Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Rats in Seattle Update


I wrote about the exploding rat population in Seattle in this blog just about six weeks ago.

Now the major local press is focusing on the rat epidemic in Seattle.  Here is an article from the Seattle Times giving lots of statistics I did not know when I wrote my original piece.


7th worst city in the United States for rats. (Sorry, Big Easy.  You are #1.)

2% of all homes in the city officially report rat infestations each year, or more than 28,600 complaints.

When you live in a city where you see huge giant rats nearly every day of the week there is a problem for pedestrians.

You can just imagine the huge problems all this is causing for real estate owners, property managers, and investors.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

He's a Fraud, Claims Wife of Famous Real Estate Guru


Mr. X has been a real estate guru for more than twenty years.  He claims to have made millions of dollars as an investor and property flipper.  His recent advertising claims he flips "300 properties a year" or literally more than one house or building each business day, month after month, year after year, for decades now.

There is no doubt Mr. X is a very, very, very successful real estate guru.  He has filled arenas, auditoriums, and the Internet with sales pitches and merchandise for decades and has probably made tens of millions of dollars selling get-rich-quick home study courses, workshops, and boot camps.

There's only one problem Mr. X has going forward as a real estate guru.

His own wife says he is a con man and has publicly stated his claims of real estate success are all lies.

The situation is simple.  Mr. X is getting a divorce and his wife in official court documents is making some stunning claims about her soon-to-be ex-husband.

I don't really care about the reasons behind the divorce.  (Adultery, physical abuse, emotional cruelty, and irreconcilable differences.)  There is lots of juicy tidbits there but even real estate gurus get divorced.

What is just AMAZING are her allegations versus Mr. X's real estate guru empire.  And she should know.  She served as his business manager for many years.

Just some of the allegations include:

  • Using friends, relatives, and business associates as recommendations in advertising and sales promotions.
  • Showing photographs of houses and buildings which Mr. X claimed to own which he never did.
  • Fabricating documents and evidence to prove Mr. X made huge sums of money on real estate deals.
  • Mocking the purchasers of his real estate courses and products, calling them "first class idiots" and "suckers born to be fleeced."
  • Lying to regulators about certain sales practices at his companies during a prior investigation of Mr. X's guru operations.

There are more than twenty paragraphs of fraud allegations in just the few court pleadings I have seen.  The above barely scratches the surface.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned is the motto here.

According to what I have learned Mr. X had an affair with a woman he met at one of his seminars.  (Incidentally, this is more common than you think.  Gurus hit on chicks all the time at these events.)  When Mrs. X learned of the affair, Mr. X denied it until he was caught red handed, or as lawyers say "in flagrante delicto."

So Mrs. X is now on a scorched Earth path of revenge, content to kill the golden goose laying all those eggs just so Mr. X and his new girlfriend cannot enjoy them.

I'm not revealing who Mr. X is just yet.  People in divorce proceedings often say the worst things about their spouses.  (Ask Donald Trump this week.)  Sometimes anger and personal pain cause exaggeration.  So the absolute truth is not known at the present time.  But everything I learned here from Mrs. X under oath confirms everything else I have suspected about Mr. X for years.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it usually is a duck.  But now I have proof, however accurate but certainly informed and independent, Mr. X actually is a duck.  Good to know.

More to come.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.

Much has been written about the impact on "wealthier" communities and real estate values after the case of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. decided by the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

Aside from all the hyperbole on both sides of the case, this is by far the best analysis of the decision I have read.  Just superb.

The impact of this decision will be measured in the months and years ahead.  My gut reaction tells me the plaintiff's bar will love it.  Christmas arrived in June.

If you are a real estate developer or property owner who builds or rents housing in "wealthy" neighborhoods, you need to discuss this case with your lawyer.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Rats


One of the features of the new modern walkable urban city is unintended.

A large and rapidly growing rat population.

Urban density means more people per square mile.  Density has the same effect on rat populations.  More people, more rats.

Downtown Seattle is overrun with rats.  Seeing these rodents is nothing new for city dwellers.  But the numbers and sizes of today's rats is stunning, some as large as small dogs.  I am not exaggerating.  Check out the size of this rat.


Here is a news report on how bad the problem is in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood where Pike Place Market and the Space Needle can be found.  By the way, tenants pay an average $2,700 a month for a two bedroom apartment here.



The best evidence of the growing rat population is not seeing the actual creatures who are mostly nocturnal and great at hiding from predators---like you and me.

Instead, it is the proliferation of rat traps placed EVERYWHERE.  I took these photographs in a single day on a single walk in downtown Seattle.  Believe me when I say I could have taken many, many more.








Trying to control rat populations with traps like this is the equivalent of emptying Lake Erie with a teaspoon.

Politicians do not like to talk about rats.  Rat extermination programs are always underfunded.  Can you imagine a mayor running on a platform of more money for rat control?  But the subject of rats is not discussed because it is the "green" decisions of city managers to emphasize composting of food waste and recycling programs over quick and effecting trash pickups which are causing this explosion in rat populations.  Here is an article directly attributing Seattle's rat problems to the city's own recycling program.  If the mainstream media finally gets it, you know the problem is much larger than they claim.

To those advocates of high urban density, just remember where lots of people go, rats follow.  And people also do not want to spend $1 million for a 1,200 square foot condo when rats are part of their daily life.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Alleys


Alleys between streets and buildings serve important public works functions.  They literally provide air and breathing room for tenants, bringing in light and breezes to stuffy apartments.  Delivery and garbage trucks use them for pickups and drop offs.  Drivers use them to save time and gas by eliminating one way streets and stop lights.

But others use alleys too.

Homeless people use them for toilets and sleeping.  Drug addicts use them as shooting galleries.  Prostitutes turn tricks in them.  Street criminals use them as ambush points where innocent people are beaten up, raped, stabbed, and shot in them.

Alleys, an important feature of any urban landscape, had become a menace.  Dangerous, smelly, and nasty places.


So the city of Seattle came up with a brilliant idea.  Let's close the alleys to traffic and pedestrians and actually make walking or driving down an alley a crime.  Not all the alleys in the city, but only those with a past history of problems.

The logic was simple.  If drug addicts, prostitutes, street thugs, and the homeless could not get into alleys, they could not do mischief in the local area.

So the alleys were closed with big signs and even bigger warnings.  Here is one example in downtown Seattle near the major intersection of 3rd and Union right across the street from Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony.



Without even knowing the whole facts, what do you think happened next?

Did the prostitutes go straight and get real jobs since they had no place to "work"?  Did the drug addicts seek out rehab treatment programs when their favorite place for heroin and meth addiction relief was taken away?  Did the criminal class just throw up their hands and surrender in the face of this attack on their real estate?

Of course not.

All the crimes, filth, urination and defecation, and shooting up is now done in PUBLIC.  If the alleys are closed, then just go into spaces which are not.  Like building doorways, parking garages, public parks, and actually in front of the alleys and their warning signs.

Criminals and drug addicts may be societal defects but they are not always stupid.  Unlike the city of Seattle which somehow believed this new program would work.  Now take your kids to a public park and you can see, if you are unlucky, an addict shooting up between their toes or two junkies arguing about a drug deal gone bad.  Public urination and defecation in Seattle is on the rise like in this "hot" tourist neighborhood Pioneer Square complete with many alleys.

Seattle has big plans for its alleys.  Some it wants to turn into public spaces for street parties and tourists.  Read this article and look at the photographs.  Would you go see a movie in a crowded alley?

Alleys are supposed to be functional spaces, not recreational ones.  When alleys are closed, traffic and deliveries are shunted onto public streets.

If you want to rid a city of prostitutes, junkies, vagrants, and street criminals there is a better way.  It's called the criminal justice system.