Monday, February 23, 2009

IRS Expanding In Downtown Ogden

Back in August, the Standard Examiner reported that the city administration was actively trying to recruit more IRS jobs to downtown and was searching for a site for such a use. This is the site that has been selected and accepted by the IRS.

This existing building is the old Denver Rio Grand Rail Road Freight Building. It is just two buildings east of Wall on the north side of 24th Street. Demolition of the structure is almost certainly necessary for the project to move forward. The new building will be 5 stories and house 500 IRS workers. That will certainly be a shot in the arm to businesses and restaurants in Downtown.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Where is the Gang Crime?

Crime occurs in every city. Usually though, the crime is concentrated in general geographic areas. There was a recent KSL report about a gang-related shooting in Ogden. However, they neglected to tell the readers exactly where this occurred.

It's important to clarify approximately where gang-related activities are happening and understand why. Typically they happen where gangsters live. Gang related violence is usually a spur of the moment crime where one individual is verbally insulted by an opposing gang member and then feels forced to defend his "honor" in some sort of violent manner. Then, usually within 24 hours, retributions occur on either side of the dispute.

This kind of violence is different than mobster violence in that mobsters tend to hold grudges and plot revenge over long periods of time. Gang-related violence is very impulsive. However, most tends to happen after 11pm.

While running for political office I knocked many many doors and walked nearly every street that you will see on this map. Based on what I know about the neighborhoods, my experience while I was there, and where the reported crimes are happening, I have created this map to show approximately where gang-related crimes are occurring. (Note: This map is not related to other crimes.)

The light pink zone is an area of lighter gang-related activity. The dark pink zone is where the majority of news worthy events are occurring. Most, unfortunately, are happening around 28th and Lincoln near the Marshall White Community center.

The green zone is the East Central Bench Historic District. It is the area that is seeing the most rejuvenation in the city. Notice that the pink area overlaps in the Historic District on the southwest corner. A few years ago, the overlap was much much larger. There has been a lot of progress made in the past few years of cleaning up the neighborhoods. I anticipate that this trend will continue and ultimately the "pink zone" will be constrained to the west of Washington Blvd.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

NAR: Government Lapdogs

I am thoroughly unimpressed with the NAR. They recently sent an email to its members:

Here's our take on the Stimulis Bill and Treasury announcements made this week. We look at the Stimulis package AND the Treasury's package holistically, in compliment with each other - mostly because that's how the Obama team is looking at it. Your representatives, the NAR Board of Directors, asked us in November to do 4 things (with an unspoken but clearly understood mandate to PRESERVE what we already have). Here they are: 1) get loan limits raised for high cost areas, 2) make the $7,500 tax credit NOT a loan, 3) try to find ways to push interest rates down (which are higher than they should be due to systemic risk right now) by 200 basis points, and 4) help provide solutions to the foreclosure/short sale problem.

Is it reassuring that the NAR is looking at things the exact same way that the Government leadership is looking at it? An object approach would be more appropriate. The rest of the points are market meddling. Private lenders know how best to determine risk. Tax credits distort the market. Legislating interest rates is economic insanity and not capitalism. Foreclosures ARE the solution and not the problem.

The letter goes on to talk about all of the NAR's achievements and how great they are. The letter finishes:

While we study the Treasury specifics on their major role in providing the rest of the housing solution -- there is much more to come and we are working diligently with the Administration to help 'unclog the pipeline' and get capital flowing into housing again.

Nice. I am so looking forward to "much more to come". In response to this awful drivel, I sent the NAR my thoughts:

To Whom It May Concern:

Your claim of looking at the treasury package and stimulus bill “holistically” is very ironic. If you stepped outside of the narrow-minded real estate perspective, you would realize that this stimulus bill will only add to Realtor’s problems. This bill was not merely a real estate incentives bill, it was a spending bill with the bulk of the money going to non-job creating projects. So here are the points of why this bill is bad:

1. Unprecedented spending by our government will ultimately bring inflation which will ultimately bring higher interest rates.
2. The U.S. debt is skyrocketing and with more debt to be issued to pay for the bill, foreign nations will scoff at purchasing our debt unless its interest rates are high enough to justify the risk.
3. This bill creates few jobs. Lenders do not lend to people without jobs. Nor should they be expected to.

This bill is bad government and bad economics. The NAR has missed the implications of this bill and expects its members to be happy with short-term and near-sighted benefits. Unfortunately, the cost to Realtors will be much higher down the road now that this bill has passed.

The NAR should desist from behaving like the dog that brings its catch home to its owner and expects praise and adoration. The catch it brought home this time is a skunk.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gold, Food Storage, and Real Estate

Thanks to Ken Coman pointing me toward this video:

I find it hilarious how many people laugh and mock this guy. Truly amazing. During periods of inflation, food and tangible goods and investments (gold, real estate, land, coins, commodities) ride you through the storm. Growing a garden is a good idea. Putting money in the stock market or CD at your bank is not a good idea during periods of inflation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Labor of Love Post Mortem

You might recall the wall paper scraping project that I started on New Years: New Year's Labor of Love.

We took a vacation in January and it was so refreshing that when we got home my dear wife prodded us to finish the bedroom AND the hallway/stairway. So here it is:





NOTE: We use the Eddie Bauer Bungalow Color palette from Lowe's for all of our paint colors. The walls are "Sage" and the ceiling is "Vanilla Bean". The hallway/stairway is "Pecan".

This project wiped me out (so much for that refreshing vacation) so I will be taking it easy for a couple weeks. When spring arrives we will get to work on our custom made cedar fence! I will show you how you can make an awesome cedar fence for less than those cheesy vinyl fences.

Picture of the Day: Tenant Art

Look at all these pretty colors.

I found this charming art in the stairway of a bank owned fourplex today. Looks like the tenants discovered it was being foreclosed on.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bottom of the Abyss?

Sales numbers are in for January. Only 120 homes sold. Have we reached the bottom of transaction volume? Will sales continue their downward trend? Look for real estate agents driving more Ford Focuses than BMWs.

I will go out on a limb here and predict that January was "the bottom". I believe sales will move in a stable but non-growth (12 month moving average) pattern for several years to come. I hope that I am right on this one. Otherwise, if we keep up this trendline, we will sell ZERO homes in Jan 2011. I don't think that is likely.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Minefield of Geologic Hazards

The Standard Examiner today had an article about lots being developed in "hillside protection zones" in North Ogden City. Apparently, the city has not given clear indication of what kind of treatment development in these zones require.

It would serve our cities best to pay close attention to common possible risks associated with developing in our region.

Here is a list of landslides and debris flows up through 1992 in the Ogden area (click to enlarge):

Clearly building to close to moving dirt can put homes in harms way.

Here is another interesting diagram:

Much of the neighborhood south of the Dee Event Center is build on a giant rock slide from Beus Canyon.

Earthquake hazards are also unavoidable in Utah. I thought this diagram was interesting because it shows what happens to the water table and land elevations in the event of an earthquake.

The moral of this diagram is that neighborhoods in Syracuse, West Point, Hooper, and parts of Farr West and Plain City are going to be in real trouble if an earthquake strikes. These cities are at very low elevation in relation the the lake. The developers also dug basements for these homes. Many of the homes I have showed in these areas have sump pumps to keep water from seeping into the basements. If an earthquake strikes, you are going to need more than a sump pump to keep the water out.

Finally, there is the hazard of building on fault lines. Here is a photo of the mouth of Ogden Canyon looking south in 1909. Look at that nice fault line winding its way up the bench.

The East bleachers at Weber State University are built on top of a 60 foot vertical fault scarp (one of the largest exposed scarps in Weber County).

Material courtesy USGS and Field Guide To Geologic Excursions in Utah and Adjacent Areas of Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming, G.S.A. field guide, Rocky Mountain Section, edited by J.R. Wilson, 481 p., 1992 $16.95 MP-92-3

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ogden Safer Than Salt Lake City

Some very interesting statistics have come out recently on crime in the downtown Ogden area. The Crime Reduction Task Force created in November 2007 has made significant strides in reducing crime in the the East Central Bench Historic District.

To summarize, all types of crime have declined from 15% to 35%. Way to go Ogden PD!

Here are some links to stats comparing Ogden to Salt Lake City. Very insightful:


Looks like all the good things the media are saying about Ogden are coming true.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ogden Getting Noticed

Another recent article from USA Today giving accolades to Ogden and its up-and-coming status as a great recreation community:

Two Prime Utah Ski Spots Gaining Traction

Its a good read.