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Sunday, 22 March 2015

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Saw your comment at Borepatch's re: Red State-Blue State, CA and AZ, etc. Where to go?? We just escaped Mountain View for the uplands around Placerville because we could continue to reap the tax-advantage of Prop-13 in El Dorado County - one of only a few CA counties where the tax-base is portable. My buddy Pete in Morgan Hill didn't have that worry and is simply moving to AZ.
After renovations and surrounded by Googleopolis and uber-trendy PC Googleoids, we sold our condo. In my limited real-estate bandwidth (having done a lot of house-hunting but not much else), I have to say curb-appeal has a tremendous value and adds to the "Location-Location-Location" mantra. AS a feature, our place up here has automatic drip-lines which I find very useful in this drought-condition. We are only allowed to water on Sundays (from midnight to 10:AM) at the moment, and the timer takes care of most everything.
Some kind of soil-amendment helps in the clay soils which may be an issue you're experiencing. We don't have a lawn but we have probably about $20k (or more, really) worth of rocks throughout, with some trees and shrubs in circles of tanbark surrounded by rocks - big ones... Good luck Sunnyvalien! :-)

Based on Internet research and last summer's road trip, Tennessee looks mighty inviting, at least to me. For someone with urban-California sensibilities, not so much. It's a place where having rowdy fun is still legal, acting like an American is still socially acceptable, and, as far as I can tell, you don't need to own a politician to get a building permit.
Also, everything's green, the people are friendly, and, if I were to downsize from my crackerbox here, I'd have to settle for maybe twice as much house on a couple of hundred times as much land and no mortgage. And a nice big workshop in the backyard; can't even rent workshop space around here anymore, at any price I can afford.
Throw in the beginnings of a social and business network in the Nashville area, and the relative costs of living and of doing business, and I have a pretty good idea what my destination will be when the time comes.
But... but... the people there are scary! They don't think like urban Californians! They have rowdy fun, and act like Americans! And some of them are banjo players!

OMG the banjo! Yes you will get one-hundred times the land and double the house in TN. We retired and only got twice as much house at half the price - but the County here loves their permit-proce$$ I do like that people have US flags unabashedly displayed on poles and there's a lot of gun-owners and dogs in pickup-trucks - more than than the refined hipster sensibilities of thoroughly diverse Mountain View would allow - and we're likin' it. But gun-blogger friends in Tennessee like it there a lot too! :-) Do the drip-line thing and tan-bark around the shrubbery to hold-in moisture and SELL! :-)

I can't really sell just yet - gotta stay in the area another year for family reasons (but if someone made a sufficiently insane offer, I could sell the house and rent something for a few months).
A cousin recently bought a house with about an acre and a half up in Sonoma County. He was having grand ideas for things to do with All That Land, such as adding a guest house, until he discovered that anything more ambitious than a 120-square-foot shed has to go through the permit process, and that would cost about $100K before he could even start building. Yikes! And that's in a rural area!
The blighted zone in the front yard needs more than a soil amendment; as I recall, it's twice (1989-ish and 2001-ish) had the Treatment: spade, spread lots of compost and gypsum, and spade some more. That worked fine in the back yard, but not for that area out front. Bushes planted there will grow; hackberry seedlings (from the street tree) thrive; but cover it with an inch of planting soil and try to get ground cover started and all the little plants promptly die. So, gotta be bushes and rocks (or bark, or whatever). Either that, or bring in a shaman of some sort.

Understand about family. My parents are still in the ancestral home in Palo Alto. My older sister comes down from Boulder Creek to check on them.
I think most CA counties have latched onto the permit-process to garner further revenue. Our real-estate projects don't include any development, just a place to put the money since banks in this economy are preforming so poorly. At least the Sheriff of El Dorado issues CCW permits, which as a firearms enthusiast was appealing. Out in the boonies up here the cops are spread pretty thin and the roads are windy and slow - it can take a long time for help to get to you if you're injured or have a "problem situation," so self-defense is up to you.
Rototiller? There's a lot of alluvial hard-pack that's washed down to the Bay over the eons. Many years ago when I was between jobs I helped a friend in Menlo Park re-do his backyard, and we removed a giant skip full of rocks, filled it to brim - over 11-tons. We used a screen to capture the dirt like an archaeologist does, and I rototilled it - and there was still more rocks. It was crazy.
But you're right, curb-appeal does matter. :-)

I don't think the soil right here washed down from anywhere; the USDA's soil map says this area, and the part of Palo Alto where I grew up, are on Urbanland-Hangarone Complex, i.e., a load of free-for-the-hauling mostly-clay material brought in from elsewhere and dumped atop the underlying loam to bring the building sites slightly above flood level.
Scrape off the top yard or so and there's farmland down there!
The house across the street (sale pending; I'm waiting to see how much it went for) had its front yard gussied up for sale, with isolated vegetation among bark. Looks OK, for the moment. The next-door neighbors have mostly rocks. I'm thinking rocks big enough that removing fallen street-tree leaves from them won't be too much of a nuisance, but I haven't priced rocks lately (nor even estimated the quantity required, but it is a small yard).

I grew up at the corner of Lincoln and Webster, there's rocks down there! Anyhow, sounds good to me and you do have an escape plan, and I appreciate the internet conversation. I hope you don't mind I added you to my bloglroll. :-)
-keith

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