Westerners want Environmental Protections:

A Jan. 2011 survey, Conservation in the West, a bipartisan effort, revealed truths that our politics has all wrong.  81% of voters in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana and Utah believe that environmental laws should not be reduced in favor of oil and gas companies.  (as repotted in the Denver Post Sunday 4/17/11).  Yes we want jobs, but not at the expense of the very reason we live in these beautiful places.

Mike Kephart


Blog Imprints

1 /31/10

Imprints are strong emotional experiences in our lives that have

“imprinted” themselves on our brain to become part of the tapestry of

memories that shape our responses to ideas in our living environment,

such as; comfort, safety, social status, happiness, fun, and the connection

with others. These “imprints” come into play when we think of, the home,

of our childhood neighborhood, or when we first experience a space new

to us, such as a renovated Loft in an urban setting or a new model home

in suburbia. Our reactions, influenced by our imprints, are gut level or

instinctual rather than the reasoned analysis of: location, home size, and

cost. Imprints can be either positive or negative.

If our imprints from the past were largely positive ones from an

experience of rural living, we might have a difficult time seeing that

contemporary downtown loft as an attractive place to live and the

suburban neighborhood, full of tightly spaced homes, could be as

unappealing to us as well. Changing our current imprints is difficult, so

our reactions to experiences will not easily change, but new imprints

are being formed every day as we learn and grow and these replace

those old imprints over time.

You can see why people often choose lifestyles similar to their parents

and are slow to turn to new ideas and forms of living, like lofts, or in the

case of someone who grew up in a city apartment and couldn’t imagine

living in a single family home much less a small town. It takes time to

learn to accept change and imprints, or the lack of them. They are some

of the reasons the design of our homes evolves so slowly, and new ideas

are greeted more with suspicion than acceptance. That’s how it’s been

with my neighbors and their suspicion of accessory dwellings. They say

they are concerned about parking, the potential shading of a neighbor’s

garden, or the design compatibility of the new additions to the

neighborhood architectural fabric. That’s what they say, but they may

be reacting instinctually to old imprints they still harbor within

themselves. Part of our job is to give them reason to develop new

positive imprints with beautiful efficient non‐intrusive backyard

cottages that they can point to with pride.

Aging In America

The ASA (American Society on Aging) and the NCOA (National Council On Aging) are holding their joint conference in San Francisco  April 26 to 30, 2011.

Building for Boomers will be there and presenting our seminar entitled Caregiving and the Physical Environment.  Judy Schriener and MIke Kephart, co-authors of the book, Building for Boomers, will present the subject material showing how home design can assist or hinder the caregiving function at home. Our workshop is at 11:30 to 12:30 Wednesday April 27, 2011, at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel.

The End for Jumbo Loans?

Jumbo loans, or those with mortgages backed by the US Government from the current limit of $417,000 up to $729,750, may be cut back, as reported in the Feb 4, 2011 Washington Post.  The collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, at the heart of the current financial crisis, has sparked a serious review of those systems.

Such a system only made it easier to buy or build a home that is beyond what any one family could possibly require.  In fact nearly everything done to make buying a home easier also encouraged people to buy bigger and bigger homes.

With the exception of location, the appraisal of a home became based nearly 100% on size, completely overshadowing quality as part of the analysis.  Locations at the limits of development were the only places people could find the homes they dreamed of without considering the great distances they needed to drive each day and the cost of that.  Appraisals, of course, couldn’t consider the cost of transportation and time away from family as part of the cost of living at the fringe and buyers ignored it.

When the economy went into recession and foreclosures were everywhere all these weaknesses in the original buying decision were exposed.  People were left with large mortgages on cheaply built houses, too far from town.

Nearsighted policies such as the jumbo loans and all the other government programs that encourage larger poor quality homes over small high quality ones should be ended.  The benefit to all of us would be more sustainable cities that favor small over large and high quality over the cheap.

ULI Magazine press release

Dan Withee, an architect in Los Angeles wrote a very complimentary review of our book, Building For Boomers and it was published in Urban Land in their Jan/Feb. 2011 issue.  Thanks Dan, I hope I can return the favor some day.Building for Boomers113 Just click on the title to read the review.

Our Book, “Building for Boomers”

We have a limited number of copies of our book for sale. E-mail me, MIke Kephart, at; mike@KephartLiving.com for details.  This is a $60 value we are offering at 39.95 plus shipping and handling.

Mike Kephart

New Year’s 2011

Kathy, the first Baby Boomer

10,000 people turned 65 years old today.  Not only did the first baby boomer reach that milestone on New Year’s Day 2011 but also, 10,000 others will reach 65 tomorrow, the day after that and every day of the year for the next 20 years until every Baby Boomer is 65 years old.

This is the “Silver Tsunami” we’ve been expecting for so long that we’ve almost forgotten that it hasn’t already passed.  For years we have been making predictions, writing books, including, Building For Boomers, which I wrote with Judy Schriener, and tailoring our products and services for the aging Boomers.

2010 Census Figures Revealed Baby Boomers are a force once again:

On 12/21/10 The Census Bureau released to the nation the results of the 2010 census.  Some states lost population and some gained with representation in the House of Representatives hanging in the balance.  Weather may have impacted the changes with northeastern states losing ground while the Sunbelt gained.  Speculation has been floated that since baby boomers have begun to turn 65 that more of them in the winter-impacted states are selling out and moving south.   Some facts and more speculation follows:

U. S. population growth continues at too rapid a pace.  We were 150 million strong in 1950, have doubled to 308 million in 2010 and are projected to grow to 392 million by 2050 including immigration.

The average age of all Americans is growing older.  In 1980 the average was 30 years of age, in 2010 it’s 35 and it’s projected to be nearly 40 by 2050.

The ratio of people over 65 as compared to those of traditional working age is growing.  In 2010 there are 22 people over 65 in every 100 people.  That figure is projected to grow to 35, 65 year olds per 100 in 2030 and 37 per 100 by 2050.

In spite of their numbers and their wealth marketers show less interest in Baby Boomers over 55 years of age or older.  They are no longer receiving requests to fill out consumer preference surveys.

Baby Boomers can expect to live 2 to 3 decades or more in retirement and few are prepared.  In 24 years living expenses will double at only a 3% inflation rate.  This means that if you start retirement spending $6,000 a month that figure will grow to $12,000 per month if you live to 89 years old.

The 65-year-old numbers will grow as a percentage of the population from 13% in 2011 to 19% in 2029 as the Baby Boomers remain an influence in politics and the economy.

Put Mom in The Yard

Put Mom in the Yard

I Have a beautiful backyard that has grown into a burden, a duty demanding my time, rather than a pleasure that fulfills me with a sense of accomplishment, as mowing, planting and pruning once did.  This “duty” now intrudes into my time playing golf, fishing, or hanging out with friends at the corner coffee shop.

At first, having mom move in was great for the family.  She helped with household chores, and fixed my old favorites such as, fresh baked biscuits and country ham for breakfast.  She baked fresh peach cobbler when peaches were in season (another favorite) and, in the holiday season she made thick country custard you drink, so delicious and so addictive.

It was like a second childhood for a while, but like all fantasies, that illusion soon vanished.  Her constant offers of high caloric foods began to irritate me as it did when I was a young adult.  I had dreams, during which I had to answer for my many faults and failings all over again.

Mom had to go!  I was tempted to pitch one of my camping tents in the backyard for one of us.  The real truth was hidden behind all of these clouds of old emotions and habitual behavior.   Mom and I had switched roles and we were both ignoring that obvious reality.  I was now the caregiver, and she the recipient of my care.  Neither of us knew how to act or to relate to each other in those new roles. Mom revealed to me that she was as uncomfortable as me, fearing she would be a burden if she didn’t do her share.               Talking brought out the adult in both of us and we began searching for options. An assisted living facility might be in her future, but right now she was healthy and able to care for herself and wanted to live as independently as possible.  Grudgingly, she admitted that moving out of the big old home she had shared with dad was still a wise choice, but where now?   An apartment close by seemed like a viable option, but for us it meant money down the drain with no hope of a return.  The apartments we looked at in good secure buildings cost $1,000.00 per month or more, and we weren’t comfortable with the lack of security in those that cost less.

We discovered, through a process of elimination, that we would follow my first instinct and “put mom in the yard”.  However, we would build her a beautiful cottage of her own, one she could care for easily and live independently. A second mortgage on our home provided the needed cash to build the small cottage above a new two-car garage out back, and if mom decides to move somewhere else later we can rent the cottage and actually make money in the process.  Since the cottage has an elevator we can rent to an older adult, like mom, or to anyone else we choose.  So, for now, mom is close by, but not too close.

Mike Kephart

Denver and Salt Lake City

Denver Council votes to allow Granny Flats:

In late June this year the City of Denver reversed a long standing ban on Granny Flats and included a provision allowing the building of new “Accessory Dwelling Units” in some neighborhoods.

Homeowners who have adequate space in their backyard can now build a small second home on top of a garage or completely on its own.  Another family member or members can live there independently and, to make use of it when those people move on, these homes can be rented.  It isn’t for everyone it seems, but only those whose property is zoned for a granny flat as a result of the new zoning ordinance.

The size of these homes is limited to less than 1000 square feet depending on the size of the lot down to as small as 650 square feet.  There are other regulations governing location, setbacks, height and so on.

Sidekick Homes, a local purveyor of small homes, has seen a surge in the interest regarding granny flats in cities on the west coast and east all the way through Texas.  City planners are realizing that the need for small affordable housing cannot be met through government funded projects and that ADUs are one way to allow individuals to house their own aging and less affluent family members.

Salt Lake City is accepting comments on their pending zoning ordinance to allow ADUs in their city.  Anyone can share their experiences in other cities or your own personal story regarding Adus.  Success stories are needed to give the citizens of Salt Lake some understanding of the benefits of an Adu.  Send yours in today.

The City has a website specifically to provide information and to accept comments for their information in considering this ordinance. http://www.slcgov.com/opencityhall  You can download a draft of the proposed ordinance, or a fact sheet which should answer many questions you may have.