Real Estate

Home front: lower Mountain View rents; teaching fire safety

Also, instant gardening help

A roundup of local home and garden news and events on the Midpeninsula, including rising rent in Mountain View, where to find garden help from locals online and how to teach children fire safety.

RENTS RISE ... The website has reported that once again Palo Alto's rents rose last month, although only three-tenths of 1 percent. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Palo Alto is $3,200, or $2,020 above the national average of $1,180. One interesting note from is that rents in Mountain View, for both one- and two-bedroom apartments, are down slightly. Mountain View's median two-bedroom monthly rent is $2,700, or $500 less than Palo Alto's.

INSTANT GARDEN HELP ... If you can't get to the Palo Alto Demonstration Garden to speak with an expert during open hours, and you're garden looks like it's in trouble, look for assistance on the UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County's "Garden Help" web page at The University of California has created an extensive "home, garden, turf, and landscape pests" website with information on all sorts of problems California gardeners are likely to encounter. Search by plant name or pest name to see what might be afflicting your plants. There also is a Help Desk you can contact by phone or email or visit in person at 1553 Berger Drive, San Jose. Use the group's "plant diagnostics" page to gather pertinent information before calling or dropping in.

SAFE KIDS ... The Palo Alto Fire Department's home page, has a "Kids' Corner" located in a tab under Safety Tips that has printable coloring pages for kids to learn about what smoke detectors do and how they work. It even suggests kids name their smoke detectors and remind their parents to check them once a month. The page has suggestions for helping teach kids fire safety at home as well as links to Smokey the Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog , mascots of the National Fire Protection Association.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details