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LA Digs - Northeast LA Real Estate Blog

Welcome to LA Digs, the real estate and Northeast Los Angeles community blog written by Realtors Tracy King and Keely Myres.

Here, we share tips, market updates, and local news bits to keep you informed on what's happening in Northeast Los Angeles and the surrounding neighborhoods. Read on to learn about the latest in your neighborhood!

Los Angeles Real Estate, Then and Now

Stumbling across the April, 2007, issue of Los Angeles Magazine, I found a key to the disaster we see before us. The title of the cover article was Real Estate 2007, When Will the Bubble Burst? And Other Burning Questions.

It is a game, as they say in the article. The game is "Do I Buy/Sell Now?" In 2007, the key to the bubble not bursting was that our local economy was still good. In hindsight, we can see that the real estate market "bubble" has actually been slowly deflating since 2005. The number of properties sold has been going down since then, even though prices appeared to remain high overall. The prediction in 2007 was that we would see prices soften and modestly decline through 2008, maybe by 2 or 3 percent per year. Today, December, 2008, we see prices have dropped anywhere from 15 to 50 percent, depending.

Depending on what? Real estate is a local business, and in my neighborhoods of Northeast Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, the housing stock varies on a street-by-street basis - no two homes are alike and so no two values are alike. The Case-Shiller index measures the value of a home that sold at a particular time compared to that same home that sold at another time, which is meaningful for that particular home and not many others. See how tricky this all is?

The key to everything is the health of the local economy. Last year, Los Angeles was doing fine. This year, the whole world is in economic disarray. In the early 1990s, the scene of the last big downturn in the Southern California market, we had more local problems that were not felt so much in the national scene, like earthquakes, fires, riots, and the complete restructuring of our economy from defense-related to service-based. So we had an exodus of folks finding jobs elsewhere. I don't think we are seeing that now - times are tough almost everywhere. Now, we have been living in an economy where businesses operate on a line of credit as a matter of course. This was not risky behavior, it was standard operating procedure for any number of law firms, medical practices, and other businesses all over the world. Today, some of these businesses have had to lay off hundreds of people because they can't get their normal credit anymore. This is just one example of the kind of unexpected fallout that is affecting our own little piece of paradise. I know people who have had their own lines of credit on their homes and credit cards reduced or eliminated for no apparent reason.

Credit is basically a promise to pay. The givers of credit have lost faith that those people will repay. This in turn causes the very problem the creditors seek to prevent the loss of the ability to repay. It's all very well to say that we should all return to a cash economy, but few of us operate that way. I feel like I'm watching Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" all over again. I'm actually feeling a little like Donna Reed, dependent upon Jimmy's ability to restore his depositors' faith in the system for her family's survival. Only today, our Jimmy is President-Elect Obama.

Look at the decline of companies like the Los Angeles Times. They've laid off dozens and dozens of people as their product has become affected by the change in the global way of obtaining information and by the downturn in advertising dollars spent. And this affects me personally because I have many clients who work or have worked for the Times.

And so it goes, from the big picture to our own backyard. In the next installment, I'll talk more about our own microcosm of real estate here.

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Sagamore Park is Where You Should be Today!

Sagamore Park Traditional Sagamore Park Traditional

Today (Tuesday, December 16, 2008) is the day you get to see this killer deal at 4273 W Avenue 42, Los Angeles, 90065. That's just west of the 2 freeway in an area known as Sagamore Park, which is a charming little neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles, tucked between Eagle Rock and Glendale. It has Eagle Rock schools and the most convenient location you can imagine for people who need to go downtown or to areas west of Glendale.

The homes were mostly built in the 1940s and many still feature the built-in bookcases, china cabinets, and crown moldings typical of that era. Sprinkled through the area are Spanish-styled homes with colorful tile and hardwood floors as well.

The commercial area along Verdugo Blvd is experiencing a slow movement into the cafe society we all seem to be attracted to these days. ButterTart at 4126 Verdugo Blvd is a coffee and pastries place open mornings only, and they just advertised that they have free WiFi. A wonderful neighborhood tradition is Polka (Polka Catering) at 4112 Verdugo Rd, a truly Polish restaurant that has earned favorable reviews from Jonathan Gold, restaurant critic extraordinaire as well as the discriminating masses on Yelp.

I will have my famous freshly baked cookies at the house, and I'll be there from 10 am til 2 pm. The house is listed for $435,000, and is such a great deal. Besides the 2 bedrooms, 1 bath the assessor's records show, there is a complete downstairs with ¾ bath, separate bedroom, living area and kitchenette. Both levels open out to decks that overlook the lush backyard. Although located very close to the freeway, the house is not affected by noise either in the house or in the backyard. Come check it out!

If you can't make it today, we will also be open Thursday, 10-2, and both Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm. See you soon!

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US Gov, Web 2.0

I stumbled across the Twitter moniker for the official Blog of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Called Greenversations, you can check it out here.  Also, I saw on Yahoo that the EPA has a website for its 23 most wanted fugitives, www.epa.gov/fugitives.

The blog has information on what the government is doing regarding climate change, sources for funding for school projects, news releases, contact info. It's user friendly, fast, and interesting.

You can also use the mobile access, www.m.epa.gov and read the blog there, look up issues by your zip code, connect to other government websites on your phone.

Back to Greenversations, check out the Question of the Week. This week's was "What do you do with unused over-the-counter or prescription drugs?" Best answer: Discard in a Hazardous Household Waste event near you. Do not flush down the toilet as this can eventually affect drinking water and wildlife when the meds leach into the aquifer.

If there is no event near you, they suggest that you can discard in the trash, preferably by mixing the prescriptions with dirt, cat litter or some other substance to render the drugs unavailable to consumption. But there is quite a discussion about the eventual leaching into the aquifer through the landfill, so this is not the best solution.

For a list of Household Hazardous Waste Disposal events near you, go to http://www.lacsd.org/info/hhw_e_waste/default.asp.

If you are in my neighborhood, we have a permanent location at 4600 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Phone is 800-988-6942. They are open every Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm, and they take a whole list of waste from electronic to motor oil. It's a tricky place to find, so map it before you go.

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Unique Holiday Shopping & Entertainment

Second Saturday December!

Saturday, Dec 13 - 7 to 10 pm
part of nelaart.org's Second Saturday Art Walk/Ride/Drive

"Hot & Delicious"
New Paintings by Stuart Rapeport

"Our gallery wasn't booked for a month, so I could create something special for our place. Something that reflected the historic nature of community; my interest in drawing and the relationship between line and shape; the tension between the relationships of multiple pieces; creating a narrative in the imagination of the viewer--something that spoke of the limits of our environment and the possibilities of art as a solution.

But I chose to create impressions of pizza."

Join us for pizza art, pizza snacks (from Follieros), and a birthday cake for NELA Art's 3rd anniversary!
Future Studio Gallery
5558 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles CA 90042

* * * * *

Also Opening Dec 13 (7-10 pm) at Avenue 50 Studio:
Silent Testimonies Contemporary Ex-Votos, curated by the wonderful Raoul de la Sota

"A Little Piece of my Soul" by Paula Banqueiro

Artists and community members were asked to interpret the uniquely Mexican art form known as ex-votos with contemporary themes. The artists and community members are from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds: Artists Katrina Alexy, Paula Baquiero, Barbara Carrasco, Ana Flores, Frank Gutierrez, Lucy Hagopian, Amy Inouye/Stuart Rapeport, Pola Lopez, Isabel Martinez, CCH Pounder, Joseph Sims, Cindy Suriyani, Eloy Torrez, Richard Valdes, Sergio Vasquez, along with Board Members Vanessa Acosta, Raoul De la Sota, Ulises Diaz, Kathy Mas-Gallegos, Poli Marichal, Lara Medina, Ricardo Muñoz, David Stowe, and J. Michael Walker were chosen because they had no history of painting such forms.

Our piece is a contemporary saisenbako with ema and it wishes for peace, love, and understanding.

Avenue 50 Studio
131 N Ave 50
Los Angeles 90042
also part of the Second Saturday Art Walk/Ride/Drive

We will be participating in this year's Avenue 50 Studio Holiday Sale & Party, Saturday Dec 20 (7 to 10 pm) and Sunday, Dec 21 (11am to 4pm)--last minute gift items and splurges for yourself--here's who else will be there--
Lalo Alcaraz
Carmen Argote
Jack Fenn
Roberto Gutierrez
Cidne Hart
Kevin Hass
Amy Inouye/Stuart Rapeport (w/ Chicken Boy merch)
Los De Abajo Printmaking Collective
Margaret Garcia
Leo Limon
Leora Lutz
Juan Sigala
Herbert Siguenza
Ulises Ramirez with "Food Not Bombs"
Romero Family:Â Frank, Sharon, Nancy, Rosie and Sonia
J Michael Walker
and more!

Music, spiced eggnog, holiday refreshments and frivolity!
Festive Attire encouraged!

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Charles Phoenix's Moonlight Rollerway Holiday Jubilee!
Two performances only . . .
Saturday night, Dec. 13, 2008 - 8 pm
Sunday matinee, Dec. 14, 2008 - 3 pm

Holiday Entertainment


Charles Phoenix's hilarious retro holiday slide show followed by a roller skating revue spectacular starring sixty champion skaters in a variety of costumed musical acts celebrating all the holidays . . .
at Southern California's last classic Roller Rink!
- Live Hammond Organ stylings by the "World's Greatest Roller Rink Organist" Dominic Cangelosi!
- FREE snack bar treats will be served!
- After the show - All-Skate Party - FREE skate rental!
- FREE parking across the street at Home Depot!

Tickets $35 at www.charlesphoenix.com
Moonlight Rollerway
5110 San Fernando Rd (at Harvard)
Glendale 91204
818 241 3630

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Why you should buy a house in Highland Park, Los Angeles, 90042

Here are the bullet points:

    • There are 131 listings today, December 4, in zip code 90042, and 98 of them are asking less than $499,000.
    • Highland Park has a long and honorable history in the development of Los Angeles.
    • Highland Park has the first and largest HPOZ in Los Angeles with many contributing structures that could qualify for Mills Act Property Tax Relief and also help to ensure that your neighborhood doesn'tend up being ruined by unbridled development.
    • There is a vibrant, unique, growing artistic element that adds style and character to the town.
    • There are lots of shops, galleries, restaurants and bars within easy access.

1. As in many somewhat economically lower end neighborhoods, HP was hit hard by the recent downturn and experienced probably three times as many shortsales and foreclosures than its neighbor, Eagle Rock, which today has 56 total listings with 23 less than $500k. So you can now find decent 2-3 bedroom, 1-2 bath homes in decent neighborhoods for anywhere from $300,000 to $450,000. Many need work and therein lies even more opportunity. Read about FHA loan opportunities in a soon-to-be published blog of mine and come shopping with me!

2. Highland Park, one of the oldest suburbs in Los Angeles, began as a lushly verdant area studded with sycamores and oaks that attracted artists, writers, and academics. Large Victorian, then Arts and Crafts-style homes lined the main thoroughfares and hillsides. Several universities began in Highland Park including the Los Angeles College of Fine Arts and Architecture, USC, what is now Azusa Pacific University, Whittier, Loyola Marymount, and Occidental College.

Known as a very highly rated liberal arts college, formerly attended by President-elect Obama, Occidental is still located in Eagle Rock, its third location in Northeast Los Angeles. Check out http://www.nelanet.org/reportsmaps/hphistory/ for a detailed history of Highland Park.
3.The decline of the area happened gradually when the early movie industry moved more towards Hollywood, businesses moved to the mid-Wilshire area, the middle class moved out to the suburbs, and the immigrant population came in as the real estate prices fell. A sad period ensued where grand old homes were destroyed, cut up into apartments, their wood siding was stuccoed and windows were barred. A preservation movement began in the early 80s, which resulted in the first HPOZ (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone) in Los Angeles being established in Highland Park. The Highland Park Heritage Trust has done great work to preserve the heritage of Victorian and Arts & Crafts era homes that remain. One advantage to HPOZ homes is that qualifying for Mills Act Property Tax Relief is much easier. I've sold several homes which have benefitted from this which has saved the owners up to half their original property tax bill.

4. A number of artists, writers and academics remained in Highland Park and are increasing in number as higher prices have driven them out of Echo Park, Silverlake and Los Feliz. The Arroyo Arts Collective just had its 16th tour, featuring about 100 artists in studios and homes all over Northeast Los Angeles, but concentrated mostly in Highland Park. Many of these artists have lived in the area for decades, through all the changes, the economies going up and down, the concrete going in, the bars and fences going up. There is also an upward looking commercial environment including restaurants, bars, art studios, and a variety of all the regular businesses that serve a community. Also, NELAart sponsors the Second Saturday Gallery Night where you can wander through the various galleries and see what's happening or join the Bike Tour sponsored by BikeOven and "go green."

5. Check out Folliero's, a neighborhood Italian restaurant since 1968, serving great pizza with thin crust still made by the founder, Tony Folliero. His daughter, Titina, now runs the place and you will love the staff, the food, and the convenient location at 5566 Figueroa St. Another great restaurant just across the street is the more recently established Cinnamon Vegetarianat 5511 Figueroa. Hipsters priced out of Hollywood are edging into a growing club scene that includes hangouts like The Little Caveand Mr. T's on Figueroa. A York Blvd scene near Avenue 51 is growing with The York PubJohnny's, and Marty's Bar (with valet parking, no less) all within a block of each other. You can check all these out on my Restaurant Guide, which you can have emailed or mailed to you for free if you contact me and ask for it.

One of my favorite discoveries is the Future Studio, which is the home of "Chicken Boy," a great icon of the offbeat artistic vibe of Northeast Los Angeles. Art Fein nicknamed Chicken Boy the Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles. A 22 ft high statue of a man with the head of a chicken, Chicken Boy once stood above the Chicken Boy Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Constructed in 1969, saved from destruction in 1984, Future Studio acquired the fiberglass statue and began searching for a home for it. Several museums turned down the opportunity to house Chicken Boy in their sculpture gardens. Finally, in 2007, Future Studio installed the statue at 5558 N. Figueroa St. You can see the statue anytime since it's outside on the roof, but the Studio is open by appointment (323-254-4565 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.and on NELAArt.com's Second Saturday Art Walks. There is a room devoted to Chicken Boy including many actual items with Chicken Boy on them, and the profits go to the upkeep and preservation of Chicken Boy himself. For more info go to chickenboy.com. This Saturday, December 6, Future Studio has its Christmas sale from noon to 6 pm.

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