Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bitcoin Blockchain and Land Ownership

You may think what does Bitcoin and land ownership have in common? Well it might be Blockchain. Blockchain is a ledger system, which tracks transactions securely in a very insecure internet environment. A blockchain database consists of blocks and transactions. The blocks contain batches of transactions that are “hashed” and encoded. This electronically marks a transaction, and each block contains the hash of the block before it, which links the two and forms the chain. This process validates each block, all the way back to the original, and is integral to the database’s security. Blockchains are shared on numerous computers at the same time, so a hacker would have to have access to every computer to steal the data or undermine it. The technology is highly used in a volatile crypto currencies like Bitcoin How could blockchain be used for land ownership and property rights.? Currently, governments keep records of who owns a certain piece of land or property, and the owners may or may not have a piece of paper to prove it. Owners often don’t, so they rely on title insurance companies and governments agencies who have access to the prior sales, or change in ownership. Government records can be lost or manipulated. It has not been done on a grand scale thus far, but if a hacker could make money on it they will look into this easily accessible manipulable paper trail, and steal land. The blockchain could house the land transaction electronically and more securely than a stored pdf file. The chain could track an entire property transaction to prove which parties were involved and what they agreed to in the original contract which could be verified by a blockchain database that is stored securely on the ledger. Blockchain could make pdf files obsolete. Anyother area blockchain can work is in medical records. More and more people are traveling the globe, but if one got sick how does a foreign doctor know your medical records? He doesn’t today, but an international blockchain system could keep your records secure so any healthcare professional can view them and know how to treat you from anywhere around the globe.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Tale of Two Tracks

Currently the largest infrastructure project is both in limbo and at full-speed ahead. The Cal Rail Authority’s has a long term plan to run 500 miles from San Francisco to San Jose before turning to the valley and south to Los Angeles. The fast train is expected to take 2 ½ hour and be well under one hundred dollars, maybe under fifty. They will need a lot of riders to cover the current 64 Billion price tag and ongoing operation costs. The target is limited service from San Francisco to Bakersfield will launch in 2025. The world will have crowned two world cup champions by then. That is not far away. That will entail a lot of digging between San Francisco and San Jose. That is expensive real estate within two major California municipalities. Money: Money from Washington is critical for Jerry Brown’s dream project which can’t be funded alone by state and private financing. The government in Sacramento is at polar odds with the White House. The House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, sent a letter this since the inauguration to The Department of Transportation, requesting a halt Fed funds and grants for the electrification of Caltrain’s Bay Area corridor. This upgrade is essential for the high speed rail. Right now Fresno is booming with construction. Hwy 99 is being diverted to accommodate the rail line. Bridges are being built, homes relocated, roads changed, thousands of acres of land has been bought. Dirt is flying everywhere and Fresno is benefiting. This project has been going on since 2015, but lawsuits and land acquisitions have set things back. Wait until they get to a major city. California approved this dream in 2008, and costs have almost doubled since then. When has the government done anything under budget? It the project runs out of money and the federal government withdraws then the rail must be handed over to Amtrak. Could this be the most expensive Amtrak upgrade? Will California seek funds from abroad? If that funding comes from China then they may require China steel and Chinese trains. This is not like building the transcontinental railroad in the 1800’s with undeveloped land making the “Big Four” the richest in the west. At some point the steam will come to a head.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Where do your Property tax expenses go?

There are many taxes associated with a property tax bill, but generally it is 1% of the assessed value of a property. The state of California takes in $43 billion a year in tax revenue as of 2010-2011. Other charges like Mello-Roos, and assessments take in another $12 billion. All of that revenue remains in the county the taxes were collected, which in turn goes to 4000 local governments including School districts (K-14), and county government agencies. Owner occupied residential properties make up 39% of all property tax revenue with 34% coming from investment and vacation home property. While commercial property makes up 28% of the total. Some properties pay no tax like government owned property, religious institutions, charities and hospitals. More revenue in property taxes increases the state budget. If the tax year is high than education budgets are reduced at the state level. If the property tax revenue is low than the state needs to make up the difference. The 2008 real estate crisis hit the state hard since there was many foreclosures causing tax revenue to go down, as well as, property values. Generally according to a recent report property tax revenue is steady, since even in recessions the property tax revenue remains. People tend to pay their mortgage and taxes making them the last to go in personal financial crises. You can learn more about this from the Legislative Analysis office in Sacramento

Monday, September 11, 2017

Palmdale Power Plant Gets Approved

Seattle Alternative Energy gets California Energy Commission approval and certification to build and operate a proposed natural gas power plant in Palmdale. It will a 650 megawatt plant that will cost three quarters of a billion. The two year construction will begin on Ave M at Sierra Hwy There was a petition a couple of years ago by Summit Power Group and since amended and change from a hybrid natural gas and solar power plant to just natural gas only. So the solar component idea is out and this also reduces the overall size of the plant from over 300 acres to just 50 acres. This new change has become effective just last month. It also passes environmental quality thresholds. There will be a almost 400 jobs created to build the project and less than 25 to operate it. It would have been more appealing if the project was part solar, but it now frees up more land that the city of Palmdale will eventually need to sell.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cal High Speed Rail Building Progress

There is a new site by the Cal High Speed Rail Authority which shows progress of the construction of the high speed rail. It is It shows a list of all the projects Interactive Maps with projects along Hwy 99 from Madera to Fresno. For instance here are some details with images of Road 27 Overpass OVERVIEW Construction is currently underway on an overcrossing that will carry traffic over future high-speed and existing BNSF rail lines outside the town of Madera, eliminating an existing at grade crossing. LOCATION On Road 27 between Club Drive and Avenue 17 near Madera Acres. CURRENTLY Concrete has been poured for the north abutment and crews are now preparing the falsework for a concrete pour of the abutment on the south side of the structure. Falsework is also being constructed to build the bent caps on top of the support columns. If your wondering what is going on and the progress you can see it for yourself and get timelines and pictures.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hyperloop Progress....

Not long ago Elon Musk challenged the Cal High Speed Rail authority insinuation a better solution to a High Speed rail would be a Hyperloop. A Hyperloop works like a vacuum tube thrusting a pod at speeds greater than the speed of sound. There are at least three firms engineering a Hyperloop system in order to make this theory a reality. News reports indicate Hyperloop One completed a test in Las Vegas and propelled a pod 192 mph. This is about a third of the way to the final speed of 700 mph. Some say human can’t take that speed on the ground. It would do funny things to the stomach. We bring this up as the CalHighSpeedRail continues its construction and journey to provide human transport in California with a stop in Palmdale. It is possible that Hyperloop technology will only be used for freight. A technology that will seriously damage freight trains and long haul trucking. A job killer. A Hyperloop may not be a California or US solution as Russia and Middle Eastern Countries have interest in feasibility studies. Elon Musk who has said he would not develop the tech commercially recently tweeted that he had verbal government approval for the Boring Company to construct a Hyperloop system in the East Coast from New York to Washington. Washington never seemed to be in a hurry to go to work, so we will see how far this goes. Hundreds of mile underground? That maybe as much fantasy as a fully funded High Speed Rail in California. The jury is out on both.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Where do the Chinese want to go?

A recent study shows Chinese millionaires are more interested in Canada and the US, but less to Britain. The survey by a consulting group survey Chinese nationals with a net worth of 1.5 to $30 million. Although the US still remains the top destination, yet Canada is number two. Canada’s property prices and good education seem to be the big draw. The preferred cities are Los Angles 20% then Seattle, San Francisco, New York, all under 10% with Vancouver, and Toronto at 6 and 5% respectively.