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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!

Have you eaten at Halong Bay, yet?

We enjoyed a delicious meal at Halong Bay in Eagle Rock tonight - have you tried it yet?  Great atmosphere, delicious food (I recommend the grilled pork chop), attentive service, good selection of beer and wine, what else could you need!  Check it out next time you want to dine out in Eagle Rock.



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Bike in LA? Really?

Would you like to ride your bike more but feel intimidated by the dangers of riding through city streets? Try joining an outing sponsored by a bicycling organization. It’s safer to be in a group and you will learn how to ride safer on your own.

It had been a long time since I’d ridden my bike. But when I received an email inviting me to join an Urban Expedition exploring Highland Park by bike, I thought why not? It was only 7 miles and promised to visit some interesting sights, so what better way to ease back into cycling, have some fun and learn something?

From their website, Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.) is a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles working to promote the bicycle as a viable, healthy, and sustainable transportation choice.

The Urban Expedition happens about once a month. There were at least 30 riders on this trip, several of whom were volunteers with bright yellow vests who helped guide and keep everyone safe. We met near the Arroyo Seco Stables and rode up the bike path in the LA River to the Audubon Center in Debs Park. Did you know that Debs Park is the 4th largest park in the city of Los Angeles? It has over 150 acres of largely wild hillsides with mostly native plants to hike and explore. The Audubon Center was opened in Debs Park in 2003, and was instrumental in making the park safer and more accessible to families and individuals.

Did you know that the Audubon Center is the first LEED-certified building in the country? (LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The director of the Audubon Center, Jeff Chapman, told us about the site and then led us on a hike on the butterfly nature trail.

DEBS Park Audobon Center

DEBS Park Audobon Center

Jeff is a regular participant on these urban bicycle adventures and he rides his bike to work from his home in Eagle Rock. The Audubon Center is a very kid-friendly place, offering lots of fun ways for kids to learn about and play in nature. For adults, there is a Solar System Hands-on Training for Maintenance & Design class that meets the 3rd Saturday of each month. For $20 per class, you can learn how to better understand solar systems for your own use or even to work in the field. For all ages, they offer a free Friday film night preceded by a bird walk. Check out all the possibilities at

We rode on to the Milagro Allegro Community Garden (, a project comprising 32 garden plots, monthly educational classes and workshops on gardening and other topics, and an after-school nutrition, cooking and gardening program (“LA Sprouts”) for elementary school students aimed at promoting healthy eating habits. Check out their website to read about the history of how the garden was acquired, named and constructed, all good stories.

Millagro Allegro Community Garden

Millagro Allegro Community Garden

What I love about this garden is that it is yet another example of the population of individuals in Highland Park who think for themselves to find ways to make their community better for everyone. In this case, they saw a way to make a community garden out of a city-owned vacant lot that was slated for public parking in a neighborhood where there was already plenty of parking.

We cycled on to Cafe de la Leche, a coffee house in Highland Park that features the first bike corral installed by the City of Los Angeles. The owners of this popular spot are living the urban localism dream, in my opinion. Matt and Anya Schodorf live and ride their bikes in Highland Park, saw a need for a good local coffee spot and have very successfully opened one. But they went further: they recently opened Schodorf’s Luncheonette in the same block where they offer yummy sandwiches and salads from 11 till 3 everyday. Matt and Anya exemplify the diverse creative look and spirit of Highland Park. Check them out, stop in at the 2 venues, live some of their dream. Maybe you’ll have one of your own!

Besides meeting some interesting people, learning about some cool places, and having a nice bike ride, I learned some better bike routes through Highland Park. We started off along the LA River bike path to Debs Park, then took a circuitous route over to the community garden. To reach Cafe de Leche, we rode up Avenue 56 from Figueroa towards York (a more level route than I would have done on my own), then parallel to the busy York Blvd on the much quieter Buchanan Street. Circling back to the start of our trip we rode in the bike lane that extends along much of York Blvd.

I really enjoyed this outing and plan to do more. Slowly, Los Angeles is becoming more bike-friendly through the efforts of groups like CICLE and more. Even the mayor is more sensitive to the needs of bicyclists (especially since he was in a bicycle accident) and has pledged to add more bike lanes at a greater rate than has been done in the past. The City of Los Angeles will never become a city like Davis where the bicycles outnumber the people, but who would have thought even 10 years ago that we would have the support of City government like this?

Kudos to the bike activists! Here is a list of some of the resources, groups and events you can explore:

LA Bike:

Sunday Funday rides and the annual LA River Ride:

Mayor Villaraigosa's Bicycle Plan:

Lots of great how-to info plus calendar of events:

Bicycling in Highland Park
Bicycling in Highland Park
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New restaurant in Eagle Rock

Halong Bay opened just 2 weeks ago and it's doing well! Took the picture below just before we cleaned our plates!
Lovely atmosphere, delicious food, and affordable prices make this a winner in the successful Eagle Rock business model contest we all wage daily here.

The empty pineapple shell contained a dish called Festons, scallops sauteed with hoisin sauce, pineapple and red pepper. I had the Suon Nuong, thinly sliced grilled pork chops marinated in honey and lemongrass served with their house dipping sauce (and rice, of course). To start, we tried the Saigon spring rolls, shrimp and fresh lettuce, basil, carrot and cucumber wrapped in rice paper. We each had a drink and spent under $50 for the two of us. By the way, they serve Eagle Rock Brewery Revolution XPA, a bright and refreshing pale ale, so you can feel incredibly local when you dine here. The owner, Ray, had us try the Poisson, a filet of sea bass steamed in a banana leaf with herbs and spices. Yum! And for dessert, the cappucino mousse cake was divine.

You can check out details about the restaurant and see the whole menu at Or just go on over to 1948 Colorado Blvd, LA 90041. Call for hours at 323-258-2618.
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An Eagle Rock Community Meeting is quite a community experience

A couple of weeks ago, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power delivered notices to the businesses and residences on Colorado Blvd between Eagle Rock Blvd and Townsend that construction would begin that day on replacing water mains along the street and that the occupants along the way could expect limited parking, access and water for the next few months.

The business owners and residents were understandably upset by the cavalier treatment they were given. They called the City Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office and within a short time, the work schedule was suspended and a public meeting was called to discuss the issues involved.

I was at the meeting and I saw that the behavior of some of the DWP staff was a bit unsettling (as in, if we don’t replace these pipes now, they could burst and then we’d have a real problem) and let’s just say inconsiderate of many issues like parking, cleanliness, the Farmer’s Market, restaurants, the Music Festival, Ren-Arts school, repaving the street, effects on holiday business, etc. Luckily, the DWP staff included a very astute gentleman who could see the potential for disaster and encouraged everyone to state their concerns without criticism, all would be heard and we would meet again after some thought and research had taken place.

Tonight was the night for the followup meeting and I believe the DWP and the 14th District City Council office staff had done some good work on the issues as well as possibly some training on how to promote good public relations within the community. The general tone was collegial and positive. And Plan B was well received by all. It was a 180 degree change from the previous meeting.

Since Plan B is slated to begin in March, 2011, the Music Festival in October and the holiday season will not be affected.
The permits that LADWP currently have allow construction only between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm. DWP asked if they could begin setting up cones, etc. at 8 am so they could begin actual work by 9 would help move the project forward more quickly. There was general agreement in favor of that and perhaps even broader hours.

Some of the ideas that were not incorporated into the plan were explained:

  • Placing the utilities underground while the street is open for the water mains is not feasible because another cut is required for utilities and the cost is prohibitive, especially considering the city budget crisis.
  • Resurfacing the Blvd instead of just patching the cut is not financially feasible at this time.

Here is Plan B:

On August 9, work will begin at Loleta Avenue and head east to Genevieve where the onramp to the 134 freeway begins. This work is expected to be finished by December 3. If it is completed earlier, the section between Vincent and Loleta will be done. During this time, the community can see how well the parking, traffic, dust and debris, etc. issues are handled. Suggestions, concerns and problems will be addressed both through the 1-800-DIAL DWP number and through a special hotline that will go to a DWP supervisor. Both these lines will be answered by a live person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Another community meeting will be held sometime in November or December to assess how things are going.

Beginning sometime probably in March, the Eagle Rock Blvd. to Vincent or Loleta stretch will commence. The longest any one business will be without water will be 4 to 8 hours in one day and then 1 to 2 hours when the water is switched from the old main to the new main. These shutoffs will have somewhere between 48 hours and 7 days notice. The longest a business will have construction in front of their location will be about 3 days.

What would have happened if no one had spoken up about this work? We would have construction on Colorado Blvd right now with no real planning done for the parking issues, the water shutoffs, the safety of the Renaissance Art school students to name a few concerns. DWP would have done their job without much consideration of the impact on the struggling businesses in this fragile economy. After all, they were responding to requests from the Council office to replace these pipes before they burst like the ones on Townsend did. Hm. Everyone involved was doing their part to solve a problem, but without a community meeting, each department was unaware of the whole picture.

Moral of the story: If you live in a community, you need to pay attention to what is going on around you and speak up when you see something wrong. We have a responsibility to do our part and attend meetings like this. The government and the large corporations and the developers need to see that the citizens are watching. Over the 27 years that I have lived in Eagle Rock, I have seen and heard of several issues that the community spoke up about and because they did, changes were made. Did you know that someone tried to put a pornographic movie theater into the old Eagle Rock Theater on the corner of Yosemite and Eagle Rock Blvd? Quite a lot of people turned out to protest that. Another issue was when the Mobil station on the corner of Eagle Rock Blvd and Colorado petitioned to sell alcohol at their convenience store. The citizens didn’t believe that selling alcohol at a place that sold gasoline was the right thing to do. And let me tell you, the big guy from Mobil Corporation thought his company’s need for a profit justified the encouragement of drinking and driving. That was stopped. There are many more, including TERA’s fight to stop a MacDonald’s from going in to the old Security Pacific Bank Building (now the BlockBusters).

We don’t all agree on all the issues, but that is why we need to speak up. There might be a solution that will be more palatable to a greater number if only ideas were exchanged in an open forum. I am proud to live in Eagle Rock, where people take a stand when they disagree with what is going on. Our community is better for it.

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Start thinking about what to do this weekend

It's always hard to get back into work mode after a 3 day weekend, so if you're wishing it was the weekend again, jot this down on your calendar for Saturday, July 10. It's NELA's Second Saturday Artwalk, of course!

From Amy Inouye:
Future Studio Gallery
5558 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles 90042
323 254-4565

Second Saturday and Opening Reception for An Exhibition of Quilts by Ruby Nishio

Ruby Nishio grew up in Los Angeles and was interned at Heart Mountain relocation camp during WWII. After returning to Los Angeles she began working at Cahill in Beverly Hills, sewing and designing wedding gowns. She was very talented and adept at doing patterns and creating wonderful gowns and custom clothing. For the past 18 years she has used her talents in creating beautiful quilts. Ruby Nishio is an amazing quilt artist and has won many awards for her work. This is her first one- person show.

Nishio has been sewing for over 70 years. She has done all types of handwork, from custom dressmaking, knitting, tatting, crocheting, and embroidery. In 1992, she transitioned into making quilts. The imagery she uses is taken from her personal interests. She loves gardening and many of the patterns she uses are of flowers and nature. She stitches fabric pieces together to form repetitive patterns that are then hand quilted. One quilt in the exhibition, Trip Around the World (1998), includes 2193(!) two-inch squares of flowered fabric where the stitched edges of each piece loses its sharpness and blends with the piece next to it, forming an impressionist patterned garden. In New York, New York (2005), echoes of the Statue of Liberty are depicted in the patterns, while the colors and fabrics are reminiscent of Broadway by way of the Ginza. Expressing her love of gardening and traveling, Nishio has created wonderful pieces that are truly works of art.
The exhibition will run till July 31 (on view by appointment).

Join us for a special Artist's Tea: Sunday, July 25 from noon - 4 p.m.

Also, don't forget to pick up July's trading cards (Chicken Boy trading card #9 and a Ruby card)--they'll be waiting for you in a bin inside the front door.

PS: Chicken Boy Shop will be open Second Saturday. We've gotten a few new items in to check out... like Tyvek pop art wallets and some magnetic jewelry...

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On deck at Future Studio Gallery:
August: Manuel Gonzalez
September: Liz Mamorsky returns!
October: Fig Knit-On* (a Yarn-Bombing exhibit curated by Heather Hoggan)

November: Arroyo Arts Collective Discovery Tour
December: an exhibit of artists' stuffed toys* curated by Edith Abeyta

*if you'd like to participate or get more info, sign up at the gallery Second Saturday

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BOOK BOOTH HIGHLAND PARK is located next to the entrance of La Arca de Noe restaurant, 5570 N. Figueroa Street, LA 90042.

BOOK BOOTH is a free community art/literature project. The books and magazines found at BOOK BOOTH are all donated by your neighbors and are looking for new homes, so if you see something that interests you, please take it. If you have family-friendly books and magazines that you would like to pass along—just leave them at BOOK BOOTH. Please help keep BOOK BOOTH neat and trash-free.

*Some of the books at BOOK BOOTH are registered with, a free online book tracking service. If you find a label inside a book, there will be a an ID number that you can enter at the site and make a journal entry about the book and its ongoing journey.

A big gushy thank you to everyone who has been supporting BOOK BOOTH HIGHLAND PARK!

It empties out almost as soon as it fills up (we can't figure out exactly what's going on but we aren't seeing the streets littered with pages, so we're hoping it's all good). We've pulled out The Tipping Point, Stephen Colbert's I Am America (and So Can You), and Susan Sontag's The Volcano Lover. (They'll all go back to the booth as soon as we're done reading them.) So, please keep bringing books and magazines (even CDs and DVDs) and taking stuff too. If it's all filled up, drop them off at the gallery (ring the semi-hidden bell). You can drop them off Second Saturday also.

We plan on identifying other vacated phone booths so others can make their own Book Booth. Watch this space for the latest.

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FutureStew Vintage at etsy

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FYI: My Taco (6300 York Blvd.) has late night tacos (starting at 11 pm) on Saturday nights for your after art-ing snacking pleasure.

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