Archives: Seasons 1-5
Segment | Environment

Shake-Up Call

Some experts are warning it could be the Katrina of Los Angeles. There may be dozens, possibly hundreds of buildings in the city at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake and causing thousands of deaths. These buildings are part of a group called non-ductile concrete structures. Built primarily before 1976, they have weak columns that can become brittle in a major quake, causing collapse. An estimated 2,000 of these buildings stand in L.A. today, a modest share of which — perhaps 5 to 10 percent — may carry the even grimmer distinction of being "killer buildings."

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You asked for input regarding your report on foreclosure issue in Southern California. My comments appear below for whatever it is worth. I am now a resident of North Calorina (Charlotte area) and prior to moving here (2006) lived mostly in the Northern California. I also lived in Garden Grove between 1974-1977.

Although it may sound callas, I have very little sympathy for majority of these folks who lost their houses. Here is my reason. Those who had no business buying a house they could not afford, they did it out of greed and lack of foresight. Now the rest of us must pay the brunt of their greed and naiveté. I assure you that I sought no sympathy from anyone when I lost $100K in a house I purchased in Morgan Hill. I bought it for our residence but also as an investment in March of 1988, at the peak of housing market. My consulting business failed and I ended getting a job with the federal government with an annual salary of $60K (nuclear physicist.) I did not foreclose, declare bankruptcy as I chalked that one up as an event in my life. I did not blame my wife or my family except myself.

I am not sure if you remember the headline news for a week in July or August of 1998 in the Bay Area. A house sold for one million dollars more than the asking price of $1.2M. Does it take a genius to figure out that zero percent interest when it becomes 7% will have a major financial impact on a $600K mortgage for a person with $80K annual salary? It also does not take a Harvard MBA to understand that 60% increase in house values can’t be maintained for 30 years. It matters not that the banks were offering the money to unqualified individuals. What happened to my own conscience when I get a credit card and spend $15K on it and realize I can’t pay it.

Why should the society pay for their lack of foresight and common sense of so many people?
I lived in California between 1974-1990 and again 1n 1998-2006. I did not buy a house after I had that experience with the Morgan Hill house. I was offered to buy a house, but my mathematical analysis told me to get the hell out of the state, unless I wanted to experience the same. I had learned my lesson. I moved away from California to North Carolina where I bought a brand new house with 2000 square feet with plenty of space for my wife and I for a cash price of $200K with an annual tax of $1400.

Life is all about choices. California is only one state amongst 50 states. There has to be a limit to the greed of the mankind. Unfortunately, we pay the price for the shortcomings of others.

K. Salehi

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