Tag: 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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Where are the Oscar Mayer Cold Cuts and Nathan’s Franks?

Someone might blame the so-called supply chain crisis for this unnamed (I won’t say) supermarket’s empty packaged, prepared, processed meat section. I’d like to think that to celebrate the World Series and return to big gatherings before the big screen following more than 18 months of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns that a whopper shopper cleared out the Bologna, hotdogs, and other deli delights for the big game.

The temperature gauge is in the red, which could indicate cooling malfunction—that despite stocked goods on either side of the empty section. As I walked by, a store employee wheeled a cart stacked with boxes of deli-fresh replacements. You’re welcome to blame the supply chain, and who doesn’t these days? I won’t.

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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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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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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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What’s Your Definition of Temporary?

I captured the Featured Image on March 18, 2021, presuming to never need to publish. How mistaken. As of today, more than 13 months after California Governor Gavin Newsom issued his first lockdown order and nearly a week after San Diego County moved into the (supposedly) less-restrictive Orange Tier, the Wells Fargo in Hillcrest is still closed.

You got to love that “branch temporarily closed” sign and wonder why it all seems so permanent. For anyone banking there or thinking that the state really is opening up, don’t be a fool: the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 misery is far from over—and I don’t mean you ever becoming sick.

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Don’t You Mean Four Bucks?

Someone tell me where Joe Wallace lives, because I want to go there. Yesterday morning, I read his Wall Street Journal story, “Leap in Gas Prices Puts $3 a Gallon in Sight“, in state of disbelief. In sight, as in coming? Because here in San Diego, that reference means looking back. We passed three bucks a gallon well more than a month ago. In fact, before President Executive Order killed off the Keystone Pipeline, the price had been $2.86 for months—and that was up 30 cents from Summer 2020—at my local economy filling station.

“Gasoline prices at pumps in the U.S. hit an average of $2.88 a gallon over the past week, according to the AAA”, Joe writes. “In California, the most expensive market, average prices stand at $3.88, according to AAA”. Hours later, I shot the Featured Image, with Leica Q2 Monochrom, specifically to illustrate this essay. Granted, Chevron charges more than many competitors but not outrageously greater than the $3.88 at nearby Valero. 

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Surely There is a Better Way to Help the Homeless

I specifically shot the Featured Image, yesterday using Leica Q2, to illustrate this essay. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 11:22 a.m. PST. The carts belonged to one of three homeless men gathered together a few meters away on the Hillcrest side of Vermont Street Bridge (University Heights is on the other). For sure, San Diego has a significant indigent population. But I write about San Francisco and something that surprises me—and perhaps will you, too.

According to the SF Chronicle (sorry, subscription required), the city is “currently sheltering more than 2,200 homeless people in about 25 hotels” and the “monthly program costs range from $15 million to $18 million”. By my math, that works out to between $6,818.18 to $8,8181.82 per person each month. If these people were paid, the equivalent annual salary would be between $82,000 and $98,000. Oh, and looks like the United States government will cover costs through the end of September 2021.

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Somebody is a Quick Study of Capitalism

Four days ago, I posted about the clever entrepreneur selling double-layer, home-made face masks for a buck. They’re a bargain no more! Since seeing the unattended sales display on Jan. 9, 2021 along Maryland Street in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, something changed—the price! Four dollars more—a 400-percent increase! Granted, the presentation is fancier, and Venmo payment is now accepted—with QR code option, no less.

Smooth sales tactics, reminiscent of retail operations everywhere, are evident in the “originally $10 each”, too. That’s not the price I photographed last week, hehe. I wonder why the change. Were too many selling at $1? Was the price below product cost? Were passersby abusing the honor system and stealing them? (Behavioral studies show that people are less likely to swipe things that are more valuable.)

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The 2020 US Quarter Honors Bats–Supposed Source of SARS-CoV-2

Am I delirious, or delusional, or is that a bat on the 2020 American quarter? Earlier today, I picked up three rolls from the bank, for laundry, and one of them was filled with these freshly minted surprises—and they’re freaking me out. Humanity is in the grips of a viral pandemic that started in China and supposedly jumped species—from bat to Homo sapiens. So why is there one—no, two—on this year’s 25-cent coins? Is it coincidence? Prophetic? Subliminal manipulation? For that last one, pick your X-Files conspiracy-theory protagonist: Chinese Communists, American liberals, US conservatives, President Trump, greedy capitalists, or— why not—alien invaders seeking to control us all through mind-controlling vaccines.

As I write, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—has killed 144,047 people in 185 countries and there are 2,157,108 confirmed cases. And those are considered to be relatively good numbers, compared to recent projections. Apparently, the majority of countries closing most businesses and all schools, while encouraging citizens to stay home, has dramatically slowed spread of the contagion.

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To Slow the Pandemic, Commerce Crumbles

Last night, Governor Gavin Newsom directed the closure of restaurants—other than take-away or delivery—across California. San Diego County issued legally-enforceable health orders, 11 in all, that impose tighter restrictions. Sizable group gatherings are prohibited, and residents are instructed to stay home. Six days after the World Health Organization (finally) declared SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—a pandemic, commerce shutters, slows, and stops.

My wife and I take cautious walks around the neighborhood, avoiding other people as we can. Today, as we approached Park Blvd from Monroe Ave., a strange sight greeted: Closed LeStat’s. The bustling coffee shop is normally open 24 hours every day of the year. We didn’t explore the remaining portion of University Height’s main street, but for sure the many bars and restaurants are dark, too.