June 22, 2014 on 8:59 am | In Fascinating Information, Fun, Of Local Importance, Uncategorized, WOW | 2 Comments

edited by Jodi Summers

Bravo! Lincoln Blvd finally develops character! Santa Monica has been painting buildings,  while the heat of Abbot Kinney Blvd. has spread to Lincoln Blvd. Venice, where it has earned the ultra-hip nickname the Linc.

This fabulous article from Los Angeles magazine talks about the tremendous amount of fun, food, shopping and great experience you can now enjoy along The Linc, Venice. You know the area we mean, the area between Rose Ave. and Venice Blvd. which has always been highlighted by Staples, Lincoln Hardware, the Rite Aid Pharmacy and Ralph’s grocery store. Now, the neighborhood has gone beyond practical to downright delightful…Find out about all of the new hangs, from Wurstküche to the newly revamped WitzEnd…

Sister cities Santa Monica and Venice, joined at the Ozone, let us continue to Beautify Lincoln.



June 14, 2014 on 10:10 am | In Fascinating Information, Green, Historic Properties, Market Trends, Of Local Importance, Uncategorized, World, WOW | 4 Comments

by Jodi Summers

Bet you didn’t know that the ancient Sumerian city of Uruk was one of the first master-planned cities. Uruk was situated on an ancient channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq, The city was the main force of urbanization during the Uruk period (4000–3200 BC).

Like history? The Uruk epoch saw a shift from small, agricultural villages to a larger urban center with a full-time bureaucracy, military, and stratified society. Uruk period culture, exported by Sumerian traders and colonists, had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures.

Millennia has passed since the days of ancient Uruk, as well as other early planned cities such as Harappa, Lothal, and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley Civilization (in modern-day northwestern India and Pakistan). The ruins of these antiquated cities display the earliest examples of deliberately planned and managed cities. Streets were paved and laid out at right angles in a grid pattern, with a hierarchy of streets from major boulevards to residential alleys.
Archaeological evidence suggests that many Harrapan houses were laid out to protect from noise and enhance residential privacy; many also had their own water wells. These ancient cities were unique in that they often had drainage systems, seemingly tied to
a well-developed ideal of urban sanitation.

Today’s well planned cities are small and manageable. Within L.A. incorporated Westside Cities like West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Culver City, Redondo Beach and Beverly Hills are fine examples.

Today, as Santa Monica continues to rethink and reinvent the notion livable cities, walkable communities, and quality of life, we borrow many elements of these early civilizations.

Look Backward

The past is a great source of ideas that work. “Density and adjacency increase sociability,” observes , says Donald Powers, principal of Union Studio Architecture & Community Design.

Time-tested elements like mid-block alleys – a staple of residential planning from the 1920s and ‘30s – lessen emphasis on the car. Small setbacks and stoops help houses relate to the sidewalk. Courtyards encourage interaction. Corners are important; houses built on them should play to the street. “Give 5 more feet to the corner lot and let the porch wrap,” affirms says Carson Looney, principal of Looney Ricks Kiss. “The house is just one element, not the element.”

Build for History

“Built with craft and care, well-designed places that people want to spend time in never lose their luster. They remain vital and continue to appreciate in value,” offers Stefanos Polyzoides, principal of Moule and Polyzoides. A big part of is ensuring that there’s interest and variety in the streetscape.

Appealing neighborhoods are a long-term proposition. Forest Hills in Queens, N.Y.—widely seen as one of the most successful master planned communities ever—started 100 years ago; it earned that inviting patina over time. “Once upon a time, the trees were little twigs,” Powers offers. “Fifty years from now, people will say Kentlands was the Forest Hills of its time,” says Powers of the Gaithersburg, Md., community developed in the late ’80s. “One of the goals is to create a pattern that will be picked up on and connects the new with the old,” as opposed to erecting buffers between them.

Social Sidewalks

“Four-foot sidewalks aren’t wide enough for couples to stroll, or for people to stop and talk and a baby carriage to pass by,” Looney says. “Four and a half feet is good, and 5 feet is better.”

“Each place is different,” says Speck, but “home builders who are interested in long-term value will insist that all streets are lined on both sides by trees approximately 30 feet on center.”

Experts agree, street trees should be as many and as big as the budget allows. Choose variations that are in full glory in the fall while others are blooming in the spring.

Encourage Interaction

Design public spaces as outdoor rooms with a sense of enclosure. Configure them so storefronts face each other. At home, large front porches to encourage neighborhood interaction while providing a buffer for private living spaces. Special care needs to be taken for porches that are very close to the sidewalk. Savvy urban planners elevate these types of porches 3 feet or 4 feet to help homeowners feel comfortable with instead of vulnerable to action from the street.

Be Wise with Commercial Tenants

“If you take the first tenant who comes along, you might end up with a cell phone store, a dollar store, and a liquor store,” instead of a coffee shop, a bookstore, a clothing store, and a restaurant, Powers advises. “Pick tenants that contribute to each other and to the public realm.”




June 2, 2014 on 9:39 am | In Buyers, Fascinating Information, Market Snapshot, Market Trends, Of Local Importance, Sellers, Uncategorized, WOW | 4 Comments

by Jodi Summers

Clients are always asking, “How home prices in my neighborhood?”

The MLS has prepared a comprehensive look at how the median sale price of single family homes have fared when comparing the first quarter of 2013 with 1Q 2014.

Here is a year-over-year summary of sales and price activity in Southern California by county. Sales were down across most of the region, but prices continued to climb:

  • Los Angeles County: unit sales fell by 6.3% over the year to April but the median price rose by 12.5% to $406,750.
  • Orange County: sales declined by 13.5% last month, while the median price increased by 4.0% to $679,820.
  • Riverside County: sales of existing homes were down by 6.1%; the median price rose by 12.7% to $309,240.
  • San Bernardino County: sales were flat in April, but the median price rose by 20.9% to $198,910.
  • San Diego County: unit sales were down by 7.3%, while the median price increased by 8.3% to $492,080.
  • Ventura County: existing home sales dropped by 9.6%, but the median price was up by 14.4%% to $575,390.

For more information please contact Jodi Summers and the SoCal Investment Real Estate Group @ Sotheby’s International Realty – or 310.392.1211, and let us move forward together.




May 15, 2014 on 12:11 pm | In Fascinating Information, Fun, Market Snapshot, Of Local Importance, Uncategorized, WOW | 6 Comments

by Jodi Summers

If you are not in your car, it’s relatively easy to get around Silicon Beach. Walk Score, a metric that’s the current darling of the real estate market, is a basic measure of services within a certain radius. Venice 90291 is the 20th most walkable neighborhood in Los Angeles with a Walk Score of 75. Santa Monica with +/- 89,736 residents has an average Walk Score of 78 -most errands are walkable. The most walkable Santa Monica ZIP codes are 90401, 90403 and 90404. Santa Monica is also very bikeable with a bike score of 83.

Walkability is a vast subject, involving health, community, the environment, demographics, and economics. “It’s so complicated, and it’s so simple,” says Carson Looney, principal of Looney Ricks Kiss. “Walkability is common sense. It’s about creating a better place, a destination, an experience.”

Playa Vista zip code 90094 is the 56th most walkable neighborhood in Los Angeles with 4,933 residents. Playa Vista has some public transportation and is somewhat bikeable. Culver City 90232 has an average Walk Score of 73 with 38,883 residents. Mar Vista 90066 is the 42nd most walkable neighborhood in Los Angeles with 38,901 residents and a Walk Score of 65. Marina del Rey – 90292 – more of a driving area.

Studies by Brookings Fellows and economist Joe Cortright and by developer Christopher Leinberger  confirm that homes with access to goods and services by foot perform better economically. “The typical working American pays as much for transportation as housing,” says city planner Jeff Speck. When a home is near  “where people don’t need to drive, they should be able to charge more.”

In his latest book, “Walkable City,” Speck notes that Millennials are a big force in the demand for walkability, as they’re opting for the city in droves. The biggest population bubble in the last 50 years wants to live in places with excitement and buzz.

The other driving force behind the shift to walkability is Baby Boomers. They are leaving their sprawling homes in the suburbs and opting to live in places where they don’t have to drive as much to get to services and where they can age in place.

There are about 2,049 restaurants, bars and coffee shops in Santa Monica. People in Santa Monica can walk to an average of 6 restaurants, bars and coffee shops in 5 minutes.

Silicon Beach offers a healthy, walkable lifestyle, and that’s why we like living here.



May 10, 2014 on 8:16 pm | In Buyers, Fascinating Information, fUNNY...mONEY, Lights Camera Transaction, Market Trends, Statistics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

edited by Jodi Summers

All cash buyers Nationally

Cash sales made up 41.2% of total home sales in January 2014, down from 43.5% the previous year, but up from 38.4% from the previous month. This CoreLogic chart ntoes that Florida had the largest share of all cash buyers with 59.8%, followed by Alabama (58.5%), New York (51.9%), Missouri (50.1%) and Mississippi (49.5%).



April 20, 2014 on 4:31 pm | In Fascinating Information, Of Local Importance, The City of Santa Monica says, Uncategorized, WOW | 5 Comments

edited by Jodi Summers

If your city does well, it would stand to reason that the city’s inhabitants would fare well as well. Residents reap the benefits by having a good quality of life, good schools and services. Life is easier.

The City of Santa Monica is making it easier as well. One of the hallmarks of the current administration is the recent transition to a two-year budget cycle. Santa Monica is proud of our long history of good government and fiscal responsibility. The City would like to share some of their achievements in sustaining our fine position:

• Maintained its AAA credit rating (held since 1995)

• Increased its “rainy day” reserves to 15%, established a $9.7 million Economic Uncertainty Reserve, and currently maintains total reserves of 18%;

• Received the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting in each of the last 29 years;

• Achieved a 5% General Fund budget decrease in fiscal year 2013-15 biennial budget;

• Paid down retirement unfunded liability using savings, lowering retirement costs by $1.4 million per year;

• Adopted financial planning revenue and expenditure policies to guide the development of balanced budgets in accordance with best practices.

Just so you know, the City of Santa Monica maintains an internal auditor position, and external audits show no deficiencies in controls or financial practices. All of these accomplishments serve to ensure that over time, Santa Monica can weather the inevitable downturns in the economy.

Additional savings have been achieved through a number of changes to employee salaries and benefits, including:

• City employees have contributed toward their pensions since they were increased in 2007, and currently pay up to 9.2% of salary towards retirement.

• Employees have paid increased contributions toward health care costs over the past four years.

• Retirement benefits for new employees were lowered even before enactment of California’s pension reform bill.

The City of Santa Monica is proud of its consistently balanced budget, and the manner in which its financial policies in open meetings. For more information about the city’s budget, go to



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