Of course, with the SNF all we need to do is wait for another 60 or so days when our Blight Ordinance kicks in and the responsible party (the property's owner) begins to realize that there are consequences to allowing so visible a commercial property to sit and rot. And even he must be realizing that hell will freeze over before this City will ever again elect a government that will cut him that measure of slack. The Shenanigan Era is over, and with it the freedom to turn investment properties into eyesores.
But not every place is as fortunate as the one we live in. The solutions to their problems are nowhere near as simple. And the website Mint Life nicely details some of the worst casualties of the real estate market collapse. In an article there entitled Modern Day Ghost Towns of Abandoned Real Estate, some of the worst cases are described. I've picked out a few of the more regional ones.
Riverside County, California - It is ... important to note that this area was a known hub for building up Southern California's rapid suburban sprawl - not only was this one of the state's regions with the most expansion, but it was also an area that furnished many of the construction companies with cheap labor that made surrounding communities' growth possible. By August of 2008, the median price of a home in Riverside County dropped to $220k, the first time it had dipped under $300k since the 1990s. In some Riverside County neighborhoods, as many as 20% of all homes have been foreclosed and now sit vacant.
Stockton, California - Currently, 90% of all sales in the greater Stockton region are either foreclosures or short sales. The median house price dropped to $237k by December '08, the lowest it has been since February 2003. It is estimated that housing prices in former boom markets are more than 40% off what they had been leading up to 2007.
Las Vegas - Just over a year ago, the Greater Las Vegas Board of Realtors calculated that 45% of the 22,000 single family houses for sale at the time were actually vacant. Most of all these were houses abandoned by new area residents, or investment properties by the area's thousands of speculators who were drawn to the region because of its recent track record of housing price increases. Squatters are increasingly seen occupying the abandoned properties.
North Los Angeles County, California - With the vision of urban sprawl connecting Los Angeles to Bakersfield and the plans for a train connecting the two, builders began winding through the hills to the north from LA. Today, in Antelope Valley, for example, it is not unusual for long-term rental property owners to have to deal with tenants who recently lost their home to foreclosure and are having difficulty getting back on their feet. In some cases, tenants do everything from the typical stripping of copper wire to be sold to the more bizarre use of cabinets for firewood. Abandoned investment properties are on the rise.
So all that said, where is that novel plan to deal with abandoned properties you ask? Well, for that we will need to turn to the BBC News website to get the lowdown.
Fake shops 'revive' high street - With 140 empty shops in the borough, council bosses think they have come up with a unique way of ensuring shopping areas remain as vibrant as ever. The first empty shop unit to be given a makeover with a "flat pack" shop front is in Whitley Bay. North Tyneside Council said the move was cost-effective and would help to attract new investment. The council said the fake shop in Whitley bay - which alone has 49 empty units - has been welcomed by traders and shoppers.
The government-funded project involves colorful graphic designs featuring a range of different shop types, which are either taped inside the windows or screwed to the fascia so they can be removed and reused as required. Karen Goldfinch, chair of Whitley Bay Chamber of Trade, said: "It's an excellent way of promoting how a unit can be used, perhaps inspiring new businesses to come into town."
A very interesting solution. Rather than just allowing shops to sit empty and forlorn in the middle of a shopping area, these folks have begun taping colorful pictures of bustling business up on the empty store front windows in order to at least give the impression that prosperity is being practiced there.
Somebody has got to get this outfit's phone number over to whoever it is that owns the Skilled Nursing Facility. Faced with substantial fines in around 60 days, perhaps the owner'd be interested in purchasing a full set of window pictures to paste on the boards up where the real ones used to be. Personally I'd suggest he get the ones with the pictures of flowerpots included.
Of course, the best solution would be for the LLC owning the SNF to just sell the property and let market values determine which businesses will and will not be able to set up shop there. The artificially high price these people have been asking for the place these last few years has pretty much discouraged any serious interest in the place. You can only wonder what it is they think they're holding out for. Hopefully the blight fines will help motivate them.
Bonus Coverage: Is this the first time the Pasadena Star News has made its Sierra Madre candidate endorsements without actually speaking to all the candidates? That the PSN's editorial posse would actually choose those candidates favored by the decidedly big development forward San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership (AT&T, Majestic Realty, Edison, The Gas Company - aka Joe Mosca's employer) should be no surprise given they are employed by one of that organization's chief sponsors. And just like all of their favored "slow growth" candidates, the Star News was against Measure V as well. Just the way it goes. But to not even make a phone call with a question or two? Just for appearances sake? Seems both elite and rather remote of them.
Bonus Coverage Two: Spoke with Frank Girardot at the Pasadena Star News and he confirmed that they had not spoken to the candidates before making their call on the Sierra Madre election this April 13. The reason being they didn't want to "take up any of the candidates' valuable time."