Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Shopping Tips: Neighborhood Guide


The LA Times has published a nice neighborhood by neighborhood guide to LA's best gift shopping, including Beverly Hills and Pacific Palisades. 

LAPD Community Alert


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:
200 block Loring Avenue RD 0819. MO: On 11/25/08 at 1211 hours, unknown suspect(s) entered the victim's rear ground floor window by prying off the screen andpushing open the unlocked window. Once inside the unknown suspect(s) took a computer tower and fled the location.
2000 block Roscomare Rd. RD 0806. MO: Between 09/15/08 at 1200 and 11/21/08 at 1730, suspect(s) pried the SFR rear window, removed tents and a drill gun.
2500 block Bowmont Dr. RD 0809. MO: On 11/23/08, between 0915 and 1400, suspect(s) cut the SFR front door lock, removed a GPS, firearm, and bicycle.
900 block Westwood Blvd. RD 0817. MO: On 11/21/08, between 1810 and 2325, suspect(s) broke psychiatric office front door handle, possibly removed medication samples.
1200 block Westwood Blvd. RD 0833. MO: Between 11/21/08 at 1855 and 11/22/08 at 0740, suspect(s) opened a rear window, removed cash.
10500 block Wellworth Ave. RD 833. MO: On 11/20/08, between 0815 hrs. and 1045 hrs., suspect(s) entered single family residence by kicking in the front door, and removed a laptop computer, television and jewelry.
Grand Theft Auto:
11-23-08, 1600/1700 RD 0829 Pandora Ave/ Eastborne Ave. 08 Honda Civic
11-24-08, 1820/2100 RD 0833 1400 block Midvale Ave. 96 Honda Civic
11-22-08, 0130/0400 RD 0807 10000 block Cielo Dr. 07 Mercedes
Burglary Theft from Motor Vehicle:
11-19-08, 1500/0930 RD 0815 300 block S.Sepulveda Blvd. Garage Unk Hard drive
11-21-08, 1530/0800 RD 0837 1200 block Smithwood. Street GPS
11-22-08, 1920/1310 RD 0815 390 block S. Sepulveda Blvd. Sub Gar Pry Ipod (multi 2)
11-20-08, 0001/0230 RD 0834 1600 block Manning Ave. Street Smash GPS
11-18-08, 2100/0730 RD 0808 9600 block Wendover Dwy Pry GPS
11-18-08, 1930/2215 RD 0855 1600 block Westwood Bl. Pkg lot Susp removed Laptop
11-19-08, 1100/1215 RD 0815 500 block Sepulveda Bl. Street Smash Ipod
11-18-08, 2000/0900 RD 0829 1300 block S. Beverly Glen Sub Gar Smash Purse
11-18-08, 2100/0925 RD 0805 200 block Bentley Ave. Street Susp removed Watch
11-18-08, 2355/0800 RD 0834 1400 block Selby Ave. Street Susp removed Cash
Grand Theft:
10000 block Cielo Dr. RD 0807 Car,cell, cash $800
1000 block Tiverton Ave 0817 Bikes (rec) $2000

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday is Here!

For all the latest National Retailer's Deals, click here:

And here is a quick article for some flavor from the LA Times BLOG:

Cookware for 75% off? Check. Banana Republic clothes for 50% off? Done. Free mp3 player with a $20 Old Navy purchase? Got it. If shoppers at the Citadel Outlets late Thanksgiving night were Santa Claus, they'd be crossing names off their list. Fast.

Hundreds of coffee-toting shoppers braved traffic and parking jams to navigate the maze of stores that opened at 11 p.m. for Black Friday. Some, like Jasmin Maldonado, 20, even planned to shop all night and drive straight to work at 6 a.m. - with the help of "a good Thanksgiving dinner, and Starbucks."

The Target sales associate from Pico Rivera stood near the front of a massive line outside KB Toys around 10:30 p.m. to be one of the first to grab a Princess Vanity mirror and table for her 18-month old daughter, Savannah.

"You have to pinch your pennies here and there, and that's why we're here," she said. But Maldonado wasn't afraid to admit she planned to splurge a little on her wardrobe at Torrid. "If she (Savannah) is getting something, I'm getting something."

Eateries including Auntie Anne's and Ruby's Diner stayed open late so shoppers could drop in for a quick bite. Ambitious shoppers were spotted clutching a pretzel in one hand and a jumble of shopping bags in the other.

But across town, at the Circuit City in Hollywood, half of the dark parking lot was empty around 12 a.m., and fewer than 40 people were lined up outside for the 5 a.m. opening.

"I'm surprised there aren't that many people," said Jose Perez, 20, who's done his Black Friday shopping at the Circuit City for four years. "Last year, people were lining up in the parking lot. It was crazy. Last year, the economy was good. Now, you don't see that many people."

The economic slump hasn't put a damper on Perez's Black Friday spirit. He's still gunning for cheap deals on a video camera, 250-inch flat screen and Playstation3.

"That's what everybody came for, they know everything's cheap. Everyone wants to save money. You don't want to go bankrupt like Circuit City."

--Catherine Ho

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! If you need to know how to carve a bird, you are in luck. . .

Some Rare Positive Economic News

Because the housing melt-down was a prime impetus of the economic crises we are now in -- any positive activity on the housing front is critically important to recovery.

From Bloomberg: U.S. Mortgage Rates Fall on $600 Billion Fed Plan

U.S. mortgage rates fell more than three-quarters of a percentage point today ... The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage ended the day at about 5.5 percent after falling to as low as 5.25 percent, according to Bankrate Inc. It was 6.38 percent this morning ...
And refinance activity has picked up immediately, from the WSJ: Fed Aid Sets Off a Rush to Refinance
The Federal Reserve's attempt to stabilize the housing market set off a chain reaction across the U.S. on Tuesday, dropping interest rates and quickly spurring a burst of refinancing activity by borrowers eager to lower their mortgage costs.

Some brokers said it was the most activity they've seen in at least one year, although there was no way to determine to volume of refinancing.

Looks to be a Good Old Fashion Home Thanksgiving for Many

Despite plummeting gas prices and unusual last-minute holiday deals on airplane tickets, more people are expected to stick close to home this Thanksgiving.  In fact, the Automobile Association of America says the 41 million Americans expected to take trips at least 50 miles for Thanksgiving is about 600,000 less than traveled last Thanksgiving.

The reason, as a surly economist might say? It's the economy, stupid.

Market Prices California as Greater Bankruptcy Risk than Slovakia

Below is the CDS (commercial default swaps) data on some of the US states. 

Michigan    192
California    165
Nevada       164
New Jersey 150
Ohio           104  

Apparently, California is now priced as a greater bankruptcy risk than Slovakia at 150. 

And this is pretty much why:

An emergency session called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to address the state's budget crisis ended Tuesday night in bickering and party division. Legislators adjourned without taking any action that improves the state's finances. 

The state's estimated budget shortfall has swelled to $28 billion through the middle of 2010. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Government Bailout:More Direct Action on the Way

I am feeling a bit better about the economy today.  Although we are still in for some very rough economic times, it appears that the government has stopped taking half-measures and is grabbing the bull a little more by the horns.

And by the way -- if you took my idea of buying GGP stock yesterday at the open -- you would be up a whopping 200% today!  I can't help but gloat as there are so few stock market victories these days. . .  


The U.S. Federal Reserve, in another massive life-support intervention for the U.S. financial system, Tuesday announced a $600 billion program to buy mortgage-related debt and securities and a $200 billion facility to buy consumer debt securities.

The U.S. central bank said it would buy up to $100 billion in debt issued by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks, the government-sponsored mortgage finance

Government Bailout

The Fed also said it would buy up to $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae.

The move is intended to strike at the heart of U.S. economic woes, the collapsed housing market.

"This action is being taken to reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for the purchase of houses, which in turn should support housing markets and foster improved financial conditions more generally," the Fed said in a statement.

The central bank also launched a $200 billion facility to back consumer loans, including student, auto, and credit card loans and loans backed by the federal Small Business Administration.

Monday, November 24, 2008

ALERT: Important Announcement from the Bel~Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council

By now most of our RVA neighbors have received notice of a DWP meeting to discuss the water quality improvement project proposed for the Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir.

Wednesday, Dec. 10, 6:30 to 8:30 PM at the Stephen Wise Temple  

Please, we need your attendance!!  There has been a limited amount of misinformation circulating, mostly from people not directly affected who live outside the areas that have been participating in the formulation of the proposed project.

The RVA, the Glenridge Homeowners Assoc, the Residents of Beverly Glen, and the Bel Air Association, which are the HOAs that surround Stone Canyon, have all had participating representatives to the mediated process to determine what that project should be. The decision to support buried concrete tanks to replace the uncovered Upper Reservoir was made with extensive and very thoughtful deliberations over the past two years. It was driven by the requirement of the Federal Government (EPA) and the State of Calif (State Dept of Health Services) to cover all open bodies of water that deliver drinking water to the public. All of these Homeowner Associations, and the Bel Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Association to which we all belong, have unanimously endorsed this project.

The goal by your community reps has always been and continues to be to restore the natural vegetation to this beautiful canyon. The buried tank option also includes a passive recreation component which allows limited public access to hiking and walking trails.

We would very much appreciate your responding by email to your reps in support of their efforts to endorse this project that they have helped formulate.

It would be very helpful if you would state the following or something like it:

 "I fully support the Buried Tank Option as the preferred alternative for the Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir Water Quality Improvement Project.  I have been told that neighborhood impacts will be assessed and mitigated in the EIR that is now being prepared.  I also understand that the Bel~Air Association Board of Directors has unanimously approved this project, and continues to support this position.  I also have learned that the Board of Commissioners of the DWP has approved this project, with the recognition it is a long-term solution that benefits Los Angeles long into the future."

Please cut and paste (or write your own version) and send back to Shirley Cohen or Phyllis Gottlieb.   Please give your name and address.

Any questions…feel free to write or call

Phyllis  310 472 5551             Shirley  310 472 5144      


Black Friday Just Around the Corner

Black Friday, for those less familiar with retailing vernacular, is the Friday following Thanksgiving that historically has been the biggest shopping day of the year (and also refers to the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the "black" (i.e., turning a profit)).  Retailers traditionally offer deep discounts on Black Friday -- but this Friday might be one for the record books.

I have found that one particular site does an exceptional job of keeping up with all the adds, offers and information -- and that site is:

Of course, if you really want to get a bargain (relatively speaking, of course), skip the retail middle man and purchase for everyone on your list 100 shares of mall-owner General Growth Properties stock.  For $100, you can buy about 200 shares of GGP stock that in December of last year would have been worth about $10,000.

Keep our economy alive and buy lots and lots of presents.

Remember, the real American Heroes this year are those that go out and shop!  

I guess you all took my stocking-stuffer idea to heart -- GGP Stock is up over 50% as of 9AM this morning.  SECOND UPDATE: GGP Stock up over 80% at the close.  Good day on the market.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thunder? Sonic Boom? Explosions?!?!? What was that!!

Did anyone else just hear that?

At about 8:30 PM this evening, there was such a boom outside my window I thought there was either a massive thunderclap or UCLA's Marching Band drummers were hitting the steroids.

Well, as it turns out, the Grove had its 7th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony that included (from my perspective, at least) a massive firework display.

At least we know we are not under attack. . .

It appears the retailers are pulling out all the stops to summon the shoppers as early as possible this year.

Meg Ryan Officially Lists Bel~Air Home For Sale

After being "quietly" on the market as a pocket listing for the last year or two, Meg Ryan's beautiful Bel~Air home was officially placed on the MLS For Sale earlier this month.

Listing Price: $19,500,000

Property Stats:
  • Single family
  • 6 beds
  • 7.0 bath
  • 6,877 sqft
  • Lot 31,799 sqft
  • Built in 1931
Described on the listing agent's site as follows:

Truly enchanting and romantic. A gated and private drive is the approach to this 1931 restored Spanish compound that’s elegant and rich in detail. Features include: a courtyard entry, double story, stenciled beamed ceiling in the living room; French doors opening to terraces and walkways; a bar room “a la 1930’s Los Angeles” a formal dining room for both intimate and grander entertaining, and a superb Cook’s kitchen. Upstairs features: a separate Master Suite with sitting room and bath; 3 additional Family bedroom suites all with ensuite baths; A screening or media room w/ separate entrance. All rooms open to and overlook Bougainvillea framed views of the City. With an incredibly private knoll setting what more could complete this special haven ... the pool and guest house.

Trader Joe's is Comin' to Town

I have always been a big fan of Trader Joe's -- but there was never one in a convenient location for those of us in Bel~Air. . . until now!

Currently scheduled to open December 5th, Trader Joe's will be dispensing its wholesome favorites and Two Buck Chuck only minutes away in Westwood Village at 1000 Glendon Ave -- in the new Palazzo development immediately South across from the Ralphs / Best Buy / Expo center.

I snuck in last week (see above pictures) and it looks very nice, indeed.  And most importantly (especially in Westwood Village), parking looks to be ample as well!

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony List Bel~Air Home

SELLERS: Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony
LOCATION: St. Pierre Road, Bel Air, CA
PRICE: $8,500,000
SIZE: 7,357 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: French Farmhouse Estate. Stunning, published, walled and gated villa on 3/4 acre in old Bel Air. Incredible quality and imported materials. An authentic European ambiance rarely seen. Extraordinary specimen gardens, paths, pool, pool house, large guest hse/studio. Second gated entry.

Keep in mind that I have not toured this property first-hand, but compared to the other significant lower Bel~Air estates currently being offered for sale, this one seems like a relative bargain.

Click HERE for the colorful op-ed description by the Real Estalker.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bel~Air Association Sponsors Community Emergency Response Team Program

The Bel~Air Association is sponsoring a two hour CERT overview class for Bel~Air Association Members.

Please call our General Manager, Paulette DuBey at 310-474-3527 to reserve your spot. 

What is CERT?

 Local government prepares for everyday emergencies. However, during a disaster, the number and scope of incidents can overwhelm conventional emergency services. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is an all-risk, all-hazard training. This valuable course is designed to help you protect yourself, your family, your neighbors and your neighborhood in an emergency situation.

CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens may initially be on their own and their actions can make a difference. While people will respond to others in need without the training, one goal of the CERT program is to help them do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger. In the CERT training, citizens learn to:

Manage utilities and put out small fires,
Treat the three medical killers by opening airways,
Controlling bleeding, and treating for shock,
Provide basic medical aid,
Search for and rescue victims safely,
Organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective,
And collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.



Well, it's like paying for car insurance. You might never need either; you'd hope not to. But if the occasion arises, having the CERT training, just like having car insurance, means you're as ready as you can be to help yourself, your family and your neighborhood.


CERT members receive 17 ½ hours (one day a week for seven weeks) of initial training. The 7-week course is followed by full-day biannual refresher drills, and an opportunity to assist the LAFD at local incidents.

CERT is provided free of charge within the city of Los Angeles to anyone 18 or over.

Classes are taught mornings, afternoons and evenings continually throughout the year in locations all over Los Angeles.  The current schedule is always availableThank you for your interest!

Ann Beisch

Director, Bel-Air Association City Services Committee 

We Are Now Living Thru the Worst Stock Market Crash Since the Great Depression

Free Money - Get your TV Converter Box paid for by Uncle Sam

This is what your antenna reception will look like on February 17, 2009
unless you get a digital converter box!

For those of you that are unaware, at midnight on February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting

You will need a digital converter box if you use a roof antenna or rabbit ears (cable and satellite reception will be uninterrupted). 

Congress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog TV sets after February 17, 2009. 

The Program allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, that can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes.

I just received my two coupons worth $80 today -- and I suggest you all get yours before the US Government runs out of money!  FYI, I bought my boxes at  The coupons covered the full unit cost and all I paid was shipping (about $9 per unit). 

Want to get your coupons or have more questions? 

Click HERE to get your coupons or visit the FAQs for more information!

LAPD Community Alert


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:

Hate Crime/Felony Battery:
11/6/08, 2000 Hrs. Santa Monica Blvd.& Manning Ave. RD 845. Victim's were supporters of "No on 8" and suspects were in support in "Yes on 8." During a protest at the above location, the sides clashed and the suspect's called victim's a derogatory name. A physical altercation ensued. The victim's sustained lacerations, bruises and a broken nose.

10700 block Wilshire Blvd. RD 0828. MO: Between 11/02/08 at 1800 and 11/15/08 at 1100, suspect(s) entered the condo by unknown means, removed a wristwatch.
9800 block Easton Dr. RD 0808. MO: On 11/11/08, between 0830 and 2100, suspect(s) threw a tree stump through the SFR bedroom window. Entry was not believed gained.
10300 block Wilshire Blvd. RD 0829. MO: Between 10/25/08 and 11/07/08, suspect(s) removed jewelry from elderly victim's condo. Reported jewelry was found inside apartment.
10900 block Kinross Ave. RD 0817. MO: Between 11/04/08 at 2200 and 11/05/08 at 0800, suspect(s) entered the business by unknown means, turned off the alarm, removed cartons of cigarettes.
900 block Broxton Ave. RD 0817. MO: On 11/08/08 at 0838, the below described suspect entered the business via an unlocked door, damaged interior doors and removed a key ring:
Susp: Male Black, black shirt and pants
10800 block Wilshire Blvd. RD 0833. MO: Between 10/20/08 and 11/05/08, suspect(s) removed a laptop from an office. No forced entry, reported as a burglary.
11000 block Santa Monica, RD 0855. MO: On 11/09/08, at 0720, suspect(s) smashed the business glass front door, removed cash and cameras.

Burglary Theft from Motor Vehicle:
11-14-08, 2015/2200 RD 0806 600 Nimes Rd. Pkg lot. Valet removed sunglasses
11-13-08, 1210-1230 RD 0833 1300 S. Sepulveda BL. parking lot smash purse
10-14-08, 0100-0600 RD 0834 1300 Westholme Ave. street smash GPS.
11-12-08, 1020-1045 RD 0834 1300 Westholme Ave. street smash lap top computer
11-06-08, 1900-0800 RD 0805 2200 Linda Flora Drive street smash cell-phone
11-11-08, 0001-0600 RD 0834 10500 Eastborne Ave. carport tires-rims
11-06-08, 2130/0900 RD 0805 600 Acanto Street Smash GPS
11-06-08, 1100/1500 RD 0819 10100 Wilshire Blvd. Pkg lot Susp removed Handicap placard
11-05-08, 1700/0735 RD 0806 2300 Donella Street No prop taken
11-05-08, 1700/0545 RD 0834 10500 Eastborne Ave Carport Susp removed rims/tires
11/4-11/5, 2230-1030 RD0815 11100 Cashmere Ave Driveway Smash Cash, credit cards
11/4-11/5, 2030-0810 RD0829 1700 Warnall Ave Street Smash laptop/nav sys
11/4-11/5, 1800-0630 RD0833 10900 Wilkins Ave Street Smash GPS
11/5, 0001-0715 RD0855 1700 Kelton Ave Street Smash sweater

Grand Theft Auto:
11-14-08, 2230 RD 0817 10900 Kinross Ave. P/lot 04 Pors Cayenne Bronze
11-14-08, 0030 RD 0833 1400 Veteran Ave street 05 Acura RSX Grey
11-04-08, RD 0805 1000 N. Sepulveda Blvd. Street 85 Nissan PK

Grand Theft:
10800 Wilshire Blvd. 0833 Laptop $1600
1700 Thayer Ave. 0834 Bike $660
1900 Benedict Cyn. 0807 Clodthing $6000
10300 Wilshire Blvd. 0819 Jewelry $13000

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Feature Coming Soon - Get to Know Your Bel~Air Association Directors

In a community like Bel~Air with many large homes, tall gates and vicious guard dogs, it is often difficult to get to know our neighbors.

In an effort to bring even our sprawling community a little bit closer, I am starting a new feature called "Get to Know Your Bel~Air Association Directors".   

Every few days, I hope to post a new set of Questions & Answers by one of our Directors (participation is entirely voluntary, of course), which I know will be interesting, informative and fun.  

In time, I hope to expand this community building project to everyone in Bel~Air that would like to participate.

Later this week our own Association President & Director Harvey Saferstein will be first on the hot-seat.

Stay tuned! 

Historic Comparison to Current Market Crash

(click to enlarge)
This graph really tells the story. 
The current Subprime Mortgage Crash (in Blue) is truly Epic.  
God help us if we have further to go before hitting bottom.
What really scares me is that it appears we were tracking the previous Bear markets (bottoming at 50% down) but then jumped to the Great Depression track (bottoming at 90%).

DOW closed at the lowest level it has been in 5 years @ 7997.28.
And my beloved GOOGLE stock is down almost 6% for the day.
This is torture.

Be Careful Bel~Air! Monticito Fire Casued by Student Bonfire

Bonfire built by students caused Montecito fire

(click here for the full LA Times Story)

The suspects say they thought the fire had gone out when they left the ridge-top site Thursday morning. The D.A.'s office will decide if they will be charged with any crimes.
By Catherine Saillant and Jean Merl 
November 19, 2008
Reporting from Los Angeles and Montecito -- A smoldering bonfire built by students on a ridge-top overlooking Montecito apparently sparked last week's disastrous Tea fire, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Tuesday.

Ten men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 22, had gathered at an abandoned property called the Teahouse late Wednesday night and built a bonfire to warm themselves, Brown said.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bel~Air Cares: Support the Million Trees Los Angeles (MTLA) Initiative

(Click on Images to Enlarge)

The Million Trees Los Angeles (MTLA) Initiative is pleased to announce a grant competition for schools and their related programs in the City of Los Angeles. 

As a part of the 2008 Environmental Youth Conference which will be held on December 13th, MTLA is soliciting grant proposals from schools that have successfully completed and implemented urban forestry projects in their schools, communities or neighborhoods. The purpose of the grant competition is to recognize successful youth-led urban forestry projects, and to promote the sustainability of youth environmental activism. Each successful applicant may receive a grant of up to $1,000 to continue their urban forestry projects, and may be highlighted at the conference in December.

Fires in Southern California - View from Space

Gusty winds drove wildfires into southern California cities in mid-November 2008. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows the Los Angeles metropolitan area on November 16, 2008. Places where the sensor detected active fires are outlined in red. The top image shows smoke spreading far to the west over the Pacific Ocean. According to the National Interagency Fire Center daily situation report from November 16, the Sayre Fire north of San Fernando was 8,000 acres and 20 percent contained. The Freeway Fire was 5,800 acres and 5 percent contained. 

NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bel~Air Cares: Help & Support Los Angeles Area Fire Victims

Many Bel~Air residents have asked how they can help with the tragedy suffered by those Los Angeles families displaced and left homeless as a result of this weekends' horrible fires.

Past Bel~Air Association President Andy Schwartz had a wonderful suggestion that those with a poolhouse or unused guesthouse may want to offer the same to families in need.

Our Councilman Jack Weiss has volunteered to coordinate any such generous offers and match volunteering residents with displaced families.      
Councilmember Weiss can be reached through the following contact information:

822 S. Robertson Boulevard, Suite 102
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 289-0353 
Fax: (310) 289-0365

ALERT: Trim your Palm Trees!

Palm trees help spread fire in Yorba Linda

7:31 PM, November 16, 2008

Palm trees burning on LA Palma Ave. in Yorba Linda on Saturday

Michael Boyle, a battalion chief with the Orange County Fire Authority, said a major problem for firefighters Saturday in the Triangle fire was untrimmed palm trees.

“Palm trees are a huge problem," he said. "They have those fronds and they then turn into a roman candle and they produce a phenomenal amount of embers.”

Boyle said another problem has been ornamental vegetation surrounding homes.

On Saturday, he spoke with a homeowner who stayed to defend his home. When Boyle looked in a man’s backyard, he saw wood patio furniture against the mountainside.

“I told him to throw it in the swimming pool and he did. A few hours later the house was still standing.”

--Tami Abdollah

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Red Flag Condition - Restricted Parking Continues


Red Flag

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

Red Flag Restricted Parking will be in effect from

Saturday, November 15, 2008 08:00 AM 
Sunday, November 16, 2008 08:00 AM

until further notice.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Get Ready for Bargains! Planned Holiday Spending Off Sharply

Survey: Planned Holiday Spending Off Sharply

by CalculatedRisk on 11/14/2008 11:54:00 AM

From American Research Group, Inc.: Shoppers Cut 2008 Christmas Spending Plans in Half from 2007

Shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $431 for gifts this holiday season, down from $859 last year according to the twenty-third annual survey on holiday spending from the American Research Group, Inc. The overall average planned spending is down almost 50% from 2007 and it is the lowest level of planned spending recorded by the American Research Group since 1991.

While planned spending increases as Christmas approaches, a majority of shoppers are beginning the holiday shopping season saying they plan to cut their gift spending in half from a year ago.

In telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,100 adults nationwide conducted November 10 through 13, 2008, the average planned spending of $431 for 2008 is down about 50% from planned spending in the 2007 survey.
YearAverage SpendingPercent Change
2001$1,052+ 9%
2000$968+ 3%
1999$939+ 1%
1998$928+ 34%

This table from American Research Group shows the planned spending for each holiday season since 1998. Although actual spending changes (and spending will not be off 50% compared to 2007), this does show consumer pessimisim is very high.

Combined with the sharp plunge in October retail sales, this suggests a very weak fourth quarter for personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and suggests that forecasts for Q4 GDP might be too high.

Although the table only goes back to 1998, planned spending is a the lowest since the 1991 recession.

Beverly Hills - Retail Sales to fight the Recession

Rage_shoppingShopping in Beverly Hills last weekend, you could feel the desperation as upscale retailers crushed by October’s declining sales figures started cutting prices nearly a month earlier than usual, some resorting to near-bargain-basement tactics.

At Neiman Marcus, which saw retail sales fall 27% in October, selected designer shoes by Manolo Blahnik and fur coats were 40% off for two days only, before returning to full price.

Saks Fifth Avenue had tables of Ferragamo bags and racks of Louboutin pumps for pre-sale at 40% off, meaning that they could be purchased ahead of time and taken home today, when the sale officially starts. This, only a short while after a mailer went out promising that if shoppers spend $2,000 on their Saks cards, they won’t have to pay for 12 months.

Meanwhile, the salespeople at Barneys New York were quietly informing customers that although their sale doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, Nov. 12, they would be happy to put designer clothes aside until then.

Over on Robertson Boulevard, Anya Hindmarch was offering 25% off the entire store for 3 days only, including every bag and shoe. And, in what may be the surest sign that the party is over, Kitson — ground zero for Hollywood’s heiress set, which has four storefronts on the same street — was hosting a “big ass sale” at its original location with 40% to 80% off all the accouterments of Hollywood’s culture of excess, including uber-stylist Rachel Zoe’s book, rhinestone-studded T-shirts and premium jeans, originally priced from $98 to $395.

Paris and Nicole were nowhere to be seen.

“There’s no push to buy clothes,” says Ilene Sraberg, a Beverly Hills resident who was getting her nails done at Bella Nails on North Camden Drive. “It’s the end of November and I’m still wearing the same thing I did last summer.”

She’s done very little shopping this season, she said, other than for basics. “Just last week, I went to buy some fall corduroys by Not Your Daughters Jeans at Nordstrom. They were already on sale 30% off, and they had just come in.”

Outside of Barneys, Raquel Gibson, a model visiting for the weekend from Miami, was upbeat. “There are a lot of sales, so you can actually find a lot of good stuff.” Her sister CJ Gibson agreed. “I am not going to stop shopping because that would only make things worse.”

That’s right ladies, keep the economy rolling.

-- Booth Moore, Times Fashion Critic