November 11, 2013 on 9:54 pm | In Buyers, Fascinating Information, Historic Properties, Of Local Importance, Santa Monica Landmarks, Uncategorized, WOW | 10 Comments

by Jodi Summers

The world loves the Santa Monica Pier. It’s top 10 in popularity for Instagram locations. The view of the Pier from the balcony is one of the many selling points for the new multimillion dollar Waverly and Seychelle condos at the Village @ Santa Monica.  We enjoy the Santa Monica Pier in many ways for many reasons. Next time you walk down the Pier, put on your goggles and duster, and travel back in time to a different millennium…the Santa Monica Pier is laden with local lore and savory history….start at the top and work your way to the end….

According to the Los Angeles Times, the first passenger train reached Santa Monica in January 1889. Entertainment entrepreneurs saw an opportunity. Abbot Kinney, a gentleman from a well-to-do New Brunswick, New Jersey family, became interested in land development along the Los Angeles coast. In 1891 Kinney and his partner Francis Ryan bought controlling interest in the Ocean Park Casino and the surrounding tract of land.
They built a beach resort called Ocean Park. Ocean Park Pier in the center of their resort at Pier Avenue opened in 1898.

1. THE SANTA MONICA PIER – Noticing the success of the Ocean Park Pier, the City of Santa Monica got the vision of doing a municipal pier.  After 16 months of construction, on September 9, 1909, the Santa Monica Municipal Pier opened to the public. (The City wrote it into the budget by making its primary use to carry sewer pipes beyond the breakers.) The 1,600-foot-long wooden pier unfurled before you opened with festivities and gala hoopla that included band concerts, swimming races and the novelty of walking above the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Clean and austere, the pier had no amenities.

2. THE SANTAMONICA PIER SIGN – In 1940, a new bridge to the Pier was constructed. During the grade project, the road down the Pier was cut off from traffic, and business suffered.  The Pier’s business community installed the iconic arched blue neon sign to re-confirm the Pier’s location and access to motor traffic. The city-designated historic landmark and registered trademark frequently appears in movies and TV shows.

3. The LOOFF HIPPODROME – Opened in June, 1916 on what was then called the Looff Pleasure Pier, the Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome is located on what is now known as the Newcomb Pier, adjacent to the Santa Monica Pier. The Hippodrome is a nationally landmarked structure that might best be described as “a California-Byzantine-Moorish-style fantasy” that sits at the shore end of Santa Monica Pier. This unique structure has been home to a succession of vintage merry-go-rounds and Wurlitzer organs. Back in the early days, the hippodrome was accompanied by the Blue Streak Racer wooden roller coaster and the Whip and Aeroscope thrill rides.

A success on the East Coast amusement scene, Looff moved to Long Beach in 1911 to focus on the West Coast amusement movement. He was aware of the Santa Monica Pier’s success, and in 1916 reached an agreement with the City of Santa Monica to purchase the northern 200 feet of beachfront property for $50,000 to build a pier alongside the Municipal Pier.

It has been reported that Looff chose Santa Monica to build his amusement pier because, “the bathing beach at Santa Monica is well-known as one of the finest on the Pacific Coast, it attracts the highest class of people, and
transportation facilities afforded are unequaled.”

Looff, the man responsible for the hippodrome, is one of this country’s most noted carousel builders. His legacy is the innovations he made to the carousel horse. The moving horses were slender and graceful and inferred motion. The manes featured “cut through” openings, which looked dramatic, but where very time consuming to carve. Around 1905, Looff designed a saddle that resembled a scoop, a design that is still found on carousel horses today.

The hippodrome currently houses the 1922 PHILADELPHIA TOBOGGAN COMPANY CAROUSEL with 44 hand-carved horses and a Wurlitzer band organ.

4. If you notice, there is a yellow beam connecting the two piers that make up the Santa Monica Pier. The Municipal Pier was built in 1909 to carry a pipeline for disposal of treated sewage out to the ocean – a practice that ended in the 1920s. It became two piers when Charles Looff built the wider “pleasure pier” along the south side for his amusement park.

5. THE BOWLING & BILLIARD BUILDING (1917), now houses Piazza Al Mare and Rusty’s Surf Ranch. The surf broke beneath this building until 1933, when the addition of the breakwater changed the currents, inadvertently creating the super-wide beaches for which Santa Monica is now famous.

6. In popular folklore, ROUTE 66 stops or starts here—depending on whether you’re heading west or east—2,448 miles from Chicago. In reality, the official terminus is at Olympic and Lincoln boulevards, but since that’s a freeway intersection, this is a safer location.

7. PLAYLAND ARCADE opened in 1950 and is the Pier’s longest-running enterprise, still owned and managed by the family that started it.

Gone but not forgotten…SINBAD’S (1955-73) was housed in a bright-red building that once defined the Pier’s profile. Built next to The Bowling & Billiards Building, it opened in 1918 as a banquet hall. It was moved next to THE LA MONICA BALLROOM in 1925, and ultimately became legend as Sinbad’s.

More than 50,000 people attended the July 23, 1924 grand opening of the La Monica Ballroom, enough to cause the first traffic jam recorded in Santa Monica History. The LaMonica boasted a 15,000-square-foot maple dance floor and drew thousands of dancers and celebrity orchestras until the Depression ended its reign. In 1948, Spade Cooley, a country swing music star, televised his weekly TV show in the ballroom, making that the first time that a musical show was televised live. The grand ballroom became a roller skating rink in 1958. Due to overuse and exposure to the elements the ballroom was showing its age when it was demolished in 1963.

6. PACIFIC PARK has been in operation at the Pier since 1996 -, the first full-scale amusement park on Santa Monica Pier since the 1930s.  The park looks directly out on the Pacific Ocean, in the direction of Catalina Island. It is the only amusement park on the West Coast of the United States located on a pier. There are a total of thirteen rides in Pacific Park, including the world’s only solar powered Ferris wheel and a roller coaster that circles the majority of the park.

In 1974, the City acquired ownership of the adjacent privately owned pier, and saved both structures from demolition. In the 1980s the pier was almost destroyed by winter storms. In 1983 the city formed a Pier Restoration and Development Task Force (now the Pier Restoration Corporation), with the goal of returning the pier to its former glory.

In 1989 the Pier Restoration Corporation elected to “make the pier a year-round commercial development with amusement rides, gift shops, nightclubs with live entertainment and restaurants” that would be “reminiscent of its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s”. The 2-acre Pacific Park opened in 1996 as a full-scale family amusement park.

7. THE YACHT HARBOR – is under water. Do you notice how the Santa Monica Pier sign says yacht harbor on it, yet there is not a yacht or a mooring in site? That dream began in the 1920s, when entrepreneurs like retired sailor named Olaf C. Olsen created fleets of recreational fishing boats. Olsen was a local hero, fought to keep large-scale commercial net fishing out of the bay, and during the Great Depression legend has it donated part of his own catch to needy families.   All the locals knew Olsen and admired him. One pier visitor, Elzie C. Segar – the author of a popular comic strip called Thimble Theater – met Olsen, and he inspired him. He created the cartoon character Popeye after Olsen.

In 1933 a bond issue was passed allowing the city to build a breakwater and create a yacht harbor so boats could be safely moored and to also protect the pier. Construction on the breakwater was completed on July 30, 1934, just in time for the highly publicized Santa Monica Regatta. A collection of yachts, including Charlie Chaplin’s, as well as fishing boats and a cruise liner to Catalina made the yacht harbor their home base.

Unfortunately the breakwater was poorly engineered and began to sink into the sandy ocean bottom and is now almost completely submerged. When Marina del Rey, then the worlds’ largest man-made pleasure boat harbor, opened in 1965 just a few miles south of the pier, it signaled the end of boating activities at the Santa Monica Pier.

8. Paddle boarding was imported to Santa Monica from the Hawaiian Islands in the 1930s. Inside the safe protection of the harbor paddleboard racing thrived. Two clubs, the Santa Monica Paddle Board Club and the Manoa Paddleboard Club called the Pier their home. The sports thrived until the 1950s, when competitive surfing become the favorite. The recently re inaugurated annual PADDLEBOARD RACE AND OCEAN FESTIVAL commemorates the Pier’s long connection to ocean sports and lifeguarding.

9. THE FISHING DECK – The Santa Monica Pier has long been a favorite among the fishing community. People have great stories about fishing on the Santa Monica Pier – not just the folktales of the 500 pounders that got away (referring to the giant black sea bass which were once prominent in the area).

Teenagers tell tales of fishing at night along with a number of Chinese fishermen who made a regular habit of snagging crabs with large treble hooks. They kept a fire going under a large pot filled with seawater. As they caught a crab it went into the pot and it became a sort of communal crab feast.

When this pier, like many, was damaged by the 1983 storms, its future was debated, debated, and finally debated some more before the $30,000,000 renovation was begun. On April 5, 1990, one phase of the work was finished and a reconstructed Municipal Pier celebrated its rebirth. Today, the end of the pier has special sections designed for anglers and it is one of the most attractive piers in the state.

Drop a line you might catch the occasional 22-37″ halibut, but “More common than halibut are white croaker (tom cod), queenfish (herring), sardines, walleye surfperch, salema, sargo, scorpionfish (sculpin), kelp bass (calico bass), sand bass, Pacific mackerel, jack mackerel (Spanish mackerel), and bonito (on live bait or bubbles with a feather). Occasionally, barracuda, white seabass or even yellowtail will show up – most often out at the end of the pier in deeper water.”




October 25, 2013 on 2:55 pm | In Buyers, Fascinating Information, fUNNY...mONEY, Historic Properties, Market Snapshot, Market Trends, Of Local Importance, Uncategorized, WOW | 1 Comment

by Jodi Summers

We’ve all laughed at the postcard of multimillion California homes….but the scary thing is that is becoming reality. In Santa Monica, the million-dollar “shack “is a century-old bungalow by the beach in need of rehabbing. This has become the bottom of the seaside single family residential home market.

In Ocean Park, the ideal Santa Monica Beach community, pricing chaos began on October 11th. A newly remodeled 1-bedroom +1-bathroom
bungalow less than 600 total square feet, on a well-designed lot came on the market at $825,000 and promptly went into escrow in multiple offers.

Now, three vintage bungalows are on the market at prices the neighbors consider “shocking…”

411 OCEAN PARK – What the advertising doesn’t tell you is that this $895,000 2-bed + 1 bath 1920 bungalow on a hill on a boulevard.

It will be open on Tuesday 10/29/2013 – 11:00AM-2:00PM. Lot is slightly under 3,000 sf. Carport.


666 NAVY ST ,  a 2-bed + 1 bath 1914 probate in need of a remodel on a 4,000-sf lot, is now on the market $949,000.


2635 6TH ST, “Adorable California bungalow on huge 6,000 SF lot in Ocean Park.” is selling for $1,150,000. With OP2 zoning, you can build two units.

That’s open on 10/29/2013, if you’re interested.


If you’re looking for a move-in condition house bottom end of the market is 727 OZONE ST a 3+2 priced at $1,200,000 – also open Tuesday.

And prices go up from there. According to the MLS, the current high price for a home in Santa Monica is 1525 SAN VICENTE BLVD – a 22,794sf home on a 58,806sf lot for $29,995,000 – it has
13 bathrooms. Showings upon request.

The current low price for a condo is 1621 CENTINELA AVE #B a 1+1 for $370,000.

Showings upon request.

The starting prices on 1-bedroom condos in Ocean Park is $449,000 – 1/3 of the $1,225,000 starting  price of the new condos down Main St. … so…value is all relative.

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.


We are not the listing agent on these properties Information is from the



August 28, 2013 on 11:23 am | In Fascinating Information, Historic Properties, Of Local Importance, Problem Solving, Santa Monica Landmarks, The City of Santa Monica says, Uncategorized, WOW | 2 Comments

The application for the Civic Working Group is on line! Our job for the next couple of weeks will be to promote the link as much as we can to make sure that it reaches as many qualified applicants as possible. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium needs a perfectly balanced team of experts!!! Have you ever been involved in managing, building, booking, restoring or financing an entertainment venue? Can you meet monthly to sketch out the bones of a viable plan to get the Civic Auditorium back in action? Do you know someone who qualifies or can you post the information on a website, Facebook page or twitter feed that might reach interested people? Follow this link for the official details and to file an application. Completed applications must be submitted by September 16. Santa Monica City Council will appoint the five positions on October 22, 2013.

Civic Working Group Application


July 20, 2013 on 8:09 pm | In Buyers, Fascinating Information, Historic Properties, Of Local Importance, Santa Monica Landmarks, Uncategorized, WOW | 4 Comments

by Jodi Summers

If you have a passion for historic real estate, and about $4 million, there are two noteworthy pieces of architecture for sale in Santa Monica – the Zuni House and the Merle Norman House.

Listed @ $3,800,000 is the Zuni House, prestigiously perched over Santa Monica Canyon @ 710 Adelaide Pl. This 4-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom Pueblo Revival residence by architect Robert Stacy-Judd was built in 1923. It is the only known example of Stacy-Judd’s work in Santa Monica. The design of the house embodies many of the character-defining features of the Pueblo Revival style, including an asymmetrical facade, block composition, and flat roofs with parapets highlighted by red tile coping. Noteworthy are projecting roof beams (a.k.a. vigas) typical of the Zuni tribe of Arizona Indians. The rounded corners of the terraced walls simulate adobe. A stepped Mayan motif is repeated in the door and window frames. has been enhanced with a new pool, spa and guest house.

Stacy-Judd’s style was inspired by 19th century engravings such as the celebrated etchings Frederick Catherwood did for John Lloyd Stephens’ “Incidents of Travel in Central American, Chiapas and Yucatan” (1841) and “Incidents of Travel in Yucatan” (1843). It’s said that the work of this architect “is always a surprise.”

Stacy-Judd became a minor celebrity in the ‘20s and ‘30s when he brought Mayan and Aztec motifs into the design of Southern California architecture. Stacy-Judd’s work, specifically the Aztec Hotel (1924) in Monrovia achieved overwhelming popular success and earned praise in publications ranging from the New York Times to the trade magazines American Architect and The Hotel Monthly. His other work includes the Atwater Bungalows (1931) in Los Angeles, the Masonic Temple (1946-51) in North Hollywood, and the Philosophical Research Society headquarters (1936, 1959) in the Los Feliz area.

The 710 Adelaide property is officially known as the Mrs. L.K. Worrell house, but the locals call it the First Grofe House. Composer Ferde Grofe lived in the structure from 1947 to 1948. Grofe played (viola) with the LA Symphony (1906-1915) and taught at Julliard, but is best remembered as the composer of Grand Canyon Suite and for his orchestration of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.


Coming on the market at $4,000,000 is the Merle Norman House at 2523 Third St. in Ocean Park.

Founded in 1931, Merle Norman Cosmetics Inc. has developed, manufactured and distributed its own full line of skin care and color cosmetic products since the Great Depression. They are sold at more than 2,000 independently owned and operated Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios in the United States and Canada.

As her business grew, Norman commissioned architect Ellis G. Martin was to design and execute of a Mediterranean Revival style villa with divine foliage.

A home not at all similar to its Victorian and Craftsman neighbors, this spacious 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom Mediterranean Revival style features a tiled and hipped roof with bracketed eaves caps the stucco structure. The asymmetrical façade’s entry is located in a large port cochere with rounded arches.

Mediterranean Revival style is considered to be somewhat more baroque than the more austere Spanish Revival Style often found in Santa Monica. Known for distinctive arches and bold columns, and exposed rafters and bracketed eaves, Mediterranean Revival Style provides a warm, inviting feeling.

The use of architectural elements and designs indigenous to the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea as a fundamental trend began to take hold in the late-19th century and reached its apogee at the San Diego exhibition in 1915. There were several forces at work—most notably the Colonial Revival, which touted Classicism, and the American Arts & Crafts movement, which gave the world the Mission Style that was derived from ancient Spanish Missions in the American Southwest.

Merle Norman’s first home on this lot was a turn-of-the-century cottage built in1904 by W. H. Slack. It was here the original cosmetic formulas were developed. Instead of demolishing the home, in 1935, she had it moved to 740 Raymond Avenue.

Even before she opened her first studio in Santa Monica in 1931, Merle Norman’s philosophy of “Try Before You Buy” was being carried out as she offered free samples of her products to neighbors, hoping they’d discover the benefits and return as paying customers.

And return they did. Many even opened their own studios and the company now has studios throughout the United States and Canada. Carrying on the Merle Norman tradition, franchisees now offer skin care products, from cleansers and toners to sun defense, and a full line of cosmetics.

Mrs. Norman’s cosmetics business began in the garage of the original property in Ocean Park, where she created her own line of cosmetics to help women care for their skin and enhance their natural beauty. Norman offered free samples of her products to neighbors, believing they would soon return as paying customers. This happened during the Great Depression, when free had a lot of value. She built a loyal customer base for her products, and her company continues to be an active family-owned business today.




p.s. a. This is not intended as a solicitation if your property is already listed with another agent.

b. We are not the listing agent on these properties. Broker/Agent does not guarantee the accuracy of the square footage, lot size or other information concerning the conditions or features of the property provided by the seller or obtained from Public Records or other sources. Buyer is advised to independently verify the accuracy of all information through personal inspection and with appropriate professionals. Copyright © 2013 by Combined L.A./Westside MLS, Inc. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.




April 10, 2013 on 9:25 am | In Fascinating Information, Fun, Historic Properties, Uncategorized, World | 4 Comments

posted by Jodi Summers


  • 334 BC – Alexander the Great’s defeat of the Persians shows aggressive acquisition of real estate by force
  • 1066 – William the Conqueror decrees that he owns all of the land in England after his defeat of the Normans
  • 1689 - John Locke writes the Two Treatises on Civil Government, which outlines a man’s right to preserve “life, liberty, and estate.”
  • 1783 – Napoleon begins seizing real estate in the form of countries
  • 1803 – The U.S. acquires some swampy new land in the Louisiana Purchase
  • 1855 – Baird Warner is formed and has remained the oldest real estate brokerage in the nation
  • 1867 – U.S. gains a bit of icy tundra from Russia in the Alaska Purchase
  • 1916 – National association of real estate agents coins the term Realtor
  • 1929 – The largest stock market crash sparks the Great Depression and the collapse of the real estate market
  • 1934 – National Housing Act creates the FHA (Federal Housing Association)
  • 1938 – The Federal National Mortgage Association – now Fannie Mae – is chartered by the federal government
  • Late 1940′s - Adoption of fixed-rate mortgage as industry standard
  • Early 1960′s – The National Association of Real Estate Boards creates national MLS system based on unilateral offer of cooperation
  • 1970 – Congress charters Freddie Mac and the secondary loan market
  • 1980′s – Interest rates zoom upward and halt construction of new homes
  • 1994 – Property listings begin to become publicly available on the Internet
  • 1995 – Craigslist is launched
  • 1999 – ZipRealty introduces Internet lead generation to Real Estate
  • 1999 – Move (formerly HomeStore) goes public, the first real estate company to do so
  • Early 2000′s – Launch of IDX feeds for real estate websites
  • 2004 – Popular real estate blog, Curbed, is founded in New York City
  • 2005 – Google announces Google Base, Google Earth, and Google Maps
  • 2005 – launches real estate Mapsearch using Google Maps
  • 2006 – launches its Zestimate
  • 2007 – Trulia launches Trulia Voices, a real estate question & answer site
  • 2007 to 2010 – The “Housing Bubble” bursts, causing the financial crisis in the U.S.
  • 2008 – NAR (National Association of Realtors) settles with the DOJ (Department of Justice) over accusations of hampering rivals’ ability to post home listings online
  • 2009 – Real Estate phone apps become all the rage
  • Late 2000′s – Brick and Mortar offices decrease in number as virtual real estate companies become more prevalent
  • 2010 to Present – Real Estate data (homes-for-sale, sold history, etc.) becomes more easily accessible for all
  • 2010 to Present – Foreclosures and Short Sales become the dominant listing type in the market




February 10, 2013 on 7:14 pm | In Green, Historic Properties, Of Local Importance, Santa Monica Landmarks, The City of Santa Monica says, Uncategorized | No Comments

by Jodi Summers

Old meets new. The century-old Santa Monica Pier has new millennium lighting. The City of Santa Monica recently updated all bulbs that light the Pier to LED versions, which are  heralded as being more energy efficient, last longer and provide more focused beams than their counterparts.

Nearly 1,600 fixtures on the carousel, “necklace” lights that surround the structure, flood lights, street lamps and globe lights will get the upgrade, saving 216,000 kilowatt hours per year compared to the traditional bulbs. A portion of the new LED lights will be replacing incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs that burned out some time ago, bringing new life to the pier.

“We will be making this jewel of the city brighter and more sustainable,” praised pier manager Rod Merl.

City Hall received $114,370 for the Pier Lighting Retrofit project and another $554,000 for the wider LED Street lighting project, which served to replace streetlights throughout the city with new bulbs. Savings on the Pier project work out to roughly $39,466 saved per year in energy costs, according to the Office of Sustainability and the Environment. In addition to saving electricity, the new fixtures are expected pier staff a lot of time….particularly when it comes to maintaining the necklace lights that loop around the pier deck, where the globe lights would burn out regularly.

LED lights are more expensive by the piece, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a high-powered white LED light can last between 35,000 and 50,000 hours. By comparison, the average incandescent light lasts between 720 and 2,000 hours, a compact fluorescent usually runs between 8,000 and 10,000 hours.

If the new LED lights were on 24 hours a day, they would last 5.7 years, calculated Carlos Rosales, an engineer with the public works department. “Since they only turn on at night, they should last 10 years,”

And they should all need to be replaced at about the same time.

Another benefit to the lights in the eyes of City Hall is how they project their beams.

Unlike incandescent bulbs which scatter light, LEDs are more focused, meaning they do not have the fuzzy “glowing” quality that many are used to.

“The old-fashioned kind of lights tends to cast a wide area,” Merl observed. “One of the things with the new lighting heads, the light pools where you want it to rather than dispersing in all directions.”

Shine on you crazy pearl necklace….


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