Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Death of a Model

Most good listing agents have a signature touch, be it catered brokers opens, property specific web-sites, or staging preferences.  I've a trade secret too: marketing images incorporating animals.

I've featured half a dozen dogs and cats, in backyards, amongst tall grass, splayed across the kitchen floor, balled on a comfy chair, exhibiting happiness, vulnerability; engaging.

While I've yet to outlive a client, a couple of my most irresistible subjects have passed.

Here's hoping for a doggie and kittie heaven.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grassin' Grass

Remember when verdant, clean-edged lawns connoted status and neighborhood standing?
Times change.  Water use restrictions and a burgeoning water consciousness are shifting the paradigm.  

The unbroken carpet effect (seen here in Leimert Park) used to signal pride of ownership; now, it translates as sluggish and lacking progresivity, a bit like Humvee drivers in a gas crunch.  

The new world order is even on display in show-boaty Hancock Park, where many a former putting green browns; and elsewhere, as some homeowners, inspired by LADWP turf removal incentives, embrace landscape alternatives.  

The semantic system is finally under attack, pitted by terms like evapotranspiration and soil percolation.  With a crisis looming, 
will morality oblige?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2241 and 1/2 W. 24th ST.

I'm hosting a broker's open (though come one, come all) today, Tuesday, January 15th; and, next Tuesday (January 22nd) from 11 - 2:30.

Please see my most recent Upcoming West Adams Listing (1/9/08) entry for additional photos.
Dig the Roman bath.

Elsewhere, I am attempting to update the site, add topics and property specific links. Currently some of the links are not installed, but I hope to continue the re-engineering next week. As part of the mass labeling effort I've republished my second-ever entry (which had fallen out of the archive) and original Palm tree rant below, The World's Most Overrated Tree

There are some--midwesterners to a fault--from verdant, leafy suburbs--troubled by the treeless, sensory-deprivation grey-wash that is much of the Los Angeles metro landscape. I ain't from the Midwest, but count me among 'em.

Should the crooked finger point at our city fathers? Rampaging developers? The climate?

Ok, let's all share the blame and consider for a sec the fascination/obsession with the Palm tree. What if overnight, the city's palms were replaced by strident oak trees? Or powerful Sycamores? Or,....?

Sure, the palms look good at a distance, like towering sentinels; and, there's some kooky glamour association thing. Forget about it, they're a terrible street tree. Like having a telephone pole in your parkway: messy date and seed droppings that are staggeringly tenacious, razor sharp fronds dropping at a high wind's calling. Another thing: zero shade, little green mass, and as my son determined--you can't climb 'em!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who Needs to Shovel Snow?

The L.A. equivalent, frequently bemoaned--at least here. The sweeping of the palm berries, the none too easy disposal of the palm fronds, following a high wind, rain.

Many rush to defend the gawky palm, miscast glamour icon and non-native. Palm defenders don't actually live on palm-lined streets, and they don't have to deal with the berries, tending to every nook and cranny, down chimneys and thru mail slots. A dirtier tree there isn't.

Still I don't call the tree removal service because they're part of the historical landscape, evident in most early photos of the neighborhood.

Under my yet to fructify category, Lifeways, some neighbors spray the apt to germinate palm berries from their lawns following heavy rains, an unfortunate water consuming practice or "give back", negating the conservation benefit of the odd rain. Weeding is not an activity in which they're willing.

Come to mention it, I'm not sure anyone weeds anymore. Gardeners sure don't seem to.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Is RecenteringElPueblo becoming RecenteringElPetco?

Finally, I nabbed one. For months I've wanted to write about the stray bunnies I encounter (with irrepressible astonishment) on neighborhood walks, and mostly at night. But never had I a camera, and the proof is really in the picture, no?

There's a front yard rabbit on 30th. One night I saw two hares on 11th Avenue--two!. I spotted a jack rabbit near St. James Park, another in the empty lots on Scarff. A cottontail was bagged on 27th St. This fellow was grazing in an alley near 4th Avenue and Jefferson.

With all the semi-feral dogs cruising about, their survival seems impossible, yet I keep seeing them. Or is this my version of Jimmy Carter's rowboat?

Today's Open: 2361 W. 20th St. (near Arlington & Washington) from 2 - 5.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Parrots of South Central

The parrots are back, in large number. Mostly Mitred Conures or Mitred Parakeets (Aratinga mitrada), natives of Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina, they congregate in South Central every fall to forage on ripening palm dates.

Endangered in many parts of the world, the wild parrot population is booming in Southern California. According to ornithologists, the birds are sustained by a prevalence of exotic plantings, magnolia flowers, figs, kumquats, and dates.

While it's illegal to set loose non-native birds, a few observers credit the emancipation of pet store birds in San Gabriel, the release of a private aviary in Malibu (during the 1997 fires), and botched smuggling (some imports are banned), with the basis for much of the population.

Southern California has thousands on parrots (estimates run as high as 40,000), divided amongst ten species. The Mitred Conures that invade Jefferson and Arlington Parks measure 15 inches in length, and are green, with red spots on their wings, and small patches of red on their heads.

Impossibly loud, the squawking parrots drown street noise, air conditioner hum, even the low rumble of passing jets. It's hard to mind though, their appearance seems so unlikely, almost magical.


Monday, July 23, 2007


Admittedly the entries have been a little slow coming. Both of my digital cameras are inoperative. The first, I took to SNL camera repair in Marina Del Rey two weeks ago, the other failed two days later. I need image support, darn it.

A little housekeeping:
1. The West Park duplex is still available, and has attracted mostly investors and USC people looking to capitalize on its location within the USC employee "incentive zone."
The property could be remade, easily, into an especially large single family residence. A doorway, later converted into a doggie door, and now sealed, formerly connected the two units. This would result in a four bedroom, two bath home with an office or sitting room, living room, dining room, kitchen, utility room, and kitchenette.

2. The Jefferson Park Craftsman is in a holding pattern, with the sellers needing a little more time to prepare.

3. My probate listing in Century Heights, the minimal traditional in Inglewood, is in escrow.

4. My Western Heights listing is receiving its final paint touch-ups, and should be ready for publicity in a week.

Again, I love the Million Trees Initiative, but I can't stop campaigning. Already, my re-authoring would make tree planting mandatory: every property with an ample lot would have of it required at least one front and back yard tree. My newest twist is a requirement that would involve replacing those palms without foliage crowns. Little good is the palm already, but as a decapitated totem, zip, zilch, nada.

The sloppy Norton Linai apartment building has been encircled by these frond-less matchsticks for years. One apparent resident, probably made uneasy by my questions, claimed he was oblivious to the unflattering truncations. "I don't look up, " he responded warily. Another shrugged, "it's an apartment building, whatcha gonna do?"


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Perro Perdido Part 2

Rocky has been found. In search of the high-life he ventured to Victoria Circle, where he was secured, amazingly by the daughter of an old friend, then taken to a shelter where he was ultimately recovered, after a tip from the mailman. Confusing? That ain't the whole of it.

Rocky was the principal resident of the great Oxford Four-Square, sold earlier this year; and was relocated to another grand project in the Victoria Park area. He'll bunk with me now for awhile, which will only lead to more Nightwalking.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Perro Perdido

My night-walking partner, Rocky, the German Shepherd, is missing. Rocky was working a security detail on Victoria Avenue at 12th, and went awol over the weekend. Rocky is micro-chipped, has a collar--though possibly without identification, and is approachable despite his intimidating size.

Any sightings, or clues, give me a ring: 323-401-3952.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Nemo and Machiavelli

Two weeks ago I adopted a fish, now named Nemo. Nemo and his small fresh water tank was left behind in a West Adams Avenues manse. It's not the first time I've accepted post-sale cast-offs, usually kitchen items or outdoor furniture.

Elsewhere, Parag's purchase closed May 3rd, but the house remained shuttered another week. On Thursday I entered, for the purposes of removing some luan panelling from the entry and stairwell. A window had been left open and a cat had come to roost. Not a feral cat, a friendly, slightly emaciated silver tabby, with a pink collar and a beckoning meow.

Firstly, I was grateful he hadn't penetrated during fumigation. It's not unheard of, for cats mostly, to breach the perimeter of a tent, or become trapped in a crawl space, during the house cover process. When a listing of mine is tenting, I advise the closest neighbors to corral their indoor/outdoor kittys.

Had the sellers ditched their pet, I worried. It happens more than you'd care to know, particularly when the sellers move far away, and more often with cats than dogs. Dogs are abandoned too, but they aren't generally left in the yard, nor are they (as in this case) capable of re-entry. Rather, a gate is inducively left ajar after the dog is stripped of identification (though most haven't any to begin with).

Desperately, I called the listing agent. "Might the sellers", I asked, "be missing a feline friend?"
Sure enough they were, and a few hours later all were reunited.

Machiavelli, as he was known, had disappeared a few days before their move. They'd asked a neighbor to keep watch, and were surprised an agent for the buyer would take such an interest.
"It's either that," I explained, "Or Nemo'll have a new housemate."


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Spring Weather?!?

Thursday's freak winds toppled the gerry-rigged trellis atop my unlikeable cinder block wall. My arch-enemy, the bougainvillea, capitalized with jail-break tenacity, surging across the alley, encumbering passage with a medusa-like sprawl.

My alley-mate, a metalsmith, offered use of his dumpster, and the great cut-back began. I need another project like I need a forced march, but here it is.

Elsewhere, we've reduced the price on 1522 S. Hobart Boulevard (to $749K!!!), targeting a quick sale. I'll hold it open today from 2 - 5:30 pm, and again Tuesday from 11 - 2:30pm. I'm requesting all offers by late day Wednesday.

An aside, I awoke last night to the thunderclap. My first thought: 'Oh no, attendance at my Sunday open will be compromised'. Okay, really my first thought was 'shit!'

1522 S. Hobart is blessed with sunny skies, a Mills Act contract, and therefore, startling low and transferable property taxes.

Could somebody please call me this afternoon with the Clipper score?


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Today's Distraction

Before wielding his chain saw, the tree terminator paused for a smoke.

Fronds plumetted, then one barrel-size cut at a time, this Washingtonia Robusta (?) was brought down from the sky.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Parks 2

According to the Trust for Public Land, only 7.8% of Los Angeles's total land area is in parks, a much smaller percentage than old guard Eastern cities like Washington D.C. (19.7%), New York (19.1), Boston (17.7), and Philadelphia (12.6). Less than West Coast brethren Portland (15.5), San Francisco (19.3), and Seattle (11.2). Less than sun-belt sprawl-opolis wanna-bes San Diego (22%), Albuquerque (28.7%), Phoenix (12.7%), Jacksonville (18.2%), and San Jose (10.6%).

Admittedly, Los Angeles is credited with a higher percentage than some municipalities--Denver, Detroit, Cleveland, San Antonio, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Tampa--stop me when I come to a burg with world class aspirations or standing.

The city of angels has had frequent opportunities to add to this total, but in pursuit of the all mighty sales tax dollar, and without the push of the hill-centric (or white suburban subdivision centric) eco-activists, promising sites like the Plant, Hollywood Park, and the Grove have instead been transformed into big box retail ghettoes. Despite several economic studies that promote the revitalizing power of parks, council persons are generally more interested in the short-term sales scape than the long-term green scape, and the re-election insuring campaign contributions that convienently accompany big development deals.

The 518, 800 square foot parcel at the intersection of Venice, San Vicente, and Pico, once the site of a fine mid-century Sears building (last occupied by Builder's Warehouse), could make a dandy, much-needed dog park. The CIM group acquired the parcel in 2003 and are now wooing large retail interests, including The Home Depot. (Never mind the OSH hardware across the street, and the Home Depot locations at Sunset & Wilton, on Wilshire near Alvarado, on Slauson near Western, Slauson & Fairfax, etc.)

Hard to get excited, eh?! We're about to use city redevelopment money to replace a tired old building supply discounter with a...tireless building supply discounter!


Sunday, December 31, 2006

Palm Trees, part deux

The 2007 blog starts where the 2006 blog....started!

With a Palm tree rant.

The highwinds came last week, and our palm-lined streets were doused by thousands of pernicious, sole adhering, gutter clogging palm berries.

Fronds meanwhile are piled by the dozens in parkways and alleys, hopelessly exceeding green can limits. The boomerang shaped fronds encircle vent pipes, collect in roof valleys, and dangle from phone and cable lines. Their spikey lengths bloody hands and snag clothing.

Yeah, palm trees are GREAT.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lola the Dog

Kathryn Queen and her husband Michael live in Jefferson Park. I'm passing along an e-mail I received from Kathryn this week:

If there is anyone out there who has the room in their
heart for Lola.

My husband Michael’s shop is in City of Commerce and
for about a year this little red pit-bull was running
around the street of all the shops looking for food.
Michael, as well as many of the other guys in the
neighborhood, befriended her
but all assumed she belonged to someone. One
day his neighbor told him that the city came and took
her away. Michael felt horrible and knew that she
would be killed, as there are mostly pit bulls in
pounds these days in L.A. So, he went to the pound and
got her. We had decided that the only way we could
keep her was to have her as a shop dog. Home was not
an option, we have 2 small dogs and a baby who’s only
a year old. We named her Lola, and, after about 2
months of
having her at the shop, we realized that it was just
cruel to leave her there in the cold all alone at
night. Once you get to know a pit bull you find that
they are so cuddly and such big babies. Lola hates to
be cold. A lover of the sun she is. So Michael
began bringing her home at night. It took a while to
get used to her, but she is so gentle with the other
dogs and great with our daughter too! I’ve tried to
make a go of it, but three dogs is more than we can
handle. We love her and need to find a good home for

Lola is an abandoned street dog and has some special
needs. She has had a least one litter of puppies and
has scars all over her body from who or what ever
happened before us. We think she was abused because
she is a little jumpy and startles if you move to
quick or yell. Lola needs someone who doesn’t work
long hours away from home and has time for her. She
has separation anxiety and needs to be outside if left
alone. Lola loves to play and go for walks. Lola is
very well trained to pee outside. Lola loves other
dogs and people too but is a little shy at first with
some men, I think because of the abuse. She’s really
small for a pit bull--only about 50lbs and not very
tall. We have already had her fixed, micro chipped,
and she has all her shots. We just need to find
her a home as soon as possible. If you can find it in
your heart and if you have the time and space, please
consider taking Lola into your home. If you can’t,
please pass this message on to others you know who
might be interested.

Thank You, Katie Queen


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Palm Patch

I'm no palm lover, but a concrete patch?!

On 6th Avenue near Adams.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Woof Roof

I'm a walker. Out with the son, out late with the dog, sometimes with others.

I certainly get barked at, by dogs, behind fences, in front yards. If a dog's going to bark at anything that moves, s/he ought be kept in the property rear. They're still likely to bark, just at less, heard by fewer.

But dogs on a roof?! This canine pair had me spotted a block away. I've heard of early detection systems, but this is ridiculous and inconsiderate. Particularly as neighboring dogs, cued as if were, continued the shepard serenade.

Here's another intrusion: the peddling pork rindadora. Apparently she thinks there's a corollary between horn volume and sales volume, because she works the handle bar horn like it's a blood pressure cuff.

What am I angling for? Noise ordinances. New York City just updated its code, with special mention of Ice Cream trucks and monster-bass car audio systems.

If Koch could enforce the pooper scooper, I figure Bloomberg's got a shot with Mr. Softee.

Coming Soon: Hooray for High Gas Prices--No More Ice Cream Trucks

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

More About Animals and Real Estate

One thing the downtown real estate developers have really got right is--the animal option. As in, most buildings allow them. Even our friends' bull mastiff would be permitted, we were told during the recent (and disappointing) Downtown loft tour. Of course some breeds, like Presa canarios, are excepted. (I don't mean to impune Presa canarios. After all, the character of almost any animal is driven in significant part by the breeder and owner.)

A year ago, I listed a studio condo in Koreatown. I had a truckload of agents and buyers, clamoring to see it. Multiple offers were written. Hey that's generally 'all good' if you're a listing agent--only thing is, the offer count would've been even higher if the building allowed pets. One couple was incensed, "If we're the owners, how can they tell us we can't keep our ten-year old house cat." Another asked mockingly, "What're they gonna do--stage a kitty eviction?!"

Many are marrying later--if at all, and having kids later--if at all. Perhaps for these reasons (and others), the companion animal is becomingly increasingly present in contemporary, urban, American life.

Point is, whether you like animals or not, if you're living in a community bound by C.C. & R.'s (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) and animals aren't on the welcome mat, you're courting a smaller buyer's pool. Smaller buyer's pool, less demand, hey you don't need an Econ degree to figure where I'm going.


Dogs deserve better

When you're on the real estate "junket", going to a different micro neighborhood each day, looking from yard to yard, block to block, you sometimes spy the uncaring treatment of dogs.

Look, I'm probably the first guy to admit I don't walk my dog often enough. But at least mine isn't chained by day, left to sleep in the cold and wet by night, in constant proximity to fecal matter, and without fresh water.

Yeah it's a big city and there are crooks, lugs, and loons; but a dog has to function as more than just theft deterence. If a dog helps you feel more secure--great; but, dog ownership shouldn't only be about utility.