Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spotlight on Fairfax: The Last Bastion of America?

Fairfax, Marin County. To those whom haven't been, imagine the very essence of low key, tight knit and late seventies architecture with throw backs to the hippie conclaves who made their homes there around the same time. The result is a sunny and active community that doesn't even have parking meters.

It's central advantage is it's distance from the secular ties of San Francisco and Marin proper, where big money and centralized business dictate home price. It's away from freeways but close enough down Sir Francis Drake where commuting is still plausible. Such a location has kept the median home values around $750,000 and attracts working class idealists that make it a gem for families and atypical bay area residents. Firefighters, non-profits, activists, musicians and artists all call this place home.

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300K in the Bay

The overwhelming reality of the buyers market was made crystal clear last week when MDA DataQuick reported the median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos combined in the nine-county Bay Area fell to $300,000 last month. That was down 9.1 percent from $330,000 in December and down a record 45.5 percent from $550,000 in January 2008.

Bottom line: foreclosed homes owned by banks and the like are being pawned off in an obvious effort to recoup losses before they get any worse. Hit hardest are residential areas such as Contra Costa county, with a staggering 64.4 percent downfall. Areas like Marin however, have been hit the least, losing only an estimated 26.2 percent in housing values. A resilient class of millionaires and gentrified homeowners in a palatial environment can be attributed no doubt.

The report also mentioned that average (very highly averaged in my opinion) mortgage payments in the bay were around 1300 a month. The quantity of recently foreclosed homes re-purchased and re-sold is cause for such low payments. The report did not mention what averaged rents were but I can imagine a bit higher as owners attempt to re-coup equity losses.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Planning Commission Votes Unanimously Against American Apparel

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the Planning Commission meeting that pit the over-sexed hipsters making American Apparel, versus the over sexed hipsters who wear American Apparel. Turns out the planning commission was unhappy about the companies lack of local out-reach and decided that that was enough to keep them from opening up shop. Score one for local business!

In the end the winners and loser look the same, and a stable business that provides goods and services the residents actually will go unopened.

Mr. Andy Wright, of the SF Weekly was able to attend the lively deliberation has the entertaining play-by-play.

An except on the evenings proceedings:
And then there were the more colorful commenter's. A disheveled man took the microphone and gestured wildly at Haasi with a dirty white baseball hat, proclaiming angrily that when he woke up every morning, his house smelled like coffee. (Note to Crazy Hat Guy: I will totally trade houses with you. I'll bet it smells delicious.) He was asked to stick to the topic at hand, and the dingy bell which signaled a speakers' time was up was liberally dinged.

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