A bit of a potpourri for you today:

  • Land Bank Plan Not Happening: You may have noticed this news Monday that a local investment fund, the San Diego Smart Growth Collaborative, was shutting down.

The once $90-million fund was administered by a group called the San Diego Capital Collaborative and headed by Barry Schultz. It focused on development of affordable middle-income housing.

Schultz’s group also drafted the plan for a government and private investment partnership to create a land bank, which would negotiate with banks to buy foreclosed homes in bulk, renovate them, and sell them or rent them to households at various income levels.

Schultz had figured as much as $20 to $30 million of the fund’s money could join with government funds to kick-start the land bank.

But now, with the fund ending and local government money going elsewhere, the land bank plan is “not happening,” said Jim Bliesner, who directs the city-county Reinvestment Task Force, the group that commissioned the land bank plan.

Bliesner, the task force’s co-chairman San Diego City Councilman Tony Young, Schultz and others had been floating the land bank plan since late 2007 and garnered some attention in the Wall Street Journal about a year ago.

Also, Bliesner told me that he is out of a job. The city has pulled its half of the funding for his position (a cost it shares with the county) and so his last meeting with the task force will be March 19.

  • Foreclosures Up: There were 6,089 foreclosure filings in February in San Diego County, RealtyTrac reported today.

That was up 29 percent from February a year ago, but down slightly (1 percent) from January.

Foreclosure filings are the records filed when a home reaches a new stage of foreclosure; there are three stages — notice of default, notice of trustees sale, and bank repossession.

  • ‘Incredible Prices’ Here Since the 1800s? My friend JK passed along this piece from today’s Union-Tribune, a light-hearted look at an Army engineer named George Horatio Derby who worked in the mid-1800s to redirect the channel of the San Diego River. He hated San Diego’s fleas, and came up with an “Antidote for Fleas” that included spreading warm tar on one’s skin.

There is a real estate connection, I promise. This was what caught my friend’s eye, and mine:

Vermin notwithstanding, Derby saw promise in the young town. The possibility of a transcontinental railroad terminating in San Diego “was within the range of probability,” he thought.

“The landholders about here are well aware of this fact, and consequently affix already incredible prices to very unprepossessing pieces of land.” As for himself, Derby said, “At present I should prefer the money to the real estate.”

The word “unprepossessing” isn’t used much these days; here’s what the dictionary had to say: “Not overtly impressive; unremarkable; nondescript.”

What would Mr. Derby think of real estate prices in San Diego today? Leave a comment below with your best guess. Bonus points for writing in Derby’s distinctly antiquated tone.


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