Saturday, November 19, 2005

Don't Do What I Do

Least affordable housing markets:

Here's where my extended family lives:

Naples, FL

Yep, all on the list.

Greedy Developers?

I honestly don't understand the claim of "greedy homebuilders." Irresponsible lenders and unscrupulous real estate sales sure but what about building homes in response to demand in a open market is so horrible? Criticize builders for shoddy workmanship where appropriate. Complain about sweetheart deals with municipalities as long as the municpalities get most of the blame. But greed? Where does greed come into the things homebuidlers do? Are we ready to call them wonderful giving sharing pillars of the community when they start next year selling at below cost just to stay in business? If not why not as we seem all too ready to excoriate them with the conditions reversed.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Homebuilders and the Bubble

[N.B. I have declared the housing bubble over as of Oct 6, 2005]

I can think of three industry factors that each are interesting and together tell a story. First go to and look up any/all the big builders Toll, KB, Lenar, etc. Their execs are bailing big time. On the plus side as a business not as a stock play they've learned some expensive lessons. Price depreciation and falling demand is not the disaster it used to be. They can cut 10% by accepting lower profits in exchange for continued sales volume. They can cut 10% even 20% by reducing the fluff they build into their homes, ugrades. They can tighten supply these days with far less exposure to sitting on unsold inventory. No quite build to order but a lot closer than in 1990. The builders have also gone vertical meaning they won't get as squeezed by lenders/financiers or undercut by realtors looking for the next sale.

For all the doom and gloom however remember anyone who bought a home for the purpose of living there anytime more than 2 years ago is still going to be looking at handsome short term appreciation even if prices fall 20%. People who didn't buy for the traditional purposes of living there and participating in the community are called "investors/speculators" and have every expectation of the possiblity of losses. "They bought their airplane tickets, they knew what they were getting into, I say let 'em crash."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Limits" to Freedom?

The right to privacy isn't mentioned in the Constitution because the founding Fathers in their worst nightmares never imagined a government so pervasive that it would ever even get close to infringing upon the fundamental concept. The Constitution doesn't presume to define all human rights, only to describe the maximum extent to which some of those specific rights may be limited for the protection of rights in general.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

These are not bubble bites


"Most of the most overvalued markets, according to DeKaser, are in California and Florida. Number one is Santa Barbara, where home prices, at a median of $564,100, are 69 percent higher than they should be."


Santa Barbara is one of the Best Places to Live 2005!

Anyone who claims the median Santa Barbara home should sell for only $340,000 is incompetent.

Bump, bump bump, another one bumps the bus

...And another one gone,
and another one gone,
Another one hits the bus.

Brian is sure going to be busy. Regardless it is too early to say just
how dangerous the Orange Crusher Line is going to be. First we need to
slow down to realistic speeds and thereby disavow the promised running
times. Then we'll need to spend a lot of money on safety improvements
thus disavowing the promised construction costs. Then we'll need to
further change signaling and auto control functions thereby increasing
congestion. Finally we'll need to use all these as the excuse for the
poor ridership and poor it is make no mistake. That's okay, all part of
the master plan. All these combined will be used to justify some very
expensive grade separations, a few crossing closures and conversion to
light rail. The camel has its' nose in the tent.

Maybe some transit fan is inclined to follow the lead of Houston and put
up a Wham Bam Tram Collision Counter on their website?

Top of the first inning BangerBus 2 hits 0 errors* 16 taken out 0
retired. RollingThunder 0 hits 2 errors 1 taken out 0 retired.

* Note: It will -almost always- be an error charged against
RollingThunder no matter who screws up.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Congestion Versus CAFE

An SOV hybrid and a two occupant gas guzzling SUV are both privledged classes. Why is that? It isn't enough to claim some vague greater public good. Demonstrating greater public good would give food share [] trucks access to HOT/HOV lanes. Heck, can the Walmart trucks full of disaster relief goods use the reserved lanes?

We already have enough incentives/disincentives to mold behavior. Like the congeston charge, HOV lane access is double incentive/disincentive for certain specific actions.

Hey little girl, if you climb this pole I'll give you a quarter.


I live in Ventura County near the city of Camarillo where we have some of the most
democratic growth controls in the nation. Note; I did not say strictest. I also live about 14 miles from
William Fulton, (Reluctant Metropolis) the author/city councillor who talks about cities like most
urbanists do but lives in the burbs like I do. Hmmm. Can't be that bad a
place eh? It's a very rich place. Personally I live on a golf course
surrounded by protected open space and protected agricultural land. I look
directly north as far as the California Condor Sanctuary and Topa Topa Mtns.
My driveway probably deserves it's own 3di designation but my cul-de-sac
street off of a tertiary road sees about 10 AADTs.


I for one paid attention to the Census trial balloon megapolitan/macropolitan "proposal."
For everyone else:
MASRC has recommended a Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA)
Classification to replace the current MA classification. The cores
(i.e., the densely settled concentrations of population) for this
classification would be Census Bureau-defined urbanized areas and
smaller densely settled ''settlement clusters'' identified in
Census 2000. CBSAs would be defined around these cores. This CBSA
Classification has three types of areas based on the total
population of all cores in the CBSA: (1) Megapolitan Areas defined
around cores of at least 1,000,000 population; (2) Macropolitan
Areas defined around cores of 50,000 to 999,999 population; and (3)
Micropolitan Areas defined around cores of 10,000 to 49,999
population. The identification of Micropolitan Areas extends
concepts underlying the core-based approach to smaller population
centers previously included in a ''nonmetropolitan residual.''

The first time some previously independent region finds themselves annexed
to the "big bad place down the road" all hell is gonna break loose. Our
regional MPO is called SCAG. It roughly corresponds to megapolitian in
description. Attempts to acquire regional planning authority along with
their regional planning coordinating function has been met with reactions
from elected officials usually reserved for plague carriers. The joke
that went around was; "Q: What do you get when you combine Vent, LA,
San Berdo and Orange Counties? A: LA."

We don't do new communities anymore. We add to existing until the
become dysfunctional. Like the Valley. Adding TO, Moorpark and Simi
(and Malibu) to the Valley is that joke about the fat man averaging is
weight with a skinny neighbor.

Make no mistake. Megapols are a backdoor attempt at regional governance
specifically designed to be controlled by and oriented towards the core

Flat Tax -Not-

A 'flat tax" is: government expenditure (expenses plus obligations) divided by population. That would be about $5000 per person at the Federal level and in my case $3400 for California and $1600 locally or $50,000 for my nuclear family of 5. What you normally hear being called a flat tax is actually a "flat tax RATE" an entirely differnt animal. More important is rate of "what?" Income? What is income? Dollar denominated equivalent transactions? Is your paycheck one of those transactions? Is a corporate division a seperate entity so that shipping parts to the assembly plant becomes a transaction? What about having your trash hauled away? What about recycling then? Think about it. Is recovering some previous expense another transaction or is it a completed transaction? With the latter, if you refuse to recycle is the transaction completed or are you trying to transfer wealth to somebody else who eventually recycles your "waste."

What we really need is the first baby step. Consistent taxation of things, actions and efforts. Other countries call the things part of this a VAT. If VAT lived up to its' name it might work but consider an auto purchased for $20,000 taxed a 5% and sold to a second private party two years later for $15,000 . Is there a 25% VAT rebate? Or is there another VAT on the $15,000. Or is there a complex deterimination that the buyer cleared $1000 over value and owes another $50? Or the buyer underpaid? You get the idea.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for blowing up the tax laws and starting over. No doubt the eventual outcme will be rational and more fair after a period of irrationality and intense unfairness but that's a different matter.

While we are at it what is this crap about property taxation based on book value? And which services should be funded through the property tax mechanism? The SCOTUS says not education. Sales taxes in Kalifornia increasingly support public safety. What about Community Colleges? Then there is the 500lb gorilla, Prop 13.

Prop 13 correctly protects people and businesses against arbitrary government distortions of the market. That's one point of government regulation in the first place isn't it?

I have no truck with the market aspects nor even the speculative portion of home buying decisions. I just think Prop 13 does a good job of capitating some of the non market risks with no external costs. I'm sure others feel otherwise and I'm only expressing an opinion among many. Perhaps we can go about this in reverse. I've got a 4 bed 2.5 bath SFR California ranch. How much should I be paying in taxes? California has 36.6 million people and spends/incurs $116 billion. That's a whopping $3400 per person. How much of that should come from property taxes? It isn't easy to answer in part
because of for instance what happens to the property tax that is sent off to Sacramento so that from there lots of money can be transferred from the high performing school districts to the worst school districts. You see in 1978 the same year as Prop 13 it was deemed illegal to spend different amounts locally as previously when California was 4th in the nation for school
performance. So now we spend different amounts locally as directed by the State as commanded by the Supremes and are now lowered to the 4th worst in terms of results.

Sorry, I got distracted. Were we talking about investments and government meddling?

How to Tell You are Effective

When people who disagree with you are reduced to replies like:

M Setty: "Cote is one lazy mu--r-fu-k-r."

W Lynch: hate filled thought controlling pathological Nazi role model

J Coviello: thick skulled, hypocrite with a closed mind; a joke, snide and devoid of content, unimportant, indescent, disrespectful, humorless, and full of shit