Utah Liquor Laws- Oh, My My My…

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The LDS fanatics state legislature has decided to “simplify” the incredibly ridiculous Utah state liquor laws again. Will this stupid and absurd “musical chairs” of liquor law rule-swapping ever stop?

Under the new rules, the limit to how much alcohol that can be poured into a drink has been increased from 1 once to 1.5 ounces. That’s the only sane part.

But, now you can no longer order a “sidecar”, or an additional shot of that alcohol that we locals have been forced to order so we can “spike” our drinks and give them a normal ratio of alcohol.

You can have a shot of liquor in front of you with a drink, but now you can not have a shot of the same type of alcohol that is in your drink. So, if you are drinking a Margarita you can have a shot of vodka or rum or bourbon, but not a shot of tequila.

Smart…

Now, I’ll just order two shots of Jack Daniels and a regular coke and pour both shots into my coke. These are the stupid things we adults need to do in Utah to have a normal drink.

Also, wine coolers and flavored malt beverages will only be sold in state liquor stores, so now that $6 six-pack of wine cooler (which are just as weak as beer) will cost you $9 with the state liquor store mark-up of over 40%.

The reasoning is that if kids see fruity drinks in the grocery store they will;

A) Steal the drinks (meaning kids here are all thief’s)

or they will

B) Simply want to drink because they see these tempting fruity drinks. Because that’s why kids drink alcolhol, right? For the fruity taste! I mean, they can’t get fruity drinks anywhere else, right?

So now, thanks to our intellectually-challenged state legislature, kids will not be drinking anymore in Utah because they won’t see fruity drinks at Albertsons…

And, of course, you still cannot ship wine into or out of the state and beer is 3.2% alcohol unlike every other state, where it’s 6%, because our lawmakers get a kick out of changing laws and rules about things they know nothing about (which is most everything).

Here is my solution;

Why not let adults drink whatever kind of alcohol they want, and let bars make the drinks the way they want, like in  other states, and then punish alcohol-related crimes much more severely? Isn’t that supposed to be the whole goal, to get rid of the bad things that can happen when people are drinking?

Here’s the ironic part of the whole thing- telling me I can’t have a shot of tequila on the table at the same time as my margarita does not make me drink less tequila, it makes me drink more. When the waitress gets to my table with my shot, I have to “chug” my margarita so I can then have my shot. And then I have to order another margarita because I just chugged mine. Most people don’t drink shots, they drink mixed drinks or beer and they order a round of shots that sit on the table until everyone takes the shot together.

In Utah, we have to do shots of our mixed drinks and beers so that we can do shots of liquor. Our legislature is so smart…

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Top Ten Cities to Buy a Home in 2008

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Forbes released an article on Feb 7, 2008 naming the top cities for buying a home in 2008. These are “…markets where job growth is strong, foreclosures are relatively low and inventory is high. With these factors in place, buyers can still dictate terms of sale and negotiate prices, but aren’t as exposed to the economic and lending risk problems that have sunk many markets around the country.”

Salt Lake City tops the list, again, as being the #1 place to buy a home this year, saying, “Of the major metros in the U.S., Salt Lake City is adding jobs faster than anywhere. The economic boom in SLC has drawn residents from all over the country, and more than a few home builders trying to make a profit in these otherwise woeful times. Housing supply has gone up quickly, and there hasn’t been a high rate of foreclosure.”

But some of the other cities might surprise you.

For example, the article places Phoenix at #5, saying, “Phoenix has a very high foreclosure rate; there’s no way around that. Based on RealtyTrac’s estimates, there is one foreclosure for every 87 households in Phoenix. Still, our data suggest that strong job and economic growth in many non-housing sectors of the local economy is enough to offset it, and people are still moving to the Valley of the Sun at a quick rate.”

And Las Vegas at #7, saying”Las Vegas is a market hammered by foreclosures, due largely to extremely high speculation in both residential communities and the condo market. Though the housing slowdown has hurt jobs in the construction sector, Vegas continues to attract businesses and job seekers to its growing economy, making its excess inventory (and there’s a ton) less toxic than in other places. ”

The complete top ten cities are

1 Salt Lake City, UT

2 Raleigh, NC

3 Orlando, FL

4 Charlotte, NC

5 Phoenix, AZ

6 Seattle, WA

7 Las Vegas, NV

8 Jacksonville, FL

9 Richmond, VA

10 Houston, TX

Top Ten States for Jobs

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Yesterday MSN released a list of the Best and Worst states for jobs based on unemployment figures, and they offer the “mean” wage of each state. Mean wage is a term meaning that half the jobs pay more and half pay less.

Here are the top fifteen states;

1. South Dakota
Unemployment rate: 3 percent
Population: 796,214
Mean annual wage: $30,460
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.9 percent)

2. Idaho
Unemployment rate: 3 percent
Population: 1,499,402
Mean annual wage: $34,810
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.2 percent)

3. Wyoming
Unemployment rate: 3.1 percent
Population: 522,830
Mean annual wage: $34,290
Top industry: Government (23 percent)

4. Nebraska
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 1,774,571
Mean annual wage: $34,300
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (21.1 percent)

5. Utah
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 2,645,330
Mean annual wage: $35,540
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.7 percent)

6. Hawaii
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 1,283,388
Mean annual wage: $38,630
Top industry: Government (19.6 percent)

7. North Dakota
Unemployment rate: 3.3 percent
Population: 639,715
Mean annual wage: $32,440
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (21.4 percent)

8. Virginia
Unemployment rate: 3.5 percent
Population: 7,712,091
Mean annual wage: $41,450
Top industry: Government (18 percent)

9. Montana
Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent
Population: 957,861
Mean annual wage: $31,290
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.5 percent)

10. New Hampshire
Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent
Population: 1,315,828
Mean annual wage: $39,250
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (23.3 percent)

11. New Mexico
Unemployment rate: 3.7 percent
Population: 1,969,915
Mean annual wage: $33,980
Top industry: Government (23.2 percent)

12. Delaware
Unemployment rate: 3.8 percent
Population: 864,764
Mean annual wage: $41,680
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (18.7 percent)

13. Maryland
Unemployment rate: 3.8 percent
Population: 5,618,344
Mean annual wage: $44,030
Top industry: Government (18.2 percent)
14. Iowa
Unemployment rate: 4 percent
Population: 2,988,046
Mean annual wage: $33,250
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.4 percent)

15. Vermont
Unemployment rate: 4 percent
Population: 621,254
Mean annual wage: $36,350
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.4 percent)

Michigan heads the list of “worst states”, followed by Mississippi, South Carolina, Alaska, California, D.C., Ohio, Arkansas, Nevada, and Kentucky.

Most “Vain” Cities in the Nation

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Those guys at Forbes, they really do know how to pick ’em. They just released their list of the Top Ten Most Vain cities in the country, based mostly on the number of plastic surgeons per capita. Apparently, over 11,000,000 cosmetic procedures were performed in the US in 2006, a 48% increase over the previous year.

From the article, “As the number of cosmetic procedures nationwide continues to surge, we looked at which cities have most embraced market demand for taut faces, lush lips and flat abs. There were predictable entries like New York, Miami and Los Angeles, but also surprising ones like Louisville, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn. Most shocking of all was the town that ranked first: Salt Lake City. ”

Yes, you read that correctly- the city at the top, rated as the “Most Vain” was my very own hometown of Salt Lake City.

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Forbes offers this disclaimer;

“Unexpected entries like Salt Lake City, Nashville and Louisville might rise to the top, given smaller populations and medical or university programs and centers that focus on plastic surgery. An influx of younger, more affluent residents into the smaller cities may also account for the rising number of plastic surgeons.”

This is something I’ve known for many years, actually, but growing up here, you learn to embrace the culture. And it’s actually very difficult to tell as there are so many beautiful women here. Of course my wife is the most beautiful woman in Salt Lake, and she’s all natural- go figure?

New Oquirrhs Ski Resort Proposed

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Kennecott Land, owner of the largest metropolitan landholding by a single owner in the country (75,000 acres) unveiled it’s master plan showing what it has coming in the next couple decades along the west side of Salt Lake county.

It includes 41,000 acres of hillside neighborhoods and businesses, a “transit spine” which would run along the west side Kennecott developments (south to Daybreak) at approximately 8400 West, an urban center north off I-80, and over 10,000 homes (in addition to the 13,500 at Daybreak) broken up into “town centers”, “village centers”, and “neighborhood centers.”

And a Ski Resort.

The new ski facility and Deer Valley-style resort would be in an area called Soldier Flats southwest of Magna and would be the closest ski resort to an international airport in the world (just 18 miles from Salt Lake International).

The resort would begin at a base elevation of 6200 feet and rise to 9350 feet. By comparison, Park City goes from 6900- 10,000 feet and Snowbird from 7760-11,000 feet.

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“It’s not a matter of if, ” says Jim Schulte, Kennecott’s vice president of long-term planning, “but when.” He adds, “It’s certainly skiable terrain, and a lot of it.”

Nathan Rafferty, president and chief executive officer of Ski Utah, adds, “They could easily do it. I don’t know that it’s the kind of resortthat would compete with the Snowbird’s, Alta’s, and Deer Valleys of the world, but would be something that would benefit Salt Lake.”

City counselwoman Jenny Wilson may have expressed my sentiments best when she said, “[It] would create a great niche that we don’t have.”

“Great Streets” of the Nation

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The American Planning Association yesterday released it’s first list Great Streets in the country. Among the ten great streets was South Temple Street in downtown Salt Lake City.

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From the article;

True to Its Original Character Down to the Smallest Details

First envisioned in Joseph Smith’s Plat of Zion of 1833 and later employed by Brigham Young in 1847, South Temple Street was meant to be the finest and most prominent avenue in Salt Lake City, as well as a model for other cities and towns in the west. Much of South Temple’s success today is a direct reflection of this original bold vision.

The American Planning Association has selected South Temple Street as one of 10 Great Streets in America for its historical residential design and craftsmanship, diversity of land uses, and the integration of multiple forms of transportation throughout history — as well as commitment on the part of the community to preserve its legacy.

A major east-west corridor, South Temple Street is bounded by a historic residential neighborhood and the University of Utah to the east and the historic Union Pacific Railroad Depot to the west. Running 18 blocks long, the street encompasses everything from a mature tree-lined, mixed use district with historic homes, churches, commercial services, and retail establishments to the city’s central business area and downtown.

“South Temple simply tells the great story of our city’s past,” says Salt Lake City planner Ana Valdemoros, “and is also a statement of the efficient combination of historic preservation and modern planning tools.” Thanks to community leaders, residents, planners, and others, there is an ongoing commitment to Brigham Young’s vision that this be the finest street of the city.

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Keeping the integrity of the original street, while incorporating the new (including the new City Creek development) is what sets South Temple apart from many other streets, and this blend and character in the heart of a downtown metropolitan city makes it even more impressive. It began with smart planning, being part of the overall smart design of downtown Salt lake, and carried on with the help of residents and city planners. Just one of the many jewels of Salt Lake City.

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The other great streets on the list were:

Bull Street
Savannah, Georgia

Canyon Road
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Delmar Loop
University City and St. Louis, Missouri

Main Street
Northampton, Massachusetts

Monument Avenue
Richmond, Virginia

North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, Florida

125th Street
New York, New York

St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana

Salt Lake City Real Estate Market

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The state of the real estate market in Salt Lake City today is interesting. It’s much tougher to sell a home now and there are three very distinct reasons why;

1. Inventory levels are ridiculously high. Funny how this works (in any market). Prices start to go up, people begin to notice and wait and see, prices continue to go up and people begin to plan selling their homes to take advantage of the rising prices, people begin to list homes for sale and homes sell quickly, market begins to reach critical mass, everyone throws home on the market so they don’t “miss this great opportunity while prices are high”.

Problem is that people begin to think about selling/buying while prices are going up but don’t act. They wait and wait and talk about it while the market is rising and then by the time they decide to do anything the market has begun to slow. Sellers are the last to acknoledge that a seller’s market has turned. It’s truly an amazing thing to witness a seller’s rationalization as to why their home should sell while others are not.

I’m listing a condo next week and the sellers want to list for more than it is worth, and more than it will appraise for and then buy a home for a great price because it’s a buyer’s market. Their rationalization is that homes are in a buyer’s market but condos are still in a seller’s market. This is not the case of course, but this is how sellers think. Another listing I have right now has been on the market for a month and hasn’t sold and today I spent twenty minutes on the phone with the seller hearing why his home should be sold even though not one single house has sold in his city during the last 30 days that are even close to his price range. He still thinks his should should be sold.

2. Lenders have tightened qualifications and taken away many programs. Many deals are failing right now and buyers who were qualified are no longer. Lenders are being very strict- they are looking for reasons to not lend money and the appraisers are following suit- being very conservative with their appraised values. This also causes people to become frustrated and decide to not buy at all, especially for 20% less than could have bought a few months ago.

3. The media declares doom and gloom every day on every channel, all day long. According to the media we should all burn our houses down and live in caves because the fictional “national real estate market” has gone to hell and everyone who owns a home is the devil.

This causes people to sit and wait. Most buyers who want to buy are simply waiting and watching to see what will happen, just like sellers did while the market was going up. Now it’s a buyers market and the best time to buy, so what do buyers do? They sit and wait until the market becomes a seller’s market again- and then they’ll all want to buy and they’ll say it’s still a buyer’s market even when it’s not.

This is the natural order of things. People wait until it’s too late and then demand that things are they way they want them to be. Listen it’s really simple- when lots of people are buying is not the best time to buy. The best time to buy is when not as many people are buying. Supply and demand.

In a buyer’s market buyers need to get a great Realtor and make sure they are buying a solid investment, but they’ll make much more appreciation when the market appreciated rapidly again. If you buy while the market is close to it’s peak you don’t make as much as when you buy while it’s not at it’s peak.

The Salt Lake City market will now remain relatively flat in price appreciation for about 18 months until the cycle comes around again and it begins to grow more rapidly. Question is, will you wait until prices have gone up to buy or will you take advantage of opportunity to buy while you’ll get the best deal?