Our economic analyst Rich Toscano last week declared that housing prices in San Diego are finally reasonable. Now comes the next question: Is this a good time to buy?

It is, he declares, if you can confirm the following:

• The home is reasonably priced on a historical basis compared to area rents. Yes, the region’s home prices are reasonable broadly, but each neighborhood is different so you need to zoom in.

• You believe you can keep the home for a long time, at least 10 years. The longer your ownership timeline, Toscano says, the less you need to worry about changing prices.

• You’ll use a fixed-rate mortgage for most of your purchase. This way, you can take advantage of historically low interest rates and not worry about price fluctuations.

There’s No Such Thing As Free Trash

It probably shouldn’t factor into your decision on whether to buy a home, but homeowners in some neighborhoods are incensed that San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has rescinded agreements that gave them free trash pickup. (Union-Tribune)

There Is Such Thing as No Pension

Sanders has riled up another group of people — labor unions — with his proposal to end the pension system for new employees and move them to a 401(k). The proposal does not include firefighters and police officers but Councilman Carl DeMaio has said it should. The New York Times’ Room for Debate hosts a discussion on whether doing so for public employees is a smart move.

A Drop In Special Ed

The number of students who are labeled as having a disability has dropped significantly in San Diego schools in the last three years, and no one’s sure why. What’s clear is that the district has 9.5 percent fewer special education students, while enrollment has fallen only 1 percent.

District officials think it’s a good thing. Others don’t know what to make of it. “It makes no sense to me,” says one education expert. As reporter Emily Alpert notes: “The mystery is a prime example of the gray area in one of the most difficult decisions a school is faced with: Whether or not to diagnose a student with a disability.”

Less Park, But More Friend

The destruction of the border’s Friendship Park caused widespread lament. The images of families meeting at the park’s fence to eat lunch together, chat and even half-embrace offered a unique reminder of our shared border culture.

Now, activists and the Border Patrol are working together on a compromise that would bring visitors closer, and make those old rendezvous more likely, as a new fence is being constructed.

The new border fence hasn’t just caused complications for visitors. Homeowners along the Rio Grande in Texas have found themselves living in a no-man’s land after the government built the fence north of their homes.

The Los Angeles Times tells the story of Pamela Taylor: “Her two acres now lie on a strip of land that isn’t Mexico but doesn’t really seem like the United States either.”

It Sometimes Snows in San Diego

The big storm over the weekend didn’t live up to the hype, but tell that to the people dealing with feet of snow in the mountains. The U-T breaks down the storm by the numbers and has some nice reader photos from around the county.

The Morning Report’s most regular author, Randy Dotinga, used the impending storm to gin up another of his Dispatches from History Man.

This time, he took a look at the history of snow in the city of San Diego. It’s snowed five times since 1937, he says. It wouldn’t be a Dispatch from History Man without a couple of old newspaper headlines — “Most Unusual Day in San Diego; Snow Falls; Some Schools Shut,” for example — and an answer to an age-old question: Why don’t we get more snow like other Sun Belt cities such as Dallas and Atlanta. The answer, as it typically is in these cases: geography.

The Poor Old Padres

The Padres made their final signings of Spring Training, bringing their Opening Day payroll to $43 million. (U-T) That’s sure to be one of the lowest in the league, but it’s actually a bump up from less than $38 million last year, when the team made an improbable run and nearly made the playoffs.

At the time, The New York Times noted that the Yankees spent much more than that just on the left side of their infield.

So what about this year? Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter took a pay cut. And the Padres are spending $5 million more. Still, Jeter and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will make a combined $47 million.

Well, there’s always next year.

You can reach me at andrew.donohue@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0526. Follow me on Twitter: @AndrewDonohue.

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