California Housing Prices = Up, Up, Up on Heals of Gay Marriage

The Supreme Court’s two decisions Wednesday supporting gay marriage could add fuel to California’s already hot housing market. “Married gay couples are going to have more confidence in making a home purchase,” predicted Nanette Lee Miller, West Coast partner-in-charge of assurance services at accounting firm Marcum in San Francisco.

Up on Heals of Gay MarriageStriking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act now means gay couples can pass assets to a surviving spouse without estate taxes, which added up quickly in San Francisco’s housing market where a million-dollar home is far from a mansion. The ability for the couple to collect spousal benefits under Social Security also is a big lift for the family finances.

Miller says another plus will be gay married couples’ ability to file taxes jointly. Previously, such couples had to file jointly with the state and produce individual federal returns, splitting income under California’s community property laws.

“Bay Area lenders are so used to dealing with how to handle a gay couple’s income on a credit application, but that familiarity might not be there in a distant loan-processing office,” Miller observed. “It will make the paperwork much easier now that gay couples can file joint tax returns.”

And given the hurdles in securing a mortgage these days, anything to make the process easier is a plus.

Of course, San Francisco’s frenetic housing market lately has spurred gasps of surprise over how quickly real estate is moving and at what price. After all, a well placed studio condo in San Francisco can easily fetch almost half-a-million dollars.

Miller, who heads Marcum’s LGBT and nontraditional family practice group established last year, said accountants are now scrambling to see whether clients should file amended returns for the past three years. The move is advisable for those whose savings would exceed the so-called federal marriage penalty.

Gay couples need their estate plans and living trusts reviewed to see how they might be affected by the extension of federal laws governing such matters now that Defense of Marriage Act has been declared unconstitutional, said Miller, who began her day at 6:48 this morning sitting in Bloomberg TV’s San Francisco studio so she could offer commentary as soon as the Supreme Court’s decision was announced.

That was quickly followed by other radio and TV interviews throughout the morning. Later this afternoon, she’ll appear on Fox News. I’m confident that interview will be fair and balanced.

Original Source: Mark Calvey, Senior Reporter – San Francisco Business Times

San Diego, CA Gay Living in Unique Architectural Style

Like a many big cities in California, San Diego, California is a very LGBT friendly city with many gay nightclubs, bars, dining and shopping, but what is truly distinctive about it, and very noticeable to those buying homes, is the beautiful and unique architectural styles. It is really is the place to buy a one of a kind heritage dwelling.

SandiegoSan Diego is famous for its examples of the true bungalow style, which actually has its origins in Bengal, India. It is also called the Bangla style. The bungalows here are similar to the ones that the English built during their colonial expansion of India. The houses are one story with thatched tile roofs.  The porches are covered by low slung gables with enormous round columns  (usually an adobe pink color) and feature continuous banks of windows. Many of the homes have open floor plans with built in cabinetry and wood details. The edges of these bungalows are not sharp but rather more rounded, giving the home a bit of a cartoonish Paleolithic look along the lines of the Flintstones.

Funky yet historical is the only way to describe some of the Mission Revival architecture in San Diego. This is a style that was inspired by Arthur Page whose designs were popular from 1900 to 1940. These homes are made of cream stucco and pink tiles and distinguished by iron and wood details.  Large square pillars support the porch and the windows are large, arcade-style openings as big as double doors. Often the roof-line has dips, curves and rounded hills that make this style of home immediately identifiable.

The Spanish Revival style has more sober, straight lines with flat concrete roofs. These are boxy home with curved protrusions that often feature an obvious second-story cantilevered balcony that runs the length of the home. The roof usually has no overhang and the walls are usually all pink, white, grey or yellow.  Sometimes random ornate glazed tiles are also part of the exterior of the home.

San Diego is also known for its Prairie style of housing. This is a style primarily associated with Frank Lloyd Wright and his many imitators. This home is usually one or two stories high with low-pitched roofs and a big center chimney, generally made out of local stone. The windows are ribbon style, meaning they are continuous around the entire house, even if they are smaller windows on an upper floor. These houses are prized for their mid-century flair, open floor plan and use of natural stone and wood materials.

A little less exotic is the Colonial Revival style, which is the most popular style of home in the United States and also one of the most affordable. In San Diego this style tends to be rectangular with two stories and with a narrow overhang. The entrance usually has a truncated pediment that suggests a porch rather than real porch and a brick or wood clapboard siding exterior.

To learn more about where you can find your favorite architectural style of home in San Diego in a neighborhood that is also LGBT friendly, consult with a resident gay realtor who knows the city well. You can also find out more about the neighborhoods, attractions and nightlife in San Diego by visiting the city’s chamber of commerce site at www.sdchamber.org.

San Diego’s Vision ~ A Bike Mecca City

Gay Friendly San Diego is about to become “Bike Friendly San Diego” according to a story out today.

Fundamental changes in how our region moves to work, live and play are progressing fast in San Diego. Change like this is hard to come by, but we knew citizens and leaders would eventually stand together, working on solutions to the ailing public health, unstable local economies, and increasing costs of resources.

The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition loves the direction San Diego is heading, with the inclusion Bikeof bicycling as one solution to improve the quality of life for all San Diegans.

We envision San Diego as the most bicycle-friendly region in the world. Far to go? Certainly. This vision requires positive adjustments to our culture, neighborhoods, and streets, re-designing them to foster bicycling as an everyday activity for transportation and recreation.

Our region can continue to create a comprehensive approach to transportation policy and design, regarding the bicycle as a genuine mode of transportation, removing obstacles and empowering all people to choose to ride whenever and wherever they like. Our vision simply includes the bicycle as one piece of the comprehensive transportation pie.

With this vision, San Diego County will have a connected network of safe, convenient bike facilities and proper, secure, end-of-trip accommodations for people who ride. Constant encouragement of good roadway behaviors through education programs will also foster understanding and respect for all modes of transportation. Our vision includes all people of ethnic, economic and cultural diversity.

The great news is our vision is on its way to fruition. From fundraising records, to expansion of community advocacy groups, the Bicycle Coalition continued its all-inclusive presence in San Diego this past year, all while moving forward with new initiatives and a new mission: to advocate for and protect the rights of all people who ride bicycles.

Local leaders at all levels and in all communities have stepped up to support cycling initiatives, including the City of San Diego’s new mayor, who pledged to make the city better for cyclists and launched CicloSDias, the city’s first open streets event happening in August.

To continue these great successes, we encourage our businesses, leaders and advocates to continue working hard to support comprehensive transportation progress. It’s well known that active transportation like bicycling contributes to improved public health, local economies and more efficient use of natural resources. All of these are good for a vibrant San Diego for all people.

May 1 saw the start of National Bike Month in San Diego and across the U.S. It’s a perfect opportunity to participate in Bike to Work Day on May 17, or head to South Park and Balboa Park for Bike Local Sunday and CicloSDias Mini on May 19.

Just getting your family or friends together to take a ride along San Diego Bay’s miles of walking and biking paths can help strengthen the movement. So, let’s go for a ride.

San Diego Bicycle Coalition (SDCBC) is a nonprofit organization that advocates for and protects the rights of all people who ride bicycles. They promote bicycling as a mainstream, safe and enjoyable form of transportation and recreation. For more information, go to sdcbc.org.

By Andy Hanshaw, San Diego County Bicycle Coalition executive director This post originally appeared HERE in San Diego Uptown News