Category: Money

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Simply Stated: San Diego Unaffordable Housing

Three residences all on the same block in University Heights define the scope of the housing crisis in Southern California. This is not a story about limited availability of units, as news media and political prognosticators regularly (and falsely) claim, but about rising prices driven by numerous market dynamics (such as emigrants or corporations paying cash) mixed with insanity that defies common sense.

The market bears what people are willing to pay and they seem all the more recklessly anxious to fall for fear-economics and the privilege of paying more, more, more.

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In the Dumpster

End of year is a good time to take out the trash, so to speak, to clear out the past and prepare for the future—opportunity to start Jan. 1, 2022 fresh and tidy. That’s where I am on this wet Wednesday evening. But what if you literally can’t take out the garbage, as is the case for many San Diego County residents? Teamsters Local 542 is on strike with Republic Services, which my landlord unfortunately uses.

The Featured Image, taken today with iPhone 13 Pro, is outside the apartment building where we live. (Vitals: f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/2994 sec, 26mm; 11:22 a.m. PST.) I would like to thank my immediate neighbors for not massively overflowing the dumpster. You might think, looking at the pile, that I am being facetious. Not so. The sentiment is sincerely expressed. Stacks of bags and refuse elsewhere exponentially exceed this modest mess. My fellow residents show remarkable restraint.

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‘Growing with Passion’

Whenever walking by this mural, I often regret not photographing the lively, colorful Yipao Coffee outdoor café that once occupied this location. More importantly: What the place displaced—trees and lush green space that the (permanently closed) florist had used. Hence the irony, if you don’t see it yet, of “growing with passion”; because all that remains is dirt, on top of which vehicles park. Nothing green grows, nor the vitality of human interaction.

In late June 2018, I shared about the departure of Florabella, which had to abandon its 24-year commercial space after the landlord informed the owner that rent would triple effective July 1. I wondered: What will replace the florist? Well, Yipao took up residence in the not-long-later clearcut corner area. Interesting aside: John Adams disappeared and was discovered to be accidentally locked inside the closed floral shop, which Yipao used; perhaps for storage. He is among the “Cats of University Heights“; June 2019.

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Seriously, California?

Sometime last week, my wife asked about getting brighter lightbulbs. IKEA-purchased LEDs are 1,000 lumens and loaded into most of our fixtures, whether ceiling or lamps; but not all. Then, three days ago, I observed during a Zoom meeting that one participant’s ambience so much more appealed than mine—his room being bright and white, while mine was dank and yellow. Color temperature is reason: 5000K lighting vs 2700K. I thought: Why not buy brighter and whiter bulbs?

So I tried shopping locally but ran aground. Is 5000K lighting unavailable because of supply chain problems or is 2700K simply wildly more popular? No San Diego store—not even the place specializing in bulbs—stocked that color temperature in a 100-watt equivalent with brightness greater than 1,000 lumens. That brought me to Amazon and a big surprise: The affordable product that also met my criteria can’t be shipped to California. Huh?

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For Want of Two Dollars

On Nov. 28, 2021, I pulled into the local gas station to fill up the tank. Because debit card-skimmers are frequent enough concerns around San Diego, I always pay with cash and usually even bills (e.g., tens or twenties). But uncharacteristically, I only had two fives and eight singles—or so I thought.

I counted in the car and then on the way to the Valero’s door. When handing the money to the cashier, I stated the amount and pump number. Outside, filling stopped at $16—and I thought: “How unusual to top off at an even number”. I walked inside for my change, but there was none.

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The Maine Coons’ House Sold

A chapter is closed in the saga of the two Maine Coons whose backyard territory was clearcut in early August 2021. Their old residence listed as sold on October 28. Mimi and Sweet Pea occasionally go into their old habitat, but the behavior must stop whenever new construction begins. I expect the owners will demolish the existing house and build an apartment building, based on zoning.

Both kitties appeared in my “Cats of University Heights” series during May 2018. Mimi is mother to the other; both are ferals who lived on the property for about eight years. The woman who fed them has made space in her smaller, fenced outdoor space across the alley—and both go there for food and safety.

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Goldie is Gone

From the title, you would think this post is about the pictured kitty. Rather, he is launchpad for a discourse about San Diego real estate. Let’s start with Goldie, whom I profiled as part of my “Cats of University Heights” series in September 2017. The Featured Image is the last portrait I made of him, using Leica Q2, on June 26, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 5:26 p.m. PDT.

I continued to see Goldie inside his yard for several more weeks, and I initially thought nothing about there being, as late as early August, no visible activity at the house whatsoever. The place was fairly quiet before the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns brought many parents home and kept kids out of school. My wife and I delighted seeing the youngsters playing outside the home. Then they disappeared, which I attributed to the local, year-round public elementary school reopening.

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Why the Maine Coons Lost Their Home

To see where was the golf cart accident that led to yesterday morning’s dramatic chase and capture, my wife and I walked along Florida to Adams, where I shot additional photos. We returned the same way, passing by a man leaning on the porch railing of the house where feral felines Mimi and Sweet Pea lived for about eight years in the spacious backyard. I profiled both animals in my “Cats of University Heights” series in May 2018.

I asked the gentleman about clearcutting the property, which he confirmed started on Aug. 10, 2021. The action was taken at the behest of the broker, who believes there is a 98-percent chance an investor will buy the place, rather than a resident; removing the lush greenery and trees emphasizes the lot’s large size for the neighborhood and increases likelihood of higher bidding during the September 11 auction.

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Mimi and Sweet Pea are Homeless

If only SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 eviction moratoriums applied to feral felines, the habitat of Mimi and Sweet Pea would not have been utterly destroyed. The luscious, and humungous, yard they shared was intact a few days ago—my wife and I can’t recall if Tuesday or Wednesday (today is the only Friday the 13th of the year). This morning, we peaked in—shocked to see nearly complete clearcutting.

The saga starts as we walked along the alley separating Alabama and Florida. As we moved down the block between Monroe and Madison, I saw a kitty beyond the cross street going towards Adams. From the coloration, and our recently seeing Pace (pronounced paw-chay, according to his owner) in the vicinity, I assumed it must be the aged Norwegian Forest Cat. Oddly, though, the animal disappeared and reappeared, as if going into and out of different backyards along the alley.

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Why We Gave Up the Zoo

When my wife and I last visited San Diego Zoo, on July 21, 2020, we debated about whether or not to renew our residential membership before it expired. With much of California locked down in response to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19—and closures returning—we decided to wait. Had we anticipated a forthcoming price increase, maybe our decision would have been different.

Our 2-adult annual pass during 2018 was $112, if I rightly recall, and either $129 or $149 when renewed. We could have re-upped for $160, with an offer that expired 10 days after our last walkabout among the critters. Since then, the animal refuge switched to individual-only pricing. For comparable benefits as before, which include no blackout dates, our combined renewal rate would be $218, which by my math is a 36-percent increase over our last renewal offer and 95-percent more than our 12-month pass purchased three years ago.

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‘It’s California’

Days ago, the pet grass display disappeared from the local Ralph’s supermarket. I couldn’t accept that the popular item had been forever removed and so, this morning, I walked from our University Heights apartment to the outer edges of adjacent Hillcrest for another look. The grocer is located in a plaza called The Hub, where also is a condominium complex.

Coming across the Vermont Street Bridge, I observed a woman placing an Open House sign. Real estate is costlier than ever in San Diego, with home values rising 24.7 percent year over year in May, according to S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices data released on July 27, 2021. Only the Phoenix-metro posted higher gains (25.9 percent). Approaching the realtor, as she adjusted the sign, I asked: “But is it cut-off-arm-and-leg prices”. She answered: “It’s California”—with a wry grin!