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Driving Up & Down Home Values: Spotlight on U.S. Homebuilders, California's Central Valley, Fresno, Clovis, Calif. Real Estate
Wednesday, 8 March 2006
Homeowners, Be Warned: Cheap Mulch May Have New Orleans Termites That Attack Home Foundations
Topic: Consumers ComplaintBox

An excerpt from the LSU Ag Center: Homeowners, please attention to this warning. Buying cheap mulch may bring pests and termites to your home environments. We received various messages about this issue.

"A scourge of New Orleans and South Louisiana could find its way to other parts of the state and country if people move wood that’s infested with Formosan subterranean termites.

Experts know the termite was introduced into Ouachita Parish by being transported in infested railroad ties used for landscaping, and they suspect the pest has been introduced into countless homes through re-used architectural wood.

Because of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in across South Louisiana, LSU AgCenter entomologists are warning homeowners not to remove building materials from damaged homes and install them in new structures unless they are absolutely sure no termites are in them.

The best way to gain this assurance is through fumigation or heat treating, according to Dr. Dennis Ring, an entomologist with the LSU AgCenter.

To try to prevent moving termites to other areas, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry on Oct. 3 imposed a quarantine for the Formosan subterranean termite in Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes.

Ring said the quarantine has three objectives – to prevent spreading the Formosan subterranean termite to locations not currently infested, to prevent infesting existing structures that are not currently infested and to prevent infesting new and reconstructed structures.

"The Formosan subterranean termite may be spread in any infested cellulose – wood, paper or other products," Ring said. He listed railroad ties, utility poles, used structural wood, lumber, pallets, landscape timbers and similar items.

The entomologist pointed out the quarantine specifies that all architectural components – including beams, doors and salvaged wood – cannot be sold or placed in any structure in any parish until they are fumigated or treated for Formosan subterranean termites.

"Do not move cellulose from infested areas unless you are sure the material is not infested," Ring emphasized. "Everyone has a responsibility to prevent the spread of the termite."

Experts also warn about re-using wood from damaged buildings – unless you can be absolutely sure the wood is termite free.

"To determine if material is infested, make a thorough inspection, looking for termites, damaged wood, soil, mud tubes and carton nests," Ring said.

Ring said because Formosan subterranean termites build above-ground nests, wood from buildings, trees and shrubs that have been standing in floodwaters may still be infested.

In addition, lumber and other woody debris taken from damaged buildings can become termite-infested if left on the ground too long.

The entomologist said burying wood is not a good idea because that would supply food for termites, which will then seek new food sources when the buried wood is gone.

Here is the e-mail message received from a reader of this site:

"Louisiana agricultural dept. Shortcut to:

If you use mulch around your house, be very careful about buying mulch this year. After the Hurricane in New Orleans many trees were blown over. These trees were then turned into mulch and the state is trying to get rid of tons and tons of this mulch to any state or company who will come and haul it away. So it will be showing up in Home Depot and Lowes at dirt cheap prices with one huge problem: Formosan Termites will be the bonus in many of those bags. New Orleans is one of the few areas in the country where the Formosan Termites has gotten a strong hold and most of the trees blown down were already badly infested with those termites. Now we may have the worst case of transporting a problem to all parts of the country that we have ever had. These termites can eat a house in no time at all and we have no good control against them, so tell your friends that own homes to avoid cheap mulch and know where it came from."

Editing was also provided.

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006 10:32 AM EST
Saturday, 4 March 2006
Property Values Are Going Up. So Are Insurance Costs
Topic: Property Values Up

As town-owned buildings are going up in values, the city's coffers tend to suffer. That is what a lot of major metropolitan areas with hot real estate valuations are realizing. In one word, it is fair to admit that skyrocketing property values are driving up the cost of insuring some town-owned buildings such as schools and other public buildings. Here is a good example: Property values in Congress Heights, an older community in Southeast Washington, have increased 41 percent, nearly double the city's average, an indication that the skyrocketing housing boom has crossed the Anacostia River. The demand for affordable housing will continue to rise. A lot of people are going to be kept out of the affordability index. Even farmers will notice higher property tax values on their farmland. In many places in the country, agriculture land is assessed at its use value, rather than its market value. That means assessors factor in the land's potential for productivity when they figure taxable values.

People living in high-risk areas have to pay for more coverage. Homeowners find themselves paying increasingly higher insurance rates as more people flock to the coasts and insurers try to cut back on the billions of dollars of losses they've absorbed from previous storms. Many residents in high-risk areas have to buy separate hurricane or windstorm insurance on top of their regular homeowners' policies. Florida's homeowners insurance rates have increased more than 150% since the 165-mph Andrew, which caused $31 billion damage and stands as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. For many, additional costs become a burden. For those living on the coast and in Florida, itt's not the storm threat itself that's pushing them out, it's the soaring costs of insurance — $1,000 a year for homeowners, and an additional $2,100 for windstorm coverage, a bill that has tripled in the last five years.

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 3:13 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006 2:29 AM EST
Thursday, 2 March 2006
Parents & Residents Protest Rockery, Concrete, Cement Company
Topic: Homeowners' ComplaintBox

Parents and students living near Adams Elementary school are protesting the relocation of a new rockery which may bring more pollution and traffic to the area. Parents are complaining that their kids may not be able to play outside in a safe manner any longer. They are planning on protesting every Friday near the new business. The owner of the rockery said that he has obtained all the authorizations and complied with all the codes. Parents fear that their kids will have problems with asthma.

This is interesting news. People are paying more and more attention to their environment. Councilmember Sterling has some new issues to deal with now. It's been reported that she interevened but had no success. The protesters want some actions in their favor.

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 9:40 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006 9:43 AM EST
Sunday, 26 February 2006
Brian Calhoun's Office Opened Official Complaint Against Sunriver Homes: Sunriver Cleans Up Within 30 Days
Topic: Fix What's Broken

Sunriver Forced to Clean Waste in one of Fresno's top Neighborhoods.

Here is a copy of the letter addressed to me by Councilmember Brian Calhoun. The councilmember's office is watching out for us. He is meeting our needs. All we need to do is to let him know. We want to thank him for his efforts on our behalf. Our voices have been silent so many times. That is the way to go, Brian Calhoun's office and Evangelina Flores!

"Dear Sir:

Thank you for continuing to work with the District 2 office. Councilmember Calhoun empathizes with your concerns about the blight resulting from the festering junk on the Patriot's/Sunriver Homes-owned lot near your home. He is disappointed that Patriot's/Sunriver Homes has neglected to maintain minimum standards of cleanliness on their property.

Consequently, Councilmember Calhoun has referred this problem to our Code Enforcement Department for investigation. He requested that I update you on our his efforts to force Patriot's/Sunriver Homes to clean up the rubbish they continually dump on their empty lot.

Our office opened an official complaint against Patriot's/Sunriver Homes with the Code Enforcement Department on January 31st. The Code Enforcement Department inspected the lot the next day. On February 2nd, Patriot's/Sunriver Homes were sent an official Notice to clean the property within 30 days. After this time span has elapsed, if the lot is not sufficiently cleaned, Code Enforcement will levy fines against Patriot's/Sunriver Homes.

I will continue to keep you updated on any new information we receive. I appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this issue. Once again, thank you for working to keep your neighborhood clean and safe.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Thank you for the opportunity to assist you.

Josh McDonald
Staff Assistant
Councilmember, District 2"

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 9:12 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2006 9:13 PM EST
Letter from Senior Code Enforcement Inspector: Fresno Cares About Her Residents
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: What's Solved/Repaired

Here is a copy of the letter that was addressed to me by Evangelina Flores, Senior Code Enforcement Inspector, City of Fresno.

This reply shows that Fresno City officials are on the ball. They are doing their best to solve issues. The only problem is that they will never know anything if nobody complains. If nobody says anything, then everything is presumably ok. Home developers and builders can work with the city and county officials to enhance Fresno's quality of life. If these developers do not want to live with waste, how can they expect us, citizens, to live with it?

Copy of the letter

"Code Enforcement is in receipt of your letter dated February 15, 2006 addressing the use of a vacant lot. We recently mailed Sunriver Homebuilder a notice to clean up the lot and verified that it was cleaned on February 23, 2006. We will inspect the property again next week. We will also be following up with a formal response to your letter.

If there are any other concerns or if you have any other information you would like to provide us with, please call or email me.

Evangelina Flores
Senior Code Enforcement Inspector
Phone: (559) 621-8443"

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 9:01 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2006 9:02 PM EST

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