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Affordable Housing’s Prospects

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
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The first-ever countywide survey of the affordable-housing industry has been completed. It was undertaken by the Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County (HTF) to gauge challenges facing community-housing sponsors in the post-housing-collapse market. We surveyed over 50 such sponsors, from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and released the findings in a report titled Meeting the Challenge of Affordable Housing: A Survey of the Production Capacity and Needs of Our Countywide Housing Sponsors. This report illuminates the major issues housing sponsors face in developing workforce and affordable housing.

It also provides a snapshot of the affordable-housing projects underway within the countywide housing “development pipeline.” During the 2011-2012 survey period, HTF identified 72 new affordable-housing projects in planning and production, representing 1,743 new units; as well as 27 preservation and rehabilitation affordable-housing projects underway within Santa Barbara County. If brought to fruition, these projects have the potential to create 3,540 jobs directly, plus 5,310 indirect or “induced” jobs, and to generate $637.2 million in economic output. Unfortunately, despite this seemingly robust industry, Santa Barbara County still remains the fourth least-affordable small metropolitan housing market in the nation (National Association of Homebuilders, 2012). This dubious honor reflects the chronic and overwhelming need for affordable housing throughout the county’s diverse communities.

Erica Mesker
Click to enlarge photo

Erica Mesker

The survey provided the first countywide portrait of Santa Barbara County’s affordable-housing industry. The industry is comprised of dedicated community sponsors who work tirelessly to produce, rehabilitate, and preserve affordable housing for local working families and individuals and our most vulnerable populations. Our affordable-housing sponsors are surprisingly well established, with an average of 32 years in business. These sponsors have been prolific, having produced or managed 4,724 units historically, including 997 units within the past three years. The nonprofit sector represents 68% of countywide affordable-housing sponsors, while the combined non-profit and public sector constitutes 82% of all affordable-housing sponsors.

Greatest Challenges: The greatest challenge articulated by housing sponsors was in securing project financing, with over half of respondents indicating that a major obstacle. There are fewer subsidies and financial resources available to make affordable projects economically feasible as federal, state, and local programs have been cut, downsized, and dismantled. The Housing Trust Fund noted that the trend of diminishing resources has continued beyond the closure of the market survey, which makes the findings all the more compelling.

Other major challenges highlighted in the survey included difficulties in obtaining local project development and environmental approval, overcoming community opposition, the need for project development staff, and development inexperience among newly emerging sponsors.

Three common and recurring issues were raised in follow-up interviews and focus groups conducted by HTF. One was the difficulty, in the current market, of competing against all-cash investors in purchasing properties. Another, which sponsors attributed to diminished federal and state funding and the dismantling of local redevelopment agencies, was increased competition for governments’ limited housing programs’ funding. Finally, sponsors said the unstable and unpredictable development approval process at the local level hinders their ability to align project funding on a timely basis.

Era of Diminished Resources: The market survey report can provide affordable and workforce housing sponsors, policy-makers, and the general population a more thorough understanding of the key challenges facing Santa Barbara County’s affordable-housing industry. In the past few years, the entire affordable-housing landscape has drastically shifted. Financing programs once considered reliable have disappeared or diminished, making it more difficult for projects in planning to be completed. It has become clear that Santa Barbara County’s affordable-housing projects need new sources of financial assistance.

In response to the era of diminished resources, HTF has adopted the goal of establishing a sustainable countywide fund for affordable and workforce housing, by creating a multi-interest partnership at the intersection of the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

The market survey results have also promoted us to adjust our current programs to better serve our countywide affordable-housing sponsors. For example, HTF has subsequently adopted a new “Tax Credit” loan product with a longer, 15-17 year term, which gives projects a competitive edge when applying to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee for federal low-income housing tax credits.

Sustainable Communities: The importance of supporting our countywide affordable-housing industry cannot be overstated. Our ability to create sustainable communities is largely dependent on the availability and accessibility of affordable housing in the region. High housing costs mean a loss of young families and middle-income workers, as well as a growing population of urban poor, elderly, disabled, and homeless persons living in overcrowded housing conditions or on the streets. Our expensive housing markets impacts the ability of local business to attract and retain the high quality employees our community needs to provide essential community services and maintain a vital economy.

Lack of affordable housing also contributes to increased commuting, as local workers seek more affordable housing in other regional markets. This leads to more traffic congestion, more rapidly deteriorating roadways, and more greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere. According to a 2011 California Economic Forecast study, “the number of commuters from Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties has nearly doubled in the past 20 years,” and the amount of Los Angeles County commuters has increased 57% over the past two decades. This leads to more traffic congestion, more rapidly deteriorating roadways, and more greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere.

Commuters do not contribute to the local economy, as the money they earn in the local workplace is spent in the community where they live. Intergenerational ties also decline as younger generations cannot afford to stay in the local community.

Erica Mesker is the Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County’s development and communications assistant. The HTF is a non-profit financing initiative whose mission is to expand affordable-housing opportunities for the residents of Santa Barbara County. HTF creates private, public, and non-profit sector partnerships that increase the financial resources needed to expand affordable rental and homeownership housing opportunities for working families and for our most vulnerable populations in our diverse communities. HTF directly funds affordable housing that enhances quality of life, sense of community, and that preserves the long-term affordability of the housing as a community resource.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

There are over 1,000,000 vacant housing units in California.

The State refuses to invest in these properties to help people have a roof over their head.

Instead they have created a system where each City and County is forced to build more housing, at tax-payers expense, regardless of the sustainability of existing communities or the economic damage these unwanted developments create. Forcing unwanted zoning changes and destroying local agriculture is a byproduct of this politically corrupt approach to housing.

This idea that each City and County in California must build more housing is terrible planning, and is politically motivated by developers looking to make big profits in high-cost housing markets like Santa Barbara (Towbes). Getting around community zoning is what the low-cost housing game is all about.

For the employees of public housing agencies at HUD and the community housing development departments, the game is not to house homeless or low-income workers with current housing, but to create development projects to keep their budgets relevant.

If the State simply invested in current vacant housing they could house these people. But like the wasteful Redevelopment agency that Jerry Brown axed, alot of housing bureaucrats would lose their jobs. Doing an anaysis of the money spent each year for public housing development versus how much new housing was created, it is more expensive to run these public agencies than it is to buy vacant housing, especially at todays current low lending rates.

The affordable-housing industry has become a self-serving entity that desparately needs restructuring to allow sustainable communities to remain intact and prevent further negative health and environmental impacts to these communities. Until reform happens, Cities and Counties should resist the housing mandates of the current draconian system.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2013 at 4:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's insane these homes sit empty. But how many are in armpit regions?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2013 at 4:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Does everyone have a right to live in Santa Barbara? There's certainly nothing wrong with utilizing the housing available in the "armpit" regions to meet the affordable housing demand.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2013 at 9:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's pointless if there's nothing in the way of jobs ect. That's what makes it an armpit area. Everyone indeed has the right to live in Santa Barbara. Whether they can is another matter but hopefully we can scare off some of these zip code hoppers.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2013 at 10:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

According to an HR rep I know at a large Goleta firm with 500+ workers, a little over 60% of the employees commute from outside of SB/Goleta.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2013 at 11:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Adding pollution, spending money on gas ect. I bet they'd love to walk to work.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 15, 2013 at 11:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If you want to live here then pony up the cash like everyone else had to do that came before you.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 5:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Read the news Botany, the 2nd and 3rd Amendments have been replaced with the right to have a house in the area of choice as well as the obligation of the Federal government pay for it. You must have been sleeping during the Constitutional Convention...or at work...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 9:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)


The federal government is rationing the inventory of distressed properties to maintain artificial scarcity. The FHA, the Federal Mortgage Agencies and now, the Federal Reserve Bank are accumulating a vast inventory of properties and are rationing them onto the market at a constricted rate in order to re-inflate the value.

If the government did not do this, mortgage bonds would become worthless and most large banks would fail. The only solution for the survival of the banks is to re-inflate the housing bubble by controlled scarcity thereby transferring the multi-trillion dollar debt burden to the populace.

Excess housing is being transferred to private equity funds to create corporate Wall Street landlords in your neighborhoods. Of course, this is not in the headlines, but if you dig for this information, you will discover that the mechanisms that are being employed to enslave you are public knowledge.

The socially progressive housing programs like the one featured in the article/advertisement, are a cover for the actual scheme, just as HUD is a division of the FHA.

native2sb (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 9:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

everyone who lives here, regardless of means, makes a sacrifice to do so. That is one reason we have a population which is likely more civic minded that other places.

Subsidizing housing here won't lead to more affordability except for a select few. To the extent is successful, it just draws more people in and makes the "problem" worse for every one else.

"Commuters do not contribute to the local economy, as the money they earn in the local workplace is spent in the community where they live."

This is actually offensive. Every person voluntarily paid for the services he (or she) renders contributes to the economy by definition.

Promoters of public housing complain about the difficulty of competing with buyers with actual money. The recent 54 unit complex of small apartments at Bath an Haley cost $13M which works out to be $225,000 (not including the land) for each small studio apartment! The promoters of public housing, though well intentioned, serve neither the taxpayer nor society in general.

I've avoided mentioning the recurrent scandals in this area in the interest of brevity.

ramey (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 10:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany: Yes it is true not everyone can afford to live in Santa Barbara. Who do you want to live here? Doctors? Nurses? Police and Firemen? Or do you want them to commute from long distances?

Tigershark (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 12:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Tigershark - It depends how you define "living". All those people on your list CAN afford to live in Santa Barbara. There are many small studios for $1300 a month or less. But they can get a two bedroom apt. in Lompoc for the same price. They may not be able to live at a standard they would define as acceptable, but they can live here.

If they choose a better standard of living along with a longer commute, that's their decision. Life is full of trade-offs, isn't it?

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 12:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Even people who have saved for a large down payment cannot compete for houses that no lender will lend on. In such cases, they need 100%, not 20%. It is insane that the owner of the uninhabitable property at (just one example) 408 De La Guerra wants $475,000. If he can find a clueless out-of-towner to offer $300,000, he should take it.

Santa Barbara sellers fail compare their asking price to price they paid (and the possibly taxable gain they will realize). Instead, they anchor their expectation to the false values of 2006 and illogically conclude they are selling at a deep discount. Santa Barbara sellers also fail to appreciate the extent to which the 0% interest policy of the FED has artificially propped up house prices. As interest rates rise (as they have no where else to go), house prices will fall, possibly rendering today's buyers underwater.

Buyers who paid too much during the bubble are vilified as fools today. Meanwhile, buyers who offer fair prices today are vilified as "low-ballers." Have we not learned from recent history? Real estate agents say that fair market value is approximately equal to 2002-2003 levels. Sellers refuse to be reasonable, happy to wait for the "greater fool" willing to pay too much for the dark, uninsulated, poorly-built houses so typical of Santa Barbara. Pity you if your job is here. The exorbitant high rents for crummy rental units managed by crummy landlords make it very difficult to save that down payment, even if sellers were reasonable.

"Botany" is wrong. The employees that keep this town humming do not get a fair trade-off. Either they get the expense and inconvenience of a commute, or they get to spend that money for a barely habitable, poorly maintained, cold, dark apartment. Some "better" standard of living, huh? This town had a chance to get some truly affordable housing with the Chapala/Victoria project, but they chose to squander it on yet another high-end condo project for which the developers are asking around $1.2 million per unit.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 1:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

hey botany, how about the people that grew up here? or would you rather have sb populated by a bunch of out of towners who want to turn california into their demented version of baywatch? oh wait, im probably describing you.

redbunz (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 3:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany, you're extremely hard-nosed, just like your hatred of Prop 30, etc. "Life is full of trade-offs, isn't it?" -- that's your crazed ultra-libertarian philosophy for you.
Tigershark said it well, who do you want to live here and around you and your children? "Nurses? Police and Firemen" and teachers and maintenance workers and other first-responders?
There's gotta be a middle-point to this discussion.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 4:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Amen redbunz

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 5:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The people that grew up here likely bought many years ago and have no problem maintaining their lifestyle in SB. It's those that want to move here that have the problems. I see no need to have SB accommodate more people. It's already too crowded here. Let's keep our lives the way they are.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 5:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

(This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of use policy.)

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 5:55 p.m.

I'm sorry for my merciless jibe at trust fund babies and the schizophrenic.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 6:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How ironic that a city where the dominant polical party is supposedly the party of the working class is a place where working class people can't properly afford to live.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 6:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's that old time NeoLiberalism BC.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 7:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I've seen BC write that comment more than once in the past, but that's the best response I've seen.

My friends in the private banks tell me the past 5 years have seen an unprecendented rise in net worth for their wealthy clients. Cheap cash, low cap gains rates, a buyer's market, etc. have really created an environment for capital growth. One place you can see this is in the regional real-estate market. There are tons of cash buyers out there.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 9:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"The people that grew up here likely bought many years ago and have no problem maintaining their lifestyle in SB. It's those that want to move here that have the problems. I see no need to have SB accommodate more people. It's already too crowded here. Let's keep our lives the way they are."

This is simply false. This may have been true long ago, but it is no longer the case. I did grow up here, attended school through college here, and have spent my entire professional career here. The VAST majority of those with whom I grew up were not able to "[buy] many years ago", are still unable to buy, and likely will never be able to buy. To be clear, while this is disappointing for many who grew up in SB, I'm NOT saying that that this is a problem that the government needs to fix. I did, however, want to make sure you couldn't sidestep the discussion with a false statement.

Question: Did you grow up here?

RonPowers (anonymous profile)
January 16, 2013 at 10:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

yeh, Botany, answer RonPowers.
You sound Tea Party-ish, elderly, closed-minded, and reactionary when your hilariously write "Let's keep our lives the way they are."
Duh, dude, times change, gotta flow with it. You want this to be 1950s. Most of my SB friends who grew up here do NOT own and are sad that they will likely never own. Try to display a little compassion, Botany.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 6:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

1. Being born here is not and should not be considered a guarantee that one can live here indefinitely.
2. "Affordable housing" is available, just not here.
3. To try to make housing "affordable" here is just another wealth transfer program and an attempt to create a privileged class of people that live where they can't afford to, by any conventional measure, similar to the people who, thanks to Prop 13, inherited Mommy's house and Mommy's tax structure and thereby pay far less than their fair share of taxes.
4. The "reality distortion zone" (thanks to the Steve for that one) here is primarily due to the large number of people that have never lived anywhere else and have an extremely distorted view, or no clue at all, how the vast majority of the population live.
5. Yes it's beautiful and the weather is darn near perfect, but that comes with a price. MANY people would like to live here, the baby boom people are retiring and looking for a wonderful place to live after spending their lives in the Snow Belt or wherever, and they will continue to drive the price of housing up. Government interference will not change that.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 10:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I did grow up here. I went to Peabody, La Colina and San Marcos high. I didn't go to college here though. Not that it makes any difference. I do have compassion, but it needs to be combined with reality. SB is a beautiful place. It's geography makes it a very difficult place to increase the population and keep it beautiful though. The geography will keep the expansion down and the climate will continue to attract people. So unless people want to change Santa barbara into a gridlocked highrise hellhole, Santa Barbara will likely remain out of reach for many. It's just the way it is.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 12:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany: You totally missed my point, I don't think it was that obscure. You say not everyone can afford to live in Santa Barbara, and you are right. You also indicate you don't want the City to grow in population. But if housing prices continue to rise, how are you going to get the skilled professionals you want in a City? Suppose the MD's and RN's can't afford housing and don't want to, or can't afford to commute? Have Cottage only accept patients every other day?

Tigershark (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 2:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And you missed mine. RN's can afford housing here. But they may not be satisfied with what they get for their money. If prices continue to rise to the point where they can't? Well, that's possible. That situation existed in 2006 and 2007, but it corrected. It happens in many cities. How many RN's in hospitals in Manhattan live in Manhattan? There's several hospitals in Palo Alto. I bet not many RN's live there either. It does happen. Many of these hospitals have to pay higher wages than they would like to attract qualified applicants. Certainly that's the case with Cottage.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 2:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Using a profession for which the main regional employer just built a whole lotta workforce housing isn't a fair example.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 3:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Need I point out Santa Barbara is not Manhattan? There are millions of housing units in and around Manhattan. (Some even in other states!) Santa Barbara doesn't have a big stock of housing nearby to draw on.

As for the workforce housing, the results are not in. And, there are more MD's than just at Cottage. When they start retiring, who will replace them? Somebody just out of Med School with $100,000's in education loans to pay off?

Tigershark (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 4:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Tigershark is correct, that is why we must build up and not across to preserve both our ag space and our natural environments.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 4:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, if get your wish, Santa Barbara may be the gridlocked highrise hellhole that you aspire it to be.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 5 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Gridlock is the result of sprawl, not easy pedestrian access to shops and work and sensible public transportation.
Gridlock results from promoting your city as a party town.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 5:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Really? Please name one high density urban area in the USA that doesn't have bad traffic. Just one please.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 5:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What size?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 17, 2013 at 6:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Perhaps we should pass an affordable clothing law.....all poor people get to buy Armani clothes at a fraction of the cost.

Or perhaps a

Affordable resort vacation....where poor people get to stay at the Bacara for 5 bucks a night.

In life, you get what you pay for and if you can't pay....puound sand.

KingOfIrony (anonymous profile)
January 18, 2013 at 8:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"In life, you get what you pay for," except in SB where renters get a whole lot less than what they pay for, as Botany admits, "RN's can afford housing here. But they may not be satisfied with what they get for their money." Many landlords ignore habitability laws, especially adequate heat. Many apartments are incapable of being heated and holding the minimum required 70 degrees on the coldest days. Luckily, Santa Barbara usually does not experience cold spells like the recent 6-week one.

Check out craigslist sometime. Very few apartments claim "light" or "sunny," the very amenity for which we are supposed to be happy to pay high rents. For outrageous rents, tenants get cold, dark, poorly maintained housing. Since over 65% of SB residents must rent, their "homes" are terrible indeed. In fact, most landlords would not want to live in their own rentals. The illegal rentals cost as much as the legal ones.

RN's (and other professionals) should be able to afford to buy. But in a town where even dilapidated fixers are unaffordable...

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 18, 2013 at 10:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm always amazed at the number of people who believe that:
Santa Barbara has a unique housing problem;
That Santa Barbara is the most expensive place to live in the U.S.
Manhattan and San Francisco, to name just two cities, are far more expensive and have attributes unlike anywhere else in the U.S. Housing in both cities is far more difficult to procure and to afford in the desirable core areas.
With regards to urban planning and traffic KV, despite having legitimate economies etc. traffic is brutal in those vertical cities. Are we to believe that urban infill will NOT create more traffic because all of these folks will walk to the store and telecommute to work? BTW- I am not de facto against urban infill but not accounting for the demonstrable problems does not make sense.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
January 18, 2013 at 11:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dear King of Irony
Poverty doesn't equal gauche.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 18, 2013 at 2:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Italiansurg: perhaps the enormous sense of entitlement among some locals explains the constant complaining about housing...Prop 13 went a long way to fuel that sense, and was fueled by that sense....and needs modification.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 18, 2013 at 6:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'd call it a reaction against corporate colonialism and not so much entitlement.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 18, 2013 at 6:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@itlaliansurg: "Manhattan and San Francisco, to name just two cities, are far more expensive and have attributes unlike anywhere else in the U.S. Housing in both cities is far more difficult to procure and to afford in the desirable core areas."

Certainly - but both SF and Manhattan have surrounding areas (Queens, parts of NJ) in which housing is significantly more affordable while maintaining access to the city. About 75% of the employees in my company's Manhattan office live in either NJ or Queens. And desirable is relative - I hate the upper east and west sides with a passion. Aside from the museums, they are easily the least interesting parts of Manhattan.

EatTheRich (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 6:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

And we have Goleta and north, Ventura, Oxnard....

K_V: what do you mean by "corporate colonialism"?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 9:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@JohnLocke: "And we have Goleta and north, Ventura, Oxnard...."

Hardly an adequate comparison. It costs about $110 a month to travel from Queens to Manhattan on the subway. It costs several times that to daily drive from Ventura to Santa Barbara. Either provide housing or appropriate mass transit, or quit complaining about the problems that arise from inaction.

But I love the 'they should just move to Ventura' elitism. That is SO Santa Barbara.

EatTheRich (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 9:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I suspect many of SB's economic woes like housing affordibility can be explained by the desireability of this area, a somewhat static housing stock, and an "unusual" distribution of wage earning potential & wealth in the population.

Take a look at the annual UCSB Economic forecast for the City and County. It categorizes the local workforce into different areas (retail, agriculture, finance, technical, health care, construction, govt, education, etc.). Last time I checked (2009?) we have a lot of low-end and high-end earners and not that many in the middle.

Adding to the competition for housing are students and retirees with higher-than-average accumulated wealth plus housing that gets taken off the market - in my neighborhood, as older folks pass away, the homes are purchased by out-of-towners who turn them into vacation homes or time-shares. The transformation happens slowly, but when you realize it, poof! I think the large number of cash sales in the market is really telling.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 11:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

EB - You missed geography. There's just not that much buildable space between the mountains and the beach. Our problems are not unique. Look at Palo Alto, Santa Cruz and Carmel. I don't see any of those places building high rises. SB county has plenty of affordable housing in Santa Maria and Lompoc. I don't see the need to destroy the character of our great city just to placate the people that want to live in Santa Barbara at Santa Maria prices.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 1:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany, what in your opinion makes Santa Barbara better than Santa Maria or Ventura? Both have mountains and ocean. Why is SB great but Ventura not? Why are all the artists moving to Ventura? Why is State St's music scene now on Main St in Ventura?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 2:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The static housing stock I mentioned covers all its contributors ... geography, zoning, market forces, regulatory constraints, etc.

Although I'm a native, I worked in San Jose for a few years. There certainly are concentrations of relatively affluent areas like Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Gatos. But the sprawl in the valley is terrible as lower wage workers commute in from other areas. I don't know what the answer is, but I like urban planning concepts like mixed use and keeping populations near transportation corridors - very logical.

The twist is when land use preferences (which are influenced not just by practical but emotional& aesthetic concerns) impose additional constraints. The trick is balancing all these sometimes opposing goals.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 3:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And remember, a view is merely real estate you don't own.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 3:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

But I love the 'they should just move to Ventura' elitism. That is SO Santa Barbara.

EatTheRich (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 9:54 a.m.

Or..."Move to Bakersfield" is the other one I've heard.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 3:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Just because a community is more expensive doesn't necessarily make it better. Does everyone have the "right" to live in Palo Alto? Yes they do...IF they can afford to.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 3:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm glad you agree that just because a community is more expensive it doesn't make it better. So what do you get for your money in Santa Barbara? Increasingly less.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 4:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Somebody ought to compute the Gini Coefficient for all the CA regions. I bet SB would be up there with the banana republics.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 5:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks EastBeach, the Gini is out of the bottle.

No surprise but SB County ranks among the higher (but not highest) Ginis in the US, rated at ~0.475 a few years ago (most recent data I could find):

“The Gini index for the United States as a whole is 0.469.” The highest US Ginis are interesting….

According to the Gini data in Wikipedia, the US is not as inequitable as Brazil but about the same as Mexico. However the US index is rising, while that of Mexico is sinking. More fun here:

“These new [Gini index] results put the United States on par with China, the Dominican Republic, Napal and Ecuador for income inequality according to the CIA ranking.”

My hunch is that the optimum way to ease our local housing (and traffic) problem in the foreseeable future is to implement a reliable and convenient mass transit system that spans at least from Oxnard to Lompoc. Clearly such a system has to serve the needs of most commuters in order to be any investment. (I’m not holding my breath while waiting for anything like this to happen though!)

hodgmo (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 7:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hodgmo is 100% correct. It'd be easy to map a system to even included Ojai with minimal if any enviro impact, which would be offset by less cars on the road. Instead of widening the 101 in Cito, this would have been a better long term idea.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 19, 2013 at 8:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

KV-Santa Maria has an ocean?

ETR-Your arrogance and ignorance are in full force. While you may "hate" the stereotype about the upper east side in Manhattan, once you leave Park Ave or 1st Ave the reality is a plethora of businesses that are privately owned and operated by every race, creed and color on earth. Exactly what we don't have here anymore; a Progressive's dream. I am there 1x per month now and in my 24 block walk back and forth from the UES to midtown for work, I pass nearly zero chain stores and I can buy everything including food, hardware, clothing, coffee(OK, there are a few Starbucks), you name it from a small business person at cheaper prices than anything in this town. The current price for a full falafal plate with eggplant etc from a licensed cart is $5 and it is better than anything in all of SB. And Manhattan and the surrounding Boroughs have awesome mass transit AND brutal traffic AND rent control AND higher rents for less space. North Beach in San Francisco is not dissimilar; mass transit and vertical density and brutal traffic and rent control and ridiculous rents. Oh you can go to the Bayview but you'll need to exercise your 2nd Amendment Rights or stay inside your lower cost hovel. Marin is just as high. Sure, go to the east bay with the caveat that you get to enjoy Oakland and it's record setting murder rate, Richmond which is a cesspool, Berkeley and it's filth...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 6:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@italiansurg: "-Your arrogance and ignorance are in full force."

Given that I am spending so much time in our NYC office over the last 3 years that I am seriously considering moving my family out here (I'm staying with friends in Queens as I write this), I am plenty familiar with NYC. But you're right, it is a 'progressive's dream' - the primary difference being that NYC doesn't crap and abuse it's service class. They can actually make a real living.

@italiansurg: "Once you leave Park Ave or 1st Ave the reality is a plethora of businesses that are privately owned and operated by every race, creed and color on earth."

I love that your marvel over diversity consists solely of 'people I can pay to do things for me".

But as you demonstrate - once you leave the Upper East Side (and ignoring Times Square), NYC actually becomes palatable. I'd take Astoria or Flushing over the UES any day of the week. Hell, I'd take the Lower East Side over UES. Although I was probably a little too hard on the UWS - there's more stuff there. But the UES - man, what a boring, sterile place.

However, the Upper East and West Sides are NOTHING compared with nearly everything below 23rd street. And if you're walking from midtown to the UES and you don't see any chain stores, you're simply not paying attention.

EatTheRich (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 6:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks for making my point. The working class live outside of the core, so much for insuring diversity by building up and having mass transit. With regards to people doing things for me, if you knew SB really well you would know that State St used to be a great microcosm of a downtown. And yes, most of us go to a central business district to pay people for stuff; duh.
I did not mention the lower island and yes I like it. I am not so fond of the UWS; interesting that you use it as a good example since gentrification there has destroyed a lot of what used to be interesting.
Another interesting point is that NYC abuses it's working class as much as everywhere else does; they are only paid enough to get by and one thing that creeps me out is seeing all of the PR's come into the UES in the morning to raise rich folks kids and then head back to their poor neighborhood at night. Apparently you think there is something noble about that fact...
Move your family to Queens and create your own little urban experiment with your kids. We shan't miss you out here.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 7:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@italiansurg: "Another interesting point is that NYC abuses it's working class as much as everywhere else does; they are only paid enough to get by and one thing that creeps me out is seeing all of the PR's come into the UES in the morning to raise rich folks kids and then head back to their poor neighborhood at night. Apparently you think there is something noble about that fact..."

So the example you use is the one in which the wealthy in the UES - you know, the neighborhood you love so much - who are too lazy to raise their own kids take advantage of immigrants with a strong work ethic. Classy. It's amazing how you can't seem to acknowledge any economy in which you, yourself, can't purchase the labour. I'm certain that the only reason it creeps you out is because you don't like seeing *those* people in *your* neighborhood. You know - the same attitude you have towards the less fortunate in Santa Barbara.

The fact is that there is plenty in the service industries who actually make a good living. You may not see them - but that should come as no surprise.

@italiansurg: "Move your family to Queens and create your own little urban experiment with your kids. We shan't miss you out here."

Oh trust me, the feeling is mutual. And I hate to break it to you - but Santa Barbara is the 'urban experiment'. And the vapid, uninformed, and self-entitled arrogance of people like you are proof that it's miserably failing.

EatTheRich (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 8:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Although I've seen these numbers before, hodgmo's site [] is well-worth studying again. thanks, hodge, these stats deflate the scores of compassion-less words from the Prop 30-haters above. The site ends with this quote, "In other words, the United States, with all of her soaring rhetoric and American dreams is really a banana republic income inequality nightmare."
Yes, we really do need some affordable housing in this city, and if some want to label it "wealth transfer" that comment simply informs us about their hard-right politics and ultra-libertarian lack of compassion for others.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 8:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

you struck italiansurg's lack of empathy square on the stallion's nose, EatTheRich, with his "vapid, uninformed, and self-entitled arrogance". These sorts "make it" themselves, and then look around enjoying dumping on those who haven't. Yes, certainly they have likely worked quite hard and "deserve" their monied status which then renders them giddy and also desensitizes them to the limitations of other, "lesser" human beings. Let them eat at Taco Bell forever, let those RNs enjoy their squalid $1300 @ month 2/1 apartments on the Westside, & what a bunch of freeloaders who'd like a helping hand via affordable housing.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 10:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

ETR, "move to Ventura" is no more "so SB" than is "leave California" as often suggested by the local Left. Hardly democratic views.

@All: Maybe if we all ignore ETR it will keep its promise to move to Queens. It's got the NYC arrogance already well in hand.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 10:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@All: mebbe if we ignore JL and his defend-the-1%-at-all-costs stance [cf. his Jan. 17 comment: "To try to make housing "affordable" here is just another wealth transfer program"] he'll stop repeating himself.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 12:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

But you are both right, except that it is NYC moving to SB. You can't make the money you need to afford SB if you live in SB. That's why more and more home-owners are from NYC or SF or LA. Much to blame is the mortgage banking system. By removing risk from this market and placing the trillions of dollars of defaults on the federal government, we have made our own housing unaffordable to us. If you want to stay in SB, move to NYC and get a job on Wall Street.

native2sb (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 12:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

if you want to stay in SB, assuming you have a semi-OK job and hope to avoid a lifetime 2/1 apt. then living very frugally, taking on extra jobs, and seldom going out might cut it...or you're hoping for affordable housing assistance, or even the hope for that. I ran my own landscaping business for ten years (summers) 'cause the teaching gig, a most meaningful way to live, wasn't making the numbers my family needed in order to dwell in a 900 sq ft house in what some poster called an armpit neighborhood. Yes, and this is DrDan 93101 who has lived in the same place 26 years.
For those posting here, let us know if you are in one of these 4,149 Montecito parcels which average at a net property value worth of $2 million, then we can avoid your lecturing and tone-deaf BS.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 1:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Jeez DD, you have some serious issues with the success of others. It almost seems like you resent the success of others more than you want to achieve your own. And no, I don't live in Montecito. My zip code is 93105.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 1:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think we can have this conversation without namecalling and making accusations/assumptions as to how other commentators may or may not conduct their lives.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 2:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Go 49ers!

... whose home, San Francisco County, has the highest income disparity of all 58 Calfornia counties (tip of the hat to hodgmo for the Gini coefficient links).

Santa Barbara county ranks fifth out of 58 (imagine what it must be if you exclude North County).

Top five counties with largest weighted income gaps:

1. San Francisco
2. Marin
3. Los Angeles
4. Humboldt
5. Santa Barbara

Bottom five counties:

54. Calaveras
55. Solano
56. Amador
57. Mariposa
58. Sierra

Nationally, SB County ranks 332 out of 3,134.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 3:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Another problem with rental units in SB is that landlords offer crummy places they would not live in themselves. they postpone repairs as long as possible, then "renovate." After renovation which is nothing more than the deferred maintenance they should have been performing all along, they jack up the rent $200 pretty much admitting they charge too much for hovels,and charge even more for the quality they should be offering in the first place.

When I talk to SB renters (easy since more than 65% of SB residents are renters), I find that the lack of outcry is due to a "someday me too" fantasy. They are not complaining too much now because when their ship comes in and they become a landlord, they plan to be just as greedy and just a disrespectful of their tenants.

Business relationships are most sustainable when characterized by the Golden Rule. Landlords should charge FAIR rent for good quality housing, and tenants should pay on time and leave the property in good condition. Landlord/Tenant relationships in SB are characterized by mutual resentment instead of mutual appreciation and respect.

I have no doubt there are other places as bad or worse than SB. Their existence in no way constitutes a defense of Santa Barbara. When the success of other is attained through unfairness, it is nothing to be admired.

Furthermore, SB professionals are in a strange predicament. They make too much too qualify to purchase so-called affordable housing, but not enough to qualify for a median turn-key house. Rents are so high as too make it difficult to save that down payment, and the quality of even turn-key houses in SB is quite poor. Even properties asking $1mil tend to be dark and uninsulated. SB real estate agents turn on every light in the house and hate it when open house attendees turn them off to evaluate the natural light (or lack thereof). Supposedly we are expected to be happy for high rents and high house prices because this is sunny Santa Barbara. The reality is that people are not getting what they are told they are paying for.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 3:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

lucas pretty much nails it. Why in a city/county is predominately renters there is no rent control is amazing. I've experienced several of the "renovations" lucas describes.
Many landlords don't want to work, they just want the cash to roll in.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 4:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

FYI to "lucas" and "Ken_Volok":

U.S. Census seems to think Santa Barbara has Homeownership rate of 53.6% (2007-11, estimated), FYI.

binky (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 5:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I feel so enigmatic in quotes.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 6:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

to "binky" That data refers to Santa Barbara COUNTY, which of course, bears little resemblance to the Santa Barbara currently under discussion. I was being conservative. I read a source (but neglected to write it down) that said 70% of Santa Barbara downtown residents rent.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 6:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Citywide home ownership is probably lower than county I would imagine; however, you should probably provide those statistics to gain some authority for your assertions.

In the meantime, as representative of the entirety of the article, may I reproduce the first two sentences?

::: "The first-ever countywide survey of the affordable-housing industry has been completed. It was undertaken by the Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County (HTF) to gauge challenges facing community-housing sponsors in the post-housing-collapse market."

binky (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 9:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why isn't there rent control? The same reason there isn't control over what you can charge to sell your car or your computer. Unless you live in the People's Republic of Santa Monica, "fair" rent is whatever the landlord chooses to charge. If you don't like it, you're free to rent from someone else.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 10:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

FYI to "lucas" and "Ken_Volok":

U.S. Census seems to think Santa Barbara has Homeownership rate of 53.6% (2007-11, estimated), FYI.

binky (anonymous profile)
January 20, 2013 at 5:54 p.m

"Binky" (I'm assuming that's probably not your real name) I can assure you that "Ken Volok" is in fact, Ken Volok. Also, I've heard repeatedly that home ownership in S.B. is about 1/3, but how would either of us ever be able to know for sure?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 4:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Houses: 37,177 (35,706 occupied: 14,966 owner occupied, 20,740 renter occupied)
% of renters here: 58%
(taken from the following link:

Read more:

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 4:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@JohnLocke: "Maybe if we all ignore ETR it will keep its promise to move to Queens. It's got the NYC arrogance already well in hand."

Oh, you're just angry that the 3 Billy Goats Gruff stopped visiting your bridge. Don't worry, John, even if I leave I'll still feed you from time to time.

@native2sb: "You can't make the money you need to afford SB if you live in SB."

This. It's actually worse than this, because if you need professionals in a given field - say you need a DBA or DevOps engineer, both of which make excellent money - they're not just going to up and move to SB simply because you offer them a job when living here means they'll take a substantial hit due to the cost of living. This is something JohnLocke and italiansurg will NEVER understand, but people who actually work for a living deal with all of the time. It's not just about the service industries - it's ANY real business that needs talent. Either you'll have to pay more than market for their services, have them telecommute, or home grow - and none of these solutions prevent them from leaving when they realize they can have a higher standard of living elsewhere.

EatTheRich (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 5:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Except maybe the weather.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 5:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

climate and weather are huge in personality development, as Montesquieu pointed out several centuries ago. It's something in the soil and climate and weather and the unique topography that draws people here despite the lack of rent control.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 7:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Once again, ETR, you evidence assumptions unsupported by anything than your opinionated and self-centric view of the world. I actually work for a living and have done so for over 35 years. I DID move here for a job, quite a good one, 15 years ago before most of the good jobs left town thanks to local anti-business policies and high cost of living. Thanks to a lifetime of saving and the purchase of a small business, I was able to stay when that job left - that doesn't mean I'm rich; it means I'm frugal.

I am VERY aware of the economic implications of cost of living, which here are largely due to overly large government, a high percentage of people on the government payrolls (everything from governor, bureaucrats, and teachers to receipients of grand social spending programs), the resulting high taxes and cost of housing (which is in turn related to government regulation+scarcity of supply+large demand), and expensive energy (thanks to Gray Davis and the unwillingness of CA to develop its own energy supplies). But I am unwilling to take a simplistic view of the possible solutions that have never worked in the past (e.g. rent control, which, like Prop 13, is simply a wealth transfer program that creates a very special class of people who are able to live at abnormally low cost thanks to payments by others - have a look at the program in NYC for a shining example of the long term effects of such a stupid program.).

I am most concerned with people who confuse valuing individuals and independence and personal accomplishment with being a rich Republican or a greedy whatever and who attempt to co-op the "moral high ground" by endorsing every government giveaway known to mankind. Actually, strike that, I am most concerned with the apparent inability of the average person today to balance a checkbook, understand a mortgage, differentiate opinion from fact and political propaganda from good policy, and debate with reason, fact, and logic, and without rancor, insult, or name-calling.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 9:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

so JL, you object to having teaching on the "public payroll", eh?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 10:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here is a source that break it down by zipcode

Instead of clicking on the city-data link provided above,I retrieved it afresh It doesn't include the percentage of renters.

This site shows different data for SB vs Calif

Gap between SB rich and the employees who keep the place humming

Comprehensive data:

One thing that could account for some of the discrepancy is that we do not know the protocol for the data-collection. For example, it is possible that an owner-occupied front house masks the presence of the renter-occupied back house, not to mention the significant number of illegal rentals that escape the count.

Fair Market Value is a specific term with a specific definition. In a healthy community, market competition will compel landlords to charge FMV. When the community is unhealthy, price gouging occurs. If it were true that fair is whatever landlord chooses to charge, there could be no such thing as price gouging anywhere.

This source catalogs how Santa Barbara has become increasingly unhealthy over the past 32 years.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 10:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"When the community is unhealthy, price gouging occurs. If it were true that fair is whatever landlord chooses to charge, there could be no such thing as price gouging anywhere."

This is an entirely untrue statement. Price gouging occurs when there is an emergency or people are in a vulnerable situation and need to buy something immediately and people jack up the price to exploit the situation. This usually occurs during disasters of some sort. This does NOT fit the definition of "price gouging".

What Lucas can't seem to understand is the basic laws of supply and demand. This isn't an unusual situation. It has been the same with Santa Barbara real estate for decades. Nothing has changed. He only classifies it as "price gouging" because he doesn't like the prices people have to pay for rent to live here. Maybe he thinks one should pay the same for an acre of land in Manhattan that you pay in Nebraska. Real Estate is ALWAYS local. There are cheap places to live. Santa Barbara isn't one of them and never will be.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 11:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm not so sure I'd call this community healthy, have you seen the police logs lately?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 11:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

One thing Botany is right about is that the definition of price gouging has not been well determined. Some people believe there is no such thing, that high prices in even an emergency is nothing more than supply and demand. In contrast, Fair Market Value does have a definition. In a healthy community, market and FMV tend to intersect. Most SB tenants are at a serious knowledge disadvantage.

Many prospective tenants, willing to pay even high SB rents, refuse one crummy rental after another only to end up in a crummy place anyway because rental inventory is so low. Nothing about this unhealthy community pushes landlords to offer decent housing. I am not sure what he is defending since he has admitted that SB tenants are not getting what they are paying for.

Actually Santa Barbara has changed. Study those links I provided, especially the one showing the changes over 30 years.

60% of SB employees live elsewhere. Some people seem to think that the percentage should approach 100%. Some people come close to suggesting that SB, enclave of the wealthy, should be like one sprawling resort hotel where all the employees come in from the outside.

For sake of argument, let us assume that we accept SB rent rates. For the rent, landlords are actually required by statute to provide legal, habitable housing. The criteria of habitability have also been determined by statute. Further, the landlord's own self respect should require him to provide housing he himself would want to live in. To the extent that landlords take money, but do not fulfill their statutory responsibilities (leaving aside for the moment the issue of doing what is right), they are unjustly enriched.

SB rentals are characterized by darkness, cold and squalor, especially the ones on Craigslist. The quality housing from the best landlords are rarely listed because departing tenants help ensure that their friends get the unit. Nothing wrong with that, but the rental choices that are available are pretty poor.

It is also wrong to assume that everyone here has complete and open free choice. That is an American myth completely unsupported by the reality of people's lives. None of us get to have or do everything we might like to choose. I do not think even Botany would like the results if every SB employee actually took his suggestion and moved to elsewhere.

A couple years ago, the city council began requiring that all private employees working on a city project be paid a "living wage," the maximum of which the city set at $15.12/hour. You cannot even get a crummy studio for that. The cost of commuting plus the cost of a rental elsewhere often exceeds the cost of an SB rental. Add on the commute time, additional child care expenses, and other inconveniences, and no wonder SB renters "choose" squalid SB apartments. However, the fact they made that choice in no way exonerates the behavior of SB landlords.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 12:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, Lucas, I am a landlord, and I'll tell you that I maintain my properties well. Are they dark? Maybe, maybe not, it depends how they were constructed. I didn't build them and I won't put extra windows in. Are they cold? Probably at this time of year if the tenant doesn't turn their heat on. No squalor though, I can guarantee you that.

Am I going to charge whatever the market will bear? You better believe it! I'll charge whatever price I can get for a quality tenant. Are my tenants happy with me? I think they are happy with the way I maintain the property. Are they happy with what I charge for rent? I could care less. This is a business arrangement, nothing more. I haven't raised the rent on a tenant yet, but I won't rule that out either. If there is ever a whiff of our elected leaders considering putting in rent control, I'll jack up all the rents in a hurry, that's for sure!

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 1:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If you are a good landlord, then you are rare in SB. An exception does not invalidate the rule. However, you say your apartments are dark. Then you should lower your rent to account for it. "if the tenant doesn't turn their heat on.." are you kidding? I am talking about apartments that whose furnaces are incapable of maintaining 65 degrees. The habitability standard is 70. Generally, these same places cannot be cooled either, and the tenants find themselves living in unhealthy heat in the summer. If your units are like that, lower your rent some more, to compensate them for the additional heating expense and lack of comfort in a town billed as "perfect weather." If any of your units are illegal, lack sufficient amps (should be 200) and outlets, or otherwise look jerry-rigged, lower the rent some more. If you do not have the required off-street parking, even if the city has "grandfathered" your unit, lower the rent some more. Do you tenants have on-site laundry? If not, lower the rent some more. Tenants should have the choice to be carless, and not have to go to questionable laundromats especially for the rents they are paying. Do you expect tenants to repair the appliances at their own expense because the tenant is the one using the appliance? Lower your rent even more. Or maybe you are offering a studio, but call it a 1/1 because you expect the tenant to sleep on the unheated, enclosed front porch that faces north and has a giant picture window. Lower the rent some more.

I have inspected just about every downtown apartment that has appeared on craigslist over the past several years. Give me your unit's address, and I might be able to tell you whether it is squalid or not. I have seen 1/1's listed with each and every of the above conditions and these landlords are asking $1500. Such places would be expensive at $1000.

Excellent tenants who expect their landlords to fulfill their responsibilities run the risk of receiving notice. It is too big a risk in a town like Santa Barbara where it can take months to find a rental where both the condition is okay, and the landlord reasonable. So tenants have to settle for a lot less and keep their mouth shut. You "think" your tenants are happy. In my experience, good landlords do not have to "think." They know, because a good landlord is so rare in SB that tenants are not shy about paying the compliment.

In short, there is NO ACCEPTABLE DEFENSE of landlord practices that fall below the standard of the Golden Rule. Normally, business arrangements involve a fair exchange, in this case, proper living quarters for fair consideration in a relationship of mutual appreciation and respect. SB landlords take the consideration, but do not provide proper quarters; that is taking unfair advantage of tenants. "I could care less" is evidence of a bad attitude. You should care more. Tenants with good landlords do not resent writing the rent check every month; they are happy to do so.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 3 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Furthermore, the way landlords talk about their tenants in unguarded moments is revealing. Some actual quotes: "I know I charge too much. When my son's family starts living there, I will charge fair rent." "This is a democracy; tenants must be happy with the rent and the condition if they sign my lease." "I don't like savvy tenants." "The renting class" could afford to buy "if they didn't drink and smoke their money." "My rental used to be a dump, but stupid tenants rented it anyway."

By the way, the tenant who makes $30/hour is not necessarily a higher quality tenant than the one who makes $15/hour. Income is no measure of character. Besides, SB landlords do not seem all that interested in getting quality tenants. They routinely refuse quality (but savvy) tenants in favor of problem tenants who they know from the get-go will end up forfeiting the security deposit. For too many landlords, it is all about moving as much money from the tenants pocket to the landlord's pocket as possible. On the one hand, landlords despise the “renting class.” On the other hand, landlords eat tenants alive with high rents so that it is impossible for the tenant to get ahead and save that down payment.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 3:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany do you confuse wealth with quality?
I know a notorious young actress with lotsa money to whom you could rent.
Furthermore the safety of the structure IS your responsibility.
The fact you'd jack up the rents at the slightest "whiff of rent control" says volumes about you.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 3:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No illegal units, all heating units work well. There is a very specific contract for each tenant. I abide by the contract, I expect the tenant to do the same. This is a business contract, nothing more. I have no opinion about the tenants except whether they abide by the contract or not, because I will abide by it.

The contract states the rent and the other terms, This social justice nonsense has no business in this transaction. And I usually measure "character" by their credit score, but not always. I once rented to a guy who's credit score was trashed because of a short sale he was just finishing. But he came through with all supporting documentation and was very upfront about it. He's been a good tenant too.

Again, supply and demand dictate the rent, nothing else. I keep the units well maintained. I abide by the contract, I expect the tenant to do the same. That's all there is too it. This class warfare rhetoric you keep wanting to inject is irrelevant.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 3:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, you better believe I would jack up the rents if the city (or county) were contemplating that. Many landlords including myself have units that are rented under the current market rates. Do you think most of us would sit still while the city locks in those rates at artificially low levels? I think you'd see a mad rush to raise rents if that happened.

I consider what I do as providing a service. But it's also an investment. I will do what I have to do to protect that investment and I think most landlords would do the same. If the city wants to depreciate my investment, I need to do what I can to mitigate any damages from that government action.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 3:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

All my many words can be summed up by the Golden Rule. I guess the Golden Rule is nothing but "class warfare" to you. Too bad.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 4:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No DrDan, although your tactic is not surprising. I do, however, object to 3 people on the government payroll for every 4 private sector employees - that's CA's number, one of the highest in the nation.

@lucas, I'm sure you wouldn't appreciate being excoriated for the extreme behaviors of a relatively few members of a group, e.g. all Liberals, so by the same token then don't chacterize any individual, Botany included, as exhibiting the extreme behavior of a few landlords, unless you have specific evidence. Your comments about landlords might lead one to think that either you are unable to stay in one place very long (problem tenant?) or that you have the results of a broad survey of landlord behaviors. Would you just mind providing the source of your generalizations?

As one who was exposed to rent subsidy in the DC area in the 1970s, I can tell you what happens. People paying full boat get to live next door to welfare families with more screaming kids than the law allows, but since the welfare families are a "special class", those laws are not applied. The landlords do nothing, because if they get blackballed by the government agencies they lose their clients. This is not quite the same as NYC rent control, but almost as bad. Under rent control, you get people in rent controlled apartments (like "poor" Mia Farrow) paying $hundreds a month for apartments that at market prices would rent for $thousands a month. Furthermore, those apartments pass through inheritance exactly as do homes in CA, where a special class, living in Mommy's former home, paying taxes at Mommy's rates (yes,yes, plus 2% per year), while sending batches of kids to public school and thereby drawing a rather larger proportionate share of government services.

Such laws discourage people from moving to where the jobs are, as opposed to staying in their subsized homes where there may be no or poor jobs. There just aren't enough of the so-called "better off" to pay for all this stuff.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 4:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

BTW, as our President said in a recent speech, "it's all arithmetic", meaning if you want all this stuff you must raise taxes. Unfortunately he still believes that increasing taxes on the top 2% will solve the problem. It won't. This is not "defending the top 2%". It is arithmetic. If you want to raise significant revenue, taxes must go up on the middle, the upper middle, whatever you want to call it. That's where the money is. A simple look at the distribution of tax revenue and the amount of additional revenue needed will demonstrate this to anyone who passed 6th grade.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 5:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

To JL,

As I said, I have inspected many, many units and spoken with many, many landlords. My job has moved me around quite a bit, and I generally stay in one unit for as long as I stay in the community which in my case is around 4 years at a stretch. I rented one place for 10 years. Near as I can tell, the units of good landlords in SB rarely become available, probably for good reasons.

Because I am a savvy tenant, I guess that automatically makes me a problem tenant for problem landlords. It is interesting to me that the detailing of common rental unit conditions and common SB landlord attitudes provokes an attempt to make an ad hominem dismissal.

As far as a survey goes, that would be great. Maybe the Independent would publish the results of my survey. I do have all the raw data. Study the links I provided, start going to look at craigslist apartments as if you were a prospective tenant. It will not take long for an unbiased observer to draw the same conclusions.

Would that the landlord behaviors I describe were merely those of an "extreme" few. The internal inconsistencies in the comments of a certain self-identified landlord speaks volumes. And still yet the defenders of the status quo choose to ignore the implication of the Golden Rule.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 5:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)


Obama has never said, as you suggest, "that increasing taxes on the top 2% will solve the problem." Never. Not once.

- - -

Special to "lucas" and "Botany":

There are two Golden Rules, and I'm betting you each try to live by one of them.

binky (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 5:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

touche, binky "There are two Golden Rules, and I'm betting you each try to live by one of them." LOL, and a fitting conclusion.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 5:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

JL, I'm glad we can agree that having public school teachers on public payrolls is satisfactory, although we need MANY more teachers, and with so many retiring (I know, I know) we have to enroll the 4,000,000 new teachers in public pension plans, too. Brown has good ideas of offering more first year courses on-line, etc. And I'm with him in the crying need to cap public pensions (I like $90,000 as a cap).
But the growing income inequality is the screaming issue, as many Republicans now sheepishly acknowledge.
Naw, I never thought, nor did Obama, that higher taxes on the 1% would fix the revenue problem we have. That's right, a revenue problem. But those monies will help. I personally hope we go over the next ballyhooed financial cliff and automatically sequester [cut] the Pentagon for 30%, the farm subsidy, oil/gas industry tax breaks...and...yes, adjust the mortgage payment tax break so many of us in the middle class have enjoyed. I have accepted that, time to hit the middle class, too. OK?
JL is correct that "There just aren't enough of the so-called "better off" " to fund the chasm, so we need higher estate taxes and so on. Correct: wealth REDISTRIBUTION, not your "wealth transfer".... it's more than semantics, as we both know.
We need more affordable housing in the city of SB.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 5:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How on earth is the 3/4 public/private ratio in any objectionable. That's ridiculous. So the private sector is outsourcing or not hiring so the public sector had to employ less?
I've never heard of a more outlandish objection since women's pants became popular.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 5:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@lucas: A balanced, objective survey of local rental practices would be of HUGE benefit to the community. I'd bet the Indy would publish, as would the NewsPress (either one alone lacks credibility with the readership of the other). The problem, of course, is the "balanced, objective" part. I'd guess that many would reject a survey conducted one person without some kind of peer review or oversight. Perhaps the City housing folks with oversight from a citizens' committee?

@binky: You are aware of EVERYTHING he said? EVER? Permit me to doubt. In any case, he HAS pushed (successfully) to increase the taxes on the top 2% (actually, it was 1% before he was re-elected, then morphed into 2%) while leaving middle class taxes alone. So if he's espousing a "balanced approach" as in today's inauguration speech, then either he must back off the "no tax increase on the middle class" or on "no cuts to entitlements". Take your pick. It's arithmetic.

Back to the original topic - affordable housing. I'd like to see a proposal from the DrDans and ETRs of this link as to how, exactly, they would propose to provide affordable housing in the City or County of SB, and for whom. For now, no restrictions. Let's see what comes out. Much more difficult to fashion laws than to complain about them.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 5:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

First of all, affordable does not mean "low income." It means affordable, as in-- within the means of a typical tenant. Housing should pretty much be affordable for all. If for example, an employee makes $12-15/hour (which the city of Santa Barbara has deemed a "living wage"), they should be able to afford at least a modest, good quality 1/1. Taking the middle number of $13.50, this implies that the apartment should cost no more than about $800 since it is reasonable to expect the rent to be about 1/3 the salary (although real estate investment consultants recommend landlords charge no more than an average one week salary as rent). Even allowing a generous so-called sunshine premium of 25% would make the rent about $1000. Single parents usually need at least a 1/1 and they need to be able to pay for it with a single salary. It should never require two salaries to afford a 1/1.

Right now there is this terrible affordability gap between low wage earners and high wage earners. If your wage is low enough, you qualify for low-income housing (which comes with its own set of problems). Too many of SB's vital workers make decent wages, but cannot afford to live here, and make too much to qualify for help. Affordable housing almost by definition should be available to just about everyone, except low income people. There are already programs in place for them.

Many destitute people in SB actually have income. A number of the older ones are on Social Security. Average social security benefits in 2012 was about $1230 ( It is quite possible for someone to have been born and raised in SB, worked their whole life here and still be in sad shape upon retirement. I know an SB native in precisely this situation. Luckily, she managed to secure a position as on-site manager of an apartment building. Her apartment is her monthly "wage" and that is the only reason she is doing okay on her social security benefits.

As far as actually providing affordable housing, the city could look more carefully at proposed projects, instead of squandering opportunities. It is ridiculous that the housing going up on Victoria and Chapala is being offered at $1.2mil/unit. Perhaps if the Chapala and Guttierez condos had been offered at reasonable prices, the developer might have sold them. The new condos at Chapala and De La Guerra are also being offered for over $900k (and their interiors are poorly designed to boot, featuring lots of wasted space). Then there was Veronica Gardens whose ballot initiative failed very likely because the developer billed it as luxury housing. The one thing Santa Barbara does not need more of is luxury housing. Providing affordable housing would not require new laws. If developers priced these downtown condos affordably, they could fill them and exert much-needed competition on the SB rental market.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 9:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's really telling that some people think quality tenant = wealthy. I know more than a few wealthy peops whom I love dearly that I'd like to send their way.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 21, 2013 at 10:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@lucas: All good observations, but expecting housing to be offered by a private developer at a price below the cost of construction doesn't provide a realistic solution.

DrDan? ETR? Awfully quiet out there.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 10:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"although real estate investment consultants recommend landlords charge no more than an average one week salary as rent"

I think you have that one a little backwards Lucas. Real Estate Pros recommend renting to tenants that have incomes 4 times or more of the proposed rent. But in this area, that level should come down to 3 times. The market dictates the rent. The tenant's income dictates their qualifications to rent. So real estate pros will always recommend that landlords charge only market rates for their properties, however they recommend renting to people with a combined income of no less than 3 times the proposed rent.

Any Real Estate consultant that recommends charging rents based upon only what they think people can afford will not survive in this business. If a landlord charges higher than market rents, his property will sit vacant. If a landlord charges lower than market rents, he will be swamped with applicants.

Any landlord worth his salt will always keep an eye on the market rents for the type of property he has to rent. If one of his/her units becomes available, he/she will pretty much know how much he/she will be able to rent the unit to a quality tenant for.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 10:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Actually all the landlords thinking they can get a ransom for a dump with a view is what really jacks up rates.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 11:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What really jacks up rates is demand far in excess of supply and desires that exceed affordability.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 1:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Bingo John. Many lefties have difficulty with free market concepts such as supply and demand.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 1:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

gotta go with KV on this, unscrupulous landlords are part of this problem. For "free market fundamentalists" like JL and Botany it's all just supply and demand, a wild view that Adam Smith's invisible hand will make it all work out. Not.
I don't know enough about the economics of this to suggest the "how" if affordable housing.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 2:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan: Sounds like you don't know economics at all. Based on your posts, I'm not surprised that you're not a solution-oriented guy, more like a "someone else should fix this" kinda guy. Why not just give it some thought. If you're enough of an expert to complain about it, you must have SOME thoughts on "how".

Here's one: let the gov own all the housing and decide who lives where. Yeah. That's the ticket. They could do that by controlling rents to the point that all the landlords go broke, then take over the housing. And thereby advertise to all that SB not only provides unlimited aid to the homeless, but also free housing! And who would pay for that? The remaining homeowners, who couldn't begin to afford the bill. So they'd have to abandon their homes, leaving even more free housing. But then if the housing is free, why work? ETc. ETc. That wall came down in 1989.

Now please, get serious and talk about possible solutions rather than complaining and then wimping out.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 2:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's a thought. Much of the local rental property is owned by out-of-town interests and virtually all of the rental property is ultimately managed by relatively few property management firms. That gives the property managers a signifcant advantage in knowledge of the rental market (what's available, how much, who rented where, etc.) and I'd bet a lot they share data just like insurance companies do. And of course they act in the best interest of the owner as regards rent.

What if there were no property managers? You own it? Want to rent it out? You manage it yourself and deal directly with the renter. Puts the owner on a much more level playing field with the renter. Eliminates a certain type of individual from the ownership pool (the hands-off types). And eliminates the 15 or so % that the owner pays the manager. Combine that with a decent renters' rights law and I'd bet rents would drop like a stone.

Sound good? Anyone see the glaring problem herein?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 2:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh John, I don't have to be an "expert" -- that's your thing, right? And you put words in others' mouths, you are so wonderfully knowledgeable. E.g., "let the gov own all the housing and decide who lives where." Clearly, that's stupid, but you need this straw horse to get on your own horse.
I haven't heard YOU answer Lucas's last post (except "good points. that is also insufficient).
No, I do not have to propose an affordable housing plan, I read the orig. article and commented... you seem to think I haven't got the right to do that. Not sorry; get used to it, JL.
Obama stated yesterday: "we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it."

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 2:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan: higher estate taxes are just another way to punish the successful. And wealth "redistribution" is just the Left's way of saying wealth "transfer".

I too believe we need more teachers (and fewer prison guards - killing the 3 strikes law should help that). And I'm glad we agree on higher taxes for all, or at the least for the middle class. There's a big problem with accomplishing that through the reduction in deductions though - that method benefits the wealthy most and penalizes those in high tax states most. An increase in rates is much better. A 1% increase in income taxes on middle class (est 75% of the taxpayers) would yield $???? I'm having a hard time determining how much because most studies quote household income instead of total income across households. Great article on this in the Economist a few weeks ago. It's just arithmetic.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 3 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'd vote for Locke's plan.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 3:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

New data. The top 50% of the taxpayers (note this does not count income from those who pay no taxes, primarily at the low end of the income spectrum) earn $6,800,000,000,000 per year (IRS data) or 12% of the US total. Increasing taxes by1% of that would yield $68,000,000,000. The federal gov alone costs $10,000,000,000 per day to run (cbs news data). So that 1% increase would run the fedgov for 6.8 days. Not much of a fix there.

By contrast, the top 5% of the taxpayers earn $2,500,000,000,000 (32% of the total). A 3% increase there (per the new tax bill) would yield $75,000,000,000 or 7.5 days of fedgov operation.Not much of a fix there either.

If this math is correct then our problem is a whole lot bigger than anyone is letting on. Anyone????

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks, K_V.

DrDan, of course you CAN comment all you like. First Amendment, ya know. IMO the most precious of all. And of course you don't HAVE to propose an affordable housing plan - my straw horse was an intentionally exaggerated (well, not really, the USSR did it for years) socialist-style plan to get some discussion going. And rather than complaining about who I haven't responded to, I'm just suggesting you provide more solution-oriented commentary and less sarcasm.

I don't consider myself an expert, although I do have a minor in Economics and have lived in 10 locations of the country with a variety of housing and housing laws over the past 35 years. Gives me a bit of insight into what has worked well and not.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 3:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And DrDan, if you've lived in the same place (i.e. SB) for 26 years, then I submit you have an extremely narrow world view. SB is a tiny little piece of paradise (beauty and climate) that millions of people would happily live in at outrageous rents and in which our local government acts to minimize building of new residential housing. That just might have something to do with cost of real estate and therefore rentals. Add in the entitlement mentality so common in California and we have the current discussion.

And what did you think of my proposal re property managers?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 3:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

In support of Lucas' comments about quality of rentals, I live on a street where several homeowners offer "illegal" rentals, which I think is generally understood to mean relatively low rent. In one case in particular, the owner had 3 (!) units in his house, they were awful, and one tenant complained to the City. The City sent out an inspector who demanded that the units be "brought up to spec" (whatever that means). The owner refused, saying the City had no authority over his units since they weren't approved in the first place (!), saying even so he couldn't afford to "bring the units to spec" at the rents he was charging, evicted all his tenants, and stopped renting to anyone. So in this case the "process" intended to protect tenants from abuses eliminated three rental units from the housing stock. Lousy ones for sure, but still a roof at low cost. So without judging the moral character of the owner under discussion or raining abuse on his behavior, was this a good outcome of the "process"? How might the "process" be changed to avoid such situations.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 4:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

JL - have spent 6 years out of this country; lived 2 years in Germany (have friends who love their rent control in Berlin!), lived 1 year in Greece. "Narrow" is a relative term of course, my worldview is fairly parochial still, sorry to say, but am working on it. Can you see beyond your hard right capitalist views??
I like this idea about cutting out the middleman, JL, the property managers. You own it, you rent it and deal with the tenants yourself.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 4:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Just a comment about "illegal" rentals. Just because a rental is illegal, doesn't mean it's substandard. If some rents out a completely separate 2 bedroom 2 bath guest house on his property, it may be considered an "illegal" rental just because the way the property is zoned. Some of these guest houses rent out at hefty rents and are fairly luxurious.

That's a completely different issue than if someone converts rooms in an apartment or a garage into separate living space.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 4:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hard right capitalist views? Well, as Ronald Reagan used to say "there you go again" making unwarranted assumptions. Where do you get this stuff? You still haven't answered a similar question about your unfounded assumption regarding me being a gun lover. C'mon, man. Step up.

I'm hardly hard right, DrDan, just demanding of hard logic and reason. I'm more of a centrist, in favor of abortion rights, means testing for government giveaways, maximum individual responsibility and maximum individual freedom and not in favor of ending Medicare or Social Security. And BTW this is far from a pure capitalist country.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2013 at 5:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"...which I think is generally understood to mean relatively low rent." The big problem with SB is that phrase,"generally understood." Illegal dumps cost the same as legal dumps. While illegal is not automatically substandard, they almost always are. Again the exception does not invalidate the rule. (Otherwise you begin to sound like the foolish high student who, in the face of all the evidence of the health risks of smoking, steadfastly maintains it is all bunk because HIS two-pack-a-day uncle lived to be 94).

SB landlords generally have the process backwards. First you determine a fair rent, then you qualify the tenant. You do not require an unfair rent and then require the tenant to make 3 times the rent. The landlord who told me that it was perfectly reasonable to expect it would take two wage earners to afford her 1/1. Really?

And what about the single mom working as a receptionist in your doctor's office and making $15/hour? The most she can qualify to pay is $880. She cannot afford to live in Ventura or Lompoc and commute. She cannot afford the extra child care the commute time would require. Maybe she can find a "sympathetic" landlord who will "allow" her to spend at least 50% of her gross income on rent for a crummy rental.

Even business relationships need to be fair, not exploitative. Landlords should charge what they would be happy to pay if they were a tenant and provide a home they themselves would want to live in, and tenants should be the clean, quiet, and faithful tenant they would want if they were a landlord.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 7:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A couple corrections to "JohnLocke's" figurin', above:

First, Obama's 2% raise of income tax for the top 2% was presented (at least) in February 2012 upon submission of the 2012-2013 Budget. So no 'morphing' has occured:

:: "...(actually, it was 1% before he was re-elected, then morphed into 2%) ... " -- JohnLocke, January 21, 2013 at 5:55 p.m.

- - -

And I think "JohnLocke's" budget, income, and tax revenue figures are correct, but as a "solution-oriented" businessman you must recognize these are *additional* revenues being raised, which would apply toward the deficits.

The additional tax revenues are useful far beyond whatever the cost of government per day figures you cite -- which is not germane to raising funds to offset a shortfall.

In simplest terms, if we are 'losing' $1 per taxpayer, and taxes are raised $2, all expenses/costs remaining the same would result in a $1 'profit' per taxpayer.

Here's your faulty conclusions:

:: "So that 1% increase would run the fedgov for 6.8 days. Not much of a fix there."

- and -

:: "If this math is correct then our problem is a whole lot bigger than anyone is letting on. Anyone????"
- - JohnLocke, January 22, 2013 at 3:30 p.m.

binky (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So much bickering over trivial stuff, meanwhile...
the federal government, in collusion with Wall Street is robbing you all into poverty. Here's how:

The federal government has been funding the mortgage market since 1970. Much of the real estate appreciation since then can be accounted for by the governments role. The system employed is a pyramid scheme, or a ponzi scheme if you prefer. It finally crashed in 2007. However, instead of fixing the problem (which would have benefited the public and collapsed the banking industry) our politicians (who ultimately work for the banking industry) decided to prop up the entire pyramid.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac upped their mortgage limit from 417K to 729K to afford the expensive markets like SB. The federal reserve then bought trillions of dollars of the toxic mortgage backed securities. Now the FHA is offering loan guarantees on up to a million dollars with almost nothing down, and "streamlined" financing.
Each of these agencies is effectively bankrupt, the the federal government continues to prop them up to prevent the depreciation of housing values. But their inventory of foreclosed properties is increasing and will continue to increase because 20% of their mortgage portfolio is underwater.
So why is housing not affordable? Because the federal government is now using these agencies to ration the inventory of available properties so that prices stay high. This is because most of the banking industry is leveraged on this fictional equity.
People now waiting for government provided "affordable" housing might be able to buy discounted foreclosures instead, but these properties are not available for purchase by the public. Why? Because they are being "auctioned" in bulk to Wall Street firms (see articles). Presumably, instead of being able to purchase a house you can afford, you will be able to rent it from a private equity fund that is a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs.
Fair is fair in capitalism, right? But it's not. Why? Primarily because the private equity funds accumulating these properties don't have to pay for them. The same federal agencies that are accumulating the inventory of foreclosures are funding these groups to "purchase" the properties.
How can this happen in a democracy? Try asking your congress person. I did, and the reply was a form letter pledging loyalty to the Federal Reserve.
In conclusion, the reason housing is not affordable is because the federal government is in control of the mortgage market. "Affordable housing" as provided by any special provisions is a form a rationing designed to placate the suffering public.

native2sb (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 9:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It sounds like the rantings of a crackpot conspiracy theorist.
Maybe, but here is a prediction for 2013.
Within the next few months, the question of whether to bail out the FHA will become a political football. A story will be made up about how the FHA is helping to prevent foreclosures and it will receive a several-hundred-billion dollar bailout.
However, keep in mind that FHA mortgage insurance doesn't guarantee that defaulters get to keep the house, it just guarantees that the bank will get 100% of it's loan back. The FHA then auctions the distressed loans to collection agencies and private equity investors.

native2sb (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 10:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@binky- thanks for the commentary, but my point re running the gov for just a few days was to emphasize what a minor effect the tax increase on the top 2% would have. Income taxes are about 40% of fedgov revenue. So my point stands.

@lucas: Rents are set by supply and demand. But in SB, supply and demand are manipulated in a number of ways.

First: on the supply side, local government, supported by local activists (including NIMBYs) and CEQA, has restricted the supply of housing by granting few permits. And I daresay they have done nothing to ensure that landlords stay up to code - seems to be a pattern of passing regs with no enforcement capability. Big scandal in SB a while back - owners of "affordable", e.g. subsidized, housing were selling their homes at full market value in spite of rules forbidding it - why? - no enforcement. And of course those "affordable" homes are no longer "affordable".

Second: In SB, as in CA in general, the landlords were given a huge gift in the form of Prop 13, which essentially froze their property taxes, just like homeowners', while allowing rents to seek "market value". This has allowed landlords to increase rents much more than their property tax increases since 1978 - 34 years. Since rental property value is determined by the rent generated, the value of rental property has soared, giving landlords an opportunity to sell and book profit as long term capital gains - another tax benefit. But the new landlord now has a much higher tax bill and must increase the rent to cover that expense. Unless Prop 13 is fixed, this will continue. It's just arithmetic.

Third: a second effect of Prop 13 was to anchor families, including inheritees, to their homes, thus effectively removing those homes from the resale market and decreasing the supply of homes. Home prices and rental property prices have a connection - cost of rent vs cost to buy - so as the cost of housing rises, so do rentals, in the long run. Unless Prop 13 is fixed, this will continue. It's just arithmetic combined with the perfectly normal self-interested actions of the homeowner who passes his house to his children without a tax reset (as is done in other states).

Now on the demand side, SB has lost many private sector, so-called "middle class" jobs as companies have moved to more business-friendly climes (which also have lower housing costs). Our local and state gov has does virtually nothing to stem the flow, much less to attract new jobs. Yet the SB population has remained constant for at least 10 years. How can this be? I'll leave that up to the next poster.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 12:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

JL,assuming your analysis of factors outside supply and demand as correct, you lend weight to the unsustainability of current conditions in SB.

One of the many valuation metrics is based on rents. Landlords who bought property relatively recently failed to consider all the metrics wholistically and paid too much, creating for themselves the conundrum where fair, Golden Rules rents put them in a negative cash flow position. The high rents could possibly be tolerated with less resentment if at least landlords fulfilled their landlord obligations. But as you point out, with lack of enforcement, and also the unacceptable risk to tenants who "complain," SB rentals are generally in terrible shape. You see, landlords characterize tenants who notify, as trouble-making complainers.

Job loss: that is easy. Look around. Middle class jobs have been replaced by lower-paying service jobs. Do Santa Barbara landlords really want all these employees (read: tenants) to become commuters (as some posters have suggested)? If these employees followed the landlord advice in this thread, they would leave. And that would be great, right? Because then there would competition and rent would have to come down and landlords would have to provide decent housing to get a tenant. Then maybe SB, a very sick community, would have a chance to recover health.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 3:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

People who keep putting "supply and demand" out there as an supposedly acceptable response to the Golden Rule are defending a very strange and possibly unethical position.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 3:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Within a mile of the corner of Anapamu and Castillo, 72.37 % of the residents were renters in 2000, and there is no reason to think that percentage has change appreciably (

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 3:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

lucas, much as you might like to, you're not gonna change the laws of supply and demand - the idea that people who have invested in rental property will operate by the Golden Rule is simply ludicrous, whatever you think they "should" do.

The landlords who bought at high prices did so knowing that they could raise rents to cover their purchase - it was not some mistake on their part. In fact, if you were to try to purchase a rental property today using a mortgage instead of all cash, you'd find that the rent doesn't cover expense of operation, taxes, interest, and amortization. Been that way as long as I've lived here If you purchase for cash, the net yields are maybe 4% on investment - the investors count on increases in price due to rental increases. You want to try to change this, look at my postings regarding cause and effect.

When you say "job loss, that's easy", I think you missed my point. Middle income jobs left here because the companies found it too expensive to operate here, in part because wages for those jobs were high here compared to other places. And yes, of course that left lower wage jobs here.

Golden Rule rents are a delusion. Perhaps instead of complaining about the natural economic behavior of landlords you might contribute some potential solutions. I have done so - one is a much-needed change to Prop 13; another is the elimination of property managers from the equation.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 4:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I like your ideas on this matter JL. I do think there should be a differentiation between a property management company and a property manager.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 4:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You are of course right, it is ludicrous to expect people operate fairly with each other. The monotheistic religions call it the problem of sin. But if we just give up, we as a society are totally lost. One of the main functions of law is to protect the weak, and encourage fairness, precisely because the "natural economic behavior of landlords" (among others with a power advantage) is exploitative. As you point out, the few laws in place are unenforced. I see the simultaneous holding of inconsistent opinions in many of the comments in this thread.

And actually wages here are not very much higher than elsewhere, as you will see if you compare median wages. In an "enclave of the rich," the median wage is only a little higher than the US median. In fact, wages are so bad in SB, that the city passed an ordinance recently requiring contractors who win a city bid to pay their employees a "living wage," which the city set at a maximum of $15.12 per hour (at least for the hours worked on a city project).

Construction costs are not higher here than elsewhere. Wages are not higher, materials are not higher. What may be higher, but I cannot be sure, is the cost of the permits, but overall, construction costs are not higher.

The big question is why does the Chapala/Guttierez condo developer refuse to sell at what are apparently "market" rates a lot less than his asking price. And why are the developers of the other Chapala condo projects outpricing residents? The only people who will be able to buy are outsiders, completely undermining developer's (and landlord's) stated goals of NOT wanting to encourage more people to come to SB.

It seems to me that residents with jobs in SB should get first crack at these places, then employees living elsewhere, then outsiders.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 5:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

see, lucas, JL assumes "the laws of supply and demand" are eternal and "you're not gonna change the laws of supply and demand". Thus, there is no reasoning with him and his ultra-materialistic thinking. Capitalism most of the way.
Lucas has a good angle with, "The big question is why does the Chapala/Guttierez condo developer refuse to sell at what are apparently "market" rates a lot less than his asking price"?
Oh that's right, JL, the law is not there to protect the weak but rather to sanctify the godlike law of supply and demand. It makes for a suffering society, but that's right JL, that's not your problem, is it?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 6:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh, please, lucas. It is not ludicrous to expect people to treat each other fairly. But in this context your definition of "fair" would lead inexorably to landlords operating at a loss, and eventually to an even lower supply of rental property and an even bigger problem. Look at the history of rent controls in NYC and Montgomery County Maryland for good long term examples - a long term decline in rental units and a pattern of conversion from rental to condo. Construction costs here are no higher than anywhere else? Absolutely untrue. Do your research. Or ask any property insurance company that operates nationwide. Giving locals "first crack" at properties? At what price? A price defined by you? By some government bureaucrat? And what if there are more locals who want "first crack" then there are properties to be had (which is virtually guaranteed).

"Ultra-materialistic thinking", DrDan?. "Godlikelaw of supply and demand"? - Well yeah, it kinda IS universal. But there you go again, confusing a debating point with a moral code and mixing insults into what could be a civilized debate. Are you and lucas implying that "the law" should force the developer of the C/G condo project to sell at a loss? I don't think "the law" can force him to sell at all. And if you do think "the law" should be able to do so, then we have a debate on some MUCH bigger topics. Like individual freedom. Unlawful confiscation of property.

Not believing the law of supply and demand is like not believing in gravity. It exists whether you choose to believe it or not - and you ignore it at your peril, just like gravity. As I posted earlier, you want to cause prices to fall, increase supply and reduce demand. To quote President Obama, it's just arithmetic.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 7:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I thought the law was there to protect everyone. "Equal protection under the law". Isn't that what we are promised?

Nixon tried to subvert supply and demand when he instituted wage and price controls. All we got in return were shortages.

And construction costs are way higher here. Partially because of more regulation and partially because of higher labor costs.

And what's this fixation with getting developers to sell for less than market prices and landlords to rent for less than market rates? You'd have better luck going to your local gas station and asking if they will sell you gas at $2 per gallon. It makes just about as much sense.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 10:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany, these folks have a radically different world view than the one this country was founded on and no understanding of the concept of private property. They are perfect examples of the entitlement mentality that is crippling California and some other areas of the country. You know, "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine too".

You mean old landlord, you should be glad to rent me a property at whatever I consider a fair rent, even if you lose money, and eventually your property, by so doing. You'll feel so much better. And besides, you shouldn't have paid so much in the first place. I'm sure they would gladly buy property and rent it at a loss under their "Golden Rule" theory. Yeah. Right.

They clearly have absolute no clue what ownership, financing, taxes, maintenance, cost of construction, and yes, gasp, supply and demand, have to do with rents in the real world. Whenever faced with data and logic, they revert to insults of the "you heartless bastard" variety. They've spent too many years in the "reality distortion zone" and listened to too many lefty professors and too many lefty politicians promising a chicken (or cheap rent) in every pot. And now, God help us, we've got Obama, who seems breathtakingly ignorant of even the most basic economics, egging them on.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 10:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Native2SB also made some good points as to the cost of rent and housing. House prices and apartment rents ARE related. The decision to buy or rent can change the supply and demand equilibrium. GSE support for the mortgage market, the mortgage interest deduction and favorable tax rules all serve to keep prices (and rents along with them) high. Without the bailout of Fannie, Freddie and the banks, prices and rents would very likely be lower. And of course, prop 13 plays a part as well.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 10:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Nixon tried to subvert supply and demand when he instituted wage and price controls. All we got in return were shortages."
Botany (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2013 at 10:23 p.m.

Let's not forget his move--known as the "Nixon Shock"--where he got us off the gold standard.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 3:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, and that's why Prop 13 came into play. Along with the out of control inflation came gigantic increases in property tax rates. Prop 13 was the solution to that.

The out of control inflation continued through the Ford and Carter years culminating with $800 gold in 1980. Only the tight money policies of Volcker and Reagan ended it.

In fact, I also didn't mention this a consideration in the rise in prices and rents. But inflation (or anticipation thereof) also has a large effect on prices (and therefore rents) of Real Estate. There's a reason gold is at $1650 per ounce now. Real Estate is behind the curve at this point. Don't be surprised if the situation with prices and rents gets worse. Affordability for Real Estate is actually pretty good right now. (at least for purchasing)

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 4:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

sounding kinda desperate there, JL, going all the way back to that lefty President FDR "promising a chicken (or cheap rent) in every pot."! I do not think you're a 'heartless bastard,' many of your posts have been very thoughtful. You are crippled by your lack of compassion for others less fortunate than your oh-so-educated and oh-so-materialistic self. Smell the coffee: it's 2013, not 1789. Your unadulterated worship of your holy "sense of private property" distorts your own worldview.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 5:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

JL, your words: "the idea that people who have invested in rental property will operate by the Golden Rule is simply ludicrous." Your words again: "It is not ludicrous to expect people to treat each other fairly." Internally inconsistent.

MY definition of fair? I do not know what you are imagining my definition of fair to be since I have told you straight out it is the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. In the present context, this means landlords should treat tenants as they would like to be treated if they were tenants. What you are really saying is people should treat each other fairly, unless doing so is unprofitable for the guy with the power advantage.

I have done my research (as you know from my previous comments). I have shopped out quotes for several projects: 1) total renovation of a fixers 2) restoration of 100-year-old houses 3)total demolition and rebuilding 4) build from scratch on vacant land. The most expensive of these types of projects comes to no more than $300,000 (based on good quality, durable materials, not so-called "high end"). In addition, these condo projects benefit from economies of scale, bulk buying discounts and division of land cost among all the units. These Chapala condos could easily be offered at fair prices relative to the wage demographics of residents at fair profits to the developer. The question remains. Why are developers pricing out the most readily available market in a town desperately in need of "workforce" housing?

"what's this fixation with getting developers to sell for less than market prices?" Isn't the developer's asking price higher than market price if he cannot sell his condos? Interesting how when tenants are compelled to pay unreasonably high rents to put a roof over their heads, those rents are "market" rents. But in the context of true choice, when people choose not to pay the unreasonably high asking prices of these condos, they are refusing to pay "market" prices. Again, internally inconsistent.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 7:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Isn't the developer's asking price higher than market price if he cannot sell his condos?"

That's the first thing you've said that makes any sense. If he can't sell them at that price, yes he is asking for a price above the market price.

And if I try to rent out a 1 bedroom apt. for $2500 the same thing will happen. But it's my choice as a landlord to try to do so if I wish. And that's the beauty of the free market. You can always go buy or rent from someone else if you choose to do so.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 7:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You say, "That's the first thing you've said that makes any sense. If he can't sell them at that price, yes he is asking for a price above the market price." And yet earlier, you criticized me (and others for having a "fixation with getting developers to sell for less than market prices?" for suggesting that the unsold condos were overpriced. This circular reasoning is pointless.

You are also implying that my number one main idea, that people (including landlords) should treat others (including tenants) as they would like to be treated makes no sense. In such an unreasonable environment, no useful discourse is possible.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 8:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I think we all have said everything we want to say. Many comments ago, this comment succinctly summed up the problem, "There are two Golden Rules, and I'm betting you each try to live by one of them."

Those who try to live by treating others as they would like to be treated will never see eye-to-eye with those who imply that he who has the gold makes the rules or those who imply that the Golden Rule (the non-cynical one) is fine unless it is unprofitable.

However, in my experience, those who put money motivations aside and follow the Golden Rule, find the money follows and expensive problems decrease.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 9:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No, you missed again. There's a difference between above market prices, market prices and below market prices. Developers are notorious for trying to keep their prices above market. Again, that's their choice. Most landlords don't do that however. They want their units rented at the market price. If they ask too , they sit empty. Landlords usually don't try to keep their units empty long. I sure don't. I have had about a 1% vacancy rate on my units.

But you think I should rent at below market rates because that's the way others want to be treated and that's the way they should treat me? Let me ask you this. What if there's a huge plumbing leak? What if a big crack is discovered in the foundation? What if there's an earthquake and the building is damaged? Can I count on the golden rule to have my tenants come to my rescue?

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 9:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

lucas, give it up reasoning with Botany, his thoughts never change.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 10:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You're right Dan. There really is something the matter with me. I should be willing to take all the risks and let those without any willingness to take risks get all the benefits..

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"You are crippled by your lack of compassion for others less fortunate than your oh-so-educated and oh-so-materialistic self." But not a "heartless bastard".

Back to the personal insults. I'm done with this thread.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 11:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Generally, a property owner insures against risk. Landlords generally pass the cost of the property insurance onto tenants through rent. This is true whether the rents are exorbitant or forced to be in sync with the income of typical tenants due to supply and demand.

Landlords should be obligated to provide decent housing for the rent they collect, whatever the amount. In return, tenants should be clean, quiet and leave the property undamaged. The quibbling about "market" rent is a distraction in a town where so many landlords are not fulfilling their obligation to provide decent housing.

I suppose it could be argued that supply and demand in SB does nothing to ensure that landlords fulfill their responsibility. People need housing so bad that they rent sub-standard units. And recent events have taught us that tenants take at least one big risk. They pay rent, but may have no idea the landlord is not paying on the underlying loan until the sheriff shows up.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 4:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

OK, I can't resist one more comment. I agree that housing and rents are high here. In most of the free world, outside your vision of a Peoples' Republic of Santa Barbara where there are those that insist that the cost of living be made affordable so they can continue to live here, people understand that if you can't afford to live wherever, you move to where you can. There are no birthrights or guarantees of affordable housing in this country. It was tried in Soviet Russia - ever see a Soviet-style working class apartment? And BTW the system failed.

"Quibbling" about market rent is like "quibbling" about gravity, unless you really believe in a socialist system, which appears to be the case.

And I've still not heard anything regarding a workable system for dealing with the affordable housing problem, although I've made several specific proposals and asked several specific questions of lucas and DrDan (failing to accept the laws of supply and demand and invoking an unenforcable Golden Rule on landlords just don't count). Instead we have continued repetition of accusations of poor moral character, greed, and the assorted usual crap ascribed to the financially responsible by the Takers, which simply supports my earlier comments regarding those who only complain vs those who propose solutions. And Yes, I do consider someone who insists on remaining here where they cannot afford to live instead of leaving for an affordable clime to be financially irresponsible.

Some might say that those who expect gifts they did not earn are those with poor moral character.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 5:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have already stipulated for the sake of argument that we accept the so-called market rent rate. What about the pervasive landlord irresponsibility in fulfilling their obligation in exchange for that market rent?

I suggested that the condo developers ask market prices for their condos, and the response was that developers are loathe to do so, and would rather leave their units empty than sell for what buyers are willing to offer.

JL asked me for citations and I provided many, and about construction costs which I also addressed. I do not know what to do when supply and demand works against tenants to the benefit of landlords when renting, and somehow works against them again when they try to buy. It seems to overcome gravity in some cases.

If it has not happened yet, I do not see how your suggestion of a decent renter's law can come to pass in SB's landlord environment. They would not like to see their "rents fall like a stone" and would probably fight it tooth and nail, relying on many of the same arguments in these comments. How dare we legislate fairness! But as you point out, many people do not follow the Golden Rule voluntarily, especially if it means leaving some money on the table.

Santa Barbara would probably be very unhappy if all those who cannot afford to live here actually left. As the saying goes, careful what you wish for.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 7 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Some might say that those who expect gifts they did not earn are those with poor moral character."

Fair enough. However, it would be foolish to speak in generalities regarding which group (landlords or tenants) has done more to earn that which they expect.

RonPowers (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 8:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@DrDan: but a chicken in every pot is exactly what you and yours seek. Fact that goes back to FDR is irrevelant.

@lucas: on your post reconstruction costs, as I recall you indicated a $300,000 price point. was this a remodel or new construction? How many square feet? What was the cost of the land or land plus structure to be remodelled. Goes to total investment and expected return. And the $64 question - what rent do you think the property should command. And there is another revealing question you did not answer; should the developers be compelled by government edict to sell at any price?

As I said quite a few posts ago, the landlords were given a HUGE gift by the voters of California in 1978 when Prop 13 was passed for both individuals and businesses. BTW, the voters were the ones who forced this bill on the legislature (be careful what you wish for). The benefits of Prop 13 were originally supposed to be for the CURRENT owners of homes, not for inheritees and not for businesses. I you want to spend some energy actually trying to solve the problem, then go push on the gov to fix Prop 13 back to what it was originally intended for.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2013 at 8:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have shopped out estimates for a modest 2/1, good quality durable remodel and new construction on its own land. The maximum estimate (labor and materials only) was $300,000. Because of the reasons I stated, the cost per cost per condo unit should be less. I tried to apply it specifically to the condo projects which were under discussion. I accounted for land in the original comment.

"According to government data, the average salary for jobs in Santa Barbara, California is $39,853, and the median income of households in Santa Barbara was $61,182."

Taking the higher number just for argument's sake, (even though the typical tenant makes less than that), someone making that amount could qualify if the rent for a 2/1 were no more than $1700. Problem is whether the rent is fair or not, most tenants are not getting what they are paying for. I have already described all of the unit conditions that should bring the rent down, but usually does not. Most of the 2/1 units advertised on craigslist have so many problems that the rent should probably no more than $1300. 1/1 and studios are in even worse shape, and should be proportionately less.

Commuting does not help. Ventura is about 30 miles away. Using the conservative IRS allowance of 56.5 cents per mile, a month of round trips costs $745, and that is not considering time costs or additional child care costs. Perhaps it may be possible to rent a 2/1 in Ventura for $1200 (per craigslist). Add the commute cost and it is obvious why tenants whose SB jobs do not actually pay them enough to afford an SB apartment try to make it work anyway. And what if the tenant's employer puts them on a split schedule, a common practice of (for example) retailers and in-home health care companies who pay less than most other employers and employ an awful lot of single parents. I wish landlords could walk a mile in their tenant's shoes.

Sorry, I did not consider the question about forcing developers to sell an honest one. Of course they are free to reject "market" offers and continue to lose money to carrying costs. That being the case, it is hard to know what to do.

A lot of 2/1 houses are put on the market by heirs. As you say, they are sitting on the books with assessments of maybe $50,000. If move-in ready, they are worth no more than about $450,000. A case in point is 410 Ruth. AFTER undergoing extensive work following a fire, it was recently appraised at $435,000 (pretty much the entire house was rebuilt). Most of these 2/1 houses are dilapidated fixers like 408 W. De La Guerra, recently on the market for $475,000. Like the condo developers, these heirs seem to have no reasonable idea what the market value of their houses are. Like the heir who sold 1121 Walnut, first asked $580K, then $500K, rejected $450k, $400K, $350K, and finally sold for $325K.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2013 at 1:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If you slap "Santa Barbara" on it you can always double the price.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The concept of "fair" doesn't exist in the housing market. There is only "market price" or "market rent". That is what (almost) all landlords operate under. Generally speaking, they don't choose what the rent is going to be, the market does that for them. And salaries are only meaningful in that they have an effect on the supply and demand equilibrium.

And I hate to tell you this, but both market prices and market rents are rising. The housing market is incredibly hot in the under $600K range right now. Prices are higher than they were a year ago even if you can find what you're looking for. Chances are you will be outbid by some hotshot with all cash who will pay more than asking price. So if you think things are "unfair" now, chances are they will get "unfairer".

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2013 at 1:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@lucas: I'm still a bit confused on the $300,000. was that the total selling price for a remodelled home? Or the cost of the remodel on top of land and original home in need of remodel.

In any case, take the $325K number you mentioned. Rent at 1700/month would yield $20,400 in rent, less $3250 in tax, less whatever maintenance (which should be low if its a fresh remodel, decently done, new baths, etc.but rule of thumb is 1%) say net income 20400-3250-3250 = $13900 per year. So if you were to buy that $325,000 house and rent it for $1700, you'd net 13900 on a 325,000 investment, or 4.3%, less any tax effects. Fair return? (FedGov Treasury Bonds pay 5.275% with no risk and no landlord headaches).

If you had to finance the purchase, say 70% at 8% (recently quoted for rental property), the interest would be $18200. So a rent of $1700 yields the owner a net loss of $4300 year. Rent of $2060 would yield the owner a $20 PER YEAR profit on his net investment of $97,500 (325000 price less 227500 mortgage), or a return of .02% (two tenths of one percent).

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2013 at 6:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Between my tenant numbers and your landlord numbers, we have quantified pretty well the "fairness" gap.

On top of your calculations, that $325K would have been a crummy rental in the condition it was in when sold. I doubt even the most desperate tenant would have rented it for $2060. It needed a bunch of deferred maintenance. Perhaps investors need to count the cost (as you have done) before they buy, and realize that even $325K was too much. Sellers also need to be more realistic. Moot point, the house was recently completely demolished and its wonderful garden destroyed. And as Botany points out, apparently it is not too hard to get a "greater fool" to buy at "unfairer" prices.

At least that $325K place was habitable. The unrealistic heir selling 408 W De La Guerra wants $475K for a completely uninhabitable 2/1 house. The problem is even more obvious when considering the comparable 2/1 at 410 Ruth which was recently appraised at $435K in its fixed-up state. Unless the city requires 408 to be restored, it could also end up demolished.

Another investor bought 132 W Haley for $350K,and it is move-in ready. It is a 1/1 with no parking and barely fits within the required set-backs on its .05 acre lot. That investor tried to rent it for $3000/month. Yeah, right. On the other hand, I have met investors who have one or more rentals for the express purpose of taking the maximum allowed $25,000 loss.

As I said, the $300,000 was the maximum estimate for work and materials for the types of projects I described. Merely deferred maintenance comes in at a lot less.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 9:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

As I said, there is no "fair" and "unfair" in Real Estate. You can call these buyers "greater fools" for buying. But through most of the last 50 years, the "greater fools" were the ones that didn't buy. I suspect many of these "greater fools" are actually savvy buyers that will be in the catbird's seat 10 years from now. I know many don't agree, but affordability is high and prices are reasonable in historic terms (relative to Santa Barbara). And with the prospect of QE giving us some decent inflation down the road, Santa Barbara Real Estate could be a sweet investment at these levels. What was a fairly dead real estate market a year ago has really turned around.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 10:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@lucas, I conclude from our exchange that you simply believe the landlords paid too much for the property to be able to charge what you consider a "fair" rent. If that $325K house was torn down, then my guess is the purchaser bought it for the land, which indicates a land price of $325K minus teardown costs, and will build something more expensive.

Apparently we're have trouble communicating on the $300K example. Does that number represent the total value of the land, the pre-exising house, and the remodel? or just the remodel?

I have considered buying rental property several times during the 15 years I've lived here and it was always priced so a to lose money (or break even) on the rent and count on price appreciation (long term gains) for profit. I've never bought such property and been proven wrong repeatedly. One place I looked at sold at 100% profit after 5 years of ownership - guess what happened to the rents after that sale?

Housing is relatively cheap in SB now thanks to the recession. It will only go up from here. It's all supply and demand. UCSB students are paying upwards of $700 for one half a bedroom in a 2 bedroom apartment. That's $2800 for the whole apartment. And students are supposed to be low income!

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 11:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Unfortunately, students are too young and inexperienced to realize the effects of their decisions. From their isolated point of view, $700 seems cheap compared to paying $1000 for a studio. However, they do not realize that the landlord sees it as market rent of $2800 for a 2/1 which prices out the single parent I referred to earlier.

Fortunately, most landlords realize the ridiculousness of the situation, and generally charge in a range of $1500 to $1900 for the usual 2/1 regardless of what a group of students end up paying in the aggregate. Sometimes it means landlords are partial to students over the single parent applicants. And as a bonus, that same inexperience often makes students less than savvy, always a positive attribute for the landlord.

As far as the $325K place goes, you are speculating, whereas I actually possess specific knowledge. And I have shown by comparable 2/1 places that $325K was too much. You are correct that the owner is going to have to persuade the city to let him build something more than a replacement 2/1 if he expects to avoid a loss. And he will not be able to take advantage of "legal nonconforming" status.

I am getting tired of typing. Please refer to my previous comments about the $300K. I do not see what is unclear about maximum estimate for "work and materials".

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 4:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with your comment about students being too young and inexperienced to realize the effects of their decisions. I'd apply the same comment to how they vote. After all, recent research indicates the brain is not fully formed until age 25.

Your previous responses about the $300K have all been incomplete. It's not a hard question. Is the $300K for labor and materials just for the remodel or does the $300K include the cost of land and the preremodeled house? If just for the remodel then how much more is the land and preremodeled house? This is the same question I've asked the last three times. Makes a BIG difference in total value/cost and potential rent.

As far as the $325 K place goes, I was not speculating. I was simply demonstrating the real world cost of owning, paying taxes, maintenance, and potentially interest on such a place. For any economically rational owner, that sets a floor on the rent he will accept.

Sorry you're tired of typing. Completely answering a question the first time could help with that. This may be the longest string of posts in Indy history!

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 5:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

ha, JL, I'd certainly NOT "apply the same comment to how they vote " -- it's great how they vote, especially out in Isla Vista. What a lucky country we have where the young vote and care.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 7:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, of course you'd think that. Because they vote how you do. Perfect example of your inability to separate a reasoned argument from your personal politics. But the same comment applies in any case. If their brains are not fully formed, they are not fully formed. They own nothing, they have no sense of private property, they are propagandized by an extremely left wing faculty who live off the taxpayer. Yeah, they are objective observers and voters. Right. NOT!

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 10:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's comments like your last JL which make me wonder if there are two of you posting under the same name.
"extremely left wing faculty" Really? When was the last time you talked to one? Can you name one?
"who live off the taxpayer" then why is there tuition? Abolish tuition if taxes are what is paying professors. Your wholesale reactionary attack on academia betrays your claims of rationale, reasoned argument. You Sir, have lost any intellectual credibility you may have had in this discussion.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2013 at 11:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

ahh, "they have no sense of private property" and private property is obviously your deity, Mr. Locke. As YOU ought to know as the putative author of AN ESSAY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING, the real humane Locke had written something about "life, liberty, and property" but that wise man Thos. Jefferson changed it to a pursuit of "life, liberty, and happiness." Is it not likely that the worship of private property has been dumped somewhat by the young out in IV AND FOR GOOD REASON?? You are older, you have done well with your money in your life (good for you, I say), and you are incapable of standing in the shoes of the 18 - 21 year olds, whom you also look down on.
Your religion of private property has led to a nation of terrific inequalities...oh, that doesn't matter, does it. And it was you, Locke, who asked me if I thought you were hard-hearted. Don't ask if you don't want an answer. You're a complete materialist.
In ancient Greece there was no separation between politics and debate and discussion. Your value-free approach leads you into ridiculous statements (are you really Rick Santorum?) like "faculty who live off the taxpayers".
Go on and rant,'s pretty amusing, and so you know quite unconvincing.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 5:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

My, my, I touched a nerve with that one. I'll admit it was a bit extreme and the kind of generalization I try to avoid. Yep, I'm clearly schizophrenic and my posting on this topic should certainly erase everything else I've said.

Having so stipulated:

Tuition comes nowhere near covering the cost of the universities - it takes taxes. Ergo..... (not that taxes shouldn't support education, let's just be honest about where the money comes from.)

At last count there was exactly one Republican faculty member at UCSB. IMO most Republicans are idiots (risking yet another generalization, but I'd rather expect you to agree with that one), but the exposure the students are getting is extremely one-sided, and not just at UCSB. Students register much more Dem than the general population. Remember, their brains aren't fully formed yet....

Yes, I've spoken with faculty members locally and have yet to find a centrist, much less a conservative. Not a scientific sample, for sure, but see previous paragraph.

Before you go too far in worshipping Jefferson, remember that he was a slaveowner from Virginia who favored states' rights so he could keep his slaves (i.e. his private property) and thereby continue to get rich on his tobacco business. Makes him rather a hypocrite, wouldn't you say? He gets to keep his slaves and also be happy?

No, I'm not a complete materialist. But nor do I believe in taking peoples' property by government fiat, which goes back to the whole housing thing we started with. One can argue whether or not private property rights lead to "a nation of inequalities" but I suspect that debate would be futile here. I would argue that a continually declining education system and people who expect to be taken care of instead of taking care of themselves has more to do with it.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 10:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, age and lifestyle could have something to do with both politics and religion.

I will say that being a liberal is generally easier for a young person just as being a "born again Christian" is generally easier for an older person.

The lifestyle changes that might be necessary to be consistent with one's political or religious beliefs are less onerous for those in each respective age group.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 10:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

this "nor do I believe in taking peoples' property by government fiat" shows you are schizophrenic (non-clinical I hasten to add), since no one on this thread spoke about "government fiat"!
You are still hewing close to Hayek's 1944 political screed against the Soviet Union and Fascist economies (Road to S., I know you know it).
I guess we agree on a continually declining public educ. system, but oh yeah, you and Botany were AGAINST Prop 30 so you certainly do not want the government to support public ed. at an appropriate level; your hatred of taxes makes you part of the problem in declining public ed. Further, I believe that UC, for example, is over 80% self-supporting, it brings hundreds of millions of dollars to our state in R&D, NIH, NSF grants (which support Calif. grad students, often), so your initial premise "Tuition comes nowhere near covering the cost of the universities " is wrong.
Try to be your rational self, JL, you come off much better. I think the guy writing bilge like students are "propagandized by an extremely left wing faculty who live off the taxpayer" -- that's the true Santorum/JL, not the highly educated "reasonable" pseudonym masquerading as John Locke.
No, you did not touch a nerve, you revealed your actual colors.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 11:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

True, Botany.

Now, after concluding that DrDan has no solutions to offer but prefers to ignore the real world of supplly and demand and sling insults instead of arguments.

And that lucas doesn't believe in supply and demand either, but rather that landlords should rent at money-losing prices, but still can't explain the total picture on the remodel number he quoted..

And that my friend K_V has dismissed all my previous arguments because of my last comment.

I'll bid you a beautiful Santa Barbara Sunday, while the midwest and east are freezing. THAT'S why property values are so high here.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 11:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Again, we were against prop. 30 because the money was already there and there are plenty of taxes already to pay for it. Our state just chose to spend the money elsewhere. But you refuse to acknowledge that argument with the continual misleading drumbeat of anyone against prop. 30 being against our children or public education. I don't really want to beat that dead horse anymore, but you just refuse to acknowledge it.

I never thought I'd be relying on Moonbeam Brown to be a moderating influence in our state government, but compared to some of the radical lefties the people of California elected, he is a "relative" moderate.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at noon (Suggest removal)

DrDan, rent control is asset appropriation by government fiat in any Economics book. But I guess only if you believe that prices are set by market forces, i.e. supply and demand.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 12:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I apologize for my terse reaction, but I'm glad you see what exactly I was responding to and why it seemed out of character.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 1 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks. I was being a jerk.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 1:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I've been a jerk a few times myself.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 2:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan, UC tuition accounts for about 10% of its income. There is certainly some self-generated revenue, but State Education Appropriations and NIH and NSF funds of course are taxpayer money. R&D might be private and might be taxpayer. I was trying to decode the pie chart on the UC website to determine where the rest of the money comes from, but I can't distinguish among some of the shades of color (old eyes).

In any case, more efficient spending on education is needed. Take a look at for insight into how dramatically the cost of education has outpaced the CPI. Up nearly 500% while the CPI rose 115% since 1995. Where is all that money going?

And how did you determine I was against Prop 30? Another unsupported assumption?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 2:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm sure UCSB students would prefer lower tuition over fancy parking garages. A lot of departments (especially arts and humanities) starve except for the pet departments.
When you visit most departments you can see for yourself they're not living high on the hog. So yeah that money is going somewhere and it's not professorial pay or departments.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 3:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I know. Every teacher I talk to here and in other locations (Ohio, Indiana, New York, Texas, Louisana) say they have to buy their own supplies. And I'm sure that teaching salaries haven't gone up anywhere near 500% since 1995. I think that's why some people are against increasing taxes to support education, not actually against education - what's happening to the money that's already there? Smells strange to me.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 5:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I hope they can at least write it off on their taxes (only to spend the money on supplies for the next year.)
I get the feeling the education system isn't much different than entertainment; all the suits get the money.
RE: UC, how about all that money wasted both developing then promoting a new (and horrible) logo only to dump it when everyone tells them what they should've been able to see with their own eyes (it was horrible!)

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 6:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If you're trying to estimate how much of a UC student's cost of education is covered by his/her own tuition fees, it's not fair to compare those costs with the costs of running the entire UC system ... which I suspect is how JohnLocke arrived at his/her 10% number.

That's because almost 3/4ths of UC's budget comes from restricted sources (income from running the National Labs, hospitals, research programs, donors, etc) that can't be spent on anything else because they are restricted by the source.

The remaining 26% of UC's budget is really what is related to the basic teaching mission and is what UC calls it's "Core funds":


For 2009-2010, sources for the Core funds budget were:

- State funding 50%
- Student fees 38%
- UC General Funds (patent royalties, non-res tuition, etc.) 12%

UC's Budget Office also notes that the percentage of funding from the state has been dropping since 1990 when it contributed 78% of the Core funds.

In summary, 38% is a more accurate reflection of how much a UC student contributed to the cost of his/her education in 2009-2010 than 10%.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 7:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree. Ugly and a waste of money.

Re the suits: there do seem to be lots of highly paid VPs, directors, etc. but I wonder if that can really explain the dramatic increase in cost. Seems like there should be a measure of % budget for teaching expenses, including salaries, benefits, pensions vs. admin expenses. I would hope the admin expenses are WAY less than teaching,90% less, but I'll bet not.

I should clarify that the folks I know back East (or midwest) who are buying supplies for their classrooms are the public school teachers. I also know some private college professors and would observe that they don't seem to work that hard. Can't tell from the inflation data, but I'd bet that the max increase in cost is above secondary school level, i.e. colleges and universities and in administrative, not teaching, expenses.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 8:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks for the correction, EastBeach.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 8:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Cheers JL.

Here is the latest 2011-2012 UC's Core funds budget:


- State funding 39%
- Student fees 48%
- UC General Funds 13%

So in the past few years, one can see a dramatic shift of the costs to students.

Over the past 10 years, while the overall cost of educating a UC student has remained about the same (I don't know if these are normalized for inflation?), the proportion footed by students keeps rising:


FInally, here is how the 2011-2012 Core budget was spent:


- Academic salaries 30%
- Staff salaries 23%
- Equipment, utilities, other 18%
- Student financial aid 14%
- Employee & Retiree benefits 14%
- Senior managment salaries 1%

The above fits my perception of UC's basic teaching mission ... it's ability to produce a "product" depends heavily on human capital. And it should be no surprise it is "high-end" capital. Just what you'd expect for a highly-rated educational institution.

In my speculative opinion, it isn't always fair to compare the finances of educational institutions with corporations. Those of us who work in the corporate world know the best way to make money is to sell a product. That is the only way you can spread your labor costs out. If all your company offers is services (no widgets) you have no way to "hide" your high-skilled labor costs.

The above is where health care costs are important, in my opinion, but I won't sidetrack this already wide-ranging thread.

So UC is like Intel but without all it's factories that allow it to sell computer parts! In the corporate world, we know that is often a losing profit model.

In summary, UC is heavily dependent on skilled labor and skilled labor costs money. I am guessing that conventional models of financial "health" need to be adjusted when applied to UC or any other university.

p.s. Schools that place a big emphasis on college sports (i.e. Notre Dame, Penn State, UCLA) may have figured out a way to generate more revenue ... but I don't know if those funds are typically restricted or allowed to pay for basic teaching costs.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2013 at 9:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

thanks for this data, EastBeach; at this source you ref'd [] for 2009 - 2010 I thought it showed "core funds" were used for 26% of UC costs in 2009-2010, and of that only half came from the State, thus the state paid in only 13%...or am I mixed up in reading this 2009-2010 pie chart?
My angle is that the STATE is paying in very little, especially as compared to 20 years ago. In other words, we've begun the process of privatizing UC, with consquent unbelievably high tuition costs for middle-income and low-income families. I compare this to certain German public universities I know, e.g. U. of Munich (80,000 students) where the state of Germany pays over 80% of the university cost. I guess I'm trying to say that the Calif. public doesn't bear nearly as much of the UC costs as JL was implying.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 9:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@DrDan, the sixth paragraph is the one to focus on:

" ... That 'core funds' budget, which is currently about 26 percent of the university’s total budget, comes from three sources: state funds (50 percent), student fees (38 percent), and UC general funds (12 percent)."

That paragraph could be re-written as follows and still be correct:

" ... That 'core funds' budget ... comes from three sources: state funds (50 percent), student fees (38 percent), and UC general funds (12 percent)."

In other words, the 50% refers to the core funds budget (the money UC spends on it's core teaching mission) and not to the entire budget which includes "other stuff".

As an example, if the total 2009-2010 UC budget was $100 ... $26 was spent on the teaching mission while the other $74 was spent on running the National Labs, funded research, etc. Now, considering *only* the $26 spent on teaching, where did it come from? 50% of it ($13) came from the state ...

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 2:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And to your point about declining funding levels from the state, DrDan, I think the latest stats for 2011-2012 bear out your point:


"In 1990, the state funded 78 percent of the total cost of education per student. Today, the state funds 39 percent. As state support has declined, the students’ share of their education costs, net of financial aid, has more than tripled, from 13 percent to 49 percent."

Since this article is about affordable housing ... let's not forget we've only been talking about tuition costs. For a UC student, housing can cost just as much as tuition each year. Here are average annual costs for attending UC:


$30K per year for four years is a lot of dough

I've got friends who are putting their kids through Cal & Stanford right now. I admire their sacrifice, but they are really the lucky ones because they can afford to do it.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 2:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Pretty grim.

@EastBeach: re "Over the past 10 years, while the overall cost of educating a UC student has remained about the same (I don't know if these are normalized for inflation?), the proportion footed by students keeps rising:" I don't understand this given the huge increase in the national figures I found earlier.

And CA used to have among the best, if not THE best, schools in the country. As I asked earlier, where the heck is all the money going? And I wonder if the mods to Prop 13 I mentioned earlier would help at the UC level or only the local level...

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 4:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@EB yeah, it's odd we got over onto the State of Calif's declining contribution to public education, specifically UC, on this thread...but JL started it with his unreasonable (and emotional, not rational) rant when he soared off Jan. 27 around 10:43 stating, "I would argue that a continually declining education system and people who expect to be taken care of instead of taking care of themselves has more to do with it." JL, your philosophy is showing, underneath your stuff is this thing about nanny-state, you just seem to be rather cutesy about it.
Later you write, "I think that's why some people are against increasing taxes to support education, not actually against education" ... and somehow this has to do with affordable housing??
Well, you admitted you were being a jerk, and your reasoning was pretty spotty here, too. Our Calif. government has NOT been pitching a lot of dough toward public education, at least given the enormous population increases.
What stands out is you don't want the government helping people find "affordable housing" and you don't want "increasing taxes to support education." Yours, to paraphrase Malthus, is the "iron law of supply and demand." Your common denominator is you don't want the government redistributing your money.
Get used to it, John, that's where we are going and I say bring it on. The Presidential election was about this, about strengthening the power of government, I know this outrages you. More Prop 30 type initiatives are needed.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 7:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sad to say, you may be right DD. California will have 3 classes of people in the future. The very rich, the very poor and government workers. Everyone else will be chased out.

And what you fail to acknowledge is that when government helps someone, they also hurt someone. There is no free lunch.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 28, 2013 at 10:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany, we do agree somewhat. I do acknowledge that government also hurts some people, but by redistributing in a thoughtful way it helps many more. Your throw-away line, "there is no free lunch", just means you won't ponder this anymore, that's good.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 29, 2013 at 4:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan, your animosity has overtake your powers of reason. We had already drifted off onto the subject of education when I commented on it and by the way Malthus has been repeatedly proven wrong over the centuries. I didn't say I didn't want to increase taxes for education, but before we do we need to know where all the money is going already. Unlike some, I do not automatically assume the actions of government are good and moral - too much evidence to the contrary. And blindly throwing more money at the problem without accountability just ignores the problem.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 29, 2013 at 9:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

JL wrote Jan. 26 10:39 pm about students: "They own nothing, they have no sense of private property, they are propagandized by an extremely left wing faculty who live off the taxpayer. "
so JL, you certainly brought up this side-topic on this thread. I then responded, you then went wild, and acted "like a jerk" as you wrote.
I acknowledge that I have written like a jerk, myself, at times, oh yes.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 29, 2013 at 11:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Now that we've come to the conclusion that we are all jerks, maybe we can be nice to each other in our disagreements.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 29, 2013 at 1:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wouldn't that be nice!

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 29, 2013 at 7:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

“We here in the USA have forgotten how to have an intelligent argument. I don’t mean a marital spat, I refer to the process of deciding issues through informed argument, discussion, etc. Somehow, zealous advocacy has been replaced with over zealous absurdity.

We seemingly have forgotten the purpose of debate — to engage in a principled argument in order to reach a discernible Truth. It is not, as seems to be occurring more often, to temporarily win, at any and all costs, in short term polling. These policy back-and-forths have become futile, time wasting rhetorical displays, not worthwhile even for their entertainment value.

John Milton understood the long term advantages to any society of pursuing the Truth through a broad and open debate. Thomas Jefferson argued that in “the marketplace of ideas,” the truth will emerge out of free competition in open and transparent public discourse. This was considered so important to any democracy that it was codified in the very First Amendment to the US Constitution.

I am not so sure that Milton or Jefferson would recognize what our discourse has devolved to.”

To equate an argument for fair dealing with not believing in supply and demand amounts to deliberately missing the point. A tenant who pays the market rent as determined by supply and demand (or any rent) is entitled to fair dealing from the landlord. Fair dealing means that the landlord provide what the tenant is paying for. All tenants expect decent housing, and for landlords to argue that tenants must be happy with their sub-standard housing because they agreed to pay the rent is nothing by callous self-justification.

Throughout this whole thread, those who argue against fair dealing have not addressed the pervasive SB problem of landlords failing to fulfill their contractual and legal obligations,and the fact that landlords get away with it because of the difficulty of obtaining housing of any quality in SB. If SB would proactively enforce the laws already on the books, instead of putting the onus on tenants to take the risk of reporting, it would go a long way toward rectify the situation.

As far as the $300,000 remodel goes, I have said three times it covers materials and labor which should be obvious anyway because when shopping out estimates with contractors, their quote covers materials and labor. There is no valid point to pretending it is not clear.

lucas (anonymous profile)
January 31, 2013 at 9:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

like I was saying:

Arguments work well for distracting the public from real issues.

Democrats and Republicans argue over how to divide the loot while the citizens get robbed. The same federal government organization is simultaneously inflating the real estate bubble so that prices stay high while it offers subsidies for "affordable" housing. That way the citizens must either take on a huge debt burden or win a lottery to own a house. It's a scam to subjugate and control the population, it's called debt peonage.

Good luck with it.

native2sb (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2013 at 5:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Everywhere you turn there's debt peonage traps, once you're in the further down its gullet you go..

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2013 at 5:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Affordable Housing" - there is no such term.

What is "affordable?".

You can not answer that question, until
someone outside of free market forces
defines it ( in other words non-free markets).

S.B. real-estate is expensive, because of
the great weather/beaches.

People are willing to pay a premium.

"Affordability" is a dirty word.
What it really means is to steal peoples choices
away from them, and to manipulate prices
like a puppet on a string.

This actually leads to higher prices.
You can not manipulate market prices, unless you
do so with FORCE.

So then what is it worth?
No one knows.
Abusive practices masquerading as "affordable",
disrupt pricing, and in the end, everyone looses.

Prices remain, high, but quality goes down.

As nice as a town as S.B. may be, it is not "Sustainable".
More like "destroy-able".

Anti-market forces destroy communities.

Who will pay a premium to live in S.B.
when the smell of urine, extends beyond Haley St.

S.B. will likely always be an expensive place to live.
The quality of life, however is another story.

"affordable" housing hurts the poor the most.

Rich people have a much greater amount of disposable income.
Poor people do not. Prepare for more hookers on Haley.

Poverty is sustainable, meaning you can create more of it.
Getting people out of poverty is much more difficult.
Getting them into it is very easy.

I really do not think a pro-poverty agenda will fly in S.B.

You can thank the weather for that.
It commands a premium price.
And people are not going to pay a premium price,
for a pro-poverty agenda.

Prices will remain high no matter what.
When they go higher, it will be because of "affordable housing"

If you hate poor people, then you naturally have to support
"affordable housing".

nobody123 (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2013 at 5:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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