Archive for July, 2011

Protecting Our San Francisco Bay: EBMUD Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program

July 28, 2011

Original article here.

Rainwater Infiltration into Sewer Line

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in collaboration with the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) is spearheading an effort to keep the San Francisco Bay clean. The EPA and the RWQCB are requiring EBMUD, six East Bay cities and one sewer district to fix old, cracked sewer pipes to ensure they don’t allow the infiltration of rainwater which can overwhelm wastewater treatment facilities, resulting in releases of partially treated sewage into the Bay and posing a threat to public health.

Leaky sewer pipes are a problem for everyone, and the plan to address this concern involves all of us. EBMUD and its partners are phasing in a Regional Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) Ordinance in some east bay communities to help keep San Francisco Bay healthy. Affected property owners will be required to obtain a certificate from EBMUD indicating that their private sewer laterals (PSLs) are without defects and have proper connections.

Regional PSL Program Start Dates

The Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program will be phased in between August and December 2011 for some East Bay communities and will require people selling their property, building or remodeling (greater than $100,000) or requesting a different size water meter to fix their leaking sewer laterals first. Property owners will be required to obtain a Compliance Certificate from EBMUD.

The Regional PSL Program start dates are listed below. The program will be effective for escrows, building/remodel permits, or water service applications opened on or after the program start date in each community.

Neighborhood Meetings

EBMUD, the EPA and municipal officials are working together to inform residents of the ordinance and assist with compliance. The agencies are reaching out to affected communities to jointly explain the requirements and to be available to answer questions. Public Meetings for the cities of Emeryville and Piedmont have already been scheduled. Attend the meeting in your community to learn more about the Regional PSL Program requirements and what you need to do to comply.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a private sewer lateral (PSL)?
A sewer lateral is the pipe that connects the plumbing in a home or business to the sewer main, usually located in the street. The PSL carries sewage from a building to a public sewer. It is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the sewer lateral.

How does the Private Sewer Lateral Program protect the San Francisco Bay?
By property owners inspecting, testing and repairing old cracked sewer pipes it heps to ensure that during storms rainwater does not enter sewer lines. Too much rainwater can overwhelm the sewer system and the treatment plant, causing releases of partially-treated sewage into the Bay.

What are the problems associated with private sewer laterals?
Many East Bay homes were built before 1950, and most have never had their original sewer laterals replaced. Over time, these pipelines, generally made of clay, can crack or become disjointed, become displaced, and/or become subjected to intrusion by rainwater and tree roots, which can cause leaks and blockages. In addition, some sewer laterals lack the right kind of “cleanout,” which provides access for clearing blockages.

Where does this private sewer lateral program apply?
These requirements will affect properties in the EBMUD wastewater service area in Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont, El Cerrito, Kensington and the Richmond Annex. The cities of Alameda, Albany and Berkeley have local private sewer lateral ordinances already in effect. Check with these cities for their specific PSL requirements.

When are property owners required to obtain a compliance certificate?
The ordinance specifies three conditions which require property owners to test and, if needed, repair or replace their private sewer laterals:

  • Prior to selling the property; or
  • When obtaining any permit for the construction or modification of the property estimated to be greater than $100,000; or
  • When increasing or decreasing EBMUD water service that requires a change in meter size.

Why does EBMUD require a verification test on the private sewer lateral?
EBMUD determined that an air pressure test or water exfiltration test is the best way to ensure that the lateral is free of leaks.

How long is the Compliance Certificate good for?
If the sewer lateral is a complete replacement, the certificate is valid for 20 years. For certificates obtained without complete replacement (repaired or tested without repair), the certificate is valid for 7 years.

For More Information

The documents below are PDF files which can be viewed and printed with Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free software.

Download documents here.

Live like The Dude: Big Lebowski Bungalow Up for Sale – for $2.3 million

July 28, 2011

The abode: The Venice, California property featured in the Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski is on the market

 By Jennifer Madison   (original article here)

If you’ve dreamed of living like The Dude from Big Lebowski since 1998 – here’s your chance.

The one-bedroom bungalow Jeff Bridges’ character lived in for Joel and Ethan Coen’s cult film is on the market.

But with a nearly $2.3million price tag for the Venice, California property, it’s unlikely El Duderino himself would have scrounged up the cash to crash there.

The six one-bedroom cottages at 606-608 Venezia Avenue are being sold as a group by local Bulldog Realtors.

According to the listing, The Big Lebowski Compound’s ‘historic’ one bedroom cottages sit on 10,628 sq ft lot, blocks to the beach and Abbot Kinney.

But the property has had a major facelift since the film, helping the owners, who live out of town, to push up the asking price to $2.295million.

In 2005, the compound underwent major renovations, including new sewer line and roofing.

The property features ‘spacious side-yards and a lushly landscaped gated courtyard,’ according to listing agent Winston Cenac.

He told L.A. Weekly: ‘It’s a gorgeous little compound. Some of the tenants are decorators, so on the inside, the units just look primo.’

But could The Dude afford it?

That's a steep price tag for The Dude.

‘There’s no way,’ he said. ‘In the movie the whole compound is very rundown.’

One thing he warns – film fans may be knocking on your door if you buy the pad.

Cenac said strangers stop by regularly to snap pictures of the front porch.

‘On the Venice Garden tour, a big group of people recognised it. A German fellow came by to have his picture taken before leaving,’ he said.

California REALTORS® Applaud New Law on Short Sales

July 27, 2011

By Leslie Berkman

RISMEDIA, July 26, 2011—(MCT)—Under a new state law, any lender who agrees to a short sale—which by definition will yield insufficient funds to cover the outstanding loans on a property—must accept it as payment in full for all loan balances. That is a good thing for upside-down homeowners who need to sell, says the California Association of REALTORS®.

In a prepared statement applauding Gov. Jerry Brown for signing SB 458 into law, the association observed that previously a first mortgage holder could accept an agreed-upon short sale payment as full payment for the first mortgage but a junior lien holder could still hound the seller for the full amount owned on the junior lien.

“The signing of this bill is a victory for California homeowners who have been forced to short sell their home only to find that the lender will pursue them after the short sale closes, and demand an additional payment to subsidize the difference,” says association President Beth L. Peerce.

“SB 458 brings closure and certainty to the short sale process and ensures that once a lender has agreed to accept a short sale payment on a property, all lien holders—those in first position and in junior positions—will consider the outstanding balance as paid in full and the homeowner will not be held responsible for any additional payments on the property,” she adds.

Those shopping for a home in the $500,000 to $1 million price range should not tarry. That is because they will probably face higher interest rates and more strict underwriting standards and will need to make a larger down payment later this year when conforming loan limits increase, cautions California Association of REALTORS® President Beth L. Peerce.

“Would-be buyers on the fence need to act well before Sept. 30, when the conforming loan limit is set to be lowered, to avoid a higher cost of homeownership,” Peerce said in a prepared statement.

Lowering the limits on mortgages eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could have a broader impact than on individual homebuyers, says Peerce. “As the housing market tries to gain a more solid footing, the decrease in conforming loan limits that is scheduled for later this year could adversely affect the market,” she says.

Copyright (c) 2011, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

Caldecott’s Shalene Rose featured in the SF Chronicle!

July 20, 2011

S.F., Oakland in top 10 most walkable U.S. cities

Carolyn Said, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hoofing it to shops and services is easy in San Francisco and Oakland, according to a survey being released today that ranks the two among the top 10 most walkable big cities in the country.

Among the nation’s 50 largest cities, San Francisco was the second most walkable, after New York, and Oakland ranked 10th, said Seattle’s Walk Score, which assigns numerical ratings on a scale of 1 to 100 that quantify how close any address is to amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, schools and parks. Being within one-quarter mile of destinations garners the highest ratings.

An independent report from CEOs for Cities showed that each Walk Score point was worth $3,000 in home value.

“Since the MLS prohibits using the word ‘walking’ with marketing, Walk Score offers a nondiscriminatory interpretation, provided by a third party, of where the property is located in relation to stores, restaurants, public transportation,” said Francine Di Palma, an agent with Pacific Union in San Francisco. “More buyers, young and old, want to be in an area where services and amenities are easily available and Walk Score assists with this.”

Access to amenities

Dense neighborhoods with easy foot access to amenities have serious upsides for both society and the environment, experts said.

“As gasoline gets more expensive and as Americans begin to grapple seriously with what to do about climate change, we’re seeing the end of the old American dream of big homes and easy driving, with a renewed focus on urban living as the ideal,” said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association think tank. “I think it’s a great sign to see people caring about Walk Scores when they decide where to live.”

Both San Francisco (Walk Score: 84.9) and Oakland (Walk Score: 68.2) are full of areas that offer lively destinations, Walk Score said.

“San Francisco has 31 neighborhoods we refer to as walkers’ paradise with scores of 90 or higher,” said Josh Herst, Walk Score CEO, citing Chinatown, the Financial District, Haight-Ashbury, North Beach, Pacific Heights, Telegraph Hill and Nob Hill as among them.

Oakland’s most-walkable areas include Downtown, Civic Center, Chinatown, Lakewide, Old City, San Pablo Gateway, Piedmont Avenue and Waverly.

Homes near shopping

“Oakland has areas like Piedmont and Rockridge with a lot of single-family homes close together but also close to shopping areas,” said Matt Lerner, Walk Score chief technology officer. “It’s expensive because it’s such a desirable form of housing with the benefits of single-family homes such as yards, but near to restaurants, grocery stores and coffee shops.”

But more-affordable transit-oriented developments such as Fruitvale Village also ranked high, he said.

Started in 2007, Walk Score soon became ubiquitous in real estate ads, with agents touting properties’ walkability. The company said more than 10,000 websites now feature its neighborhood information, which includes a suite of mapping and data services.

“It adds more information to what people are seeing online,” said Shalene Rose, an agent with Caldecott Properties in Oakland. “These days, buyers can gain a lot of knowledge about a property before venturing out to actually see it. If they don’t know the area that well, the Walk Score helps them know what type of neighborhood it is, and they can assess whether it’s worth going to an open house.”

Walk Score said its unique proposition is putting a quantitative rank on walkability.

“We try to make it very easy for people to compare the houses they’re looking at,” Lerner said. “One reason it’s caught on is that it’s very personal: Every house has a Walk Score.”

Top 10 walkable cities

Walk Score ranked the 50 largest U.S. cities by how easily residents can walk to amenities like shops, restaurants and parks, on a scale of 1 to 100.

1. New York (85.3)

2. San Francisco (84.9)

3. Boston (79.2)

4. Chicago (74.3)

5. Philadelphia (74.1)

6. Seattle (73.7)

7. Washington, D.C. (73.2)

8. Miami (72.5)

9. Minneapolis (69.3)

10. Oakland (68.2)

Source: Walk Score

E-mail Carolyn Said at

This article appeared on page D – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more:

And the Winner of the Open House iPad Scavenger Hunt is….

July 11, 2011

Our own Michael Braillard randomly hand-picked the winners this morning…(drum roll)

Congratulations to Keith Lichten for winning the iPad Scavenger Hunt drawing!

2nd Place went to Jeremy Weintraub ($50 Apple gift certificate) and Stephanie Medina ($25 Apple gift certificate) came in 3rd. Congrats, you two!

We had a lot of people come out to our open houses and take part in this fun scavenger hunt! Thanks to all of you who participated, Liked Us on Facebook and entered the contest!

Stay tuned for upcoming Caldecott contests & giveaways – and remember you can always get our most up-to-date East Bay listings at and our Facebook page.

Special thanks to our helpful & knowledgable Caldecott agents for hosting our open lofts/condos: Michael Braillard, Jeanine Weller, Jeanne Trombly, Antoine Pirson, Etta Brown, Don Dunbar and Nathan Zagal.

iPad SCAVENGER HUNT this SUNDAY, JULY 10th from 1-5PM!

July 5, 2011

Download the Scavenger Guide:


…We really want you to like us. So much so we’ll bribe you with an iPad. But we’re not gonna make it that easy….

Hunt through 7 of our awesome East Bay lofts + condos!

The rules are simple:

LIKE US on Facebook now. Yes, we mean now. If you don’t you can’t win.

CHECK IN on Facebook via your smartphones at the 7 super rad open houses on the scavenger guide. Yes, all 7 of them. Don’t worry, this is easier than you think and you don’t have to do them in any particular order. You may only check in between 1-5pm on the day of the event. If you don’t have a smartphone, have the agent initial the open house you attended.

ANSWER 7 questions on the scavenger guide.

CORRECTLY ANSWER 7 questions, attend all the open houses & you are entered to win an iPad! (don’t worry, we have awesome prizes for 2nd + 3rd place too!) Drawing will be held Monday, July 11th.

So just a recap:

Be a person who likes going to open houses. Like us on Facebook. Check in at 7 open houses day of event. Answer the 7 scavenger questions.

Good luck!