Tag Archive: Pleasanton


The author of Almost DailyBrett served as a chief spokesman for California Governor George Deukmejian for seven years (eight years when one counts the 1982 gubernatorial campaign).

He also cut his teeth as a reporter covering the Proposition 13 tax revolt way back in 1978.

And yet there is the realization that he may never return on a permanent basis to California.Calcoast

And likewise, there are literally hundreds of thousands who may never leave their present California residence/rental for another in the state or even across town because they simply can’t.

The problem:

Where can they move?

What will they pay?

How much is the new mortgage?

How much is the new rent?

How much are the increased property taxes?

How much are the income, sales and gas taxes?

How much are the bridge tolls?

Will it still take 45 minutes to drive five miles?

Yes, there are Golden State Handcuffs. Even though they glisten in the light, they are still handcuffs.

Stockton, Modesto, Visalia, Bakersfield

Lovely Central Valley destinations, such as Stockton, Modesto, Visalia and Bakersfield, are all doable for those who want to move to the Golden State. The Mercury rarely exceeds 115-degrees in the summer and the mind-numbing Tule fog usually lifts after about six weeks in the winter.bakersfield

The fortunate ones are those who have found their pads in livable places in the Golden State, but can they actually leave if they wanted to and go someplace else? For far too many, the answer is “no.”

One of the reasons is taxes. When it comes to levies California has every one of them: income, sales, property, gas, bridge tolls etc., etc., etc.

The top federal rate is 39.6 percent and 30 percent for capital gains, figures that need to be factored into this discussion. California’s “progressive” income tax rate tops out at 13.3 percent, the nation’s highest. Translated: high-salary earners spend more than half the year to pay both the feds and the state.

My present home in Ellensburg, Washington has nada state income tax, but we do pay an 8 percent sales tax.

My adopted state of Oregon has zero sales tax.

Folks in San Diego are paying 8 percent sales tax, Sacramento, 8.50 percent; San Francisco, 8.75 percent; Los Angeles, 9 percent. Can piercing the psychologically important double-digit rate to buy virtually anything be far behind? Don’t be surprised by a 10 percent+ sales tax coming soon in California’s blue counties.

For those living in the Bay Area, it costs $5 to drive across the Bay Bridge, ditto for the San Mateo and Dumbarton. The Golden Gate charges $6 for the privilege. Hey, weren’t the tolls for these bridges supposed to be rescinded once the bonds were paid off? Silly me.

California’s gas taxes (both federal/state combined) are 71.29 cents per gallon, leaving other high taxing states, such as New York, in the rear-view mirror.

The Proposition 13 Blessing/Curse

Looking back at the “Wonder Years” house that was my home for 15 years in suburban Pleasanton with its desultory hour-plus commute one way over the Sunol Grade, my mortgage was around $1,850 and my annual property tax was $5,225. The latter figure is high when one weighs it against my comparable size Eugene, Oregon house with a property tax levy of approximately $3,400.

Today, the very same house in Pleasanton would require a $3,400 mortgage or a $3,500 per month rent or about 2x what I shelled out in mortgage payments just four years ago. The property tax is now $8,600 or more than $700 per month. These figures come from Zillow, which is historically regarded to be low in its estimates.

An über-successful friend of mine pays an annual property tax rate of $75,000 for the privilege of living in his relatively new West Los Angeles house for just one year. He gets to repeat this pocket-digging exercise next year and presumably every year. His next neighbor pays a fraction of that amount because he has not sold his pad, thus triggering reappraisal.

The memories of the Proposition 13 property tax revolt (e.g., Jarvis-Gann) still linger. People were upset with inflation approaching 18 percent and resulting property tax bills of 30 percent higher than two years earlier. Proposition 13 simply kept many in their homes because California’s one-party Legislature failed to act.jarvisgann

And yet the sale-triggers-reappraisal-and-a-new-tax rate, coupled with the escalation of property values, has not only made California unaffordable for new home buyers (e.g., good luck Millennials), it is trapping Baby Boomers and X-Gens in their own homes, residences and in some cases apartments.

A rent controlled studio apartment in San Francisco will stay at a similar monthly stipend unless and until the renter moves. The real question: Can that renter actually afford to move? Is that renter essentially trapped in downtown San Francisco?

Granted there are worse fates in life than being “trapped” in a rent controlled studio apartment in the City by the Bay, but Golden State Handcuffs are just that, Golden State Handcuffs.

California has always enjoyed great weather, the best in the lower 48. The state never looks better than it does from the tailgate parties at Brookside Golf Course on New Year’s Day. Alas, there is a reality of skyrocketing housing and rental prices, every tax imaginable and conceivably more hikes to come, and traffic that saps your soul and Joie de Vivre.

It’s sad, but California is not the state it was when I grew up.

For some, you literally can’t go back home.

For others, you can’t leave home.

http://www.boe.ca.gov/cgi-bin/rates_2013.cgi

http://www.batolls.info/

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/top-state-income-tax-rates-2014

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/states-with-highest-gasoline-excise-taxes-2.aspx

 

 

 

“It is long past overdue that these devices of a gas-wasting era were retired.” – Former Sonoma Councilmember Larry Barnett

And to that sentiment, let’s add water-wasting, climate-change contributing and noise-polluting gadgets to the discussion.

pressurewasher1 Want to live in an Oregon tree house?

Ahh…This is the good life. One is surrounded by stately Douglas fir trees, visited by grazing deer, chirping birds, scurrying squirrels and the occasional barn owl or Americana chicken.

Best of all, your neighborhood cares about the environment big time and subscribes to the perils of climate change. If you don’t believe me just check out the front-lawn poetry dispensers or the bumper-stickers on the backs of their non-renewable fuel-burning cars … yep even the Prius’.

Life is just swell in the urban forest that is until it is time for your neighbor to pressure-wash the sidewalk, incinerate tree limbs and branches, blow away the leaves etc. Did we discuss chainsaws? Lots and lots of chainsaws.

leafblower

And each of these (any combo of) water gulping, fossil-fuel burning, carbon-monoxide, nitrous oxide-hydrocarbon emitting, climate-change contributing gadgets could easily compete with Led Zeppelin for volume. The only difference is one can choose when to check out Robert Plant and Jimmy Page; you have no choice when it comes to 7 am Sunday morning pressure washings by your thoughtful neighbors.

Our sidewalks have never looked so good.

Soccer Moms, Mini-Vans, Garage Sales

Before moving north to Eugene, Oregon to pursue an advanced degree, the author of Almost DailyBrett lived in a tacky-tracky, known as “Bird Land” (e.g., Sandpiper Way), in Pleasanton, California.

P-Town is located just over the hill from the Silicon Valley. Some days the community is influenced by the fog from San Francisco and other days the heat from the San Joaquin Valley.

This particular “burb” is flat, which is perfect for bike riding, playing soccer at Pleasanton Middle School or PMS or driving the mini-van (not me) to the next garage sale.

My Monopoly ranch-style residence was surrounded on three sides by five other nearly identical ranch-style houses. Even though our ecosystem was suburban with an occasional raccoon or migrating ducks, it was pleasantly tranquil. In some respects, boringly quiet.

Moving to Eugene after 15 years of making horrific to-and-from commutes to the Silicon Valley, SF Peninsula or The City itself, I was welcoming a change in lifestyle. Would it be bucolic to reside in South Eugene with only the sounds of chirping birds in harmony with nature?

Beware of What You Want

… You may get it.

Second-growth forests are gorgeous. The trees absolutely dig Oregon’s intermittent sunshine (e.g., sun breaks) and about 36-inches of precipitation each year. For the most part, it is neither too cold nor too warm with the annual temps ranging between the 40s and 70s.

Oregonians may grouse about growing traffic, rising real estate prices and polluted campgrounds, but the vitriol about “Californicators” has largely subsided. These progressives are now rightly concerned about global warming and they have the pictures of sad polar bears to prove it.

Words are one thing. Actions are another. pressurewasher

Has anyone ever checked out the specs on a pressure washer, the very same noise polluter that is being used to clean-up a Eugene sidewalk (e.g., first-world crisis)? Let’s see these monsters can put out with incredible force anywhere from 2 gallons to 4.9 gallons of precious water per minute.

Wasn’t there some discussion earlier this year about a drought in much of the Western U.S.? And didn’t the leader of the free world and others point to climate change as the culprit?

Yet these eco-warriors are spraying down their sidewalks, wasting water, and using (gasp) gasoline-powered pressure washers. And where is the exhaust including hydrocarbons from these machines going? Hmmm … into the atmosphere.

Now one can argue that wood chippers, leaf blowers, weed whackers are electric-powered and therefore may be sensitive to one’s ear drums, but maybe not to the planet. The same argument cannot be made with gasoline powered pressure washers and chainsaws.

Yes, some work with trees does require a chain saw and/or a wood chipper, particularly after a major storm. Trees are beautiful, but they are temperamental to a certain extent always reminding us of their presence and urge to reproduce.

Earth Friendly, Low-Tech, Aerobic Devices

Having said that, trees and sidewalks do not require a pressure washer, a leaf-blower or a weed whacker. Has anyone ever heard of the “humble rake,” the “venerable broom” or a dust pan? These low-tech gadgets provide instantaneous aerobic exercise. They do not contribute to climate change. They are virtually silent, therefore not disturbing the deer, owls or neighbors.

rake And yet those who profess deep concern for the plight of Mother Earth are out there with their pressure washers or revving up their chain saws. There is a four-syllable word that begins with…ah…”hip” that immediately comes to mind.

California communities in Los Angeles, Monterey, Marin and Sonoma Counties have taken steps to ban at least leaf blowers or severely restrict their use. Seattle is considering the same.

Would the City of Eugene or Lane County do the same in order to protect the environment and head off climate change? Something tells Almost DailyBrett this ordinance would draw opposition from those who may not be as “green” as they think.

Almost DailyBrett note: The author of this august blog worked for those who used chainsaws to manage forests for four years. He will never be labeled as an “environmentalist.” He will accept the word, “consistent.”

http://sonomacountygazette.blogspot.com/2011/02/leaf-blower-rules-for-sonoma-county.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-bad-for-the-environment-are-gas-powered-leaf-blowers/2013/09/16/8eed7b9a-18bb-11e3-a628-7e6dde8f889d_story.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure_washer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chainsaws

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