“Game of Thrones” has ended and apparently many of our fellow Americans seem to have lost their reason for living. I must confess that during the entire time it ran, I never watched it—not one single episode. It has left a gaping hole in my cultural knowledge, and Karen and I are seriously thinking about a little binge watching, but we’re not sure we want to undertake that tedious obligation. Suppose we don’t like it? Do we still have to watch them all? Someone tell us what it is that hooked you and whether we should chance it. 

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We’ve been running a survey in The Malibu Times and online regarding the local reaction as to how the insurance carriers have responded to the fire. Sixty-three people responded, but there is a caveat. There are numerous insurance carriers involved in fire coverage, so typically, not many from any one particular carrier responded. Overall, the general feeling was that about two thirds of their needs—both to rebuild and to live through the process—was covered. The other one third would have to come out of their pocket. This tells us something. Everyone should meet with their agent yearly to review their insurance and what the current costs are to rebuild, and then up their coverage accordingly. It’s too easy just to renew the old coverage. With each passing year, the old coverage becomes less adequate as the rebuild costs go up. Now, for the shocker: People who didn’t burn out, but are just renewing old policies, are seeing rates that have doubled in some cases. The irony is that if you’re burned out, the insurance carriers are limited in how much they can raise the premiums for a couple of years.  But if you were not burned out, there is no limit on the premiums that can be charged. You might want to consider upping your deductibles, but, in any event, shop around. Some carriers are getting out of the market, some are now reluctant to write in certain areas and some may just see this as an opportunity. The carriers took a major hit in these California fires and some are looking to recoup as quickly as they can so shop because it’s an entirely new game.

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The Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of the 500 most influential people in LA was filled with familiar local names like Chris Cortazzo, Jay Luchs, Steve Soboroff, Dr. Dre and legions of famous familiar names who have second, third or fourth homes here, but are seldom seen in town. We’ve been living in a rented condo on Carbon Beach for several years now, while our house in La Costa is rented out to long-term tenants. Walking the beach, you notice that the Carbon Beach beachfront homes are just not occupied, except for maybe a handyman or house sitter. It used to be that people came out on weekends. Then, it seemed to change where people came out for the big holidays like Fourth of July or Labor Day. As wealth has grown, people seem to be flying off in private jets for long summer weekends and Malibu beaches seem less used, except for the public beaches. The irony of all this is that there is an enormous shortage of housing in all of California, particularly along the coast and adjacent to it.

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The state legislature has been working on finding a cure for the lack of housing being built in California. Everyone agrees that we don’t have enough housing at pretty much every level except, perhaps, the most expensive housing level. The impact of this is people are rent poor because the rents are so high, causing them to spend a disproportionate amount of their income on rent. Many of the young are looking to move away because the housing prices are so high they know they will never be able to afford to buy a house. Competition for rentals is also so high that many millennials are living with their families because they can’t afford to leave. The housing bill, AB 50, currently in the legislature was meant to try and fix the problem—at least in part. It has been one of the most talked-about bills up in Sacramento. It would allow medium-rise apartment buildings to be built in cities near transportation hubs, like bus hubs or light rail. Think of Pico Boulevard and imagine a string of six-story apartment buildings on every block from downtown LA to the beach. You can imagine that the adjacent neighbors wouldn’t be happy. AB 50 just died in the State Senate Appropriations Committee. The committee chairman essentially stuck it in his desk drawer until the deadline passed to get it out. No one had to vote against it, no one had to vote for it. It was one of those no-win bills that no politician wants to vote on because whichever way they vote, lots of people are going to be mad at them. That is the problem. No local voter will vote for more density or more traffic. The only way you can change that is to take the power to say “no” away from the local government and give it to the state, with every locality carrying some fair share of the housing problem. What’s happening is that the housing problem, particularly the homeless housing problem, is showing up in the courts. Homeless individuals are at the absolute bottom of the rental market; many live on the streets, in tents or in their vehicles. Just recently, the Federal Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit told the City of Thousand Oaks that if there was no housing provided for the homeless, they had to let them sleep on public property. My guess is that sometime soon, Malibu will not be able to prohibit parking between 2-5 a.m. and we’re going to see campers and cars parked around town in locations like Legacy Park—like it or not.

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