Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Rent or own? The affordability conundrum

Rent or own? The affordability conundrum: "ATTOM Data Solutions reports that 64 percent of Americans now live in places — mostly big metro areas on the East and West coasts — where it is more affordable to rent than own. That means the monthly cost of a mortgage, mortgage interest, insurance and property taxes on a median-priced home in the area will eat up a larger percentage of the average monthly wage there than paying rent on a typical three-bedroom apartment."

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It isn't just the the cities on both coasts. The same is true of Chicago, as well as Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Denver, and Austin. The reason is that in all these places, housing prices have inflated.


The Rise of the Backyard 'Granny Flat' - CityLab

The Rise of the Backyard 'Granny Flat' - CityLab

Yet another good idea that HOAs probably won't allow.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Can Government Officials Have You Arrested for Speaking to Them? - The Atlantic

Can Government Officials Have You Arrested for Speaking to Them? - The Atlantic

The US Supreme Court has this issue before them.  HOA and condo board members aren't government officials, but it will be interesting to watch this case.

It's Becoming Increasingly Hard For California Homeowners To Get Insurance : NPR

It's Becoming Increasingly Hard For California Homeowners To Get Insurance : NPR

"Insurance companies are increasingly dropping homeowners in California because of wildfire risk. There's concern the problem will grow worse after this year's destructive fire season."

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Insurance companies have freaked out about property insurance risks in California in years past. Fires, floods, 100-year storms, landslides earthquakes--these events are hard to build into their premium calculations. But homeowners need property insurance, so we shall see what the state legislature has to say about this.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Trump's Infrastructure Plan Is Actually Pence's—And It's All About Privatization

Trump's Infrastructure Plan Is Actually Pence's—And It's All About Privatization

"Pence and his allies like to boast about how Indiana sold control of major roads to private firms, claiming the move prompted corporations to invest money in infrastructure that would otherwise have been funded by taxpayers. But opponents say Indiana made some bad deals that offer a cautionary tale of get-rich-quick scheming, secrecy and cronyism that led the state to sell off valuable assets that were then wildly mismanaged."

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This "plan" probably will not lead to construction or maintenance of essential public infrastructure. It is more likely to foster a series of boondoggles in which state and local governments sell off valuable public assets--highways, bridges, etc.--to corporations that will strip them of their value for quick profits

Affordable housing bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown | The Sacramento Bee

Affordable housing bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown | The Sacramento Bee

"Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a robust package of housing legislation aimed at addressing California’s unprecedented affordability crisis."
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This article is from a few months ago, but I think these bills just went into effect. Across much if not most of California, housing is absurdly expensive. In major cities, San Francisco being the most dramatic example, middle class families can't afford to buy a home, and rents are absurdly high. The term "gentrification" doesn't even begin to describe it, because even people who would be considered gentrifiers in Chicago or Atlanta can't buy a home in San Francisco. Similar but somewhat less serious problems exist elsewhere. Median home prices in California are approaching $550,000. There are other problems that spin off from this, such as homelessness, traffic congestion and air pollution resulting from long commutes to work, and segregation by income and wealth. California is beginning to address their affordability crisis, but I think it will be a long and difficult process. Of course, condominium and HOA-run housing were intended to make housing more affordable by increasing density. But now CIDs are so ubiquitous that probably that solution has exhausted itself. Virtually all new housing in California is in CIDs already, and prices are still sky-high.  Here's an article from last June,  where they note that the average condo in San Francisco now sells for $1.2 million, and "For even more perspective, down in Los Angeles—hardly a cheap place to live in its own right—the California Association of Realtors estimates that the average home (house or condo) cost around $480,000 in April. In Orange County it was $775,000. In Santa Cruz, $815,000. But in San Francisco: $1.4 million for a house or condo, very close to Paragon’s own figure and nearly double some of the record highs everywhere else."

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

It’s so hot in Australia that bats’ brains are frying - The Washington Post

It’s so hot in Australia that bats’ brains are frying - The Washington Post: "In Sydney, temperatures hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, the hottest it has been since 1939."

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While Republicans in the US make the ridiculous claim that cold weather in the winter here means that there is no global warming, there is a heat wave in Australia that is killing bats by the hundreds. Koalas have to be sprayed with water to keep them cool. Asphalt roads are melting.

And of course, extremely cold weather is also evidence of global warming, because it means that the jet stream is losing its ability to hold Arctic air near the North Pole, where it belongs. So, when it gets so cold in Florida that iguanas are falling out of trees, that is consistent with the patterns of extreme weather that climate scientists have been predicting for years. There is also increasing evidence that the Gulf Stream may be slowing.  And of course the Arctic is melting.

Johannesburg's gated communities echo apartheid-era segregation in South Africa — Quartz

Johannesburg's gated communities echo apartheid-era segregation in South Africa — Quartz:

"In order to gain access to an unremarkable suburban road, South Africans have become accustomed to parting with their most personal details. At barriers erected across public roads, people who want to cross into this protected zone fill in their name, surname, cellphone, identity and car registration numbers, and then the exact time of their entry.

The law says they don’t have to when driving on a public road, but most people don’t give a second thought to handing over data in exchange for a sense of personal security in a city like Johannesburg with a reputation for high contact crimes, like murder and robbery.

This payoff, however, has created pockets of development—ranging from middle class suburbia to opulence—walled off from South Africa’s socio-economic reality. It has not only exacerbated inequality by making those beyond the wall invisible, gated communities show how short South Africans’ memory is about restricting the movement of the disenfranchised."

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Gated private communities are 15% of the real estate market in Gauteng, which is the area around Johannesburg and Pretoria. Half the gated communities in South Africa are in Gauteng. Obviously South Africa has a long and loathsome history of racial oppression by the white minority, and now that legal Apartheid is in the past, new forms of segregation have become prevalent.

Monday, January 08, 2018

We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does. - Vox

We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does. - Vox

Veteran says HOA won't allow him to fly American, Marine Corps...

Veteran says HOA won't allow him to fly American, Marine Corps...:



And the homeowner waxes poetic about his flags, except that this dispute isn't about flags--it is about flagpoles. I think that is pretty clear, but local media love this "HOAs hate the American flag" meme, so they make that the headline and the first paragraph. So here's what the association says:



"In this particular case the homeowner installed two 20-foot flagpoles on both sides of his driveway (one on each side) without first submitting the plans or seeking approval. The problem is that oneof the poles is in a utility easement, both poles are within the 25-foot building setback line and the restrictions (and Texas Property Code) only allow for the installation of one flagpole. We have already reached out to the veteran to let him know that the issue is not the flags and are awaiting a response. We are certainly willing to continue to work with this veteran in relocating one of his poles and would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to thank him for his personal sacrifice and service to our country."

Auburn Community Upset after HOA Tells Them to Leave Garage Doors Open | FOX40

Auburn Community Upset after HOA Tells Them to Leave Garage Doors Open | FOX40:



"AUBURN, Calif. — Residents in a community in California are being forced to open their garage doors during the day. KXTL reports the neighborhood’s homeowner’s association said residents need to keep their garage doors up from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The policy started after one homeowner was caught allowing people to live in his garage. Many residents say they’re afraid to leave their belongings out in the open, and they’re rather have their garages inspected. Residents who don’t follow the new law will have to pay a $200 fee."

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OK, I thought I'd seen or heard it all, but this is a new one on me. Good grief.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Longtime L.A. Times contributor Donie Vanitzian remembered as champion of homeowner rights – LA Times

Longtime L.A. Times contributor Donie Vanitzian remembered as champion of homeowner rights – LA Times

This is an awful tragedy and a terrible loss. Donie Vanitzian was a great champion of homeowner rights, co-author of two books on common interest housing, and a long-time columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her column on HOA and condo issues has been running since 2001.

It appears from the stories that she was killed by her husband, who has been charged with her murder.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

What Happens When the Richest U.S. Cities Turn to the World? - The New York Times

What Happens When the Richest U.S. Cities Turn to the World? - The New York Times

"What happens to America’s manufacturing heartland when Silicon Valley turns to China? Where do former mill and mining towns fit in when big cities shift to digital work? How does upstate New York benefit when New York City increases business with Tokyo? The answers have social and political implications at a time when broad swaths of the country feel alienated from and resentful of “elite” cities that appear from a distance to have gone unscathed by the forces hollowing out smaller communities. To the extent that many Americans believe they’re disconnected from the prosperity in these major metros — even as they use the apps and services created there — perhaps they’re right."

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What happens to America's small cities when the big cities don't need them anymore, because they are now playing in a global economy?