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“Affordable” Housing in Sonoma County? Yes!

Posted on September 15, 2020 by Admin

Sticker shock was in full force when I moved from Northern Colorado to Northern California in 2016. In Colorado, $350,000 could get you a modest three bedroom, two bath rancher along the Front Range. In Sonoma County wine country? Not so much.

I had about $80,000 as a down payment and a new job and after adjusting to the new market metrics, I began to get acclimated to my environs and the crazy California housing market. I was renting a downtown Santa Rosa apartment for about $2200 a month…..renting. It was driving me crazy because who wants to throw away that much money every month towards something you don’t own and that pays someone else’s mortgage? For the past twenty years I had owned my own home and I knew the value of owning rather than renting. In addition to having your investment appreciate in dollars, there is also the psychological value of knowing that you are in charge of where you live (meaning, no landlord to raise the rent or end your lease or decide to sell).

After getting my ducks in a row and working with a good realtor, I discovered an established town home complex called Courtyards East in Windsor and fell in love. The complex is mostly owner-occupied and surrounded by heirloom oaks and mature Redwoods and maples. Located near the 101 highway it also made for easy commuting. Once I discovered all the nearby hiking trails, I really fell in love and felt like I had stumbled upon a secret that not many others seemed to know about. And the town of Windsor is so quaint and cool–Oliver’s Market, Russian River Brewing Company, and weekly town green concerts in the summer (pre-COVID). And there are so many other great places nearby….world-renowned Calistoga is a mere 30 minutes around the corner, and the  same for funky Russian River towns like Guerneville and Monte Rio with the coast just a few minutes further. And don’t forget Santa Rosa and all its conveniences is a short drive down the highway, with Healdsburg only five miles north and always a draw for wine tasting, shopping and dining.

Three years have passed since I got my foot firmly lodged in the Sonoma County real estate market and it’s time to let someone else do the same and take advantage of “affordable” housing in Sonoma County. My beautiful town home, which holds so many great memories, is now available as I transition into a new life in a new home with a great guy (soon to be my husband). If you are done with renting and want a home under $400,000, and want to take advantage of today’s crazy-low mortgage rates, come take a look at my place at 216 Courtyards East in Windsor. You’ll be glad you did!

Late Summer Hikes in Sonoma County

Posted on September 12, 2018 by Admin

There aren’t very many days of summer left, but there are still plenty of hot days ahead in Sonoma County. Here are some hikes that will help get you outside and beat the heat.

Sonoma Coast

The Kortum, Pomo Canyon, and Red Hill trails are all located in the same area of the Sonoma Coast, each trail offers something unique. For an easier stroll, try the Kortum—the flat trail offers 8.9 miles of hiking on the bluff above the Pacific. For expansive views hike to the top of Red Hill. From the summit you can see Napa County as well as the Farallon Islands on a clear day. Pomo Canyon is a showcase of the cooler forest ecosystems that can be found in Sonoma County, with bay trees, redwoods, and hillside streams that provide refreshing contrast to the open coastal hills.

Santa Rosa

Annadel and Spring Lake have a variety of trails to suit different hiking levels. The trail around Spring Lake is paved and offers views of the lake and wetlands along its length. Spring Lake features a swimming lagoon, a boat ramp, and boat rentals. For the more ambitious, head up through Annadel to Lake Ilsanjo. Swimming in it’s water provides a haven for hot hikers and mountain bikers.


Forestville/Healdsburg

Located on Eastside Road amongst vineyards and wineries is Riverfront Regional Park. The park is located at site of a former gravel mine, and the two abandoned gravel pits are now large ponds. The trail that loops around the second pond is mostly shaded, and has plenty of access for those who want to try their luck fishing. The Russian River forms the western border of the park and has a several good swimming holes, perfect for cooling dips. A redwood grove near the parking area is a great place for shaded picnics.

*images courtesy of parks.ca.gov

Fabulous New Hiking Grounds: Jenner Headlands Preserve

Posted on September 11, 2018 by Admin

Plan your visit

WHERE: The Jenner Headlands gateway is located 2 miles north of the town of Jenner on Highway 1. The gate will be open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset. Parking is limited.

DOGS: Dogs on leash are allowed on the headlands, though not on the final mile of Sea to Sky, which is on Pole Mountain land.

BIKES, HORSES: Neither mountain bikes nor horses are currently allowed on the headlands except during guided rides scheduled several times each year.

For more information and to subscribe to the preserve newsletter, visit their website.

JENNER — Anyone who has ever driven past the hills that rise sharply here from the coast north of the Russian River outlet and wondered about the view from the top need wait little longer.

On Friday, the gates to the Jenner Headlands Preserve will be open to the public, adding an open space larger than Trione-Annadel State Park to the mix of protected, accessible lands lining the scenic Sonoma Coast.

The step marks the culmination of more than a decade of planning and development, and the preserve — set aside with public and private money — offers some of the most stunning vistas to be found north of the Golden Gate, with a full suite wildlife and natural habitat shielded in perpetuity from housing development.

And the highest peak on the Sonoma Coast, 2,204-foot Pole Mountain, overlooks it all, beckoning to hikers up for a strenuous 15-mile round-trip trek with significant elevation gain.

“The best of Sonoma County,” is how Neal Fishman describes it. Now a board member of the Sonoma Land Trust, which helped spearhead deals that protected the properties, he was formerly deputy executive officer of the California Coastal Conservancy, which provided funding toward the $36 million headlands purchase in 2009.

The grand opening may be the most significant in a generation for hikers and other local nature enthusiasts in a region rich with opportunities to get out on the land.

“It’s something that folks here in Sonoma County and beyond have been looking forward to for a long time,” said Dave Koehler, executive director of Sonoma Land Trust, the Santa Rosa-based nonprofit.

At 5,630 acres, the headlands property offers nearly 14 miles of trails across varied terrain that includes mixed conifer forest, coastal prairie and oak woodland.

It spans more than 2.5 miles of the coast just north of the Russian River mouth, with steep hills that rise from the eastern side of Highway 1, giving visitors sweeping views of the ocean and coastline stretching south to Point Reyes National Seashore.

Its link with Pole Mountain, set aside in a 238-acre property purchased in 2014 by Sonoma Land Trust, offers hearty trekkers a chance to test their lungs and legs on a rare sea-to-peak climb.

The mountaintop, with a working fire lookout, takes in 360-degree views reaching far across the North Bay — to Cobb Mountain in Lake County, Mount St. Helena in Napa County and Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County.

On days without fog, you can see the Farallon Islands 20 miles outside the Golden Gate, said Bill Keene, general manager of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. The taxpayer-supported agency provided more than $9 million toward the headlands purchase, which remains the highest-dollar public land deal on record in Sonoma County.

It was the crowning achievement of a public-private campaign that began in 2005 and involved 10 funding partners by the time the deal was completed four years later, at the height of the nation’s economic crisis.

Held initially by the Sonoma Land Trust, the land was transferred in 2013 to the Southern California-based Wildlands Conservancy, which floated and guaranteed a combined $10.6 million in loans to close the sale at the 11th hour, according to those involved in the acquisition. The conservancy now manages the preserve. Other lenders for the deal included the Save the Redwoods League and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Additional funding came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Forest Service, totaling nearly $7 million; the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, at $4 million; and the state Coastal Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Board, totaling $16 million.

“The Sonoma Coast is such an incredible landscape, and people have been living there, enjoying the headlands for millennia,” Koehler said. “To take the effort of our partners who were able to protect that land 10 years ago and now be in a place where it can be open to the public for all to enjoy, we’re just really thrilled that this has come about, and we’re anxious to see people enjoying it.”

The subsequent $2.35 million purchase of Pole Mountain, extended the open space to the north and connected the headlands with another Sonoma Land Trust property, the 500-acre Little Black Mountain Preserve. The Pole Mountain deal included $1 million from the Open Space District, $650,000 from the California Wildlife Conservation Board, $350,000 from the state Coastal Conservancy and $350,000 from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

The resulting expanse of contiguous open space is more than 6,300 acres — approaching half the size of Manhattan.

The area was vulnerable to subdivision and development, particularly the headlands ranch, for which plans already had been drawn up, said Brook Edwards, preserve manager and regional director for the nonprofit Wildlands Conservancy. The Pole Mountain site also had been evaluated for vineyard development.

After the acreage was acquired, the focus shifted to thinning overgrown forest, shoring up streambeds and other steps to assure preservation of native plant species. Public access was always in the plans, but it took years to figure out exactly how to incorporate such use on a sensitive coastal landscape subject to tighter regulations.

The new public trailhead, a 6-acre gateway just off Highway 1, includes 34 parking spots in a split-level lot, a restroom, 400 feet of wheelchair-accessible pathway, a scenic overlook and day-use area designed to blend in with the scenery. It features a complex drainage system of bioswales, an infiltration pond, and dozens of pipes buried in the hillside to prevent runoff and erosion.

Native plants were put in to soften the effects of the infrastructure and rock quarried from the site has been used to try to mask the restroom, which is dug into the side of the hill. It has a living roof that should sprout plans once rain arrives, Edwards said.

From the day-use area, looping trails lead to places such as Raptor Ridge, Hawk Hill and Sentinel Point, located above Highway 1, where a permanent telescope has been installed for whale-watching and other uses.

The trail system is part of the California Coastal Trail, an envisioned 1,200-mile ribbon of pathways along the length of the state, within sight, sound and scent of the ocean.

The demanding Sea to Sky Trail leads to Pole Mountain offers what it advertises: a taxing 15-mile round-trip hike with no water along the way.

Intrepid hikers should start early and be prepared, advised Sonoma Land Trust spokeswoman Sheri Cardo.

Those who do, said Keene, “are going to be rewarded with one of the most epic views that you can get in the Bay Area, for sure.”

News This Week: New Old Growth Redwood Park Larger Than Muir Woods and Weekly Real Estate News

Posted on June 29, 2018 by Admin

EACH WEEK WE COLLECT TOP LOCAL AND REAL ESTATE STORIES HOT OFF THE PRESS FOR YOUR WEEKEND CLICKING PLEASURE.

Oldest Redwood in Sonoma County
Save the Redwoods League has acquired 730 acres of northern Sonoma County coast. The land features incredible old growth redwood trees, including what may be the oldest tree in the County. Over the next few years, it will be turned into a public park larger than Muir Woods.  READ MORE

Free Flowing Wine
Free Flow Wines, a leading company in the fastest growing sector of the wine industry, is moving their operation from Napa to Sonoma. The move will increase the company’s capacity and provide additional bulk storage space for their premium wine-in-a-can service.  READ MORE

Home Sales Rising
The Commerce Department reported that new home sales increased by 6.7% in May. The trends looks like it will continue, with expectations that “improved economic growth, continued job creation and solid housing demand should spur additional single-family construction in the months ahead.” READ MORE

Surprising New Design Ideas
Designers are striving to make our homes healthier and more functional by integrating the microbiome into new and creative products — including wallpaper that filters the air and attractive flooring generated from “waste” materials. READ MORE

 

 

News This Week: Help for Homebuyers and California State Park Highlight

Posted on June 22, 2018 by Admin

EACH WEEK WE COLLECT TOP STORIES HOT OFF THE PRESS FOR YOUR WEEKEND CLICKING PLEASURE.

Annadel
This article takes a look at one of the incredible parks we have in Sonoma County ― Annadel State Park. “While the park today is primarily a recreation magnet, the landscape itself has stories to tell, and the natural history of Annadel is a fascinating tour through time and change.” READ MORE

On The Rise
A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists describes the potential impacts of sea level rise in coastal California. Although global climate change may impact other states before California, tidal flooding is “inevitable.” READ MORE

Help for Homebuyers
Santa Clara County supervisors have approved a program that allocates $25 million in funding that will support first time home buyers with down payments. READ MORE

Sonoma Listed as One of Coolest Towns in America
Budget Travel just released its list of the “10 Coolest Small Towns in America.” No surprise to local residents, the town of Sonoma came in at the top of the list, taking the number two spot. READ MORE

 

News This Week: New Housing and Hiking Trails In Sonoma County’s Future

Posted on June 15, 2018 by Admin

EACH WEEK WE COLLECT TOP STORIES HOT OFF THE PRESS FOR YOUR WEEKEND CLICKING PLEASURE.

NEW HOUSING IN SONOMA COUNTY’S FUTURE
The Santa Rosa City Council and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors are moving forward to create an agency that will help foster home building in targeted areas. They hope that the new agency will be an “aggressive mechanism used by local governments to create new housing in the county.  READ MORE

RAILS TO TRAILS
The California State Senate passed a proposal from Mike McGuire that would turn the tracks owned by the North Coast Rail Authority into a 300 mile long hiking trail. The trail would stretch from Napa and Marin Counties all the way to Humboldt Bay.
READ MORE

HOME DESIGN INSPIRATION
This article from Sotheby’s gives some great ideas for transforming your home into an oasis of relaxation. “The formula for your own relaxed haven is quite simple: a little light, some sea-blue accents, open-air living, and the potential for fun.” READ MORE

REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY NEWS
The Counselors of Real Estate have just released a list of the 10 most important factors affecting the industry. The list is a great way to stay ahead of the game in the current real estate market.
READ MORE

 

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