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

The Sum Of My Parts

be strongFourteen years ago I was a single girl working my ass off as an attorney in LA when I was contacted out of the blue by a guy I knew from high school.

Ten years before, we’d had one of those crazy flings at a high school reunion that you might read about in one of those um, mommy novels. We saw each other a couple of times after the big weekend, but we lived 2000 miles apart and were both starting professional careers. We didn’t speak for almost 10 years.

Flash forward 10 years and many boyfriends later, and this guy decides that he’s ready to settle down. He knows what he wants in a woman and he remembers that he even knew one once. ;) Cue the harps….

His timing happened to coincide with a Christmas trip I had planned to the Northwest to visit my family in 1999. It also coincided with several near misses I had connecting with other boyfriend material at the time. Yup, the stars started lining up.

By May of 2000, we were engaged and by June 2000, my beloved had sold his house, packed up his three cats and joined my in my 900 square foot high rise apartment in Marina del Rey with my two cats. That was a crazy time.

Soon we were pregnant. And then we weren’t. And then we were pregnant again. And then we weren’t. The third time we got to Continue reading

The fun stuff that passes for homework

I did not know this until I became a mother, but I am a radical education choice activist. Actually, I’ve been a choice activist my entire life. Education is what has really had my attention for the last decade.

As we get ready for middle school next year, we’ve moved my daughter to a program with the Da Vinci Schools that is a hybrid home school/classroom program.

Homeschooling of any flavor is not for every family, but we’re making it work and ultimately, I do believe it’s a good choice for our family.

Every 4-6 weeks, each family is required to turn in paperwork demonstrating learning at home. Every unit, I jump through what seems like endless hoops to come up with interesting and engaging projects for my uber picky 11 year old.

She is a rabid American Girl fan and we had a lot of fun one unit studying the history of that company. Being an entrepreneur at heart, I love a good opportunity to slip in a few business lessons, like other moms slip zucchini in spaghetti sauce.

For this last unit, I came up with the idea of studying the start up of my daughter’s beloved online gaming community, Animal Jam. In the course of my background prep, I bumped into a beautiful presentation tool called Prezi, and my little techno-whiz readily took up the challenge of presenting her research findings in digital format.

It’s so much fun that I had to share:

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