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 before the ICO, without Continue reading “An Open Letter To Our Councilman”

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 “What Happens When Kentwood’s ICO Expires?”

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

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.

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 “An Open Letter To My Facebook Network”

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 “Great Changes For Tracy TC!”

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 Sum Of My Parts”

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:

Playa del Rey Animal Shelter Drive


Saturday, Dec. 3rd 2011
9a-2p
Triangle Park
@ Waterview & Trask

Please bring: new or gently used blankets, beds, towels, washable cat & dog toys (large KONG toys are great), assorted treats for cats & dogs (avoid rawhide & pig ears), grooming items, travel crates, cat litter, unopened bags of dog & cat food, canned food, new collars and leashes.

Blankets and beds provide shelter animals warmth, comfort, security and a cozy place to snuggle, especially during freezing months in outdoor shelters. Questions? Call Donna @ 310 890-3881

A Happy Accidental Blast From My Past

Through a very circuitous route, I bumped into this article today.  It appeared almost 10 years ago and was a big deal for me as I was starting to make my transition out of the practice of law.  It also happened around the same time that I got married and started my family.  I love that the web is like a time capsule that I can extract ten years later “by accident.”  And who was it that knew that this was exactly the day that I needed to see that???  =)

business – Business Coach Tracy Thrower-Conyers.