June 30, 2012

Stockton Declares Bankruptcy; Burbed Declares Open Thread

Stockton, Calif. files for Chapter 9 bankruptcy

StocktonMove stops a barrage of lawsuits and allows the city breathing room, city manager says

SAN FRANCISCO — Stockton, California, became the largest city to file for bankruptcy in U.S. history on Thursday, after years of fiscal mismanagement and a housing market crash left it unable to pay its workers, pensioners and bondholders.

The filing by the city of 300,000 people followed three months of confidential talks with its creditors aimed at averting bankruptcy.

“We are now a Chapter 9 debtor,” Marc Levinson, the lawyer who filed the city’s voluntary petition in the Eastern District of California, in Sacramento (Case 12-32118) told Reuters.

Pleadings in support of Stockton’s eligibility for Chapter 9 bankruptcy will be filed on Friday, Levinson said.

120629-stockton-kawlumStockton, home of the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation.  And the winner of Forbes’ “America’s Most Miserable City” not once but twice! We offer this as a cautionary tale to any of you considering buying a house that is NOT in the Real Bay Area.  When your definition of “Real” is so flexible that it includes the 209 area code, you have officially drunk the Realtard Kool-Aid.

Stockton now has to open their books to a Federal Judge, and we are going to open this thread to anything you wish to discuss.  Did you visit any Open Houses in Stockton this weekend?


Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

December 19, 2010

The Other Valley

Here’s an article sent in by a Burbed reader who doesn’t necessarily agree with the author’s conclusions or the site it’s on, but thought the piece interesting and thought-provoking.  Given that the Central Valley is a fairly easy drive from the Real Bay Area, what is it that makes it so different from here?

Two Californias

DECEMBER 15, 2010

Abandoned farms, Third World living conditions, pervasive public assistance — welcome to the once-thriving Central Valley.

The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption.

During this unscientific experiment, three times a week I rode a bike on a 20-mile trip over various rural roads in southwestern Fresno County. I also drove my car over to the coast to work, on various routes through towns like San Joaquin, Mendota, and Firebaugh. And near my home I have been driving, shopping, and touring by intent the rather segregated and impoverished areas of Caruthers, Fowler, Laton, Orange Cove, Parlier, and Selma. My own farmhouse is now in an area of abject poverty and almost no ethnic diversity; the closest elementary school (my alma mater, two miles away) is 94 percent Hispanic and 1 percent white, and well below federal testing norms in math and English.

Here are some general observations about what I saw (other than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in the rural South). First, remember that these areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming — to such an extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California, for all practical purposes has ceased to exist.

mendotadowntown Who here visits small towns in the Central Valley regularly?  Are things as bleak as Hansen describes them, “rural trailer-house compounds…no different from what I have seen in the Third World”? (Photo, at left, shows unemployed men in downtown Mendota.)

Has the Central Valley become a bifurcated version of “white flight,” either to the more affluent coastal areas or out of the state entirely?  And how hard was it to guess that a conservative magazine/website would observe high unemployment, loss of small-family farms to corporate agribusiness, and shuttered farm machinery plants that have moved to lower-wage countries… and conclude this is all somehow due to illegal immigrants?

One thesis of Hansen’s to chew on:

It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate. Its public employees prefer to go after misdemeanors in the upscale areas to justify our expensive oversight industry, while ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral and beyond the ability of any inspector to do anything but feel irrelevant. But in the regulators’ defense, where would one get the money to redo an ad hoc trailer park with a spider web of illegal bare wires?

Think about that the next time you deal with getting a permit for something.

Comments (76) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:13 am

October 24, 2007

What would you say to these Manteca folks?

San Jose Mercury News – Bidding on new Manteca homes makes 34 new owners ecstatic
When homeowner Dave Cantrell walked into the hotel ballroom Saturday where Anderson Homes was auctioning off one-third of the brand-new houses in his Manteca subdivision, he tried to be optimistic.

He approached Anderson Homes executive Craig Barton, shook his hand and wished them both luck that the buyers would bid close to the latest asking prices of the 34 homes in the Paseo West subdivision that have been sitting empty since the real estate market soured.

But when the rapid-fire bidding was over 90 minutes later – and one winning bidder stood up like a prize fighter with his arms raised in triumph – Cantrell didn’t even want to look at Barton, the man he invited into his home two weeks ago to calm the fears of his 26 neighbors who worried the auction would tank the value of their homes.

“I’m feeling my worst fears right now,” said Cantrell, who estimated that the auction devalued his neighbors’ homes by roughly $200,000 each compared with what many of them paid a year ago. “I lost a quarter million dollars in value. I’m screwed.”

Cantrell bought his home a year ago for $670,000 (not including the $90,000 he paid to install a pool and miniature golf course). The winning bidder Saturday of an identical home five doors down the street paid $391,000 – 38 percent less than what he paid.

Burbed Reader Mike forwarded this on to me. Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for these Manteca folks?

Comments (27) -- Posted by: burbed @ 4:00 am

September 2, 2006

Everyone’s moving east in California

FEATURE-California middle-class packing up, heading east | Bonds News | Reuters.com
Father Mark Wiesner has grown accustomed to wishing parishioners bon voyage as they flee the San Francisco area’s high housing costs for California’s Central Valley, where developers are increasingly transforming farms and ranches into a new suburbia.

“So many young couples I marry have to go to Modesto or Tracy to start their married lives,” said Wiesner, a Catholic priest in Oakland on the San Francisco Bay. “They simply can’t afford to stay here in the Bay area and to buy a single-family dwelling.”

Tracy and Modesto are 50 and 80 miles (80 and 129 km) east of Oakland respectively. Both have seen blistering growth in recent years amid a middle-class exodus from California’s famed coastal urban centers in search of affordable housing.

Analysts say the middle-class flight will press on even if coastal home prices sag amid a national housing slowdown. Home prices near the state’s coastline would need to collapse to make buying a home there possible for many households.

Barring a collapse, ever more Californians will call the state’s Central Valley home because homes there are relatively affordable. July’s median home price in San Francisco was $771,000, compared with $438,000 in San Joaquin County roughly 60 miles (97 km) to the east, according to real estate information service DataQuick Information Systems.

Who needs farms anyway. Growing food is so overrated.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:15 am