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Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

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Why Street Vendors Make Cities Feel Safer At Night

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

We housesellers read a great story a few days ago on one of our favorite blog sites, CurbedLA, that put forth the theory that street vendors make cities safer because, especially at night, they tend to be active in public spaces where there isn't a lot of foot traffic other than for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. Many of those spaces are near transit stops or darkly lit parking areas that typically would not be very welcoming...so the people selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs, grilled corn, tortas & pupusas and Korean beef tacos make your trip from the Staples Center to the Metro or the Pantages to your car a lot friendlier by the vibrant, safe and welcoming attitude their presence projects. 

With street food vending officially legal for just over a year now and food truck culture going strong into its second decade, it really is an "aha" moment to think about how truly important the street vendor is to cities like Los Angeles. Apparently, the writer of the Curbed article was inspired to do so by a case in New York City last week where the police confiscated a woman's pushcart that she used to sell churros and handcuffed her behind her back while doing so. She did not have a permit and NYC, unlike the liberal permit system in LA (that, admittedly took decades to get right), has not not raised the number of permits since 1983. This means that over there the $200 permits go for $25,000 on a black market dominated by men (again, unlike LA, where women seem to have equal or greater footing than men in the street food vendor market). 

We found it very interesting learning about the history of street food in Los Angeles. LA's tamale sellers and Chinese immigrants selling food from pushcarts go back as far as the 1870s. By the 1890s, there were unsuccessful city government-sanctioned attempts to either severely limit or curb these vendors but street food simply proved too popular. By the mid 1920s, L.A.'s street food landscape exploded, with more vendors finding easier access to customers across a wider swath of the city, and, in the 1930s, street tacos became all the rage in Los Angeles (it is sort of amazing how many fast food/diners/upscale restaurants seem to have some version of a "street taco" on their menu these days). In the early 1940s, sandwich makers and hot dog salesmen began to roll down the sidewalks of populated areas during lunchtime, and by the time of the bland fast food boom of the 1960s and '70s, street food moved back to its cultural center by letting Central American vendors offer a counterpoint with the more exotic street food recipes that had earned them recognition in the first place.

 

The Trend Of Living In A Multigenerational Home Is On The Rise

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Multigenerational living has been around since the beginning of families and for many cultures throughout the world it has always been the norm. However, this style of living is becoming more common in North America and, according to the Pew Research Center, almost 1 in 5 Americans are living in a multigenerational home. It has now become such an American phenomenon that there are even housing development companies that are creating homes specifically to accommodate this. Defined as including two or more adult generations, or including grandparents and grandchildren younger than 25, these households have continued to rise despite improvements in the U.S. economy since the Great Recession over a decade ago.

There are a number of things that explain the increase in America’s multigenerational households that are familiar to many of us. They include factors like immigration, delaying marriage until later in life, longer life expectancy, the housing crisis, the benefits of shared expenses and the lasting effects of the recession. But there are also many personal, very HUMAN reasons that come into consideration such as: Strengthened family bonds, the feeling of safety one has living among a large family, being able to spend real quality time with your loved ones, and eliminating the sense of loneliness that may pervade very small households. Even the sense of shared responsibilities with tasks that include things like household chores, child care, and even cooking meals can increase the well-being of those living in a multigenerational home.

We housesellers always strive to stay on top of all of the important real estate trends and issues, and the topic of multigenerational households is an especially important one to have knowledge of in Los Angeles. The trend of multigenerational living is growing, and the benefits to families who choose this option are significant...so, if you’re considering a multigenerational home, reach out to us to learn more about the options available in your neighborhood. If you have questions about any real estate-related topics, we are delighted to help you in any way we can, as well.

 

Who Remembers When Abalone Were A Popular Dish At Local Restaurants?

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Every so often we housesellers come across an article or news story that causes us to pause for a moment and remember just how much things have changed over the last few decades for those of us who have a long history of living in Southern California. The other day it was an article in the LA Times discussing the once-ubiquitous Abalone shellfish and how now they are almost extinct. Like Maryland blue crabs, Maine lobsters and Idaho potatoes, for many, many decades abalone was associated with Southern and Central California and was a staple of fine and casual dining all along the California coast. Resembling giant sea scallops, the 7 main species of abalone were so plentiful that divers would dive in the coves where they grew and come up with pounds and pounds of the tasty invertebrate, which they would then cook or grill right there on the beach where they were harvested. 

Diving for abalone was also a popular activity and was the reason many people got hooked on the sport of diving. Through much of the 20th century, divers could take up to 120 dozen, or 1,440, per day and during World War II abalone was canned and sent to soldiers. At local fish markets dotting the coast, abalone sandwiches were a popular menu item. By the 1970s, however, there was a huge, noticeable decline due to over-fishing, causing prices to go up as supply went down. In 1997, Southern California banned the taking of abalone by both sport and commercial divers when it became apparent that the numbers of abalone in SoCal were so small it was feared that some species would become extinct. 

In an effort to save the white abalone, by far the most popular and once-plentiful of the shellfish delicacies (they once numbered in the several millions), officials in 2001 made it the first marine invertebrate to be listed as a federal endangered species. Now facing extinction, the white abalone will be getting a major boost toward survival this month, thanks to a breeding program spearheaded by marine organizations across the state, including the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Abalone divers and shoreline pickers will need to wait until at least 2021 to legally harvest any abalone again. If you are a long-time resident of California and remember the days when diving for and grilling up abalone was as popular an activity as surfing or cruising PCH in a sporty convertible, we would love to hear from you!

LAX Curbside Passenger Pick-Up Rules Have Changed: Here's What You Need To Know

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

A few weeks ago we housesellers wrote about how Los Angeles International Airport was banning ride-share companies from picking up passengers curbside at LAX starting October 29. It has been over a week now and we thought we would update you on how that has gone. According to the LA Times, since the new policy took effect at the nation’s second-busiest airport, passengers have complained about hour-plus wait times for a ride after long flights, and drivers picking up folks at the airport have been upset about being in line to leave the airport for much longer than in the past at the newly-dubbed LAX-it pickup area...and there has been some confusion over how to maneuver the new logistics. 

The new rules require all passengers to ride a shuttle or walk to the LAX-it, a parking lot outside Terminal 1. Airport authorities said the process would take about 15 minutes between waiting for the bus and the drive to the destination. The first few days were not pleasant for travelers as passengers hoping to jump in a Lyft faced wait times of 60 minutes, while Uber and taxi services were running at 30 minutes and 25 minutes, respectively, according to the Times. Long lines and longer wait times for frustrated travelers who once could hail a ride from the terminal curb seemed to have everyone in a foul mood. On Sunday night, the airport’s busiest night of the week, travelers waited up to 90 minutes for their rides, partly because of a shortage of cars.

But by yesterday, various eyewitness accounts (including local TV news stations) were reporting that things had gotten dramatically better. KTLA reported that "shuttles came and went smoothly on Wednesday and travelers walked leisurely to their waiting rides while employees smiled and greeted their colleagues". Shuttles serving the LAX-it lot are running every to two three minutes, and moving the ride-hailing vehicles offsite has resulted in a 15.3 percent reduction of vehicles overall. While it is certainly way too soon to determine if this new plan will ultimately cut down on traffic and congestion problems at LAX and the surrounding neighborhoods, that so many kinks have been worked out so quickly is definitely very promising. If you are a frequent LAX traveler, we would love to hear your take on this new policy and system. 

Could This Be The Last Weekend Californians "Fall Back" For DST?

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

We housesellers want to remind you that at 2 am Sunday you will need to make sure that you set the clocks back one hour as Daylight Saving Time will end at that time. However, this might be the last year Californians participate in turning back the clock as voters last year strongly supported Proposition 7, which passed in November 2018 and empowered the State Legislature to vote to adopt year-round Daylight Saving Time. Why it isn't in effect for this weekend is because the change to year-round Daylight Saving Time would require Congress' backing. Florida voted for the shift in 2018, but are still waiting on Congress to approve it. 

In December of 2018, CA Assemblyman Kansen Chu introduced Assembly Bill 7, that would make DST permanent. The bill has been delayed until the second half of the legislative session begins in 2020, where it will require a two-thirds approval in the legislature, then passage in Congress and a presidential signature. Federal law allows two states, Arizona and Hawaii, to opt out of DST and stay on standard time year-round, as well as U.S. territories such as Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. California is one of many states to introduce legislation for permanent Daylight Saving Time, and seven, including our neighbors Nevada and Oregon, have approved legislation in 2019 to make DST permanent and are awaiting approval from Congress

Proponents of year-long DST cite research that shows that an extra hour of daylight in the evening hours would benefit businesses, cut down on the increase in depression, traffic accidents and energy consumption that occurs when we gain an extra hour of darkness, and could benefit students, as later Fall and Winter sunsets would give them more opportunities to engage in outdoor activities after school and on weekends. Daylight saving time was first introduced during World War I and again during World War II to save fuel and reduce the cost of energy during wartime but research is decidedly mixed on the subject, with some studies actually finding that daylight saving time boosts energy consumption.

 

Have A Safe And Fun Halloween!!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Maybe more so than in most other major cities, Halloween is one of the most anticipated days of the year in Los Angeles. Part of that is the fact that we have, by far, the biggest Halloween celebration in the world with the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval, an event that draws on average a little more the half a million people. The entertainment and activities at the free event on Santa Monica Blvd in the mile long stretch between N. Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard seem to get more expansive every year (as does the after party at local pubs and venues), and this year there will dozens of stages set up to feature both local and national musicians and DJs. Of course, one of the biggest draws of the event is the incredible costumes people put together, so there's a definite see and/or be seen element to the whole thing. 

LA offers many, many options for varied ways to celebrate Halloween outside of the Carnaval and this link provides a lot of great suggestions, as well as offering some ideas for adults who don't want to deal with the frenzy of the WeHo festivities. Many of the events go through the weekend or beyond so if you are just sitting it out because Halloween is on a Thursday this year, we housesellers suggest you check out things like the Haunted Hayride at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park, the Dark Harbor haunted attraction on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, or, especially, the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios which features  iconic horror movie characters and multiple mazes and scare zones. 

If you are taking the little ones out trick or treating tonight, please take extra care as we all know this is one of, if not THE, most exciting nights of the year for many of them and they tend to dart on and off the sidewalks and across the streets with abandon. Luckily for Angelenos almost every neighborhood shopping mall or plaza has a Halloween trick or treating event going on and this can be a really fun--and very safe--alternative to neighborhood trick or treating. This link is a comprehensive list of the safe, organized and indoor trick or treating events going on all across the area. 

 

The Tiny House movement that we housesellers have been writing about for a few years now continues to be on the rise. The movement was given yet another shot in the arm early this month when the San Diego City Council's Land Use and Housing committee gave the go-ahead to allow property owners to own and/or rent movable tiny houses on wheels which they hope will help alleviate the city’s affordable housing crisis and steep homelessness. The committee voted unanimously to have the City Attorney’s Office come up with language for an amendment to San Diego’s municipal code which would permit the movable tiny houses which can be stationed permanently or temporarily in backyards and have their wheels removed. Fresno and San Luis Obispo already allow them and Los Angeles, Oakland and Sacramento are currently considering how to regulate movable tiny houses. 

How stationary tiny houses differ from movable tiny homes, ADUs and trailers is that in most cases owners will need to purchase land to build the home. The San Diego Union-Tribute reports, however, that a property owner can have a stationary/movable tiny house installed on their property within 30 to 45 days, much less time than the 6 to 18 months it typically takes to renovate or construct a granny flat. The process also takes less time because the movable tiny houses, especially, are pre-fabricated and then shipped to property owners, while granny flats are typically upgraded or constructed on-site and require a lengthier approval process. In San Diego and other cities allowing movable tiny houses, there are some permits required but property owners would not be required to provide an on-site parking spot for the tiny house as they would be for a trailer or RV.

Millennials seem especially active in the tiny house movement because they generally consider these structures to be their true first home. The use of high quality building materials, meticulous design and personal style are a huge departure from the usual granny flat, RV or the quintessential mobile home. The cost per square foot of tiny homes is often much higher than your standard built homes and the limited space means tiny home owners painstakingly seek to maximize every inch. That said, the Union-Tribune also reports that in California a tiny house will typically cost about $85,000 total, compared to somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000 for a granny flat (assuming it is built on already owned land, which, again, can make a stationary vs. movable tiny home less desirable). Whatever LA decides regarding this topic, we feel confident that tiny homes can continue to make some dent in the rental and home ownership issues that Southern Californians face. 

 

 

 

Do You Know About California’s New Earthquake Alert System and Smart Phone App?

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

Last Thursday marked the 12th Annual ShakeOut, the yearly earthquake drill practice organized by the Sate of California. It also marked the debut of the state’s earthquake early warning system, the first in the nation to warn residents when an earthquake is eminent. The California Earthquake Early Warning System will marry a new smartphone application with traditional alert and warning delivery methods such as wireless emergency alerts. The system uses ground motion sensors from across the state to detect earthquakes before humans can feel them and will notify Californians so that they can have precious seconds to brace themselves or pull off the road. 

According to the Governor of California, who announced the release of the system on the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic Loma Prieta earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area (toppling buildings, collapsing part of the Bay Bridge and the 880 freeway, and causing dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries), this new system is “a big leap forward in terms of focusing attention on prevention and is about 10 seconds, 15 seconds, as much as 20 seconds of early warning" depending on how far away from the epicenter you are located. For more information on how to use the app part of the system, called MyShake, see this MyShake FAQ

Developed by seismologists at the University of California, Berkeley, the app part of the system is designed to alert the public when a magnitude 4.5 earthquake or greater has been detected and has been shown to be faster than other alert delivery methods. The wireless emergency alerts will be sent in the event of a more significant quake — magnitude 5.0 or greater. While the wireless alert system will automatically push notifications to cell phones, residents will need to download the app to receive the alerts in areas without cell phone coverage. We housesellers also want to point out that for LA residents, an earthquake alert app has been available for your phone for over a year and you can also download that app, ShakeAlertLA, and it will be compatible with the MyShake app.

The Amazing Frank Lloyd Wright Ennis House!

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

One of the architects who had a huge impact on Los Angeles that we housesellers rightfully love to write about is the incomparable Frank Lloyd Wright. One of his greatest achievements, the Ennis House in Los Feliz, just sold for $18 million and Variety magazine reports it is now the most expensive Wright-designed home ever sold. One of LA’s architectural jewels, the house was designed by Wright and constructed by his son, Lloyd Wright. The Mayan Revival mansion was cast from 27,000 patterned concrete blocks fastened together with steel rods and it is the last—and the largest—of Frank Lloyd Wright’s four textile block houses in LA, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy.

An incredibly magnificent structure located at 2607 Glendower Avenue, the historic home has been featured in more than 80 movies and television shows and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property, which appeared in films like Vincent Price’s 1959 thriller The House On Haunted Hill, Blade Runner, The Rocketeer and Rush Hour, was partially damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, had issues with leaking earlier in the 2000s and underwent a $17 million restoration before its recent sale. But the fix-it-up money was deemed well worth it because aside from its historic pedigree, the property also features stained glass windows, teak floors, copper-trimmed fixtures and a 200-degree view from downtown to the ocean.

Built in 1924, the house became famous not just for its amazing architecture, which can be seen from the hills across Los Feliz, but for the fact that it is a century-old 5,500-square-foot home that is a among Wright’s most famous creations. Some of the most notable features are the divine interiors that feature textile blocks that wrap throughout the house, lining a long, striking hallway with marble floors. The blocks, inset with custom interlocking geometric panels, form walls and columns alongside towering ceilings, panels of leaded glass, wood-beamed ceilings, and staggering views of the city and Downtown skyline

 

 

 

Huge Jack O' Lantern Tradition Celebrates 67 Years This Halloween

by Jeff White and Lori Donahoo

One of Los Angeles's weirdest Halloween traditions celebrates its 67th year this October as the staff at the Phillips 66 oil refinery in Wilmington will illuminate the face of Smilin' Jack, the enormous jack-o’-lantern painted on the side of a 3 million-gallon storage tank each year since 1952. The whimsical, quirky idea was meant to be a one-time public relations lark that first year, but when refinery workers in 1952 rolled a huge vat of orange, black and white paint onto that Port of Los Angeles gasoline tank, it sparked what has become an enduring Halloween tradition that shows no signs of ending anytime soon. Even after almost 7 decades, it still draws a crowd of over 20,000 people, according to the public affairs manager for Phillips 66. 

Smilin’ Jack — billed as the world’s biggest jack-o'-lantern — has delighted generations of families who drive in from far and wide every year, many in costume, to get a close-up view of the giant icon. His triangle eyes and nose are 18 feet high each, his gap-toothed grin is 73 feet wide, the teeth are 4 feet square and, altogether, more than 100 gallons of orange, black and white paint are used each year. Because of Smilin' Jack's size, location and being surrounded by many hilly neighborhoods, the giant jack-o-lantern can be seen for miles around after it is lit up at night with solar lights. The refinery also opens up its gates for several hours in the evening on the 30th and 31st to let the public get a FREE up-close look at the pumpkin.

How the whole thing came to be is one of those typically creative LA stories that we housesellers love. The tradition began, reported the Los Angeles Times in 1955, when a coat of lead primer was applied to Tank 304 at what was then a facility operated by Union Oil. The paint job gave the 80,000 barrel tank a distinctly pumpkin-like appearance, and the operators of the refinery decided to take advantage of the situation. As the years went by, they started adding more decorations to the surrounding area and brought in monsters and other Halloween characters to direct drivers and pass out caramel corn to visiting families (a tradition that stands today).

 

 

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