November 06, 2005

Notes From The OC

  • Everybody knows about that TV show that gave Orange County its current lame nickname and spread OC's fame so far and wide that when travelling, I no longer have to describe my hometown as just "near Disneyland" or "near Los Angeles". (Even in Germany!)

    But we watch that other Fox TV show set in Orange County, Arrested Development. Now that Six Feet Under has ended and The Simpsons has entered into the long twilight years of its decline, AD is, for me, the only thing on TV worth watching. If we had decent TV reception (or I wasn't too cheap to spring for satellite), we'd be watching the third season live right now; as it is, we're working our way through the DVDs of the second season.

    I already knew that The OC isn't actually filmed in Orange County (an OC TV crew used the exterior of Shelby's mother's former employer in Rancho Palos Verdes as background material one day, temporarily changing their sign to make them look like a Newport Beach-based travel agent), but between my warm good feelings and fuzzy recall of local geography, I'd always assumed that Arrested Development's waterfront scenes were actually filmed in Balboa or Newport. Nope; those scenes are actually filmed in Marina Del Rey. The bulk of their other outdoor scenes seem to be filmed in Culver City, near their studios. An AD fan site has pictures from a fan's tour of filming locations: Part 1 and Part 2.

    Betrayed! But I'll keep watching ...

  • Let's Go Down To A-Town, Babeee: In a long-ago entry, I mentioned Anaheim's plans to chase the Holy Grail of property and sales tax by converting the unassuming collection of industrial and commercial property around Anaheim Stadium into the "Platinum Triangle", a magical land of high-end condominiums and shopping. Last week the Anaheim city council approved "A-Town", the most Platinummy of the developments that will make up the Triangle in a distinct break from Orange County's single-story suburbia, A-Town will include a number of 35-story residential towers.

    While I have no problems with dense infill development here in Anaheim better that they build it here than sprawling into what's left of OC's open space, and I can't complain about anything that'll bring more tax revenue to the city without raising our taxes I've got to hope that our city fathers are getting better information than the sketchy tidbits that they've thrown out to the public. The few whizzy computer-rendered eye-in-the-sky movies on the A-Town website (click on the "Tour" link in the navbar) look like they were built inside SimCity. Two legs of the 'triangle' are the 5 and 57 freeways and the interchange where they come together (along with the 22 freeway) is already the 13th most congested in America. What'll happen there once the residents of multiple thirty-five-story residential towers choose drive to work, or all decide to head over to South Coast Plaza?

  • Ready For The Pop Heard Round The World: While I don't share the extreme bitter pessimism of the commenters on the Housing Bubble Blog, it seems ever more clear that current real estate trends are unsustainable and that we're in for a painful correction. When we bought our house a year ago, I was sweating that we were buying right at the top of the market prices seemed insane, houses that we had our eye on were sitting around for longer, and our sellers even took a (very modest) price reduction in final negotiations. But the market was just taking a breather things got even crazier over the past year, and now some very unassuming houses in our ZIP code are on the market for tens of thousands above what we paid for our house. A few of them are even selling!

    While out walking the dogs, I've come across some great examples of the housing bubble in action just a few streets over from our house:

    • First, there's this one: $649,000, 2138 SF, 5BR/2BA the rehab of this house has been finished for almost a year, but it's just been sitting and waiting (for what? complete market collapse?); even now, it's a stealth for-sale, as there's no sign in the front yard. I actually hope that the sellers do well on this one, as far as I can tell from peeking through the front windows, they did a nice job glass doorknobs, nicely stained (not painted!) wainscoating and built-ins in the livingroom, the whole nine yards. I think that they'll end up getting clobbered for sitting on their hands for too long, though.
    • This one: $719,000, 1850 SF, 5BR/3BA thanks to successive home additions, this house has a micro-sized yard (and what yard is left has been paved over). Except for the built-in that remains in the livingroom, any vintage charm has been remuddled out of this one, leaving you with the worst of both worlds -- a Home-Depot-special cheapie remodel on the inside, patched-up old-house shell on the outside. Motivated seller has already reduced the price by $30,000 -- because he's hoping someone will take this thing off of his hands before the bank takes it back!
    • . . . and then there's this one, a unique combination of chutzpah and insanity. $619,000, 796 SF, 2BR/1BA. It's two homes in one! a peeling-paint rotting-wood old house moldering away in the front, and a peeling-paint rotting-wood 1960-ish 'apartment' (that kinda looks like a garage conversion) moldering away in the back. Live in one, collect rent on the other what an AMAZING INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY!!1!1!! There's a reason why the listing isn't accompanied by a picture.

    . . . obviously folks are rushing to get that last seat on the gravy train before it pulls out of the station, not to come back for a good long while.

Posted by Kevin at November 6, 2005 10:51 PM