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Tim Myers: Looking back on 2008, looking forward to 2009


Posted: December 27, 2008 6:04 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2008 4:55 a.m.
Last year I made semi-bold predictions on local events. Not to brag, but I did poorly. Let's review those predictions:

1. Writer's Strike: I predicted the writer's strike would end by the close of January 2008. I got close on this one, with the strike more or less ending on Feb. 8, 2008.

2. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Expansion: I give myself 50 percent on this one. I predicted the expansion plan would gain approval from the City Council (it did), but also predicted it would not constitute an issue in the 2008 City Council election. It did, and in an unexpected way: The candidate who unconditionally supported the hospital expansion gathered the highest number of votes in the election.

3. Annexation: I predicted, correctly, the continued delay of the county study for the westside on city formation. Have we seen it yet? A correct prediction for me.

4. City Council Elections: I made two predictions, a silly one concerning a misfired candidacy by caretaker councilman TimBen Boydston and a serious one concerning absentee ballots going to 80 percent of total votes cast. I came close on the second one.

5. Stevenson Ranch Homicide: I mistakenly predicted The Signal would develop information on the motive for this terrible crime in the midst of upper-middle-class suburbia, but an entire year passed and a preliminary hearing on the case will not occur before January 2009.

6. Buck McKeon: I predicted Buck's re-election against a Democratic national landslide, but no indication on my prediction that Buck would announce he would retire from the Congress in 2010.

7. Local Development: I correctly predicted a year of inactivity for anti-growth organizations due to a worsening credit crunch, but missed a catastrophic credit crunch and the bankruptcy of that icon of local development, Newhall Land.

8. High School Football: Give me a zero here. I predicted a West Ranch Foothill League championship with a loss to Hart High in the CIF finals. Well, West Ranch finished next to last in the league and came nowhere near the playoffs, with Hart barely making the playoffs and losing in the first round.

So overall a barely passing grade, but I don't learn from my mistakes, so I will press ahead with my predictions and picks for the coming 2009.

1. Real Estate: The median price of a home in the SCV will dip below $300K, nearly 50 percent less than its peak level in 2006, the largest destruction of "wealth" in the history of the SCV.

2. Stevenson Ranch Homicide: With the suspect in custody and no one in any hurry, another full year will pass without closure or cautionary notes on this homicide.

3. Annexation: The county will manage to delay for another full year the results of the long-awaited west side options study.

4. Auto Row: At least three, and perhaps four, of the Auto Row dealerships will close due to the coming restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler. An uptick in car sales in the second quarter of 2009 will primarily benefit Toyota, with Frontier Toyota occupying one and perhaps two of the locations of the closed dealerships.

5. City Politics: The big story of 2009 will include several re-forecasts of the revenue side of the budget due to already-locked-in decreases in sales tax revenue from general retail and Auto Row. If the city manages to skate through 2009 without running into a deficit, Ken Pulskamp may, in fact, be the smartest city manager in the state, despite the feelings of Dave Gauny and Dave Bossert to the contrary.

6. Newhall Ranch: A partnership working on behalf of CalPERS will purchase the Newhall Ranch project from the Landsource bankruptcy, which will turn into a liquidation. The price paid will amount to about 50 percent of the amount paid for the property to Lennar in the original Landsource leveraged transaction.

7. Castaic High School: Continued problems in the credit markets for affordable municipal bonds and a sudden demographic decrease in enrollment will mean - you guessed it - still no high school for Castaic.

8. High School Football: Hart High School will put forth one of the most outstanding turnarounds in high school football history, going undefeated and capturing not only the CIF Northern Division championship but also a state championship. The Foothill League will capture all four slots in the Northern Division semi-finals.

Will I get better than a "D" score on my 2009 predictions? Twelve months will tell the tale.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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