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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Median Schmedian: New Post At Native Intell

Confused by today's housing numbers that say sales are down, but prices are up? Sometimes the numbers even confuse the experts.

From a new blog post at Native Intelligence:
There's been a lot of discussion lately about the American Dream in Los Angeles. Renters are worried about condo conversions, rent stabilization is being discussed more, and, of course, housing prices continue to top the headlines.

But what's gone unnoticed is last year's mysterious 11-percent increase in the affordability of housing, as reflected in the California Division of Housing Policy Development's 2007 report titled "California’s Deepening Housing Crisis..."
Is this the pop of the housing bubble so many people were talking about a couple years ago? Read the rest of the post at Native Intelligence.

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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Riverside/San Bern Housing Sales Drop 47 Percent

The California Association of Realtors reported this week that the median price of a home in Los Angeles hit $571,110 last month, up 2.6 percent from the same period in 2006. Sales, however, were off by 4.6 percent from last year in LA.

Meanwhile, the state of California's sales volume, according to CAR, dropped by more than 20 percent from March '06, while the median price continued to tick upward at a whopping $580,090 (up 3.2 percent from March '06).

The numbers from DataQuick Real Estate News are a bit more grim. Unlike CAR, DQ calculates new and resale houses and condos together. In doing so, DQ found that sales volume statewide for March '07 was down 31.0 percent from March '06, a difference of 26,447 housing units.

The most significant decline in sales in the state, according to the data reported by CAR, appears to have been in Riverside/San Bernardino where volume dropped by 47.6 percent from March '06 to March '07. The median price for a home there was $394,370 in March '07, down from $401,100 in March '06.

C.A.R. President Colleen Badagliacco said in a news release:
“March sales fell below the levels of recent months in reaction to an uptick in mortgage rates earlier this year along with tighter underwriting standards. The year-to-year decline in March was larger than in recent months in part because sales in March 2006 were the strongest in all of last year,” said C.A.R. President Colleen Badagliacco. “Moreover, recent news regarding foreclosures and the subprime situation had an adverse impact on the market psychology of many buyers, leading some to delay their home-purchase decisions.”
— TJ Sullivan in LA
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CA Foreclosures in 1Q most in nearly 10 years

DataQuick Real Estate News reported this month that the number of foreclosures in California was higher in the first quarter of 2007 than it's been in nearly 10 years.

DataQuick President Marshall Prentice said in a news release:
"Defaults tend to happen after a certain length of time and today's activity reflects a peak in the number of home loans made back in the summer of 2005. Additionally, the loans being made back then were riskier because of the subprime activity, as well as higher appreciation rates. It's easier to make a loan when the security for that loan is going up in value, than when values are flat," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick's president.
Comparisons to the mid 1990s reflected favorably on Los Angeles County, but not Riverside:
The first-quarter numbers were a record in Riverside, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties. In Los Angeles County it was almost 60 percent below the first-quarter 1996 peak, reflecting the depth of the recession in the mid-1990s as well as relative strength in today's market.

On a loan-by-loan basis, mortgages were least likely to go into default in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. The likelihood was highest in Sacramento, Riverside and San Joaquin counties.

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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Saturday, April 21, 2007


Housing Pains Worse for Low- and Middle-Incomes

The Los Angeles Times reported this week on the growing concern about the dwindling number of affordable units in LA:
... On Thursday, a coalition of affordable housing advocates released a list of 100 buildings in the [El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles] ... that they say are in danger of being replaced by condominiums or new apartments far beyond the reach of low- and middle-income residents.

The tenants coalition is asking Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to preserve the buildings on the list. It also is asking the City Council to require developers to include affordable housing in all new residential buildings and to pass a moratorium on conversions of apartments and residential hotels to condos.

The coalition plans a march to City Hall on Wednesday to highlight its demands.

Property owners and developers, however, say they have the right to realize a profit from their investments and warn that city restrictions could discourage people from going into the rental business, thus worsening the housing crunch.
— TJ Sullivan in LA
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Monday, April 16, 2007


LA Weekly's Gold Wins Pulitzer for Criticism

Los Angeles Times reporters Kenneth R. Weiss, Usha Lee McFarling and Rick Loomis win for explanatory journalism.

And a special citation for Ray Bradbury, whose classic "Fahrenheit 451" was written in draft form at the UCLA library.

Find more at Pulitzer.org

2007 Pulitzer Prizewinners


The Wall Street Journal


The Staff of The Oregonian, Portland


Brett Blackledge of The Birmingham (Ala.) News


Kenneth R. Weiss, Usha Lee McFarling and Rick Loomis of the Los Angeles Times


Debbie Cenziper of The Miami Herald


Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe


The Wall Street Journal Staff


Andrea Elliott of The New York Times


Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Jonathan Gold of LA Weekly


Editorial Board of the New York Daily News


Walt Handelsman of Newsday, Long Island, NY


Oded Balilty of the Associated Press


Renee C. Byer of The Sacramento Bee


The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Alfred A. Knopf)


Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire


The Race Beat by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff (Alfred A. Knopf)


The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate (Doubleday)


Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey (Houghton Mifflin)


The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright (Alfred A. Knopf)


Sound Grammar by Ornette Coleman


Ray Bradbury

John Coltrane

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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Thursday, April 12, 2007


Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1922 - 2007

I held up my right hand and I made her a promise.

'Mary,' I said, 'I don't think this book is ever going to be finished. I must have written five thousand pages by now, and thrown them all away. If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: there won't be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.

'I tell you what,' I said, 'I'll call it The Children's Crusade.

She was my friend after that.
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Sunday, April 08, 2007


New Look at Newseum

The 'Today's Front Pages' feature at Newseum.org has for years presented the day's front pages from around the world.

Check it out here.

A collection of links to the front pages of several California newspapers is also available at TJ Sullivan in LA.

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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Friday, April 06, 2007


What will put LA back in LATimes.com?

If a tragedy on the scale of the 1992 LA riots were to occur today, it would be reported and viewed through the eyes of Los Angelenos on YouTube.com, not LATimes.com.

Read the full blog post at LA Observed.

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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Wednesday, April 04, 2007


No More Famima!! For You

Famima!! mania may be sweeping the downtown area, but not the Westside..

Read the full post at LA Observed

— TJ Sullivan in LA

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Better Get A Bucket

I'm not sure what Reebok is trying to get at with its latest "CraveThePain.com" billboard in Westwood Village, but it's, uh, erm ...

Read the new blog post at LA Observed

— TJ Sullivan in LA
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Sunday, April 01, 2007


NIMFY: Not In My Front Yard

Some of my fellow Westsiders complain about traffic the way some downtowners complain about vagrancy. They cast it as a nuisance, a threat to safety, and a health hazard.

Though vagrancy and traffic are two very different issues, the solution to both problems is one in the same for some property owners. Their answer is something like: Not in my front yard, away from my stoop, and off my street. Of course, this is the outcome they desire, a detour at best, but not a solution. Nonetheless, it appears to have worked its way into the latest Los Angleles Department of Transportation effort to determine the wishes of Westsiders whose streets are adjacent to Santa Monica Blvd.

LADOT, working with homeowner associations, has posted signs at the intersections of Westside residential streets, such the one pictured on Veteran Avenue, complete with handouts (PDF LINK), to solicit participation in a SurveyMonkey.com traffic survey between now and April 15, 2007. The goal is to implement a "Neighborhood Traffic Management" plan...

Read the full post at LA Observed

— TJ Sullivan in LA

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