January 9, 2013

Abandoned Bungalow Bothers Burlingame Big Bucks Burghers

Here’s a cheery little story just to remind you that you’re all only one abandoned hellhole of a house away from losing Real Bay Area status, and it can happen anywhere!

 

Dumping ground: Burlingame neighbors tire of long-vacant home

January 08, 2013, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb, SM Daily Journal staff

130108-channing-smdailyDaily Journal Neighbors want action taken against the owners of a vacant home in Burlingame who have not maintained the property for years. (photos, Bill Silverfarb)

A long-vacant home in Burlingame’s Lyon Hoag neighborhood has turned into dumping ground and neighbors in the area are sick of it.

The home, at 139 Channing Road, sits in the middle of million-dollar homes but neighbors fear their own property values will be negatively impacted by the property — which they say looks like an overrun junk yard.

The listed owners, Michael James O’Brien and John Quillian O’Brien, moved out of the home several years ago after a death in the family and have not maintained the property, neighbors told the Daily Journal.

Bruce Bettencourt, who lives right next door to the house with his wife, has called Burlingame code enforcement at least “100 times” over the years about rats, garbage, junk and overgrown vegetation on the property, he told the Daily Journal.

He has found dead raccoons on the property and fears it has also become a nesting ground for rats.

Dead raccoons plus live rats! Usually we get our housing fun from real estate listings.  But you can learn a lot from reading the news sites as well!  Let’s see what we can find out about this house.

130108-channing-trulia139 Channing Rd
Burlingame, CA 94010
$694,000 Trulia Estimate

1 bed
1 bath
1,000 sqft
Single-Family Home
Public Record
Neighborhood: Lyon Hoag

Listing Details
Description provided by Trulia
This is a Single-Family Home located at 139 Channing Road, Burlingame CA. 139 Channing Rd has 1 bed, 1 bath, and approximately 1,000 square feet. The property has a lot size of 5,750 sqft and was built in 1922. The average list price for similar homes for sale is $3,020,488 and the average sales price for similar recently sold homes is $1,106,052. 139 Channing Rd is in the Lyon Hoag neighborhood in Burlingame, CA. The average list price for Lyon Hoag is $1,035,000.

Public Records for 139 Channing Rd
Official property, sales, and tax information from county (public) records as of 09/2012:

130108-channing-compsSingle Family Residential
1 Bedroom
1 Bathroom
1,000 sqft
Lot Size: 5,750 sqft
Built In 1922
A/C: Central
Heating: Central
Parking: Detached Garage
Parking Spaces: 1
4 Rooms
County: San Mateo
Tax Rate Code Area: 4-001

130108-channing-carWhile you can’t see much from the street, here’s an abandoned car from the view over the back fence.  If you check out the Streetview pictures, you’ll find trash cans in front of the house next door, but we don’t think that’s what the neighbor called the code enforcement office about.

You’d think that San Mateo County would want their $16,000 in back taxes.  You’d think they’d bring some kind of fines against the owners for abandoning their (live) dogs in the house.  Supposedly John Quillian,  Michael O’Brien’s stepson, recently told the city he’s planning on moving back in.

Why doesn’t the city or county force a sale of this property?.  Not only would that lead to  a new owner cleaning up what’s turning into a health hazard, but it will be good news for the local agencies as well.

130108-channing-trashbins139 Channing Road
Burlingame, CA 94010

Owner: MICHAEL JAMES OBRIEN & JOHN QUILLIAN OBRIEN
Land value: $94,608
Building value: $111,812
Total value for property: $206,420
Assessments for tax year: 2009
Last sale: $120,000
Date of last sale: 10/24/1979

 

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am






December 30, 2012

Prop 13, Meet Fork?

121230-prop13-forkWell, maybe a seafood fork.  A possible seafood fork.  Size extra-small.  In 2014.  Maybe.

The third rail of real estate may be getting some modifications, thanks to the new obstruction-proof California Legislature.  Now that both houses have 2/3 Democratic Party members, they could raise taxes without a single Republican vote of support.  But to modify Proposition 13, only an initiative passed by California voters will do.  The difference is that Legislators are now discussing these changes openly, sensing the era of tax cuts is also due for Fork Facetime.

California Democrats signal they want to reform Proposition 13

By Steven Harmon, San Jose Mercury News
Posted: 12/29/2012 01:00:00 PM PST, Updated: 12/29/2012 05:41:17 PM PST

121230-prop13-chartsSACRAMENTO — The third rail of California politics may not be as deadly as once thought.

Three and a half decades after the passage of Proposition 13 shook the political landscape in California and sparked a taxpayer revolt across America, voters appear to be warming up to the idea of reforming the initiative as long as protections for homeowners stay intact.

And the apparent sea change in public attitudes, combined with the two-thirds majorities Democrats now hold in both chambers of the Legislature, has emboldened some politicians to take aim at the iconic measure.

“It is time for a fix, because Proposition 13 is broken,” said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who plans to introduce a bill next year aimed at forcing businesses to pay higher property taxes.

The landmark 1978 measure rolled back property taxes and capped yearly increases until a property is sold, but critics say one of its unintended consequences was shifting more of the Golden State’s property tax burden from businesses to homeowners.

121230-prop13-repealThis isn’t the first time we’ve noted the havoc wreaked by Prop 13, and we’re hardly the only ones doing so.

Reforms being discussed include a “split roll” where commercial property is handled differently from residential, and lowering the threshhold for parcel taxes from 66 2/3 to 55 percent.  58 percent of Californians polled supported the split roll concept, where commercial property would be reassessed every 6 or 12 months.  Residential property would continue with assessment at time of sale with a 2% maximum annual increase.  However, 60 percent of those polled still “support” Prop 13.

In addition, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano wishes to address a loophole where corporate-owned property isn’t even reassessed when sold, because more than 50% of ownership must change hands.  Corporations simply constructed shell entities to avoid the 50% trigger despite buying and selling their entire interest in real properties.  For exaple, the E&J Gallo Company bought the 1765 acre Louis M Martini vineyards by having 12 family members buy individual shares, each under the 50 percent trigger.  The property remains assessed at the original low value because of this maneuver.

121230-prop13-timeEven Google, a relatively new corporation, benefits from the complex dance of real estate partnerships, trusts, holding companies, and leases.  Some of their buildings sit on land owned by the pre-Prop 13 owner and his family trust, via a ground lease.  The 13.7 acre tract was assessed at $789,635 in 2009 and would have been worth $41 million without a single structure on it.  State law prevents land reassessment if a lease of over 35 years exists.  The buildings on the land were assessed at $38 million.

Before Prop 13 passed, business and residential property produced about the same share of state revenues, but now residential property generates 70 percent of property taxes.  California has also bid adieu to its excellent state colleges and universities, as well as its various public school systems, since property taxes helped fund the former and were primary support of the latter.

Feel free to grouse about money-grubbing state officials or the unfairness of our tax code.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

December 12, 2012

Opportunity in Bayview! Buyer To Investigate To Their Satisfaction

121211-gilman-250KToday’s feature caught our eye on a political site’s discussion area that doesn’t usually get into real estate. The topic was those disadvantaged $250K a year families who are going to get dinged with new taxes, which is so unfair!  These put-upon engines of economic advancement are hardly making it!  Why after spending all their take-home pay on a high-priced mortage or rent payments, private school or college tuition for the kiddies, sky-high taxes, fully funding their retirement plans, restaurants, gifts, vacations, clothing, cable (of course including HBO and Showtime), utilities, cleaning services (housekeeper and pool) 16 cell phone lines, internet, car payments for the new BMW, the current Mercedes and the old (2011) Audi, why before you know it these unfortunate folks in the top 5% are barely clearing anything!

Fortunately, one of the respondents noted that living in San Francisco really did not have to cost so much.  We thank our political participants for pointing us to this house.

121211-gilman-trulia1055 Gilman Avenue
San Francisco CA 94124
Price:  $200,000

Bedrooms: 2 
Bathrooms: 1
63 days on Trulia
3,442 views
Property type: Single-Family Home
Size: 950 sqft
Lot: Ask agent
Price/sqft: $211/sqft
Year built: 1908
MLS/ID: 401812
Neighborhood: Bayview, 94124

Opportunity In Bayview! Close To Gilman Rec, Brete Harte Elementary And Steps To Candlestick Park. Some Interior Walls And Flooring Have Been Removed. Buyer To Investigate To Their Satisfaction. Property Is Not Being Shown At This Time, Please Check Back After October 29Th.

While the property is still Not Being Shown At This Time, seeing is believing!

121211-gilman-front121211-gilman-floor121211-gilman-back121211-gilman-window121211-gilman-open-plan121211-gilman-bath

This home has potential all over, especially In The Electrical Wiring.  You’ll have no trouble confirming this, what with Some Interior Walls and Flooring helpfully Removed.

Comments (29) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

December 2, 2012

UPDATED: Got an extra house or two taking up space in your portfolio?

Donate that unneeded realty to charity!  UCSF is ready to take that spare structure off your swollen asset list.  Thanks to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for passing this handy space-saving tip along.

121201-ucsf_1

Not only that, if you donate RBA real estate, you could get your picture in a newletter like this!  There’s more, too!  See, lots of people are giving it away! Don’t be the last on your block to give away your other block!

121201-ucsf_combined_2_3

Do you have any other ideas of what to do with your excess real estate?

Updated 17:53 — PG asked that you be given the privilege of actually reading this newsletter. A larger version of Page 1 is now available by clicking its image above, as well as a larger combined spread.  Here, separately, are Page 2 and Page 3.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:20 am

October 14, 2012

Oh Noes! Politicians hating on mortgage deduction AGAIN!

Tax deduction for mortgage interest could be targeted

By Pete Carey, Posted: 10/12/2012 04:21:11 PM PDT, Updated: 10/12/2012 05:03:23 PM PDT

121013-mortgage-mittSAN FRANCISCO — The mortgage interest tax deduction beloved by many Americans is a logical target for raising revenue to deal with growing deficits, a leading housing economist said Friday.

“For fiscal sustainability, we need to get revenue,” said Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. The alternative to shrinking the tax break is raising taxes, he said at a forum on California’s housing market sponsored by the Lusk Center and the online real estate service Zillow.

“My judgment is it’s better to do something about tax expenditures,” Green said. “One of the largest is the home mortgage interest deduction.”

The issue has been a hot button in the presidential campaign, as Democrats challenge Republicans to disclose what tax “loopholes” they would close to pay for their proposed tax cuts.

We are doomed.  DOOMED!  Once they come for our mortgage deductions, there is no more point to living.

Comments (60) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

March 3, 2012

Some schools are just Way More Special than others

Have you ever heard that life just isn’t fair?  It’s true.  You know what really isn’t fair?  School funding.

Some California schools get twice the funding — and more — of others

By Sharon Noguchi, San Jose Mercury News
Posted:   02/26/2012 05:37:03 PM PST, Updated:   02/27/2012 03:09:47 AM PST

120302-merc-music

Thirty-six years after the California Supreme Court ordered the state to fix its unequal system of funding schools, a gaping disparity remains between haves and have-nots.

And it may not improve much any time soon.

A scathing report on California’s school finances not only repeats the indictment of an inequitable, insufficient and irrational funding scheme, but also details how California spends on average $620 less on a student living in a high-poverty area than one in an affluent neighborhood.

The report by the Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based education advocacy group, also attacks the complexity of California school financing. "The system is a haphazard collection of arcane and hard-to-navigate policies that manage to hide funding disparities from district leaders and policy makers, not to mention parents and the public," the report, released last week, reads. "The maze of programs and formulas makes it nearly impossible to understand whether dollars ever reach the schools and students for whom they are intended."

120302-cruel-divide-reportHere’s the report by Education Trust-West mentioned above.  Clearly this is a complex problem, which would probably require a 40,000 word essay on the topic to identify the problems and begin to propose some reforms and solutions to this mess. 

I could create lots of lovely charts, comparing and contrasting financing among different districts in the Real Bay Area (by going here to Ed-Data, and clicking Districts and then Compare Finances).  I could brood over these 40 pages of state and local per-student revenue by school district across the entire state. 

Then I could make a bunch of sarcastic comments so you couldn’t tell if I was in favor of replacing all public schooling with Google Search or wanted to buy every government school student a gold-plated Tesla Roadster to ensure they showed up on time.  (Plus I would make sure I got the statewide school parking lot contracts via no-bid.  And a Lamborghini.)

The heck with it.  We’ve been having some beautiful weather, so why doesn’t everyone merely gripe about school funding, Prop 13, basic aid vs. revenue limit, and “voluntary” donations in this thread while you all pretend I said something brilliant.

This is also an Open Thread for everyone who doesn’t give a foreclosed lien about school funding.

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:37 am

October 23, 2011

Prop 13: Insidious Budget Cancer or Fiscal Terrorist Threat?

Well, that certainly got your attention.  I’d like to direct you to an excellent, dare I say seminal piece of reporting on the elephant in the California real estate room: Proposition 13.  I’ll quote a few grafs here, but I really would like you to read the entire piece.

California Diminished by 1978 Tax Revolt Shows U.S. in Decline

By Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg/Businessweek
October 17, 2011, 12:23 AM EDT

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) — California voters approved Proposition 13 to rein in property taxes that had doubled in 10 years. More than three decades later, that rebellion has mortgaged the state’s future, saddling it with the nation’s highest debt and lowest credit rating.

The measure led to reductions that dropped per-student school spending from seventh to 29th nationally, prompted cities to pursue sprawling retail development to compensate for lost revenue, and pushed the state into budget gridlock, including a $705 million revenue shortfall announced Oct. 10, by requiring two-thirds approval for any tax increase.

“Proposition 13 set up an unfair and dysfunctional two- tiered system of property taxes,” said Kevin Starr, a history professor at the University of Southern California and the author of a series of books on the state. “It choked off a source of revenue, and the lack of that revenue has brought California to the edge.”

The measure, approved in 1978, was the inspiration for an antitax movement that has taken hold of the public discourse in Washington and in state legislatures throughout the country. It caps real estate levies at 1 percent of a property’s most-recent sale price. Before it passed, local governments could raise revenue as they saw fit.

imageHere’s a few more colorful quotes from this story:

  • “You couldn’t invent a crazier system,” [Santa Clara County Assessor Larry] Stone said in a telephone interview.
  • “It’s had a profound impact on multiple levels,” said Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan research group in Sacramento. “The one that’s underestimated is the shift in decision-making from the local level to the state. All of our public systems have been affected by our seemingly perpetual budget crises.”
  • “Prop. 13 has had the unintended effect of favoring commercial property owners at the expense of homeowners,” [Los Angeles Mayor Antonio] Villaraigosa said Aug. 16 at the Sacramento Press Club. “Let’s apply Prop. 13’s protections to homeowners and homeowners alone.”
  • “This is a nightmare,” said Mohammad Islam, San Bernardino’s assistant superintendent who has worked in school finance for 22 years. “It’s impossible what the state is doing to us.”

Yet despite all California’s budget woes (as described by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair), there is no organized movement toward either doing away with, or even modifying Proposition 13 to a homeowners-only tax adjustment.  While presented as a way to keep senior citizens from losing their homes to skyrocketing property taxes, Prop 13 has become a windfall for commercial and corporate property owners instead.

imageMeanwhile, California’s public school system has declined from seventh in per-pupil spending to 29th according to this article. If you go by this NEA report, it’s 36th. According to this article from KQED, it’s 42nd.  Or 43rd.  Or 46th.  More importantly, education quality has dropped as well.  California ranks 46th of 51 (50 states plus District of Columbia) on test scores in 2003.  This more recent ranking had California come in 30th (but this appears to be a different series of grades).

That NEA report said we’re #3 in prison spending per capita, though!  Woot!

Now, if you don’t think an educated citizenry is an important goal, then you can tell me to shut up already about school funding.  But I suspect most knowledge workers (such as Silicon Valley engineers or San Francisco creative class members) would want our schools to return to their previous high quality, and that means starving them is not in our interest.

image

Let’s hear from someone else who doesn’t agree with that.  Furthermore, this is someone who writes a San Francisco real estate blog.  Here is his complete takedown of that 2600 word Bloomberg piece.  Ready?

Prop 13 Isn’t Squeezing Anything

Bill Quick, San Francisco Real Estate Blog

The political big spenders absolutely hate Prop 13, because it cut off their unlimited access to the piggy bank of private property taxation.

The truth is, our spending on essentials like education, public safety, and other bottom-line items is not being constricted by Prop 13. It is being choked off by the propensity of governments at both the local and state levels to spend money on tens of thousands of pet projects and pet constituencies, rather than paying for services that voters feel are the most basic. We’re not broke because our state “salary” (taxes) is too low, it’s because we spend way too much on non-essential fripperies.

Wow, I’m speechless from that relentless chain of brilliant logic!  And to be fair, when I called Quick on his heavy use of facts and supporting evidence, he did respond with this:

imageEnjoyed your sarcasm! I’ll be looking forward to your piece supporting runaway property taxes and booting retired boomers into the street, too. Of course, California’s housing economy is in such great shape that property tax hikes should be just the ticket for rocketing us to even greater heights!

Right.  Because interest rates and inflation are exactly the same as they were in 1978, and property tax assessments are rising faster than college costs.  Then there’s this:

Here’s a bunch of stats on California’s tax and business climate. Short takeaway: We’re in awful shape, with one of the highest overall tax burdens in America.

imageThe bunch of stats are from the Tax Foundation, so I looked into just who they are and what their real motives are.  They’re funded by high-minded humanitarians such as the Koch Foundation (as in Koch Brothers) and ExxonMobil. They obviously have your interests in mind rather than those grabby one percenters!  Would you expect anything less from a group founded by the CEOs of General Motors and Standard Oil other than whether grannies are getting taxed out of their Cayman Island Corporations and have to bunk in their Swiss bank deposits?

Paul Krugman (a know-nothing economist who won a stupid Nobel) accused this group of committing “deliberate fraud” in their evaluation of Obama’s jobs proposal.  This isn’t the first time he’s questioned their methodology, either. But let’s drink to “the tax is too damned high” Kool-aid that the Tax Foundation is pouring.

It’s a lot cheaper than actually fixing things.

Comments (64) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

October 1, 2011

Another Blast from the Past: Stop Prohibition in Los Gatos!

Here’s an interesting picture sent in by Burbed reader nomadic.  It’s from the Los Gatos Library (motto: At least we don’t charge $90 for a library card like Saratoga!) and you might enjoy a look at life over a century ago.

Here’s what nomadic had to share about these pictures:

The lower level of the Los Gatos library is lined with historic pictures of the town.  I thought the one attached was pretty funny, as well as interesting because it had four parcels of land for sale for $1250.  The year was 1909 and the property owner was protesting a local prohibition law.  The second picture is a close up of the signs – be sure to read the top one.  The one on the right in the first shot says “Los Gatos” inside the graphic of the casket.

So, have a look!

LG1909-1

Have a better look at the signs. 

LG1909-2

Wait, what’s this about TAX RATE INCREASED 20%?  Can’t you read my lips?

LG1909-3

And one more close-up.  Can you imagine what that land would be worth today?

LG1909-4

Whoops, it would probably be on the Wrong Side of some street that hasn’t even been built yet.  And where’s the other house, anyway?  Note the early version of “Buy now or be priced out forever!”

This is a Weekend Open Thread.  Have at it.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

November 14, 2010

Stemming the Flood of Red Ink that Threatens the Nation’s Future

While national problems rarely affect the Real Bay Area, it’s important that the brilliant people of Silicon Valley come up with solutions.  After all, solving difficult challenges is part of what makes the RBA so Special.  Are you up for it?

Big ideas for cutting deficit, but they’d hurt

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Thu Nov 11, 4:17 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Voters who demanded Washington rein in the nation’s spiraling debt are getting a message from President Barack Obama and leaders of his deficit commission: It’ll hurt.

Erskine Bowles, Alan Simpson A proposal released Wednesday by the bipartisan leaders of the commission suggested cuts to Social Security benefits, deep reductions in federal spending and higher taxes for millions of Americans to stem the flood of red ink that they say threatens the nation’s very future. The popular child tax credit and mortgage interest deduction would be eliminated.

Interest groups on the right and the left squealed, predictably, about the plan, which would cut total deficits by as much as $4 trillion over the next decade — much of it from programs long considered all but sacred.

The full commission has yet to make its recommendations, and the chairmen acknowledged their plan was so controversial that it’s dead on arrival. But they said putting it forth would prompt a more realistic national debate about what it will take to solve the nation’s fiscal woes.

Ah, some actual proposals to balance the nation’s budget!  Cut Social Security!  Chop Federal Spending!  Raise taxes for everyone, including big business!  Eliminate loopholes and special-interest giveaways!  Bye-bye, child tax credit!  No more mortgage interest deduc– HEY WAIT A MINUTE!

We are far better off building 1 or 2 fewer Predator Drones a year than eliminating the mortgage interest deduction!  The mortgage interest deduction is untouchable.  It is a sacred trust between our government, the construction industry and NAR that no matter how many jobs are shipped overseas, our economy will always be kept running by selling houses to each other.  Eliminate the mortgage interest deduction?  What a stupid, short-sighted, un-American idea!

Cut the break to half a million instead of a one million dollar mortgage? Unacceptable.  Try finding a house in the Real Bay Area for half a million.  That’s locale discrimination.  RBA residents already pay for that when trying to apply for college financial aid.

Calvin Johnson, a tax professor at the University of Texas, said that only those in the top third of wage earners even itemized their deductions, meaning that two-thirds of taxpayers weren’t eligible for the break.

“No one can make a serious intellectual argument in favor of the mortgage interest deduction,” he said. “Why should the government subsidize homeowners rather than renters? The only thing it’s good for is middle-class votes.”

Oh no.  It’s good for RBA property values, which means it’s good for college tuition.  Isn’t everybody in the RBA itemizing their tax deductions, anyway?

Please share your thoughts on other ways to address the deficit but leave the mortgage interest deduction out of it!  And the capital gains tax break on home sales is off the table, too!

Comments (22) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

November 9, 2010

All parcel taxes for schools fail in Santa Clara County; bonds pass

All parcel taxes for schools fail in Santa Clara County; bonds pass

By Sharon Noguchi

snoguchi@mercurynews.com

Posted: 11/05/2010 07:00:00 PM PDT

Updated: 11/05/2010 10:28:12 PM PDT

When it comes to school taxes, Santa Clara County voters in the past have marched to their own education-boosting drummer, usually amassing the 66.7 percent supermajority required to tax themselves extra for schools.

School leaders counted on the same reception to their pleas this year, hoping voters would approve taxes to help avert drastic cuts to classrooms and libraries and increases in class sizes.

But this week, all three school parcel taxes in tax-friendly Santa Clara County failed, although four bond measures passed. Only two of 18 school parcel taxes statewide passed, among them Fremont Unified School District in next-door Alameda County, which received 69.5 percent of the vote for its first-ever parcel tax.

To obtain approval, Fremont campaigners focused on pounding home their message: Because of recession-induced state budget cuts, the district needed dollars for basics such as reading, math, science and libraries, which last school year were cut 50 percent. They stressed that the district had been a responsible steward of public funds. Not only are test scores rising, but also all the projects promised for a 2002 bond measure were completed on time and under budget.

By contrast, Santa Clara County voters mirrored statewide trends: California voters this week approved 70 percent of school bonds but rejected 89 percent of school parcel taxes. The record was similar in San Mateo County, where the lone parcel tax failed but four school bonds passed.

It’s pretty obvious why this happened – it’s unfair to landlords, other businesses, and retirees who don’t have children that they should be paying for schools. If kids want better schools, their parents should pay out of pocket directly – just like they do in Cupertino and Palo Alto.

Congrats to the Bay Area for finally reaching fiscal sanity. The next step is to divert money from schools into rebating property taxes. After all, what do you get from spending money on kids? Not much. But what about reducing property taxes? Now that’s a smart ROI!

Comments (16) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:50 am