CAR asks legislature to let the citizens decide.

C.A.R. today sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and members of the California Legislature asking them to place the Governor’s budget framework on the June ballot.  The Governor’s budget framework calls for a $26 billion solution – half in the form of budget cuts and half in the form of revenue from the extension of existing taxes.

C.A.R. has not taken a position in support of tax extensions, but is only in support of putting the tax extensions on the June ballot to let California voters decide.

For more information, contact Christopher Carlisle, C.A.R.’s legislative advocate at (916) 492-5200.

I don’t know if I agree with today’s move by CAR – but they didn’t ask me. However, it appears to be in line with recent polls showing the majority of Californians appear to prefer having a voice in this latest budget skirmish. 61% believe the issue of  Gov. Browns tax & cut budget should be decided by a vote of the people. Even 56% of Republicans believe this should be the case although 61% of Republicans also say they would vote
against the tax measure. A majority of voters also indicate they would not vote for any new or increased taxes – but the survey didn’t drill right down to whether the majority would vote to extend the currently increased taxes for another 5 years.

While I am not in favor of the tax increase that was foisted on us two years ago and is now scheduled to expire, if the few Republicans who have not backed themselves into a corner with the No New Tax pledge can negotiate some meaningful cuts – not just the lame-ass cuts proposed by the Governor, it’s worth bringing to a vote of the people. Without the current taxes being extended, there will be foul nastiness ahead for our state. The few real cuts that have been proposed as well as any future cuts, would be to programs that probably should not be cut. The retirement boondoggle, entitlements and growing employment at the state level will not be impacted. Education, police and parks will be.

Whats worse, if the current tax structure is not extended for another 5 years, in addition to the worthless and superficial cuts that may occur, we would likely face a slew of new taxes disguised as fees, levies and outright thievery from our cities and counties. Many of those taxes would also be aimed at independent contractors, small business owners and other housing related areas. I mean, face it folks, our state is broke and should be declared bankrupt if such a thing were allowed and if we had any politicians with enough balls to do it. Unfortunately it’s not and we don’t.

Further, if the tax extension is placed on a special ballot I believe it would pass. It would be supported by massive spending by the  public employee unions, teachers, nurses, etc, as well as the vast entitlement population who live on the public dole. California has reached a tipping point where we have more takers than  givers, people who rely on the system for their income whether it’s direct payroll, retirement or welfare. When that dynamic exists in a state without the political will to address it, the result will inevitably result in those voters making sure their nest continues to be lined as long as the rest of us can pay for it.

Of even greater concern, and something I believe is another inevitability, taxes will get placed on the ballot with the promise of real and substantial cuts to programs and entitlements. The taxes will get passed but the cuts will not occur. We already saw what happened a few years ago when Arnold worked up the machismo to try to tackle a few state employment issues. He was sued under the table  and no jobs were lost. Even the few cost reductions that might have been realized by the imposition of a few months of furlough days was largely negated by the lawsuits necessary to defend the governors right to impose them.

So we’ll get our existing higher taxes extended another five years, the $12 Billion in cuts will not materialize, there will be a call for more ‘fees’ on services and any other way to wring the last few bucks out of the business class and the paying populace and next year we’ll be right back here trying to figure out why we’re another $25 Billion in the crapper.

Ahhh California.

On the upside, it is almost 80 today and the sun is shining beautifully. Had a great lunch with my Congressional Rep on an outdoor patio and it’s almost time to pour a cold one. What? Me worry?


Update: CA State Bar v. Michael T. Pines. SHARK ATTACK!

Last October I wrote about a local attorney by the name of Michael T. Pines who was making quite a name for himself in local real estate circles. (Another Real Estate Scam to beware of.) Counselor Pines was making the evening news by advising clients who had been foreclosed on and evicted to break back into their former homes under the theory that since the debt had been satisfied through foreclosure, they could now own their former home free and clear.

To say this hadn’t worked would be an understatement. Clients who actually followed his advice were summarily re-evicted if they were lucky and arrested if they were not. After all, the homes were now the property of the bank and in some cases had already been resold so charges of breaking and entering and other minor misdeeds were alleged.

Turns out Mr. Pines himself was in foreclosure on some homes he owned and lost his own law office building to foreclosure (he didn’t try to break into his own building). At that time a judge had also slapped him with a $16,000 fine for filing frivolous lawsuits and for wasting his time and not acting in the best interest of his clients.  He also had a couple restraining orders against him for civil harassment after a trial and had been cited for contempt at least once.

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Today attorneys for the State Bar of California asked a judge to suspend the law license of Mr. Pines. According to the state bar, Pines behavior had become ‘so
egregious’ that it filed to have his license suspended on an interim basis while it seeks a permanent removal. Jeez, that’s like watching sharks attack another shark – gruesome yet exciting, and as rare in legal circles as it is in nature.

Chief Trial Counsel James Towery was quoted in a written statement as saying “To remove a lawyer from active practice before formal charges are filed is a drastic remedy. In this case, that remedy is justified by the established misconduct of Michael T. Pines, who has shown complete disrespect for the law, the courts and especially the best interest of his clients.” Duh.

Never to be outdone, Pines has filed his own lawsuit against the state bar. “I’m sure the charges are going to be thrown out,” says Pines. “They’re going to be really embarrassed when they find out the truth.”

Hmm, attorneys vs. attorney. I’m guessing the truth might be a rare commodity in this v enue. Of course that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Meanwhile people who have already suffered through a legal foreclosure in Southern California will not have the opportunity to be further victimized by this predator – at least until he teaches the state bar a lesson and gets his dorsal fin back.

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The opinions in this commentary are strictly Gene Wunderlich’s personal opinions. While any reasonable and/or rational indivdual should agree wholeheartedly, the opinons reflected herein may not necessarily be those of the Southwest Riverside County AOR, or any local or state government or other mental institution.

Redevelopment Agencies are wrong places to cut

I’ve been writing about this since Gov. Brown stated his intent to do away with local redevelopment agencies and distribute the money from local agencies to hi8s statewide projects. Sure there are some cities around the state that either aren’t using the funds or are misusing the funds but many are not and they have done a world of good. Look at downtown Temecula. Look at the Gaslamp in San Diego. Without redevelopment, the Gaslamp would still be the slum it was not that long ago.

An article appeared in today’s Californian that adds the housing element to the mix. Redevlopment has provided over 91,000 affordable housing units since 1995. For every 100 units created, 125 local jobs are created and 32 permanent jobs. Some in Sacramento just don’t get it – they are actively trying to kill what’s left of the housing industry not understanding that housing speeds an economic recovery, housing is a jobs engine which our state desperately needs.

Click here to view the forum post: Wrong places to cut.


Don't Kill California's Recovery

Posted by Former California Congressman George Runner in the Fresno Bee. Why can’t people understand this most simple concept?

Don’t kill California’s recovery

Posted at 12:00 AM on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011

By George Runner
With jobless numbers still at record highs, it wouldn’t be right to declare California’s economic downturn over anytime soon. Even so, glimmers of hope are beginning to emerge that the Golden State is inching its way toward economic recovery.

Let’s hope the politicians don’t mess it up.

In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Jerry Brown said “we will not create the jobs we need unless we get our financial house in order.”

Unfortunately the governor’s proposals to put California’s financial house in order are starting to look more like a wrecking ball than a rescue plan.

His budget proposes billions of dollars in taxes on the private sector — the very folks he wants to create more jobs.

It may seem like a distant memory, but merely two years ago, a different governor and Legislature tried taxing their way out of a similar budget mess. Since then California has lost more than half a million jobs and our state’s unemployment rate has grown by 20%.

We clearly don’t need an empirical study to tell us that tax hikes don’t create jobs.

Even so, Gov. Brown is proposing to extend these very same tax increases for five more years. If approved, Californians will pay $45 billion more in income taxes, sales taxes, and vehicle taxes.

On top of this, the governor is proposing to eliminate a number of tax incentives that currently encourage businesses to create and retain jobs in our state.

Under his proposals, private sector employers, including many small businesses, would pay more than $2 billion in retroactive taxes this year and increased taxes for years to come.

The governor calls his budget solution a “balanced approach” since it includes both tax increases and cuts. But in reality, his approach is anything but balanced.

A balanced approach would recognize that the private sector has been devastated by the economic downturn-more so in California than other states. In the past three years, more than one million private sector workers have lost their jobs.

During that same time period, guess how much state employment shrunk?

It didn’t.

According to the latest Employment Development Department numbers, state employment actually grew by 1,200 jobs. We now have 489,000 state workers-nearly half a million-whose wages and benefits are paid by a private sector that is a million workers smaller.

And now the governor is asking the private sector to step up and pay even more to protect those state workers’ paychecks.

Does that seem balanced to you?

To be clear, I’m not saying I want state workers to lose their jobs. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. My point is simply that private sector workers provide the tax dollars that allow state government to pay its bills, including the paychecks of state workers.

California currently has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. Our elected leaders could have responded aggressively months-even years-ago to protect California jobs and improve our state’s dismal business climate, but they didn’t. It’s only fair that government shares the pain.

California’s real problem is jobs, not revenues. When jobs are plentiful, government always has plenty of revenues. When jobs are scarce, as they are now, government revenues dry up.

Solve the jobs problem, and you’ll solve California’s budget problem — not to mention a few other problems as well.

George Runner represents more than 9 million Californians on the state Board of Equalization. For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Runner< h6

Read more: http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/02/14/2272658/george-runner-dont-kill-californias.html#ixzz1EG8IYuQP


Property re-evaluation time. Check here for Prop 8 info.

Riverside County Assessor/Clerk/Recorder Larry Ward has published information on Proposition 8. Unlike some counties, in Riverside Larry takes the initiative to automatically evaluate property values every year and has reduced values (and taxes) in each of the past 3 years. The office is in the midst of looking at the market again this year to see if a wholesale reassessment will again be utilized or if the demand might be met by simply allowing individual homeowners to file their own reassessment requests if they think their values have declined further during the past 12 months (for the most part, they have not). However, if you would like to find out more and get a copy of what you’ll need to file if you do, please visit Larry by clicking on his homepage.

Also note the prominent warning about the so-called ‘Riverside County Tax Authority’ mailer soliciting $167 to produce a copy of your grant deed. Larry will be happy to get you one for about $10 or $20 bucks. Don’t get conned. Check with the authority first.

larry ward

Keep Your Home California – Good News for some CA homeowners.

Keep Your Home California Program

The U.S. Treasury Department has approved CalHFA’s plan to use nearly $2 billion in federal funding to help California families struggling to pay their mortgages.

The Keep Your Home California programs are focused on assisting low and moderate income families stay in their homes, when possible, and leveraging additional contributions from mortgage servicers.

Primary objectives for the Keep Your Home California programs include:

  • Preserving homeownership for low and moderate income homeowners in California by reducing the number of delinquencies and preventing avoidable foreclosures
  • Assisting in the stabilization of California communities

Each of the Keep Your Home California programs is designed to address one or more aspects of the current housing crisis by doing the following:

  • Helping low and moderate income homeowners retain their homes if they either have suffered a financial hardship such as unemployment, have experienced a change in household circumstance such as death, illness or disability, or are subject to a recent or upcoming increase in their monthly mortgage payment and are at risk of default because of this economic hardship when coupled with a severe decline in their home’s value.
  • Creating a simple, effective way to get federal funds to assist low and moderate income homeowners who meet one or all of the objective criteria described above. Speed of delivery will be balanced with fulfillment of the specific program’s mission and purpose.
  • Creating programs that have an immediate, direct economic and social impact on low and moderate income homeowners and their neighborhoods.

Murrieta General Plan Draft Review Available

NOW AVAILABLE – PUBLIC REVIEW DRAFT GENERAL PLAN 2035 AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT

The Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 and Environmental Impact Report, along with the Technical Appendices, are now available to download from the project website (www.murrietaplan.info), by following this link http://www.murrietaplan.info/documents.asp  or to pick up on CD at the City of Murrieta, Community Development Department.

Copies of the Public Review Draft General Plan 2035, Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 Environmental Impact Report, and Technical Appendices are available for review at:

City of Murrieta
Community Development Department
1 Town Square
Murrieta, California  92562

and

Murrieta Public Library
8 Town Square
Murrieta, California 92562

Public Review and Comment Period

The Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 and Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 Environmental Impact Report have a 45-day public comment period that begins on February 8, 2011 and ends on March 24, 2011.
Written comments on the Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 and/or Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 Environmental Impact Report must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM on March 24, 2011 to:

Mr. Greg Smith, Associate Planner
City of Murrieta
1 Town Square
24601 Jefferson Avenue
Murrieta, California  92562

UPCOMING HEARINGS ON THE PUBLIC REVIEW DRAFT GENERAL PLAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT

Specific dates have not yet been determined; however, public hearings are anticipated to be scheduled over the next few months with both the Planning Commission and City Council.  Stay tuned for more information on the website (www.murrietaplan.info) about the hearings.

Planning Commission – Public hearings anticipated in March 2011
City Council – Public hearings anticipated in April 2011


News from FHA on flipping and condos

Good news if you have clients who are FHA borrowers.  The FHA has extended its temporary waiver of its “anti-flipping rule.”  The original waiver, which was passed as the direct result of C.A.R.’s leadership efforts, was set to expire at the end of last month, but now will be extended through the remainder of 2011.  The ruling allows investors who acquire foreclosed properties at below-market value to be exempted from waiting the customary 90 days before reselling them.  The 90-day waiting period originally was put in place to protect FHA borrowers against predatory practices of flipping where properties were quickly resold at inflated prices to unsuspecting borrowers.  First-time buyers have responded overwhelmingly to the opportunity to buy “move-in ready” renovated homes with low down payments, prompting the extension.

If you work with condominium buyers, you’ll want to know if the condominiums in your area are approved and eligible for an FHA loan.  C.A.R.’s subsidiary, REBS®, has introduced Clarus FHA Approval™ Eligibility Check, which offers a unique searchable database that will allow you to quickly determine FHA loan eligibility via a simple property address search.  Using this service, you and your FHA clients can avoid failed transactions and non-recoverable costs due to undetermined FHA loan eligibility status.  C.A.R. has negotiated special discounts for its members.

You’ll also want to let the condominium associations in your area know that HUD now requires that an entire condominium development be preapproved before an FHA loan may be granted.  FHA loans currently represent almost half of all new mortgages nationwide, and failure for a development to be preapproved to be eligible for FHA loans will almost certainly impact the marketability and value of the development.  Clarus FHA Approval™ also offers Approval Services to assist condominiums in seeking HUD approval.  Discounts are available to condominium associations referred by a C.A.R. member.  For more information about both Clarus FHA Approval™ services.


2010 Recap Realtor Report

If you click on that little red Realtor Report just above the chart, you’ll get to a slightly larger version of the report which will be easier for your old eyes to read. You’re welcome.