Last night the proposed Pacific Highlands Ranch Village Center was again a topic of discussion at the Carmel Valley Planning Board Meeting. The meeting was well attended by concerned residents, especially from Airoso, the Standard Pacific - built townhomes that border the Pacific Highlands Ranch Village on Village Loop. Other neighboring communities within Pacific Highlands Ranch that would be directly affected by the construction of the Village Center are Arabella, Portico, Santa Rosa, Bordeaux and Soleil at Bordeaux. Present at the meeting to re-present the building plan were representatives from Pardee Homes and Lattitude 32.
Pardee and Lattitude restated the primary concerns which were originally voiced on September 11, 2007. They included first a concern over the existence, size and location of the proposed multi-screen cinema. Second, concern over the size and presence of residential condos planned for corner closest to the entrance of Airoso. Third, a question of whether the parking structure would be too large and imposing. And finally, there was some concern that a commercial building proposed at the end of the main pedestrian walkway would limit views to the South.
Since those concerns were voiced, the plan was adjusted to accommodate some of those concerns. And after hearing addition comments last night, the Planning Board was able to provide Pardee and Lattitude 32 with some recommendations After nearly two hours of discussion, Board questions, resident input and more, there were some outcomes and recommendations that it seemed the majority of the rooms was happy with.
With regards to the cinema, Pardee has agreed to look into making three important adjustments: 1) reduce the size of the theater from accommodating 8 screens to something close to 4-6 screens; 2) controlling or adjusting the operational hours of the cinema to limit very late night use and high volumes of patrons leaving all at once; and 3) implementing increased security measures - perhaps involving on-site guards and/or cameras.
The concern over the appearance of the condo at the NE corner of the Pacific Highlands Ranch Village was mostly centered around the initial condo building being 3-4 stories and being overwhelming and ominous compared to the 2-story Airoso townhomes. Pardee has agreed to explore lowering the height of the first (and most visible) row of condos to 2 stories or perhaps varying it from 2-3 stories for better visual appeal and to “soften” that corner. The 4-story buildings would be shifted to the interior of the plan to be less visible.
Pardee and Lattitude explained that the parking structure (4 stories above ground) would not be visible “line of sight” from within the Village and most seemed fine with the explanation in conjunction with the visuals on hand.
The final issue of the commercial building at the end of the pedestrian Village area was difficult to tackle because so much of it depends upon what is built around it and trying to imagine how it will look in the end. The Board mostly did not seem to have a problem with the structure, but did suggest that it be architecturally compelling and interesting since it will be so visible. They also suggested that the grassy area near there be enhanced, but with an “urban” sense about it. It’s not intended to be a place to go play ball, but rather a gathering place to families to enjoy.
In all, it was a good meeting that never got too heated and at least from appearance, most of our concerns were addressed or will be addressed. The next and possibly final revision of the plan will be presented most likely at the November Community Planning Board meeting in Carmel Valley.
As a resident of Pacific Highlands Ranch myself, I and my family are excited about the presence of the Village Center. My only comment at the meeting was that I feel that having a Cinema or something similar is critical in creating a Village Center that is a destination, not just a place to shop and leave. We don’t want it to become a transient center similar to Piazza Carmel. I believe we need a place where we as residents can walk, stay and enjoy; and with the current plan and revisions, it looks as though that’s what we’ll get. It’s important for us all to stay involved in the process though to ensure that we protect our interests and help make this community safe, friendly, usable and a joy to be a part of.
I welcome your comments on the meeting, the Pacific Highlands Ranch Village Center or anything else that you’d like to bring up.
I spend quite a bit of time analyzing and understanding the real estate market and economy we are experiencing today. What I’ve found is that you can’t always believe what you read. You really have to study the fine print and understand the context of the facts and figures you are presented with. As Gregory Smith, San Diego’s County Assessor pointed out, although foreclosures are up significantly in percentage, the gross number is still a tiny percentage of the total home owners… and many of those are timeshare foreclosures, not single family homes. The article below by Alan Nevin helps put some perspective on our market. Remember, newspapers won’t sell if the headline reads “Everything this is OK!” - they need to sensationalize the facts to keep selling papers.
Psychology, shakeout of speculators slowing regional real estate market, not economy August 18, 2007
Written by: Alan N. Nevin, a director of economic research for MarketPointe Realty Advisors, a San Diego firm that analyzes the real estate market. He is also chief economist for the California Building Industry Association.
These are strange times we live in, especially if you are in the business of studying the San Diego housing market. The last time we had a really serious cutback in housing demand was in the early 1990s. At the time, we were in a national recession, General Dynamics decided to leave town, the savings and loan associations folded, and the construction industry went silent. The construction industry went silent because it needed the S&Ls to fund it. From January 1990 to mid-1993 the county lost 50,000 jobs and the unemployment rate increased from 3.9 percent to 7.6 percent. It was a miserable time for the local economy.
Now compare that to today. We have been gaining jobs steadily since 1993. Since then, the county has gained one-third of a million jobs. And not just hamburger flippers. Since 1993, we have had a massive increase in high-paying jobs relating to telecommunications, biotech, biomed, manufacturing, financial services and health care. And the unemployment rate is back down to just over 4.0 percent. Despite the cutback in construction jobs locally, total wage and salary jobs have increased by almost 20,000 in the past year. In fact, according to the state’s Employment Development Department, if you exclude the 5,500 jobs lost in construction, our net employment would be up more than 25,000 jobs in the past year. I should point out that the construction industry has four components: new residential, new commercial, infrastructure and residential and commercial remodeling. The new residential construction component is in a funk, but the rest of the construction industry is on a roll. Thanks largely to the bond issues we passed recently, the infrastructure industry (including roads, schools and hospitals) is well set for massive employment gainsover the next decade.
So why is the new housing construction and the resale housing market sagging? Well, first at all, every time somebody buys a new house, approximately four persons buy a resale.Thus, when the home-building industry is not doing well, the resale industry suffers as well. And, of course, the major puzzle is: If the economy is expanding by 20,000 jobs a year, why isn’t the homebuilding and resale market booming? I think the answer has to do with psychology and consumer confidence. We can’t blame it on the woes of the financial industry, because the sagging real estate market started long before there were money troubles. I think the real answer is that at some magic moment in 2005, potential buyers looked at the highly aggressive pricing of home sellers (new and resale) and said to themselves: “That’s enough. I won’t pay these silly prices and I’m going to wait until they return to some form of normalcy.” And that is exactly what potential buyers are doing. In other words, it has nothing to do with Econ 101 and supply and demand. The basic demand is still there because, like everywhere else in the nation, the American Dream is to own a home. On the other hand, the dream doesn’t include payments that are destructive to one’s lifestyle. So what we are clearly seeing now is a back-off from the silly prices of 2005. Where does that leave the folks who bought in 2005? Unfortunately, a number of those folks probably shouldn’t have taken advantage of funny money loans and didn’t have the FICA [or credit] scores to support traditional loans. From a macro-economic standpoint, this county has 750,000 homeowners. A relatively small percentage of those homeowners bought in the crazy days of 2004 and 2005. And a smaller percentage yet had the silly loans. In 2007, as many as 7,000 households will lose their homes to foreclosure, less than 1 percent of the total owners. Now that doesn’t mean that the 1 percent will not be devastated by their losses, but it does mean that 99 percent of the population will muddle through. After all, almost one-third of the homeowners in the county own their homes free and clear, and the average loan to value in the county is 75 percent, so most homeowners are doing just fine. Hopefully, you’re among the blessed. What does it take for the market to correct itself? Primarily it takes a renewal of confidence and most probably a dose of optimism from the local press. In the economics of recovery, we have learned over time that
San Diego is a “V” economy. That means that when the potential home buyers decide it’s time to buy, they do so with a vengeance. Most other markets are “U”-shaped, which means that they recover slowly. Now the puzzle gets more complicated because the supply of new housing is fading rapidly and builders are not processing a sufficient number of lots to allow them to supply the market when it turns around.As you may have noticed, we do not have many acres left for single-family construction. In fact, in North
County, the number of new master-planned communities being prepared for development is fast approaching zero. Further, a number of the bigger builders have left town, probably for good, because they cannot obtain a sufficient number of lots to produce reasonably priced single-family housing in volume. Further, they inherently know that most San Diegans are not prone to live in high-rises, particularly in the suburbs. Therefore, what we do know is that when the market turns around and the potential buyers come out in droves, the supply of product will not be there. We also know that prices have declined somewhat, but that contrary to several devastating projections by the Eastern press, home prices are not going to drop 40 percent, or 30 percent or 20 percent or even 10 percent. In the recession of the early 1990s, the average home price declined only 5 percent. Today, we know that few people list their homes unless they have to, so the inventory of unsold homes is relatively modest. What we also know is that the vast majority of homes going through foreclosure are of lesser quality and often in need of major repair and renovation. There are fewer homes listed for sale now than there were at the peak of the boom in 2005. And the inventory of new homes has plummeted. Currently, countywide, there are fewer than 6,000 new units offered for sale and 2,000 of them are condominium conversions. And in case you think the market is completely dead, please note that in the first half of the year, local developers sold more than 4,500 units. Of those, 1,600 were single-family homes averaging more than $800,000, and 75 percent of them were in North County. And this year, we will sell more than 20,000 resale homes countywide as well. So there you have it. If you are a potential home buyer, you have the opportunity to play Russian roulette. The game is simple. You try to guess when the housing market is going to be at the bottom of the “V.” If you miss by a few months, you’ll wind up paying a lot more than you can get a home for now. And you also realize that homes are to live in, not bet on.Article provided by: California Title Company