Observations on the News – Tuesday, April 5

While waiting for my tea (Irish Breakfast, this morning) to steep and cool, a few observations this morning’s perusal of the Los Angeles Times and Daily News:

  • From the Timing is Everything Department, especially for ellipticcurve, whose timing was perfect: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that average asking rents and occupancy rates in Southern California’s apartment market will continue to rise steadily this year, with average rent increases of 3.5% to almost 6%, according to a forecast to be released today. According to the blurb, the average rental rate for a two-bedroom apartment should rise to about $1,500 in Los Angeles County, $1,520 in Orange County and $1,080 in the Inland Empire. As for housing, it is still strong. According to the National Association of Realtors, contracts to purchase previously owned homes rebounded in February, as the index of signed purchase agreements rose 2.2% in the month, approaching a record set in October after falling 2.1% in January. That compares with a 9.4% rise in February contracts to buy new houses, which the Commerce Department reported last month.
  • From the Bond, EE Bond Department: Do you participate in the Savings Bond plan at your work? I do, after pressure many years ago. It may be time to reexamine it. According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Treasury said Monday that it would end a program that assured buyers of Series EE savings bonds an automatic earnings boost in times of rising market interest rates. Starting May 1, newly issued Series EE bonds would pay a fixed rate for their 20-to-30-year term. The article notes that if the rates are headed higher, this could be a bad thing for bond purchasers as the rates could be held low. Initially, investors might earn more on the new Series EE savings bonds than on the old floating-rate bonds: The Treasury said the fixed rate on bonds sold starting May 1 would be tied to the 10-year T-note yield, which was 4.46% on Monday.
  • From the On The Road Again department: The Daily News is reporting that relief for the I-405/US 101 interchange is coming. Although I’ve noted these plans on cahighways.org before, it now looks like they are coming to fruition. This is Phase 3 of the interchange reconstruction project that dates back to 2000. The first phase was to add an auxiliary lane between Mulholland and Ventura Blvd NB. Phase two was widening the NB 405 to SB 101 transition ramp. This third phase will (a) create an underpass so motorists entering at Greenleaf will enter on the northbound 405 while avoiding traffic exiting to the 101; (b) close the current loop ramp from EB Ventura Blvd to NB 405/SB 101; and extend Dickens Street to Ventura Boulevard, giving eastbound boulevard travelers a shortcut to the Greenleaf on-ramp that bypasses the crowded intersection of Sepulveda and Ventura boulevards. Of course, this means more delays while this interchange construction is going on, on top of the current delays from the I-405 HOV Lane Project from I-105 to Route 90 and the I-405 HOV Lane Project from Route 90 to I-10. And, in the future, the article notes there are plans to extend the car-pool lanes along the entire 405. It would take a fair amount of construction to complete them NB from I-10 to Burbank Bl, and SB from Waterford to I-10. However, as a member of a vanpool, I’m looking forward to the day they are done.
  • From the March of Homeland Security Department: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that March Air Reserve Base is in the running for a new Homeland Security center that would serve as training facilities and operational headquarters for the myriad agencies that make up the federal department. Although it expects competition from the rest of California, in particular Lancaster and Long Beach, as well as the SF Bay Area, there is intense lobbying for the Riverside location. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Riverside), who represents the area, said March was perfect because of its central Southern California location, its law enforcement training facilities and military operations and its runway. I hope March gets it. That will revitalize the area, and bring more business to Southern California in a way that won’t overtax the infrastructure, because the Riverside/Moreno Valley/Temecula/Perris area is just posted for this sort of growth industry.

Well, the tea has cooled, so its is off to work….