Living La Vida Local

5) Healthier buildings reduce owner liability
6) Tenants' costs can be lowered
7) Property values will rise
8) Public and some private financial incentives are available
9) Recognition as a good community steward builds public relations and
10) Using best practices yields more predictable results.

The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute whose more than 20,000 members represent all aspects of land use and development disciplines.
The ULI uses a variety of media to clear up misinformation and help green and sustainable development become a standard practice.



here are many hard working people all over the state of California who will never be able to buy a home because it’s simply not affordable. According to a recent study by Moody's, affordable homes will continue to remain out of reach for middle-income households in some cities, even as home prices are falling at the national level.

The study, conducted by for the nonprofit Homes for Working Families, examines housing affordability challenges facing middle-income households -- households earning between 60 percent and 120 percent of area median income -- against the backdrop of falling home prices.

In most markets, working families earning the median income include teachers, retail workers, police officers, office workers and others.

The seven least affordable markets are in California – with the San Francisco area topping the list, and L.A. second.

The study also shows that future price reductions likely will not restore home affordability to 1990s levels and that home affordability problems will continue to plague middle-income households in the coming months and years.

"While the housing market's correction is causing house prices to decline, the fall in prices is not enough to restore housing affordability for middle-income households in many metropolitan areas," according to Celia Chen, director of housing economics, Moody's

The study features an analysis of the Case-Shiller three-tiered indexes of home prices. It focuses on the lowest of the three price tiers, which includes most of the homes that would be purchased by middle-income households. Findings indicate that homes in this tier are the most vulnerable to changes in market conditions.

During the period of accelerated growth from 2000 to 2005, home prices in this lower tier increased significantly faster than home prices in the top two tiers, according to the study. Conversely, as home values have begun to decrease, prices in this lower tier are falling more dramatically. This effect has put middle-income households at an even greater risk of losing equity as market conditions shift.

The report shows that, since 2000, the rapid increase in house prices has had the most significant negative influence on affordability. On average, if there had been no changes in incomes or interest rates during that time, housing affordability would have worsened by 89 percent as a result of the increase in house prices alone. Income growth since 2000 offset only about 23 percent of the erosion in affordability, and drops in interest rates had a mildly positive influence.

The report's authors created a housing affordability index in which 100 represents a market where a household earning the median income spends exactly 28 percent of their income on housing. A number below 100 represents a market where purchasing a median-priced home is unaffordable to a household earning the median income.

Of the 40 Case-Shiller markets considered in the report, below are the 20 with the greatest affordability gap for middle-income households:
  1. San Francisco, Calif. - 37.7
  2. Los Angeles, Calif. - 46.9              
  3. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif. - 48.6 
  4. San Jose, Calif. - 49.6
  5. Santa Rosa, Calif. - 51.9
  6. San Diego, Calif. - 55.3
  7. Ventura, Calif. - 55.7
  8. Miami, Fla. - 55.7
  9. Oakland, Calif. - 56.6
  10. Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn. - 64.3
  11. Seattle, Wash. - 68.8
  12. Riverside, Calif. - 69.9
  13. New York, N.Y. - 72.1
  14. Peabody, Mass. - 75.1
  15. Cambridge, Mass. - 76.2
  16. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-76.2
  17. Boston, Mass. - 76.7
  18. Sacramento, Calif. - 77.5
  19. Portland, Ore. - 77.9
  20. Chicago, Ill. - 87.3



The most recent national export figures offered up by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shocked fans + followers. For the first time since the U.S. Principal Parties of Interest (USPPI) series has been in circulation (January 2006) California did NOT lead the nation in total exports. Instead, Texas ($11.688 billion) claimed that honor exporting $3.5 million more than California ($11.684 billion). California exports continued to grow, an increase of +5.0%.  Texas’ total exports increased by +13.5% during that same time. This reflects the national trend, as total U.S. exports increased by +15.8% since January 2007.

 Texas was able to overtake California as top exporter by exporting significantly more manufactured goods. California ($8.2 billion) exported -7.8% fewer manufactured goods compared to a year earlier, while Texas ($9.7 billion) saw a +3.0% increase.
 Using the BEA’s Origin of Movement (OM) series, Texas again led the nation in January with $15.2 billion in total exports, a year-over-year increase of +14.5%. During that same period, California saw its total exports increase by 6.0% to $11.0 billion. The difference again came in the export of manufactured goods as Texas exported $4.6 billion more than California. California’s export of manufactured goods increased by +2.4% year-over-year to $7.8 billion, while Texas exploded over that same period with a +15.7% increase to $12.5 billion. Nationally, U.S. exports of manufactured goods decreased by -2.6%, while total exports decreased by -2.4%.

 Studies show that both California and Texas exports benefited from high world prices for agricultural and energy-related products. Dairy and oil products reported the biggest year-over-year growth for California OM exports (increasing by +208.4% and +182.5% respectively), while aircraft had the largest negative impact (with a -25.3% decrease). Cereals, oil products, and optical & medical equipment contributed the most to the year-over-year growth in Texas OM exports (rising by +95.5%, +66.6%, and +42.3% respectively).

   The USPPI measure allocates export trade value according to the location of companies having the greatest economic interest in an international transaction, while OM measures trade values at the point where international shipments begin, often at consolidation points near border crossings or other ports of exit.  With its long border with Mexico, Texas is home to numerous international border crossings and warehousing facilities, as well as major rail links between the United States and Mexico.  Industry observers believe that many shipments originating in other states (including California) are credited with Texas exports to Mexico under the OM state export series.

 (April Lisonbee & Eduardo J. Martinez)