Open Forum, Politics Edition (10/27-11/4)

By Dave Fratello | October 27th, 2008
You may have noticed recently that politics have begun to bleed into the discussions here at MBC.

Normally we steer clear of that stuff, as it is generally far afield from real estate.

With about a week to go before Election Day, it seems like time to open up the gates. Let's talk politics, as macro or micro as anyone pleases.

To tee things up a bit, we'll raise 3 issues:

PRESIDENT – Someone has to take over for a president who saw the housing/credit bubble inflate and pop under his watch. The free-marketeers he brought to Washington, D.C., have now joined the ranks of the world's leading socialists, having taken over Fannie and Freddie (many trillions at stake), having begun to bail out banks and having socialized losses on a historic scale already. And they're just getting started. Give 'em a few more weeks.

The senator from Illinois takes a populist line on the mortgage/housing crisis, but seems a few steps slower than the current administration in his proposals to deal with it. He's being expressly labeled a "socialist" by his opponent.

The senator from Arizona keeps trying to push ahead, recently offering one of the worst ideas we've heard for dealing with the crisis, which would simultaneously reward bad lenders and bad borrowers while pummeling house prices and taxpayers. (See "Buy Up the Bad.") Of course, given the all-consuming nature of the financial crisis, the McCain plan could well be the Next Big Thing out of D.C., regardless of who wins.

Bonus points to the Arizona senator for providing an object lesson on bubbles to America... Gov. Palin's popularity, in this case – from superstar to albatross in a matter of weeks.

STATE MEASURE: We're straining here to find a state ballot measure that matters to housing. What we find is Proposition 12, which provides housing assistance to war veterans. (That phrase has new meaning these days, doesn't it?)

You're asked to OK bonds totaling $900 million to help 3,600 vets, according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst. This could ultimately cost $1.8 billion. However, historically, this same veterans home-loan program has always been paid for entirely by participating veterans, with no cost to taxpayers. Maybe that will remain so in the future.

LOCAL MEASURE: Your property taxes are at issue with Measure BB.

Now, don't worry, taxes aren't going up if BB passes. They just aren't going down.

BB extends a previously approved local property tax boost for 12 years. A new $67.5 million school bond would be issued.

Of that, $12.7m would retire a prior bond debt, $37.8m would go to construction efforts, renovating Mira Costa High School, and about $17m would be reserved for design and support of construction, with a cushion for contingencies and price inflation.

BB needs a 55% vote to pass. There is little organized opposition, though local gadfly/school board member/recall subject Bill Eisen did offer this to MBC regarding BB:
The district does not dispute that construction of all of the Measure BB projects will cost more than the amount of the bonds that are issued but is saying that it will limit the construction to the amount of the bonds. Unfortunately, the district has not provided a detailed cost estimate of each individual project, including square footage, which makes it difficult for us to show what can and cannot be built with the bond money. I am concerned that once the reconfiguration of Mira Costa is begun and the single story classrooms are torn down Mira Costa will be left with only a half-built high school requiring another bond measure to complete the work.
For responses to Frequently Asked Questions about Measure BB, see the supporters' website here.

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