Most of you have probably heard that San Diego is now in a state of emergency, due to the wildfires spreading through over 150,000 acres. Nearly a million people have been evacuated and nearly 1,000 homes have burnt down.
A similar event happened in 2004, but compared to this time, it was on a much smaller scale. Also different this time, is how the web has made a difference in relaying information and news.
Web 2.0 sites like Google maps and Twitter are being used to help spread news. Google Maps is being used to display where the evacuation zones and evacuation shelters are. Important news items like shut-down freeways and URLs can be embedded onto the map. Twitter is being used for up-to-the-minute breaking news regarding the status of fires and evacuations.
Even though I’m several miles away from the closest fire, there’s a lot of ash swirling around and the air is heavy with the smell of burnt wood. I can’t go outside for more than a few minutes without my eyes starting to burn.
Most businesses have been shut down since yesterday and everyone’s been told to stay indoors. Most hotels are at 100% occupancy so some people are prospering from this situation, although to be fair, its been reported that many hotels are offering significant discounts on their rates.
But the local economy should definitely get a boost from this. Insurance companies will suffer as 1,000 homes need to be rebuilt, but the real estate construction segment of the economy should get a boost. Rentals will be in short-supply over the next 12-24 months as these homes get rebuilt. As local retailers will profit as new homeowners will have to replace all their belongings that were lost/damaged in the fire.
I don’t think this will prop up the prices of homes in the long-run, but maybe this is the soft-landing that the San Diego real estate market was looking for?