Premier Rock Band & Local Artists Rally for Sobranes Fire Relief at Kuumbwa Jazz this Saturday

The following is a guest post by Stevee Stubblefield. Stevee is the founder of Do it Ourselves Presents, a homegrown Santa Cruz production company that, faced with having to cancel an upcoming show in Big Sur, rallied to relocate the event to Kuumbwa Jazz Center as a benefit the Soberanes Fire Relief Fund. Join us this Saturday for great music, art, and help support a great cause while you’re at it. Details below…


sobranes fire benefit concertIt’s impossible to tell what life will bring – none of us saw this massive fire coming. I was at Pleasure Point looking south as the first ominous plume of smoke rose to the south, sure that something was seriously wrong.

I definitely wasn’t thinking the fire would still be burning weeks later, running through the iconic canyons, pushing brave residents and firefighters to the limit. I definitely wasn’t thinking about concerts, or last-minute venue changes, or business at all. None of that stuff mattered. It paled in comparison to the gravity of the fire and the lives of those effected.

So it was a no brainer when we at Do it Ourselves Presents… decided to cancel our upcoming show at Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. There was simply no way. But how could we do something better than just cancel and give up? Could we turn it into a benefit for the fire? Or rally support somehow? [Read more…]

3rd Annual Mole & Mariachi Festival: Sep. 19th, 2015

Mole & Mariachi Festival 2015

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Squires.  Jennifer is a writer who works with Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. She lives in Aptos.

It will get spicy at Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park on Saturday.

Mole & Mariachi Festival 2015The third annual Mole & Mariachi Festival, a benefit for the park and Friends of Santa Cruz State Park, will fill the historic site with chefs competing in a mole cook-off, live mariachi bands, traditional dancers and more.

Six competitors will prepare mole, a traditional Mexican sauce sometimes made using chocolate. Festival attendees can get a tasting kit for $10 and sample the sauce. [Read more…]

Santa Cruz Housing Update (& How Events Halfway Around the World Affect Our Local Market)

santa cruz real estate market report: july 2015

The following market report is provided by Liz Kroft  & Lance Hulsey of Mainstream Real Estate Group.

This last month saw Germany looking for Greece to pay their own way. Greece went begging for more time and money to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Germany capitulated and Greece received a restructured loan deal and the housing market in Santa Cruz benefits.

Say what?

How does the Greek debt crisis have anything to do with the Santa Cruz housing market?

And by the way, since when did this become a blog about international monetary policy?

How does any of this really have any relevance to rents, home prices, and the real estate market in Santa Cruz?

Well it all has to do with the strength of the dollar around the world and interest rates closer to home. Long story short, because the European Union lent the money to Greece we averted an international monetary crisis and the dollar came out stronger while interest rates remained stable. Thus, everything basically stays the same and the banking system and the Federal Reserve take a sigh of relief.

Now we can focus on the big question on everyone’s mind once again:

Are we in a bubble?

In our March 9th article we commented on how the 2015 market was coming out of hibernation and perhaps into a bubble. Other economists and industry experts seem to believe that we are in a bubble:

Yet others say that we are in fact NOT in a bubble:

In considering your opinion, take these two piece of information as you will:

  1. The Santa Cruz County median home prices are the highest they have been since 2007
  2. The National Foreclosure Inventory Is the Lowest it has been since December 2007

For the housing market’s continued recovery, there is no doubt that affordability is going to be a major deciding factor.

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Santa Cruz Real Estate: Extension of Silicon Valley or Still the Slow Coast?

Silicon Valley Santa Cruz Real Estate

The following market report is provided by Liz Kroft  & Lance Hulsey of Mainstream Real Estate Group.

The Santa Cruz area has long straddled the line between being considered an extended suburb of Silicon Valley and firmly staking its claim as part of the Monterey Bay Area and the Central Coast.

Those of us who live in this beautiful part of the world would strongly argue that, we are NOT part of Silicon Valley but are uniquely Central Coast. Santa Cruz anchors the southern stretch of the Slow Coast and not Silicon Valley. We will leave that honor to Gilroy. We are Brethren to Monterey, Salinas, and Carmel. Not San Jose, Cupertino, and Sunnyvale.

Keep Santa Cruz Weird

Or are we?

The lines are blurring, and Santa Cruz seems to be in the midst of an identity crisis.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the local real estate market.

As it relates to housing rents and sales, we are being sucked into the Silicon Valley market demographics. Santa Cruz County is gradually losing its Central Coast identity as it’s drug into the hot, hot markets of one of the country’s largest tech hubs.

A recent Housingwire article ranked the Santa Cruz-Watsonville market as the 7th hottest housing market in America,  just behind San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara in 3rd and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward in 2nd.  

Rents are astronomical in Santa Cruz, housing prices continue to rise, inventory and interest rates remain low, and more people are discovering that the commute “over the hill” is worth it when you can still buy a home in the Santa Cruz area for significantly less than in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Keep Santa Cruz Affordable

Thanks to Santa Cruz Life reader, Sarah Cox for suggesting this updated take on “Keep Santa Cruz Weird.”

Have we lost or have we won?

That depends on where you sit. Are you a renter or an owner of real estate?

Let’s look at the numbers.

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The Last Frontier of Affordable Housing in Santa Cruz?

santa cruz market report: May 2015

The following market report is provided by Liz Kroft  & Lance Hulsey of Mainstream Real Estate Group.

Have you had the pleasure of riding the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk? As you leave the station you immediately enter a tunnel before the ride really begins upward. That ride is a perfect analogy for this months market update.

This months update is kind of like the tunnel before the ride starts upward. We know the climb is coming, it is just that a bit of uncertainty has crept into the market this month before it all starts. Enjoy our Giant Dipper of a market report this month.

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How’s the Market? It’s a Normal Spring Market…Except for One Thing

santa cruz real estate report, april 2015

The following market report is provided by Liz Kroft  & Lance Hulsey of Mainstream Real Estate Group.


Spring has sprung with few surprises in Santa Cruz’s real estate market, but there’s one thing that’s different. Entering into the 4th year of drought means more changes for homeowners from landscaping to plumbing.

Have you taken the necessary steps to meet your district’s mandatory water restrictions?

Before we dive (make that a very shallow dive) into the drought’s impacts on homeowners, let’s take a look at the numbers.

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Music, Art, Movies and Mole Sauce: Free Summer Series at Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park

mission santa cruz events

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Squires. Jennifer is a writer who works with Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. She lives in Aptos.


Head inland just a little this summer to enjoy the third annual Summer Series at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.

The park, which dubbed itself “Your State Park Downtown,” will host seven events with a wide spectrum of cultural experiences, fine art and outdoor movies, culminating with the third annual Mole & Mariachi Festival on Sept. 19.

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Santa Cruz Real Estate: Where Has All the Housing Gone?

santa cruz real estate market report, march 2015

The following market report is provided by Liz Kroft  & Lance Hulsey of Mainstream Real Estate Group.


Ask a few locals what the weather was like this morning and you’ll get wildly different answers depending on where each person lives within Santa Cruz County.

Your friend in Aptos may tell you it was foggy, someone in Seabright might gloat that it was warm and sunny, and yet another from Ben Lomond may tell you it was absolutely frigid.

We’re accustomed to microclimates, but there’s something similar which might not be as obvious:

Micro markets.

The “Santa Cruz Real Estate Market” is as nuanced as our local weather patterns. Each city and neighborhood has a unique housing market. This is important to keep in mind as we discuss the broader “Santa Cruz County” market.

Speaking of weather, and our local real estate market, rain isn’t the only thing we’re currently in short supply of.

At this point we all know that low housing inventory is also in short supply.

The supply of new homes is not keeping pace with the job and population growth that we’re seeing in Santa Cruz County. With historically low mortgage rates and other incentives, buyers are ready, yet sellers remain on the sidelines.

What gives?

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Do-It-Ourselves Fest: 3 Days of Music, Art, Camping & Stoke in the Santa Cruz Mountains 

Santa Cruz DIO Festival 2015

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Stevee Stubblefield, co-founder of the DIO Fest.  We invited Stevee to write this post to share the overall awesomeness that is the Do-It-Ourselves Fest.  This music festival, with a unique community spirit, takes place later this month in the Santa Cruz Mountains and benefits a worthy charity.  It also sounds like a ton of fun.


DIO Fest 2015 PosterWhen walking through security at most major music festivals, you’ll often hear something along the lines of, “You’ll have to pour out your canteen ma’am, there are no outside beverages allowed into the event.  Waters are available for $5 each.”

This type of scenario is the norm at most of today’s largest music festivals.

Over the last 20 years, the scene has exploded – Coachella, Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and more.  These events are surely a lot of fun and feature some truly stellar acts, I’ve enjoyed them myself, but they’re not the only way to experience authentic music, art and culture.

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Santa Cruz Real Estate: Out of Hibernation and Into a Bubble?

santa cruz real estate report: Feb. 2015The following market analysis is provided by Liz Kroft and Lance Hulsey of Mainstream Real Estate Group.


Yawn. Stretch. The real estate market begins to come out of its winter hibernation in January and February. 2015 is no different and as such the market statistics are not particularly enlightening just yet, but that does not mean there isn’t much to learn early in the year.

The last three springs in Santa Cruz County saw progressive markets, which took home values to new heights. From March through May of 2014 homes (single family and condo/townhome) were going like hotcakes, with a median1 of 18 days on market2 and selling at an average of 99.6% of list price. There is quite a bit of speculation and assumption about what will unfold in 2015 with historically low interest rates, tight inventory, and rising prices.

To put inventory into perspective: There are currently only 1,657 Single Family Homes for sale across Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Monterey counties. Not much for a population of over 2.5 million.

First, lets take a quick look at what happened in February in the Santa Cruz County real estate market. The Infographic below provides a great snapshot:
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