What Are the Targeted Areas in California Veteran’s Home Loan Programs?

How do you stop renting and start owning? Well, there are a few options that military veterans and active duty personnel should explore, like the Cal Vet home loan program. The Cal Vet home loan program has helped countless California veterans attain the American Dream of home ownership. Cal Vet’s home loan program offers numerous advantages for borrowers, including below-market interest rates and low or no down payment. Now that eligibility requirements have been expanded, virtually every veteran who wants to buy a home in California qualifies for a Cal Vet home loan.

Cal Vet home loans are designed to save you money and protect your investment. If you buy a home in a designated target area (TA) with your Cal Vet home loan, you could qualify for even more benefits. Purchasing a home in a (TA) gives you greater flexibility because the first-time homebuyer requirement is waived and there are higher sales price limits in all areas and higher income limits in most areas.

The Definition of a (TA)

Areas that have been targeted by the Federal Government were identified in the Federal Census as areas where 70 percent of families have an income that is 80 percent or less than the statewide median income. Cities, counties, and other governmental agencies may have specific areas in their jurisdiction that are “targeted,” but only census tracts identified by the Federal Government as “targeted” are used for Cal Vet home loan purposes.

To encourage Cal Vet home loan recipients to buy homes in (TA’s), homebuyers are provided with certain incentives. Home loans provided through the Cal Vet program for the purchase of homes in targeted areas are funded from State Allocated Qualified Mortgage Bonds (QMB). QMBs are tax-exempt private activity bonds.

Benefits of Buying a Home in a (TA)

Approximately 33 of the 58 counties in California have targeted areas, but Los Angeles County has almost half of all the targeted areas in the state. Typically, QMB loans require you to be a first-time homebuyer, but that requirement isn’t enforced if you buy a home in a targeted area. The maximum allowable income limit is also higher in most targeted areas, giving borrowers expanded homeownership opportunities. The limit on the price you may pay for a home is also raised in order to provide buyers with a wider range of available properties.

The purchase price for homes in targeted arreas cannot exceed 110% of the average area purchase price for the statistical area or county where the property is located. The income limits that applicants must qualify for are issued annually by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. For example, as of June 25, 2013, the income limit for one to two people who purchase a home in a targeted area in Los Angeles County is $101,160. Purchase price limits in targeted areas in Los Angeles County are $823,308 as of the aforementioned date.

QMB loans are only available for single-family residences, including condominiums, and mobile homes located on land that’s owned by the applicant. To determine if the home you’d like to purchase is in a targeted area and qualifies for a QMB loan, get in touch with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Los Angeles, Massage Therapy, and California’s Statewide Certification

Nearly two years after State Bill 731 was signed into law, the process of becoming certified as a massage therapist in the state of California is still somewhat tenuous. But the momentum in the Los Angeles massage therapy world – and really across the state – has definitely shifted to massage therapists operating professionally under the new state certificate instead of through municipal agencies.

Money is the main reason why it has taken so long for the state to implement its certificate, which allows massage therapists to operate legally across the state instead of just in individual municipalities. While the bill was signed in September of 2008, no certificates were issued until a year later, in September 2009. Instead, the state mobilized its resources to create the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), which is in charge of issuing certificates to the more than 33,000 massage therapists in California who can apply.

While the state was setting up its council, the thousands of massage therapists in Los Angeles were still paying renewal fees for their massage therapy licenses, which, coupled with the original fees associated with applying for a license and police permit, totaled over $300.

With these fees paid for, many therapists in Los Angeles – and the surrounding areas, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, etc. which have their own licensing requirements – waited for their licenses to expire before applying for the California massage certificate, which entails a $150 initial application fee, and then a $125 renewal fee every two years.

With a large number of massage therapists waiting for their paid-for massage licenses to expire before eventually applying for their new California massage certificates, thousands of therapists have been left waiting for their certificates to clear the backlog of applications that currently exist at the overwhelmed CAMTC office.

However, the wait may be worth it as, with California’s statewide certification, massage therapists can now work at cities across the state without having to go through the cumbersome and costly process of registering for a massage therapy license in each municipality where they wish to work.

The statewide certificate is thus a boon for Los Angeles chair massage therapists, who often work at different locations across the L.A. area, crossing city lines without even realizing it. But municipal massage therapy licensing bodies shouldn’t be expected to go away in the immediate future, as the statewide certificate is a voluntary document available for qualified therapists, and not required.

Offshore Oil Drilling in California – Why it Isn’t Likely to Occur

Anyone who lives in Southern California and who travels the coastline from San Diego to San Francisco has seen the offshore oil rigs along the coast of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Long Beach. Anyone who lives in any of the other coastal cities such as San Diego, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Cardiff, Carlsbad, Oceanside, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, Cambria or San Simeon sees something different – pristine beaches without offshore oil rigs.

In the midst of America’s financial meltdown and on the same weekend as Congress put together a $700 billion bailout, Congress did away with a 26 year ban on offshore oil drilling to the dismay of environmentalists.

Despite the ban on offshore oil drilling, it is believed that such drilling, at least off the coast of California is unlikely to occur for many years, if ever. Democrats in Congress are already vowing to reinstate the ban when a new Congress takes their seats in four months. And political opposition, marine protection laws and almost certain lawsuits by environmental groups in California make offshore oil drilling an unlikely event.

First, there is a general belief of Californians, including the Governor, that the California coastline is an international treasure, not to mention a draw to tourists from around the world. Few politicians in the state would dare to jeopardize that treasure.

Second, a law passed by former Governor Pete Wilson already bans all offshore oil drilling in California out to three miles from shore.

Third, there are 300 miles of national marine sanctuaries along the California coast which ban oil drilling.

Fourth, nearly every coastal county in the State of California has enacted ordinances banning new oil pipelines, oil terminals and tanks in the State.

Fifth, environmental groups are already vowing to file lawsuits, and they could be joined by the California Coastal Commission.

While California has around 30 oil platforms off the coast of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Long Beach that were built in the 1950s, no new oil platforms have been built in over 50 years.

It is estimated that California has at least 10.5 billion barrels of oil offshore – about a year and a half of the nation’s yearly supply. This is comparable to the estimate of oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

But if anything, despite the oil crisis and the financial crisis, in light of global warming and calls for investment in alternative energies, Californians are becoming more and more environmentally aware. Any politician running on any platform (oil or not) based on drilling offshore at a risk to the California scenic coastline, will have a hard time being elected.

Scenic Drives For Viewing Fall Colors in Northern California

Though a Northeastern Autumn is something to behold, the West Coast has something spectacular to offer in regard to fall colors as well.

The changing colors of fall leaves have to do with temperature change and altitude, so the colors often reach their peak at different times in different regions. To make sure you don’t miss the best parts of the season, stay connected with people you know who live in the area. Have them update you about what they can see as they drive around their city. You can also do some research and be aware of the areas that receive the most beautiful change each year, then find out from the local visitor’s bureaus when they are expected to reach their peak before you plan your trips. The National Forest Service also has a hotline with weekly updates on color change during this season for all of the United States: 1-800-354-4595

Get your mug of hot coffee or hot tea ready, some nice music, a companion, your camera, and you’re all set to hit the road and take a scenic drive.

Here is a list of some drives in Northern California that are typically beautiful at this time of year, guaranteed to show you reds, oranges, and yellows:

oTake HWY 299 East from Redding towards Burney, take a right on HWY 89 and drive all the way through Lassen National Volcanic Park. From there take the 36 to Red Bluff and then the I-5 back to Redding to complete the loop.

oTake HWY 299 West towards Weaverville. Any chance you see to take a marked hiking trail off the highway is a guaranteed way to immerse yourself in color. Past Weaverville you can continue West to the coast, or head north on HWY 3 up the Trinity Heritage Scenic Byway.

oPlumas County is famous for its fall color shows. From Lassen NVP you could continue South on HWY 89 and merge with the Feather River Scenic Byway near Quincy.

oTo the North, the pass over the Warner Mountains is also spectacular, taking HWY 299 from Alturas to Cedarville will bring life to your drive. Ask the locals about back-country roads while you’re there.

oA drive through the Modoc National Forest from Adin to Susanville along HWY 139 is another of Northern California’s hidden fall secrets.

Enjoy the colors, they don’t last long!

Declaring Your Intent to Marry Under California Law

In a Christian wedding ceremony, there may be as few as one vow or as many as three vows, perhaps more. Typically, these vows consist of Asking Vows, Repeating Vows, Ring Vows, etc. California’s Family Code Section 420 (a) states “No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required for solemnization of the marriage, but the parties shall declare, in the physical presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as husband and wife.” The operative word that I wish to discuss is, “declare” (i.e.,…but the parties shall declare….).

Black’s Law Dictionary defines, “Declare”: (1) To make known, manifest or clear; (2) To signify, to show in any manner either by word or acts. The dictionary does give further definitions. On occasion, the bride, the groom or both will exchange Personal Vows – vows they have personally written and which vows each wishes to communicate to the other. These vows are written from the heart and without the aid of Black’s Law Dictionary or the Family Code in hand. In fact, the personal vows may not have been seen by the minister / officiant (i.e., not a good idea, but….). Had they been reviewed by the officiant, (s)he may not have wished to interject legal content.

I recently officiated at a marriage where the bridal couple exchanged personally written vows. Without my mentioning legal content to the couple, I felt that both sets of Personal Vows met the intent and construct of the California Family Code. All was going along perfectly, until the groom started to say his personal vows.

Through tears of joy, the groom chose to whisper his vows into the bride’s ear. Even I, as the officiant standing but 2-feet in front of the bridal couple, could not hear a single word. And, most certainly, the witnesses (i.e., the best man and maid of honor) could not hear a single word.

Question: Did the presentation of the groom’s Personal Vows rise to the level required by Section 420(a) of the California Family Code?

In my opinion, the presentation of the personal vows failed to meet the required standard. That is, in my opinion, the groom did not make known to the minister and necessary witnesses that he takes the bride as his wife. Although the groom knew that he was to speak his vows loudly for all to hear, it didn’t happen.

In my case, we did not have a problem. I typically use both Asking and Repeating Vows. Whenever Personal Vows are introduced into one of my ceremonies, such vows generally replace the Repeating Vows section. And, although there are times when I may have only Asking or Repeating Vows, not both, I always have Asking Vows whenever Personal Vows are offered.

This is the one time that having Asking Vows, in addition to the Personal Vows, paid off. As the bridal couple, I urge that you consider asking your officiant to review your Personal Vows in the context of the overall ceremony. As an officiant, you may consider preparing your ceremony to accommodate the situation discussed above.

Can Staring Be Considered Harassment at Workplaces in California?

It is commonly known that sexual harassment at workplace involves unwelcome acts of sexual nature by a co-workers or a supervisor, such as unwelcome touching, repeated unwanted propositioning, conditioning employment or promotion on sexual favors, etc.

Offensive conduct, however, need not be sexual in nature to create a hostile work environment in the workplace. Hostile non-sexual conduct (or language) directed at an employee because of his or her gender may create an actionable hostile environment. A pervasive pattern of verbal abuse violates Title VII even if not motivated by sexual desire to drive women out of the organization. Rude, overbearing, loud, vulgar and generally unpleasant comments by a male supervisor toward female subordinates, coupled with physically aggressive (though non-sexual) actions, may constitute sexual harassment, if male subordinates were treated with proper respect at the same place. Interestingly enough, the fact that are were more women than men in the office does not make a difference.

A non-sexual conduct that singles out an employee based on his/her gender may also be actionable and constitute sexual harassment/hostile work environment . In one California case, a hostile work environment was shown by evidence that the male police officers engaged in overtly hostile acts toward a female police officer, including stuffing her shotgun barrel with paper, so that the weapon would explode if fired, spreading untrue rumors about her abilities, singling her out for unfavorable work assignments and shifts, making false complaints about her performance, and even threatening to disrupt her wedding.

Even staring, coupled with other factors, can constitute sexual harassment hostile work environment. In one case, a female employee refused several requests to go out on a date by a male co-worker (which included divulging lewd fantasies about her). When she complained to her supervisor, the coworker stopped talking to her, but started staring at her in an intimidating manner. In light of his prior conduct, the coworker’s repeatedly staring at the female employee and the employer’s failure to stop it despite the employee’s complaints could constitute actionable hostile environment sexual harassment according to court.

In sum, the California law and the recent rulings by courts clearly indicate that the conduct does not have to be “sexual” in nature in order to constitute hostile work environment sexual/gender harassment.

California Gold Rush for Kids

On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold in the American River, on the property of his employer John A. Sutter. Despite their efforts to keep this discovery quiet, news soon got out that there was gold in the hills of the River and by August of that year the hillside was covered with tents as men from around the globe, made their way to California to strike it rich.

This was no planned event. The Mexican War had only just been won and the Eastern Seaboard was in a state of financial depression. California Governor Richard Barnes Mason declared, “I have no hesitation now in saying, that there is more gold in the country drained by the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers than will pay the cost of the present war with Mexico a hundred times over.” It seemed that the promise of gold was too good to pass up.

To begin with, men came from the West. They were already close by, and they were hard working honest and trusting men. Soon however, settlers began to make their way across the country from the East.

The gold attracted many outlaws with little respect for the law. Robbery, murder, and conflict with Indians and bandits became common. With the inability of local law enforcement to manage this influx of crime, vigilante groups and lynching became a common form of mob justice.

The journey from the East was a hazardous one, more men died of cholera than the feared Indians on that trek across the country. The hard journey however, prepared the men for the harsh conditions of working for the gold. Although there was good money to be made, the cost of living was also high. Few of the prospectors struck it rich, the wise ones become farmers or storekeepers.

The largest influx of settlers was in 1849 and hence the settlers were often referred to as “forty-niners”. $10 million dollars worth of gold was found in 1849. This rose to a peak of $81 million in 1852. All in all, over $2 billion dollars worth of gold was taken from the earth before mining became almost dormant.

For more on the California Gold Rush, with links to recommended sites, visit California Gold Rush at “Surfing the Net with Kids.”

William Keith and the California Alps

When walking into the welcome center of the Mission Inn in Riverside, CA there is a small alcove type space off to the side which houses Keith’s amazing portrait the California Alps. The inspiration for this portrait is not actually any part of Yosemite national park but rather Keith idealized the California Mountains in this painting. The portrait is located in an area where it commands the attention of anyone passing by.

Keith is a master at using different forms of light in his paintings and this is very apparent in the light that is hitting the mountains. Then the light fades into darker shades as it hits the lower forest and finally it comes to full brilliance as it illuminates the grassy area in the forefront of the painting. “The California Alps” also portrays the native American life as it would have been in its early years. He shows a small Indian village with tepees that is along a river. Keith had an eye for capturing the mountains of Yosemite National Park and in his painting “The California Alps” he brought this skill to full fruition. As mentioned earlier it is his use of light that gets the viewers attention when passing by this large painting. Somehow Keith was able to perfectly attain the right colors for his painting and deftly apply them to create a remarkable work or art.

Simply by looking at the masterpieces created by Keith one can better appreciate the world around them. This is not limited to nature alone but also to the complexity of the human mind and the creative products it is capable of making. Painting is a talent that not many people have, and furthermore many of those that have the talent have never taken the time to develop it.

Fascinating San Diego California – USA

With its year-round tropical climate, San Diego, California, is one of the most popular vacation spots for tourists around the globe. From sailing and hiking to surfing and skiing, the city offers a plethora of activities. What’s more is that San Diego is a hop, skip and a jump away from Tijuana-an exciting alternative to California living.

Seaport Village is home to several luxury yachts as well as a wide variety of charter services. Spend a day at sea whale watching or just kick back and enjoy San Diego’s beautiful coastline.

Head to what is considered North County and pay a visit to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. From mid-July to early September, the fairgrounds are converted into the legendary Del Mar Racetrack. The horse racing venue once served as a stomping ground for some of the world’s most influential entertainers such as Jimmy Durante, Ava Gardner, Pat O’Brien, and of course the legendary Seabiscuit.

In the heart of the city you will find Mission Valley-a central haven for some of San Diego’s best shopping. The outdoor Fashion Valley Mall features designer boutiques as well as premiere department store giants including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.

I’s downtown Gaslamp District boasts plenty of boutiques, top-notch restaurants, five-star luxury hotels, and a whole street lined with some of the city’s most popular nightclubs. A newer addition to the downtown area is the state-of-the-art Petco Park. The Gaslamp District caters to the swarms of tourists by offering activities such as sight-seeing charter buses, pedicabs and horse-drawn carriage rides.

And with the city’s trolley system in place the perils of parking are easily avoided. Luxury hotels include the Manchester Grand Hyatt, Hotel Solamar, Horton Grand Hotel, The Omni, The Westin Horton Plaza, the Hard Rock Hotel, the Westgate Hotel, and more. Take a closer look at luxury hotels in San Diego.

Experience California’s history while strolling through the Old Town. As the first European settlement in what is now California, Old Town has been dubbed the state’s birthplace. The cultural landmark- home to the first California mission showcases Spanish history through its Bazaar del Mundo. Another popular attraction is the oh-so-creepy Whaley house, which offers insight into what some people call Haunted San Diego.

When people think of San Diego the thought of bikini-clad beaches is often what first enters their heads. It has earned this reputation for good reason as its coastline offers some of California’s best natural beaches. There are plenty of beach communities that seem to cater to every stereotype out there.

First off, there is the overcrowded (but fabulous) Pacific Beach, which offers party-goers a wide variety of hot spots all within walking distance from each other. Travel a little south and you will hit Mission Beach, which offers all the perks of P.B. with the added luxury of Belmont Park. Keep heading south and you will end up in Ocean Beach, a small community filled with vintage shops, dive bars, and some wonderful undiscovered little cafes and restaurants.

San Diego Bay is yet another popular destination, known mainly for its ample water-sports.

And with neighboring mountain ranges in close proximity, San Diego is ideal for avid skiers and snowboarders alike. The kiddos will enjoy the famous San Diego Zoo, Wildlife Park, and Legoland. And adults will find a playground of their own as the county also offers several Indian gaming sites, casinos and luxury resorts.

With so many well-traveled attractions and tourist destinations, San Diego has experienced rapid growth. This means that those looking for investment opportunities will find a surplus of resources in its flourishing market. Some of the most prime real estate is located in the coastal community of La Jolla, as well as in the high-rising downtown condominiums and lofts.

California Invests $ 75 Million For Clean Energy Workforce Training Program (CEWTP)

California residents will have greater access to Solar Photovoltaic Training because over $ 75 million dollars will be invested in the California Clean Energy Workforce Training Program (CEWTP). This action lets us know that the state of California believes the hope for California's economy lies within Green jobs. Although this money would not go directly to Training Providers, it does provide the residents of California with the opportunity to acquire the appropriate training to qualify for a green job. The 34 awards of this investment money have already estimated training for approximately 5,600 workers through regional workforce training partnerships across the state, in the first phase of this program alone. With greater emphasis on clean energy such as Solar Panel Installation training and institutions offering training in renewable energy, there are three important things any individual interested in taking Solar Photovoltaic training should consider.

A portion of the 75 million dollar investment in the California Clean Energy Workforce Training Program will go into developing a standard curriculum that is sufficient to equip workers with the basic skills necessary to operate Green Jobs. These skills vary from Solar Panel installation training to Weatherization. Thus, we will see more six month certification programs with course units that may be integrated with engineering or environmental related degrees. This is great for anyone interested in a more extensive study in renewable energy.

For those who do not have the time, there are institutions that provide forty hour PV installation training certificates and solar thermal certificates. These certificate programs are more than adequate to provide students with the basic qualifications to launch into green jobs.

Green jobs have become very broad. Thorough training in clean energy is required for most employers to even consider you as having the competency to successfully carry out basic responsibilities. It is not enough to take a one day crash course for clean energy. But rather, aim for a certification in a renewable energy emphasis such as solar photovoltaic training (PV installation training). In light of this fact, anyone interested in taking Solar Panel installation training has to consider institutions that offer the best programs. There are few things that the best institutions offer in their Solar Photovoltaic Training. These are: Preparation for the North American Board of Energy Practitioner's (NABCEP) Entry Level Certificate of Knowledge exam, experienced and well informed instructors, fully equipped training lab and personal or self branding.

NABCEP is the gold standard for PV installation training certification and solar thermal certification. Their goal is to raise industry standards and promote consumer confidence. Obtaining a NABCEP certification will give you National recognition as a PV Installer or Solar Sales Professionals . It also increases your chances of being hired. Good Solar Panel installation training will prepare their students for the NABCEP Entry Level Certification exam. An experienced and well informed instructor will be able to impart invaluable knowledge to the students regarding what to look out for in the industry. Personal branding is major for professional success. However, most professionals do not know how to brand themselves, especially in a reliably young industry. An exceptional PV installation training certification will help their students with branding themselves in this young and growing industry.