Monday, December 4, 2017

Not My Backyard!

Literally "not in my backyard" is the new cry from affordable housing advocates.  It is a catch 22 as they say as it offers what used to be called a Mother-in-law unit, a AUD or just extra space for guests, family and small income generator (in today's Air BnB even more so) is now the nemesis of the neighborhood.  Lots that once housed a single family unit now hold multiple dwellings, often called tall skinny's or what I call the coffin boxes.  The idea is to build urban density and in turn enable more environmental use in the process. 

Does anyone ever watch Property Brothers? Flip this House? Fixer Upper?  I have never seen any sense of green build or environmental consciousness in any of the projects let alone inspections or assessments made prior to the property's purchase and eventual remodel.  Of course planning, design, permits and process don't make for good TV.  But what you do see is gentrification in process.  There is no energy saving consciousness and environmental awareness when you are looking at the dollar sign. 

I love the shows but then again I take offense at the hideous Million Dollar Listing and the weird mannerisms and inflated sense of self worth that these idiots have. At least the Brothers, Flippers and Fixers swing hammers and you do see some sense of budget and basics when it comes to remodeling and building. 

Green building is I think less excitement and now simply more of demand, need and less of choice.  I loathed the silly LEED star system and while you see it now and then it is not something I think regular folks care about.  Energy savings and cost performance yes.  I do shudder when I see conventional duct HVAC systems installed and in turn few and never alternative energy options.  Only once did I see radiant heat be installed at a clients demand and that was because the home already had a boiler which was easily converted.  Otherwise nothing.  Remember the Green Channel? Yeah, me either.

The current vogue is the tiny house and again I see that as a mother-in-law or second home arrangement and totally inapprorpriate in an urban setting as a single family dwelling.  But as we are seeing this here in Nashville it is an issue surrounding a Church and their use of these for the homeless.  Again a great transition use for those in need.   And way preferable to the "cell" blocks or single unit apartments that are now being touted as a great alternatives for single dwellers.  Funny that these are not being built or used for that cohort. Nope not the best way to make money per square foot by people too stupid to do the math.

The crisis is real.  The reality is that many of the Apartments and housing units being built are for a luxury market and not the mainstream.   Here in Nashville we have just opened the 505 which is the address of a high end condo/apartment in "downtown" Nashville.  There are no services what so ever for residents to avail themselves unless they have a car.  It is directly adjacent to the park that now serves as the homeless campground so I suspect residents will push for them to be moved elsewhere.  Where is that exactly?  At least centrally located it makes it easier for the charities that serve them and they do on a daily basis.  From hot food to foot washing it is something to see.

But many of the apartment buildings here are all over the top with coffee bars, gyms, lounges, computer rooms and roof top gardens and bbq's.  One woman wrote the local paper that on a Friday night she was the only one using the main lounge and that less than half the building is occupied and rent reductions are being made which infuriates her as she did not get hers reduced and was the first occupant.  I see her point. 

While the building is welcome especially in those cities where housing is at a premium the catch up game is not going well. In Seattle it is leading to lawsuits and massive debates over what was originally a push to go green. Well green but not that green when the tall skinny's and the single SRO's starting showing up.  The push for density has made Seattle now hit the 700K mark and it doesn't seem to be slowing down.  Nashville with their crazy altering 80-100 people a day moving here is facing growth but the reality is that property is starting to max out as I already about in the Bubble post earlier.   The current prediction is that Nashville will hit a burst in the next two years.  It is what I have suspected and most of it has to do with wages and the rising cost of living which is not parallel.  Add to that the additional costs of commuting, taxes on food and the simpleton nature of the conservancy as I now call it does not help.

When I read this article in The New York Times about Berkeley I was not surprised as that is the most extreme of liberal melting pots I have ever lived.  I moved to the Oakland/Emeryville adjunct as it was undergoing gentrification and it was desperately needed, Berkeley has its own mindset and with it a mind of its own and in turn it has led to a new show "Housing Wars" coming to HGTV. Well it would be great as Fixer Upper is shutting down production.

But this story is any city that is the "it" city and is leading a path with industry, immigration and desirability.  The reality is people are not moving at great rates as the costs are prohibitive.  Today's move is confined to a UHaul and do it yourself.  Frankly I plan on moving one last time with even less for many reasons, but I plan on doing it myself via storage to go units.   I have also written about Allied Van Lines and Hanson's Brothers role in the debacle that was my last move and no longer trust nor will use a moving company.   Without some legislation and some change in laws with regards to that industry you will find more people cohabitating in major industrial hubs on both coasts with some migration to the South for weather not work.  Although the recent hurricane season and heat waves may change that.

We used to be a mobile society with the idea of having many styles of home options for the many kinds of dwellers. The idea of the startup home and the empty nester with everything in between and then 2008 happened.  I think it has affected how we look at and to housing for its role in the American portfolio.  And in turn it may explain why savings are at all time low, banks do little to encourage said process offering nothing in the rates to accommodate that.  Cheap loans and the idea that one's home is one's nest egg that is of exceeding ongoing permanent value forgets that a house like anything is only what your willing to pay for it.  And that is matter of debate that we can thank Realtor's for for failing to realize that not everyone can pay that price.  They were are another reason housing costs are exorbitant.  Why no one seems to neglect to mention their role in the housing crisis then and now needs to watch that shitty Million Dollar Listing to see my point.


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