Move Along…

[photopress:selling_peaches.jpg,full,alignright]Thanks to both Ardell and Joel, I’ve been tapped to list five things you may not know about me… Not sure where to start, I decided to focus today’s theme on some fun jobs (but I won’t go so far as to take you back to the days of selling fruit on the streets of LA! LOL):

1) At 16 years old, I spent the summer working as an ice cream scooper at a Haagen Dazs shop in Paris. At the time (early 90s), Haagen Dazs was all the rage in Europe, so it felt like I was in the center of the universe. Needless to say, I learned a lot working around a bunch of older (early 20s!) Parisian models for a summer, although my French never got very good because all the girls wanted to learn to speak “American” as oppose to their school-taught “English”. One of the highlights (that I can discuss in a real estate blog) was blasting Nirvana on the shops speakers (loud!) after-hours while closing the shop down. At the time, Nirvana’s Nevermind album had not yet been released in Europe (at least everyone around acted like it had not!), so having a copy turned out to be a HUGE hit.

2) The next career arc came during my UC Santa Cruz years when I was studying Environmental Studies… At 19, I drove to Alaska to work for consumer interesting group, AKPirg, in order campaign for “Campaign Finance Reform”. (I find it more than mildly amusing that 10 years later, their lead issue is still campaign finance reform.) While raising money and making a big fuss about all things political and environmental, I was getting paid to travel around the state and made many national park stops! Grizzlies in Denali, hiking under glaciers in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and that long, long, long Alaskan highway are all unforgettable experiences… I guess I wasn’t so bad at raising money for causes, because later in the summer I was asked to work for the USPirg office in Chapel Hill and was given the hilarious opportunity to canvass Jesse Helms in an effort to get him to join the Sierra Club! I guess I don’t have Bono’s magnetism, because despite a good 15 minute conversation, I couldn’t get him to join up for even the basic membership! 🙁

3) At 22, while studying Engineering at UC Berkeley, I decided to spend a summer working as a student-researcher for the Pavement Research Center. Believe it or not, this was a fascinating job that brought me up and down (and up and down) the state taking samples from test pavements in order to see the effects of some experimental pavement mixtures under different conditions. The pavement job was really good to me (financially), so I was able to stash some cash away for the school year and still take my girlfriend, Anna, on a cross-country trip via drive-away cars for the last few weeks before school started.

Our first assignment was to drive a car to Charlotte, NC (from Berkeley, CA) and we took I-40 almost all the way. Some of our stops including an evening in Las Vegas, a day on Lake Mead, hiking around the Grand Canyon, wondering in Santa Fe, eating huge steaks in Oklahoma City, dancing (and more dancing) at Elvis Week in Memphis, visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham, and shopping in Atlanta. For the return trip, we took the northern route (roughly I-80) with stops along the backroads of West Virginia (just in time to watch Bill Clinton give his famous mea culpa speech at our hotel room), a county fair in Kentucky, a Second City performance in Chicago, the Iowa State Fair, an evening in Boulder, CO, a hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and a hike on the Great Salt Lake. The kicker is that we did all of this in just a little over two weeks!

4) After graduating from Berkeley, I spent the first seven years of my professional career as a planner/engineer for a transportation consulting firm. This was interesting work in that I got to spend a lot of time working with local government officials to improve their transportation, and in particular their transit, systems. I worked all over the west coast for clients like BART, SF MUNI, SCAG, MAG, Portland’s Metro, and King County Metro, Sound Transit, WSDOT and the City of Seattle and became somewhat of an expert in travel demand modeling and GIS. Despite lots of good opportunities ahead (transportation in every American city will get worse before it gets better!), I knew it was time to look for new opportunities when Rain City Guide started to take off…

5) About eight months ago, I jumped off the engineering bridge and went to work for Move. One of the things I’ve learned is that while the technology (or secret sauce) behind large websites can be complex, it is the business development and marketing opportunities that most interest me. Hence, about a month ago, I switched out of our product development team and into our marketing team (although things are never that simple… :)). Probably the best news (at least for me) is that this switch means I’ll be able to come out of my dark cave and blog a bit more during the next year!

No perpetuation of memes from me! 🙂

When is it appropriate to use environmentalism to stop developments?

Editor’s note: Today, I’d like to welcome Jon Ribary as the newest contributor to RCG. With one of our other contributors, Eileen, he owns LTD Properties in Seattle. When I first started blogging, Jon was an early follower of RCG and began developing an online mapping tool around the first time I started gHomes. Jon’s take on real estate is from a slightly different perspective in that, first and foremost, he is a developer of land as oppose to an agent. In a constant effort to explore new areas of real estate, I look forward to seeing where Jon takes us!

A recent article from the Snohomish County’s Herald Newspaper got me thinking about the fine line between “preserving the environment” and NIMBYism (Not in my back yard!). I find that rather than really caring about preserving the environment, people use environmentalism as a hammer to slow down or stop projects that will “ruin” their view or preserve some favorite local property from being developed.

In the case of the Lake Stickney, the county says that the proposed development meets all applicable environmental laws, and yet one local, Chris Lloyd says “This is all about salmon habitat.” I’m not convinced.

To bring it to a personal level, if the house I live in has a sweeping view of the sound. Between me and my view was a 1940s rambler that just sold. The buyer, a builder who is planning to demo the house to build a 3 story home that would block my view. Do I have a right to stop that development, just to save my view, or is it an individual’s (or company’s) right to do what they wish on the property as long as they are abiding by development standards? If I wanted to keep the property from being developed, is my only right to buy the property to ensure it is not changed (or negotiate a view easement)?

If environmentalist’s #1 goal is to make sure projects are being developed properly, then I am on board. With land use and building codes where they are today, my past experiences tells me the proper precautions are being taken. If the opposition are anti-development and are using this tactic as a way to slow down or trump the development of the land, then I think environmentalism is simply being used as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to stop developments…