edited by Jodi Summers
Santa Monica is very pro bicycle, but bicycle safety hasn’t caught up with the popularity of bicycles. Between 2002 and 2009, according to the City of Santa Monica, the number of vehicle pedestrian accidents dropped 21%, while vehicle bike accidents rose 51%. The increase in bicycle accidents from 2007 to 2009 alone was 78%.
Now that summer is here, let us share with you bicycle safety tips from the Santa Monica Police…
Bicycle Safety On the Road
· Stay on the right side of the road, ride with traffic and use the bike lane where available. (Bicycles are not permitted on sidewalks as they can endanger pedestrians.)
- · Obey all traffic laws and signals
- · Use hand signals for turning and for all stops
- · Watch for road hazards and cars in driveways
- · Use extra caution in poor or wet weather
- · Wear safe, comfortable clothes
- · Do not allow children to ride a bicycle at night
- · Always lock your bicycle using a U-lock, securing both wheels and the frame to a stationary object.
Bicycle Safety Before Your Ride
- · To identify your bicycle, engrave your driver’s license number on the frame
- · Register your bicycle with the City and keep the serial/model number on file
- · Check your handlebars, bicycle seats and brakes
- · Check your tire pressure
- · Check your first aid pouch for fresh supplies
- · Check your reflectors and light.
- · Inspect your helmet and be sure to wear it. If you are under 18, a helmet is required by law. Be sure it meets the guidelines of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation. Labels with this information will be inside helmets that have passed their testing standards.
- · Maintain the safety of your bicycle by giving it regular tune-ups
In 2009, Santa Monica reported 128 accidents involving vehicles and bicycles. Hit & run vehicle vs. bicycle accidents occur 19% of the time, more than double the average for the prior two years. Rates of injury also rose from 75% to 83%. Fatalities associated with bike hover between 0 and 1% between 2002 and 2009.
Please stay safe as you bicycle around town.
edited by Jodi Summers
You’re lucky to live in Santa Monica. We all are. 2011 estimates show that Santa Monica has 90,377 fortunate residents. Tourists, workers, and beachgoers can increase the city’s daytime population to between 250,000 and 450,000 people. That’s a lot of humanity in 8.3 square miles, which is why, in 2009, Santa Monica reported 106 accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians.
The Santa Monica Police Department would like to share these pedestrian safety tips with you.
* Stop, look and listen before crossing. Just like when you were a kid, look right and left over your shoulder before crossing, look for cars and bicycles, bicycles are required to obey the rules just like the cars.
* Allow vehicles enough time to stop. Don’t assert the right of way with a fast moving vehicle, you could lose.
* Make eye contact with drivers. But don’t assume they will yield.
*Cross at intersections. Crossing mid-block is unsafe; never cross from between two parked cars…drivers can’t see you and aren’t expecting you. When crossing at a signal controlled intersection, cross only on a green light OR when the “walk” sign is activated; the walk sign may change but the light is timed to give you enough time to continue on safely before opposing traffic approaches.
* Unplug from your IPod and listen to what’s going on.
* Use the same rules of caution in a parking lot. Parking lots can be just as dangerous as the street.
Santa Monica leads the state in pedestrian accidents, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). In 2009, Santa Monica ranked first for pedestrian accidents out of 104 California cities of similar size. The top 10 most dangerous Santa Monica intersections for pedestrians, according to the Santa Monica Police Department, based on collision statistics from February 2006 to February 2011 are:
- 1. Main St and Ocean Park Blvd
- 2. 4th St and Santa Monica Blvd
- 3. Lincoln Blvd and Pico Blvd
- 4. 28th St and Pico Blvd
- 5. 17th St and Pico Blvd
- 6. 4th St and Wilshire Blvd
- 7. 2nd St and Colorado Ave
- 8. 4th St and Broadway
- 9. 11th St and Pearl St
- 10. Main St and Pier Ave
The proportion of vehicle vs. pedestrian accidents resulting in injuries is 94%. The vehicle pedestrian accidents resulting in death has hovered between 2-4% between 2002 and 2009.
Stay safe. Be a defensive walker. Watch where you are going. Expect the unexpected. Don’t let cars surprise you… even if the motorist is wrong. Better to be safe than dead right.
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Santa Monicans are being targeted by real estate agents representing developers looking to turn small homes in desirable neighborhoods into mini-mansions that can be sold for double the original asking price.
The agents tend to single out older homes, often taking up a relatively small portion of the parcel on which they sit, offering a cash purchase and a promise by the buyer to take care of normal closing costs, provided the homeowner does not broadcast their intent to sell.
Residents report notes left on their doors, direct mail bearing a picture of their own home and even direct phone calls soliciting sales.
That practice is called by many names, including off-market listing, pocket listing or quiet listing, and while it is completely legal, it often is a bad deal for sellers in hot markets like Santa Monica, said Don Faught, president of the California Association of Realtors.
It has its uses, particularly when the seller is a celebrity or other high-profile individual who wants to keep the sale of their home on the down-low, but average homeowners tend to get more for their properties when they advertise them widely, Faught said.
Home prices across Southern California hit a 56-month high in March, rising 23.4 percent from March 2012, according to DataQuick, a real estate news site. Despite rising prices, the unsold inventory index — the number of months it would take to sell the current supply of homes on the market at the current sales pace — is 2.7 months for Los Angeles County.
Six to seven months is considered “normal,” said Lotus Lou, media relations manager for the California Association of Realtors.
In Santa Monica alone, the assessed value of residential real estate jumped by $1.121 billion in 2011, according to a report released in September by the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office.
That’s partially a result of the recovering economy, rising home prices and record number of cash purchases as well-capitalized buyers negotiate a market in which it’s difficult to get a mortgage, according to the site.
Thomas Magiar, a realtor with the WSA Partnership-Coldwell Banker on Montana Avenue, represents several such buyers — developers promising cash for homes in the north of Montana neighborhood.
Magiar dropped off letters at homes in the area that were “under-improved for the extreme value” of their location, usually one-story houses on a property that could accommodate a larger structure.
He believes that quiet listings offer some benefit to the seller like avoiding the circus of promoting their homes to outside buyers. It’s not right for all sellers, but for the small homes north of Montana Avenue, they could get a better deal than they would if they put money into their homes to fix any existing problems and then went out on the open market, he said.
Developers can buy up an old property for a couple million dollars, demolish the existing home and build a two-story luxury home where an old Craftsman once was. Those can sell for $4 to $5 million, even higher if it’s near the beach, Magiar said.
That’s not much of a selling point for Doris Sosin, one of the founders of the North of Montana Neighborhood Association, who lives on 12th Street.
Sosin received one of Magiar’s flyers, and she’s also received phone calls and mail, all of which have picked up since the economy began to improve.
At least one Sunset Park resident has also received a request for a sale which appeared to be a handwritten note that turned out to be a computer-generated form on closer inspection.
Sosin led the charge in the late 1990s against “McMansions,” homes built to the margins of their property lines. They overshadowed neighboring properties, and led to the death of many mature trees that had to be removed so that the home could be built out.
Her work resulted in new rules around single-family homes, requiring set backs and imposing controls over how much of a parcel can be covered.
The attempts to build to even those restricted maximums are unwelcome, she said, because they only succeed in making neighborhoods more expensive to move in to and replace quaint, well-loved homes with larger versions.
You don’t need six bathrooms for two people, she said.
“My goal is to make the quality of life that I’m living right now, the quality for me and my neighbors, better,” Sosin said. “That’s what I care about.”
All the residential real estate news this month is about recovery. The optimism spreads across business sectors and is sprawled across all kinds of specialized news mediums. Check out the headlines and the highlights…
Median Home Prices in SoCal Continue Upward Climb – DQ Real Estate News and Information Services
The median price paid for a Southern California home hit a 56-month high in March, rising 23.4% from a year earlier as the impact of foreclosures continued to fade and sales of mid- to high-end homes shot up. Total sales were the highest in six years for a March. In Los Angeles County, the median price increased by 24.2% over the year in March to $380,000. (FYI, for Santa Monica + Venice residences the median sale price was $1,350,000.)
Responses to Redfin’s Real-Time Seller Survey indicated a dramatic shift in the confidence of home sellers in the second quarter—45% of sellers believe now is a good time to sell, up from just 22% in the first quarter and 15% in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, 44% of sellers believe now is a good time to buy. Nearly a third of sellers have no major concerns about selling, up from just 19% in the first quarter.
Survey Finds Appraisers Finding Hope in Rebounding Housing Market – National Mortgage Professional
A recently completed survey conducted by United States Appraisals found appraisers mildly encouraged by the current housing market. When asked, “What is your current level of confidence in the housing market,” 54.7% of respondents answered mildly or moderately strong, while 24.9% were neutral. The survey was completed by United States Appraisals’ nationwide panel of residential appraisers. United States Appraisals plans to conduct this survey quarterly to monitor trends and opin
“Appraisers tend to be realistic, focused on their local markets and unmoved by news stories and national numbers,” said Aaron Fowler, president of United States Appraisals. “We believe they provide a good gauge of the status of the housing market. After the last few years, a mildly strong level of confidence shows some definite improvement in appraiser attitudes.”
The broadening housing recovery has firmed up home prices around the country, with the potential to restore many underwater mortgages to a position of positive equity, according to Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research group.
Citing data from CoreLogic, Orawin Velz, Fannie Mae’s director of economic and strategic research, notes that 1.7 million properties moved from negative to positive equity last year. Provided the home price gains seen so far this year continue, Velz anticipates another 1.8 million properties will rise out of their underwater positions by the end of 2013.
NAHB Offers Reasons for Optimism About Housing’s Full Recovery – National Association of Home Builders
The nation’s growth “is finally being driven by housing again,” proclaimed David Crowe, the National Association of Home Builders chief economist. Home prices have been rising, partly the result of tightening inventory of completed new homes, which in turn is stimulating demand. Employment—a major factor in home-buying decisions—continues to strengthen, albeit incrementally. And housing’s recovery is now national in scope.
However, that recovery has not taken full flight yet. Housing still only accounts for 3% of the total economy, or about half its historical level. Single-family home starts are at 47% of the 1.3-million-unit annual level that’s considered “normal” to meet anticipated demographic and population trends.
by Jodi Summers
To our health. You gotta love that California has been pushing policies for green development all millennium. Now that we’re climbing out of the recession, expect new homes to be those space-age models of energy efficiency that we have previously only imagined. As the economy gains momentum, so is the green building revolution.
New green homes by major developers are light years ahead of where they were before the recession. Motivated by government initiatives like New Solar Homes Partnership.
KB Home has made solar systems standard on new houses in Southern California. Lennar, Pardee Homes and Pulte Homes offer solar home projects. ABC Green Home of Newport Beach is will be building a net-zero home to showcase green technology for consumers. Clarum Homes in Palo Alto is a custom builder that has gained praise for incorporating energy efficiency and passive solar features into homes with modernist flourishes.
The New Solar Homes Partnership adopts a long-term plan that called for having all new residential buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2020 and having all commercial buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2030.
Beyond solar, green new home efficiency benefits include tankless hot water heaters, adjustable thermostats, LED lighting and Energy Star appliances, as well as other economical perks. Live efficiently and your electricity bill from Southern California Edison Co. can be close to zero.
Designs like the ZeroHouse model by Los Angeles builder KB Home exemplify the housing industry’s attempt to move beyond the one-off LEED vanity project and make subdivision building a green practice. New net-zero homes are so green they produce at least as much juice as they consume.
Environmentalists began pushing for California to mandate that new homes come with renewable energy systems in the early 2000s, as the technology became more scalable and available. Our CalGreen construction codes have influenced the world…now perhaps our homes will as well.
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