Tag: housing

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Return to Sender

I couldn’t expect this. The Postal Convenience Center, located at the corner of El Cajon and Louisiana in San Diego’s University Heights district, is closed—looks like forever. I made the discovery when out for a leisurely walk this afternoon. Signs posted in the windows state: “We Have Moved” and directs customers to 4075 Park Blvd, where their mail will be forwarded. The location is a UPS Store.

A second-hand source says this: The proprietors learned last month that the block of properties has new owners, who will redevelop it. Efforts to continue operations of a business reportedly opened in 1987 ran aground; I don’t know specifics but can guess costs of relocation and starting over on short notice. Postal Convenience Center served locals—many of them likely lost in any lengthy restart. The establishment hasn’t moved, if I am rightly informed. It’s gone for good. 

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An Independence Day Reflection

I can’t attest to other San Diego neighborhoods, but University Heights has undergone dramatic, observable changes since start of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-March 2020. Many of the older, long-time residents sold their homes during the bubble boom and much younger folks—many of them couples with small children—moved in; more new renters can be seen than buyers, and a good number of the arrivals are Northern California escapees.

The question: How much does the demographic shift affect observable patriotic behavior—and, perhaps, installation of a more liberal administration in Washington, D.C. diminishing Donald Trump’s brand of rah-rah Americanism? I ask because this Fourth of July noticeably differs from every other seen since our first here in 2008. Most notable: The significantly smaller number of U.S. flags hanging from houses or multi-unit dwellings and absence from Park Blvd, which is the main business street. Other reasons may include progressives’ success spotlighting the country’s racial wrongs. Dunno, but I can say that this year’s celebration is muted—more so than even during pandemic lockdowns. Also observed: A surge in rainbow flags, which considerably outnumber the Stars and Stripes—that, too, diverges from all previous years.

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Finally, Charming Restoration

I read somewhere—and, damn, can’t recollect where—that this beautiful building, and cottage studios below, was early in the last Century a residence for nurses. But I have no source that confirms fact. Apologies for that, although my confidence is high. With so many structures stripped to the studs as part of massive renovations—or, worse, leveled and replaced by tasteless high-rises—this property’s makeover preserves past character. To whomever owns the multi-rental place, huge thanks.

My first real experience with this landmark goes back to Christmas Day 2016, when I met Comet, Herman, RomanWillow, and their owner; all four animals are profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series. She had lived in a studio apartment for 19 years, but not for much longer. A few months later, nearly all the cottage residents moved out to make way for contractors, who spent much of 2017 renovating the courtyard buildings.

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The Flower Power House Goes Dark

This is unexpected. The flower power house that I photographed on April 8, 2021 and posted here three weeks ago has gone black—as you can see from the Featured Image taken today, using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/7.1, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 9:38 a.m. PDT.

Obviously, some kind of renovation is underway, which the mural made lively—and that was a refreshing sight in a neighborhood where the clank, clank, clank of construction obliterates the soothing chatter of birds and occasional caw of crows. In these dark days of segregation and tribalism, fueled in part by so-called social justice warriors and their opponents, the repainting is a mood metaphor. Someone cancelled the expressive art. So let’s stretch it all into a symbol of cancel culture

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Welcome to the San Diego Housing Boom (I Mean Bubble)

Gulp. San Diego home prices are skyrocketing far worse than my recent essays report. For some unexplainable algorithmic reason, a short news clip from the local Fox affiliate popped up in my YouTube feed, reporting rapid rise in the median home price. One year ago: $671,000. One month ago: $800,000. Currently: $825,000. The clip doesn’t cite a source and my quick online news search didn’t find one. By my math, the annual increase is 22.9 percent. Yikes.

Let’s look at one property on North Avenue in my neighborhood of University Heights. On Dec. 29, 2019, I captured the Featured Image, which because of uncharacteristic underexposure by Leica Q required extensive post-production correction and refinement. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 10:21 a.m. PST.

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Are You Coming, or Going?

New month, and I see lots of people moving in, around, and out of San Diego—and considerably larger numbers than any time during the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 pandemic year. Perhaps partial reopening of California and imminent lifting of the eviction moratorium (in about 60 days) are factors.

Citizens certainly are fleeing the Golden State. Crime, governance, homelessness, high housing costs, single-party politics, and taxes are among the reasons. Slowest population growth since the Great Depression era means California will lose one Congressional seat. All that said, many movers are staying in the state, and San Diego is one of their more popular destinations.

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The Conqueror

The big digger seen at the corner of El Cajon and Mississippi on April 12, 2021 triumphs atop a mountain of dirt upon which once stood three buildings; in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Someday soon, another cathedral of unaffordable housing will rise like the Tower of Babel.

My prediction: Cities all over the country are currently overbuilding to accommodate the massive Millennial population from which fewer babies are being born. Fast forward a decade, perhaps just five years, and rising Baby Boomer deaths coupled with falling birth rates will lead to a glut in housing—particularly multi-family properties. Is this construction site one of many future ghettos?

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If You Work (or Live) Here, I’m Jealous

On the same day, April 11, 2021, that my wife and I walked across the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge, we footed down 1st Avenue towards downtown. We wanted to reminisce about our delightful after-theater walk—planes flying low overhead to land—after watching Jesus Christ Superstar on stage at the San Diego Civic Center. That was Nov. 16, 2019, near the start of the 50th anniversary tour, which SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns would end earlier than the planned Aug. 30, 2020 final performance.

At the corner of First and Kalmia, we came across the magnificent structure that is the Featured Image (warning: 30MB file), captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 12:44 p.m. PDT. I reduced exposure in post-production, should you feel that the photo is too dark; that’s deliberately done.

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This Building…

Is gone—and two others with it, a residence and auto-repair shop. The owner waged a war with graffiti artists, which he (or she) eventually won. The place was repainted several times, despite appearing to be derelict, before being leveled by (presumably) new owners. By all appearances, another fine cathedral of unaffordable housing will rise in the San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, at the corner of El Cajon and Mississippi across the street from BLVD North Park (located in UH, not NP).

I shot the Featured Image on Feb. 25, 2018, using Leica Q; many times since then, I planned to update with something showing more of the corner. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 1:19 p.m. PST. Best I can offer for now is the first of two companion captures—a stuffed bear, sitting on the diagonal corner. Photo comes from Leica M (Typ 262) on March 31, 2018. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/9.5, ISO 200, 1/350 sec, 50mm; 11:47 a.m. PDT.

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San Diego’s Record House Prices Baffle Me

In a pandemic-stricken economy of soaring unemployment and where small businesses fall like dominos—and more risk toppling because of California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s restrictive lockdown orders—you might expect the housing market to reflect real-world woes. Oddly, though, the median sale price of homes in metro San Diego is a record high of $665,000, according to data collected by Redfin. That’s a 13-percent year-over-year increase, as of Sept. 6, 2020. County-wide, according to the California Association of Realtors, median home price is $732,560, and that’s up 13 percent from August 2019.

My neighborhood, University Heights, reflects the trend—with emphasis. Searching Trulia and Zillow, the bargain-basement-priced listing is a single-bedroom, one-bath, 576-square-foot condominium in a three-story complex looking into an open courtyard. You can live there for $299,900, or $521 per square foot. If that’s too small, how about a cozy two-bed, two-bath, 726-square-foot condo for $415,000; $572 per square foot? Both places are indistinguishable from any apartment for rent; maybe not as good-looking.