Summaries and links to the day's top housing and homebuilding news from major media outlets. Industry News also is available by e-mail. CBIA members or press can subscribe to this free service.
May 4, 2012
Fees and Costs
- Cutting home-building impact fees in Anderson urged
An Anderson homebuilder and its listing agent are lobbying the city to cut its building impact fees, a move they believe will jump-start construction and create more jobs. The plea comes on the heels of similar programs in Redding and Red Bluff as the depressed building industry looks to rebound. "I think the community of Anderson, if put to a poll, would overwhelmingly vote for some kind of break to be given," said Sam Yount, of Banner Real Estate, who is marketing the Silvergate subdivision for builder Nouvant homes. Yount is convinced that cutting fees $2,000 to $5,000 will benefit Anderson, much like Redding's decision last fall to slash impact fees $12,500 for each home has helped spur construction there.
- San Juan weighs cut in development fees
Orange County Register
San Juan Capistrano's City Council will consider a committee recommendation to cut all city development fees, including the fee that residential developers pay to help fund housing for lower-income residents, by 10 percent in response to concerns by a builders group. The council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto. Members of the council have said the city's housing fee could jeopardize the viability of proposed housing projects. The council asked for a review of the fee after representatives of the Building Industry Association of Southern California said the city's developer fees are some of the highest in the county – up to $100,000 per residential unit.
- Calif. population nears 37.7M, but growth is slow
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California added about 250,000 residents last year, bringing the total population to just under 37.7 million as the state continues with modest growth amid a weak economy, according to a report released Tuesday by the state Department of Finance. California's population grew less than 1 percent in 2011, as it did the year before, but the growth rate still was equivalent to adding a city roughly the size of Irvine. The slow growth in California is reflected in the housing industry, which has been in a slump since the recession began in late 2007. Finance department demographers say the state added 35,500 residential units in 2011, compared to 198,000 units during the peak year of 2005.
Land Use/ Planning
- Redwood City Saltworks project could take a fateful turn Monday
Marin Independent Journal
At its meeting Monday night, the Redwood City City Council will consider options that range from asking voters to weigh in on the massive development in the November election to doing a citywide survey to just waiting for a revised proposal to be submitted. Or the council could resume the environmental review of the polarizing plan, first pitched three years ago by Arizona-based developer DMB Associates for the 1,400-acre Cargill salt flats east of Highway 101, just south of Seaport Boulevard. Last year, the city embarked on a comprehensive study of the proposed development, which then included as many as 12,000 homes, office space, retail shops and schools. Half of the site was to be transformed into parks, recreation areas and restored tidal marshes under the so-called "50/50" plan.
- Valley Center development plans submitted
U-T San Diego
VALLEY CENTER — Plans to build a long-debated community with as many as 1,746 homes in Valley Center were submitted to county planners Monday. Developer Randy Goodson, head of the Accretive Group, filed the documents this week for Lilac Hills Ranch, which would also include a town center, with a grocery store, coffee shop and doctors offices; a school; and recreation areas. The project is planned for the west side of Valley Center by Interstate 15. The project, formerly called the Valley Center Sustainable Community, was first pitched in 2009. The project would need to be connected by a new east-west road between I-15 and West Lilac Road.
- Windsor developers swapping housing for apartments
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
With the slump in the housing market, developers for two large pieces of property in Windsor are re-tooling their projects to build rental apartments instead of homes to sell. A proposal for 17 acres immediately north of Walmart could provide up to 325 apartments, replacing a plan for 83 single-family homes and 120 senior apartments. Dubbed “Hembree Village,” the project will be the subject of a conceptual review tonight at a joint meeting of the Town Council and Planning Commission. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. An official application and potential approval likely would not come until next year.
- CARLSBAD: Pier, waterfront walk proposals up for debate
North County Times
A proposal to put a pier near the mouth of Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad may become the latest battleground in the city's multiyear effort to update a planning document that will guide future growth in the seaside town. During the commission meeting, set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, commissioners will hear a presentation on three draft "concept" plans that each offer a different vision of what Carlsbad could look like. One of the three plans, called "Concept B ---- Active Waterfront," contains the pier proposal, among other suggested developments for the city's coastline. More coastal hotels, restaurants and housing also are envisioned in the plan. A second plan, called "Centers," would encourage the growth of so-called mixed-use projects ---- developments that contain housing and shops.
- US construction spending barely increased in March
WASHINGTON—U.S. builders barely increased their spending on construction projects in March after two straight months of declines. A pickup in single-family home construction and commercial projects offset a steep drop in state and local government building. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that construction spending ticked up 0.1 percent. The small March gain left construction spending at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $808.1 billion. That's 6 percent above a 12-year low of $762.6 billion hit last March. Still, the level of spending is roughly half of what economists consider to be healthy. Private residential activity rose 0.7 percent. The increase was driven by more construction of single-family homes.
- Housing finance chief blocked plan to reduce mortgage principal, congressmen say
A top U.S. housing regulator failed to implement a plan to cut loan principal balances for millions of underwater homeowners even though a pilot program showed two years ago it could save taxpayers money, two House Democrats said Tuesday. Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage giant Fannie Mae, "apparently ha(s) been withholding from Congress" documents showing the potential benefits of the program to taxpayers and homeowners, according to Reps. Elijah Cummins of Maryland and John Tierney of Massachusetts. The two Democrats, in a letter to DeMarco that was released to msnbc.com, said they obtained the documents from an independent source.
- Fixing the mortgage mess
Los Angeles Times
The housing market's boom and bust exposed stunning flaws in the housing finance system, from lax underwriting to sloppy record-keeping to incompetent loan servicing. California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris is pushing lawmakers to incorporate some of the lessons learned into a new state law governing foreclosures, but lenders are resisting, arguing that the mortgage meltdown was just a "temporary" crisis that doesn't justify a permanent change in law. That's wishful thinking, and legislators should give troubled borrowers more protection against lenders' procedural shortcuts. The dispute focuses on Harris-backed bills related to the settlement that five major national banks reached in February with 49 state attorneys general and the federal government.
- Lennar to Start Marketing ‘Multi-Generational’ Homes at River Village
Home builder Lennar Corp. said Tuesday it is ready to bring its “Next Gen” home-within-a-home to Lexington at River Village in Valencia on May 5. Lennar has already seen tremendous interest from the public since they introduced this concept in other areas and is beyond excited to be the first homebuilder to bring this “never before seen” floor plan now to the Valencia and Santa Clarita area. Lennar has designed a home that allows extended family to live all together in one home – except with private and separate living spaces. The economy has dramatically contributed to the decision to build this type of product. Many aging parents have seen their retirement investments diminish during recent years and many college-age children are finding it necessary to move back home.
- Foreclosures held steady in March
Los Angeles Times
The number of U.S. homes struggling through foreclosure held steady in March but fell from a year earlier, new data show, indicating that the huge wave of foreclosures that some housing experts keep predicting isn’t even a whitecap yet. About 1.4 million homes, or 3.4% of all homes with a mortgage, were at some stage in the foreclosure process last month, the same as in February but down slightly compared with 1.5 million in March 2011, Santa Ana research firm CoreLogic said. Banks completed 69,000 foreclosures in March compared with 85,000 a year earlier and 66,000 a month earlier. In the first quarter, lenders completed 198,000 foreclosures compared with 232,000 in the same period last year.
Water/ Energy/ Environmental
- A Bold Plan for Sustainable California Communities
Wall Street Journal
More unmitigated sprawl, more smog, more cars on our already congested freeways—is that tarnish what Californians really want to see for the future of the Golden State? Wendell Cox, in his April 7 Cross Country: "California Declares War on Suburbia," indicates that's a favorable path, while mischaracterizing the intent and impact of a bill I authored in 2008 that will provide California residents exactly what they want: more housing options, greater access to public transportation, shorter commute times and an average savings of $3,000 per household per year on transportation and energy costs. The California Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375) is a rational approach that serves as a blueprint for other states on how to turn inevitable growth into smart growth.
- A workshop for builders
Santa Clarita Signal
The Building Industry Association of Southern California wants to help make contractors aware of recent rule changes by offering a local lead-safe and certification class May 31 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Home Depot on Newhall Ranch Road in Santa Clarita. A 2010 Environmental Protection Agency rule change requires construction firms working with lead-based paint to become EPA-certified. The EPA now requires any contractor or maintenance staff — including plumbers, electricians and painters — that disturb more than 6 square feet of lead paint to be Lead-Safe Certified. Violators can face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.