Archive for the 'Auburn' Category
Here are 9 of my favorite restaurants in Auburn, California. Notice I did not say “The 9 Best Restaurants,” because all I would get with that statement is a bunch of guff from the “experts,” by which I mean my colleagues at Century 21. But who can argue with “favorites?” If I like ’em, I like ’em, so there. <bronx cheer>
I’m a working man. I like restaurants that deliver good food with a smile, lots of it, and cheap. Luckily, I live in Auburn. This town is not the Culinary Capitol of California. Bus loads of tourists do not make pilgrimage from San francisco to our Epicurean El Dorado. The best you can say about our restaurant scene is that we have a few pretty good restaurants . . . and they’re cheap. There are also several over-rated, over-priced eateries that offer mediocre fare, but they are not the topic of this blog, fortunately for them.
In my list of working man restaurants you will find breakfast, lunch, and dinner spots. The service is friendly, the atmosphere relaxed. I’m not going to rate them in any kind of order . . . except that I’m going out on a limb and save the best restaurant in Auburn for last.
So here they are, in alphabetical order:
AUBURN THAI GARDEN On the corner of Highway 49 north and Palm Avenue, about 6 blocks from the I80 exit. Lunch and dinner. With tax, lunch costs $7.45. For dinner, do try the mango curry, if mangos are not available, try the rambutan curry.
AWFUL ANNIES. This is a long-time favorite with us hillbillies. It’s a breakfast and lunch spot in the center of Old Town Auburn, a district that is only about 2 square blocks, so it’s not hard to find Annies. Parking is free. By the way, parking is free everywhere in Auburn, and I am not making that up. Free. Parking. Welcome to the foothills.
This is the dining deck or porch at Awful Annies. It’s mostly imaginative breakfast fare, gourmet sandwiches, salads with lots of no-meat choices for you veg-heads. Breakfast about $10, lunch about $15.
BIG SALAD. This is a deli-style soup, sandwich, and salad hangout for the lunch crowd (“crowd” is a kind of joke, but I guess you have to live up here to appreciate it). It’s in Downtown Auburn, not to be confused with Old Town Auburn which is about 10 blocks down the hill. Lunch is about $10. No menus. The offerings are on a chalk board above the prep table. That kind of place.
CHANG BROTHERS. There are no, repeat NO, great Chinese restaurants in Auburn, but there is one pretty good one, at least I think so, even if my colleage Connie thinks it stinks. Hey, Connie, lighten up. The lunch special is $6.25 and you probably can’t eat it all. Usual fare, soup, rice, entre, egg roll. Try the Orange Chicken. One of the best offerings is the “Tea List.” You can choose from a half dozen different teas, well-brewed in an iron pot at your table. Black, green, or golden. Yum. This is one of my favorite places to take a book and my “Don’t Bother Me” sign.
Chang Brothers is a strip mall joint in the Bel Air shopping center on Highway 49 North.
KATRINAS. Everybody likes Katrinas. It’s a bit quirky. Closed on Monday and Tuesday. Breakfast and lunch only, 7:00am to 2:30pm. Small, crowded. Now and then you will see a male bus-person, and I swear I once saw a man back in the kitchen when the door was left open too long, but for the most part this is an all-woman operation. Excellent quality. The portions are HUGE. Two people should share one salad and one entre, no more, I’m warning you. Even then you will probably box up the leftovers and take them home. Typical Auburn prices. A couple can eat well for less than $30.
Katrina’s is on Highway 49 North, sort of catty-corner to Auburn Thai Garden, but a block closer to the freeway, and on the other side of the street. Doesn’t look like much from the outside.
MELS. Lots of people won’t like this choice because Mel’s is a chain-restaurant. OK, it’s a gussied-up burger joint. Lots of unhealthy, greasy food, burgers, fries, shakes, “Blue Plate” dinners and big ‘ol meat platters. But it stands out from the other Auburn restaurants in one vital regard–it stays open 24 hours a day. Very useful, Mels.
Mel’s is on Highway 49 North, before Bel Air and the Home Depot. Yep, we got a Home Depot in Auburn, about 3 years ago. Big doin’s around here.
STRINGS. OK, if I included one chain restaurant, I might as well put in another, especially since I go there so often. Strings is near the corner of 49 North and Bell Road in the KMart BestBuy shopping center. I always order the same thing, and it might be the single-best dinner entre in Auburn. Pasta Sienna. $13.99 and worth it. One of the things I like most about the Strings routine is that the server brings one big salad to the table, family style. Quite charming.
WINGS. This breakfast and lunch spot is out at the Auburn Airport. Connie complains that it is too noisy, but Connie is very particular. The coolest thing about Wings is that you can sit outside and watch the planes take off and land. Typical Auburn prices. $8-12 for lunch.
TRE PAZZI. Here it is, the place you’ve been waiting for, Auburn’s best restaurant. The name of this place translates as “Three Crazy Guys.” It was started a couple of years ago by, guess what, three crazy guys, the most insane of whom happens to be a local realtor, go figure. It is open for lunch, but everyone needs a dinner treat from time to time. This is it.We save dining at Tre Pazzi for special occasions, not because it’s expensive, but because we don’t want to wear it out. CJ’s favorite entre is the pappardelle con ragu di cinghiale ($15), which is a ragu of wild boar. The insalata mista ($4) is an exquisite little salad, fresh and light. For desert you must try, I’m giving you no choice, must try the tre veluti ($5). You cannot eat this entire desert without getting a chocolate headache. One evening four of us went to work on the tre veluti and came away satisfied. Can you believe those prices?
If you are eating lunch in Auburn and need that coffee after-glow, head over to the best coffee shop in town to get your caffeine buzz. DEPOT BAY COFFEE COMPANY roasts, grinds, and brews the best cup in town. Nohing else comes close to Depot Bay.
Now, this is what a coffee house should look like!
Here is the analysis of Auburn, California real estate comparing the first quarter of 2011 with the first quarter of 2012. For this study I have used only residential homes (one or two dwellings per parcel) and excluded raw land, commercial property, condominiums, and multi-units (duplexes, apartments, etc.). I selected Auburn, Southwest of Auburn, Meadow Vista, and Christian Valley as the geographic areas for the comparison. I excluded the non-incorporated areas of Auburn that are north of the Bear River in Nevada County, thereby eliminating “South County” and Lake of the Pines. The data was obtained from the Metrolist Multiple Listing Service.
FIRST QUARTER 2011
Here is the lowest priced house sold in the first quarter of 2011.
This property near downtown Auburn on Electric Street was listed for $79,900 and sold for $69,900 after being on the market for 85 days. It s0ld for 87% of the asking price. At 665 square feet it sold for $105 per square foot.
Here is the highest priced house sold in the first quarter of 2011.
For the past couple of years, the priciest homes in the Auburn area have been located in the Winchester Country Club near Meadow Vista. This home was put on the market at $1,387,500 then reduced to $1,245,000 and sold for $1,165,000. It was on the market for 59 days and sold for 94% of the listing price. At 4142 square feet it sold for $281 per square foot.
FIRST QUARTER 2012
Here is the lowest priced house sold in the first quarter of 2012.
This property out on Mount Vernon Road was listed for $59,900 and sold for $65,000 after being on the market for 25 days. It s0ld for $5,100 above asking price. At 1104 square feet it sold for $59 per square foot.
Here is the highest priced home sold in the first quarter of 2012.
As in the previous year, the priciest home in the Auburn area was located in the Winchester Country Club near Meadow Vista. This home was put on the market at $899,900 and sold in 3 days for $900,000, a whopping $100 above asking price. At 5288 square feet it sold for $170 per square foot
YEAR-TO-YEAR COMPARISONS FOR THE FIRST QUARTER
2011 number of houses sold 123
2012 number of houses sold 137
2011 average days on market 121
2012 average days on market 82
2011 average price per quare foot $143
2012 average price per quare foot $144
2011 %selling price/listing price 96.49%
2012 %selling price/listing price 97.18%
2011 average original price $340,326
2012 average original price $320,755
2011 average listing price $309,455
2012 average listing price $3o6,871
2011 average sale price $298,610
2012 average sale price $298,212
2011 median sale price $259,500
2012 median sale price $263,000
Houses sold a bit quicker in 2012 than in 2011, and a few more houses sold first quarter of this year than in 2011, but the cost of home buying was virtually unchanged. You would have trouble finding a “flatter” market. Inventory remains low, and lower-end houses priced at market value are snapped up quickly by first-time homebuyers and investors. Interest rates have fallen even lower which makes houses more affordable, but lending requirements have tightened, knocking some marginally qualified buyers out of the market.
The 7 mile long Quarry Trail is just below Auburn, California, at the Confluence of the Middle and North Forks of the American River. A true “loop trail,” it begins and ends at the same place along Highway 49 between Auburn and Cool. What a name for a California foothill town! Cool. Cool, California. Quarry is a fun trail to run and quite scenic, especially toward the end, but you can get lost, or take several grueling detours, unless someone scouts it for you. That’s why I’m going to expend some effort in giving you directions, including that all-important first direction: how to find the trail head so you can get started.
Driving down 49 from Auburn, you reach the bottom of the American River Canyon, turn right across a bridge, and begin the climb up toward Cool. In less than a mile you will see a sign on your left at the entrance to car park.
I don’t park here. It costs ten bucks. Forget that. Pull in and turn around (very carefully) and go back down hill a hundred yards or so, and you will see very wide shoulders along the highway. That’s where I park. Free.
Take a deep breath and look around. You can see the American River and the beautiful Foresthill Bridge that crosses it.
Now walk back up the highway. Directly across from the entrance to the car park you will see a little spur trail running diagonally uphill. Walk up that spur.
At the top you will find a convenient sign. This is the trailhead for the Quarry Trail, at least the way I run it. Stretch out here in the shade. OK? Let’s get to it!
Quarry Trail is one of my “challenge trails.” The running “difficulty level” is high, not extreme, but it will get your attention, especially the first half hour which is all uphill, not steep, but relentless.
Pretty, isn’t it. This is typical of the lower trail. During the first mile or two, you will cross two small creeks.
You will see a sign inviting you on a side excursion up the Pig Farm Trail. Don’t be tempted. You have been warned. The sign says “steep.” That is trail runner code for YOU. WILL. DIE.
At this time of year, sunny stretches of the trail are lined with wild flowers. AhhhhhhhCHOOOOO!
Run run run run. Up up up up. Be observant and by and by you will spot a sign on your left that promises you a short cut. Take it. By the way, “short cut” is trail runner code for “steep.”
This is a typical section of the Short Cut Trail . Looks a bit wilder, doesn’t it? Yes, and also less churned up by horses.
Water bottle? Yep, I am reminding you to take a drink of water when you get to the top of the Short Cut. The top is an otherwise nondescript section of the trail, but you will be glad to get there. Guess what? Your uphill work is done! Now, run run run run. Down down down down. In less than a mile, the Short Cut trail will end. If you go right, you will connect with the Olmstead Loop trail. Don’t do that. Olmstead is another adventure altogether. Go left, toward Highway 49. Be quiet and listen. You can hear the traffic.
On this day, just before I got back to the highway, I spotted a couple of other runners in the meadow ahead.
Cross Highway 49, also known as the Cool-to-Auburn Grand Prix. Be careful. The drivers along this curvy, downhill stretch of 49 all think they are race car professionals.
Go through that gate where I have placed the red arrow and continue through the Quarry parking lot to pick up the trail on the other side. It’s well marked.
Run run run. Down down down. You won’t get more than a peek of the Quarry, but you can hear the massive machines during this section of trail. By and by, the trail will appear to end on a small gravel road.
Just bear right and keep going downhill. The recognizable trail will begin again in just a few yards.
Now, pay attention. Here is the place where it is easy to take the wrong turn. Still running downhill, you will come to a very obvious fork. Continue downhill, to the left, as indicated in the photo below. If you go uphill, toward the right, you will eventually come to Lake Tahoe . . . in about 92 miles.
Toward the bottom, you will begin to hear the Middle Fork of the American River. You will also see lots of the much-despised scotch broom.
Soon the trail will end at the dirt road that parallels the river. Make a hairpin turn back to the left and run along the road. You will cross another little creek, it typically runs all season, by the way.
You are on the “civilized” final stretch of the loop. The Middle Fork will rarely be out of sight, and never out of hearing. You may have to share the trail with other birds of a feather.
There’s a turn off that goes up to the old quarry, now mostly reclaimed by Ma Nature and known as Cougar Canyon. It’s called that because . . . well . . . mountain lions live there, one ancient lion, to be more precise, a scarred and unpleasant old warrior with a broken jaw and one fang that juts out crazily from his lower lip. Not surprisingly, he is called Snaggletooth. Cougar Canyon is a beautiful and interesting side trip for another day. Just be careful up there. Keep your eyes open and stay alert. By the way, I made up that stuff about Snaggletooth. My little joke. Just to see if you were paying attention.
You will see the ruins of the old bridge that crossed the river and connected to the Foresthill Road.
Here’s what’s left of a railway tunnel.
There’s an assortment of rusty artifacts if that kind of thing turns you on.
Keep your eyes peeled and looking to the left as you reach the ruins. You’ll spot the entrance to the Hawver Cave.
I’ve never been inside, but I’d like to take a look some day. They discovered lots of fossils of North American mega-fauna in there: dire wolves, giant sloths, mastodons an so on, as well as Native American artifacts. It’s kinda dark and spooky.
The final stretch is about a mile long. It’s paved and right next to the Middle Fork. You could take a thousand fabulous photographs during this last lap, but I’ll just give you this one, typical and representative.
It is beautiful, and looks peaceful, but be very careful. This river killed a lot of people who underestimated it’s power, speed, and frigid temperature. In fact, stay out of the river unless you know it well. I have rafted on the Class 4 rapids further upstream, and I have great respect for the dangers of the Middle Fork.
Hey! What’s that up ahead? Highway 49. The car. We made it!
I hope you enjoyed your outing on the Quarry Trail. See you on our next run through the Sierra Foothills!
This is the lowdown, and I do mean “low,” on the Auburn Greens Condominiums in Auburn, California. Consistently, these units are the most affordable housing in Auburn. So what’s wrong with them? I’ll get to that in a minute. First, an overview.
Three hundred condominiums were built in the early 70s in northwest Auburn, along Highway 49, between Bell Road and Dry Creek Road. The condominums, all built on the same design, are in 4-plex units that range from 803 to 922 square feet. There is a downstairs unit, also called a #1 that is, according to many, to be the most desirable.
There is an upstairs unit, and two side units, both two-story. Here is one of the two-story units along the side.
Here’s a view of the dining area and kitchen inside of one of the two-story units:
Some of them are upgraded, “tricked out,” as we say.
The “Greens” are touted as “entry-level” housing or “investment” properties.” I suppose both of those claims have merit, but there are numerous problems: advanced age and poor condition, high association fees, low rents, falling prices, and a down-and-out neighborhood with a long “tradition” of crime, burglary, vandalism, and violence.
Most of the units are 40+ years old, and showing their age. Unless a unit has been recently re-furbished, I can tell you, without even going inside, that there are going to be water damage and dry rot issues in the bathroom wall nearest the shower head and in the bathroom floor. These units, though built on concrete slabs, have a long history of subteranium termites. Windows are shot, sinks leak, etc. Once again, some of them have been glammed up with granite countertops, hardwood floors, new cabinets and so on, but those are the exception.
You can paint lipstick on a pig, but . . .
Oddly, there are TWO Homeowners Associations, cleverly called Association One and Association Two. Both of them have, in my opinion, high association fees for what you pay, what you rent, and what you get for your money. How does $180 a month sound? Yikes. That’s higher than Lake of the Pines (currently $175 a month) and you get a LOT for your money at LOP.
I’ve sold a couple of Auburn Greens units, though it was several years ago when the market was hot. I sold one for about $140,000 and one for about $115,000. Because some “tricked out” units were going for $190,000, we thought we were stealing these properties. Now? Hold your breath. For the past year, they have been selling for about $50,000. I just saw two units that were sold this year for $40,000 and $41,000. Ouch. If you want one, you are going to pay cash, because nobody is going to underwrite a mortgage on these units. Except “Sal.” He’ll give you a “hard money” loan. Don’t be late with Sal’s monthly “vig.” Sal has a rent-collector named Guido who carries a baseball bat.
Rents followed prices downhill. At the height of the market, these little condos were renting for $850-950 month. Now? $500 to $700 per month.
From these figures, we can do some easy investor math. $50,000 cost (cash–no mortgage interest deduction), $700 month rent (high end), $180 month association fees, $100 month maintenance and management fees, property taxes, taxes on the income.. Unless you are looking to show a loss on your tax returns, these units are not worth your time and energy.
First time buyers, entry-level buyers. Auburn Greens can be rough and tumble, not the place, in my opinion for the elderly or to raise kids. My advice. Rent cheaply somewhere else, save your money for a down payment, buy a better home in a better neighborhood.
If you were hoping to buy a ticket on the Cheap Home Cruise of Auburn, California, you may be left standing on the dock, because, baby, that ship is putting out to sea.
Four days ago, a “nice enough” little house came on the Auburn real estate market. It was on the smallish side, about 1300 square feet. The kitchen had to be redone because you couldn’t open the fridge door without it slamming into the range, nor open the back door without it slamming into the sink. Totally dysfunctional. Modest neighborhood, nothing special. About the best you could say about this house was that it was “kind of cute” and “in pretty good condition.”
By the end of the second day, the listing agent had 28 offers. TWENTY EIGHT offers. So overwhelmed, the seller (a bank!) ordered him to put the house in “pending” status just to stop the feeding frenzy. To the 28 hopeful buyers, the listing agent sent those dreaded words, “highest and best offer by 5PM today.” No second chance. Do or die.
My clients came back with an all-cash offer $5,000 above asking price. We never stood a chance. The final number won’t be known until escrow closes, but I have been able to learn, through the fine art of real estate espionage, that the winning offer was at least $75,000. Above asking price. Yes, you read that right, $75,000 ABOVE ASKING PRICE.
So what did you learn from this fiasco?
The real estate market, at least the market in Auburn, California, is changing rapidly. No, that’s not quite right, the market has already shifted dramatically. You are just learning about it now.
Crisp, clean, with numerous upgrades, ready to sail. A sea-worthy seller will work with you for a smooth voyage, not a short sale “negotiator” who will steer you onto the rocks like the drunken captain of an Italian cruise ship.
Golfers will enjoy this excellent and convenient location. The attached golf cart garage opens onto a pretty path that leads up and over a knoll and down onto the second fairway.
But, the course is far enough away that the home remains private and quiet. The house cannot be seen from the course,
and the golfers cannot be heard from the house. Golf balls will not crash through the plate glass windows or konk the kids on the head.
There is plenty of space in the back yard for the kids to play, or for grownups to hang out in the shade. When you add in all of the superb Lake of the Pines amenities, this comfortable home is an excellent value.
- 1953 Square Feet
- 1/3 acre
- 3 bedrooms
- 2 and ½ baths
- golf cart garage
In addition to great real estate deals, ideal location, superb climate, and terrific outdoor fun, Auburn is a gold mine of surprising cultural treasures. My favorite is the Auburn Symphony, one of the finest community symphonies in America.
Tonight I returned home from the Symphony’s second major concert of the year, satisfied and happy, reprising the minor key surprises of Mozart’s Piano Concerto 24 in my memory.
Before snapping into the Concerto, the Symphony warmed us up with Mozart’s Overture to Idomeneo, about 10 minutes of dramatic, though eerie, adventure. A short break, then Maestro Michael Godwin introduced our soloist, the brilliant Russian prodigy, Konstantin Soukhovetski. We enjoyed Soukhovetski’s piano artistry three years ago, and we were even more delighted tonight with how much he has grown in power and showmanship. His reckless attack on the Concerto’s first movement left CJ breathless. Or maybe it was Soukhovetski’s long, angelic blond locks that he whipped around like a young Franz Listz. Anyway, CJ liked him very much.
The Symphony wrapped up the evening with Bruckner’s challenging (for us as well as the orchestra) Symphony No. 4 .
If you live near Auburn, or if you don’t mind driving here for an evening of rich, joyful entertainment, hie thee to the Auburn Symphony. Perhaps you’ll see us there, Row J, left side, near the front.
Stagecoach may be the oldest trail in the Auburn, California area—and the most accessible.
You find the Stagecoach trail head on Russell Road, just off Lincoln Way, inside the Auburn city Limits. From this trail you can connect to the Pioneer Express trail and scamper down hill about 40 miles to Folsom and Sacramento. Or you can connect up hill to the Clementine and Foresthill Divide trail system and run a sweet little marathon-length loop. Or you can say “what the hell” and run 100 miles overland to continue reading…
One year ago this month we were standing on the dock watching firefighting aircraft dip water out of the lake to drop on the fire that would be known as the 49er Fire.
Fighting this fire was urban warfare at its most vicious. The firefighters were clearing the flames, house to house, some continue reading…
Sneak Preview! This extraordinary lakefront home will be coming on the market in just a few days. Located in the most perfect position on Lake of the Pines, just outside Auburn, California, this elegant custom home will be shown by appointment only. At almost 4000 square feet it offers high-end finishes and a stunning across-the-lake view. $1,329,000. Call Bob or CJ for a private viewing.
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