Saturday, December 16, 2006

Housing Bust Catches Lincoln Schools "By Surprise"

From the Sacramento Bee:

The downturn in the housing market around Lincoln hit the Western Placer Unified School District by surprise -- and a much-anticipated new high school has been put on hold as a result. So explained Superintendent Scott Leaman at a district forum Monday night. Nearly 300 parents and residents attended, hoping to learn what went wrong with plans to open Twelve Bridges High School. Because of the housing slowdown, Leaman said the district can't yet say when the new high school will open.
Leaman said the district's facility financing plan specified using certificates of participation, or COP, bonds, to build schools in a timely manner, rather than waiting for an accumulation of regular funds. The strategy was based on "dramatic growth in Lincoln" for the next several years, he said.
"Facility costs have escalated above the plan's estimated costs," Leaman said. "And the builder slowdown affects our ability to pay for additional (certificates of participation)."
Thanks to the reader who sent in this article. The reader had this to say in an e-mail:
With a sixth grade student that would have attended the new Twelve Bridges High School the first year of completion, I can tell you that I am extremely disappointed. So much, in fact, that after ten years as a resident in Lincoln, I will likely be moving to another location in the eastern valley. I am not alone. I have many friends that are coming to the same conclusion, and are trying to figure out how they can sell their homes in a down market, and as soon as possible, to establish roots in another community.
Bottom line is... Lincoln is falling apart under the weight of their own success. It wasn't but a couple years back that Lincoln was the fastest growing city in the state! In 2006, they earned an "All American City Award". But all that means nothing when people realize the school system may be worse than the inner-city school systems they moved away from.


Anonymous said...

Yep, this is a real problem for Western Placer's partner in the library project Sierra College. The library is located adjacent to the proposed high school site. So we are going to have this huge library, jointly funded by Western Placer, Sierra College and the City of Lincoln out in the middle of no where with no classrooms for instruction. Great planning......

sippn said...

There's more to this story than just a housing slowdown ...

Looks like a lot of gold plating, over spending, lack of planning, and they were hoping growth would bail them out and cover their tracks.

I stumbled upon the Lincoln plan a few months ago and read for entertainment...$15 mil pool with a $15 mil community building +- etc. etc.

Speaking of libraries, the question in 2006 is what purpose does a modern library serve? Internet hookups and coffee? Sounds like a Starbucks where you can't talk.

Anonymous said...

Sippn, good point on libraries and one I've raised a number of times as a faculty member. When you walk through our campus library you see books that all have one thing in common. The dust that covers them. Problem with the whole library system is it is run by librarians who continue to be upset that they are not the designated managers of this thing called the Internet.

Can you just imagine if they were. Rather than placing URLs in to the address bar of our browser that are somewhat easy to remember, we would have to enter a site's Dewey Decimal number. Question would be, which of the following would be a proper beginning of this site's address:

324 The political process
330 Economics
332 Financial economics
333 Land economics

Take care,

Anonymous Faculty Member

JR said...

Sippin, there is more to this story than the was the housing boom. This mentality was happening everywhere. Most of the homes in Lincoln are saddled with huge bond payments (Mello Roos) of $350 per month for services. In the good times, no one cared, because your home was increasing in value $5,000/month. Now that prices are falling $5,000/month, the extra payment is too much to take. And it all goes to pay for the community goodies.

It is interesting, but with all the 100s of vacant houses in Lincoln owned by Flippers, there are not high school kids out there anyway. In fact, all those tax payments of $750/month on a vacant house with no demands on the city.....that should create a surplus.

Anonymous said...

Jr, Mello Roos charges are associated with paying the principal and interest on bonds that were issued by the community facilities district to pay for typical off-site infrastructure in most cases. Things like sewer lines, treatment plants, firehouses, etc. Those sorts of things have to be maintained and housed by staff. Now it doesn't matter if a house stands empty. We still need firemen to sit at the station waiting for something exciting to happen. Add the additional police protection required to make sure these vacant properties don't get vandalized and you can see we are going to be facing some real challenges down the road.

Anonymous said...

You are also talking about Elk Grove:

"Looks like a lot of gold plating, over spending, lack of planning, and they were hoping growth would bail them out and cover their tracks."

Anonymous said...

Great ... lovely ... all that Mello Roos and now - nothing.
Once again buying at the peak just because interest rate is low or with funky financing comes back to bite you. I dont own in Lincoln, but have been watching this closely.

HappyinSF said...

I doubt anyone is still coming to this thread but I would like to add that I hope we always have libraries, they offer so much than the internet. In SF you can have any book in print (and tons of out of print books) sent to your branch for free through the website. Also free DVDs, CDs,LPs and internet. Public libraries give the entire public access to information, I think that was always the point. Granted, huge chain bookstores are becoming libraries were you just can't check out the books for free. Also, have you ever tried to read an's pretty horrible. That's one of my concerns for these new bedroom communities, they don't have anything you find in an established community, like libraries, independantly owned commercial and retail mixed in with residential..trees.