Friday, May 02, 2008

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Johnson wins London mayoral race

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Johnson wins London mayoral race
Boris Johnson has won the race to become the next mayor of London - ending Ken Livingstone's eight-year reign at City Hall.
It is high time that "Red Ken" was sent packing. The last place you want a raving Socialist is as the mayor of a big city. Better to stick them in the national legislature where they can't do so much harm (see Bernie Sanders, D-People's Republic of Vermont) and where they might contribute a good idea every now and then (Red Bernie hasn't done that yet, but where there is life, there is hope).

Need to deal with water needs crucial

Need to deal with water needs crucial: "Two parched years - punctuated by the driest spring in at least 150 years - could force districts across California to ration water this summer as policymakers and scientists grow increasingly concerned that the state is on the verge of a long-term drought. State water officials reported Thursday that the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the source of a huge portion of California's water supply, was only 67 percent of normal, due in part to historically low rainfall in March and April. With many reservoirs at well-below-average levels from the previous winter and a federal ruling limiting water pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the new data added a dimension to a crisis already complicated by crumbling infrastructure, surging population and environmental concerns."
Much of the recent residential construction in California has been in these bizarre CIDs in the desert--Palmdale, Lancaster, and points east that are even more arid. These places are too far from employment for any rational human to commute from, but people have been buying them anyway and driving four hours per day. The theory apparently was that they were going to get rich on housing appreciation. Now the housing market is in the tank. Gas prices are going through the roof. And on top of that, the water supply is vanishing. At what point to people get the basic point that it isn't wise to build, much less buy, housing in such remote and desolate locations?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - New Jersey Lawmakers Consider Tax On Fast Food - New Jersey Lawmakers Consider Tax On Fast Food: "WINDSOR, N.J. (CBS) ― The sputtering economy has caused an increase in prices of many staples including gasoline, rice, ice cream, even beer. Now some lawmakers in New Jersey are considering taking food taxes a step further and install a proverbial 'sin' tax on fast food."
That would hit lower income people pretty hard, because they spend a higher percentage of their income on food generally and fast food in particular. Add that to the taxes on cigarettes and alcohol and the state lottery (of course New Jersey has one: "Give Your Dreams a Chance!"), and you have some pretty regressive taxes that liberals like, I guess.

L.A. Land : Los Angeles Times : Disappearing now: $6 trillion in housing wealth

L.A. Land : Los Angeles Times : Disappearing now: $6 trillion in housing wealth: "A Washington think tank is warning that housing prices are falling at an accelerating level,destroying wealth at a pace that will cost the average homeowner $85,000 in lost wealth this year alone."
You know, if you lose $6 trillion here, and $6 trillion there, pretty soon it starts to add up.

Happy farewell to 'boom' times --

Happy farewell to 'boom' times -- "For more than two years, the thundering booms and the blinding flashes that lit up the sky over a Baltimore County parking lot at all hours of the night mystified and infuriated the bleary-eyed residents of a high-end condominium tower next door, who could not figure out what the devil was making such a racket, or why."
The photo shows Galdalf casting out demons or something. But the problem was a condo resident shooting fireworks out his window for giggles.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend America: Foreclosure Behind Las Vegas Gates

Weekend America: Foreclosure Behind Las Vegas Gates: "Just recently in Las Vegas, there was a perfect storm of booming home construction, some unscrupulous lending practices and lots of housing speculation by first-time investors. That's added up to some of the nation's highest foreclosure rates. It's easy to find those neighborhoods hit the hardest by the real estate crisis -- just look for the nicest communities surrounded by brick walls and elegant wrought-iron gates."
Fred Pilot sent this link. The ripples keep on spreading.

San Mateo Daily News

Smoldering Dispute: San Mateo Daily News: "Susie Parano, 55, and Jane Clusin, her friend and fellow Brittan Heights condominium complex resident, took their smoking complaints to their homeowners' association last week by submitting a petition against allowing residents to smoke inside their units and on their balconies and patios. The two women said the petition forwarded to the homeowners' association board on Wednesday was signed by about half of the residents in the more than 400-unit complex. However, the board did not take any action. Parano lost a small claims case against the homeowners' association last November in which she sought $7,500 in damages that she said was caused by her downstairs neighbor Oleg Gitin's smoking. The small claims judge did not give a reason for her ruling. The San Carlos City Council has also been reluctant to intervene with a Belmont-style smoking ban."
Thanks to Kimberley Cane for this item. Smoking is a huge issue in condos these days. These owners seem to have tried everything.

Real Estate | New state law requires condo associations to report money set aside for long-term maintenance | Seattle Times Newspaper

Real Estate | New state law requires condo associations to report money set aside for long-term maintenance | Seattle Times Newspaper: "Attention, condominium shoppers: Washington soon will become one of a half-dozen states requiring condo associations to provide a financial-wellness check that can predict whether the place is a potential money pit.

The check, called a reserve study, estimates how much money an association must set aside to pay for expensive long-term maintenance, such as repaving a parking lot, replacing a roof or rebuilding rotting decks."

It is astounding to contemplate that over 40 states don't require reserve studies to be done. Imagine it--nearly all associations have no specific data to support their assessment levels. Too high? Too low? Nobody really knows.