About Marin

Pink Owl Coffee - featured Bay Area Small Business

Here in Marin County, we are so lucky to have incredible local businesses that help shape this growing community for the better. One face behind these businesses is deserving of spotlight: Joe Carlo, owner and founder of Pink Owl Coffee. Pink Owl Coffee is more than just your run-of-the-mill coffee shop—they offer far more than just coffee and aim to provide a Zen retreat from the pressures of daily life for the local community. All of their coffees are made from organic fair trade coffee beans sourced worldwide, and roasted in-house.

Funnily enough, roasting coffee beans in-house was how all of this got started. Before Pink Owl had been conceived, Joe and his fiancée, Saandra Bowlus, would commonly make their own home coffee roast.

“And then we’d give them away as Christmas presents,” Joe said. “That’s how we got our hands involved in this. Eventually someone said, ‘You should start a business! You roast really good coffee.’ So we actually took that to heart and started roasting coffee professionally.”

Saandra is a breast cancer survivor and Pink Owl Coffee derives its name partly from the desire to support women in this important endeavor. Now that the two of them co-own and operate the business, that desire is a reality. From the beginning, Joe and Saandra planned to contribute annual revenue to breast cancer research and support for women.

“Saandra, is in remission—she’s good,” Joe said. “When we started this, we wanted to give back to the community. So 10% of what Pink Owl makes goes toward breast cancer research.”

In addition to their San Rafael location (1816 Second St, San Rafael, CA 94901), Pink Owl has a second location in Petaluma (...

School of Rock San Rafael - Marin Music School for Kids

Here in Marin County, we are so lucky to have incredible organizations that help shape this growing community for the better. One face behind this community service is deserving of the spotlight: Heather Riley, owner and general manager of School of Rock San Rafael, opening in late February.

School of Rock is a performance-based music school that focuses on five key instruments: bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, and vocals. Their main programs combine weekly one-on-one lessons and group band rehearsals rounding out a great music education in a fun and nurturing environment. And let’s not forget that these students put on live shows at real Rock venues throughout the year!

When Heather was pulled in to help get neighboring School of Rock Santa Rosa up and running in 2018 she immediately felt fortunate to be involved. With about 250 School of Rock’s in the U.S. (300 plus globally), it was clear that this project was successfully changing communities and the lives of the kids involved. “They brought me in for my business administrative experience,” Heather said. “I turned down a very safe job, if you like, with Sonoma County to do this as it sounded much more exciting and challenging. And indeed it was! In doing so, I discovered that music was way more important to me than I realized.” Heather knew that she had always loved music, but her experience was heightened by combining the musical element with taking care of people.
“The upshot is that we teach kids to play music, we teach adults to play music, and we teach them to play music with each other,” Heather said. “With that comes a tremendous boost in confidence. And bigger than that, you get this local tribe and community that develops as a school - which has a real impact.”

Right now, Heather is noticing that this kind of community is what people are...

San Anselmo Downtown gets Beautiful Hanging Flower Baskets

Today, Downtown San Anselmo was dressed in its summer best by a group of Downtown merchants, friends, and relatives, all assisting Kacey Gardner (on truck, with flowers!) of Tumbleweed with her inspiring beautification project.

Kacey, her husband Tim, sons Duncan and Quinn, and daughter Sophie, opened the store in 2015 after being inspired by shops they had seen during a year-long sailing trip around the Caribbean (see my original blog post).

Kacey and her family embody the concept of creative energy; it's obvious if you've met them or been to the store. They're full of great ideas and are always thinking of ways to improve their shop, their town, and to help their friends. So when Kacey looked out on the street this spring and thought it could use some more color, she went to work looking for a project that would add some of the more colorful aspects of towns she had enjoyed most in her travels, particularly St. Barth's, Bellagio, Carmel & Nevada City. She remembered their flowers, growing "along pathways, up buildings, down poles, along alleyways", and she thought that flower garden baskets hanging from the vintage Downtown San Anselmo light poles would add a striking look to San Anselmo Avenue. After formulating some plans for the project, she approached the Town, who were quite supportive of the idea, but unable to take it on from a financial point of view. Looking for other ways to fund the effort, Kacey decided to try a broad-based approach that would involve as many local residents and merchants as possible, and she settled on ...

San Anselmo Downtown. Creekside Pizza and Taproom!

Pat Townsley and Janet Abrahamson are set to open Creekside Pizza & Taproom  at 638 San Anselmo Avenue sometime in August. The location, formerly occupied by the much-loved LoCoco's Pizzeria, has seen a couple of short-lived restaurant efforts come and go since Filippo LoCoco retired several years ago, but nothing that inspired the same customer loyalty.  Partners Pat and Janet mean to change that. Both bring a wide variety of experience to the effort--- management of bars, restaurants, clubs, catering companies, grocery outlets, and more. They first crossed paths as employees of New George's, and both were looking for a new project when they decided to become partners in realizing their vision for a unique restaurant in the heart of San Anselmo. They have spent months designing and renovating the space to their specifications with beautiful esthetics, up-to-date technology, and even a separate room for group events. 

The copper-covered bar will offer, on-tap, 30 craft beers, 1 cider, 2 kombucha,  5 wines (including 2 red, 2 white, and 1 seasonal), Coffee Roasters coffee, and bottled wines from Skywalker Vineyards. There's even on-tap root beer for kids and non-drinkers! The new menu will feature pizzas, pastas, and more-- . New ovens are currently on order and slated to arrive soon. Both Pat and Janet attended Tony Gemignani's International School of Pizza in San Francisco to bring authentic Italian taste and texture to their pies, which they look forward to serving their customers, starting very soon.

So if you love great...

Marin County Real Estate. Spring Forward!

Some people love Daylight Savings Time, while others, given a choice, would eliminate it entirely. I love the long evenings and late light of spring and summer, but whichever side of the fence you're on, you don't want to miss anything by being an hour late! So remember to change your clocks this Sunday, March 12, at 2:00 am (or maybe just change them before you go to bed!). Spring is only a few days away; beginning this year on March 20, it will be a welcome change after a wet winter!

Looking ahead to the spring real estate market, we reviewed the most recent report available from Core Logic/Data Quick real estate data service. Their figures show Marin County January 2017 sales at 185 units, up 4.5% from 177 in January 2016. January's year-over-year prices were up 12% with the average Marin home going for $812,500 in January 2017 compared to $725,000 in January of 2016. Preliminary data we are seeing from other sources seems to show February 2017 prices may be down slightly (1.7%) from February of 2016. Inventory is still fairly slim, currently at a 2.1 month supply and down about 9% from this time last year. With interest rates poised to continue their upward climb, buyers are eager to complete their purchases at more affordable current rates. We are expecting an active spring market here in Marin. 

If you're looking for a new home, want to sell your current one, are moving up, downsizing, or moving out of the area, your best source source of information, advice, and assistance is a REALTOR who knows the local market and the people who make it run.


Tumbleweed Roam Free Moves to New Space at 570 San Anselmo Avenue

Tumbleweed Roam Free, the innovative and fun, family-owned and run boutique that we featured back in June has continued to flourish and evolve. The shop recently moved to 570 San Anselmo Avenue, former site of Beach Bella, and just up the street from the original location. Owner, Kacey Gardner says that the space works much better for their needs. Kacey, along with her husband Tim, daughter Sophie, and sons Duncan and Quinn have worked tirelessly, with love and creativity, and the results speak for themselves! They offer a constantly-evolving selection of  unique, interesting, high quality items for both women and men. They focus on local products but also travel to shows in LA, Las Vegas, or even New York to find just the right items for their eye-catching displays. Merchandise is ordered frequently in small batches, so the inventory is ever-evolving. If you're not familiar with this spot, take a look at our original blog post for details and then head on over for a personal visit; you're assured a warm welcome. And if you've already visited, but haven't seen the new store, you're in for a pleasant surprise next time you drop in.


Marin’s secluded treasured paradise for the 55 and over community

Are a wonderful community of people, tranquility, and nature qualities that you are looking for in your next home? That is exactly what you will find and more if you choose to live in the community nestled in the hills of southern Novato overlooking the San Pablo Bay within the Marin Valley Mobile Country Club (MVMCC).

With the average price of a home in Marin County hovering around $1,000,000, Marin Valley Mobile Country Club provides a wonderful alternative to residents 55 years old and over where homes are priced well below the county average.  The views that surround the park are of rolling hills, pastures, wetlands, San Pablo Bay and even to the East Bay hills. The wildlife is as diverse as the views ~ your neighbors will include quail, wild turkey, coyotes, deer and many species of birds to name a few.

Buying a home in this community provides more than a roof over your head, you are buying into a community of wonderful people and amenities. The Clubhouse at MVMCC boasts some of the best views in the park and hosts wonderful weekly events such as exercise classes, meditation, dance parties, game nights, poker, crafting, dinners and a pub night every Friday. There is a gym filled with top of the line exercise equipment, saunas, a pool and a spa tub that rivals most gyms in Marin. Whatever your pleasure, the card room and billiards room with four pool tables, full library and the fireside lounge provides entertainment for all. The walls of the clubhouse feature work of artists in residence of the community, and the koi pond is filled with gorgeous fish surrounded with native plants. ...

First Installment of Property Taxes Due Monday 12.12.16

This coming Monday, December 12, is the last day to pay the first installment of Marin County property taxes. The Tax Collector is located at 3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 202, in San Rafael. The normal office hours are 9am to 4:30 pm, weekdays. To assist homeowners in paying their taxes, extended hours of 8am to 5pm will be in effect on Monday, Dec.12.

If you have not received a tax bill, you must still pay your taxes on time. Tax payments not received by close of business or postmarked on December 12 are subject to a 10% penalty. If you have questions about your taxes, you can contact the office of the Tax Collector 415-473-6133, Information is also available on the County website.  



Feeling Safe & Secure At Home

When selling your home how it visually presents has always and will always be very, very important.  Yet, as we have become a more technology savvy society, buyers want as many things that aren’t necessarily seen but just as important to them as how the home looks.

In short, buyers want not only the right number of bedrooms and baths with a floorplan that works for their family, but also the upgrades and improvements that make them feel they got their monies worth in the purchase of their new home.   

With more and more folks telecommuting, modems, routers, blue tooth speaker systems and wireless internet are the norm in most households, as are motion detector lights, security cameras and/or alarm systems.  As these technologies have evolved, and the prices for them have dropped dramatically, most everyone can afford any or all combinations of them. Many of the systems also incorporate heat, fire and CO2 detectors in them. Some turn on your lights and can unlock your door right from the owners smart phone.   Just a few years ago, who would have ever thought one would be able to go to Costco to buy indoor/outdoor camera surveillance systems or Ring doorbells(so you can see who is at your front door via the screen on your smartphone)?   

These extra systems are perks that appeal to almost every buyer…and they are willing to pay more for a property that has them.  Buyers want to not only feel confident about the quality of their home but they also want to feel safe and secure in and around their home and property. 

Putting in a security system, whether it is one that you access from your cell phone anywhere in the world or whether you have a 3rd party company monitoring it, tends to...

Neighborhood Highlights with Phoebe Reyes: Taco Jane’s, San Anselmo

My Neighborhood Highlights are a series of videos that showcase some of the things
that make where I live in Marin County one of the best places on earth. I love to share
and I want to share with you what makes my neighborhood and life in the Bay Area
I met with Matteo, owner of Taco Jane’s, at his restaurant in downtown San Anselmo
to talk about his restaurant and fabulous cocktail menu. Taco Jane’s first opened in
1998 and has been one of my favorite restaurants in central Marin ever since! It takes a
certain level of greatness for a restaurant to stay in business for over 18 years and with
his big heart, support of other local businesses and determined work ethic this owner
deserves to be successful. Matteo named his restaurant after his mom, and his love of
travel works it’s way into the decor, music, drinks and food of Taco Jane’s. Taco
Jane’s features Mexican food from the southern states with inspiration from Oaxaca
and the Yucatan with a tropical twist. The first step is admitting you have an addiction,

Little Free Library in Marin County

I have been a Little Free Library Steward in Marin County for two years. My husband built a Little Free Library (LFL) in the shape of a bright yellow Pac woman. Located in front of our home in Terra Linda, there is a shelf filled with adult and children’s books. The neighborhood kids trade books back and forth. I never know what books will be the most popular ones and I am constantly surprised by what great books show up in the Pac woman.

The Little Free Library movement started in 2009 in Wisconsin. Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin built a model of a one room school house as a tribute to his Mother. He filled it with books and everyone loved it. He built several and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS! Rick Brooks of UW, Madison saw this and discussed how this could be a project for furthering goals for common good.

By the summer of 2010, the mission of Little Free Library became clear. While each little free library could have a unique look, all share the theme of sharing books and bringing neighbors together.

There are now 40,000 little Free libraries worldwide.  I have provided addresses from The Little Free Library online map for the Terra Linda area of San Rafael:

  • 7 Anchorage Court, San Rafael,94903 (Terra Linda)
  • 650 Kernberry Drive, San Rafael, 94903 (Marinwood).  Tthis has a Lego roof and additional Legos to play with and is located near Marinwood hiking)
  • 37 Wallace Way (Terra Linda)
  • 7 Geneva Way (Santa Venetia)
  • 579 Heather Way, San Rafael,94903 (Terra Linda)

This is my Pac Woman box...

Call Marin County Home: 9 Steps to buying a home in Marin County

So you want to live in the best place on earth?

Purchasing a property is possibly the largest investment you will ever make. I created this guide to help you educate yourself about the home buying process in Marin County so it doesn’t seem daunting and eliminates as much stress as possible. I have laid out 9 steps to follow to achieve your goals of homeownership in Marin.

1. Looked at your Credit Scores lately? Have you Been Saving for your Down payment: 

You may be one of the lucky Marin buyers who can buy a home all cash, although this is becoming less common according to a May 2016 C.A.R survey.  Working with a lender local familiar with Marin County can make your offer more competitive than cash.  Mortgage lenders look at several factors before approving you for a loan. Your credit score allows the lender to see your credit repayment history and helps them determine your probability of repaying the loan. The higher your credit score the better your interest rate and pricing will be. If your credit score could use improvement, a credit repair specialist may be able to work with you to raise your scores or remove derogatory items to prepare you to buy. The down payment determines the amount of equity you will have in your home upon the date of purchase. Depending on the type of loan you seek, you will need to come up with somewhere between 3.5% to 20% of the purchase price for a down payment. If you put down less than 20% lenders typically require private mortgage insurance (PMI), but every lender has different requirements and programs. There are some down payment assistance programs available...

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