Category Spending Money Wisely

Walton Goggins is selling his Hollywood haunt for $3.35 million

Walton Goggins’ home for the last decade — a quirky English country-style spot tucked just above Hollywood Boulevard — is up for grabs at $3.35 million.

The Emmy-nominated actor of “Justified” and “The Righteous Gemstones” will double his money if he gets his price. Records show he bought it for $1.55 million in 2010 from fellow actor Radames Pera, who starred in the 1970s TV series “Kung Fu.”

Goggins quickly started making the 1920s haunt his own, mixing period details with modern amenities. Dense landscaping obscures the brick exterior from the street, and inside, arched doorways and vintage tile bring Old Hollywood charm.

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Five bedrooms and three bathrooms are spread across two stories including a primary suite with French windows and a guest bedroom with a wall of cork board. There’s also a formal living room with a fireplace, dining area with a wall of built-ins and galley-style kitchen.

Colorful gardens, citrus trees and string lights add to the ambience outside. The secluded space holds a pair of dining areas, multiple lounges and a swimming pool.

A native of Alabama, Goggins has been acting for three decades with standout roles in “The Shield,” “Sons of Anarchy” and the Quentin Tarantino films “Django Unchained” and “The Hateful Eight.” More recently, the 49-year-old starred alongside Danny McBride in the HBO shows “Vice Principals” and “The Righteous Gemstones.”

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Joshua Myler of the Agency holds the listing.

Source: latimes.com

Cheaper rent in San Francisco? For some Oakland tenants, the city across the Bay is more affordable now

Even on a foggy San Francisco morning, the view from Scott Simmons’ 25th-floor apartment stretches from downtown to Golden Gate Park. The home of the 42-year-old tech worker is also spacious for a one-bedroom, featuring hardwood floors, new appliances and granite countertops.

A year ago, when he was sharing a two-bedroom place with his brother, Simmons couldn’t have imagined living in an apartment like this one. But last fall, when Simmons heard about big rent declines during the COVID-19 pandemic, he discovered he could get way more for his money in the heart of San Francisco than in the neighborhood where he was doubling up in Oakland.

“It’s bananas,” Simmons said. “I never thought I was going to be someone who was going to have a nice view. It’s a luxury.”

Since March, when government stay-at-home orders began emptying downtowns of workers and shoppers, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco has dropped nearly 30%, the largest decrease in the country. The tech capital has hundreds of thousands of employees well positioned to work remotely, and they have. Outside the city.

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The pandemic’s toll on San Francisco has created a scenario long unthinkable in the Bay Area. For some renters — mostly middle- and upper-income earners — it’s now more affordable to live in the famously expensive city than in its bluer-collar neighbor, Oakland.

Scott Simmons at his one bedroom apartment balcony overlooking City Hall and other buildings in San Francisco

Scott Simmons, a manager of information technology security, at his one-bedroom high-rise apartment at Fox Plaza in San Francisco. Simmons moved in November from Oakland to the high-rise, where he pays $2,800 per month in rent. City Hall is seen in the background.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

“If you would have told 15-year-old me that 15, 16 years down the road that Oakland was going to become more expensive it would have been literally shocking,” said Amar Saini, 32, an Oakland native who moved into a 12-story apartment building near the Bay Bridge this month to save money. “I just don’t believe it.”

San Francisco, even as rents decrease, remains the nation’s costliest big city. A one-bedroom apartment still typically rents for almost $2,000 a month, putting it far out of reach for many residents. But the steep drop in prices has surprised real estate watchers for both its depth and scale. Even landlords in tony neighborhoods like Pacific Heights and Russian Hill, who once were charging $4,000 a month for one-bedroom apartments, are lowering their prices and offering incentives like months of free rent to get tenants in the door.

The rent declines are a direct result of the pandemic. More than half the city’s employees are able to work remotely, according to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, and tech firms like Twitter and Salesforce — the city’s largest private employer with more than 9,000 workers — have said employees can stay away from the office even after the pandemic ends.

Additionally, the pandemic has closed restaurants, bars and museums, while putting a premium on locales that offer people more space to work or their kids to attend school virtually. For San Francisco, a dense city that long has had some of the nation’s highest rents, all the changes have taken away many of the amenities that make city life vibrant. Data from the U.S. Postal Service show that 56,000 more people requested address changes out of San Francisco in 2020 than those moving in.

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“Every man, woman and their dog is saying there’s no point living in downtown San Francisco if you’re not going into work,” said Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University who is studying remote work during the pandemic.

California Street in downtown San Francisco with buildings and cars but no cable cars on its tracks.

The San Francisco cable car system is not operating along California Street downtown, shown in February.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

The stillness of once-bustling San Francisco neighborhoods can be jarring. In Union Square on a recent weekday, a handful of masked pedestrians and homeless residents roamed silently amid hotel lobbies, restaurants and luxury stores largely empty of customers. Closed businesses along Market Street, one of the city’s main commercial boulevards, were boarded up with plywood. Shops that remained open had signs displaying reduced hours.

A year ago, only about 1% of the units managed by members of the San Francisco Apartment Assn., the city’s largest landlord group, were vacant, said Janan New, its executive director. Now, she said, nearly a quarter are empty.

At a new, upscale apartment building across from Twitter’s headquarters on Market Street, the sales office is offering up to three months of free rent. If that’s not enough incentive, new arrivals can also get a year of free cable and internet, several personal training and massage sessions or have the landlord donate $1,000 to a local charity on the tenant’s behalf.

Such efforts to attract middle- and upper-income residents reflect the pandemic’s uneven economic impact. White-collar employees who are able to work from home have been far less affected than lower-income workers in service and hospitality industries.

Maria Marin and her family sit on a bed.

Maria Marin, 35, and husband Francisco Rodriguez, with daughters Vanessa Rodriguez, 9, Tiffany Rodriguez, 11, and Keily Rodriguez, 30 months, at an apartment they share with extended family near San Francisco’s Portero Hill neighborhood in February.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Maria Marin and her husband, Francisco Rodriguez, were once able to crowd into a one-bedroom apartment near Bayview with their three young daughters. But after the pandemic hit, Marin lost her job as a housecleaner, and then her husband got COVID-19 and lost his warehouse job.

Unable to pay the $2,000 monthly rent, the family moved in with Marin’s mother near Potrero Hill. Ten people now share the three-bedroom home while Marin and her husband seek employment.

“In my situation, it’s not true that the rent is down,” said Marin, 35. “They ask you to make two or three times the rent to qualify for an apartment. And when you don’t have it, they hang up the phone.”

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Rents have decreased in Oakland as well with the average one-bedroom now going for $1,625, according to Apartment List. But the 18% gap between Oakland and San Francisco prices is the narrowest since the real estate firm began tracking rents in 2017.

Before his move, Simmons enjoyed living in Oakland’s Uptown, a walkable community not far from the Fox Theater, and first looked for a new place around there.

But he found nicer apartments in San Francisco, and living there meant he could ditch his car. Simmons signed a lease for $2,800 a month in a 29-story building also across the street from Twitter. The landlord gave him $2,000 in debit cards as a bonus.

“I like walking places. I like meeting people. I like the busyness,” Simmons said. “This is the life I want.”

Soon after last spring’s stay-at-home orders went into effect, Armand Domalewski and his girlfriend decided to leave their roommates and look for an apartment together. They searched around Oakland’s Lake Merritt in the hopes of living near open space.

“Then we looked in San Francisco,” said Domalewski, 31, a data analyst. “Not only were the prices lower than I ever expected, they kept getting lower.”

The couple found a bright, second-floor apartment on a narrow, red brick street near Duboce Triangle for just under $3,000. “I walked in and said, ‘There’s a dishwasher, my God,’” he said.

A few months into their lease, another tenant in their building moved out and they got a call from their landlord. Domalewski feared the worst.

“You’re so conditioned to think, ‘Oh, my God, am I getting evicted?’” he said. “And then she was like, ‘I’m unilaterally lowering your rent.’ And we’re like, ‘This is crazy.’”

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Rents have even become affordable for recent college graduates.

Sarah Abdeshahian sits on the window sill of her apartment.

Sarah Abdeshahian, 22, a recent graduate of UC Berkeley, at her one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood in February.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

A few months after graduating from UC Berkeley, Sarah Abdeshahian got a job as an organizer with the Tenderloin Housing Clinic in San Francisco. She was astounded to be able to find her own one-bedroom apartment near the top of Nob Hill for $1,900 a month, a price that had been reduced by $400.

“The idea of an entire apartment to myself is an insane luxury to me,” said Abdeshahian, 22. “I thought of San Francisco as a place where only wealthy tech people could live, not someone working at a nonprofit just out of college.”

Even though rents have plummeted, they could bounce back. Tenants with long memories plan ahead.

Simmons said he could have moved into a newer apartment complex for the same money.

But he opted for an older building. It came with rent control.

Source: latimes.com

CNN’s Don Lemon sells Harlem condo for $1.525 million

CNN anchor Don Lemon has sold his three-bedroom condo in New York’s Harlem neighborhood for $1.525 million — about $37,000 more than he paid for it in 2013.

The sale comes a few years after he picked up a place near the Hamptons, paying $3.1 million for a quaint cottage in Sag Harbor in 2016.

The condo is the smaller of his two properties, with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms in just over 1,400 square feet. According to the listing, Lemon configured the space as an open-concept layout with two bedrooms during his stay.

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An entry foyer leads to the living spaces, which take in views of Manhattan and Harlem through walls of windows on two sides. There’s a living room with built-ins, a kitchen with stone countertops and a corner primary suite with walls of tile.

In addition to the unit’s private balcony, the building offers an outdoor recreation area and rooftop deck. Records show the home was most recently listed at $1.55 million.

Lemon joined CNN as a correspondent in 2006 and began hosting “CNN Tonight” in 2014. The 54-year-old Louisiana native has won multiple regional Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Steve Cohen and Tim Malone of Douglas Elliman held the listing.

Source: latimes.com

50 years ago, the Sylmar earthquake shook L.A., and nothing’s been the same since

How close Los Angeles came to what would have been — many times over— the deadliest disaster in U.S. history remains a matter of historical conjecture.

When the Sylmar earthquake rumbled through Los Angeles 50 years ago, on Feb. 9, 1971, the top of the earthen Lower Van Norman Dam melted into the reservoir. No one knows exactly what kept the dam near Granada Hills from collapsing. Was it the number of feet of earthen wall that remained? Was it the duration of the quake, since a few more seconds might have shaken loose the rest of the dam face, unleashing a torrent on tens of thousands of homes below?

That the dam survived has rendered those questions a subject for scientific inquiry rather than the annals of catastrophe.

But what might have been remains part of the mystique that sustains the Sylmar earthquake — formally, the San Fernando earthquake — as the keystone in the long arc of seismic knowledge and the practice of earthquake safety. The quake might not have been the Big One, but it still managed to wake California up to a danger that was largely unrecognized. The modern era of earthquake awareness and preparedness is deeply rooted in Sylmar.

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Before then, earthquakes were either removed in time — 1906 in San Francisco, 1933 in Long Beach — or physically distant —1964 in Anchorage.

The 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck the northeast San Fernando Valley seconds after 6 a.m. not only woke up the city but fixated the nation’s budding seismic community as none had before.

The front page of the L.A. Times on Feb. 10, 1971.

The front page of the L.A. Times on Feb. 10, 1971.

(Los Angeles Times)

“Los Angeles was the city of the future,” said geophysicist Susan Hough of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Sciences Center. “You had the space-age LAX. You have this modern glistening city and all of a sudden hospitals are being knocked down. It really got people’s attention in many ways.”

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The indelible images of Sylmar were the hospitals.

At the Veterans Administration Hospital in Sylmar, two buildings dating to the 1920s collapsed and several others were severely damaged, causing 49 of the 64 deaths attributed to the disaster.

Less costly in lives, yet more startling to engineers and scientists, was the partial collapse of the 4-month-old Olive View Medical Center. Elevator towers tumbled, and the second floor of the 50-bed psychiatric unit collapsed onto the first. Three died there.

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No less shocking was the collapse of the soaring, nearly completed overpass from the new Antelope Valley Freeway (Highway 14) to the Golden State Freeway (Interstate 5) in Newhall Pass and portions of the Foothill Freeway (I-210) interchange, where two men in a pickup were killed.

“There were some structures that people thought were safe that turned out not to be,” Hough said.

The hospital buildings and the freeways, all made of concrete, proved unable to roll with the earthquake’s punches.

“We as an engineering community learned from that, that just having strength was not enough,” said Jonathan Stewart, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UCLA. “You had to have ductility” — the ability to stretch. “The [building] code would essentially produce nonductile concrete buildings.”

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Another revelation was the damage to single-family homes, at the time thought to be resilient enough to ride out moderate quakes. They proved helpless when the fault rupture reached the surface, a phenomenon that had not previously occurred in an urban earthquake.

“It would go through people’s lawns, it would go through homes,” said Tim Dawson, engineering geologist with the California Geological Survey. “It would torque the buildings. That was the recognition of that earthquake, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t be building on top of faults that can rupture the surface.’”

For the seismic community, the near debacle of the Lower Van Norman Dam, causing no loss of life but forcing the evacuation of 80,000 people, was the most frightening lesson.

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“This was a big one because people started to realize you could have killed 100,000 people if that dam had cut loose,” said acting state geologist Steve Bohlen.

Luck may have played a part. The water level had been lowered 10 feet in 1967 after an evaluation had raised doubt about its stability.

“It was very close,” Bohlen said. “Had the shaking gone on for maybe another five seconds or 10, it could have been horrific. It galvanized both the state and the federal government.”

Automobiles crushed by falling debris brought on by an earthquake

Falling debris from the earthquake crushed these vehicles.

(Boris Yaro)

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The near catastrophe led the California Division of Safety of Dams, an agency created after the 1928 failure of the St. Francis Dam, to tighten its standards to include liquefaction, resulting in dams across the state being retrofitted.

Within two years, the California Legislature responded with laws championed by state Sen. Alfred E. Alquist that required earthquake zones to be mapped and set new design standards for hospitals. The mapping law was later enhanced to include landslide and liquefaction zones.

“These two acts and the mapping that followed by California Geological Survey has been a very good thing for California,” said Stewart, the UCLA professor. “It forces us to be real about the hazards. You can’t just ignore it.”

Congress reacted, too, creating the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program in 1977. Until then, despite pressure from the seismic community, the U.S. Geological Survey had no program focused on risk reduction, Hough said.

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Before that, universities had placed seismometers around the world to record nuclear explosions.

“Now we’re used to USGS being the preeminent agency,” Hough said. “Early warning systems, everything we know, resources and products really started with” the earthquake reduction program.

The California Strong Motion Instrumentation Program was founded by the state Legislature in 1972. Hundreds of new sensors have been added to advance seismic knowledge, inform building codes and help in emergency response.

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Recordings from the handful of sensors scattered around Southern California at the time of the earthquake made another thing clear: Ground accelerations, the key force that buildings must resist, were far greater than seismologists had previously thought possible. Building codes would have to be redrawn to accommodate.

It was a slow process not completed until 1978, Stewart said, as researchers studied the damage to understand why buildings failed and what could be done to make them more resilient. “You write papers. It’s only after you’ve reached some degree of consensus that you can have proposals to change the building code,” Stewart said.

Far more than commonly appreciated, earthquakes are attenuated events. They may be remembered for their brief, terrifying moments. But they also send ripples into the future for years and even decades as their lessons work their way into academic literature, laws, building codes and retrofitting programs.

Olive View and the freeway overpasses were rebuilt to higher standards. The Veterans Administration Hospital was eventually demolished and converted to a park. But some of Sylmar’s ripples will continue well into this century.

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The Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Safety Act of 1973 was strengthened in each of the two succeeding decades. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the law was amended to require all hospitals to conduct seismic evaluations and make improvements to any buildings that could not survive a major earthquake. They were given a 2020 deadline to comply with the possible extension for some to 2030.

The hazard of older concrete buildings exposed by Sylmar remained a politically taboo subject for more than 40 years because of the high cost of upgrading hundreds of aging and economically challenged structures. After a 2013 Times investigation, Mayor Eric Garcetti reached a compromise solution by requiring retrofits but giving building owners 30 years to comply.

Fault mapping ordered by the 1972 Alquist-Priolo Act has yet to be completed. The most recent addition, boundaries of the Santa Monica fault, was published in 2018. New maps of active faults in San Diego will be published next, said Dawson of the California Geological Survey. Faults on the Palos Verdes Peninsula are still being studied.

“It’s very slow, time-consuming work,” Dawson said. “There’s a lot of detective work. It’s really easy to map a fault out in the hinterlands. It gets a little harder within urban areas. Many of the clues we look for are harder to see once you build over it.”

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New technologies — such as aerial lidar imagery, a radar-like sensor based on light — make the work go faster but also expose new faults.

“There’s always more faults to be mapped,” Dawson said.

The 50-year-old quake remains alive in a recent USGS innovation, “Did you feel it?,” a crowd-sourcing website that compiles participants’ questionnaires into maps of earthquake shaking.

Source: latimes.com

Mike Huckabee hauls in $9.4 million for Florida beach house

Politician Mike Huckabee has sold his Florida beach house — a cause of headaches and controversy during the time he owned it — for $9.4 million. Late last year, he announced he was moving back to Arkansas, where he served as governor from 1996 to 2007.

It was a speedy sale for Huckabee. He listed the home in Santa Rosa Beach for $9.5 million in late December and had an offer in hand about a week later, according to the Multiple Listing Service. Records show he paid $800,000 for the vacant property in 2009 and erected the mansion two years later.

The construction wasn’t cut and dried, however. In 2014, Reuters reported that Huckabee needed political help to push the permits through since state regulations wouldn’t allow the mansion to be built so close to the eroding beach’s sand dunes.

During his time in the home, Huckabee was also engaged in a battle to block public use of the beach. In an email published by the Tampa Bay Times, he argued that his land extended to the water line of the Gulf of Mexico and should therefore be off-limits to public beachgoers.

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According to the listing, the house claims 75 feet of sand on Blue Mountain Beach. It spans three stories with five balconies and a rooftop deck overlooking the water.

A gated driveway approaches the brick-and-stucco exterior, and inside, six bedrooms and nine bathrooms are spread across 8,277 square feet. There’s a center-island kitchen, rounded breakfast nook, scenic living room and movie theater.

Out back, a patio features a fountain-fed swimming pool and spa. A thin stretch of lawn separates the house from the beach below.

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After serving as the 44th governor of Arkansas, Huckabee ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2016. The 65-year-old also hosts an eponymous political commentary show, “Huckabee,” which currently airs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

The Spears Group of Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty held the listing. Joe Burton of Joe Burton Realty represented the buyer.

Source: latimes.com

Airbnb for gardens is a thing. Rent an L.A. oasis to nap, do yoga, work, it’s up to you

On a quiet Thursday around 10 a.m., Aqueene Simran rolled out her yoga mat in a sanctuary of shade trees at GreenStone Farm and Sanctuary and proceeded to teach kundalini yoga on a video call.

Simran, 42, is a regular at the spacious certified wildlife habitat in Mt. Washington, where heirloom roses share the landscape with fruit trees, native plants, vegetables and free-roaming chickens.

“It’s such a beautiful space,” said Simran, who also leads meditation classes and sound baths beneath the garden’s shade trees. “Being Indigenous, I’ve learned that spiritual and bodywork is more powerful on land than in a building or a bedroom. It’s definitely healing for me to be here.”

Aqueene Simran leads a virtual yoga class with Nicole Ballantine at GreenStone Farm & Sanctuary.

Aqueene Simran, right, leads a virtual yoga class with Nicole Ballantine, at GreenStone Farm and Sanctuary.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

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Simran rents the garden for $20 per hour from Eric and Meadow Carder-Vindel through Healing Gardens, a new online marketplace that allows homeowners and caretakers to list their organic gardens for rent, similar to the way that Airbnb lists rooms and homes for guests.

The company was conceptualized a year ago by cofounders Abhishek Arora and Rishi Kumar, who wanted to develop a business that would provide access to private urban gardens, help hosts economically in the process and, ultimately, benefit the environment.

“I wanted to do something that would alleviate climate change,” Arora said. “The only way I knew how was to create a business that would encourage people to grow more plants and trees.”

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Added Kumar: “Our fundamental goal is to fight climate change. Profits are going to go into helping these people develop their gardens further. I would love for people to go and see the gardens as they are changing. They are not visiting a place; they are visiting a being. Imagine if you could do outdoor yoga in the middle of L.A. with your friends? That’s exciting.”

Rishi Kumar, co-founder of Healing Gardens, stands amid the fields at his urban farm and nursery in Pomona.

Rishi Kumar, cofounder of Healing Gardens, at Sarvodaya Farms, his regenerative urban farm and nursery in Pomona.

(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

After teaching countless classes on building healthy soil, composting and saving seeds, Kumar found that the people who attended his workshops were often most interested in just spending time in the gardens. “These are sanctuaries,” said Kumar, 31. “People always talk about how healing it is for them to be on our farm. I wanted to find ways for people to enjoy the gardens without being focused on classes.”

Arora, 40, said he has experienced the benefits of plants and green space firsthand.

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“I had an anxiety attack in 2019 and gardening helped me heal,” he said. “The best thing about these gardens is the wellness aspect. We thought, ‘Let’s give that experience to others.’”

Even just 60 minutes in a garden, he said, can make a difference in the life of someone who is struggling with psychological and emotional turmoil. As people continue to grapple with anxiety about coronavirus variants, vaccines, illness, even death, Kumar and Arora view the gardens as more than just an opportunity to get outdoors, but as an opportunity to heal.

“Health isn’t just what we eat,” said Meadow Carder-Vindel, who hosts GreenStone Farm on the Healing Gardens website. “It’s important to give people a way to decompress. If people can see the life cycle of plants, it can bring them calm and comfort.”

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Healing Gardens is offering 17 gardens for rent throughout Los Angeles, as well as the WorldBeat Cultural Center’s Ethnobotany Peace Garden in San Diego.

Kumar and Arora hope to add more gardens and expand programming in coming months, as pandemic restrictions, hopefully, ease. The company provides insurance for the gardens, assists with advertising and, in exchange, withdraws a small processing fee. Visitors can book gardens by the hour, beginning at $15, and enjoy simply being on the property or add such experiences as yoga and meditation, art activities or romantic dinners. Amenities like Wi-Fi are listed on the website for guests such as recording engineer Breeze Prado, who uses Greenstone Farm as a place to work from the garden.

Healing Gardens

Recording engineer Breeze Prado works in the garden at GreenStone Farm and Sanctuary.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

At Moonwater Farm in Compton, another garden on the website, visitors can take a guided tour with “Farmer” Kathleen Blakistone ($50) and meet the farm’s animals including baby goats, fish and Tommy the farm dog.

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Kid-friendly activities are a hit at Paul and Nancy Terry’s multilevel Arts and Roots Garden in Inglewood, where families can enjoy a two-hour art activity for $40. “We have families and children who reserve space to frolic in the garden,” said Nancy Terry. “I set out the paint and they come in and have a private experience. They reserve through the Healing Gardens website, and everyone receives an updated email and reminder on their phones. We set up before they arrive. They don’t need to contact me if they don’t want to, but they have my phone number if they need anything.” The couple has also hosted tai chi classes and socially distanced comedy nights in their backyard.

Sometimes, experiencing these gardens can be humbling. “One family who visited us hadn’t been outside in three months,” said Meadow Carder-Vindel. “The mother broke down and started crying because she hadn’t felt safe outside her home.” Another visitor, a young boy, sat in a tree above the family’s chicken coop for more than an hour as he watched the hens move along the chicken run.

With an emphasis on regenerative gardening, the green spaces serve as a master class on environmentally friendly practices. Among the gardens’ organic solutions: hugelkultur beds, composting, no-dig edible gardening permaculture and drought-tolerant plants.

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Homeowners can provide guided tours for an additional fee in some cases, but it’s not a requirement. “I love the exchange,” said Meadow Carder-Vindel as she pointed out flowers and food on a walk through her garden. “But normally we’re not around. We let people wander the grounds.”

Kumar emphasized that these garden visits are meant to be a private experience. “You’re outdoors, and there is no one around you.”

The Terry family in the Arts and Roots garden, which is available for rent.

Paul and Nancy Terry with sons Oliver, left, and Hunter, right, in the Arts and Roots garden, which is available for rent.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Although the company launched during the pandemic, its timing has been fortuitous as people have grown weary of sheltering in place. At the moment, the gardens are limiting visits to one pod of up to four people at a time, and guests are required to follow local guidelines when interacting with garden hosts, including mask mandates and social distancing.

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Kumar supplemented his lineup at Sarvodaya Farms, his organic urban farm and nursery in Pomona, with meditation and mindfulness classes, and Christy Wilhelmi, author of “Gardening for Geeks,” plans to offer seasonal garden tours and garden planning workshops in her Culver City edible garden when it is safe. Additionally, in an effort to make the gardens affordable to all, SNAP, EBT and WIC recipients will receive reduced entrance at participating gardens.

Kumar said he hopes the gardens will flourish and their caretakers will be supported. “Healing can be found in faraway forests, but the same healing can be found in urban farms and empty lots,” he said. “We want people to remember that we have this relationship with plants. We require plants and soil for our health. It doesn’t matter what gets people in the garden — a movie, a date, a concert — it’s irrelevant. We want people to remember that these spaces are important for all of us.”

For Meadow Carder-Vindel, who lives on her property with four generations of her family, the garden is central to her health and the health of her guests. “We are fortunate to have this space,” she said. “It feels right to share.”

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The owners of the GreenStone Farm & Sanctuary pose for a family portrait.

The owners of the GreenStone Farm and Sanctuary pose for a family portrait. From left, Eric Vindel with son Osani, Meadow Carder-Vindel, Meadow’s mother, Channa Grace and Eric and Meadow’s daughter Andrea with son Jru’Angelo Larrazabal.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Source: latimes.com

In a first for California, Sacramento poised to allow apartments in single-family home neighborhoods

Ringing downtown just a quick bike ride from the state Capitol building are some of Sacramento’s most upscale neighborhoods. There’s Land Park, a leafy community of well-maintained homes that surround 167 acres of urban parkland. And there’s the Fabulous 40s, with its blocks of stately homes on deep lots, including the big blue house from the film “Lady Bird” and the six-bedroom home that the Reagans lived in during the early part of Ronald’s gubernatorial tenure a half-century ago.

The neighborhoods’ exclusivity and desirability owe, in no small part, to their zoning: single-family residential.

That could soon change.

In an unprecedented move, Sacramento is on the verge of approving a plan that would make the city the first in California, and one of the first in the country, to end zoning that permits only one single-family home on a property.

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Under the proposal, up to four homes could be built on lots in neighborhoods long defined by their low-density, traffic-free tranquillity.

Single-family houses line 45th Street near the corner of M street in East Sacramento's Fabulous 40s neighborhood.

Single-family houses line 45th Street near the corner of M street in East Sacramento’s Fabulous 40s neighborhood.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Sacramento’s effort to dramatically alter its streetscape reflects the capital city’s rapidly broadening identity. Once dominated by state government, Sacramento has seen a huge influx of people and employers in healthcare and technology — including San Francisco Bay Area workers willing to live remotely or make the 90-mile drive to the office in exchange for cheaper living.

The migration has bolstered the city’s arts and cultural scene, but rents have gone up by double digits and rising homelessness has prompted protests over deteriorating conditions for people on the streets.

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Backing the zoning proposal is Sacramento’s Democratic mayor, Darrell Steinberg, and a coalition of activists that includes white-collar renters who fear the kind of spiraling housing costs that many left behind in the Bay Area. The group, House Sacramento, is part of a network of organizations across the state called Yes in My Backyard, or YIMBY, that push for similar measures.

“Sacramento should be a pioneer in saying ‘yes’ to more homes for all,” the organization wrote last month to the City Council.

Steinberg, whose home was recently damaged by protesters demonstrating against homelessness, argues major changes to ensure the city’s long-term affordability are needed to avoid the Bay Area’s fate.

The "Lady Bird" big blue house, named after the movie with the same name

The “Lady Bird” house, named after the movie with the same name, near the corner of 44th and M streets in East Sacramento.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

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“Our challenge is housing,” Steinberg said. “I not only take pride in the fact that we’re leading — I insist on it.”

A “Don’t Become San Francisco” mantra also motivated Oregon lawmakers in 2019 when they voted to end single-family home zoning across the state’s urban areas, including Portland. The city of Minneapolis started the trend the year prior by becoming the first major U.S. city to eliminate single-family home only zoning.

So far, Sacramento has not seen the intense negative reaction from homeowners that led to the demise of other efforts to upend single-family home zoning in California. But some residents say that’s only because most residents remain unaware of what’s going on.

Standing on a narrow street in Elmhurst, Maggie Coulter worried about increased traffic, where new residents would park and that lower-density communities like hers would all become like the city’s more busy and bustling areas that she avoided when she bought her home 40 years ago.

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“We do need housing diversity,” said Coulter, a retiree in her 60s who used to work on affordable housing programs at the state Department of Housing and Community Development. “We don’t need urban sprawl. But to basically destroy these historic neighborhoods to make them all uniform, that doesn’t make sense either.”

Coulter, president of the neighborhood association in the century-old community, expects a backlash once details of the plan become better known in a city where most communities would fall under the proposal. Currently, nearly half of all land in Sacramento — and 70% of its residential areas — is set aside for single-family homes, percentages similar to those in other big California cities.

The city’s plan would still permit single-family home construction in these communities, and any larger buildings would have to comply with existing height restrictions. Already, because of state and local laws, single-family home owners can add smaller backyard units and garage conversions on their properties.

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The city has no formal estimate on how many new homes — either through new construction or the subdivision of existing single-family homes — the proposal would create, but officials believe it’ll be fewer than 100 a year.

Nevertheless, activists and leaders hope that the idea will help tame housing cost increases that were unthinkable in Sacramento until the recent influx of Bay Area residents boosted demand to live here. The city’s popularity has been bolstered in recent years by a new NBA arena, plans for professional soccer and, most notably, “Lady Bird,” the 2017 Oscar- nominated movie that highlighted Sacramento’s unpretentious charm.

Over the last four years, Sacramento’s median home values have jumped by more than a third to just under $400,000, according to real estate firm Zillow. At the same time, according to Apartment List, median one-bedroom rents are up more than 20% to $1,195 a month — a figure that’s continued to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic even as average rents in San Francisco and Silicon Valley have plummeted.

Ansel Lundberg, a renter who lives in East Sacramento, co-chair of House Sacramento

Ansel Lundberg, a renter who lives in East Sacramento, is co-chair of House Sacramento, which wants more housing density as a way to lower rents.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

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Some of Sacramento’s newcomers banded together four years ago to start the YIMBY group, which stands in contrast to opponents of growth, whom they deride as Not in My Backyard or NIMBY groups. Ansel Lundberg, the co-leader of Sacramento’s organization, moved to the city in 2015 for a fellowship in state government after graduating from UC Santa Barbara.

A few years ago, Lundberg and his now-wife, a medical student, began renting a home about a couple of blocks from the Fabulous 40s in East Sacramento. He loves that the neighborhood gives them access to restaurants, their church, their jobs and downtown without the need to drive.

“There’s no reason more people shouldn’t be able to live here,” said Lundberg, 27, who works for the local electric utility.

The concerns of long-established residents over property values and community character issues are outweighed by the hardships of tenants faced with rising rents, Lundberg said.

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“Whatever [homeowners’] concerns are about their property values, which I think are misplaced, that just doesn’t resonate with us,” he said.

Lundberg and other activists point to the history of single-family zoning as another reason to make the change.

East Sacramento and Land Park are among neighborhoods where racist real estate practices and government-sponsored mortgage lending rules prevented nonwhites from moving in through the middle of the 20th century. Indeed, zoning that only allowed for single-family homes was initially pushed by those who wanted to segregate their communities after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that zoning that explicitly barred Black residents and other people of color was unconstitutional.

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Today, the two communities remain overwhelmingly white.

“The Land Parks and the East Sacs are beautiful communities because they were segregated communities,” said Kendra Noel Lewis, executive director of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, an affordable housing advocacy group in favor of the zoning change. “For people not to acknowledge that they inherited that, that they inherited the benefits that came with that, it’s really incumbent on activists, policymakers and the politicians to say it and to change it.”

But those opposed to doing away with single-family home zoning don’t believe that the proposal will integrate neighborhoods, racially or economically. They argue that any new fourplexes in higher-income neighborhoods are likely to be more costly to rent or buy as condominiums than what the average Sacramento resident can afford.

Chris Jones, 34, left, of Colonial Heights, and Maggie Coulter of Elmhurst, in Sacramento.

Chris Jones, 34, left, and Maggie Coulter believe that changing single-family home zoning will hurt long-established neighborhoods.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

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A better solution, some argue, is to invest in lower-income communities so that they have the same access to grocery stores, good schools and public services as wealthier neighborhoods.

“We want to see every neighborhood in Sacramento be a place where a young family would say, ‘That’s a nice place to live,’” said Chris Jones, 34, an IT worker and homeowner in the city’s Colonial Heights area. “By trying to cram people into existing single-family neighborhoods, it lets you off the hook for improving other neighborhoods.”

There’s still a lot of time for Sacramento’s zoning debate to play out. Last month, the City Council gave unanimous approval to a preliminary version of the plan, but city officials don’t expect to receive final sign-off until the end of the year. Nevertheless, there appears to be momentum toward similar changes elsewhere.

Other Northern California cities, including San Jose, San Francisco and Berkeley, are now considering allowing more homes in some single-family neighborhoods. And state lawmakers are once again weighing a proposal to allow duplexes on single-family home parcels across much of the state.

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Still, Sacramento’s overall effort to increase development, including the change to single-family home zoning, “is way beyond what any other city has done,” said Chris Elmendorf, a UC Davis law professor who follows statewide development regulations.

“It’s kind of amazing what Sacramento is doing at this point,” he said.

Source: latimes.com

WhatsApp’s Jan Koum drops $87 million on the house next door in Malibu

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum just grabbed another slice of Malibu shoreline, paying $87 million for an oceanfront home right next to his other one, The Times has confirmed.

The billionaire has been on a Southern California spending spree for the last three years. In 2019, he paid $100 million for the Malibu home of longtime NBCUniversal executive Ron Meyer. A year later he ventured inland, shelling out $125 million for the Beverly Hills mansion of Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The $87-million sale, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is by far the priciest home sale in L.A. County so far this year. The property originally was put on the market last summer for $125 million, The Times previously reported.

Diana Jenkins, ex-wife of British banker Roger Jenkins, was the seller. Before her, the coastal retreat was owned by media mogul Barry Diller and country music star Kenny Rogers.

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Between the two neighboring estates overlooking Malibu’s Paradise Cove, Koum now has six acres of land. His new place accounts for three of those acres and features a single-story main house, a three-story guesthouse and a guardhouse.

Whitewashed beams hang over herringbone floors in the sunny common spaces. Almost every single room takes in views of the ocean, including the indoor-outdoor living room, dining area and sky-lit bathroom. There’s also a recording studio, a wine cellar, an office and a patio with an aquarium wall off the guesthouse.

Lawns and patios surround a swimming pool and basketball court outside, where a funicular descends to 256 feet of beach frontage. On the sand, a wood cabana adds a huge deck and bar for entertaining.

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Koum founded the mobile messaging system WhatsApp in 2009 and sold the company to Facebook Inc. five years later for $19.3 billion. Forbes puts his net worth at $10 billion.

Chris Cortazzo of Compass held the listing. Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency represented Koum.

Source: latimes.com

Shaq sells Bell Canyon retreat for $1.85 million

Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal just scored a profit in Bell Canyon, selling a custom home for $1.85 million that he bought for $1.815 million in 2018.

The Lakers legend, who led the team to three straight championships from 2000 to 2002, had been trying to sell his home in the Ventura County community since 2019. He was originally asking $2.5 million, but with no takers, he got involved with the marketing himself, posting the listing on his Instagram with the caption, “I’M SELLING MY HOME IN BELL CANYON CA.”

Spanning 5,200 square feet, the two-story home is filled with custom art including a Shaq mural in the office and portraits of rappers in the living spaces. It’s far from his most ostentatious estate; that distinction belongs to his 31,000-square-foot mega-mansion in Florida complete with a 6,000-square-foot basketball court, 17-car showroom and 95-foot-long swimming pool dubbed “Shaq-apulco.”

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This one features a more subdued style, with brick accents across the tan exterior and traditional-style common spaces. Highlights include a two-story foyer with tile inlay, living room under beamed ceilings, marble kitchen, and media room.

Elsewhere are five bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, including a primary suite with a fireplace, spa tub, dual closets and a terrace. The house has a resort-style backyard with a swimming pool surrounded by lush landscaping. The estate spans an acre.

Shaq played for six teams during his storied career, winning three NBA championships with the Lakers and one with the Heat. In 2011, the 48-year-old joined TNT’s “Inside the NBA” program as an analyst and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame five years later.

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Emil Hartoonian and Nicholas Siegfried of the Agency held the listing. Gary Keshishyan of Pinnacle Estate Properties represented the buyer.

Source: latimes.com

Kelly Clarkson’s Encino mansion returns at $9 million

Grammy-winning singer Kelly Clarkson is tuning into the Encino market once more, re-listing her modern farmhouse for $9 million. The “American Idol” winner was originally asking $10 million last summer, records show.

A sale would cap a three-year stay for Clarkson, who paid $8.5 million for the property right after it was built in 2018.

There’s a farmhouse feel throughout, with rustic wood drawing the eye across the exterior. Inside, living spaces are bright and open, with clean lines and walls of glass. The kitchen is a highlight, complete with three islands and a dramatic marble backsplash.

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The main home and guesthouse combine for eight bedrooms and 11 bathrooms in more than 10,000 square feet. Amenities include a movie theater, gym, billiards room and wine cellar. Topped by high-pitched, beamed ceilings, the primary suite expands to a private patio and lounge.

Out back, the L-shaped residence frames a swimming pool and spa. The half-acre estate also holds an outdoor entertaining area with a lounge, fire pit and pizza oven.

Clarkson, 38, rose to stardom in 2002 when she won the inaugural season of the singing competition series “American Idol.” Since then, she has released eight studio albums including the Grammy-winning records “Breakaway” and “Stronger.” In 2019, she began hosting a daytime talk show called “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” which has won three Daytime Emmy Awards in two seasons.

Chris Corkum and Lisa Brende of Compass hold the listing.

Source: latimes.com