05 October 2009

Pine Valley Estates Scaled Down

Courtesy of last Saturday's Chino Hills Champion, it has been reported that the new owners of Pine Valley Estates, the stalled 98-home development on the northern end of Carbon Canyon in Chino Hills, are seeking approval from the city's Planning Commission to build smaller homes in completing the project.

Approved in 2005, this subdivision was originally developed by Meritage Homes, which completed a 22-unit first design phase, followed by an aborted second phase, in which twenty units were built. The remaining fifty-six lots were sold to the Warmington Group, which has built many homes in Chino Hills over the last twenty plus years.

Warmington went before the Planning Commission this evening to seek (and undoubtedly received, as the most obvious of formalities) permission to scale down the homes from the 3,337 to 4,287 square foot sizes under Meritage to homes in the range of 2,899 to 3,316 square feet in three plans.

This reduction of about +/- 15-20% in size is explained as a concession to the realities of the depressed real estate market, but, given, that most of what seems to be selling these days are bargain-basement priced foreclosures, rather than still relatively expensive new production homes, one can only assume that Warmington is banking on a comeback in the housing market so that the fifty-six homes that are left can be built in a reasonable timeframe.

The problem seems to be severalfold, as the last housing boom was built on sand, consisting of

(1) desperate, frenzied, boom-infused buyers willing to amass massive amounts of debt while their wages stagnated (and have for nearly 40 years!) being given

(2) exotic mortgage "products" peddled by companies who were going to sell those mortgages off tout suite, often bundled into investment packages so complex that they can't be explained with anything else than calculus-like equations covering billboard-sized blackboards, allowed by

(3) a government (of Republicans and Democrats alike, just so we're clear) who were all too willing to wink at the absurdity of the situation and accept a near-total lack of oversight, while some of them received discounted loans, like Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut), chair of the Senate Banking Committee, who was a highly-valued FOA (Friend of Angelo--that is, Angelo Mozilo, CEO), with Countrywide Financial, one of the most egregious sellers of risky mortgages.

So, the $64 billion question is: who is going to buy these homes? The number is somewhat small, fifty-six, but the prices will undoubtedly be at least $750,000, so unless people have very good incomes, big down payments, incredible FICO scores, and banks who will actually loan them money, it's going to be interesting to see how this will all go down.

At the moment, it's hard to imagine, as job losses mount and a recovery in the employment arena lagging far behind the recent growth in the stock market (thanks to banks coupling their bailout money with slapping higher fees on their customers), how there'll be enough people able to buy these "executive" residences--at least in the near future.

The above photos, taken 27 July 2009, show the development from Canon Lane, next to Western Hills Golf Course and the entrance to Oak Tree Estates at Western Hills.

Incidentally, the Champion also reported that Chino Hills city staff are requesting that Warmington be required to hydroseed all "disturbed" (now, there's an interesting euphemism for the bare, blasted, moon-like appearance of the hills!) slopes seen in these photos. Moreover, staff wants the developer to have to install all permanent landscaping and irrigation on all lots and manufactured slopes (i.e., open space!) before the first certificate of occupancy is granted for the development. This, at least, is some recognition by the city that the ghost-town like appearance of PVE demonstrated by these photos can be mitigated.

It's just too bad there couldn't have been some proactivity on this the first time around!


kev said...

Just stumbled upon your website. Some nice original articles. Have you done one on the ski resort or the religion/cult?

Paul said...

Hello Kev, thanks for stumbling! On Ski Villa, see the post on 1 February 2009 (for which I've received more comments than anything else on this blog.) Concerning St. Joseph's Hill of Hope, see the post on 3 July 2008. Please visit again!