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Category Archive: ‘Local Flavor’

San Diego Water-Conservation Rebate–450681053.html

The City of San Diego is offering a lawn rebate, $4,250 for residential owners and $17,000 for commercial owners to replace their grass, in an effort to encourage water conservation.

The City’s Public Utilities Department water customers can receive a rebate by removing their water-thirsty grass and installing water-wise material and efficient irrigation systems.

“This rebate will allow customers to become empowered in their efforts to save money on their water bills,” said Halla Razak, Director of Public Utilities.

Applications will be accepted through Oct. 23, 2017. There are limited funds for the rebate, so applications received within the application submission period will be selected through a lottery process until the funding runs out.

Grass lawns are estimated to use up to 44 gallons of water per sq. ft. per year. Water-wise landscapes can use 70 percent less water, the city said.

To apply, click here. 

Customers can also call 619-533-7485 for more information.

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor, Tips, Advice & Links | 2 comments

Interactive School Map

A new school map from VOSD – the high schools show the percentage of students who scored above 1500 on the SAT:

Last year, when California education officials were finalizing a plan to create a new school accountability system, parents and advocates had one big concern: The system wasn’t being set up to help regular families compare and contrast local schools.

Here’s a sampling of coverage and commentary from 2016:

From Edsource: “Parents on Thursday said they needed a simpler way to compare schools and understand how their schools are doing overall.”

From Innovate Public Schools: “Right now, the system makes it very difficult to compare schools, whether you’re a parent trying to find a school for your child or an elected leader trying to figure out which schools in your community need more help to improve.”

From the Union-Tribune editorial board: “(Gov. Jerry) Brown dismissed (Assemblywoman Shirley) Weber’s bill as “unnecessary” and duplicative of efforts of the State Board of Education, which recently adopted its own vague, confusing system to gauge school performance.”

Our staff was frustrated with the limits of the new system, too.

So we created this interactive map that incorporates the state’s data – along with other publicly available info – and presents it in a way that makes it easier to compare and contrast local schools.

San Diego Unified’s school choice window is currently open. It’s the period of time during which parents can apply to send their kids to a school other than the one that’s closest to them. If you’re a parent, explore the map to get a better sense of what each school offers, so you can feel confident you’re making an informed decision.

Posted by on Oct 11, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor, Tips, Advice & Links | 0 comments

Hottest Hipster Markets

Hat tip to daytrip for sending this in – North Park, 92104!!


Who knew that by following the Yelp reviews for the best places to find avocado toast — versus just mocking it as the reason young people today just can’t [insert complaint here] — we could actually be speculating the next hot real estate market? Probably anyone with any experience in real estate speculation, but now we have proof, thanks to a new study.

In this week’s Hot or Not of city rankings, and Yelp have paired up to co-mingle data and determine the bubbling real estate markets in the country in a way we never knew we were curious to see: by their saturation of all that so-called “sh*t hipsters like.”

The study, released today, ranked the Hottest Hipster Markets in America in order by ZIP code:

  1. Columbus, Ohio (43202)
  2. Seattle, Washington (98122)
  3. San Diego, California (92104)
  4. Fort Wayne, Indiana (46802)
  5. Rochester, New York (14620)
  6. San Francisco, California (94117)
  7. Long Beach, California (90814)
  8. Louisville, Kentucky (40217)
  9. Grand Rapids, Michigan (49506)
  10. Colorado Springs, Colorado (17820)

To paraphrase the methodology, the brands used a high concentration of mentions of the word “hipster” in Yelp ratings for any given ZIP code (against the number in that ZIP’s greater metro area) and compared the differential against the Market Hotness Index (calculated by home listing page views and days on market) to create a composite number that chose only one ZIP code per metro area with the most hipster businesses.

“Based on our research, there’s clear evidence that ‘hipster’ popularity — in markets like Austin, Texas — has led to mainstream interest and higher home prices over time,” said Javier Vivas, director of economic research for “Whether it’s the farm-to-table restaurants or urban renewal projects that were already underway, a concentration of hipsters seems to be an indicator of a hot housing market.”

Posted by on Oct 7, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor, Thinking of Buying? | 6 comments

Malls to Housing

They should have thought of this at Mugger Mall in Carlsbad before throwing millions at it – hat tip daytrip:

In the San Fernando Valley, there are plans to level a nearly vacant mall and replace it with some 1,400 homes, boutique retail shops and a concert venue.

In Orange County, an aging mall will give way to a mixed-use development with more than 900 homes. And in the South Bay, hundreds of homes are planned to replace a struggling mall that opened in the mid-1980s.

An old adage implores investors to “buy land; they’re not making it anymore.” But in a way, in cities across the country, they are.

Acres of prime real estate are opening for redevelopment as America’s malls struggle to compete with Amazon and other online giants, offering developers a rare shot to remake swaths of land in the country’s built-out metropolises.

In particular, real estate experts say, the demise of retail centers provides one of the best chances to add needed housing in California’s urban regions, where a shortage has left nearly 30% of renters in the state paying more than half their income on housing.

“It’s a huge opportunity — probably one of the biggest,” said Adam Artunian, a vice president with John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Irvine.

The redevelopments are likely to face hurdles from residents concerned over the changing character of their neighborhoods, but as Americans increasingly buy T-shirts, purses and electronics online experts say something needs to be done with all the massive retail centers that popped up during the postwar era before they become neighborhood blights.

A recent report from Credit Suisse predicted the trend will result in 20% to 25% of America’s malls closing in the next five years.

Read full article here:

Posted by on Sep 30, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor, The Future, Thinking of Building? | 0 comments

Amazon Expands into San Diego

This should be a boost to Carmel Valley real estate:

E-commerce giant Amazon is boosting its footprint in San Diego — leasing office space in University City with room for more than 500 employees.

The Seattle-based online retailer confirmed this week that it has signed a lease in the Campus Pointe office park from Alexandria Real Estate Equities, said Sam Kennedy, corporate communications manager at Amazon, in an email response to questions.

Amazon is taking nearly 107,000 square feet at 10300 Campus Point Drive. While Amazon has a small office in Solana Beach, as well as distribution facilities in the region, this is its first major office/engineering presence in the county.

The deal is among the largest expansions of an outside, well-known, tech giant into San Diego – exceeding the 60,000 square feet that Google leased last year for a satellite office.

Google’s decision to set up shop in San Diego was linked in part to its acquisitions of local start-ups, including sensor developer Lumedyne Technologies. Amazon is planting roots without an acquisition.

“Is this part of a larger trend? I think it could be,” said Kevin Carroll, head of Tech San Diego, a software industry trade group. “UC San Diego graduates 10,000 students a year. If you are Google or Amazon, you’re looking at that and saying there is going to be a good local pipeline of talent.”

Link to full story:

Posted by on Sep 17, 2017 in Carmel Valley, Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor | 2 comments

$1B Mid-Coast Trolley Extension

More on the Blue Line trolley extension:

On September 14, 2016, the top transit official in the United States committed $1 billion toward building the San Diego region’s newest trolley line, signing an agreement that will provide 50 percent of the funds to extend the popular transit service for 11-miles from Old Town to UC San Diego and the University City community.

The largest public transit project in the history of the San Diego region, the Mid-Coast Trolley Extension will extend the existing Blue Line, building nine new stops along the north coast of San Diego, including near Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, the VA Medical Center, the UC San Diego campus, and the dense residential and commercial areas along Genesee Avenue.

“The Mid-Coast Trolley will bring fast, reliable transit to the places where it’s most needed, including our largest research university and biggest employment center,” SANDAG Chair and San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Ron Roberts said. “At the same time, it is an outstanding example of our ability to leverage the region’s local TransNet dollars to bring in outside money to complete major transportation projects.”

The San Diego region was able to garner the 50 percent match for the Mid-Coast Trolley in large part because it has a dedicated local source of funding that provided the other 50 percent match for the project. Revenues from TransNet, the countywide half-cent sales tax for transportation, are covering half of the $2.1 billion total project cost.

“FTA is proud to partner with San Diego to bring new transit options to this growing region,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “With the population along the Mid-Coast corridor expected to grow nearly 20 percent in the coming decades, this Trolley extension will offer a much-needed alternative to traffic congestion in the years ahead.”

A ceremonial signing of the Full Funding Grant Agreement – dedicating approximately $1 billion to the project over the course of 10 years subject to annual Congressional approval – took place on the campus of UC San Diego, at a location where the future Pepper Canyon Trolley station will be built. As part of the ceremony, Flowers handed Roberts a symbolic $1 billion check. Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Board Chair Harry Mathis, UC San Diego Vice Chancellor Gary Matthews, and Cynthia Abair, Acting Director of VA San Diego Health Care System, also spoke during the ceremony.

Pre-construction activities for the project – primarily the relocation of underground utilities out of the project alignment – are already underway. Primary construction is expected to begin this October, with service anticipated to start in 2021.

Once the extension is built, transit riders will enjoy a one-seat ride (no transfers) from San Ysidro to University City. Planners estimate that the project will provide more than 20,000 new transit trips every weekday.

The construction of the Mid-Coast project is expected to produce more than 14,000 new local jobs. Even after the construction is over, the Mid-Coast project will have an estimated $116 million of annual economic impact on the region by reducing congestion, reducing parking needs, and increasing access to jobs. The Mid-Coast corridor supports more than 325,000 jobs. The two ends of the route – Downtown San Diego and University City – account for nearly half of that total.

For more information, visit

My tour of the area:

The official, professional flyover tour:

Posted by on Sep 9, 2017 in Bubbleinfo TV, Jim's Take on the Market, La Jolla, Local Flavor, Local Government, The Future | 6 comments

Predicting The Big One

If the tragic hurricanes weren’t enough, now Mexico has been struck by a 8.2 earthquake last night.  I covered earthquakes in San Diego last month, but here is another story on the risk of the Big One hitting Southern California – and San Diego is still looking good, relatively:

The U.S. Geological Survey 2014 earthquake forecast indicates that the likelihood of a moderate earthquake – between magnitude 6.5 and 7.5 – has decreased, but the chance of a higher-magnitude quake in the region has increased.

Plate movement
The rate of plate movement along the San Andreas fault is approximately 1.3 inches each year – about the same rate your fingernails grow. A USGS report released March 2 detailed a study of the southern San Andreas fault. The study found evidence of 10 ground-rupturing earthquakes between magnitude 7.0 and 7.5 between 800 A.D. and 1857.

Predictions based on the survey forecast a 16 percent chance of a magnitude 7.5 or larger earthquake near Kern County in the next 30 years.

Prediction models
The USGS cautions that although its most recent prediction model is vastly improved since the version in 2008, it is still an approximation. The USGS uses two kinds of scientific models to predict earthquake probability.
1. The earthquake rupture forecast shows where and when the earth might slip along the state’s many faults.
2. The ground motion prediction model estimates the subsequent shaking given by one of the fault ruptures.

The color-coded data are the state’s forecast from 2014:

(SD in bottom right corner)

The USGS estimates long-term quake hazards to give communities an assessment of risk in their area. More than two-thirds of the nation’s annualized earthquake losses in property and structures will be in California, and in California, 80 percent of the losses will be in these 10 counties:

Top 10 counties by estimated annualized earthquake loss (percent of state total)

1. Los Angeles (30.6%)
2. Santa Clara (8.9%)
3. Alameda (8%)
4. Orange (7%)
5. San Bernardino (6%)
6. Riverside (5.6%)
7. Contra Costa (4.6%)
8. San Francisco (3.8%)
9. San Mateo (3.5%)
10. San Diego (3.3%)

A major earthquake hitting Southern California would be devastating to the region, and is one of the biggest threats to disrupting the housing market.  But hopefully the impact on San Diego housing would be less.

Posted by on Sep 8, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor, The Future | 2 comments