North County mixed bag: Buses, rents, beer

North County bus routes being eliminated from Escondido to Oceanside and points between/NCTD

Buses to nowhere

North County Transit District is eliminating about 90 bus stops from the more than 1,800 stops on 30 routes in its Breeze service area in April.

Most of the bus stops to be discontinued have fewer than five daily riders, fail to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and have other stops within walking distance, said Kimberly Hayford, the transit district’s director of service planning, in a recent presentation to the board of directors.

Bus ridership has declined for a decade or longer as more people use online ride-hailing services such as Uber, buy cheap personal vehicles, and turn to other forms of personal transportation.

Riders are counted each time they board a bus in the Breeze system. In December, that total was 478,223, down 1.36 percent from 484,831 riders the previous December, according to a report the district issued in February.

The other example was in Escondido, on Broadway at Brava Place, also with no amenities. That stop had seven daily boardings in the fall of 2017-18 and six in 2016-17. It is in a residential area with flat terrain, and the nearest stop was 800 feet away.

“Our bus stops are too close together in this area, and that’s why we are recommending the removal,” Hayford said.

Oceanside has the largest number of stops to be closed, followed by Escondido with 18. Others are Carlsbad with 11, Solana Beach with seven, and San Marcos and San Diego each with three. Del Mar has six bus stops, none of which is to be closed.

Rent, not the musical, but a sad song of San Diego

A new report by Apartment Guide ranks San Diego among the top cities in the U.S. for most extreme increases in two-bedroom apartment rental prices.

According to the report, rent for a two-bedroom apartment is up more than 16 percent from the prior year.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a city that’s 70 degrees and sunny every single day? San Diego has always been a destination for those seeking clear skies, comfortable temperatures and ocean breezes. But the city also has many other faces – Navy town, border town, tourist town, college town, tuna town and technology town.

All those factors combined make San Diego an extremely desirable location to reside, and keep rents growing. A two-bedroom apartment is up 16.6 percent from the prior year, averaging a breezy $2,997.

The report claims that renting a two-bedroom apartment will set you back an average of $2,997.

Los Angeles and Oakland also made the list.

While rent in some major cities increased, other major metropolitan areas saw decreases.

RELATED: San Diego’s housing market cooling down, new report shows

According to the report, rent in New Orleans, Houston, Nashville and Fort Worth decreased.

Unfortunately, the California association of Realtors (CAR) said California renters qualify for homeownership but lack financial knowledge to purchase, C.A.R. reports

On March 7, it said, While low affordability is the biggest obstacle most renters face in becoming homeowners, 14 percent of California renters can afford to purchase a home but are foregoing homeownership partly because they don’t have the financial knowledge to do so, according to research findings by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.).

Of the nearly 6 million California renters statewide*, 826,000 could qualify to purchase a median-priced home in the county in which they reside. Five in 10 who qualify to purchase a home are white (51.4 percent), 12 percent are Asian, more than one in four is Hispanic (26.9 percent), and 6 percent are black.

California renters forego becoming homeowners partly because they lack the financial knowledge to do so.

A lack of financial literacy is one of the biggest barriers preventing renters from becoming homeowners. Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) believe a down payment of at least 20 percent is required to purchase a home, and 72 percent are unaware of loan programs that require less than 20 percent down payment. Additionally, nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) would purchase a home if they could put down a lower down payment.

“While many renters earn the income and have the credit required to buy a home, they have misconceptions about what it takes to become a homeowner, which is holding them back from buying a home or causing them to give up on their American dream,” said C.A.R. President Jared Martin. “Prospective first-time buyers should be aware that there are many down payment assistance programs offered by local housing agencies and low down payment programs from the Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the Veterans Administration.”

Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego and Sacramento counties boast the largest number of qualified renters.

Drown out those rental and transport blues with some good beer news

Some of Stone’s signature brews/Stone Brewing

Each year, the Brewers Association, a trade group representing American craft brewing companies, releases lists of the top 50 craft breweries and overall breweries in the country, based on beer sales volume. The lists for calendar year 2018 were released today. Three San Diego County operations made it onto the craft brewing company list, with two of them making the overall brewing company list.

Escondido-based Stone Brewing came in at number nine, dropping a spot from the 2017 list while retaining its status as the largest craft brewery in San Diego County. Karl Strauss Brewing rose in the rankings from number 41 in 2017 to number 40. Meanwhile, San Diego’s fastest-growing operation, Modern Times Beer, debuted on the craft brewery list at number 45.

Stone and Karl Strauss made it onto the overall brewery list at numbers 18 and 50, respectively. While Miramar-based Ballast Point Brewing is technically the largest brewing operation in the county, it was purchased by Constellation Brands in 2015. As such, its volume was rolled into its parent company’s total. Constellation Brands is the third-largest on the overall brewing company list, behind only Anheuser-Busch Inc. and MillerCoor

“Although the market has grown more competitive, particularly for regional craft breweries with the widest distribution, these 50 small and independent brewing companies continue to lead the craft brewing market in sales through strong brands, quality, and innovation,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association.

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