Sonoma Housing Bubble

Pulling the cork out of Sonoma's bubbly housing foolishness

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sonoma County Planners Out to Lunch...

They apparently didn't get the memo from Fortune that the party is over...

(Press Democrat) "A wave of housing developments featuring more homes on less land will increasingly shape where Sonoma County residents live, builders said Thursday during a construction industry conference."

"Projects range from a 26-unit, five-story building going up in downtown Santa Rosa to a 440-home development proposed for downtown Petaluma mixing houses with town homes over retail space. Other projects include houses built side by side, or attached in other configurations, as well as more traditional subdivisions with smaller homes."

"Planning policies encourage new construction at the edge of downtowns and in urban pockets, as many Sonoma County cities push policies in response to decade-old urban growth boundaries adopted to limit sprawl."

'"These projects achieve the densities that the cities want to see. It gets people closer to parks and shopping, and achieves that affordability," said Rich Waller, a development director with Shook & Waller Construction, a Santa Rosa builder with several higher-density developments in the works. Nearly a dozen projects were described by builders Thursday at a Santa Rosa conference presented by the North Bay Business Journal."

"Today, builders said there are greater opportunities for this type of housing - and even mid- and high-rise buildings as a more moderately priced alternative in a county where the median price for a house has soared in recent years to nearly $600,000."

"While high housing costs long have been a concern in Sonoma County and across the Bay Area, the problem has worsened as prices set records the past three years. Business and civic leaders have warned residents might leave the region in search of less expensive housing and employers will find it more difficult to attract workers."

"Some cautioned there is a risk they might not find enough buyers if too much of this housing is built. They contend the subdivision home remains more popular."

'"I'm not quite sure the market is in sync with the planners at this point," said Rick Rosenbaum, vice president of sales for Delco Builders of Pleasant Hill."

"Delco nevertheless recently completed a town home project in Petaluma and is working with the city's planners on the 440-home downtown mixed-use project. Like many other builders, Delco recognizes it must break out of the subdivision model when necessary, Rosenbaum said."

"The 26-unit, five-story building Futrell is creating in downtown Santa Rosa should help indicate if buyers want to live in buildings that rise up rather than spread out. He said he also is gauging whether living downtown is a strong enough draw."

'"They will (sell). The question is how quickly. That will be an important tip-off," Futrell said."

"Sales were slower than hoped in the town home project Delco completed this year in northeast Petaluma, Rosenbaum said."

"The 46 units sold out in a year, but Delco's goal was six to nine months, he said."


At 5/05/2006 09:50:00 AM , Anonymous tom stone said...

if they drop the prices far enough they should be able to unload this stuff...say $200k for the penthouse unit...i walked by some of the new stuff going up in santa will be nice looking,but the walls are awfully thin and the materials are not high quality...but hey people like shiny things,and if it's cheap enough it will sell...but i suspect the banks will be doing the selling after the developer goes bk.

At 5/05/2006 10:50:00 AM , Blogger Athena said...

The walls are VERY thin... and it is a total no joy call when you can hear your neighbor sneeze and worse... not good. and pardon me... but really, aside from the planners, where is the demand in this county for high density housing? Do you see other indicators that the population here laments not having more high density housing? How did I miss that?

At 5/05/2006 11:07:00 AM , Anonymous tom stone said...

athena ,if you want to hear about the demand for high density housing ,you wash down a xanax with two double vodka martini's,and listen to the collected speeches of david lereah on dvd while sitting in your hot tub.....where have you been girl!xanax and martini's have clarified the thinking of many of the most important developers in sonoma county.

At 5/05/2006 11:42:00 AM , Blogger Athena said...

and do they have these xanax, double vodka martini get naked hot tub parties and invite wannabe real estate agents/brokers and the horse they rode in on too? Because that WOULD explain the consistency in their stunted rhetoric. It would also explain that dreamy look as they recite their counter-intuitive mantras...clearly they are associating such drivel with something that must feel pretty darn good and be a powerful endorphin release to completely shut down the blaring warning bells going off signaling the crash of this market... sounds to me like a submarine entering crush depth.

How come I never get invited to such parties? Is it the horns?

At 5/05/2006 11:56:00 AM , Blogger Athena said...

so here is a confession of sorts... xanax will indeed keep them numb to the crash and talking like it is all gonna be good.

a few years back I had a few rough flights... dr. gave me a handful of xanax and one flight this guy next to me was laughing his head off as to me... it was all good. He joked that the flight attendant could come and tell us to brace for a crash landing, and I would respond with: "Not a problem!" It definitely dulled the senses and blocked out signs of danger. ;-)

I wouldn't be surprise if there was a strange increase in the number of anxiety meds being given to those suffering from market induced anxiety attacks in the next few years.

At 5/05/2006 04:53:00 PM , Blogger moonvalley said...

Like the doofus who is buying the place we were renting over on magical 2nd Street East and is going to be putting in 4, 2.5m houses on a total space of 2 acres.
Like I said before I used to live in the Malibu Colony and saw and heard more than I wanted to of fellow members of my industry every time I pulled up the blinds.Theres no way on the planet I'd move to Sonoma and buy a house to experience that sort of crowding.
How are you enjoying LA ,BTW?

At 5/05/2006 05:42:00 PM , Blogger Athena said...

eh... L.A. is L.A. I like it alright. Will be spending more time down here as work handed me a new division and asked me to put out the fire... one group in the division is in Santa Monica, and another is in San Diego. I like Santa Monica much more than San Diego. Today though we are in lovely Anaheim. Met my parents and the kids out here as they made their annual pilgrimige down here and timed it so I only have to stay one extra day.

At 5/06/2006 09:56:00 AM , Blogger Athena said...

Just an fyi... doing some research for the next mls/price reduced update, and Sonoma County is over 3000 listings... Sonoma valley is over 300. I wonder what the record is for number of open houses in a weekend?

At 5/06/2006 10:16:00 AM , Blogger moonvalley said...

Just zillowed a house that a friend of mine bought at the end of last year. She paid 750k. In 2003 the same tiny place sold for 200k. I wish more people would Zillow before they buy.

At 5/06/2006 04:41:00 PM , Blogger Athena said...

yikes! That's got to hurt. I would be upset to know I had been had like that...

You know, those who don't zillow don't surprise me none. I swear most of the people I know in Sonoma think the internet is simply a mechanism by which to send chain spam emails to each other. They seldom say a word, but these spam jokes, chain mails, warnings, touchy feely useless emails make it through half the town before I get them. Using the internet for actual communication or research is unheard of to many people. No doubt this inability to communicate outside their bubbles is what keeps them insulated from reality so effectively.


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