Unstable property values bring stress and new opportunities

Our local property values at the bayshore peaked in 2006 and took a big dive since then. (The chart produced by Zillow below doesn’t even show the largest declines before 2011). I’ve worked on a few projects for investors over the years and each is shocked to see the data.

Taking all the available long term data as a whole, it is clear that each event we’ve lived through: the financial crisis, changing government procedures, Sandy and buyouts have all had a clearly identifiable impact on property values here. The more recent sale data swings are interesting and not so easily explained.

The scariest part now is that over 40% of homes have negative equity (compared to 8% nationally), and that’s only on bank loan balances, not unrecorded environmental compliance liabilities that are HUGE in many waterfront properties.

Yet the many challenges bring just as many opportunities. I’ve found that some people are eager to tackle it and others just don’t want to talk about it and prefer to just deny what’s going on. But the smarter investors extrapolate the data to forecast other impact.

How innovation impacts the bayshore

The primary factor influencing future use of the bayshore is evolving technology. Baysave operates under these four principles:

1. We don’t know what we don’t know.

2. We act as through all of the good stuff has already been invented.

3. The technologies for stabilizing, restoring and utilizing our bayshore are yet to be invented.

4. It takes too long and is too expensive to change or deal with government regulation so we focus on innovation that does not require government approval.

Baysave Recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business

Small businesses across New Jersey are starting to save money, share their successes and inspire other businesses by implementing sustainable business best practices. Joining this list of small businesses, Baysave located in Millville, New Jersey, became one of the first businesses in the state to be recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business.

In August of 2014, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) launched the New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry. The registry is an Internet site where businesses that have implemented sustainable business practices can register their achievements and be recognized.

Baysave first achieved recognition for work stabilizing the bayshore community of Money Island. Their living shoreline stabilization efforts resulted in the reduction of erosion that resulted in substantial savings of dry land. Recent efforts include coordination of government programs and commercial fishing operations to promote economic stability.

Baysave’s business listing and programming records are available at http://registry.njsbdc.com/business-profile/459/483/baysave .

For more information about the registry visit: http://registry.njsbdc.com/
For more information about Baysave Association visit: www.baysave.org

The Disaster After the Disaster

Halloween evening, seven years ago tonight, I was on the phone planning a return trip to check on my home and business on the New Jersey Delaware bayshore wrecked by superstorm Sandy. I knew that we would rebuild and recovery from the physical damage. That’s what we do. We are a tough resourceful community.

What I didn’t know then was the extent that government would go to hinder our recovery with blatant fraud, extortion, opportunism and conflicting personal agenda of bad actors at all levels of government. Those of us at the lowest level of income and opportunity were victimized a second time by post-Sandy government. The struggle for environmental justice continues today.

Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

Excerpt:

“Choices being made now about how to respond to sea-level rise profoundly influence the trajectory of future exposure and vulnerability to sea-level rise. If concerted emissions mitigation is delayed, risks will progressively increase as sea-level rise accelerates. Prospects for global climate-resilience and sustainable development therefore depend in large part on coastal nations, cities and communities taking urgent and sustained locally-appropriate action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to sea level rise.”

https://report.ipcc.ch/srocc/pdf/SROCC_FinalDraft_Chapter4.pdf

Baysave Plans for 2020

Baysave is committed to a plan for 2020 that emphasises activating diverse community interests at Money Island NJ.

GOVERNMENT– After an intense year of dealing with government, we anticipate that government will play a decreased role as we move forward. The board of directors adapted rules specifically designed to avoid the need for government integration and we do not anticipate that government support will the largest factor in future sustainability plans.

DOCKS – We will emphasize the use of the Money Island site as a port for large vessels. The demand is growing and our facilities are less expensive than other options. While smaller boats are welcome here, dry dock is more affordable than boat slips. In general, the cost of boat slips (costs imposed by government, not by us) exceeds the amount that small boat owners want to pay and exceeds the price of other docks in the region. For all boat sizes, we will emphasize long term relationships rather than single season arrangements.

CRABS – Commercial operations will remain in Delaware until New Jersey updates its laws to allow transfer of crab license and the use of online cooperative marketing. We hope to expand support of recreational crabbing with boats and rafts if public interest is sufficient.

OYSTERS – There is growing interest in recreational oyster tonging. We have no specific plans at this time

INVESTORS – Private investments are available. A significant goal is to create long term tax-free investment gains.

CHALLENGES – The largest challenge for founder Tony Novak is balancing the desire to make facilities available to as many people as possible with the need to reduce financial losses. In 2018 the losses to to abuse and vandalism were substantially more than public donations. That is obviously unsustainable. We will continue to try different approaches, technologies and operating practices to deal with these challenges.

Another long term challenge is building engagement with the community. The trend toward depopulation has been going on for decades and now we see only a few people each day. A key to sustainability is connecting with the fewer but more interested individuals who have an interest in the bayshore.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

List of suppressed food security and climate documents released by U.S. Senate

This shocking science news yesterday (September 19, 2019) was buried beneath all of the other shocking national news; 1,400 scientific papers on food security and environmental science were suppressed or hidden from us by the federal government since January 2017. The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture apparently had enough with the corrupt and dangerous politics and compiled this 634 page list of the important documents for release to the public. The title of the report is “Peer-Reviewed Research on Climate Change by USDA Authors January 2017-August 2019“.

The full 634 page report of 1,400 peer reviewed documents is available online:

https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000016d-4aa1-de7e-ab6d-efb938460000

Environmental cleanup will be a huge business

The cost of delay in failing to address human-caused environmental damage is estimated to be in the tens of trillions of dollars.

The Bank of England added to the climate change cleanup message recently when its governor said “Companies that don’t adapt, including companies in the financial system, will go bankrupt without question.” He added that some companies will make fortunes in cleaning up from the effects of climate change.

A core belief at Baysave is that strict product liability law is the key to our survival. In other words, if you sell a gallon of gasoline, then you have a primary financial liability for the damage caused by the chemical gases released when the gasoline is burned. We continue to see huge opportunities for environmental cleanup in the the Delaware Bay. We just need to get the big polluters on board to pay for it. That will take legal and legislative action.

Tips for meeting with elected officials

I never imagined that my work would involve frequent meetings with elected officials, but that is an important part of my agenda recently. As an advocate for small businesses, I’ve had the opportunity to meet locally, in Harrisburg, Dover and Trenton as well as Washington DC. Because our bayshore neighborhood is often in the news over environmental justice and aquaculture redevelopment issues, I’ve had the opportunity to host a handful of officials here on our emerging sustainable aquaculture site at Money Island, NJ.

I suggest these tips:

  1. Do your homework before the meeting. Know your representative’s voting history, committee assignments and recent activity (usually available on social media).
  2. Open with clear simple facts.
  3. Paint pictures with short clear stories of how the issue affects your business or industry.
  4. Avoid tipping your bias on politically sensitive issues. Disregard partisan politics.
  5. If the issue involves problems with unelected officials, be sensitive to comments about your legislator’s willingness to get involved. Some are not willing to get involved and will tell you so. Some will tell you that they have a poor track record working with ingrained bureaucracies. That is important information even if it is not what you want to hear.
  6. Wrap up with a clear actionable request. If that includes asking the official to write a letter, offer to prepare the letter draft yourself. Better yet, have it drafted already and offer to send the staff the electronic version.
  7. If you belong to a community group with regular meetings, extend an invitation to the meeting. This is a nice way to wrap up, exit, but hold the door open for follow-up communication.
  8. Leave you business cards with both the representative and the staff.
  9. Follow up with an email and thank you card or letter.
  10. Connect with the representative on social media and be positive and supportive. You’d be surprised how many directly answer tweets.
  11. Donate to the campaign even if it is a small amount. If you donate to an industry PAC, mention that when appropriate.

I am especially grateful to the professionals at the New Jersey Society of CPAs, especially Jeff, for teaching me the basics of advocacy, to my Cape May friend Ed for emphasizing the value of diplomacy and restraint, and to my activist friend George for showing me the power of being loud and fearless. While we may never be certain of the ultimate impact of our own advocacy efforts, I now know for sure that my voice will be heard.