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ISSUE # 65

CIC Info Bytes 05/11/23

CIC Info Bytes are frequent, succinct updates providing educational and engagement opportunities that help your community thrive!  Please forward and share this newsletter with your peers, neighbors and colleagues so they can connect and joinOur goal is to curate content that provides a robust basis for contextual understanding to support practical takeaways for you and your association.  Please consider following us on Twitter and Reddit. 

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CIC Info Bytes Newsletter 05/11/23 - PRINT EDITION


(Un)Boxed Survey

10 Habits of Great Homeowners

The Houses Must Be White, and the Designs Preapproved. Everybody Wants In — Libertina Brandt | WSJ | May 4, 2023

Lopez’s fraud amounted to $585,000, according to Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Steven Bunn, and other defendants allegedly stole $153,000 more.

Former Plymouth Hill condo manager guilty in kickback scheme — Jenny Dehuff | The Reporter Online | May 4, 2012

“We have very affluent residents, but as governments, we have very tight budgets…”

7 acres, 3 lids: Eastside cities want the state to mow the lawn — Jenny Dehuff | The Seattle Times | May 9, 2012

Global labor markets are poised for a new era of turbulence as technologies like artificial intelligence accelerate the decline of clerical work, while simultaneously increasing demand for technology and cybersecurity specialists.

Over the next five years, nearly a quarter of all jobs will change as a result of AI, digitization and other economic developments like the green energy transition and supply chain re-shoring, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum in Geneva on Monday.

Tech, AI Driving Job Changes for Nearly a Quarter of All Workers   |   Bloomberg AI  — Bryce Baschuk | Bloomberg | April 30, 2023

BUT: ChatGPT Is Powered by Human Contractors Getting Paid $15 Per Hour — Lusas Ropek | Gizmodo | May 08, 2023

View past coverage:  1,  2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.


A gaping hole in the plan: The West doesn’t have enough nuclear fuel—and lacks the capacity to swiftly ramp up production. Even more vexing, the biggest source of critical ingredients is Russia and its state monopoly, Rosatom, which is implicated in supporting the war in Ukraine.

The West Needs Russia to Power Its Nuclear Comeback — Jennifer Hiller, Daniel Michaels and Kim Mackrael | WSJ | May 10, 2023


Novel thermoacoustic heat pump system for residential applications — Emiliano Bellini | PV Magazine | May 08, 2023

The Cost of Net Zero

The law bans gas-powered stoves, furnaces and propane heating and effectively encourages the use of climate-friendly appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves in most new residential buildings across the state. It requires all-electric heating and cooking in new buildings shorter than seven stories by 2026, and for taller buildings by 2029.

The state’s budget doesn’t ban gas in all new buildings – there are exceptions for large commercial and industrial buildings like stores, hospitals, laundromats, and restaurants, for instance. But the impact on new residential buildings could be significant. Buildings account for 32% of New York State’s planet-warming emissions, according to a 2022 report.

New York becomes the first state to ban natural gas stoves and furnaces in most new buildings

— Rachel Ramirez and Ella Nilsen | CNN | May 03, 2023


“By completely prohibiting the installation of natural gas piping within newly constructed buildings, the City of Berkeley has waded into a domain preempted by Congress,” Judge Patrick Bumatay, a Trump appointee, wrote for the panel. 

Berkeley argued that the law only preempts local standards dictating the design and manufacture of appliances—not regulations that affect the distribution of energy sources such as natural gas. The Biden Administration essentially agreed in an amicus brief.

But as Judge Bumatay points out, federal law defines “energy use” as “the quantity of energy directly consumed by a consumer product at point of use” by appliances, and Berkeley’s ban on new gas hookups “necessarily impacts” the quantity of gas used.

Federal appeals court scraps Berkeley, California’s ban on gas hookups — The Hill

U.S. Appeals Court Strikes Down Berkeley, Calif., Natural-Gas Ban — WSJ

Gas Stoves Triumph Over Berkeley— WSJ Editorial Board

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision 04/17/23

42 USC Ch. 77: ENERGY CONSERVATION: 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act


‘Over Our Dead Bodies’: Backlash Builds Against $3 Trillion Clean-Energy Push — Jennifer Hiller | WSJ | May 08, 2023


But for many residents on the ground, the lights are an eyesore that has ruined their view of the night sky and disrupted the bucolic stillness that defined their counties.

“Imagine…red blinking stoplights…every night, all night long…and not in sync,” Gayla Randel, who can see the lights on more than 130 turbines from her Marshall County, Kan., home, told lawmakers this year.

Lawmakers Crack Down on Wind-Turbine Lights That Flash All Night — Shannon Najmabadi | WSJ | April 30, 2023


Where air pollution is improving — and where it's worsening — Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj | Axios | April 27, 2023


An audacious new effort to pull carbon dioxide out of the Pacific Ocean as a way to fight climate change is being backed by fossil fuel giants and Big Tech. But the nascent technology, called “direct ocean capture” (DOC), still has a long way to go to prove that it works — and that it won’t cause any new problems.

Meet the fossil fuel-funded startup trying to take CO2 out of the ocean — Justine Calma | The Verge | May 04, 2023

Housing Affordability

How finding a home in America became so absurdly expensive — Alvin Chang | The Guardian | 05/10/23


The Biden Administration’s regulatory onslaught continues, with almost no media coverage about the costs or consequences. A case in point is a new Department of Energy rule due to hit on May 31 that will make manufactured homes less affordable.

Some 22 million Americans live in manufactured homes, often called mobile homes, and their median household income is $35,000 a year. The average cost of a manufactured home ranges from $72,000 to $132,000, compared to $365,000 for a traditional house. Manufactured homes were about 9% of new single-family home starts in 2021, providing more than 100,000 affordable homes.  Yet they are also the only single-residence housing entirely regulated by the federal government…  How to Make Housing Less Affordable — The Editorial Board | WSJ | 05/08/23


The upshot: The most disastrous outcomes for U.S. households, like auto repossessions and home foreclosures, have begun to climb.

“As a result of the expiration of government stimulus and current [economic] headwinds, we have seen delinquencies ticking up in this space over the last several months,” said Margaret Rowe, a senior director at Fitch ratings group.

Car repossessions and home foreclosures rising; some Americans are living on a financial cliff

— Rob Wile, Rania Soetirto and Jasmine Cui | NBC News | 04/29/23


Block by Block: Backyard cottage program for homeless people boasts astonishing success rate

 — Tobias Coughlin-Bogue | Real Change | 04/26/23


This 28-year-old pays $62 a month to live in a dumpster he built for $5,000 — Harrison Marshall | CNBC | 04/29/23


The Metropolis Where Rents Rise 60%, 75%, Even 100% — Feliz Solomon | WSJ | 04/28/23


New research via Remote Work and Household Formation suggests one reason it’s more expensive to rent: people got sick of living with each otherThe Real Reason Rent Costs Are Sky High: People Left Their Roommates — James Rodriguez| Insider | 05/10/23


Fearing a flood of evictions after the end of key pandemic protections, Washington state lawmakers attempted to stem the tide with hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance and an array of new renter protections. So far, it appears those efforts have worked. But experts wonder: How long can the dam hold?

Fewer WA renters face eviction now than before COVID. Will that last? — Heidi Groover | The Seattle Times | 05/07/23


Pedersen Fails to Stifle Housing Development in the Guise of "Tree Protection" — Erica C. Barnett | PubliCola | 05/08/23

Housing Market

Think Seattle-area property taxes are rising fast? It’s no Bellingham — Alison Saldanha | The Seattle Times | 04/30/23


While potential buyers have been sidelined by daunting borrowing costs, sellers are also sitting out the spring season. The number of new listings in April was down 21% compared to last year and plunged 31% compared to 2019, according to Realtor.com.

New Home Listings Plunge 21% With Higher Mortgage Rates Hitting Sellers — Paulina Cachero | Bloomberg | 05/04/23


While the average home buyer—or seller—is struggling with high interest rates and a dearth of inventory, there’s a different reality in the luxury market. High-end home prices in New York’s Hamptons soared to record highs in the first quarter. On the other end of the wealth spectrum, a movement is gaining traction among renters to bolster tenant rights, including right to counsel laws for those facing eviction.

To address these disparities, three states and 15 cities have introduced laws and programs that provide tenants with a so-called right to counsel. New York City’s pioneering right to counsel law, passed in 2017, inspired Philadelphia, Seattle and Kansas City, Missouri to follow suit. At least 60 cities used federal funds during the pandemic to expand access to legal services for tenants. This year, the White House drafted a renters’ bill of rights that includes right to counsel policies as part of its principles to “promote fairness for Americans living in rental housing.”

In Housing Court, a Scramble for Eviction-Fighting Lawyers — Sarah Holder, Kriston Capps and Mackenzie Hawkins | Bloomberg | 04/27/23

Built Environment

"There are dangerous, blighted buildings all over Ohio that are nothing more than eyesores that restrict new development," Gov. Mike DeWine said in a 2021 statement announcing the Ohio Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program. In 2022, when DeWine laid out the 2,275 buildings across 42 counties slated for the wrecking ball, he added, "We're not just tearing down dilapidated buildings, we're helping to make communities across the state better places to start a business, raise a family, and build a bright future."

An Ohio homeowner surrounded by 598 houses getting demolished said the teardowns have increased property values and improved his neighborhood Alcynna Lloyd | Insider | 05/05/23


Why You Should Forget What You Think You Know About Housing in L.A. — Julie Lasky | NYT | May 05, 2023


LOL: …by the way, we have studios starting from a little over a million dollars, right? So it’s not only for the rich.”

Macklowe’s One Wall Street Is Largest NY Office Conversion — Adriane Quinlan | Curbed | May 05, 2023


Does the CRE firesale mean more office to residential conversions are coming?

A downtown San Francisco office building has reportedly sold for roughly 75% less than its previously estimated value, a bad omen for the sagging commercial real estate market.

Downtown SF office building sells for far below estimated value — Tessa McLean | SFGATE | May 08, 2023


Downtown San Francisco is experiencing its worst office vacancy crisis on record, with 31% of space available for lease or sublease. In the heart of the city, an astounding 18.4 million square feet of real estate is available — enough space to house 92,000 employees and the equivalent of 13 Salesforce Towers.

“This is the first time in over a decade where office tenants in San Francisco have had any leverage or negotiating power against landlords. This is an incredible opportunity for tenants to exploit a commercial real estate market that is experiencing a historically high vacancy rate,” said Cody Kollmann, founding principal at Lee & Associates.

Downtown S.F. has 18.4 million square feet of empty office space. We mapped every vacancy

— Roland Li and Sriharsha Devulapalli | San Francisco Chronicle | May 08, 2023

Condo Connection's financial coverage is indexed to our Dollar$ and $ense page dedicated to all things CIC finance.

With a slight tweak to its language, the central bank let the world know that the time to step back and watch may have arrived. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has made it his mission since the days of “Team Transitory” to thread the needle of a soft landing.

With America’s long-thrumming economy finally showing signs of lassitude, the question now is whether the inflation fight went too far, or not far enough, or ends up being just right. Throw in the wild cards of the banking crisis and the GOP’s threat to let the US default, and it may make for an interesting summer for the economy. “The committee will closely monitor incoming information and assess the implications for monetary policy,” the Federal Open Market Committee pledged. — Natasha Solo-Lyons and David E. Rovella | Bloomberg Evening Briefing | 05/03/23


US inflation continued to slow in April, giving the Federal Reserve room to pause interest-rate increases. The consumer price index rose by a below-forecast 4.9% from a year earlier, the first sub-5% reading in two years. Excluding food and energy, the so-called core consumer price index also cooled slightly. A narrower price measure often cited by Fed officials—tracking services that have boomed as the pandemic faded—registered the smallest monthly increase since mid-2022, as airfares and hotel costs declined. US stock futures jumped, Treasuries rallied and the dollar weakened after the report. — David Rovella | Bloomberg Evening Briefing | 05/10/23

— Bloomberg The Close | 05/10/23


GDP Report Shows Economic Growth Slowed in First Quarter — Austen Hufford | WSJ | 04/27/23


“Based on projected intermediate- to long-term borrowing needs, Treasury may need to modestly increase auction sizes later this year, potentially as soon as the August 2023 refunding announcement,” the department said in a statement.

Separately, the Treasury announced that, after months of consideration, it’s kicking off a buyback program in the calendar year 2024. By buying back older securities and issuing more of the current benchmarks, one aim is to help bolster patchy liquidity in the Treasuries market. The program could also help the department to smooth out volatility in its issuance of Treasury bills as it manages its cash balance.

“Treasury anticipates designing a buyback program that will be conducted in a regular and predictable manner, initially sized conservatively,” the statement said. The program is “not intended to meaningfully change the overall maturity profile of marketable debt outstanding,” it added.

Treasury Flags Bigger Sales as Soon as August, Buybacks in 2024 — Liz McCormick | Bloomberg | 05/03/23


Federal Reserve financial stability experts are on the lookout for weaknesses after a year of rising interest rates — and as they survey the potential risks confronting the system, they are increasingly watching office loans and other commercial real estate borrowing.

View the Fed’s latest Financial Stability Report

Financial Stability Experts at the Fed Turn a Wary Eye on Commercial Real Estate — Jeanna Smialek | NYT | 05/08/23


Return on I Bonds Drops to 4.3%, but They May Now Be a Better Long-Term Investment — Imani Moise | WSJ | 04/28/23

Here's the best time to redeem Series I bonds to maximize your interest — Kate Dore | CNBC | 05/10/23

Worries are also significantly higher among those without a college degree and those who make less than $100,000 — even though Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. guarantees deposits up to $250,000.

Nearly Half of Americans Worry Their Bank Deposits Aren’t Safe — Gregory Korte | Bloomberg | 05/04/23

New FCC Rules Affect Broadband Competition in Multi-Tenant Properties — Robert B. Scott Jr | Davis, Wright, Tremaine | 02/23/22

"The protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority… For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history... Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties. Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies." — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, SCOTUS Majority Opinion

A Florida woman was fined $100,000 for a dirty pool and overgrown grass. When do fines become excessive?

Excessive fines? Florida city hits homeowners with massive penalties — Kristine Phillips | USA TODAY| 07/19/19


Following the Money on Fines and Fees — Aravind Boddupalli and Livia Mucciolo | Urban Institute | January 2022

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