April 4, 2006 - New Lease on Life
In case you missed it, there’s been a lot of weather lately. March came in like a lion and out like a lion. And now April looks like March. Yesterday, the road was wet and the visibility was poor. And, the dedicated staff of edhat.com was weary and worn from a month of March Madness. These were not ideal conditions for a hectic drive on the treacherous State/Hollister corridor. But, that’s what Ed was calling for. And who are we to argue?
Yesterday, the dedicated staff picked up some coffee at Red’s, and headed North on State Street toward Goleta.
We drove slowly and stared intensely through our fogged-up windows that were peppered with raindrops and salted with mist. Our instructions from Ed were to count the number of office-for-lease signs on all 13 miles of Hollister and State. And, when the signs advertised the square footage of the place for lease, we were to write it down.
The contest yesterday, for the first time in a month, was not to guess the location of a picture. It was to guess the total listed square footage of all the advertised space, when the square footage was listed. We did the same thing about a year ago (without the rain and the fatigue). A comparison between this year and last would provide some indication of whether the local office space market was getting tighter (or looser?).
With all the talk about the imbalance of jobs and housing, it would be logical to conclude that office vacancies are increasing, i.e. if workers can’t afford to live here, then businesses wouldn’t be renting office space.
Last year, we spotted 36 signs. Eight of them advertised a grand total of 112,120 square feet. Last year, we took pictures of all the signs (notice the blue sky and dry pavement in the background).
This year, we spotted 31 signs. Seven of them advertised a grand total of 112,080. This year, because of the weather, we only took a few pictures.
Last year we were honked at three times for pulling over into the red zone to take pictures of the signs.
This year, as we drove back toward downtown on THE 101, we saw three separate cars that had gone off the road because of the bad driving conditions.
Conclusions? Well, there is little evidence that anything, other than the weather, is different this year from last. The in-house statistician says that we must include a caveat that commercial real estate on State/Hollister might not be representative of commercial real estate in the area at large. And, leases that advertise square footage might not have the same characteristics as places that don’t.
Only some old-time Edhatsters had the guts and wherewithal to guess a number similar to last year’s. JQB (112,121) edges out Music Man (112,211) to win the coveted Edhat t-shirt.
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