Pacific Coast Business Times Proudly serving Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties2015-07-31T21:33:07Z Guest commentary <![CDATA[Personal finance really family finance]]> 2015-07-30T23:32:31Z 2015-07-31T16:15:47Z Personal finance has always been a family affair that involves the interests of children, parents and other relatives. Currently, many trends exacerbate situations where relatives’ assistance is needed, which makes family situations increasingly challenging and difficult to plan for.

First, expanded life expectancy brings expanded financial challenges. A longer life does not only imply greater retirement costs, but also greater odds of runaway medical and long-term care expenses. Couples retiring today at age 65 are expected to spend an average of $394,954 over their lifetime on out-of-pocket medical expenses (excluding long-term care), according to a HealthView Services report.

Divorces later in life are increasingly common. The divorce rate for Americans over age 65 has more than doubled since 1990. Today, 25 percent of people divorcing are 50 or older and 10 percent are 65 or older, according to a Washington Post article.

More surprisingly, Americans over the age of 60 have seen their student loan debt grow at the fastest rate of any demographic group over the last 10 years, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Already, 3 percent of households headed by someone age 65 or older are affected by an inability to repay such loans. That trend is also expected to grow. And sadly, Elder fraud is a common problem. Recently, 68 percent of CPA financial planners surveyed reported encountering cases of elder fraud a few times a year.

Going from sad to worse, elder fraud is expected to grow as more seniors reach a point in life when cognitive decline makes them vulnerable. Seniors’ adoption of technology such as email, social media and online accounts makes it possible for criminals located anywhere to defraud them. Overall, retirement is an obstacle course growing longer and tougher.

As such, we shouldn’t be surprised that a survey of CPA financial planners, many of whom work with high-net worth individuals, indicated that the top retirement concern for their clients is running out of money (57% identifying it as the No. 1 concern).

CPA financial planners also report that unexpected events affect a growing and significant number of clients. These events include long-term health care (impacting 42 percent of clients), caring for an aging relative (28 percent), diminished capacity (26 percent) and adult children returning home (18 percent).

Of course, these so-called “personal” finance trends affect extended families. For example, a survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) showed that nearly 15 percent of Americans were delaying major life decisions due to the need to care for elderly parents or other relatives.

Readiness for the dynamic mix of family issues starts with being informed and realistic.  Such issues are often overlooked and easily dismissed. For example, pre-retirees often fail to consider long-term care insurance because they erroneously believe Medicare covers it or that the risk is insignificant.

In reality, almost 70 percent of people turning age 65 will need some long-term care, according to About 80 percent of care at home is provided by unpaid caregivers who may be a family member or friend. On average, caregivers spend 20 hours a week giving care.

Such facts provide trends their rightful scope and help avoid two common traps: oblivion and wishful-thinking.

So, a good idea for anyone would be to add personal finance topics to their summer reading list. Need a place to start? The AICPA provides a free personal finance report-card to help assess your financial circumstances.  Simply Google “AICPA consumer personal finance report card.” It will help identify areas where additional information and resources might help you and your family.

Also, take a look at, which is a national volunteer effort of the nation’s CPAs to help Americans understand and improve their personal finances

By the end of summer, you’ll be prepared to start a conversation and share information, concerns, and suggestions with your extended family.  From there, expand the conversation to include the members of your relatives’ financial tribe: Successor trustees, guardians, executors, trust-protectors, power-of-attorney designees, key professionals and relatives and friends who’d swing into action if needed.

Initiate communication among tribe members so they know each other, understand the family’s circumstances and contribute to the preparedness conversation. Personal finance quickly becomes family finance.

Therefore, it makes sense to plan it that way rather than wait for events — often undesirable — to force a change of outlook and bring missed opportunities into focus.

• Jean-Luc Bourdon, CPA/PFS, is a wealth advisor and principal with BrightPath Wealth Planning, LLC in Santa Barbara.

Henry Dubroff <![CDATA[Economic development should be part of Ventura County’s general plan]]> 2015-07-30T23:28:31Z 2015-07-31T16:00:00Z Ventura County is embarking on an important step forward as it weighs the latest update to its general plan.

That step would be to include an economic development element to the general plan in the next approval cycle.

A letter to county officials from the Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County recommends the county include an economic strategy section and we heartily agree. As the EDC-VC letter points out, inclusion of an economic development element increasingly is part of “a best practice for forward-looking communities.”

As we’ve observed in San Luis Obispo County, having an economic development or economic vitality segment included in the general plan helps provide clarity for private sector interests and it serves as a useful guide for public-sector policymakers in key areas. We’ll name a few of them:

On land use, an economic development policy could help Ventura County chart a way toward strengthening open space while also spelling out how the county is going to develop jobs and preserve existing industry.

On infrastructure, an economic development element could help the county prioritize needs in areas ranging from roads to water to air transportation. If a possible sales tax for transportation is ever to successfully go before the voters it will be necessary to have policy lines clearly defined in this area.

On manufacturing, economic development guidelines could help incumbents make informed decisions. The departure of Fashion Forms from Ventura, the decision of Haas Automation to, at least so far, grow in Oxnard, are all happening in a bit of an ad-hoc vacuum.

On the questions of extractive technology versus renewables, a public policy directive could help Ventura County balance its historic role as a supplier of oil and gas with the emerging mandates for renewable power.

SLO County’s focus on renewables has given the county very clear direction and in fact turned the Central Coast into a solar energy powerhouse for the 21st Century.

Finally, as EDC-VC points out, having an economic development element gives businesses a way to speak up when it comes to measuring the impact of county actions on the private sector.

Having an economic development element in a county general plan doesn’t guarantee economic success. But it provides a framework for decision making that can help employers make good decisions for the future.

Plane crash response was great

Not too many of us were around in October 1959 when a DC-3 bound for San Francisco crashed into a field near Santa Maria.

But the rapid response by staff and physicians at the nearby Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hospital saved lives — 19 survivors were treated within an hour and only one person died as a result of the accident.

The hospital is now known as Marian Regional Medical Center and it is part of the Dignity Health Central Coast network.

Founded in 1940, the organization is celebrating 75 years of service to our communities. The 1959 plane crash response is a shining example.

Manny Araujo <![CDATA[Help Unlimited celebrates 40 years of pairing caregivers with patients]]> 2015-07-31T21:30:33Z 2015-07-31T15:45:48Z


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Elijah Brumback <![CDATA[Oriental rug store may be razed for 4-story mixed-use project]]> 2015-07-30T23:09:38Z 2015-07-31T15:30:12Z The owners of Aga John Oriental Rugs want to demolish the company’s Santa Barbara retail store to make way for a new four-story mixed-use development.

Located at 15 S. Hope St., just across from the La Cumbre Mall, the property was purchase by Aga John in 2005 from Wye Road Properties for $4.1 million.

The development proposal, which will have its first public Architectural Board of Review meeting Aug. 3, outlines razing the existing 8,368-square-foot commercial building and the construction of  7,080 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, with 48 residential units totaling 38,958 square feet on the second, third and fourth floors.

The proposal also includes 28 ground level  commercial parking spaces and two underground levels to serve the residential portion of the development. The project’s owners are hoping to get the plans approved under the city’s Average Unit Size Density Incentive Program, which allows up to 63 units per acre.

Aga John has design centers in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Laguna, with another retail store in West Hollywood.

A call to the company wasn’t returned, but it seems rugs just aren’t tying a room together like they used to.

Jeff Bridges downsizes

The Dude’s Montecito mansion is on the market.

Jeff Bridges and wife Susan put their 19.5 acre spread, anchored by a Barry Berkus-designed 9,500-square-foot, five-bedroom main house, on the market for $29.5 million in July.

After spending more than two decades at the estate, the couple has reportedly purchased smaller digs nearby now that they are empty nesters.

The property at 985 Hot Springs Road includes some far out landscaping, featuring a vineyard and a patch of aloe trees, which Bridges apparently adores. A theater and recording studio building, two guesthouses, a “rustic playhouse” accessible via footbridge over a stream and a greenhouse for orchids also rank among the property’s ideal places for an acid flashback. The property also has walking trails and a pool where nihilists can hang out without a care.

Suzanne Perkins, a broker with Sotheby’s International Realty, knows all the ins and outs of the property.

Breaking ground in Goleta

Peoples’ Self-Help Housing will break ground Aug. 19 on the $18 million renovation project at the Villa La Esperanza Apartments.

The project will restore 83 units and add a new community room to the property situated in Old Town Goleta. The project budget allocates $12 million for rehabilitation work and $6 million for new construction, design and engineering costs, and other fees.

New energy and water saving features will also be installed, including synthetic turf, water conserving landscaping, “smart” water controls, a new drip irrigation system, and replacement of external lighting with energy-saving LED fixtures.

Villa la Esperanza was constructed in 1971 under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 236 Program and was owned and operated by the Goleta Valley Housing Committee  — a single-asset nonprofit — prior to PSHH assuming management and ownership.

Partners in the project are RMM Design Group Architects, Robert Fowler Landscape Architect, and Stantec Civil Engineers, as well as tax credit equity investor Merritt Community Capital Corp. and construction and permanent lender CITI Community Capital.

Tony’s closes in Carpinteria

Home to one of Carpinteria’s beloved family restaurants, 699 Linden Ave. has been purchased by Santa Barbara-based investor and securities broker Tyler Rameson for just more than $1.5 million.

Tony’s restaurant, which closed for business after the family decided to sell, was represented by Dan Moll of Hayes Commercial Group.

The deal represents the highest price per square foot on record for a retail building in Carpinteria, according to Hayes.

The property is a few blocks from the beach on the popular Linden Avenue retail corridor. Established by the late Anthony “Tony” Borrello and his wife Antoinette “Toni” in 1962, Tony’s was a family owned and operated Italian restaurant and a local favorite for decades.

“This sale marks the end of an era for the Carpinteria community as it says a fond farewell to a respected, multi-generational business,” Moll said in a press release.

The restaurant is under new ownership and the building is currently for lease, listed by Francois DeJohn and Steve Hayes of Hayes Commercial Group, who also represented the buyer.

Henry Dubroff <![CDATA[UCSB West Coast hub for Photonics Institute]]> 2015-07-31T21:31:40Z 2015-07-31T15:15:35Z


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Henry Dubroff <![CDATA[Camarillo’s Salem Media adds investment newsletters]]> 2015-07-30T22:56:18Z 2015-07-31T15:00:46Z


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Henry Dubroff <![CDATA[Dubroff: Facing long odds, Steve Westly preps for 2nd run for governor]]> 2015-07-30T22:40:29Z 2015-07-31T14:45:41Z During four years as California controller, former eBay executive Steve Westly was known for his innovative approach to making California’s creaky revenue system more efficient.

Since leaving office in 2007, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist and former Tesla board member has mounted an unsuccessful primary effort to gain the Democratic Party nomination for governor. He also was an early supporter of then-candidate Barack Obama and he helped introduce the president to California’s technological elite.

But with California’s open primary figuring heavily in the calculus, he’s been talking seriously about running for governor in 2018. An announcement is expected in early September.

And in the run-up to that announcement, I sat down with him in Pismo Beach on July 22 for an extended conversation about the future of California and the Central Coast.

Westly, a youthful looking 58, likes to talk about himself as a “suburban soccer dad and pro-business Democrat” who thinks California’s rising economy is just the beginning of a big wave of change.

“The sharing economy, big data and the Internet of things,” are going to create “a whole new world out there,” he said in remarks that were repeated later as he talked to the board and sponsors of the San Luis Obispo County Economic Vitality Corp.

Westly, who made a fortune from cashing in on e-Bay shares, thinks it’s just a matter of time before the autonomous driving vehicles being piloted around the Silicon Valley are common sights on California roads.

But the challenges of adapting California to lead the next generation of technology are big, he told me. First, on his prospective to-do list, is meaningful education reform to expand the appeal of the California work force beyond its Silicon Valley core.

The need for a highly skilled workforce was underscored for me a few days later when UC Santa Barbara announced it will share some of the $110 million the Defense Department is handing out to develop laser-on-a-chip computer technology. The grant comes with a mandate to train an entirely new generation of manufacturing workers and $30 million in California Go-Biz money to back that up.

Second on the Westly to-do list is infrastructure. “It’s not just roads and bridges, but access to broadband and creating utilities that can adapt to the 21st Century,” he said. The need for more broadband penetration is dire on the Central Coast, where a consortium based at the Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region is working on a three-county broadband initiative.

To free up state money for infrastructure and education, he said, some form of public pension reform will be necessary. But he said the state can’t walk away from obligations to current employees.

“Commitments are commitments,” he said.

Westly, a pragmatic and pro-business politician, has had an uphill battle winning over parts of the Democratic Party establishment, especially in heavily unionized San Francisco. It was a lesson he learned the hard way when he lost to party insider Phil Angelides in the primary race to face Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

However, in an open primary in a heavily blue state, independent voters have a lot to say about who will be the two top vote getters. And unless a big name such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice enters the race, it’s anybody’s guess who the GOP will nominate.

As a result, it is possible to imagine that the 2018 race might come down to a face-off between Westly and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the ambitious former San Francisco mayor who has had a sometimes frosty relationship with Gov. Jerry Brown. After opting out of the race to succeed outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, Newsom announced his candidacy for governor in February.

In a showdown between the two Bay Area Democrats, Newsom can probably count on core urban voters in Los Angeles and San Francisco and public employees who don’t want to see a change agent take over in Sacramento.

Westly’s strengths will likely be in the suburbs and high tech centers with swing areas such as the Central Coast up for grabs.

After years of being largely ignored in statewide races, it would be a rare treat to see the Tri-Counties in the spotlight.

Stay tuned.

• Reach Editor Dubroff at