An earthquake fault line under Seaport Village has led to a major rework of plans for what will likely become a San Diego landmark.
Plans for the nearly 40-year old shopping and recreation area include a 480-foot observation tower that, according to the San Diego Unified Port District, could make the city’s skyline more distinctive. Redevelopment will also include hotels, offices and an aquarium.
Original ideas for the site were unveiled in 2016 by Protea Waterfront Development but it will present new preliminary plans Tuesday to port officials, who must still decide on them. Aside from just the earthquake changes, the firm has further modified plans but says the alterations still fit with the port’s vision.
A hotel, retail area and underground parking garage directly on top of the fault line need to be relocated elsewhere on the 70-acre site. The fault line will largely be turned into a long pedestrian mall surrounded by trees, inspired by Barcelona’s Las Ramblas.
San Diego County communities approved slightly fewer homes last year despite increasing political pressure for more housing in California.
Cities and the county issued 4 percent fewer residential building permits in 2017 than the previous year, said the Real Estate Research Council of Southern California in a report released this week.
Overall building was down because of a reduction in apartment and condo construction, despite an increase in single-family home construction. The year started out with a major reduction in home building, but made up for it with an extremely busy fourth quarter.
Building permits for 9,580 new housing units were pulled in 2017. That’s down from 9,972 in 2016 and 9,975 in 2015. It’s up from a low during the Great Recession, when fewer than 3,000 homes were built in 2009.
The report comes as lawmakers seek new ways to get more homes built as a way to reduce housing costs. Two of the state’s leading candidates for governor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, have said they want developers to build a half million homes a year for the next seven years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Most of Southern California saw increased building permits in 2017, up 7 percent among the seven counties, compared to 2016. Only San Diego and Orange counties saw less demand.
Borre Winckel, CEO of the local Building Industry Association, said it was good San Diego County was down just 4 percent from the year before — he had predicted a bigger dip — but it didn’t make the news much better.
“We are still operating at very modest volumes,” he said. “Nowhere near what we need for housing people.”
There is an ongoing and undeniable national housing shortage. Year-over-year inventory levels have been down in most markets for several years now, and that trend is expected to persist in 2018. Consumers are still purchasing for the first time and relocating to other, presumably more ideal homes.
Having the financial ability to make a move clearly seems feasible to many eager buyers amidst a healthy economy, whether life events such as marriage, children, employment change or desirable downsizing is the reason for moving.
There are further positive signs on the horizon, as builder confidence has improved and construction job gains are measurably higher. It will still take more effort than a lone year can provide for building activity to reach a needed level for inventory balance, but a step in the right direction is welcome.
More sellers should feel ready and willing to list in 2018. Economic indicators such as unemployment rates and consumer confidence are in an improved state, and sellers currently hold the keys in the buyer-seller relationship. This does not mean that sellers can set their price and watch the offers roll in. On the contrary, buyers will be poised to test prevailing price points, particularly in markets where home
price increases are outpacing wage growth and in light of the fact that mortgage rates are expected to increase further in 2018.
Last year, U.S. consumers seemed to be operating with a renewed but cautious optimism. The stock market was strong, wages were edging upwards and home buying activity was extremely competitive. Not much has changed in 2018 in terms of those measures, yet there is a sort of seasoned prudence mixed into the high emotions that go with a major expense like a home purchase. We are now several years deep into a period of rising prices and low inventory. Those in the market to buy a home have caught on. As sellers attempt to take advantage of rising prices, expect buyers to be more selective.
Closed Sales decreased 14.1 percent for Detached homes and 3.7 percent for Attached homes.
Pending Sales increased 0.8 percent for Detached homes and 0.4 percent for Attached homes. The Median Sales Price was up 0.2 percent to $649,000 for Detached homes and 0.4 percent to $415,000 for Attached homes.
Days on Market decreased 21.3 percent for Detached homes but remained flat for Attached homes.
Supply decreased 20.0 percent for Detached homes and 9.1 percent for Attached homes.
Whatever external forces are placed upon residential real estate markets across the country – whether they are related to tax legislation, mortgage rates, employment situation changes, new family formations, the availability of new construction and the like – the appetite for home buying remains strong enough to drive prices upward in virtually all markets across the country. New sales are not necessarily following that trend, but monthly increases are expected until at least late summer.
Modern cities are ruled by cars. Streets are designed for them; bikers, pedestrians, vendors, hangers-out, and all other forms of human life are pushed to the perimeter in narrow lanes or sidewalks. Truly shared spaces are confined to parks and the occasional plaza. This is such a fundamental reality of cities that we barely notice it any more.
Some folks, however, still cling to the old idea that cities are for people, that more common space should be devoted to living in the city rather than getting through it or around it.
But once you’ve got a city that’s mostly composed of street grids, devoted to moving cars around, how do you take it back? How can cities be reclaimed for people?
The city of Barcelona has come up with one incredibly clever solution to that problem.
It’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’s SUPERBLOCK
As anyone who has visited knows, Barcelona is absolutely dreamy — one of the most pleasant, walkable cities on Earth, filled with markets, sidewalk cafes, and bustling street life.
But it too has become clogged by cars and choked by air pollution over the past few decades. So in 2014 it developed an Urban Mobility Plan, designed to give the city back to people (and reduce pollution).
In America, we can’t even agree on the idea that cities are for people. We still decry bike lanes as a “war on cars,” even in our allegedly progressive West Coast cities. So from where I’m sitting, the Barcelona plan is pretty fantastic: 186 miles of new bike lanes, a revamped bus system with better access and more frequency, more green space, and on and on.
The idea is pretty simple. Take nine square blocks of city. (It doesn’t have to be nine, but that’s the ideal.) Rather than all traffic being permitted on all the streets between and among those blocks, cordon off a perimeter and keep through traffic, freight, and city buses on that.
In the interior, allow only local vehicles, traveling at very low speeds, under 10 mph. And make all the interior streets one-way loops (see the arrows on the green streets below), so none of them serve through streets.
It’s hard to believe, but the new year is almost upon us. If you’re looking at making changes to the place you live, you might want to take stock of what the experts are seeing and predicting. There could be good ideas for you to consider for your own redesign, new home purchase or remodel. Here are five pros weighing in on some of the major trends happening now: Vanessa Linn, vice president with national builder Shea Homes, which has 13 new communities in construction in San Diego County; Niko Zavala, store manager at Lowe’s San Diego location; Clay Leaf, a La Jolla-based building contractor and 2017 president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s San Diego chapter; Chrysanthe Broikos, curator at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.; Alex Capecelatro, co-founder and CEO of Josh.ai, a home technology company specializing in high-end voice control systems.
It all starts with people, including the people who live in your home today, the people who might be joining your household, (perhaps a new baby or older relative), and the people who visit regularly.
“Unprecedented shifts in both demographics and lifestyle have fundamentally transformed how we are living,” observes curator Broikos. The National Building Museum is showcasing these shifts in its current “Making Room: Housing for a Changing America” exhibition. “While only 20 percent of our households are nuclear families, (down from 40 percent in 1970), the housing market largely remains fixated on their needs,” she comments. Many households today are extended family, older singles or home shares.
Shea is one of the national home builders addressing social shifts like these. “A major factor in our layout is the impact of multigenerational families; either with adult children returning or aging relatives needing care. At a variety of our communities, we offer two options: either an additional master bedroom or a multigenerational suite with living space. We expect this to be an accelerating need in San Diego.” The region’s multicultural dynamics likely contribute to this as well, with many households having family visit from other countries for extended periods.
This is true for home renovation, too, Leaf notes. Aging-in-place projects (designed to provide safety, accessibility and comfort for older residents so they can remain at home), are happening regularly, the contractor says. “As a region with an aging population, I expect more kitchen modification for aging in place.” Bathrooms often get those enhancements first.
Interior remodels and room additions were the most requested projects in our area this year, Leaf observed from local NARI activity, and “with a short supply of new homes in San Diego, we expect this trend to continue.”
The U.S. weekly average for the 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose above 4 percent for the first time since last summer to 4.04 percent in this week’s survey. This is the highest weekly average for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage since May of 2017.
Some may be wondering if this is the last time we’ll see a three handle on the 30-year mortgage rate. Never say never, but inflation is firming, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book indicates broad-based economic growth and labor markets are tightening. This means upward pressure on long-term rates, like the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, is building.