Homestead Valley (Mill Valley Neighborhoods Description)

September 16, 2008

Roughly stated, Homestead Valley sits between Sycamore Parkand Tam Valley–think “across from Whole Foods.” George Lucas lived here, above Tamalpais High School, way back when.

It is an unincoprated area with about 1,100 homes. Homes here vary in stature and price. There are fine estates with super views and cabin-sized dwellings in need of love.

Stolte Grove is a delightful park in HV, bisected by Reed Creek. It has picnic tables, barbecues, and a stage on which my girls have been known to provide impromptu performances of varying qualities and lengths. There is also garden area nearby. You can find both of these parks at Montford and LaVerne Avenues on the the loop. The Marin Horizon School is in Homestead Valley (pre-school through eighth grade).

Blithedale Canyon (Mill Valley Neighborhoods Descriptions)

September 16, 2008

Blithedale Canyon is easy to find. Just head west on E. Blithedale until you pass the Art Club (where I got married) and head into the trees. This area is fabulous and is home to many of Mill Valley’s celebrities and elite. It boasts tall redwoods, lots of trails, parkland, and prototypically narrow Mill Valley streets.

Many homes are just a short walk to downtown. Many other homes are way up in the hills–the ultimate in privacy. At bottom, the canyon is dominated by the gentle flow of Corte Madera Creek–it’s a quiet, redwooded haven for crafstman-style cottages, cabins, blackberry bushes, deer, old stone walls, foggy mornings, and even some hidden staircases. Above all, it’s a fine place for a relaxing stroll. 

Many hikers start their days at the Old Railroad Grade trailhead.

Mill Valley Homes & Real Estate (September 2008)

September 16, 2008

All year long, it has seemed that buyers and agents alike have lamented the seeming lack of inventory of homes for sale in Mill Valley. Yet, inventory is actually up by over 20%. While many buyers with a strong desire to buy and market insight are finding great value in homes right now, other buyers are paying premiums for special homes in key locations and with unique attributes. Overall, Mill Valley’s real estate market is cruising into the Fall with good bit of momentum (although sales are down from last year). It remains a market that favors buyers who are flexible and willing to make sacrifices in order to obtain value. Meanwhile, many sellers have decided to wait for the real estate market to improve. Interestingly, I am also seeing many folks come through open houses who fit the following profile: they sold their homes a couple of years ago and have been renting with the expectation that home prices would come down (as with the dot-com bust, many saw the current real estate market slowdown on the horizon). Although prices have not dipped in Mill Valley as they have in Northern Marin, these potential buyers are eyeing the current market hungrily and many of them are investigating their options.  
Oddly, August 2008 saw a marked slowdown in the percentage of entry level homes in escrow from July 2008 (it dropped from 53% of homes priced under $800,000 to 20%). Mill Valley’s inventory of single family homes for sale is about 142 homes currently on the market (there were 102 in August 2008). The vast majority of homes are priced between $1 million to $2 million and 15 of those homes are currently in escrow, along 6 more in the luxury market between $2 million and $4 million. Historically, September and October bring an uptick in sales.
Mill Valley homes that sold during the past month averaged 88 days on the market and sold for an average price of about $1.358 million (about $689 per square foot). Note here that the low end of the Mill Valley market is hanging tough and that there are ONLY 2 homes currently on the market under $750,000. How’s that for stiff price for entry.   

Price Range

Total Active Homes

Pending Listings

Up to $800K

12 (up 6)


$800K – $1 mil.

12 (down 5)


$1 mil. – 1.5 mil.

42 (up 2)


$1.5 mil. – $2 mil.

28 (up 9)


$2 mil. – $4 mil.

18 (up 7)


$4 mil. & Up

2 (down 1) 



Homes in Boyle Park, Middle Ridge, Blithedale Canyon, and Cascade Canyon continue to be in low supply and high demand. If you would like more information, just give me a call at (415) 350-9440 or e-mail me at It is always my pleasure to be of service.

Cascade Canyon (Mill Valley Neighborhoods Description)

September 16, 2008

Heading west from Downtown Mill Valley on Throckmorton you will come across Old Mill Park on the left (Old Mill School is on the right). Head into the park and you will then run into Cascade Drive, which winds its way through the trees and along the creek way up into the hills.

This is delightful Cascade Canyon. It is supremely picturesque and a hot area for real estate. Tall redwoods, lots of trails, parkland, and the prototypically narrow Mill Valley streets are all present here.

Many homes are just a short walk to downtown. Many other homes are way up in the hills–the ultimate in privacy.

Middle Ridge (Mill Valley Neighborhoods Description)

September 16, 2008

Location. Location. Location. Middle Ridge (the community inhabiting the ridge between Blithdale and Cascade Canyons) is considered by many locals to be one of Mill Valley, California’s most desirable neighborhoods. It is known for being warm and sunny, with some outstanding views of the Bay and of San Francisco. It is just a few short blocks from downtown and many of Mill Valley’s finest homes are situated here.

Dog Day Afternoons at Mill Valley Dog Park

September 16, 2008

Rain or shine, the Mill Valley Dog Park is busy with dogs and owners conducting business. The dogs, well, they do their thing. And the owners chat, talk on the phone, fling tennis balls, and generally enjoy the outdoor time with their pets. 

The Mill Valley Dog Park is run by the City of Mill Valley Parks and Recreation Department and volunteers. It gets used every day of the year, including holidays, even when other parks are closed. From dawn to dark, being the only ones there is rare. Peak summer usage times are:7 to 9 AM, 11 AM to 1 PM  and 3:30 to 7 PM.

Lots of good stuff here:
  • There is a beach for swimming in Richardson Bay. The center 40 feet of the beach bottom is filled with small/medium rocks and is very firm, with little mud.  Keep in mind that the Bay is tidal and brackish.  
  • A wide, 1000-foot, walking track winds the dog park.  
  • Agility stations are located at the southern end of the park.
  • 2 acres of space to roam–there are water bowls near most benches and a lost and found box near the entry to the park.
Want to go visit? 

Marin Luxury Homes (September 2008)

September 14, 2008

The number of homes for sale in the $2 million to $4 million luxury home market in Marin County, California rose over the past month to 109, compared to 106 homes in August 2008. The slight rise in inventory coincided with a respectable month of sales with 16 homes sold in August 2008 (down by 4 from July).  

Mill Valley and Ross experienced the most luxury home sales (with 4 of these homes selling in each). Belvedere, Tiburon and Corte Madera each had 2 homes sold and Kentfield and Sausalito had 1 sale each. The average days on market for homes that sold was a mere 95 days (25 days more than in July) and the average sales price was $2.927 million (roughly $875/per sq. ft.), with an average of 3,503 square feet. Belvedere and Tiburon seem to be hot as they each have 6 homes in escrow.

The inventory level in Marin County’s ultra-luxury market (homes priced in the $4 million and up range) receded a bit. There are 40 active listings

[ … click here for the complete report courtesy of].

Mill Valley Film Festival 2008

September 11, 2008

For over 30 years, the Mill Valley Film Festival has brought together filmmakers and film lovers in one of California’s most stunning and beautiful settings–Marin County, which sits across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. This is a prestigious event that showcases features, documentaries, shorts and children’s films from around the world. There are no winners or losers. Just great films.

The festival pulls no punches with its opening-night films: “Religulous” is a comic documentary with Bill Maher that casts a critical eye on organized religion, and “The Secret Life of Bees,” based on Sue Monk Kidd’s best-selling novel. “Religulous” director Larry Charles and “Bees” star Dakota Fanning will attend the screenings.


Running Oct. 2 to 12 at three main venues in Marin County, the festival offers more than 200 films from around the world – though festival programmers note that this year is particularly strong in entries from Asia, Ireland, Poland and South Africa.

Closing night also delivers two features: Tim Disney’s “American Violet,” starring Woodard and based on the Texas case of a white district attorney accused of racism in the arrest of a black woman; and Israeli director Eran Riklis’ “Lemon Tree,” a drama set on the Palestinian border.

New at Mill Valley this year is the Active Cinema program, which allows audiences to hook up with the causes espoused in many of the festival’s offerings. For example, there will be a tree-planting event, co-sponsored with Friends of the Urban Forest and Goodscapes, on Oct. 4.

The festival presents live musical performances at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in connection with several movies, including “The Wrecking Crew,” the latter about a group of 1960s studio musicians who worked on some of the era’s biggest hits.

Other notable events: The festival’s 14th annual Children’s FilmFestruns Oct. 4 to 11; director Joe Wright (“Atonement”) will offer a master class Oct. 4; and, in a “post-festival presentation” Nov. 18 at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre, Tony Curtis gets a tribute.


Mill Valley Film Festival: Oct. 2-12 at the Sequoia Theater and 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley and the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. Tickets $10-$12.50, on sale Sept. 19.

*much of the above information was derived from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Tam Valley Tree Removal Causes Stir

September 11, 2008

Tamalpais Valley residents have put the brakes on government efforts to rid the area of fire-prone eucalyptus trees. When word spread months ago of a plan to wipe out hundreds of the towering non-native trees – familiar to motorists traveling along a stretch of Highway 1 – some residents of the Mount Tamalpais hillside launched a campaign to halt plans by the National Park Service and Marin County Fire Department.Neighbors feared lack of funds for restoration and an Oregon logging firm’s offer to clear the area would have left them with a moonscape. The Tamalpais Valley encompasses about 2,500 households.

Twenty-two to 27 acres of federal land were targeted by fire officials in 2006 because the trees pose a high fire risk in an area adjacent to houses. An Oregon contractor had offered to clear the land for free in exchange for the wood, but that logging plans have been put on hold after the community outcry.

Eucalyptus Globulus

Eucalyptus globulus, or Tasmanian blue gum, was introduced to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1853 from Australia as an ornamental tree. The trees grow fast and tall, but the invasive species poses a severe fire hazard because of its oil content and accumulation of dead, dry leaves, and constantly shedding bark.

Plant replacement is part of agency tree removal projects for fire reasons, but budget shortfalls have put such funding in limbo. 

Actor Peter Coyote, whose Tamalpais Valley home borders the area, said he was pleased to be rid of the eucalyptus before he learned that nothing was ready to replace them.

“Anybody can say let’s cut the trees down,” said Coyote, who narrated the DVD “Marin on Fire,” a wildfire preparedness film created by FireSafe Marin. “They want to cut it down without really any provision for what will be left. If there are no options, there will be no restoration.”

Fire and park officials have stepped up efforts to combat the invasive eucalyptus. The Australian import, brought to the region in 1853, has thrived on the California coast. Oily leaves and dry ground litter have made the tree a potent fuel source for wildfires.

“Eucalyptus is one of the more volatile trees around due to its oil content and amount of debris that comes off on an annual basis,” said county Fire Chief Ken Massucco. “It is very susceptible to major conflagrations.” Massucco said his department has partnered with the National Park Service to clear agency land of the trees.

The National Park Service has targeted removal of eucalyptus trees as part of a long-term fire management plan. Rich Weideman, a spokesman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, said critics have complained about slow restoration programs and use of the herbicide Roundup to prevent stumps from sending up new shoots.

*This article was derived the Marin IJ.

Golden Gate Bridge Toll Increase

September 8, 2008

It was $1 when I was a kid. It was $3 when I was a young man. It’s now up to $6 (for those paying cash).

Bridge Tolls Rise Again

Bridge Tolls Rise Again

Those who use FasTrak saw their toll rise from $4 to $5. The toll increase will provide the bridge district with another $18 million a year and help erase a projected five-year, $91 million deficit.

When construction of the bridge was pitched to voters back in 1930, campaign materials promised the span would pay for itself and, by 1970, “the bridge becomes a free bridge.” In fact, tolls decreased in the first years after the span was built, and the bridge did pay for itself by 1971.

But in the meantime, the district started bus and ferry service, which has sapped toll dollars. For each toll dollar collected, almost half – 47 cents – goes toward transit. District officials say the transit service takes cars off the road.


– May 1937: 50 cents each way, with a 5-cent extra charge if more than three passengers

– July 1950: 40 cents each way

– February 1955: 30 cents each way

– October 1955: 25 cents each way

– October 1968: 50 cents southbound

– March 1974: 75 cents southbound

– November 1977: $1 southbound

– March 1981: $1.25 southbound

– December 1981: $2 southbound toll on Fridays and Saturdays, $1 on all other days

– July 1991: $3 southbound

– July 2000: FasTrak implemented

– September 2002: $5 cash toll; $4 FasTrak southbound

– September 2008: $6 cash toll; $5 FasTrak southbound

Source: Golden Gate Bridge District

*The information above was derived from the Marin IJ.

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