It’s one of dozens of little nips and tucks that are part of the recently approved state budget, but the $32 million cut from a four-decade-old agricultural preservation program could lead to more farmland being bulldozed for development.
The elimination of state funding for the Williamson Act land conservation program has left many farmers wondering about the future of the program, which has helped preserve more than 16.5 million acres of agricultural land in California.
In Ventura County, where about 128,000 acres are covered by the program, farmers are lobbying Sacramento and working with local lawmakers, said John Krist, CEO of the Ventura County Farm Bureau.
Under the program, farmers commit to keeping their acreage in agriculture for 10 to 20 years in exchange for a property tax break. Instead of paying taxes based on the market rate assessment of the land, farmers pay on whatever is lower: the production value of the land, its acquisition value under Proposition 13, or its current market value.
County Assessor Dan Goodwin oversees how the land is assessed, while officials in the county’s planning department help to manage the program. Goodwin is at a conference this week and could not be reached for comment.
With so much development pressure and such a high value for land, the Williamson Act has helped preserve prime agricultural land, said Krist. The state cut means the cost of administering the program will fall to counties. In Ventura County, it costs about $325,000 a year to manage the program.
“We’re working on two fronts,” Krist said. “The California Farm Bureau is lobbying hard to keep the subvention funding in the budget and on the local level, I’ll plan to urge the supervisors to continue to participate in the program.”
A lot of local farmers are paying close attention to what happens, said Leslie Leavens-Crowe, a Farm Bureau board member and partner in her family’s farming company, Leavens Ranches, which operates lemon and avocado orchards here and in Monterey County.
The Williamson Act is particularly helpful for land purchased for farming in the past 10 to 15 years.
Often it takes several years before farmland starts producing. For orchards, it might take more than five years. To be assessed on the market value of the land, which in Ventura County can be $100,000 to $200,000 an acre, and not the production value would be unworkable, Leavens-Crowe said.
“For some of the land we have adjacent to cities that we’ve purchased at market rates in the last 10 to 15 years, it would be difficult if not impossible to make a profit” without the program, she said.
It’s unclear what will happen with the program here and statewide, whether each county will be willing to carry the cost of managing it. That throws uncertainty into the system and complicates an already difficult business.
“It could add another big incremental cost of doing business and shut down some operations,” said Leavens-Crowe.
TransUnion expects the percentage of California home loans that are at least 60 days late or are in foreclosure to skyrocket to more than 14% by year-end.
By E. Scott Reckard
12:25 AM PDT, August 25, 2009
Mortgage delinquencies will continue to rise and set records the rest of this year in California, according to projections to be released today by TransUnion, one of the three big U.S. credit-reporting companies.
The good news from TransUnion's number-crunching is that, even in the tarnished Golden State, the trend may finally reverse itself by the middle of next year.
... In the region including Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the delinquency rate also was expected to hit 14% at the end of the year, up from 10.7% as of June 30.
"We think that's about as bad as it's going to get," Guarrera said.
... As of June 30, 14.9% of residential mortgages in San Bernardino County were at least 60 days late. And in Riverside County, where boom-era home building reached a frenzied peak, 16.5% of home loans were at least 60 days past due.
By comparison, at the end of the first quarter of 2007, Riverside County's delinquency rate was 2.6% and San Bernardino County's, 2.3%.
The normal national rate for these delinquencies is 1.6% to 2%, Guarrera said. ...
Meet 1381 Laura. Lots of telling information about this one. Back to the bank in July $137,275. Still has some old furniture inside. No indication of any action or listing. Zillow thinks it is worth $222,000. Taxes have increased every year since 2004 when it was last purchased for $176,5000. Why would a house that probably had a $110k mortgage before arrears and penalties not short sell or sell to an investor on the court house steps? Because the true market price is so much lower than even that. You'd may not believe that looking at the MLS/Redfin but that's because true inventory in this small mountain enclave is easily 3-4 times more than what makes the MLS. But what about renting for cash flow? The previous owner could have broken even at maybe $700 after a tax adjustment. Remember taxes alone are currently $170/month. I'll use the rent equivalent and a 120x multiplier to call fair value at $84,000. Of course careful investors are not paying fair value these days and that's probably what happened here. This small mountain community has run out of knife catchers and only has pros left to buy.
And then there's the "details." Like many "slow bleeders" this one suffers from deferred care issues. The water heater and central heat are fine and other than two broken windows the shell is in decent shape. Inside new floors everywhere are needed but cheap. And that's where a detail pops up. The information states 1,296 square feet. 2 floors, 20x30? look at the picture. the "second floor" is a barn style loft. Rough estimate; 550 useable square feet down, 400 up. All of a sudden you are paying over $100/sf. No thanks.
Firstly I must first solicit your confidence in this transaction; this by virtue of its nature as been interly confidential and top secret though know that a transaction of this magnitude will make someone apprehensive and elated but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. I have decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction as we have been reliably informed of you discretness and ability to handle transaction of this nature.
Let me start by introducing myself properly , I am Mr. Henry A. Waxman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and credit offficer with the Carbon Offset Bank of Nigeria Benin branch. I came to know of you in my private search for a reliable and reputable person to handle this confidential transaction, which involves transfering huge sum of money to a foreign account requiring maximum confidence.
The preposition: A foreigner and an American , Mr. Albert Gore, a Carbon Merchant with the federal government of America, banked with us at the Carbon Offset Bank of Nigeria Benin and had a closing balance as at the end of June 2009 worth $351,432,000usd. Valuable effort have been made by this bank to get in you with any of the Gore relative or family have been unsucessful. It is because of the perceived posibility of not been able to locate any of Mr. Albert Gore next of kin (he had no wife or children that is known to us).
The management under the influence of our chairman and members of the board of directors arrangements have been made for the funds to be declared “unclaimed” and subsequently donate the funds to the Cap and Trade trust funds and this will futher enhance the cause of glbol wrming and the world in general.
I now seek your permission to have you stand as the next of kin to the Mr. Albert Gore so that the funds will be released and paid into your account as the beneficiary next of kin, all document and proofs to enable you get this funds will be carefully worked out We have been mandated by the bank to officialy declare the beneficiary within the shortest possible time , that is why we have decided to contact you and more so we are assuring you that you that the business is 100% risk free involvement.
As soon as we receive an acknowledgement of the receipt of this message in acceptance of our mutual business proposal we would furnish you with the necessary modalities and disbursement ratio to suit both parties without any confusion.
If this proposal is acceptable to you do not take due advantage of the trust bestowed on you ,kindly respond immediately with the e-mail address furnishing me with your most confidential telphone, fax number and your exclusive bank account particulars so that we can use this information to apply for the release and subsiquent transfer of funds in your favour.
Thank you in advanced for your anticipated co-operation
Yep. It's baaack! Budget woes piled up while the Legislature went into their usual summer three weeks of hiding. They call it recess for a reason. But that's not fair. Many of our elected Representatives use this time to raise cash. Lots of cash. First SFGate:
Lawmakers, back from recess, must act fast
Wyatt Buchanan,Richard Procter, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
(08-17) 04:00 PDT Sacramento --
The California Legislature reconvenes today, after a three-week break following a bruising budget battle, to face some of the state's thorniest issues: water, prisons and spending.
In addition to the hundreds of bills, lawmakers will have to figure out what to do about the state's water crisis and how to trim $1.2 billion from prisons. Lawmakers approved cutting prison funds last month but put off identifying the cuts until this month.
Legislators will have only a short time to do this. The deadline for passing bills is Sept. 11, less than a month away.
Another issue guaranteed to polarize the Legislature is state prisons. Lawmakers have to agree to how they will implement a budget cut of $1.2 billion, and they will have to respond to the order by a panel of three federal judges to reduce the state's prison population by 40,000 inmates over the next two years. While that order is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the court gave the state just 45 days to come up with a plan.
The Legislature was on the cusp of an agreement to reduce the prison population by 27,000 as part of last month's budget deal, but it fell apart after Republicans objected. Every day that goes by costs the state $3 million in savings not realized, or about $100 million a month, according to prison officials.
Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta (Riverside County), echoed Blakeslee on prisons and said he expected some Democrats to side with Republicans on the issue. He also said the current proposals on water did not satisfy him.
"We're seeing more of the same without delivering any more water to farmers in the Central Valley," he said.
---- N.B. The "water" issue is a way to get a new revenue stream flowing not more water flowing.
And remember the issue of Taxpayers v. CalPERS? CalPERS actuary says California's public pension costs are 'unsustainable' By Ed Mendel, Calpensions, 8/10/09
The CalPERS chief actuary says pension costs are "unsustainable," and the giant public employee pension system plans to meet with stakeholders to discuss the issue.
So, are the critics right: Do overly generous pensions threaten to eat up too much of state and local government budgets?
An historic stock market crash wiped out a quarter of the CalPERS investment fund last fiscal year. Some experts are forecasting limited investment earnings in the years ahead, making it difficult to replace the losses.
Now "sustainability," a term used in environmental discussions, has become a common label for a big question about public employee pensions: Will the current level of benefits be affordable in the future? ---- Ahh yes. there's that weasel word again. sustainable. By now readers should know; sustainable equals higher taxes.
LATimes: August 16, 2009 | Huge Santa Barbara County wildfire caused by marijuana farm; suspects at large in forest
A fire that has burned more than 75,000 acres in Santa Barbara County over the last week was started in an illegal marijuana growing area operated by a Mexican drug organization, authorities said.
Authorities said they confirmed that the blaze, which is burning out of control, started in a cooking area of the pot farm. They believe those responsible are still in the forest area trying leave the forest by foot.
"The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit has confirmed that the camp at the origin of the fire was an illegal marijuana operation believed to be run by a Mexican national drug organization," according to a statement from the Los Padres National Forest. "The Narcotics Unit has been working in the area within the last month eradicating other nearby marijuana cultivation sites."
The location of those who ran the pot farm isn't known, but forest officials warn "not to approach anyone who looks suspicious but to instead contact the nearest law enforcement agency."
---- How many bad public policies had to come together to make this story?
Much has been made of California paying back the "Golden Bear Chits" a month early starting September 4th. Bearshit. Complete lie of the largest order. I was unable to see how the Aug cash flows supported this and now I find out why. California is not paying back old debt, it is rolling that debt over through a sweetheart deal for JP Morgan. LATimes has the story:
Treasurer Bill Lockyer says JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to lend California $1.5 billion as part of Controller John Chiang's plan to begin redeeming IOUs on Sept. 4.
The IOUs, which the cash-strapped state began issuing July 2 to pay many of its business vendors and other creditors, were supposed to mature Oct. 2. But Chiang said last week that the budget passed by the Legislature produced enough savings to allow for earlier redemption of the scrip -- provided the state could get a $1.5-billion short-term loan by Aug. 28. ... The risk to JPMorgan is virtually nil: The loan will be repaid by late September, when the state plans to sell $10.5 billion of so-called revenue anticipation notes, or RANs -- securities that will mature next spring.
So. "Paying back" means getting a short term loan and then "paying back" the short term loan with a medium term loan.
I AM A GNERAL PATRNER IN SILVERSTAR ENERTPRISES, OXNARD. I IS A GENERAL PATRNERSHIP OF MYSWLF 2 BROTHERS , 2 COUSINS AMD AND UNCLE..A GENERALPATNERSHIP. WE OWN 2 PIECS OF INCOME PRODUCING PROPERTIY, WHICH PU;]LLS IN AROUND 270-300K YEAR IN PROFIT AFTER EXPENSES. THE 70 ACRES IS ON ARNOLD AND HUENEME RD, WHICH IS 90% SURE TO GE UPZONED TO LIGHT INDUSTRIAL BY END OF YEAR (SOUTH ORMOND BEACH SPECIFIC PLAN) SOUTH OD HUENEME RD.WEST OF ARNOLD, WHICH CALLS FOR LIGHT INDUSTRIAL. TH INDUSRTIAL CENTER IS ON 1100 MOUNTAIN VIEW AVE IN OXNARD AND IS A MULTI TENANT INDUSTRIAL CENTER 80% OCCUPIED. I REALIZE ATFER APPRAISOLS ARE DONE THAT DISCOUNTS WOULD APPLY FOR MINROITY OWNERSHIP. THE 70 ACRES IS CURRENTLY ZONED AG AND IS UP FOR REZONING IF YOU CHECK THE OXNARD CITY PLANNING AGENDA FOR SOUTH OMOND BEACH SPECOFIC PLAN..ALL REZONING FEES HAVE BEEN PAID ETC.. JURGEN GRAMCOW, OF SOUTHLAND SOD (MARATHON LAND IANS ) IS REPESENTING OUR INTRESTS. I HAVE ACcESS TO ALL DOCUMENTS , PAPERWORK ETC.. AS A STOCKHOLDER...ORMAND BEACH IS GOING TO BE WORTH ALOT MOE IN THE FOLLOWING YEARS, BUT DUE TO FINANCIAL PROPLEMS I AM WILLING TO SELL, with discounts applied, NOW AND WILL consider A NOTE,,,,,CALL ME AT 805 452-2637 ..william
12% interest in a property that generates $270-$300k per year in profit is $32-$36k per year income. 5% cap rate yields $650-$700k for this share or a full value of $5.4-$6m. Look at this another way. 70 acres returning $4000/yr/ac. If only it were true.
“To date, I have not observed a transaction that did not have a fraudulent component,” Ventura County District Attorney Investigator Frank Huber wrote in the affidavit, which unveiled a pattern of “concealed down payments, intentional misrepresentations and the conspiracy to commit these crimes.”
Investors were often friends and church members. Some refinanced their homes with the Tuckers’ help, taking out cash and investing it. Others invested their life savings.
360,000 average weekday BART riders. The highest plausible number that use the transbay (no hyphen apparently) tube is 50%. So 180,000 BART tubers and 480,000 bridge crossers. That's daily. BART looks much better with the peak period data. Peak hour bridge is 2300 vph. That is the equivilant of full trains on almost exactly a two minute schedule. Tight but possible. Of course there is a problem. Run that schedule two hours in the morning and two at night and you've already used up your transbay 180,000 ridership totals.
BART thru the transbay tube carries the daily equivilant two lanes of traffic but more importantly the equivilant of three lanes at the critical weekday peak periods.
And at what cost? $360 million annual subsidy. Yep, a $1000/rider. ---- Still the employees want more money. Fine, a $10 surcharge per trip should cover it.
Summertime and the blogging is slow. We've been t the mountains, we've been to the desert. Time for a little beach action. First up a fantasy new construction. On the sand but three years too late for the price: Mandalay Beach. $6m freakin' dollars. Who in the right mind would spend their $6m on this? Did I say $6m? No, that was the price a few days ago. The new price is a far more reasonable $4,395,000. Notice also no sign of the price change. The games on the beach are the same just with more zeros.
Summary Working gas in storage was 3,152 Bcf as of Friday, August 7, 2009, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 63 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 592 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 517 Bcf above the 5-year average of 2,635 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 163 Bcf above the 5-year average following net injections of 56 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 279 Bcf above the 5-year average of 794 Bcf after a net injection of 5 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 75 Bcf above the 5-year average after a net addition of 2 Bcf. At 3,152 Bcf, total working gas is above the 5-year historical range.
---- Watch liquid petroleum follow. Home Heating Oil is next.
Lawsuits pending against the California budget August 10, 2009
Issue: Raiding of project funds Issue: Cut in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates Issue: Governor's line-item vetoes last month of healthcare and other spending Issue: Raiding of project funds Issue: Mandatory furloughs Issue: Education cuts ---
The Night of the Trifids will have nothing on the State of the Lawyers.
Housing Bubble, credit bubble, public planning, land use, zoning and transportation in the exurban environment. Specific criticism of smart growth, neotradtional, forms based, new urbanism and other top down planner schemes to increase urban extent and density. Ventura County, California specific examples.