Road Maintenance

Considering how much rain we had at the beginning of 2017 here in San Diego, you’d think the roads wouldn’t be in as good of condition as they are.

Yet, work remains. The City of San Diego has done a good job of repairing many of the potholes, but there are some on less-busy streets that still need work.

I checked out the City’s maintenance website recently, and submitted a request. It was remarkably easy, and you can do it from your phone for even easier use.

I’m considering starting a new website showing potholes and other road hazards in San Diego, but it’s hazardous to take pictures while driving. Better to let the City and elected officials deal with this — please report road hazards when you are in the position to do so safely. 🙂 Thanks everyone!

Local Businesses

How far does disposable income go?

Living in North Park there are many fun things to do and tasty things to eat and drink. You can’t help but be bombarded with ads for festivals, “taste of the City” days, and brewery events. Everyone apparently eats brunch every weekend and goes to the Farmers’ Market every Thursday.

Okay, I’m exaggerating and generalizing. But this got me to thinking, how far does a dollar go these days? If you’re trying to budget, whether due to paying back student loans or dealing with higher rents, where do you make sacrifices?

$50.00 is about what you would pay to attend the local beer festival or Taste of the City event. What else could you spend that on?


  • 1 week of groceries for 1 person
  • 1 month of utilities
  • Tank of gas for your car
  • Oil change for your car
  • Cell phone bill for the month
  • New pair of pants / decent shirt
  • Bus pass (almost)
  • 2 haircuts
  • Food for your cat / dog for almost a month


  • Movie tickets and snacks for 2
  • Local show at the Observatory / Casbah
  • Festival of Beers
  • Taste of North Park
  • Breakfast / dinner for 2
  • New video game
  • 2 beers and Uber / Lyft there and back
  • Monthly gym membership

So as you can see, it’s not “just $50.00” for some people. It all depends on perspective and what is most important to you.

Real Estate

Buying tips for 92104 / 92116?


Been looking around for the past 10 years. Like almost everyone else — would like a house, but since the “housing recovery” starting around 2012, those dreams have vanished due to rising prices. So it will most likely be a condo.

Missed Opportunities

  • 2006 — almost bought a 2BR / 2BA in Normal Heights for $250K. Withdrew accepted offer due to worries of living paycheck to paycheck to cover mortgage.
  • 2012 — offer of $168K was accepted less than 1/2 block away from the current Hess Brewing Co. building! Anxiety took over. Was worried about how I would repay necessary 401K loan for down payment along with mortgage. Withdrew offer.
  • 2014 — learned of layoff, hesitant to buy due to future job uncertainties.
  • 2015 — rent increased over $240.00 monthly. Rehired to same company, pay reduction of $8K per year. More rent, less pay = more difficult living.
  • debated buying a 1BR / 1BA condo in 92116 down the street from The Barn for $210K. Good deal! But I was worried about making ends meet and noisy neighbors. No offer.
  • 2016 — rent increased $150.00 monthly. Just counting my blessings so far.

The Current situation in San Diego

  • Prices keep rising in 92104 and 92116, my 2 favorite places to live. I attribute this to the continued launches of eateries, breweries, pubs, and better infrastructure / building upgrades.
  • In September and currently October, it’s not uncommon to see 1BR / 1BA condo arrive on MLS and if it’s priced under $250K you will see it go pending within 3-7 days. It’s still cheaper to buy than rent if you have a 20 percent down payment.

What’s next?

  • Realistically, looking for 1BR / 1BA under $220K. Might be willing to go to $240K for North Park. Really could use another $300 – $500 income stream per month to afford to buy in this market, otherwise will be paycheck to paycheck.

Has anyone bought in this market despite being “house poor” from the payments? What is your secret to success in this market for employment? Would like to know how people in 92104 and 92116 are affording to go to bars and eateries daily, along with looking stylish and taking Uber / Lyft everywhere.

Events, Food

Spaten La Mesa Oktoberfest

You may have noticed I started off with the brand of beer. That’s because it was impossible to ignore the signs all around the venue. And so it was that they tapped the keg of this beer this year. I think we did Sam Adams last year, so this is different — I’ve never heard this brand before, but it said it was the first beer brewed specifically for Oktoberfest!

Anyway, getting to the Fest was easy. I missed the 7 bus so I took the 2 Downtown from 30th Street and then took the Orange Line Trolley to La Mesa. Lots of interesting characters on there as usual but that’s another story. 🙂 The Trolley dropped me off less than 1 block away from the festivities. How convenient.

I started off with Tarantino’s bacon-wrapped brats this year. Amazing, even with the 10-minute wait. Plenty of grilled onions, sauerkraut, and brown mustard. Unfortunately, I sat down next to a fellow who talked a lot and I became distracted, dropping some mustard and sauerkraut on my shorts. Mess. Lovely. I excused myself to avoid further issues.

The line to the Spaten tapping of the keg was crazy long as usual. It’s where all the German entertainment can be found, of course. Thus, I went to the 91X / Lyft Beer Garden this year — free entry, great music, and decent beer (not free, of course). They were out of Bolt IPA, so I settled for Hefeweizen. Not bad, but not what I wanted, for 8 bucks! Festival pricing. At least the DJ was playing good late 80’s freestyle music. A few brave souls went up and attempted to dance. Very entertaining, but not many people there so I left after 1 beer. Didn’t want to miss the Trolley and have to pay for Uber / Lyft.

On my way out I picked up some delicious chimney cakes — Coconut sprinkled. They were warm and the bread was soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Took a few bites and jumped on the Trolley — then realized I could have taken the 7 bus home faster. Oh well. I took the Trolley downtown and then took the 7 bus back to North Park. Took about 50 minutes — not bad for getting lost. Oh well, it’s just another adventure.

Oktoberfest was a little disappointing like last year — only the street east of the Trolley tracks was used. No rides. I was told they were bringing them on Saturday and Sunday, so hopefully someone enjoyed them then. It just seemed more crowded, more energy, 2 years ago. At least I did not feel crowded. Overall though, the food was good, people were generally nice, and I enjoyed the evening, so I am glad I went, even if just for tradition.

What do you folks think of the O.B. and El Cajon Oktoberfests? Anyone else like the La Mesa one?





Local Businesses

Moving to the suburbs — How to survive

North Park.     Normal Heights.    Hillcrest.     City Heights.

What do these all have in common? They have become immensely popular over the last 10 years. Gentrification has transformed these once overlooked drive-through communities into destinations. Nice, because the crime rates have decreased, and there are many fun things to do in walking distance.

The downside? Almost everyone wants to live in these vibrant communities. This has led to affordability problems for those who have not advanced up the career ladder like the newcomers. This is not a problem in itself, but has led to some people seeking alternatives for places to call home.

Thus, I am considering buying a house further east in the quiet suburban community of San Carlos with some of my family. It’s not cheap out there, but the price per square foot is less, and we will be closer to nature and it will be quieter at night. The downside is the Walk Score below 50. Meaning we will need to drive almost everywhere. But, aside from getting a roommate to share a small apartment with here or buying a small condo, the alternatives are scarce for staying in San Diego.

How am I planning on dealing with moving to the suburbs?

Well, I’m not giving up city life altogether if I can help it. Here’s what I plan to do.

  • Visit North Park / Normal Heights 1-2 times per month. At this frequency, ride sharing should be affordable with the money I save over living in the city, and I can still enjoy the new restaurants and nightlife that I love in North Park.
  • Going Downtown to enjoy the nightlife? I can still drive there, but I may just get a hotel room every once in a while to save on ride sharing costs and be a responsible driver. It will be like a staycation!
  • Buy a bicycle. I can ride to public transportation and then take this to the city, without the inefficiency of walking far distances.
  • Travel more. With the money I save from living in the city, I can afford to visit many distant destinations.

I don’t know how successful these endeavours will be, but you have to dream to stay sane sometimes. I will definitely miss many of the conveniences I have become accustomed to over the years. Stay tuned.


Public Transportation

Took my car to the shop on Monday.

My 2006 Mazda 6 V6 had been making a rattling sound since I had the timing cover gasket replaced to stop the oil leak. (Yeah, waste of money I suppose, everyone else lets their cars smoke and leak oil on their driveways.) So I took it back to Henry’s. The 2nd time they finally figured it was the timing chain — not easy to replace on this car. So I would be without my car for at least 2 days.

Lucky for me I live in North Park, where at most I am minutes away from the MTS bus routes. So I was not too concerned. Who has money to take Uber and Lyft every day of the week? I don’t. $20.00 round-trip daily, 20 days a month would be $400.00 — you could buy a new car for that much or less! The bus, on the other hand, is $5.00 per day, or less with a pass.

Anyway, so I took the 215 to the 955. I left at 5:35AM and got to Oak Park by 6:05AM. 30 minutes, yeah 20 more minutes than by car, but tolerable. And the bus was wonderfully air-conditioned during the heat wave. The ride home took longer though. The 955 was not running on time to SDSU, so we missed the 215 westbound by 5 minutes and had to wait another 10 minutes, putting the trip at around 40 minutes from one stop to the other one. Still, better than when I worked in Kearny Mesa — that took over 1 hour. Yikes.

It’s easy to see why so many people opt for cars in San Diego. If you could consistently travel in under 20 minute to major metro locations, it would be perfect.

I should be getting back my car today, so that will be nice. Until then, it’s nice to know that public transportation is somewhat of a viable option in this part of the city.