Tag: housing bubble

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This is Progress?

I am not obsessed with the construction site at El Cajon Blvd and Louisiana Street, despite the number of recent photos and commentaries about it: Cave’s Grave; Wonder Wall; Shattered Serenity; Postal Convenience Center. My interest is what the project represents to San Diego neighborhoods Hillcrest, North Park, and University Heights, where relaxation of zoning rules is bringing down charming businesses and homes and replacing them with high-rises that are way out of character with the area.

The Featured Image, taken on May 7, 2022 using Leica Q2, captures before, during, and after multi-unit construction. Foreground looks across the aforementioned recent demolition to a four-story residential complex at Mississippi, overlooking the recently relocated Red Fox Steak House.

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Decorating the Cave’s Grave

The demolition site at El Cajon Blvd and Louisiana Street in University Heights returns five days later, because of alterations. Remnants remain of the Cave of Wonders building, but somebody has graffitied over some of the doodle drawings of the still-standing inner wall.

In reviewing the Featured Image, I see another change: The livable-looking property that was to the right behind in my previous shots is gone. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 28mm; 4:48 p.m. PDT; Leica Q2.

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The Cave of Wonders Wall

New construction is everywhere among several San Diego neighborhoods, following zoning changes meant to encourage multi-unit dwellings. ADUs—so-called accessory dwelling units—add large structures in spaces once considered to be back yards. The spin doctors who sprinkle marketing sugar onto urban renewal medicinals call these buildings Granny Flats. Oh yeah? So why does gran need four to seven residences?

The project at El Cajon Blvd and Louisiana Street is much bigger—and I see similar high-rises, or larger, going up around University Heights, as well as bordering Hillcrest and North Park.

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Fenced Out of Affordable Housing

My daughter rents storage space at one of the local facilities. From my infrequent trips to the place over the years, I have observed stark changes. For starters: An increasing number of people, many of them clearly employed, living out of a vehicle and storing their stuff. With the cost of housing so incredulously expensive in San Diego, these working nomads are not surprising to find. What shocks is how many more I see compared to 18 months ago.

Since a new report about residential renting released this week, I will focus on that topic and let be soaring home selling prices for another time. (If you can’t wait: “Pop Goes Another Housing Bubble” and “Simply Stated: San Diego Unaffordable Housing“.) According to Zumper, rents rose 31.3 percent year-over-year in April 2022. “As a result, San Diego has leapfrogged San Jose and Los Angeles to become the nation’s fifth most expensive city”. Ugh, and I know it’s a fact from watching rents relentlessly rise.

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Shattered Serenity

The difference 24 hours make. Yesterday, the abandoned houses still stood along Louisiana Street at El Cajon Blvd. Today, they—and the businesses around the block—are gone. The Featured Image captures something of the devastation. Vitals: f/8, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 1:26 p.m. PDT. This one and the others come from Leica Q2, aperture manually set for all.

My wife and I have known since summer last year what would happen along one of my favorite blocks in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Two cottage complexes, a few modestly-rising apartment buildings, and bunches of single-story houses—with vast swaths of grass and greenery in an area otherwise converting to cement—create calming ambience. The street is, or was, surprisingly serene. Three residential properties on Louisiana and businesses half-way to Mississippi along The Boulevard are gone.

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Pop Goes Another Housing Bubble

The current housing bubble—and there absolutely is one—bears only modest resemblance to the previous catastrophe, which I warned about in a lengthy August 2005 analysis. Rising mortgage rates already are deflating the 2020’s-decade bubble, but the pop is unavoidable without fundamental changes in the actual market or the myths used to explain existing dynamics.

Since before anyone heard of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19, which economic and societal disruption super-inflated the housing bubble, I had warned about a dangerous trend that ignores common sense observation of national demographics: Among the two largest segments, Baby Boomers are dying off and Millennials aren’t having many kids. As population growth stalls, there will be less demand for housing because there will be fewer people to buy. Meaning: All the babbling about not enough inventory has set into motion an overbuilding frenzy that is sure to deflate home values in the not-so-distant future. Before pandemic lockdowns, I had thought within 10 years. I now expect less than five—if we’re lucky.

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How About ‘U’ for Unaffordable

Hours following a routine visit to the ophthalmologist and dilation, my pupils are still huge and so my vision remains wonky. I can’t imagine what the Featured Image really looks like. Perhaps you can tell me. I stood in the middle of Park Blvd and used Leica Q2 to make the moment on Feb. 23, 2022. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 9:30 a.m. PST.

The sign is situated between Adams and Madison, and viewpoint is towards the latter. Around the turn of the last century, Bentley Ostrich Farm relocated to the district—hence the birds on the poles. During the same era, street cars served the community, and some of them were housed and serviced in a facility that is long gone but became the public Old Trolley Barn Park.

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The House on Cleveland

Today’s question: How much longer before this lovely home is demolished and replaced with something ill-suited to the street? On Dec. 2, 2021, I used Leica Q2 to take the Featured Image, after my wife read about the property in University Heights Community Association News. Photo vitals, aperture manually set: f/4.5, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 28mm; 12:18 p.m. PST.

According to public property records, the place sold for $1.595 million during October 2021. UHCA News reports: “This charming Victorian home at 4350 Cleveland is 2,000 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and built in 1905, according to the 2015 Uptown Historic Resources Survey Report”.

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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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A Rose by Any Other Name is Gone

Following “The Tree Tragedy” that destroyed the provider of shade (for us) and food and refuge (for birds and squirrels), I was ready to give notice and move out of our apartment. One problem: In December 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom essentially closed down the state for the entire month in response to a reported surge in SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases (e.g., positive tests for infection).

But Spring (e.g., Early Summer in San Diego parlance) brought more birds than any other year—many flocking to a hedge nearby our assigned parking space. Across the street, they, and other animals, used the mighty date palm as a majestic habitat. But South American Palm Weevils infested the tree, which the city destroyed in late July. The bugs are not indigenous and removal of infected palms seeks to slow their spread.

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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.