from Barbara Hendrickson


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Summertime: What's in Your Picnic Basket?


Location, location, location: Where will you spread your blanket? Our East Bay parks offer a smorgasbord of choice spots for a picnic. You can simply share a meal, or boat, float, or pet a goat. Here are details on four favorite places with picnic facilities.

  • Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley: Up in the Berkeley hills, Tilden Park is the s’mores of the East Bay Regional Park system. Special treats for the kiddies (or the kid inside) include a steam railway ride through the redwoods, and the Little Farm where, as promised, you can pet a goat. After the petting, and washing your hands, have a lunch at one of the many designated picnic areas, most of which have barbecues as well. Food nearby: Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in North Berkeley has a range of to-go options, including salads, sandwiches, and traditional Jewish foods such as latkes and blintzes. Be sure to get the potato salad — it’s that good.
  • Roberts Regional Recreation Area, Oakland: The outstanding summer fun feature at Roberts Regional Recreation Area is the 25-yard, heated swimming pool, with lifeguards, grassy areas, and bathhouse all fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. Afterward, grab a picnic table under the shade of the redwoods. Food nearby: For your al fresco lunch, consider a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou slicing rich, ripe cheeses from Farmstead Cheese and Wines in Montclair.
  • Marina Bay Park, RichmondMarina Bay Park is about 11 acres of lawn with picnic and barbeque areas. But the views and shoreline location on the Bay Trail make it a choice spot for fresh-air munching and relaxation. Elevating the area beyond the ordinary is the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front museum. Food nearby: While it might push the definition of a picnic, consider taking an outdoor table at Assemble, a restaurant serving “re-tooled American classics” in an industrial setting.
  • Lake Chabot Regional Park, San Leandro/Castro Valley: At Lake Chabot Regional Park it’s all about the lake. There’s no swimming but you can fish, boat, hike, and bike, as well as picnic at one of the facilities adjacent to the parking and marina area. Food nearby: At the newly opened Lake Chabot Public Market you can fish in a bowl of poke, or light your fire with Korean barbeque. DIY grillers can stalk the perfect ribeye at the butcher shop.

The prime picnic pick for next month is Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park. Beyond grassy picnic sites and bay views, this park packs some high-level thrills with an Independence Day fireworks display on July 4 and a Kite Festival on July 29 and 30.

But how would you like to have a picnic in the backyard of your own next home? Summer has just begun. There’s enough time to pack a basket with a crisp pre-approval letter, some fresh listings, and sweet dreams. Let’s go!

Recent Transactions

Market Update: Prices Are Heating Up


The weather is beginning to heat up, and so are prices in the East Bay real estate market. Our 6-city chart shows very limited inventory, with a 21% decrease in units sold overall compared to the same time last year. (The exception is Piedmont, where units sold are up 64%.) Meanwhile, the median sale price continues to climb steadily, up 9% overall, to $890,000. Albany prices jumped 70%, to $1,360,000 — higher than in Berkeley — while prices in Oakland also crept upward, up 10% from last year, to $750,500. And the summer is just getting started...

Mortgage Update: When Is a Rental Not a Rental?

Recently, the cities of Berkeley and Oakland eased restrictions on backyard cottages, otherwise known as accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. The purpose was to not only bring the many hundreds of existing “nonconforming” structures into legal status, but also to incentivize homeowners to build small units in their backyards as a way to ease the housing shortage.

Building a new ADU or converting an existing, freestanding structure so that it can be legally rented out has two potential benefits: creating an additional income stream and adding value to your property. For many homeowners, these new ADU rules open up an excellent opportunity to decrease the costs of owning and capture greater sales gains in the future.

Does having monthly rental income from an in-law unit — legal or otherwise — help you qualify for a mortgage? Unfortunately, not at this time. Mortgage guidelines are determined by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, and the secondary market — national entities that don’t nimbly respond to local developments in specific markets.

Only when you have a legal duplex can that second unit’s income be included in your qualifying income. Rent from roommates or tenants of an in-law or legal ADU all fall outside of mortgage guidelines for acceptable, qualifying income.

If you’re considering purchasing or refinancing a home with any one of these bonus spaces, please check with Melissa Milton or Julia Demeter at Commerce Home Mortgage for more details about the rental income rules. And for more information about the new ADU rules, please check with the cities of Oakland and Berkeley.

Melissa Milton: 510.542.2061

Julia Demeter: 510.520.9700


Commerce Home Mortgage



East Bay Epicureans: June 2017 - Richmond Gold Honey


Richmond Gold Honey is one of 12 local businesses featured in Red Oak Realty’s 2017 East Bay Epicureans calendar. We’ll include more about each month’s business throughout the year. Call or email for a complimentary copy of the 2017 calendar.

Catherine Edwards says she never intended to start a company — she just loved bees. So she got some, and “before I knew it, I had more bees,” she said. “Then I had honey that I needed to do something with.” Soon, she was selling her honey by word of mouth, and “the whole thing just grew from there.”

Now her company, called Richmond Gold Honey, sources its honey from beehives in various backyards in Richmond, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Pinole, and Martinez. The bees pollinate the gardens of the volunteers who allow the hives in their yards, while creating honey that has its own unique flavor from their particular floral sources. Unheated, unfiltered, and with no additives, the honey comes straight from the hive. And because it contains local pollens, it may be helpful to those with allergies, said Edwards. It’s what local tastes like.

Richmond Gold Honey is available for purchase at William’s Natural Foods, Catahoula Coffee Company, and Annie’s Annuals and Perennials in Richmond, and at BioFuel Oasis in Berkeley.

Restaurant Spotlight: The Gastropig


At Uptown’s the Gastropig, a modern door welcomes patrons who crave locally sourced comfort food into a minimalist dream of simple wood tables and crisp black and white decor. Yes, this place is bacon-centric, but it also has salads (including meatless options) to go, avocado toast, and PB&J on a croissant. Of course, if you like bacon, you must try the PB&J with bacon — an explosion of sweet, salty goodness.

Owners Ann Thai and Loren Goodwin have expanded their menu since opening in January, adding veggie hoagies and bottled fresh juices to make sure there is something tasty for everyone. But the #BaconSlut, a breakfast sandwich served all day on brioche with applewood smoked bacon, over-easy egg, sharp cheddar, and aleppo aioli, continues to be their most popular item. Other sandwiches rotate, but recently included a meatball sub, a Cubano, and porchetta option, and gluten-free bread is available. Open weekdays for breakfast and lunch, and weekends for brunch, this is a casual, yummy neighborhood spot. Oh, and there’s free wi-fi!  

The Gastropig - 2123 Franklin St., Oakland, 510-817-4663. Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Realtor — CalBRE #00780582