Carlsbad Desalination Project Closed Successfully

The San Diego County Water Authority announced on December 24 that project financing for the Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project closed successfully. This gave $734 million in tax-exempt bond financing to construct the largest seawater desalination plant in the United States along with a 10-mile pipeline.

The closing financially was the last step that was needed before the construction could begin on the project. Grading will start within the next 10 days with an estimated completion and the beginning of operation in 2016.

Thomas V. Wornham, Chairman of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors and a retired banker stated, "This is a major milestone in the development of this historic project. Closing the financing on an approximately $1 billion project is no small feat, and to do so just three-and-a-half weeks after the Water Purchase Agreement was approved required a monumental effort by all involved."

"I congratulate the Water Authority management team and its advisers, project developer Poseidon Resources, our host city, Carlsbad, and the project site owner, NRG Energy, for coming together to make this project a reality for our community."

Carlos Riva, chief executive officer of Poseidon Resources, stated that closing on the finances is long 10-year effort to develop the project.

"We began developing this project in 1998," Riva explained. "Developing a project of this size, complexity and scope requires a great deal of risk-taking, resources and perseverance, and, for our project site owner, NRG, a good deal of patience. We appreciate the commitment NRG has shown for this vital water supply project."

Matt Hall, Carlsbad Mayor, stated the announcement was "a historic day, not only for the City of Carlsbad, but for our entire region."

"Our economy and quality of life simply do not exist without a reliable water supply," Hall stated. "That’s why the City of Carlsbad has been a tireless advocate for this project, and why we’re willing to host this regional project in our community.

"It’s one thing to say you want a project like this in your city, but it’s quite another thing to be willing to site a project on your private property, and NRG stepped up and made that commitment. ‘Corporate citizenship’ is often a vaguely defined term, but NRG shows what it means to be a good corporate citizen."

The Water Authority and Poseidon Resources a private developer sold bonds to finance the project with an interest rate of 4.78%. That rate was lower than estimates presented earlier which will save close to $200 million over the next 30 years. This will lower not only the cost of water from the project to around $125 per acre-foot but will decrease the price of the water from the plant to somewhere between $1,917 and $2,165 per acre-foot.

The 30-year purchase agreement was approved by the Water Authority’s Board of Directors with Poseidon on November 29 to purchase up to 56,000 acre-feet of water each year. The plant is permitted and is believed it will begin producing 50 million gallons of water a day in 2016. By 2020, it is estimated that the plant in Carlsbad will meet around 7% of the demand for water in the region.

A collaboration of Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. and J.F. Shea Construction will design and construct the Carlsbad plant along with the Water Authority’s pipeline. Israel-based IDE Technologies will design the highly developed water treatment system for desalination and run the facility for Poseidon, bringing several years of experience on similar projects around the world.

The desalination plant will be constructed next to NRG’s Encina Power Station in Carlsbad. The project will also include a 10-mile pipeline that will connect the new plant to the Water Authority’s aqueduct in San Marcos.

Desalination is just one piece of the Water Authority’s continuing strategy to reduce reliance on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. During the last 20 years, the Water Authority has devoted in water storage, conservation and new sources to expand its portfolio. That helps safeguard the region’s 3.1 million residents and $186 billion economy by providing a safe and reliable water supply.

If Carlsbad sounds like the perfect community for your family or your retirement years contact one of our professional real estate agents today to see the homes available in the area by calling 888-865-5055.

Dogs banned from Hunting in California

As of January 1st in the state of California, it will no longer be legal to hunt bobcats and bears with dogs.

Gary Ramey and his grown daughter traveled to hunt California bears in November to participate in the traditional bear hunt. The father and daughter hunters traveled 2,500 miles enjoy this tradition.

"When you think about it, hunting with dogs is probably the oldest hunting in history. I’m sorry to see it end," stated Gary Ramey of Gainesville, Ga.

Other supporters of the sport noted that there was an increase in the interest during the last few months that the practice will be allowed. Critics of the hunt state it is unsportsmanlike and cruel.

"This may be the last opportunity for them to use hounds to go bear hunting," explained Josh Brones, president of California Houndsmen for Conservation, which was against the new law.

Houndsmen use their dogs to track a bear and then chase it up a tree. Then the hungers can get an easy shot at the bear that is steady in the tree. For some houndsmen, the chase is the fun part and often allows the bear to go free instead of shooting.

Democratic state Senator Ted Lieu of Torrance, whose bill, SB1221, banned the hunting practice, equated killing a bear in a tree to shooting a bear in a zoo. The bears are often hunted to sheer exhaustion, packs of dogs can tear bobcats apart, and bears can injure or even kill the dogs that are chasing them.

At this time, 17 states in the US still allow the use of dog to hunt bears but 15 other states have banned the practice. The other 18 states in the United States do not permit bear hunting as reported by the Humane Society of the United States, which pushed for the law in California.

On the other hand, California and a few other states allow the use of dogs to hunt other animals, which includes various animals from birds to feral pigs. A judge in Wisconsin has for the time being banned using dogs to hunt wolves before the ban will be permanent next year.
Nevada game officials are also considering a petition to ban hunting bears with hounds.
Bear season in California closed 2 ½ weeks early this year when hunters had reached the limit of 1,700 bears. Just a little under half of the bears were tracked with dogs as noted by the figures, which is about the same as seen in previous years. California has an estimated 70,000 bobcats. They issued around 4,500 permits to hunt bobcats in 2011. Around 11% of the bobcats were killed with the use of hound dogs.

State wildlife officials believe that California’s black bear population is around 26,000, which is an increase of about 10,000 in the 1980s. Some critics question the accuracy of that figure. Brones believes lawmakers will reconsider the ban if there is an increase in troublesome bears as the population increases.

Lieu and Jennifer Fearing, the Humane Society’s California state director, stated they are not surprised by the late increase in interest in the practice.

"We’re just relieved and heartened that this is the last bear season where this cruel and unethical practice can be utilized," Fearing stated.

Ramey bid at a charity auction 18 month ago prior to the ban being enacted. He stated, "It just sounded intriguing." He also explained he had never before seen a bear outside a zoo.

Holly Heyser, a journalism teacher at California State University, Sacramento that also blogs about hunting, signed up 2 weeks ago to experience a hunt while she could. She explained that even hunters speak about lazy hunters that make the dogs do all the work for them.

She and Ramey said their hunts overturned those stereotypes as they followed the baying dogs.

"It was up and down ravines, cliffs, you name it to get there," stated Ramey. "It was physically exhausting."

He and his daughter, Grace, 20, each killed a bear, but only after letting three others go free. It seemed unsporting to shoot a bear that was cornered in a culvert, he said, and they did not feel right about shooting a mother and young bear that were in trapped in a tree.

Heyser and Ramsey both explained that using dogs to track the bears allowed them to be selective about what to shoot and it seemed more sportsmanlike than using bear bait which is also banned in California. Both stated that shooting the bears in the tree gave them clear clean kills and both use dogs to flush out pheasants.

"The difference is no one feels sorry for pheasants," Heyser stated. "They’re really pretty, but they’re chickens."

Contact one of our professional real estate agents today to see the homes available in the Southern California area by calling 888-865-5055.

Christmas Boat Parade Sets Sail

Newport Harbor will be full of Christmas Spirit with Christmas themed canoes, kayaks, boats, and yachts.

It is believed that thousands of individuals will be attending the Christmas Boat Parade even though a local group has been trying to lower the enthusiasm for the tradition.

The 104th annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade sets sail December 19, which is the first night of the five-night event. A large array of watercraft will light up the Newport Harbor with lights, music and holiday cheer. This year, those in attendance will be the first to see the fireworks display, which will open and close the event.

The parade, which charts a 14-mile route through the harbor, will run every night through Sunday beginning off Bay Island at 6:30 p.m. every evening and finishing at around 9 p.m.

The boat parade was recognized in 2011 as one of the best holiday events in the US but was targeted in December by a group known as
Stop the Dock Tax.

This group contacted homeowners along the route to turn off their Christmas decorations and take their boats out of the parade to protest the dock rents hike, which was approved last week by the city council.

Even with the controversy, the organizers of the event expect the parade will go on without any problems.

Gary Sherwin, president and CEO of Visit Newport Beach Inc., the city’s destination marketing group stated, "This event belongs to Newport Beach. No single group can take it hostage and threaten to hurt others because they have their own issue to resolve. "The Christmas Boat Parade will shine on, so bring your friends, family and guests to come down for a great show."

The Newport Beach police will be out monitoring the traffic in the area of the boat parade and stated that left-turn lanes from westbound East Coast Highway to southbound Jamboree Road and the right-turn lane from eastbound East Coast Highway onto southbound Jamboree may be closed if needed.

All parking lots in the city will be open during the parade to accommodate spectators.

If Newport Beach sounds like the perfect community for your family or your retirement years contact one of our professional real estate agents today to see the homes available in the area by calling 888-865-5055.

Poway Events

Lightbridge Carolers

Staff at LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care along with volunteers sang at the Solaris Senior Living Community on Garden Road and Gate Manor on Gate Drive on December 12. The group did a 3-day caroling trip around the county to entertain hospice patients in San Diego. The carolers brought along gingerbread houses, treats, and of course tambourines. They even took requests from the audience. One resident even got out of bed to sing along.

Discovery Isle Child Development Center Pancake Breakfast

Students at Discovery Isle Child Development Center donned chef hats and created a pancake breakfast for family and friends at the preschool as a kick start to their Isabella’s Gift Drive. The students are collecting robes, slippers, and pajamas for residents at the Rady Children’s Hospital. In addition, proceeds that were collected at the breakfast were donated.

Isabella’s Gift is a charitable foundation with the mission to help children be as comfortable as possible while being treated for cancer. The foundation was organized by the family of Isabella Zouvas, who passed away due to cancer at 4 years of age, 16 years ago. She was a former student of Discovery Isle Principal Melinda Carvalho. The students will be collecting articles for Isabella’s Gift through this Friday at the preschool.

San Diego Humane Society Presents for Paws

The San Diego Humane Society is helping animals have a happy holiday by trying to raise $10,000 for the animals during the season. The information provided is that it cost $25 for kitten milk replacement for 20 young kittens for one week, it cost $40 for basic preventative care and $125 to provide spay or neuter services.

If you are looking for perfect community for your family or your retirement years, Poway may just be the community you want to call home. Contact one of our professional real estate agents today to see the homes available in the area by calling 888-865-5055.

Luxury Home Values Going Up

In California, the value of luxury homes is on the way up. The prices are climbing in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

During the 3rd quarter of 2012 when compared to last year, the prices of luxury homes in the major metropolitan markets in California rose.

The Index shows that in the San Francisco Bay Area home values rose 8.1 percent from the figure seen in 2011 and was a 2.4 percent over the second quarter of 2012. The average price in San Francisco is $2.73 million.

In the Los Angeles area, home values rose 1 percent from the third quarter of 2011 and declined a small 0.8% from the second quarter of 2012. The average price of a luxury home in Los Angeles is $2.02 million.

In the San Diego area, home values rose 2.2 percent year-over-year and increased 0.8 percent from the second quarter of 2012. The average luxury home price in San Diego is $1.66 million.

"Luxury home prices were particularly strong in the San Francisco Bay Area during the third quarter of 2012," President and Chief Operating Officer of First Republic Bank, Katherine August-deWilde stated and went on to say, "The Bay Area economy is healthy, inventory is limited, and multiple offers are increasingly the norm. Values in Los Angeles and San Diego are rising, and some neighborhoods are experiencing strong demand. Historic low interest rates have resulted in an elevated level of activity in luxury markets throughout California."

San Diego Area Home Values

San Diego luxury homes values is the growing trend with a higher value than what was seen a year ago. Prices in the area have increased for the last three quarters on a year over year basis, which includes a 2.2 percent gain during the third quarter when compared to last year.

Michael Taylor of California Prudential Realty in Rancho Santa Fe explained, for properties over $3 million, sales activity is picking up. "We have had a higher number of units sold this year than last year for homes over $3 million," and went on to say, "To me, that indicates fear has been wrung out of the market. People are now willing to spend more to buy a home, and they’re getting significantly more home because of the recent price declines. The perception is that we are at the bottom of this market."

Farid Khayamian of Bluxen Real Estate in La Jolla stated, "There are a lot of people who want to buy," and went on to explain, "We see multiple offers everywhere, particularly when the property is priced right. A year ago, there was more inventory due to short sales and foreclosures, but that has dried up. Right now, you have to buy at the asking price. In January, we will have more inventory and possibly lower prices."

San Francisco Bay Home Values

The San Francisco Bay Area reported its second consecutive quarter of gains on a year-over-year basis. The 8.1 percent year-over-year rise in the third quarter of 2012 was the highest since the first quarter of 2006.

Malcolm Kaufman of McGuire Real Estate in San Francisco stated, "Prices for luxury homes have been strong all year," and went on to say, "There is limited inventory, the economy here has returned better than anywhere in the country, and employment is up. Lots of money is being spent on $5 million homes and $10 million homes. For some, it feels like 2005 again."

In Silicon Valley, Pat Kalish of Intero Real Estate Services in Menlo Park stated, "People have secure jobs and stable incomes," and went on to say, "Except for the highest end of the luxury market, there is strong competition for properties. We have scarcity of homes, historic low interest and an optimistic outlook. When you are out in the market, you feel the optimism."

In the Marin County, Pat Montag of Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty in Mill Valley said, "Marin has not seen the increases that have happened in Menlo Park or San Francisco," and went on to say, "We typically lag a quarter behind San Francisco. We did see an uptick at the end of third quarter in the $3 million to $5 million range. Many people are still waiting until they see what happens in Washington D.C. in the first quarter."

Los Angeles Area Home Values

In the Los Angeles area home value rose 1 percent from last year but did drop just a bit from the second quarter

Dan Weiser of Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills South stated, "On the west side of Los Angeles, inventory is scarce and demand is high. We’re back to 2007 sales volume. Prices are probably within 10% of the height of the market. Sellers are getting incredible prices for properties in the highest end of the luxury market."

Michele Hall of Coldwell Banker in Brentwood explained, "New construction is flying off the shelf, with all cash and multiple offers. We’re seeing multiple offers in every price range, and there are fewer foreclosures and short sales. Inventory opened up, but was then snapped up."

In Santa Barbara, Joanne Schoenfeld of Santa Barbara Living Real Estate Brokerage explained, "The luxury market is very strong in Santa Barbara and Montecito," and went on to say, "There is a lot more activity and closed sales than last year. Prices continue to rise slightly, and I don’t see them going down any time soon. It’s a good, strong market."

Home Prices Increase in County

The median price reached the highest point seen since July of 2008.

The median home price increased 13.7% from November of 2011 to November 2012 in San Diego County. Sales are on the increase and as a matter of fact were the best seen since seven years ago in the same month reported DataQuick.

In November the median price was $358,000 which is the highest median price seen since July of 2008. This was the time when the market starting sliding downhill. In March of 2003 the prices had were on their way up at $357,000.

President of DataQuick John Walsh stated, "Investor activity and cash and more buyers feel confident about their jobs, the economy and the likelihood housing prices have bottomed and are likely to rise. We’re also seeing non-distressed sales, where people sell at a profit and buy another house, triggering more move-up activity."

In general, prices have not hit the peak of November 2005 being 30.8% of the mark but did rise 27.9% from the low seen in January of 2009 at $280,000.
In November of 2012, the number of homes on the market in San Diego County was 3,371, which was a 22.4% increase over the same time a year ago.

Michael Lea, San Diego State University economist Michael Lea, explained that the decline of distressed property in the market is a factor along with other housing. "All signals are pretty favorable for next year to continue the recent pace," Lea said.

The 19 communities found in Riverside County close to the San Diego line, the median price was at $243,000, up 3.6% from October and 10.5% from November 2011. The number of homes sales was 1,139, up 12.7% from the same time a year ago.

DataQuick credited the increases in both prices and sales to a larger demand for higher-priced homes and a decline in low-cost foreclosure properties.

The San Diego Association of Realtors explained one of the reasons for the increase in sales, which is the decline in inventory.

In San Diego County on December 5, there were 4,636 homes for sale on the local multiple-listing service. This figure was 50.2% down from the figure seen a year ago with an average listing of 9,303. This low inventory level is close to what was seen in the spring of 2004, explained the San Diego Association of Realtors.

"We’re seeing multiple offers on homes across the county and median prices are being driven up as a result," said the association’s president, Donna Sanfilippo.

Willis-Allen agent Vincent Crudo in La Jolla stated that is giving offers to home owners from his clients that are interested in the home that are not on the market.

La Jolla agent, Maxine Gellens, stated 33 homes selling for $3 million or more closed in 2011 and 59 are expected to close this year in the 92037 ZIP code area. "Once the upper end starts moving, I think everything else starts moving," she stated.

Chula Vista real estate agent, Richard Wyllie, stated at this time there is only 1.3 months of inventory available in the Eastlake area, due to the decline in bank-foreclosed properties. "It’s about the lowest it’s been for a while," he said.

The number of non-distressed properties is rising. Wyllie stated that of the 29 properties that are for sale, around 19 are standard homes that did not go through the foreclosure process.

"The market hasn’t gone up that much, but it’s enough for some people to see a little bit of profit in the sale," he said.

The trend all around Southern California is close to what is being seen in San Diego County with sales up 14.2% to 19,285 and median prices up 16.7% to $321,000 in the region.

Other findings in the report for Southern California include:

  • Foreclosure sales: 15.3% of all transactions involving properties foreclosed in the previous 12 months — compared with 16.3% in October and 31.6% in November of 2011.
  • Short-sales: Homes that sold for less than their mortgage balance made up 26.6% of transactions, up from 25.4% seen a year ago. In San Diego County, short sales were 28.7% of the sales, compared with 28% a year ago.
  • Mortgages: 5.7% of all loans were adjustable, which is down from 6% in October and 6.2% in November of 2011. FHA-insured loans were 15.9% of the mortgages, down from 21.7% seen a year ago. The average mortgage payment was $1,146, which is up from $1,049 a year ago.

If San Diego sounds like a community, you would like to call home, contact a San Diego Realtor at 888-865-5055.