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AV News Briefs - By Frank Donato
 

Frank Donato is a long time Valley Resident and Businessman, and a V.P. Account Manager for Fidelity National Title. Frank currently serves as A.V.E.K. Water Board Director (since 1987), and has served as A.V. Fair Director (1997-2001) and North County General Plan Advisory Council Member (1981-1986). Frank is also a Wine Grape Grower and Consultant and Owner/Partner of Antelope Valley Winery. We thank Frank for sharing his knowledge and unique perspective on current issues!

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Fourth Quarter 2007 Antelope Valley News: Oct/Nov Nov/Dec


October/November 2007

Oct 4th- The Palmdale City Council has approved of a temporary ice skating rink, in the mall, for the Christmas holidays.  The rink will be near the site of the old movie theater, with ticket sales almost covering the cost of setting up the rink.  The City estimates a net cost to the city of $14,000 to provide holiday skating for Palmdale residents.   Officials plan to market it as follows:  "Come to mall to shop, eat, and skate."

Oct 8th- Eliopulos Plaza, a 3 story light industrial office complex in Lancaster, is on schedule.  The owner builder, JP Eliopulos Builders / Developers, are building a 3 story, 78,000 sq ft structure that has a 30,000 sq ft footprint.  The structure, with tilt-up walls, is located at the SWC of 10th St West & Ave L-12 and has very easy access to both Palmdale and Lancaster as well as the Fwy 14. Centrally located between Palmdale and Lancaster, the owners say that the complex is already 50% leased.  Move in date is Q 3 of 2008.  Industrial tilt up buildings have been very popular, and for the most part, very successful in the AV.  For Eliopulos Builders, this is the 3rd major industrial office building they have built on the 10th St West corridor.  On Nov 1st, a 350 ton crawler crane began raising the buildings panels which weigh 80 tons each.  The panels are 24 feet wide, 45 feet tall, and 12 inches thick.  This is the AV's first 3 story tilt-up building. 

Oct 12th- Lancaster City Council members, as previously agreed, are coming through on the their promise to assist the cost of improving Amargosa Creek site for Lancaster's next shopping center. The site is located along 10th St West, from Ave K-8 to Ave L.  The City will pay $5.1M to cover a portion of the Creek, which is dry most of the time.  Even so, it does function as a natural drainage and water way and must be dealt with in the event of heavy rains.  The area that the City will improve will primarily benefit Kaiser Foundation Hospitals because this is the area in which Kaiser has pledged to build a hospital.  Under the development agreement, Kaiser must start construction on the new hospital by Dec 31, 2015 and must finished it by Dec 31, 2018.  If Kaiser sells the site instead of building the hospital, Kaiser must reply the City the $5.1M.  There are also penalty fees if Kaiser does not start the hospital on time or finish it on time.  Presently, the AV's 425,000 residents are served by just two hospitals, both of which are in Lancaster.  Palmdale will open a 3rd hospital, on Tierra Subida and Ave Q-8, sometime in early 2008.

Oct 12th- A new full service car wash has opened in east Palmdale.  Sahara Car Wash n' Detailing is located at 2553 E Olive Dr, near the intersection of 25th St East & Ave S.  Sahara offers both full service as well as an express package.  Open since last August, the company has 20 employees and supports local fundraisers by allowing discounted ticket sales for a wash.  Sahara has several different prepaid programs as well, including a fast pass sticker that goes on the inside of the drivers side window that allows for unlimited washes for one month through the express wash.

Oct 16th- The former Wal-Mart at 3rd St West & Ave P, just off the Fwy 14, is being transformed into a Burlington Coat Factory.  Burlington officials say that designer goods such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Jones New York, and Michael Kors, will be sold at 40-60% off of department store prices.  The 80,000 sq foot building has been remodeled from head to toe and is aiming for a grand opening on Friday, Oct 26th.  The store will employ 100.  Store officials say that their goal is to offer brand name goods that customers trust, at greatly reduced prices.  Burlington Coat has 394 stores in 44 states.  The Palmdale store will be the 15th store in the Los Angeles (So. Cal) area.  The grand opening of the store was held Friday, Nov 2nd. 

Oct 23rd- Palmdale officials and dignitaries gather for the ground breaking of Summer Terrace Apartments, a senior housing project that will be located near the new Palmdale Regional Medical Center.  The complex will include 80 units; 71 one bedroom units and 9 two bedroom units.  Estimated cost is $17M and is being built by National Community Renaissance, a private sector entity.  The new apartment complex will be located near Tierra Subida and Ave Q-8 and should open, along with the new hospital, in the spring of 2009.

Oct 24th- Realm Real Estate is building the first of four, two story, 60,000 sq ft class A office buildings in the Palmdale Trade and Commerce center.  The new office building in on Trade Center Drive and is just 1/2 mile down the hill from the new 250 bed hospital.  The developers call the Trade & Commerce Center the "bulls eye" for office space in the AV, close to the Fwy 14, restaurants, shopping, as well as the new hospital.  The developers believe they will lease to doctors and medical specialists that want to be close to the new hospital.  Other professional businesses are welcome also, with emphasis on those seeking to expand their existing business.  "We know that Palmdale is a growing market and also a mature market, but despite all the growth in Palmdale, no one is offering classy office space," said the developers.

Oct 24th- The Greater AV Economic Alliance announces they will begin, over the next several months, a direct mail marketing campaign to recruit business to the AV.  The campaign will include 10,500 mailers. The mailers will tout the low cost of doing business in the AV versus neighboring areas and bordering states and publicize the tax advantages of the Enterprise Zone.

Oct 29th- Two large master planned housing projects for Lancaster may be delayed until the City's new General Plan is finalized.  The projects are Lancaster Highlands, 1,891 acres between 80th St West and 110th West, Avenues L to M and an eastside project proposed by Bolthouse Farms of 1,182 acres, 40th St East to 70th St East, Avenues J to K.  With a glut of housing already, and water delivery an issue, the City prefers to wait until the new General Plan formulates, and then make a decision on just how these two projects would fit in with the City.  Concerned that these projects might skew the Gen Plan process, City officials have opted to delay them, then give each project a full evaluation.  One of the projects might be required to set aside land for a 4 year university, even though both are several miles from the Fwy 14. Master planned communities include not only residential, but commercial, schools, fire stations, and ecreational sites.  A vote on the two projects was postponed, pending acquisition of more information.  I don't know when, but when the need for more housing resurfaces, these projects will go forward.  That might be ten years though.  Remember Ritter Ranch of the late 1980's?  A slow market helped to kill it off, with nothing of consequence happening until well after year 2000.  The situation is not exactly the same as the market of the 1990's (weak), but the basic problem of over supply of housing is no different.

Oct 29th- East Palmdale commercial is expanding.  Already with a super Wal Mart, a new Home Depot, Target, and Chili's restaurant are slated for the area of 47th St East & Ave R to Ave S.  Also opening in east Palmdale will be a Rite Aid, Starbucks, Ross Dress for Less, Staples, and Petsmart.  Target, Home Depot, Rite Aid, and Staples will be at 47th St East & Ave R.  Most of these should open by Christmas of 2008.

Oct 30th- A Chino Hills company, Ecosystem Solar Electric Corp, is proposing to build a 109 megawatt solar powered plant just outside of Boron, off of Hwy 58, between Mojave and Barstow.  Ecosystem SEC is proposing to build their plant on 40 acres, one mile east of Boron.  The company has yet to file an application with the state of California, but once they do, the app process will take one year, with construction another 12 to 18 months.  California has not had a solar powered plant come on line since 1990.  The site is near an already 150 megawatt solar power plant.  The state has set a goal of having 3,000 megawatts of solar power by the year 2017.

Nov 1st- The City of Palmdale holds a ground breaking ceremony on it's new recreation center at Marie Kerr Park, located at 30th St West & Rancho Vista Blvd.  The 17,643 sq ft facility will include a gymnasium, a multipurpose hall, and will also be able to double as an emergency shelter.  The gym will be built near the Park's pool and will include basketball and volleyball courts.  The multi-purpose hall, which will include a kitchen, vending machines, fitness studio, youth game area, and a lounge, can be rented for private functions.  Completion is expected by Nov 2008. 

Defense & Aerospace News

Lockheed Martin, located at Plant 42 in Palmdale, says that the 450 employees that work on the F-117 NightHawk program will be moved over to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.  In Palmdale, the F-35 fuselage is being developed.  The reason:  the F-117 is being phased out by the Air Force.  The Air Force has already retired 10 NightHawk's, which will be replaced by the most advanced fighter in the world, the F-22 Rapture.  Between the F-22 and F-35 programs, Lockheed Martin has about 750 workers at it's Palmdale site developing parts for the two planes.  In total, Lockheed Martin has 3,800 employees in Palmdale and 800 more out at Edwards Air Force Base, which is often used as a test site.  At LM's famous "Skunk Works" site at Plant 42, 950 are employed in top secret or proprietary programs.  The F-117 came out of the Skunk Works division in the late 1980's and was first used in the invasion of Panama.  This makes LM the AV's 3rd largest employer, behind Edwards Air Force Base in Rosamond and the China Lake Naval Warfare Center in Ridgecrest.   

A 747 modified to carry a laser weapon that can shoot down ballistic missiles is being readied at Edwards Air Force Base for it's last round of tests.  Program officials are highly confident that the defense system will pass with flying colors as it has in all previous test phases.  Officials say that the system can track targets and compensate for the atmosphere to accurately aim the laser at it's intended target.  The chemical laser is designed to knock down missiles while they are still in their boost phase by puncturing a hole in the missiles pressurized fuel tank, causing it to rupture and explode.  The system is capable of handling multiple targets at the same time and do so rapidly.  Air Force officials say that the airborne laser is the strategic weapon of the future, that it changes the "game", and will change the way we do warfare.  900 employees are involved in the program at various sites, with 500 of them at Edwards Air Force Base.  The weapon reaches out to it's target at the speed of light.  Eventually, when these go into service, there will be a fleet of 7, taking their turn in surveillance in potentially hostile areas of the world, i.e., the middle east.   
               
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Nation Wide Foreclosure Activity

Irvine, Ca. based RealtyTrac, says that, nationwide, the number of homes undergoing some type of foreclosure activity has double from one year ago, from 223,000 to 446,000.  Just in Q 3 alone, foreclosures are up 33.9% vs Q 2.  Also in Q 3, there is one foreclosure for every 196 households, nationwide.  All but five states have reported year over year increases in foreclosure filings.  Lenders are bracing for more defaults as loans made in 2005 and 2006 are beginning to have their interest rate reset, raising the monthly payment.  California leads the nation in total foreclosure filings with one reported filing for every 88 households.  California filings are up 36% in Q 3 vs Q 2, and are up nearly 4 fold vs one year ago.  Nevada has 1 filing for every 61 households.  Nevada foreclosure filings have tripled over the past year.  Florida, in 3rd place on a per capita basis, has 1 filing per 95 households. The RealtyTrac CEO said, "Given the number of loans due to reset through the middle of 2008, and the continuing weakness in home sales, we would expect foreclosure activity to remain high and even increase over the next year in many markets."

Cal Housing Market News

Existing Home Market

The Cal Asso of Realtors is projecting for 2008 more of the same as we have seen in 2007:  falling new home sales, existing home inventories will rise, and as buyers hold out for lower prices, home values will also fall.  CAR is also projecting that statewide existing home sales will fall 9% in 2008 to 334,500.  In 2007 existing homes sales will fall about 23% vs 2006.  On median prices, CAR is forecasting a 4% drop in 2008 to $553,000.  CAR officials are calling the projected 2008 declines a "moderation in the pace of the decline."  Other housing analysts are a bit more negative on 2008 market values, calling for price declines in the 10-15% range next year.  Issues facing the home market in 2008 will be nothing new:  tighter credit standards, affordability concerns, and the continued stand off between buyers and sellers.  As long as housing is viewed as an asset that is falling in value, buyers will be in no hurry to rush in and buy. 

Antelope Valley Housing News

AV existing home sales in Sept 2007, vs Sept 2005, are down an astonishing 76%.  Analysts feel, that since the credit crunch was also peaking at that time, that Sept 2007 in AV housing might have also been the low point.  So says Mark Schniepp, director of the Santa Barbara based California Economic Forecast.  Schniepp also says that October is likely to be about as awful as September as he feels we are in the "4th inning" of the real estate correction.  Schniepp said he feels that existing homes will correct 8% in this cycle, and that new homes will correct up to 15% to 20%.  The economist went on to conclude that it was unlikely that home values will price correct as much as the last time, the 1990 - 1996 market when homes lost up to 24% of their value.  In addressing the loan default mess, Schneipp said, it appears we are turning the corner here, as the rate of increase is softening. In Q3, the AV had 1,209 foreclosures, of about 10.8 per 1,000 mortgaged homes.  As of Oct 31st, 7.25% of all homes listed in the AV area have short pay/bank owned information associated with them. The primary driver of all of the foreclosure problems are mortgage resets, when the interest rate on the mortgage goes to a higher rate and increases the monthly payment.  Keep in mind, that mortgage resets will not come all at once, but will be spread out over the next 6 years, taking us well into the next decade.

However, the AV continues to lead in residential home development.  Since 2004, the AV has accounted for 69% of all authorized permits in the north Los Angeles County area.  In 2007, that number is expected to be around the 67% area- still dominant. 

A major and long term residential franchise broker in the AV made the following comments re: the current real estate market.
- too many homeowners acted financially irresponsible, treating their homes like piggy banks and refinancing  to buy cars and take vacations, and now some cannot afford the payments
- publicity of the real estate boom, and then the bust, helped to take both moves to extremes
- the AV now has 15 months of housing inventory; 9 months is the demarcation point, with below 9 months  a seller's market and above 9 months a buyer's market
- the creative destruction now ongoing in the housing market will bring people back to reality.  Like a forest
  fire that destroys part of a forest, it also lays the groundwork for renewal
- August and Sept were the worst months in 20 yrs for home resales.  In 6 months to a year, it should be
  fairly obvious that this period was the bottom of the resale home market (in terms of volume) 
- the silver lining to this cloud is this:  with prices coming down, new buyers will be able to buy, where before   they were priced out.

Antelope Valley Building Permits (last month's data)

The Burbank based firm of Construction Industry Research Board has released building permit data for the AV for the first 8 months of this year.  Following are some numbers released from the report.

Single Family home permits, 2007 vs 2006 (1st 8 months)
Entire AV SF home permits,  -41%
Palmdale SF home permits,  -25.7%
Lancaster SF home permits,  -52.4%
Unincorporated area SF home permits, -37.1%

Existing Home Statistic from GAVAR (last month's data)

The following average listed price of an existing home comes from the Greater Antelope Valley Asso of Realtors.  As of Sept 1st, 2007, the average price of a listed home on GAVAR's MLS was $359,953.  One year earlier, Sept 1st, 2006, that number was $407,297.  A lot of factors can affect average price, fewer homes for sale at the high end, more homes for sale at the low end due financial troubles of the buyers in that sector, but the statistic does point out, at least to some degree, that home values are falling. 

AV New Home Sales Data - as of Oct 21st, 2007 
(source: Frank Donato &   Hanley Report)
  
-New Homes sold year to date - 1,575               
-New homes sold since last month, + 77*
-New homes selling per day in 2007 - 5
-New homes projected to sell this year at current sales pace- 1,955
-New home  sales, year to date vs. same period in 2006  (- 28%)
-Number of "new home" builders in the AV- 33
-Number of open subdivisions with sales in 2007- 81

*This number reflects, on average, about 2 sales per tract, per month.

2006 - total of all new homes sold- 2,584
2005 - total of all new homes sold- 4,579
2004 - total of all new homes sold- 2,503
2003 - total of all new homes sold- 1,820  
2002-  total of all new homes sold- 1,162
1990-  total of all new homes sold- 4,900 +  
   
Home builders in the AV (alphabetical order) 
American Premier
Beazer Homes
Capital Pacific Homes
D R Horton
Eliopoulos Enterprises
Empire Homes (Anaverde)Fieldstone Communities
Featherstone Communities
Fieldstone Communities
First Pacifica
Forecast Homes
Frontier Homes

Gibraltar Homes
Grenhill Development
Harris Homes 
Hearthside Homes
Heller Development
John Laing Homes
KB Homes                                   
K. Hovnanian Co.
Larwin Co
Lennar Corp.
Matthews Homes 
MBK Homes   
Mitchell Development

New West Builders
Odyssey Homes
Pacific Communities                                                        
Pacific Gateway Homes
Pinnacle Communities
Pulte Homes  
Rancho Vista Development                            
Richmond American  
Rising Star Communities                                                  

Standard Pacific                
Stratham Group                            
Sun Cal Communities (Ritter Ranch)                    
Tandis Homes 
Trimark 
US Home Corp.  
Warmington Homes                      
Western Pacific

November/December 2007

Nov 1st- The City of Palmdale holds a ground breaking ceremony on it's new recreation center at Marie Kerr Park, located at 30th St West & Rancho Vista Blvd. The 17,643 sq ft facility will include a gymnasium, a multipurpose hall, and will also be able to double as an emergency shelter. The gym will be built near the Park's pool and will include basketball and volleyball courts. The multi-purpose hall, which will include a kitchen, vending machines, fitness studio, youth game area, and a lounge, can be rented for private functions. Completion is expected by Nov 2008.

Nov 5th- The Yard House, a well known sandwich, steak, and seafood restaurant in Orange County, is under talks with the City of Palmdale to locate in the AV Mall. They would be located with the Claim Jumper, inside the Mall at the former site of the Cinemark theater. The Yard House is known for their large selection of beers, classic rock n' roll music, and large flat screen TV's showing sports and special events. Yard House restaurants are typically 10,000 sq ft in size. Both the Yard House and the Claim Jumper are having outside patios built for outdoor eating. The Claim Jumper is already under construction and hopes to open next June. The City of Palmdale is saying that they are in talks with at least two other major restaurant chains to locate in the vacated theater location. One other rumored name is The Elephant Bar, but no formal announcements have been made. 

Nov 6th- The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation has given the City of Lancaster top honors as the county's most business friendly city. The LACED said that the traits that earned Lancaster this award were: fast tracking permits and tax credits awarded through the Enterprise Zone, which it shares with Palmdale. Lancaster makes it a priority to attract and retain business, said the LACED. Other finalists for the award were Palmdale, Burbank, Cerritos, Long Beach, and Santa Clarita. Last years award winner was El Segundo. In closing, the LACED said, "The city of Lancaster best represents what can be accomplished when city governments work side by side with the business community to create a business friendly environment where quality jobs can grow."

Nov 13th- Due to the uncertainty of how much water southern Cal will get from the Sacramento-San Jaoquin River Delta, the City of Lancaster's redevelopment project of the downtown area may be delayed. City officials feel, that since the area is already served by water, by Los Angeles County Water District 40, that any water issues can be worked out between the City and County. Upon completion, the redevelopment plan would include 3,500 housing units and more than 2M sq ft of retail and office space. The water district is saying, that based on the uncertainty of future supplies, they cannot conclude if future water supplies will be available for this project. The majority of the redevelopment would be in the Lancaster Blvd area, between 10th St West and Sierra Hwy. The area in question would need 9 times more water than is being used now in the designated area. The City may propose that recycled water be used for landscaping and other outdoor uses. Since 70% of all water used in the AV is used for landscaping and outdoor uses, this idea could make the plan workable.

Nov 15th- The results of an AV labor survey, conducted by Gobar Associates for the Greater AV Economic Alliance, was made public at a luncheon gathering. Here are some of the major findings of the study, which is based on 900 AV households.

61,600 people that live in the AV, still commute outside of the valley to work

1/3 of those commuters earn less than the average AV pay of $44,630

14% of the AV population is self employed, vs 9% county wide

the AV has 195,000 working adults; this figure grows by 52 each week

in Palmdale, 18% of the residents have lived in the AV less than 4 years

31% of all AV works have a college education

the average AV household income is $65,600 which is about 6% below the county's average

the AV though, on a percentage basis, has fewer low income families than county wide

fueled by the recent building boom, the vacancy rate of industrial space, due to new construction, has increased to 7.87% as compared to 1.05% in July 2004.

Lancaster's industrial vacancy rate is 3.67%, while in Palmdale it is much higher at 19.18%. 

since July 2004, Lancaster has added 1M sq ft of industrial space, while Palmdale, also since July 2004, has added 738k sq feet of industrial space. - single tenant buildings are at an 8 month supply, with multi-tenant buildings having a 32 month supply

Lancaster has 4.7M sq ft of single tenant space, of which, 2.3% is available. Of the 2.3M sq ft of multi-tenant space, 5.34% is available

Palmdale has 867k sq ft of single tenant space, of which, 3.9% is available. Of the 1.75M multi-tenant space in Palmdale, 26.7% is vacant or available. The Palmdale figures do not include the 3.6M sq ft at Plant 42

The Gobar Associates speaker said, "The AV has an entrepreneurial spirit that needs to be promoted." This region (the AV) is emerging as a destination for economic growth." The release of this report is part of a 3 year effort by GAVEA to help create 3,000 jobs in the AV. The effort also includes a direct mailing campaign to 10,000 businesses located outside of the AV to detail the advantages of locating to the AV, i.e., lower land costs, lower housing costs, the Enterprise Zone, and an available and eager work force.

Nov 18th- A Pasadena, Ca. firm, eSolar, has approached the City of Lancaster with the idea of building a small, solar based electric plant in the Fox Field area, near 55th St West & Ave G. The system would use mirrors that would tract the sun to reflect the sun rays into receptors located in nearby towers. The energy would be converted to steam, which is collected from the towers and used to drive nearby turbines to produce electricity. eSolar, on 40 acres, wants to use the Fox Field site as a test to prove the viability of the technology. The Fox Field site would be a 5 megawatt facility which could power thousands of homes. The test plant would be built NW of the Fox Field runway, not interfering with flight operations. eSolar wants to use the test sight to attract international, political, and business leaders for future business. All of the electricity generated from the plant would be used to power nearby city developments. The City would not be asked to put up any money.................The City of Palmdale is also planning a solar power plant at Sierra Hwy and Ave M, SE corner. This plant, not by eSolar, would consist of a 500 megawatt plant powered by natural gas and a 50 megawatt plant powered by solar. The speed of completion of these projects is dependent upon the speed of permitting at the state level. That said, Palmdale officials believe that their facility at Sierra Hwy & M could be producing power by 2010.

Nov 19th- The Antelope Valley East Kern Water Agency, also known as AVEK, is strongly considering the purchase of 1,455 acres on the west side for purposes of water banking. The purchase price would be in the area of $7.2M, or roughly $5,000 per acre. In general, the area to be purchased is from Ave A to Ave D, between 130th St West & 160th St West. The area to be purchased is NOT symmetrical, and some parcels are also not contiguous. The potential sellers of the land are well known farming families in the AV, with roots going back 100 years in the AV. AVEK would like the sellers to continue farming the land after the purchase to maintain dust control and security. For this reason a lease agreement to farm the land after the close of escrow may also be part of the deal.

Nov 20th- Here is an update on the Palmdale Airport, which resumed passenger service to San Francisco, via United Airlines, in June 2007. Traffic has been good, as United says that they broke their 10,000th passenger during Thanksgiving weekend. United describes the traffic as a "steady stream of passengers." United recommends arriving 45 minutes prior to flight time to allow for ticketing, baggage check-in, and security checks, which take only 5 minutes. With 50 passengers per flight on United's CRJ200 regional jets, long waits and packed terminals are not an issue here. In addition, parking is free and there is plenty of it. The terminal also provides Wi-Fi service to those waiting that have laptop computers. Once in San Francisco, one can connect to any city in the world. 

Nov 21st- Home builder and developer J.P. Eliopulos has submitted a proposal for a mixed use project on the 5 acres located at the SE corner of 30th St West & Ave K. The mixed use would be condos and a strip commercial center. The potential commercial tenants want their stores to face Ave K, but this would have commercial stores very close to larger already existing homes on Ave K. Those home owners are strongly against that, as are the City planners. There is no serious opposition to the project, but there is opposition as to the layout of the development. The city planners want the commercial buildings to face 30th St West, but the two major commercial tenants say that will be bad for business. The two retailers considering locating in the strip center are Rite Aid and a Fresh & Easy grocery store. The planning commission, by a vote of 3-1, approved of a version with the center facing 30th St West, not Ave K. Both residents who live in the area, and Eliopulos, are unhappy with the version the city has accepted, so both sides have filed appeals. 

Nov 23rd- The City of Lancaster is pondering whether or not to extend several tentative maps that have been submitted (for extension) by several different home builders. A tentative map, when approved, expires after two years, but can be extended, upon another approval, an additional 3 years. The issue holding up the approval of the 3 year extensions, is water. Seven different builders, holding plans to build 773 more homes, in various locations, are being held up by the uncertainty of future water supplies. Normally, these extensions would be granted with little or no discussion. When a builder submits his request from a tentative map to a final map, the builder must also submit a "will serve" from the local water provider. As of this date, no action on the extensions has been granted, as both the planning commission and City Council want more information in regard to future water supplies before making a decision. In early November, LA County Waterworks District 40, told the city of Lancaster, that at this time, it could be sure of supplying water for future projects. 

Nov 28th- The Antelope Valley's water wholesaler, AVEK, says that they will have less water in the Cal Aqueduct this year, and for this reason, will cut allocations to water retailers in the AV by 25%. The Cal Dept of Water Resources is cutting AVEK's allocation by 25% which necessitates AVEK's cut to retailers. An AVEK official said, "We're sure we will have water, but we are not sure what it is going to cost." The Cal Aqueduct, at 444 miles, is the nation's largest state built water and power conveyance system, running from the Sacramento Delta in the north, to Coachella Valley in Riverside County in the south. More rain and a good snow pack this winter would go a long way to solving this issue. 23M Californians receive water from the Cal Aqueduct.

Nov 28th- Los Angeles County Supervisors have voted to raise developer fees, fees paid by homebuilders, to raise money to build more fire stations. The fee increase is .14 cents per sq foot, which is about $280 on a 2,000 sq ft home. The Fire Dept says that they need fire stations no more than 3 miles apart. Once development has moved beyond 3 miles from the nearest fire station, a new fire station is needed. A new fire station in the AV costs about $10M. 

Nov 30th- The Lancaster Planning Commission has approved a permit to allow the former Essex House, located on 10th St West, just north of Lancaster Blvd, to build a four story residential building in it's main parking lot. The structure will provide retail shopping and parking on the ground floor and 105 apartments on the upper 3 levels. The new 105 units will increase the total number of residential units at the former hotel (Essex House) to 338. 

Dec 3rd- Los Angeles County and the local AV water agencies are close to creating a comprehensive water management plan. Called the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, the plan lays out the steps necessary to provide adequate water supply and solve the water problems of the AV. The plan has been created and commented on for 12 months. The plan includes input from AV land owners and individual citizens as well as the water companies. A spokesman for LA County Waterworks said, "The plan gives a clear picture of what the present situation is, what the needs are, and how each water project addresses our needs. I have a broad consensus and a clear vision." Once the water plan is approved, it will help the water agencies attract grant funding for its water projects. Grant money could total as high as $25M and would be used for water conservation, flood control, recycling water, and plans for water banking.

Dec 5th- The UCLA Anderson Forecast says that, although California will experience economic malaise, but recession is not in the cards. And that malaise will be due primarily to a slow housing market. We will have economic sluggishness and like a "gray day", it will continue to linger on before dissipating. The report says, that for the US economy to fall into recession, the unemployment rate will have to go from 4.6%, where it is now, to 6%. The Forecast also says that housing will keep economic growth in California at below normal growth, but in Q4 of 2008, it is back to normal growth. The Forecast even says that by 2009, the housing market will be back to normal. 

                                      


- Frank Donato, Fourth Quarter 2007

Information presented above has been compiled from reputable sources, and is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All opinions expressed are those of the Author.