Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!




Bel~Air has escaped massive haunting for the most part -- but that does not mean we are not surrounded by some of the most terrifying sites in Los Angeles!  Below is a map showing the location of many horrifying events from Los Angeles history mere screaming distance from Bel~Air.  Take a look  -- if you DARE!



(click on the ghosts and skulls in the map for gruesome site details) 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bel~Air Association Emergency Preparedness Forum - A HUGE Success!





(please forgive the terrible quality of these photographs - they were taken with my mobile phone camera!)


WOW!  A huge THANK YOU to everyone that planned, participated in and attended the standing room only Emergency Preparedness Forum last night at the Hotel Bel~Air.

The turn-out was truly exceptional and had the Hotel staff scrambling for more and more chairs throughout the evening.

And a super special thank you to the following people that so generously shared their time and extensive knowledge with our community (along with many valuable preparedness pamphlets and survival guides):

STACY GERLICH
LOS ANGELES CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT
 
DAVID WEI
ACCIDENT PREVENTION SPECIALIST
UCLA OFFICE OF ENVIROMENT, HEALTH & SAFETY
 
MICHELLE RIEBLING
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS CO-ORDINATOR
CITY OF LOS ANGELES
DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
 
ZARA BOTT-GOINS
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP CO-ORDINATOR
AMERICAN RED CROSS
 
PAUL SCHULZ
CEO - AMERICAN RED CROSS - LOS ANGELES

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LAPD Community Alert

COMMUNITY ALERT
NOTIFICATION

LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF West L.A. Area

 

RESIDENTIAL BURGLARIES
DISTRACTING ELDERLY VICTIMS

There has been a small increase in residential burglaries in the city of Los Angeles, including the Pacific Palisades, Westwood, and West L.A., where organized groups of thieves target vulnerable elderly citizens and use trickery or a distraction to gain access to the residence and remove property.


The suspects, a diverse group of males and females, ages 17 to 50, have been variously described as Caucasian, Eastern European, Hispanic, Filipino and "Gypsy." The suspects are usually very courteous and convincing. Sometimes, they have children with them. Once the victim(s) is distracted, a secondary team of burglars enters the residence and steals valuables.

Some common methods of trickery used have been:

Posing as Department of Water & Power employees who need to inspect the backyard.

Posing as construction workers at a neighboring house and needs to enter the backyard to inspect the wall.

Asking to go into the backyard to get their lost cat.

Posing as telephone company employees who need to inspect the telephone pole.

In September and October 2008, some areas where these incidents occurred were near:
Pacific Palisades' Sunset Blvd & Chautauqua Blvd
Westwood's Santa Monica Blvd & Prosser Ave
Westwood's Santa Monica Blvd & Westwood Blvd.

West L.A.'s Missouri Ave & Butler Ave
Bel Air's Bellagio RD & Casiano Rd

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reminder - Preparedness Meeting Tomorrow - WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29

This event is only open to Bel~Air Association Members and Residents

THE BEL-AIR ASSOCIATION PRESENTS

A COMMUNITY FORUM

 

BEING PREPARED FOR

EARTHQUAKES AND FIRE

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2008

 

**Please Call Paulette M. DuBey, Bel~Air Association General Manager at 310.474.3527, for Exact Time & Location**

 

 

Last month’s 5.4 magnitude earthquake in the Los Angeles area was another wake up call to be prepared for the BIG ONE.  The Bel-Air Association’s Emergency Preparedness Committee has worked diligently to do just that.  For the past three years, our members have organized the community into 12 sectors, meeting and outlining what we need to have in our homes and what actions we must take in case of a major earthquake or devastating fires.

 

Are you part of part of the Association’s Emergency Preparedness?  
Do you know what the plan is to evacuate and assist your fellow neighbors?

 

It is time to revisit emergency preparations. 
Join us for an important community event sponsored by the Bel-Air Association. 
For more information please call Paulette M. DuBey our General Manager at 310.474.3527. 
Thank you for your interest and for being prepared!

LAPD Community Alert


COMMUNITY ALERT
NOTIFICATION 
LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF WEST L.A. AREA 
  

Please remain vigilant to activity and people in our neighborhood. If you see what you believe may be a crime in progress, call 911! If you see other suspicious activity, notify the Los Angeles Police Non-Emergency number at 1-877-275-5273. Forward any suspect information to me via e-mail or phone, so I can verify appropriate follow-up was conducted. Please record the date, time, type of activity, suspect(s) descriptions, and the description of any involved vehicles with accurate license plate information. Video cameras are great for capturing much of this information!
Senior Lead Officer Christopher Ragsdale 
West Los Angeles Community Police Station 
Office: 310-444-0741 Cell: 213-305-5895 Email: 26690@lapd.lacity.org
STREET ROBBERY:
600 block Kelton Ave (RD 816). 10/24/08, at 0040 hours, Victim and witness walked on sidewalk, suspects crossed street and approached victim. Without speaking, suspect #1 attempted to pull the victim's purse from her right shoulder. The suspect pushed the victim to the ground as she screamed for help. Both suspects fled on foot. Witness observed suspects entered vehicle and fled the scene.
Suspect #1: Male Hispanic Blk Bro 5-10/5-11 160 20's, wore black T-shirt, and blue jeans. Suspect #2: Male Hispanic Blk Bro 5-10/5-11 160 20's, wore black baseball cap and blue jeans. Weapon: Bodily Force. Property Taken: None (Att Robbery). 
Vehicle: 1990's Honda Accord white in color 
1600 block Selby Ave. RD 833. Date/Time: 10/19/08, 2330 hrs. Susp(s): Male, NFI (covered face) Weapon: Bodily Force. Vict walked to her veh, parked in front of her residence. Vict heard a voice state, "Give me your purse." She was then struck and knocked to the ground. The suspect grabbed the victim's purse and kicked her. The victim possibly lost consciousness, as when she awoke, the suspect was gone. She noticed her purse, wedding band and engagement ring were missing.
1000 block Gayley Ave. RD 817. Date/Time: 10/21/08 0130 hrs, Susps 1 &2: Male, Persian, blk/unk, 504-506/unk, 20's, long hair. Weapon: Bodily force Vehicle: White BMW M6, 2dr. Victim left a bar and walked through an alley towards his vehicle. Victim heard a voice behind him state, "Hey white boy." When he turned around, he noticed susps 1 &2 one of which punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. He recognized one of the suspects from the bar. Susp 1 removed $200 from the victim's wallet and both suspects fled to a white BMW. 
BURGLARY:
400 block Midvale Ave. RD 816. MO: On 10/23/08 at 2000 hours, an unknown suspect entered the location through an unlocked rear door and was interrupted by the victim's return. As the suspect fled the location he grabbed a laptop computer. Suspect-1 M/W/Bro/509-510/170
2300 block Benedict Canyon Rd. RD 0808. MO: On 10/20/08 at 2120 hours, suspect(s) smashed a rear 3rd story window. Once inside the suspect(s) ransacked the master bedroom and took jewelry. Suspect(s) were seen fleeing in a black Range Rover.
10400 block Bellagio Road. RD 0806. MO: Between 10/18/08 1215 hours and 10/20/08 0650 hours, suspect(s) broke the gate lock and gained access onto the property. Suspect(s) broke into storage bins and took construction tools. .
10300 block Santa Monica Blvd. RD 0829. MO: Between 10/19/08 1130 hours and 10/20/08 0930 hours, suspect(s) entered the location possibly through an unlocked back door. Suspect(s) threw the cash register on the floor. After smashing the cash register the suspect(s) took the U.S. currency and fled.
10800 block Santa Monica, RD 0855. Business-MO: Between 10/16/08 at 1800 and 10/17/08 at 0840, suspect(s) smashed the front window, removed three laptop computers.
9500 block Stuart Ln, RD 0809. MO: On 10/09/08, at 1400, the victim's estranged girlfriend used a pass key to enter the SFR, remove a check and debit card.
10700 block Le Conte, RD 0828. MO: Between 10/10/08 at 2200 and 10/11/08 at 1300, suspect(s) entered the SFR via an open garage door, removed a purse/contents.
GRAND THEFT AUTO:
10-25-08 RD 0809 9400 block Cherokee Lane Driveway 94 Honda Civic
10-01-08 RD 083410600 block Wilshire Blvd. Street 03 Mini Cooper (named susp)
09-15-08 1200-1100 RD 0828 10600 block Wilshire Bl. street Ferrari 612 2DR BLK
09-15-08 1200-1100 RD 0828 10600 block Wilshire Bl. street Merz S-63 4DR SIL
10-10-08, 1900/2300 RD 0838 Galey/Levering street 01 BMW 325I
10-14-08, 1730/0702 RD 0806 1200 block Roberto Ln 04 Porsche Boxter
BURGLARY THEFT FROM MOTOR VEHICLE:
10-23-08, 0005/0830. RD 0807 10200 Briarwood Street Susp removed Wallet
10-23-08, 0810/0830 RD 0807 10100 Baywood Driveway Susp removed Wallet
10-21-08, 2200/0800 RD 0809 1500 Lindacrest Street Smash GPS
10-20-08, 0830/0850 RD 0816 600 Kelton Garage Smash Camera
10-19-08, 2100/0830 RD 0833 1300 Kelton Street Smash Laptop
10/19-10/20-08, 1800-0900 RD 0855 1600 S. Bentley Street smash GPS,money,CD's
10-18-08, 1900-1010 RD 0853 10900 Rochester Ave street smash toolbox
10-11-08, 1800/1025 RD 0829 10300 Eastborne Street Smash GPS
10-11-08, 2200/0545 RD 0816 400 Kelton Street Susp removed lic plate
10-12-08, 2230/0030 RD 0816 600 Kelton Pkg lot Unk Face Plate
10-12-08, 2330/0800 RD 0834 10500 Eastborne Street Smash GPS
10-12-08, 2100/0845 RD 0834 10600 Holman Street Smash GPS
10-13-08, 1800/0800 RD 0833 1300 Kelton Pkg lot Smash Cell ( 2)
CRIMINAL THREATS-ARRESTS:
422 PC-Criminal Threats. Arrestee: Thorbs, Jeffrey Booking # 1666101
1100 Westwood Bl RD 817. On October 19, 1310 hours, officers responded to a radio call and met with victim, who stated suspect threatened him, telling him he was going to kill him because victim had suspect arrested by UCLA Police, the day before, after suspect grabbed him by his neck, choked him and demanded he give him cigarettes. Suspect was arrested without incident.
422 PC-Criminal Threats. Arrestee: Slater, Lamont Booking # 1665058
10900 Weyburn RD 817. On October 18, 1340 hours, suspect/transient, threatened to kill victim, after he asked suspect to leave the business. Suspect was arrested without incident.
GRAND THEFT:
15200 Antelo Pl. RD 0806. MO: Unk susp(s) entered fenced construction site, burned and cut into tool box, and removed construction tools. Loss: $5900 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Improvement in Cell Service from Verizon



  

Representatives from the Bel~Air Association met with Verizon representatives earlier this month to discuss the possibilty of improved mobile phone service in the Bel~Air community.

Although other more substantial improvements are being considered, Verizon's technical staff indicated that they were able to quickly improve coverage to the Bel~Air area by fine tuning the existing equipment serving our area as well as specifically recalibrating the cell site serving Stone Canyon.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Time for Some Fun - Thrill the World this Saturday


THRILL THE WORLD

Schedule

DatesTimeVenuePrice 
Oct 25, 200811:00 AMHollywood & Highland Center 
6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood,CA,90028
Free

About

For one brief, shining moment, 95 cities in 13 countries will join forces to do the same thing at the same time: the Michael Jackson "Thriller" dance. Perhaps there's some global "Thriller consciousness" sparked by theinmates of Cebu Detention Center in the Philippines, because organizer Ines Markeljevic has taken the flash mob phenomenon to a new level with thismassive display of organized goofery

Anyone can participate; no experience necessary (either as a dancer or a zombie). However, the organizers ask that you learn the dance prior to the day of the event, since you won't be able to learn the whole dance in one morning. You can learn by watching the instructional videos at home, or by attending a practice. Here's the scoop on what's happening on what's happening in L.A.:

The Big Event 
Sat., Oct. 25, 11 a.m. -- Hollywood & Highland Center (6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood)
The performance will take place in the main courtyard in front of the giant arch. Arrive between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. at the Hollywood Highland parking garage, level 6E. Participants will put on make-up, prepare for the dance and go through several full group rehersals. Please bring make-up for yourself and maybe to share; white and black face paint as well as red blood are recommended. As for costumes, dancers are encouraged to dress classy. "Bring your best old clothes that you can rip up. Dresses, ties, top hats, etc. It is best to NOT wear white. Wear a color if you can."



From the LA Times - Sepulveda Fire

Pilots
Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Fire Department Command Pilot Glenn Smith, left, and Battalion Chief Joseph F. Foley are shown in the cockpit of their command ship helicopter at Los Angeles Fire Department's Air Operations. They helped fight the wildfire near Getty Center. More photos >>>
Firefighters launch a risky aerial assault on a nighttime blaze in Sepulveda Pass.
By Joe Mozingo 
October 24, 2008
The dispatcher's voice splintered the stillness of the fire station at Van Nuys Airport at 12:51 a.m. Thursday -- abruptly squelching the pilots' hopes for a night's sleep.

"Reported brush. 405 Freeway south of Skirball."

 
Related Content
In less than nine minutes -- at 1 a.m. -- Glenn Smith was circling over the fire in his Bell 206 helicopter, trying to assess the situation.

It looked bad. A moderate Santa Ana had funneled south through Sepulveda Pass, driving narrow torrents of flame up draws in the hillside, to a line of town homes on the ridge. His pilots would have to lay siege to that "hot flank" to keep it away from the homes.

Smith, a command pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department, circled clockwise to look out his right window. He flipped on his Nightsun searchlight to scan for power lines or any other danger hidden in the dark. Nothing.

And so began the water-dropping campaign that would save dozens of homes, firefighters winning an early skirmish in this year's fire season. They said their response was a casebook study of an inherently dangerous mission -- the nighttime aerial assault.

At 1,500 feet in the air, Smith directed nine water-dropping helicopters from the city and Los Angeles County, in coordination with 400 firefighters on the ground. They knew, as with every fire, that they had to hit it hard and fast, hoping to contain it before the blaze grew into a monster.

In this case, if the firefighters didn't kill it before that ridge, the fire would have a path straight into Mandeville Canyon and the wooded heart of Brentwood.

"If the fire gets going down that canyon, it's lights out," said Battalion Chief Joseph F. Foley, who flew with Smith in the command helicopter.

In daytime, this is dangerous enough. At night, a mountainside might look like open sky, power lines might vanish in the black, an approaching aircraft's lights might blend with the streetlights in the background. The dark can play tricks on the eyes.

Senior Pilot Dale Gant flew city Fire 2 -- a 20-year-old Bell 412 helicopter -- down the opposite side of the 405 Freeway, looking at the rising tendrils of fire to the west. The chaparral was thick with fuel, and flames thrashed out 100 feet or more.

He needed to put his water dead-on the leading edge, before it reached the homes on Ridge Drive in the Mountaingate neighborhood. But the wind tilted smoke into his path.

Fire pilots generally follow a 50/50 rule -- drop the water at 50 knots and at 50 feet above the flames. Too slow or low, the water doesn't smother enough fire. Higher and faster, it dissipates too much.

Gant, 55, would have to cut right through the smoke -- flying blind for heart-pounding seconds and praying that he didn't miscalculate his trajectory into darkened terrain on the other side.

He banked to the west toward the fire, keeping a level approach. Swooping in would put too much propeller wash on the ground, driving embers into the air and fanning the flames.

Such are the bits of accumulated wisdom that crystallize into a master's acumen. Gant's been doing this for 26 years, and knows there is artistry in a water drop.

"Fire 2's in for the drop," he said on the radio.

The helicopter hit the turbulent air around the fire and started shuddering. Heat radiated into the cockpit. Gant hit a button on the control arm in front of him. The water tank doors opened and the helicopter's nose pitched up with the loss of 350 gallons of water.

He hit the smoke column, flying "into the soup," flickering black and orange. And then he was out of it, looking at the starry sky and the vast circuit-board of city lights.

He banked north, and could see that the spot of fire he hit was out.

"Fire 2, clearing up the freeway," he called on the radio.

He headed toward a makeshift landing spot on Mulholland Drive to refill his water tank, and in less than 10 minutes was zeroing in on the flames again, with the same sense of suspense as the last one.

"No two drops are alike," he said later at the fire station, as he recounted the early morning's events. "The first drop you might get big updrafts and the next one you get downdrafts."

In the command helicopter high above, Smith and Foley watched the battle unfold like generals on a hillside. They had nine water droppers flying in a clockwise pattern from the fire to two landing spots on Mulholland.

One of the biggest dangers with so many helicopters in motion in a narrow area is keeping them apart.

Everything is visual. There is no flying on instruments. The county pilots have night- vision goggles; the city pilots do not.

Often the fire itself helps light up the terrain.

As Smith directed the pilots, Foley advised the incident commander on the ground of the fire's whereabouts and where he might want to send crews. Now and then, they buzzed over Brentwood and the Getty Center to ensure that flying embers hadn't started spot fires to the south or west.

But the critical battle remained along Ridge Drive. On the ground, firefighters doused the advancing spot fires. From above, the strategy was to overlap drops on the edges of the fire, with one landing every couple of minutes, until the fire could burn itself out only in the middle.

The wind died down a bit, and everything was going well -- almost by the book, in an endeavor that is never by the book.

"I was really happy with what I was seeing," Gant said.

After about five hours of constant bombardment, the fire was contained at 104 acres.

The choppers kept circling, putting out embers until late in the morning. By midday, red-eyed pilots straggled off the hot tarmac into the Van Nuys station.

But being content with a job well done is as fleeting as relaxation this time of year in Los Angeles. As Smith recounted the night's events at the station Thursday afternoon, he glanced wearily at the ceiling.

"That alarm could go off any second," he said.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ALERT - 150-Acre Brush fire near Getty Center Museum shuts down 405 freeway


The 405 is temporarily closed as firefighters battle the blaze. Some residents leave the area as Bundy and Mandeville canyons are under a voluntary-evacuation order.

A fire was burning in the Sepulveda Pass this morning, temporarily prompting the closure of the 405 Freeway as hundreds of firefighters defended the Getty Center and neighborhoods in the hills of Brentwood.

By 6:30 a.m., the northbound 405 Freeway was reopened, except for the offramps between the 10 and the 101 freeways and the transition from the southbound 405 to the west 110 Freeway. The southbound 405 was in the process of being reopened, said Officer Francisco Villalobos of the California Highway Patrol.

According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, the blaze broke out near the 405 Freeway and Getty Center Drive after midnight, fueled by brush and Santa Ana winds. Firefighters put up defense lines around the Getty Center. More than 500 firefighters were battling the blaze, and in a rare move officials decided to do night flights of water-dropping helicopters. Ten choppers were in the air. A bigger air assault is planned after sunrise.

LAFD spokesman Brian Humphries said officials were making good progress on the fire but that they were still concerned it could get out of hand this morning, when more erratic winds are forecast. The fire was fanned by southwest winds of up to 20 mph. Crews were doing brush clearance as far west as Mandeville Canyon in case the fire moved in that direction.

As of 6 a.m., wind strength was only moderate. But officials worried they would pick up again -- perhaps to 25 mph -- around sunrise. Residents in Bundy and Mandeville canyons were under a voluntary-evacuation order.

"Residents need to understand this is a very dynamic situation," said LAFD Capt. Tina Haro.

The fire is about two miles from the Getty Center, he said, and is also burning near the Mountaingate Country Club, Evacuation shelters have been established at the American Jewish University on Mulholland Drive and the VA Hospital in Westwood.

In addition to the 405, Sepulveda Boulevard was shut down through the pass, as well as several side streets, and Mount St. Mary's College was also closed for part of the day.

Humphries said history had proved that fires in such developed hillside areas can be unpredictable. The notorious Oakland Hills fire, for example, burned hundreds of homes after firefighters thought they'd gotten a handle on it, he said.

Officials said they don't know what sparked the blaze. Humphries said that even though progress is being made to contain the fire, a gust of winds could move it very quickly.


FOR MORE IMAGES, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Red Flag Warning for Bel~Air


A Red Flag Condition has been issued for Los Angeles City.

Red Flag Restricted Parking will be in effect from

From 
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 08:00 PM 
to 
Thursday, October 23, 2008 08:00 AM

or 
until further notice.


Please call 311 or visit the LAFD website at: http://www.lafd.org/REDFLAG/

Thank you for your cooperation!

DROUGHT BUSTERS, THE CITY'S MOBILE WATER CONSERVATION TEAM

DROUGHT BUSTERS, THE CITY'S MOBILE WATER CONSERVATION TEAM, TAKE TO THE STREET TO "STOP AND SPOT" WATER WASTE

With dry weather conditions continuing to put pressure on the City's water supply, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) today kicked-off the City's latest effort to raise awareness about the continuing need for water conservation by re-launching Drought Busters: LA's Conservation Team after a thirteen hiatus since the end of the severe drought of the early 1990s.  The Mayor highlighted other efforts that are underway at the City to reduce water use and explained the importance of educating the community to help prevent water waste. 

"LA is bringing back the Drought Busters to remind residents to stop wasting water and to make conservation a part of our daily routines," said Mayor Villaraigosa. "This effort engages the community directly by educating every Angeleno on the need to conserve and by empowering residents to report any water waste in their neighborhoods."

The Drought Busters team will initially consist of six full-time customer service employees who will patrol communities across the City looking for prohibited uses of water and educating customers about the importance of practicing conservation.

The City of Los Angeles' Prohibited Water Use Ordinance is in effect to discourage water waste throughout the City.  However, this phase of the Drought Busters program is focused on education and raising awareness about the prohibited uses and the need for water conservation.  Should dry conditions persist, here and in the Eastern Sierras where Los Angeles typically gets the majority of its water, the City is prepared to significantly increase Drought Buster staffing and actively enforce the prohibited uses.

According to Los Angeles' Prohibited Water Use Ordinance, customers cannot:  

·        --Use water on hard surfaces such as sidewalks, walkways, driveways or parking areas.

·        --Water lawns between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. during April through September, and between 11a.m. and 3 p.m. during October through March.

·        --Allow excess water from sprinklers to flood gutters.

·        --Use water to clean, fill or maintain decorative fountains unless the water is part of a recirculation system.

·        --Allow leaks to go unattended.

The Drought Busters Conservation Team will be out in the community as part of a grass roots effort to help City residents understand how to reduce water waste.  The Drought Busters will drive Toyota Hybrid Prius vehicles clearly identified with the Drought Busters logo.  They will carry forms on which they can indicate the prohibited water use offense that they will give to the offending property owner or occupant found to be wasting water. The back of the form will also list simple conservation tips.  When customers are not at home, the Drought Buster will photograph the water-wasting offense and mail it along with the completed form to the customer's home. 

As Drought Busters patrol the streets, they will have available conservation information and devices such as literature, low flow shower heads, and faucet aerators. They will also respond to reports of water waste called in to the LADWP call center at 1-800-DIAL-DWP or emailed todroughtbusters@ladwp.com

The Drought Busters made their debut in Los Angeles in 1990, when the City faced drought conditions.  Due to a mandatory conservation effort, the Drought Busters were a means for the City to enforce the Prohibited Water Use Ordinance.  The overall program was very successful and resulted in a 34 percent decrease in water usage.

The LADWP offers many rebates and incentives to residents and business owners to help conserve water.  For more information on these rebates, please visit www.ladwp.com.

Thank you for your cooperation. 

 

Paulette M. DuBey

General Manager

Bel-Air Association

100 Bel-Air Road

LA, CA 90077

310-474-3527

Monday, October 20, 2008

DataQuick: SoCal home sales up, 50% of Sales from Foreclosures

From DataQuick: Southland home sales up, prices down; foreclosures now half the market (hat tip Peter Viles at L.A. Land)

Southern California home sales shot up by an unprecedented 65 percent last month from the dismal, record lows of a year ago, when a credit crunch slammed the brakes on home financing. September sales also posted a rare gain over August as price cuts lured more buyers. Foreclosure resales rose to half of all transactions.

A total of 20,497 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the six-county Southland in September, up 5.8 percent from 19,366 in August and up 64.6 percent from 12,455 in September 2007, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick, a real estate information service.

Last month's sales were the highest for any month since December 2006 and the year-over-year gain was the highest for any month in DataQuick's statistics, which go back to 1988. However, last month's sales were still the second-lowest for any September since 1996 and were 17 percent below the 20-year sales average for that month.
...
"The pitifully low September 2007 sales numbers weren't tough to beat. More impressive was that this September's sales volume bucked the seasonal norm and rose above August. Steep price declines, especially inland, have improved housing affordability quite a bit and may keep sales levels well above the record lows we saw late last year and early this year. It will depend on the severity of this economic downturn," said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

"You have to view last month's sales in the proper context," he cautioned. "They represent escrow closings, which reflect purchase decisions made in mid-to-late summer. That was before the dramatic worsening of the nation's economic crisis in recent weeks. Over the next few weeks our sales data will begin to show how the meltdown in financial markets this fall has impacted housing demand."
...
Fifty percent of all existing homes that closed escrow in September had been foreclosed on at some point in the prior year. That's up from 45.5 percent in August and 12.6 percent in September last year.

At the county level, such foreclosure resales ranged from 36.8 percent of September resales in Orange County to 68.9 percent in Riverside County. In Los Angeles County foreclosure resales were 39.1 percent of all resales; in San Diego 47.3 percent; San Bernardino 63.1 percent and in Ventura County 44.0 percent.
...
Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity is at or near record levels ...
DataQuick shows median house prices have fallen significantly in SoCal, but these median prices are distorted by the mix of houses sold.

Thanks to Calculated Risk

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The TED Spread: A Measure of the End of the Credit Crisis

What a week we had. . .

Emergency G7 meetings, massive stock market gains & the"nationalization" of global banks.
Although no one know when the bleeding will truly end and if (and how much of) a recession we are in for --  in my humble opinion we can at least measure the end of the credit crisis that was a prime impetus of the stock market collapse with the TED spread (click here for the current spread)

Edit: From Econbrowser:
One measure that is being used to summarize the strain in financial markets is the TED spread. This is calculated as the gap between 3-month LIBOR (an average of interest rates offered in the London interbank market for 3-month dollar-denominated loans) and the 3-month Treasury bill rate.
The TED spread hit a recent high of 4.64 lastFriday. This is far above the highs reached during the previous waves of the credit crisis.

Any significant decline would suggest progress, and a decline below 1.0 would indicate this wave of the crisis is over.

Usually the TED spread is less than 0.5%. The higher the spread, the greater the perceived credit risks (compared to "risk free" treasuries).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fire burning in Little Tujunga Canyon


We all woke to the smell of smoke this morning -- this is why...

Location of Fire is about 10 to 15 miles North of Bel~Air.



Fire burning in Little Tujunga Canyon

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A wildfire stoked by moderate winds burned about 500 acres in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday and threatened hundreds of homes and an animal sanctuary north of Los Angeles, authorities said.

The blaze began about 2 a.m. in a rugged area of Little Tujunga Canyon about 20 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, fire officials said. About 400 firefighters were on scene and aided by aerial strike teams, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Sam Padilla. One firefighter had trouble breathing and was treated at the scene, Padilla said.

About 1,200 people were evacuated from two canyons as the blaze brushed up against some of the area's 450 homes and moved southeast toward city limits, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Stanton Florea.

"It burned right down to a couple of neighborhoods," Florea said. It wasn't immediately known whether any homes had been damaged.

Television images showed a trail of flames on a pair of ridges littered with dry brush and chest-high chaparral. Heavy smoke also was filtering into the San Fernando Valley.

"As dry as it is, I would say it's pretty scary," said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Dee Dechert.

The fire was south of the Wildlife Waystation, an animal sanctuary and rehabilitation facility set on 160 acres. The nonprofit agency houses more than 400 animals, including lions, bears and deer. Officials were loading up the animals in case the fire switched direction.

"They are packing them up in case they have to go," Dechert said.

A shelter for displaced residents was set up at a nearby recreation center.

Santa Ana winds were blowing between 10 and 15 mph, but firefighters were aided by cool temperatures overnight. Highs were expected to be in the 70s on Sunday, but bumping up into the 80s and low 90s on Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Friday, October 10, 2008

LAPD Community Alert - 10-10-08

COMMUNITY ALERT
NOTIFICATION
LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT




Please remain vigilant to activity and people in our neighborhood. If you see what you believe may be a crime in progress, call 911! If you see other suspicious activity, notify the Los Angeles Police Non-Emergency number at 1-877-275-5273. Forward any suspect information to me via e-mail or phone, so I can verify appropriate follow-up was conducted. Please record the date, time, type of activity, suspect(s) descriptions, and the description of any involved vehicles with accurate license plate information. Video cameras are great for capturing much of this information!

Senior Lead Officer Christopher Ragsdale

West Los Angeles Community Police Station

Office: 310-444-0741 Cell: 213-305-5895 Email: 26690@lapd.lacity.org

Street Robbery: (Arrests Made)

1500 block Beverly Glen Bl (RD 829). 10/6/08, at 1915 hours, Suspect #1 approached the victim and pointed a handgun at the victim's stomach and stated, "Give me your money or I will shoot you." The victim handed his money to suspect #1 who ran to a vehicle parked on Woodruff with Suspect #2 inside. The suspect fled in unknown direction. Suspect #1: Male Black Blk Bro 5-9 160 18-19 yrs, blue skull cap, blue long sleeve shirt. Suspect #2: Male NFD (Driver of suspect vehicle). Weapon: Blue steel semi-automatic handgun. Vehicle: 2005-06 Toyota Corolla 4-door Aqua Green. Property Taken: $120 in cash


Westholme & Wilshire Bl (RD 834). 10/6/08, at 1920 hours, as the victim walked past the suspect vehicle, suspect #1 exited and approached the victim. The suspect was armed with a handgun in his front waistband and stated, "Give me your money." The victim handed his money to suspect #1, who ran back to the vehicle where suspect #2 was waiting behind the wheel. The suspects fled in the vehicle.

Suspect #1: Male Black Blk Bro 5-9 160 16-19 yrs, dark bandana, dark sweater, and dark pants. Suspect #2: Male Black NFD (Driver of suspect vehicle). Weapon: Blue steel semi-automatic handgun. Vehicle: 2005-06 Toyota Corolla 4-door Blue/Green. Property Taken: $4.00 in cash.


1200 block Roberto Lane (RD 806). 10/5/08, at 2340 hours, the suspect confronted the victim on the street and stated, "Empty your pockets." The suspect then punched the victim on the left side of the head. The victim removed his cash, school ID, and cell phone from his pockets and gave it to the suspect. The suspect fled on foot. Suspect: Male Black Blonde dyed hair Bro eyes 5-7 170 17 yrs baggy blue jeans, gry sweat shirt. Weapon: Bodily Force. Property Taken: Cell phone, $40 cash, school Id. ($25 in cash recovered at scene).


Wilshire Blvd./Westwood Blvd. RD: 833. 10-02-08, 1800 hrs. Location: Suspect(s): Male, Black, 508, 160, 25 yrs, black hat, blue bandana, black shirt, dark blue pants. Suspect approached victim from behind and stated, "Are you banging?" Suspect then advised victim that the red hat victim was wearing was offensive. Suspect then pulled up his shirt and stated, "I got a heater." Victim did not see a gun, however, he became fearful of the suspect and apologized for offending the suspect. The suspect then stated, "I showed you a heater for a reason, now give me all of your money and Ipod." Victim complied, at which point the sus pect fled on foot.


ROBBERY ARRESTS by UCLA POLICE
UCLA formed a robbery detail on 10/07/08, TUE, to target the robbery series suspects who committed numerous robberies near the UCLA campus and two other WLA robberies on 10/06/08. The suspects were discovered and arrested when observed committing a robbery in progress.


Burglary:

2000 block Stradella, RD 0805. MO: Construction site. Between 10/03/08 at 1530 and 10/06/08 at 0535, suspect(s) cut Conex container locks, removed tools.


600 block Stone Canyon Rd. RD 0806. MO: Construction site. Between 10/01/08, 1645 and 10/02/08, 0630, suspect(s) cut multiple storage containers, removed tools.


9700 block Oak Pass Rd. RD 0808. MO: Construction Site. Between 09/25/08, 1730 and 09/26/08, 0600, suspect(s) removed lock from Connex container, removed tools and copper.



Grand Theft Auto:

10-05-08, 1345/1645. RD 0829 1200 block Woodruff Ave. 65 Mustang

09-28-08, 1500/1700. RD 0816 500 block Landfair Ave. 03 Toyt Camry

10-02-08, 0900/1000. RD 0816 Landfair/Ophir 91 Toyt MR2

10-03-08, 1015/1215. RD 0833 Wilkins/Midvale 95 Mazda 626LX

09-27-08, 2200/0720. RD 0805 11800 block Bel Terrace 08 BMW 528I

09-27-08, 1800/1115. RD 0837 600 block Levering 07 Vespa Scooter

09-26-08, 2030/1130. RD 0855 1500 block Malcolm Attempt GTA 69 Buick Skylark




Burglary Theft from Motor Vehicle:

10-4-08, 1930/2300. RD 806 1100 block Roberto Ln. Currency, Phone charger

10-5-08, 2220-0820. RD 833 10900 block Ohio Ave. Nav system, Ipod

10-05-08, 2220/0830. RD 0833 10900 block Ohio Ave. Sub Garage/Susp removed GPS

10-04-08, 1700/0200 RD 0819 10200 block Charing Cross Rd. Street. Unk Stereo

10-05-08, 0230/0700 RD 0805 15500 block Collina Driveway Susp removed GPS

09-30-08, 1150/1000 RD 0829 1300 block Warnall Ave. Street Susp removed car cover

09-30-08, 1730-0700 RD 0805 900 block Moraga Dr driveway/unlocked/cell/ I-Pod adapter

09-25-08, 2000/0800. RD 0815 400 block Sepulveda Blvd. Garage/Forced/Radio

09-27-08, 0030/0930. RD 0855 Veteran/Massachusetts Street/Unk/Cash


Road Rage:

Wilshire Bl./Westwood Bl. RD 817. Victim, bicyclist, reported suspect drove his car along side him and stated, "Fuck you, you need to get over." Victim stated he "could tell that the suspect did not like cyclists." Suspect then drove his vehicle "directly" at victim, striking his bicycle's pedal. Suspect fled in his Vehicle.

THIS REPORT HAS BEEN RECODED AND CHANGED TO "ROAD RAGE."


Grand Theft: (Arrest Made)

Massachussetts Ave/Selby Ave. Victim: City of L.A. 2 Suspects arrested in connection to this crime. Ofcrs responded to Selby & Massachusetts and observed defts & wits in SUV. Ofcrs observed the stop sign bent down to the pavement. Deft.#1 was observed getting out of the driver's seat. Vandalism and possible H&R CPI investigation was conducted. Deft #1 stated that they returned to "get the sign". Deft #1 also said that Deft # 2 was driving at the time of the incident. Estimated damage: $450

ARREST

8-24-08 400 block Landfair Ave. (original crime loc 459/GTA) Susp: Maynor, Michael Charge: 10851 VC. Bkg# 1653488, (on probation in Utah for vehicle theft). Suspect burglarized a house, took the keys, and then stole the vehicles.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

FDIC Insurance Tricks - Coverage Far Greater than the $250,000 limit

FDIC: The more you know, the safer your money.

The Government Raising FDIC coverage from $100,000 to $250,000 was a very good thing -- but did you know there were many ways to get coverage at far greater cumulative levels?

The below is taken from the FDIC WEBSITE and explains perfectly legitimate and government sanctioned ways to dramatically increase your coverage - and without opening accounts at different banks all across town.
______________________________________________________________

Is it possible to have more than $250,000 at one insured bank and still be fully covered?

You may qualify for more than $250,000 in coverage at one insured bank or savings association if you own deposit accounts in different ownership categories. The most common account ownership categories for individual and family deposits are single accounts, joint accounts, revocable trusts accounts and certain retirement accounts.


What is a single account?

This is a deposit account owned by one person and titled in that person's name only, with no beneficiaries. All of your single accounts at the same insured bank are added together and the total is insured up to $250,000. For example, if you have a checking account and a CD at the same insured bank, and both accounts are in your name only, the two accounts are added together and the total is insured up to $250,000. Note that retirement accounts and eligible trust accounts are not included in this ownership category.


What is a joint account?

This is a deposit account owned by two or more people and titled jointly in the co-owners' names only, with no beneficiaries. If all co-owners have equal rights to withdraw money from a joint account, a co-owner's shares of all joint accounts at the same insured bank are added together and the total is insured up to $250,000. Note that jointly owned revocable trust accounts are not included in this ownership category.

If a couple has a joint checking account and a joint savings account at the same insured bank, each co-owner's shares of the two accounts are added together and insured up to $250,000 per owner, providing up to $500,000 in coverage for the couple's joint accounts.

Example: John and Mary have three joint accounts totaling $600,000 at an insured bank. Under FDIC rules, each co-owner's share of each joint account is considered equal unless otherwise stated in the bank's records. John and Mary each own $300,000 in the joint account category, putting a total of $100,000 ($50,000 for each) over the insurance limit.

Joint Account Example
Account Title Type of Deposit Account Balance
Mary and John Smith Checking $50,000
John or Mary Smith Savings $150,000
Mary Smith or John Smith CD $400,000
Total Deposits $600,000

Insurance coverage for each owner is calculated as follows:
Account Holders Ownership Share Amount Insured Amount Uninsured
John $300,000 $250,000 $50,000
Mary $300,000 $250,000 $50,000
Total $600,000 $500,000 $100,000

  • Mary's ownership share in all joint accounts equals $300,000 [1/2 of the checking account ($25,000), 1/2 of the savings account ($75,000), and 1/2 of the CD ($200,000), for a total of $300,000]. Since her coverage in the joint ownership category is limited to $250,000, $50,000 is uninsured.
  • John's ownership share in all joint accounts is the same as Mary's, so $50,000 is uninsured.


What is meant by certain retirement accounts?

These are deposit accounts owned by one person and titled in the name of that person's retirement plan. Only the following types of retirement plans are insured in this ownership category:

  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) including traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRAs, and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs
  • Section 457 deferred compensation plan accounts (whether self-directed or not)
  • Self-directed defined contribution plan accounts
  • Self-directed Keogh plan (or H.R. 10 plan) accounts

All deposits that an individual has in any of the types of retirement plans listed above at the same insured bank are added together and the total is insured up to $250,000. For example, if an individual has an IRA and a self-directed Keogh account at the same bank, the deposits in both accounts would be added together and insured up to $250,000.

Note: Naming beneficiaries on a retirement account does not increase deposit insurance coverage.


What is a revocable trust account?

This is a deposit account held as a payable on death (POD) or in trust for (ITF) account or that is established in the name of a formal revocable trust (also known as a living or family trust account).

POD and ITF accounts — also known as testamentary or Totten Trust accounts — are the most common form of revocable trust deposits. These informal revocable trusts are created when the account owner signs an agreement — usually part of the bank's signature card — stating that the deposits will be payable to one or more beneficiaries upon the owner's death.

Living trusts — or family trusts — are formal revocable trusts created for estate planning purposes. The owner of a living trust controls the deposits in the trust during his or her lifetime. The trust document sets forth who shall receive trust assets after the death of the owner.

Deposit insurance coverage for revocable trust accounts is provided to the owner of the trust. However, the amount of coverage is based on the number of beneficiaries named in the trust and, in some cases, the interests allocated to those beneficiaries, up to the insurance limit. A trust beneficiary can be an individual (regardless of the relationship to the owner), a charity or another non-profit organization (as defined by the IRS).

Revocable trust coverage is based on all revocable trust deposits held by the same owner at the same bank, whether formal or informal. If a revocable trust account has more than one owner, each owner's coverage is calculated separately, using the following rules:

  • Revocable Trust Deposits with Five or Fewer Beneficiaries — Each owner's share of revocable trust deposits is insured up to $250,000 for each beneficiary (i.e., $250,000 times the number of different beneficiaries), regardless of actual interest provided to beneficiaries.
  • Revocable Trust Deposits with Six or More Beneficiaries — Each owner's share of revocable trust deposits is insured for the greater of either (1) coverage based on each beneficiary's actual interest in the revocable trust deposits, with no beneficiary's interest to be insured for more than $250,000, or (2) $1,250,000.

Note: Determining coverage for living trust accounts that have six or more beneficiaries and provide different interests for the trust beneficiaries can be complicated. Contact the FDIC at 1-877-275-3342 if you need assistance in determining the insurance coverage of your revocable trust.

POD Account Example: This example applies to POD accounts only. (Coverage may be different for some living trusts.) Bill has a $250,000 POD account with his wife Sue as beneficiary. Sue has a $250,000 POD account with Bill as beneficiary. In addition, Bill and Sue jointly have a $1,500,000 POD account with their three children as equal beneficiaries.

Account Title Account Balance Amount Insured Amount Uninsured
Bill POD to Sue $250,000 $250,000 $0
Sue POD to Bill $250,000 $250,000 $0
Bill and Sue POD to 3 children $1,500,000 $1,500,000 $0
Total $2,000,000 $2,000,000 $0

These three accounts totaling $2,000,000 are fully insured because each owner is entitled to $250,000 of coverage for each beneficiary. Bill has $1,000,000 of insurance coverage because he names four beneficiaries — his wife in the first account and his three children in the third account). Sue also has $1,000,000 of insurance coverage $250,000 for each of her beneficiaries — her husband in the second account and her three children in the third account.

When calculating coverage for revocable trust accounts, keep in mind that:

  • Coverage is based on the number of beneficiaries (and, if the account has six or more beneficiaries, the interests of the beneficiaries) named by each owner. Additional coverage is not provided for the trust owner(s). For example, if a father owns a $750,000 POD account naming his two sons as beneficiaries, the account is insured for $500,000 — $250,000 for the interest of each beneficiary. The remaining $250,000 is uninsured.
  • FDIC insurance limits apply to all revocable trust deposits — including all POD/ITF and living trust accounts — that a trust owner has at one insured bank. In applying the $250,000 per beneficiary insurance limit, the FDIC combines an owner's POD accounts with the living trust accounts that name the same beneficiaries at the same bank.