Los Angeles Times: As projects grind to a halt, home sites turn to wasteland
By day, it's far too quiet at the site of a planned housing and retail development on a former Navy base in Oakland. At night, neighbors can hear the thieves come out.
They rip out copper wire, haul away pipes and take anything else they can steal from dozens of buildings on the site, abandoned after Irvine developer SunCal Cos. fell victim to the economy.
It's a scene not uncommon throughout California, as residential construction grinds to a halt under the dual weight of the credit crunch and the housing crisis: a rusty chain the only barrier between the community and a half-built structure in Hollywood; a bare dirt lot in Pasadena; old stoves amid the trash at the site in Oakland.
"I hear hacking and see scary bonfires in the middle of the night," said Don Johnson, a retired Coast Guard employee who lives near the defunct Oak Knoll Naval Medical Center in Oakland.