An Open Letter To Our Councilman

This is the text of an email I sent to our Councilman and his staff today, following last night’s Public Hearing on the ICO.**

Subject: Last Night’s Public Hearing On The ICO

Hi Team Mike! I wanted to share a couple of observations from last night’s public hearing. As Mike knows, I live in Kentwood, but my real estate business covers Silicon Beach and I pay particular attention to Venice and Mar Vista, so I stayed for all of those comments.

My biggest take away from the comments was that the ICO areas are too generally drawn. I hadn’t thought about it myself, but North Kentwood and South Kentwood are significantly different. Many of the North Kentwood homes were built large in the 1980’s by UCLA or have already been enlarged. I thought that was an interesting enough observation, but the Mar Vista and East Venice neighbors spoke next and said the same thing about their communities having different pockets.

My second observation is that it’s nice to see another option thrown in (the R1new), but it’s causing confusion.

My third observation is that several people spoke about wanting to go “back” to where we were, without Continue reading

What Happens When Kentwood’s ICO Expires?

Kentwood ICO, say no to unreasonable restrictions on single family homes, R1V1 for KentwoodThis post has been updated at the bottom to reflect information provided at the September 13th public hearing on the ICO.

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Much has happened in the 18 months since I first wrote about Kentwood’s ICO. The City of LA has been very busy cooking up restrictions for the entire City on what we can do with our Single Family Homes. Every time a restriction tightens, it means less that you can do to enhance your home and, consequently, a loss in potential value.

Historical R-1 Restrictions

Single Family Homes in Westchester and the rest of the City of LA are subject to zoning restrictions that limit size and use. First adopted in 1946, the current Zoning Code has grown from a simple 84-page document to an unwieldy 600+ page book. Even as recently as 2008, LA’s Code was very permissive. Height, floor area and required yard setbacks were the only provisions that addressed building mass and placement.

The BMO Is Born

The early zoning restrictions worked until land values started rising in the 1990’s. Then homeowners Continue reading

We’re Not Fans of Mansionization But Here Are 6 Reasons My Family Opposes The Kentwood ICO

Say NO to the Kentwood ICO

Update on 12/3/2015: A version of the new proposed citywide Baseline Mansionization Ordinance has been drafted and is currently the subject of public hearings. While I haven’t yet taken a deep dive into the proposed BMO, my preliminary read finds it to be similar but more restrictive than the ICO. The arguments in my original post below still apply.🙂

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I love Westchester. My family has called Kentwood our home since my daughter was born almost 13 years ago. We love our home and we love the sense of community here. I don’t want to see oversized houses ruin the character of our neighborhood, but my family opposes the Kentwood ICO.

This view is going to be unpopular with some of our neighbors, but let me explain.

First, by way of background, I am an attorney and I practiced law for almost 20 years. I can read a municipal ordinance at least as well as the next person. More recently, I’m a Coldwell Banker realtor focused on the beach cities, including Westchester. I fully understand the changes brought about by the growth of “Silicon Beach” and why our community is a target for developers. In fact, I understand the evolution of Silicon Beach better than most.

Also, my husband is a 30-year civil engineer who spent the early part of his career in land development. He, too, can read an ordinance.

Together, we poured over the language of the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance ICO as it pertains to Kentwood and we see at least 6 reasons Continue reading

Let’s Get The Vote Out For Sunday’s NCWP Election

vote 3Local neighbors and business owners want to help get the vote out!

To enjoy a free beer or Playa Punch at Mo’s Place At The Beach in Playa del Rey or a free beer at Tompkins Square Bar & Grill, stop in at the My Vote Counts table on your way in to vote to get your sticker.

Look for the table in the park on your way in to vote.

Please note that because this offer is not sanctioned by EmpowerLA (the group that oversees NCWP elections), the table will be at least 100 feet from polling in the Municipal Building at at 7166 W. Manchester Ave (next door to the Library).

Polling hours are 10 am to 4 pm. Don’t forget to bring evidence that you live, work or own property in Westchester, Playa del Rey or Playa Vista. A list of acceptable documentation can be found here.

If you’re in Playa del Rey, there is a shuttle running between Mo’s and the polls from 10:30 to 3:30.

Thank You To My Neighbors For Endorsing Me For NCWP

Thank you neighbors!

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

Thank you to my neighbors for endorsing my run for the Neighborhood Council Westchester Playa! Please know that your confidence is well-placed. I am completely committed to:

  • Being a voice for our community to City Hall
  • Putting my community’s interests first and above my own interests
  • Protecting and preserving the unique character of each of constituent communities
  • Being a leader for change and transparent communication
  • Putting families and safety first

I also plan on supporting these candidates who stand for my same principles: Continue reading

Guess Who’s Running For Neighborhood Council?

welcome to westchester, ca

Why Me? Why Now?

My family and I have lived in Westchester for almost 12 years. I still remember when our realtor suggested we consider the neighborhood. Despite years of business travel and taking taxis between the Marina and LAX, I had no idea the neighborhood even existed, hidden as it was behind all those big, beautiful mature trees along Sepulveda Boulevard.

At first, we were reluctant to look at anything so “far” south. I’d always worked in Westwood and Century City, and my idea of “south” was Mar Vista. Comparing Mar Vista to Westchester, we quickly learned that the houses and lots are considerably larger for the same money, so Westchester it was.

We found ourselves a beautiful little updated bungalow in South Kentwood that we had all of 20 minutes to consider before writing our offer in the real estate frenzy of 2002.

It was a crazy time. Our closing kept getting pushed out and the NICU release date of uber-preemie baby kept creeping up (we definitely had no complaints on the latter event). We finally got our keys with one week to outfit the house before our very tiny bundle of joy came home.

We’ve loved Westchester and have been so happy that we landed here. Watching families walk the neighborhood with small children and dogs still brings Continue reading

Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead?

It’s become the new buzz phrase in education: “Got grit?”

Around the nation, schools are beginning to see grit as key to students’ success — and just as important to teach as reading and math.

Experts define grit as persistence, determination and resilience; it’s that je ne sais quoi that drives one kid to practice trumpet or study Spanish for hours — or years — on end, while another quits after the first setback.

“This quality of being able to sustain your passions, and also work really hard at them, over really disappointingly long periods of time, that’s grit,” says Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who coined the term “grit” — and won a MacArthur “genius grant” for it.

“It’s a very, I think, American idea in some ways — really pursuing something against all odds,” she says.

Duckworth says her research shows grit is actually a better predictor of success than IQ or other measures when it comes to achievements as varied as graduating from West Point or winning the National Spelling Bee.

Even the Obama administration is now on the “grit” bandwagon. A 2013 report from the Department of Education laments that kids are learning to “do school,” but aren’t learning the skills they need in life.

But can grit be taught?

I vote yes! Find out what the author thinks on www.npr.org.

The Best PR Advice You’ve Never Heard – from Facebook’s Head of Tech Communications

“Imagine you’re sitting across from a reporter at lunch. You’re telling them what you do, your story, why they should care about your product. You have to convince this reporter to not only write about you, but that what you’re doing matters. That you’re going to be successful.”

This is Caryn Marooney, Head of Technology Communications for Facebook. But before that, she co-founded OutCast, the elite PR agency that worked with one-time startups Amazon, Salesforce.com, Netflix and VMware. She’s seen firsthand how hard it is for young companies to capture press attention when they have zero brand recognition and limited resources. Continue reading

An Open Letter To My Facebook Network

let's party

I have loved being at home and focusing on my daughter as she has made her way to her pre-teen years, but it’s time for a change! I am super excited to announce that I have started a new professional chapter by joining Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage as a Realtor & Residential Income Investment Consultant. If you’re wondering why real estate makes sense for me at this juncture, I’ve written about it here.

My geographical focus is LA’s beach cities and I’ve developed a website with a ton of MLS listings information and other information related to beach living at LivingTheBeach.com. You can also find Continue reading

Great Changes For Tracy TC!

change and chaosI think my life has been pretty cool over the last 14 years, but I daresay most people would probably agree that “chaos” is not a gross exaggeration for describing that period of my life.

As I detailed in a previous post, 14 years ago I suddenly found myself in a whirlwind romance that happened to coincide with a career change, all leading to over a decade of craziness.

Flash forward to today and my little 2 lb. 5 oz baby started middle school this year. We also have a year and a half under our belts at a small charter school in Hawthorne. My daughter is relatively happy and things are settling down.

And did I mention that we have a crazy upward real estate cycle underway? And have I mentioned lately how much I dig real estate?

I wrote previously about how I spent the last real estate cycle. This time, instead of beating my head against a brick wall trying to convince realtors to try “new” marketing tools, I plan on using all those cool tools and theories we developed. Sooo, I’m please to announce that Continue reading