Marin IJMARIN COUNTY FARMERS MARKET SCHEDULE 

May marks the opening of most Marin County Farmers Markets, other than the newly approved Ross Farmers Market which received the authorization from the Ross Town Council on  4/10/08.

The Ross Farmers Market will run from 4 to 8PM, Thursday nights from June through September.  The market will begin after Ross School goes on summer break, to avoid traffic issues downtown. 

The following is the list of market and respective schedule as reported by local Marin paper, Marin IJ. www.MarinIJ.com

Corte Madera Farmers Market, Town Center courtyard in Corte Madera noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays year-round.. Call 382-7846.

San Rafael – Marin Civic Center Farmers Markets, by the lagoon Thursdays and behind the Civic Center Sundays, both from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round. Call 472-6100 or go to www.marinfarmersmarket.org.

San Rafael – Downtown San Rafael Farmers Market, Fourth Street between B Street and Lincoln, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 25. Fruits and vegetables, arts and crafts, baked goods and entertainment. Call 457-2266.

Fairfax Farmers Market, 124 Bolinas Road, 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through October. Call 472-6100, ext. 113, or go to www.marinfarmersmarket.org.

Larkspur Farmers Market, Larkspur Landing Circle at Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through September. Call 382-7846.

Novato Farmers Market, Grant Avenue, 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sept. 30. Call 472-6100, ext. 104, or go to www.marinfarmersmarket.org.

Sausalito Farmers Market, Ferry Landing parking lot at Tracy and Bridgeway, 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays through October. Call 382-7846.

Where to Buy U.S. (NOT Imported) Gas?

Following up wiith the previous Gas Saving Hints, here is some information I found about where to buy Gas that produced in the U.S., …………

Gas rationing in the 80’s worked even though we grumbled about it. It might even be good for us! The Saudis are boycotting American goods. We should return the favor. An interesting thought is to boycott their GAS. Every time you fill up the car, you can avoid putting more money into the coffers of Saudi Arabia.

Just buy from gas companies that don’t import their oil from the Saudis. Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling that every time I fill-up the tank, I am sending my money to people who are trying to kill me, my family, and my friends.

I thought it might be interesting for you to know which oil companies are the best to buy gas from and which major companies import Middle Eastern oil.  

These companies import Middle Eastern oil:

  Shell………………………. 205,742,000 barrels 
  Chevron / Texaco……… 144,332,000 barrels 
  Exxon / Mobil…………… 130,082,000 barrels 
  Marathon/Speedway….. 117,740,000 barrels 
  Amoco…………………….. 62,231,000 barrels 
  Citgo gas is from South America, from a Dictator who hates Americans.

If you do the math, at $30/barrel, these imports amount to over $18 BILLION!  (Oil is now $90 – $100 a barrel).

Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:

            Sunoco………………0 barrels
            Conoco……………..0 barrels
            Sinclair……………..0 barrels
            BP / Phillips / 76….0 barrels
            Hess…………………0 barrels
            ARC0……………….0 barrels

All of this information is available from the Department of Energy and each company is required to report where they get their oil from and how much they are importing.

But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of gas buyers. It’s really simple to do. Now, don’t wimp out at this point…. keep reading and I’ll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

If each of you (assume 10 of you read this article) sends it to at least ten more (10 x 10 = 100)…and those 100 send it to at least ten more (100 x 10 = 1,000) .. and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over  ONE MILLION consumers !!!!!!! If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 10 million people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further, you guessed it . .. ONE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!! Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people. How long would all that take?


Premium Gas – Get Most For Your Money

With Gas price skyrocketing ($4.00+ May 6th and $4.50+ June 20th per gallon in Marin), I really appreciate getting the follwing tips on how to effectively pump gas and save the precious commodity – money and Gas.  And yes, I have been doing everything wrong until now…

1) Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold.

Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground, the more dense the gasoline. When it gets warmer, gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening…your gallon is not exactly a gallon.

In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role. A 1-degree rise in temperature makes a big difference.  The service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps as the distributors do.  So make sure you only pump the gas when the temperature is low.    2) When you’re filling up, do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. If you look, you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. In slow mode you would be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return system. If you are pumping on the fast rate, more of the liquid that goes into your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are sucked up and fed back into the underground storage tank, so you’re getting less gas for your money.

3) One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL (or HALF EMPTY). The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank, the less air there will be occupying the tank’s empty space. More air = more evaporation.


Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves to create zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so as to minimize the evaporation of the fuel.4) Another reminder:  If there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up–most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles to the bottom of the tank.


Hope this will help you save a little when you pump those precious gas!

Marin County Population Marks Growth in 2007

According to Marin Independent Journal (Marin IJ), the populaton in Marin Country grew by 2,326 in 2007, almost a 1% growth, the largest jump in 4 years.

Marin population grew from 255,080 to 257,406; a 0.9% growth from 01/01/2007 to 12/31/2007; which is in line with those of the state of California, which measures growth from 07/01/2006 thrun 06/30/2007.

Mill Valley had the largest growth percent wise at 1.1%, or 154 residents; San Rafael, on the contrary, saw the smallest growth of 0.7% or 392 residents.

Property type wise, Novato has the most single-family detached homes, at 12, 196; and the largest number of mobile homes at 718. San Rafael has the largest number o multi-unit apartments, at 2,070. Ross has the laragest number of people per household, with 2.97; while Sausalito hasthe smallest, at 1.74.

The largest city in Marin county is San Rafael, with 58,235 residents, followed by Novato, at 52,737. The smallest city in Marin is Belvedere, 2,161.

California’s population grew by 1.3% t 38 million with 490,000 new residents in 2007. One out of eight Americans now lives in California (12.5%).

San Francisco grew a whole 1.5% during 2007. The new population is 824,525 on 12/31/2007.

Daily Mortgage Rate Lock Advisory


The following is an Advisory posted by A La Mode, which provides us with Mortgage commentary for our clients. This is only an opinion from A La Mode. Since each borrower’s needs are different, this advisory can not be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.

Thursday’s bond market has opened in positive territory despite the release of stronger than expected economic data. The stock markets are reacting positively with the Dow up 50 points and the Nasdaq up 40 points. The bond market is currently up 8/32, which with yesterday’s late gains should improve mortgage rates by approximately .375 – .500 of a discount point over yesterday’s morning rates.

There were two pieces of monthly data posted this morning. The first was March’s Personal Income & Outlays report that showed personal income fell short of forecasts with a 0.3% rise but that spending rose 0.4% when it was expected to rise only 0.2%. That means that consumers spent more than expected and that is considered bad news for bonds.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) released their manufacturing index for April late this morning. It showed a reading of 48.6, meaning that manufacturer sentiment remained unchanged from March to April. Anal ysts were expecting to see a small decline, so this report could also be taken as a negative towards bonds. However, the market seems to not be too concerned with it. Trader are probably waiting for tomorrow’s data before making any moves.

The almighty Employment report will be released early tomorrow morning, giving us April’s employment statistics. This is where we may see a huge rally or major sell-off in the bond market and large changes in mortgage rates. The ideal situation for the bond and mortgage markets would be an increase in the unemployment rate and fewer than expected new payrolls. Just how much of an improvement or worsening depends on how much variance there is between forecasts and actual readings. This could turn out to be a wonderful day in the mortgage market, but it also carries risks of seeing mortgage rates move higher if the Labor Department posts stronger than expected readings. Current forecasts are calling for a 5.2% unemployment rate and approximately 75,000 jobs lost during the month.

Tomorrow’s second report and the last of the week is March’s Factory Orders data at 10:00AM. This is a fairly important release because it measures manufacturing sector strength. It is similar to last week’s Durable Goods Orders, except this report includes non-durable goods such as food and clothing. Generally, the market is more concerned with the durable goods orders like refrigerators and electronics than items such as cigarettes and toothpaste. This is why the Durable Goods report usually has more of an impact on the financial markets than the Factory Orders report does. Still, a smaller increase than the 0.2% that is expected could push mortgage rates slightly lower, while a larger increase will likely lead to higher rates. But, the employment numbers are of much more importance to the markets than this data is.

If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would….

  • Float if my closing was taking place within 7 days…
  • Float if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days…
  • Float if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days…
  • Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now…

Note: As stated previously, this is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.