Friday, January 30, 2009

"One Officer-One Beat" Parking Enforcement Program

so perhaps this photograph is a bit silly - but having gotten a $75 parking ticket in front of the
Bel~Air Association offices the other day, I think I am entitled to some payback. . .


LOS ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCES:  "One Officer-One Beat" Parking Enforcement Program Initiative


LOS ANGELES (Jan 29, 2009)-The City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation
(LADOT) will begin on Monday, February 2nd, an initiative that will assign Traffic Officers to every area of the City based on a 'geographical beat' instead of basing deployment of personnel on where 'posted regulations' are.  This will benefit all neighborhoods by ensuring they receive appropriate enforcement of parking regulations and ordinances.

"We want to improve the quality of life for all City stakeholders by having Traffic Officers assigned to every geographical area in the City limits, instead of just in the 'high traffic' areas where the majority of parking violations occur" said Rita L. Robinson, General Manager, LADOT.
Previously, LADOT concentrated its limited resources on areas with high violation occurrences.  Now, in addition to those locations, Traffic Officers will be dedicated to other geographical areas so that neighborhood issues such as abandoned vehicles, time limit infractions and oversize vehicle parking violators, etc., will be cited on a regular basis.
Beginning Monday, residents or businesses may call the LADOT 24/7 communications center at 213 485-4184, pressing 'option 2' or 818 752-5100, pressing 'option 2' also, to speak with an operator who will assist with dispatching a traffic officer to respond to the location.
"Service delivery will be improved by responding to radio calls on a faster basis.  Our professional Traffic Officers stand ready to enforce parking restrictions and safety violations in all City of Los Angeles neighborhoods" said Jimmy Price, Chief of Parking Enforcement.
Area commuters can visit for real-time traffic information.
Real-time traffic reports are a product of LADOT, innovators of Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control System (ATSAC) technology.

LADOT is dedicated to moving Los Angeles forward as quickly and safely as possible. Drivers, bus riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians are encouraged to visit LADOT's web site at: for information about DASH, Commuter Express, bicycling in the city, and an array of transportation services.


# # #

Mail delivery may be cut to five days

By Randolph E. Schmid, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Snow, rain, gloom of night - no matter what, the mail will get through. But maybe not quite as often.

Massive deficits could force the Postal Service to cut out one day of mail delivery, the postmaster general told Congress on Wednesday, asking lawmakers to lift the requirement that the agency deliver mail six days a week.

If the change happens, that doesn't necessarily mean an end to Saturday mail delivery. Previous post office studies have looked at the possibility of skipping some other day when mail flow is light, such as Tuesday.

Faced with dwindling mail volume and rising costs, the post office was $2.8 billion in the red last year. "If current trends continue, we could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year," Postmaster General John E. Potter said in testimony for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee.

Total mail volume was 202 billion items last year, more than 9 billion less than the year before, the largest single volume drop in history.

And, despite annual rate increases, Potter said 2009 could be the first year since 1946 that the actual amount of money collected by the post office declines.

"It is possible that the cost of six-day delivery may simply prove to be unaffordable," Potter said. "I reluctantly request that Congress remove the annual appropriation bill rider, first added in 1983, that requires the Postal Service to deliver mail six days each week."

If it did become necessary to go to five-day delivery, Potter said, "We would do this by suspending delivery on the lightest-volume days."

The next postal-rate increase is scheduled for May, with the amount to be announced next month.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

DWP going Door to Door

WLA Division Sergeant David Podesta January 29,2008

All Concerned:

The DWP has employed a contractor to deliver bags to ratepayers door to door. Each weekday beginning Wednesday at 7 am six teams under contract with the DWP will deliver a bag containing two 20 Watt CFL Bulbs,a CFL shaped magnet, a "water wheel" and informational brochures. 20,000 bags will be delivered each weekday until April for a total distribution of 2.4 million. The first deliveries will occur in South Bureau.

The DWP is responsible for the public information on this campaign, but I wanted to pass it to you in case you think it might generate calls for suspicious devices or suspicious people.... etc.

Contract personnel conducting the distribution will be dressed uniformly in green shirts and will carry picture identification (sample attached for your information) containing a telephone number (888-823-8636) for customers to call should they have any questions or concerns regarding the deliveries or employees performing the distribution services. All customer calls pertaining to missed deliveries, claims of bulb damage, etc., should be referred to 888-823-8636 (contractor number). Customers calling this line designated for the CFL distribution who wish to contact LADWP regarding other issues/programs, will be provided with the 1-800-DIAL DWP telephone number and will be promptly transferred to LADWP.

JOHN ROMERO, Lieutenant

Officer in Charge

Media Relations Section


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flipping Out in Bel~Air

FLASH - in the late afternoon today we had an auto flip on Bel~Air & Nimes Road.  Traffic was blocked while the car was righted and removed.  We hope whoever was in that car had their seat belts on and is OK.  

Remember - let's all drive slow and safe in the hills!  You never know who or what might be around the next corner.

Credit to Paulette DuBey, General Manager of the Bel~Air Association

Home Depot Expo Closing in Westwood (and everywhere else, for that matter)

Home Depot to close Expo stores

Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

“Even during the recent housing boom, it was not a strong business,” Home Depot said of its Expo stores. The company is shutting down the upscale chain.
The home improvement retailer will cut 7,000 jobs as it shuts dozens of stores.
By Nathan Olivarez-Giles and Roger Vincent 
January 27, 2009
Home Depot Inc. announced Monday that it was closing its 34 upscale Expo and other home specialty centers and laying off 7,000 people as a result of the crumbling U.S. housing market and worldwide economic downturn.

The company said it would close its 34 sprawling Expo Design Center stores by April, including eight in Southern California, and 14 smaller stores.

Some employees were stunned. "Shock. It was shock. It's just 7,000 of us, just gone," said Chris Toliver, who worksin the appliance section at the company's Expo store in Westwood.

"I'm young. I'm 22," he said. "But what hurt the most is the people in their 40s or older, people with families, who are losing their jobs here. Unemployment is nowhere near enough to feed a family."

Toliver transferred to the Westwood store eight months ago but is now looking for work in another industry. "Retail is a tough business," he said. "We have the customer service skills, but there are no customers."

The Expo stores targeted an upscale home remodeling market that never seemed to catch on, the company said. "The Expo business has not performed well financially and is not expected to any time soon. Even during the recent housing boom, it was not a strong business."

People laid off will be offered a severance package of at least 60 days' pay, said Home Depot spokesman Ron DeFeo. Some may find other jobs within the company, DeFeo said, but it's unknown how many jobs will be available.

The decision will result in the loss of about 5,000 retail jobs and 2,000 support jobs at the specialized stores, DeFeo said. Together, the losses will total 2% of the company's workforce, Home Depot said.

Liquidation sales at closing stores begin today with a 10% discount, DeFeo said. The discounts will increase as the stores' merchandise dwindles, he said.

Twelve of the 34 Expo stores are in California, more than in any other state. The smaller stores being closed are its five Yardbirds stores in the San Francisco Bay Area; a bath remodeling business known as HD Bath, with seven locations; and two Design Center stores in Concord in Northern California and Charlotte, N.C.

What will happen to the vacant stores probably depends on their locations, said Mike Jensen, a property broker at Pacific Retail Partners in Long Beach. Since the Expo stores were located in affluent neighborhoods, he said, other businesses may find the soon-to-be-empty retail spaces desirable.

"Fundamentally, they are good real estate properties," said Jensen, who helped Home Depot find Expo's Southern California sites in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Home Depot owns some of Expo's buildings here and rents others, he said. To attract occupants, the large spaces might be split up to accommodate smaller retailers.

The best locations, such as Westwood and Redondo Beach, should soon find suitors thatwant to move in, but it may take awhile for all of the former Expos to be reoccupied, Jensen said. "There aren't a lot of people expanding right now."

The store closures leave Home Depot with no other retail properties except the orange flagship stores, DeFeo said. "None of the actual Home Depot stores are being closed, and none of the employees in the orange box stores are being affected by these decisions," he said.

Delay in Conversion to Digital TV Signal

Most of you have seen all those commercials and other advertisements from the US Government warning of the change from analog to digital TV signal transmission -- well, I guess the government decided they did not do a good enough job getting the word out.

The Senate on Monday voted unanimously to postpone the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting by four months, to June 12 - setting the stage for Congress to pass the proposal as early as today.

Monday's Senate vote is a big victory for the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress, who have been pushing for a delay amid growing concerns that too many Americans won't be ready for the currently scheduled Feb. 17 changeover.

The Nielsen Co. estimates that more than 6.5 million U.S. households that rely on analog television sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals could see their TV sets go dark next month if the transition is not postponed.

The issue now goes to the House, where Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has vowed to work to bring Rockefeller's bill up for a floor vote today

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:
Bank Robbery:
10900 Wilshire Blvd. 1/21/09, afternoon. The suspect was seen leaving the area in a vehicle and the license plate was observed. The reports are still pending and the case is being handled by RHD Detectives.
1/13/09, 2050 hours. Beverly Glen & Eastborne (RD 829). The victim walked southbound on the east side of Beverly Glen at Eastborne when the suspect approached him and brandished a handgun. The suspect demanded the victim's property. The victim was frightened and gave his property to the suspect. The suspect fled on foot. Suspect: Male Black Bald 5-10/5-11 170 20-30 years. Weapon: Handgun
Property Taken: Cash
15500 block Collina Strada, RD 0805. MO: On 01/24/09, at 1845, the suspect entered an upstairs bathroom window, activating the alarm. Suspect entered, allowed alarm to reset, and removed safes, jewelry, cash and firearms. Suspect has been identified.
1600 block Beverly Glen, RD 0806. MO: On 01/24/09, between 055515 and 1500, suspect(s) opened the SFR rear window, removed a TV.
3000 block Benedict Canyon Dr, RD 0807. MO: Between 01/24/09 at 1400 and 01/25/09 at 1300, suspect(s) door kicked the SFR side door, removed a lamp and hand drill.
1700 block Benedict Canyon, RD 0808. MO: On 01/23/09, at 0900, suspect(s) were observed by occupant in rear yard, fled when confronted. The victim found the unlocked rear studio sliding door ajar. No property loss. Suspects 2 Male Hisps blk bro 511 180 20 years. Suspect vehicle: 90/95 Ford/Chev 4 door, white
11100 block Ophir, RD 0815. MO: On 01/14/09, between 1440 and 1600, suspect(s) entered the via a door, removed property.
9400 block Portola, RD 0808. MO: Between 01/17/09 at 1730 and 01/19/09 at 0730, suspect(s) entered the construction site, removed property.
1100 block Gayley, RD 0817. MO: On 01/14/09, between 1630 and 1700, suspect(s) pried the door, removed cash.
1700 block Kelton, RD 0855. MO: Between 01/14/09 at 2000 and 01/15/09 at 1030, suspect(s) door-kicked the door, removed cash.
11100 block Ophir Dr. RD 815. Suspect(s) entered single family residence through possible unlocked door, removed property.
1100 block Gayley Ave., RD 817. Suspect(s) pried open door of business during business hours, removed property.
1700 block Kelton Ave., RD 855. Suspect(s) kicked door, entered business and removed currency.
10300 block Wilshire, RD 0819. MO: Between 09/06/08 at 0830 and 09/21/09 at 2100, suspect(s) entered the apartment by unknown means, removed property.
700 block Sarbonne, RD 0806. MO: Construction site. Between 01/02/09 at 1530 and 01/05/09 at 0635, suspect(s) pried the garage door, likely warded off by audible alarm. No entry.
400 block Denslow, RD 0815. MO: Between 01/03/09 at 2350 and 01/06/09 at 1200, suspect(s) entered via an unlocked door, removed property.
2000 block Stradella, RD 0806. MO: Construction site. Between 01/05/09, at 1545 and 01/06/09 at 0545, suspect(s) cut door lock, removed property.
10700 block Lindbrook, RD 0828. MO: On 01/04/08, between 1130 and 1825, suspect(s) smashed door glass, unlocked the door and removed property.
10600 block Holman, RD 0834. MO: Between 12/30/08 at 2135 and 12/31/08 at 0930, suspect(s) cut the apartment window screen. Entry was not gained.
10800 block Wilshire, RD 0833. MO: Between 12/31/08 at 1430 and 01/02/09 at 0740, suspect(s) entered the office by unknown means and removed property.
Grand Theft Auto:
01-16-09, 2000-1200. RD 0838 11000 block Strathmore Ave. 98 Honda-Civic 2DR
01-10-09, 2230/0740 RD 0837 600 block Midvale Ave. Street 07 Yamaha M/C
01-12-09, 0000/0930 RD 0829 1200 block Holmby Ave. Street 70 VW Karmin
01-06-09, 2200/0800 RD 0829 1300 block Beverly Glen Bl. 07 BMW 325i
01-07-09, 1530/1700 RD 0855 Sepulveda/Ohio. 02 Chev Montecarlo
Burglary Theft from Motor Vehicle:
01-23-09, 0750/1830 RD 0833 10900 block Wilshire Blvd. Pkg lot Pried Purse
01-22-09, 2130/0010 RD 0834 1500 block Manning Ave. Street Susp removed Ipod
01-21-09, 0001/0800 RD 0828 300 block Hilgard Ave. Driveway
01-21-09,0001/0800 RD 0828 300 block Hilgard Ave. Driveway Susp removed watch/veh reg
01-16-09, 2300-0730 RD 0815 200 block Bronwood. street smash
01-16-09, 2200-1030 RD 0815 200 block Bronwood street smash
01-16-09, 2100-0900 RD 0815 200 block Tavistock. street smash
01-15-09, 1300-0830 RD 0829 10400 block Kinnard. street pried
01-15-09, 1800-0750 RD 0834 10600 block Ohio Ave. street smash
01-16-09, 1800-2350 RD 0816 Kelton-Levering street pried
01-13-09, 2400-0630 RD 0805 1000 block Casiano driveway smash
01-16-09, 2245-0720 RD 0815 200 block Tavistock. street smash
01-19-09, 1645/1655 RD 0807 2800 block Bottlebrush Street Smash
01-12-09, 1800-0730 RD 0834 10500 block Wellworth Ave. street
01-11-09, 1700/0915 RD 0834 1600 block Manning Ave. Carport Smash GPS
01-07-09, 0945/1045 RD 0829 10300 block Santa Monica Blvd. Garage Smash
01-07-09, 2359/0530 RD 0833 10900 block Wellworth Ave. Sub Gar Smash
01-08-09, 1100/2200 RD 0816 600 block Veteran Ave. Pkg Gar Smash
01-08-09, 1715/0900 RD 0833 1300 block Midvale Ave. Sub Gar Smash
01-09-09, 2000/0845 RD 0816 500 block Kelton Ave. Sub Gar Smash
01-09-09, 1330/1000 RD 0855 1500 block Greenfield Ave. Sub Gar Unk
01-11-09, 1430/1500 RD 0833 Midvale/Santa Monica Bl. Street Unzip
01-08-09, 1800/1900 RD 0855 1600 block Bentley Ave. Street
01-04-09, 0830/1045 RD 0808 13900 block Mulholland Dr. Pkg Lot Smash Cash
01-06-09, 2200/0800 RD 0829 1300 block Beverly Glen Bl. Sub Gar Smash Laptop
01-03-09, 2100/1200 RD 0834 10600 block Rochester Ave. Street Smash
01-03-09, 1500/1230 RD 0834 10500 block Wellworth Ave. Street Smash
1/10/09, 1645-1710 hours. 1700 block Westwood Bl (RD 855). The victim reported that as she shopped an unknown suspect reached into her purse and removed her wallet. The victim stated a female black with short black hair appeared to be following her while in the store. Store security advised the victim that they may have footage of the incident. Suspect: Unknown. Weapon: Bodily Force. Property Taken: Wallet with $40 in cash, credit cards, and ID.
Grand Theft:
Business-10900 Roebling Ave. RD 0838 Copper Modules $3000
Residential-garage. 11000 Strathmore Ave RD 0838
Residential-garage. 1400 Veteran Ave RD 0833
Residential-garage. 600 Veteran Ave RD 0817 Bike $500
Business 10900 block Kinross Ave. 0817 Camera
Residential 1700 Glendon Ave. 0855 Unk
Petty Theft:
Business-Gym. 10900 Wilshire Blvd. RD 0817 Digital Recorder $50

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some Monday Evening Irony

Mon Jan 26 2009 17:59:26 ET

Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming. 

But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings. 

A 'Winter Storm Watch' has been posted for the nation's capitol and there is a potential for significant snow... sleet... or ice accumulations. 

"I can't imagine the Democrats would want to showcase Mr. Gore and his new findings on global warming as a winter storm rages outside," a Republican lawmaker emailed the DRUDGE REPORT. "And if the ice really piles up, it will not be safe to travel." 

A spokesman for Sen. John Kerry, who chairs the committee, was not immediately available to comment on contingency plans. 

Global warming advocates have suggested this year's wild winter spells are proof of climate change. 

From the Drudge Report

Rare Good News on the Homefront - Home Sales Up

Existing Home Sales Posts Surprise 6.5% Gain

A real estate group says sales of existing homes rose 6.5 percent from November to December, closing out the worst year for the U.S. real estate market in more than a decade.


The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of existing homes rose to an annual rate of 4.74 million in December, from a downwardly revised pace of 4.45 million in November.

December's sales had been expected to fall to a pace of 4.4 million units. according to Thomson Reuters.

The median sales price plunged to $175,400, down 15.3 percent from $207,000 a year ago.

That was the lowest price since May 2003 and the biggest year-over-year drop on records going back to 1968.

© 2009 The Associated Press.

UPDATE - The other side of the coin

Case-Shiller: House Prices Fall Sharply in November

by CalculatedRisk on 1/27/2009 09:15:00 AM

S&P/Case-Shiller released their monthly Home Price Indices for November this morning. This includes prices for 20 individual cities, and two composite indices (10 cities and 20 cities). Note: This is not the quarterly national house price index.

Case-Shiller House Prices IndicesClick on graph for larger image in new window. 

The first graph shows the nominal Composite 10 and Composite 20 indices (the Composite 20 was started in January 2000).

The Composite 10 index is off 26.6% from the peak.

The Composite 20 index is off 25.1% from the peak.

Prices are still falling, and will probably continue to fall for some time. 

Case-Shiller House Prices IndicesThe second graph shows the Year over year change in both indices.

The Composite 10 is off 19.1% over the last year.

The Composite 20 is off 18.2% over the last year.

These are the worst year-over-year price declines for the Composite indices since the housing bubble burst.

The following graph shows the price declines from the peak for each city included in S&P/Case-Shiller indices.

Case-Shiller Price DeclinesIn Phoenix, house prices have declined more than 40% from the peak. At the other end of the spectrum, prices in Charlotte and Dallas are only off about 6% to 8% from the peak.

Prices fell at least 1% in all Case-Shiller cities in November.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Quake-Up-Call: Get Prepared

Study finds troubling pattern of Southern California quakes

The southern stretch of the San Andreas fault has had a major temblor about every 137 years, according to new research. The latest looks to be overdue.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Linkage:"Bel~Air" Burglar Capture

Is it just me or does the LAPD's suspect look a bit different from those criminals captured on video in 2007 robbing a Bel~Air Estate (below)?  Could they be part of the same crew or perhaps they are two different operations entirely. . .  Hopefully, the LAPD will shed some light on this soon.

From KABC 7 - UPDATED VIDEO Following Police Press Conference:

From LA Times:

From KTLA 5:

From KCBS 2:

BREAKING NEWS - LAPD arrests a suspected leader of the 'Hillside Burglars'

From the LA TIMES

Troy Corsby Thomas and crew allegedly stole more than $10 million in cash, property from homes in wealthy areas of Los Angeles, sources say.

By Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein 
January 21, 2009
Los Angeles police have arrested a suspected leader of a small but sophisticated crew of burglars who allegedly broke into the homes of executives, celebrities and sports stars, stealing millions of dollars worth of cash and property, law enforcement sources said Tuesday.

Dubbed the "Hillside Burglars" by police, the bandits are suspected of committing more than 150 break-ins over the last several years, targeting some of Los Angeles' wealthiest neighborhoods, and taking items worth more than $10 million.

Troy Corsby Thomas, 45, who law enforcement sources alleged was one of two leaders of the gang, was taken into custody Saturday after a three-year investigation by a special Los Angeles Police Department task force.

Police records obtained by The Times show that Thomas described himself as an auto broker at the time of his arrest. At a brief court appearance Tuesday, Thomas pleaded not guilty to two charges of residential burglary in January 2006 and March 2008. He was held in lieu of $2-million bail. Additional charges were expected to be filed, according to sources. 

LAPD officials declined to comment on the arrest, saying they would hold a news conference today in which details of the case would be released. 

Law enforcement sources, however, said police got a break in the case when they found some stolen safes that had been dumped in a canyon. They also recovered DNA evidence at the scene of a burglary, which led to members of the crew. 

"These are very smart criminals. That's why it took us so long to catch them," said one LAPD source who was not authorized to speak publicly about the arrest. 

According to police, the Hillside Burglars usually wore black clothes, ski masks and gloves when breaking into homes in Bel-Air, Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills, the so-called Platinum Triangle, and the hills above Encino and Sherman Oaks. They usually struck at night and on weekends, while homeowners were out of town, police said.

The ring is one of several in recent years that have targeted these areas, which are home to many celebrities, corporate titans and studio chiefs.

As a testament to their skills, the burglars evaded security systems and cameras in all but one of their break-ins.

The only time the burglars were caught on a security camera was at an Encino estate. The tape shows a brief image of two muscular men without their masks, police said.

But their faces were hard to see. 

Police did not release the names of victims of the various burglaries.

News Release
Bel-Air Burglar in Custody 

News Conference
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
10:30 a.m.  
West Los Angeles Area Community Police Station
1663 Butler Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca  90025

Deputy Chief Charlie Beck, Commanding Officer, Detective Bureau 
Deputy Chief Terry Hara, Commanding Officer, Operations West Bureau
Councilmember Jack Weiss, Council District 5
Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Council District 11

To provide the identity and circumstances surrounding the arrest of the "Bel-Air Burglar," believed responsible for a three-year crime wave of over 150 burglaries in the areas of Bel-Air, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills, and the Hollywood Hills.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bel~Air Beautiful - Thank you!

Recent Updates from Bel~Air Beautiful 

1. The Moraga Island, which lost its tree, has been recently re-landscaped thanks to the Bel~Air Garden Club.

2. The Bel~Air Association has placed lovely signs on the many islands in the neighborhood. These signs say, "Maintained by the Bel~Air Association." Maintaining these islands is another example of the hard work done by the association.

3. During the holidays all were able to enjoy beautiful Christmas decorations at the east and west gates, once again supplied by the Bel~Air Garden Club.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

UCLA CANDIDATES NIGHT For the Los Angeles Municipal Primary Election

The Bel-Air Association invites you to the upcoming


For the Los Angeles Municipal Primary Election

The forum will take place on Wednesday, February 11, 2009
from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. Reception)

California Nanosystem Institute Auditorium (CNSI)


Please RSVP to (310) 794-6810 or by February 9, 2009 

An evening of candidates, questions, and answers  and our community coming together!  

The Primary Municipal Election for the City of Los Angeles will take place on Tuesday, March 3, 2009.

The Bel-Air Association’s City Services Committee invites our members to meet the candidates running for the

Fifth District position on the Los Angeles City Council.

The candidates are:


This invitation is sent to you by the Bel Air Association, City Services Committee.  For more information please call Paulette M. DuBey, our General Manager at 310.474.3527. 

The evening will be moderated by Adrienne Alpert, KABC-TV Channel 7.

This program will be re-broadcast on KABC-TV and LA Channel 36 at a later date.  Parking is in LOT 9.  


Friday, January 16, 2009

California Tapped Out - Tax Refunds to be Delayed

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California's controller says he will begin a 30-day delay on tax refunds and other payments starting Feb. 1 because the state is running out of money.

Controller John Chiang said Friday he must delay $3.7 billion in payments next month because lawmakers have failed to address California's growing deficit.

With a $41.6 billion shortfall over the next year-and-a-half, the state is on the brink of issuing IOUs.

Chiang says his office must continue education and debt payments but will defer money for tax refunds, student aid, social services and mental health programs.

A severe drop in revenue has left the state's main bank account depleted. The state had been relying on borrowing from special funds and Wall Street investors; those options are no longer available.

Inaugural Viewing Party of President-elect Barack Obama @ L.A. LIVE (Downtown)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Westwood Subway Extension to Full Metro Board Next Week

The proposed Purple Line extension to Westwood (and possibly beyond with federal funds) is heading to Metro's full board a week from tomorrow, reports project spokeswoman Jody Litvak on her Facebook page. The decision was made at today's subway committee meeting. Next week's Board meeting will probably be the first unveiling of the suggested route, and if the Board gives the green-light, the EIR and EIS (environmental impact review/statement) can go forward; one of the last steps before construction. The EIR step is about a two-year ordeal, thoughSchwarzenegger has been pushing to hasten the EIR process in the building of new freeways, so who knows for sure.

Thanks to Curbed LA & Metro

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

December Retail Sales - Cliff Diving

The following graph shows the year-over-year change in nominal and real retail sales since 1993. 

Year-over-year change in Retail SalesClick on graph for larger image in new window.

To calculate the real change, the monthly PCE price index from the BEA was used (December PCE prices was estimated as the same as November). 

Although the Census Bureau reported that nominal retail sales decreased 10.2% year-over-year (retail and food services decreased 9.8%), real retail sales declined by 11.3% (on a YoY basis). This is the largest YoY decline since the Census Bureau started keeping data.

Credit to Caluclate Risk 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Obama Plans to Keep Estate Tax

From the Wall Street Journal

President-elect Barack Obama and congressional leaders plan to move soon to block the estate tax from disappearing in 2010, suggesting the levy might outlive the "Death Tax Repeal" movement that has tried mightily to kill it.

The Democratic stance on the estate tax contrasts with Mr. Obama's reluctance to press forward with his campaign pledge to raise income-tax rates on top earners, which he worries could have an adverse economic impact during a recession.

[Obama Plans to Keep Estate Tax]

But Democrats are determined to act quickly to prevent the estate tax's scheduled repeal. Elimination of the levy on big inheritances was approved by Congress under President George W. Bush in 2001, with rollbacks phased in slowly and its full elimination slated to take effect next year.

The Senate Finance Committee will move within weeks on legislation to reverse that law, and Mr. Obama is expected to detail his estate-tax preservation proposal in his budget next month, congressional tax writers said.

CLICK HERE for the full WSJ Article

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Global Warming? Heck no. Instead, go out and buy a Parka.

(A Hypothetical Rendering of Bel~Air in 2020)

What's a guy to do.  I have whiplash from competing global warming theories and now the following article reports that - global warming be damned - we are in fact on the brink of the next Ice Age.  And to be quite candid, the argument is compelling.  You read and decide, but in the meantime, I am firing up my SUV as it seems Global Warming might be our only hope!

"The earth is now on the brink of entering another Ice Age, according to a large and compelling body of evidence from within the field of climate science. Many sources of data which provide our knowledge base of long-term climate change indicate that the warm, twelve thousand year-long Holocene period will rather soon be coming to an end, and then the earth will return to Ice Age conditions for the next 100,000 years."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bel~Air Family Displays Priceless Red Diamond

When he first saw the storied 5.05-carat red diamond - a gem colored "as if a drop of blood fell upon the hand of the cutter" - Douglas Kazanjian thought it was heaven-sent.

Kazanjian, head of a Beverly Hills jewelry firm, told his father they had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy one of the world's most famous diamonds - one with a long history that includes being stolen by the Nazis during World War II and kept at Adolph Hitler's summer retreat.

"Red is the rarest color in diamonds," said Kazanjian, chief executive officer of Kazanjian Bros. Inc., a jeweler and collector of rare gems.

"This is one of the rarest diamonds in the world, and even if my company went on for another 1,000 years we would never find a diamond more rare than this."

The stone, one of only three true blood-red diamonds of 5-plus carats known to exist - is on display through Feb. 1 at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the first stop on a worldwide tour.

Thousands have already visited the museum to see the emerald-cut diamond with a deep reddish hue.

"Everybody who has seen it has marveled at it, partly because of its beauty and partly because it's a very rare stone," said Anthony R. Kampf, curator of minerals and gems at the museum. "I think what really makes it stand out even more than its appearance is the fact that it has a very interesting history."

The stone's journey from the diamond fields of South Africa to Hitler's collection to the Kazanjian Bros. began in the mid-1920s during a diamond rush in Lichtenburg, South Africa, when thousands of people dug for diamonds, according to Ian Balfour's book "Famous Diamonds."

The most unusual discovery involved a nondescript, dark and rough 35-carat stone a broker purchased for the equivalent of $40 a carat, Kampf said.

"I'm sure they didn't realize what they had at the time until they cut into it because it was so dark," Kampf said. "The couldn't even see it was red. At that time, there were no significant red diamonds known."

Still uncut and of unknown value, it eventually was sent to Amsterdam-based jewelers the Goudvis brothers for cleaving and polishing, Balfour wrote.

In Holland, a master cutter made windows on each side of the stone. Under a lamp, he saw a reddish glow. After seven months of studying, cutting and polishing, the diamond was finished and viewed under candlelight.

"They were so surprised because it showed this amazing red color," Kazanjian said. "They said it was as if a drop of blood fell upon the hand of the cutter."

When no dealer in Amsterdam could estimate the diamond's worth, the Goudvis brothers sent it to New York City, but couldn't find any buyers willing to pay their price. It was returned to Europe and placed in a safe in Arnhem, the Netherlands, Balfour wrote.

In 1944, the Nazis stole the red diamond and other precious stones and took them to Germany. When the war ended, the American military discovered the stolen gems and artwork in a salt mine near Adolph Hitler's Bavarian summer retreat at Berchtesgaden. A general called the head of the war-loot commission and notified him that they had found many diamonds and what they thought was a large ruby.

"This was part of Hitler's personal collection during the war," Kazanjian said. "I'm sure he saw it. ... He took all the best art and valuables of Europe."

After the war, the red diamond was returned to the Goudvis family, but the brothers had died and the heirs were in debt to their bank.

So they sold the gem to a well-known broker. After two more owners, it was sold to an unidentified private collector in 1970 and its whereabouts remained a mystery for nearly three decades.

In 2007, a woman from the Far East whom Kazanjian Bros. had once helped sell an emerald ring paid a visit to the U.S. and showed the jewelers what they realized was the famous red diamond.

"My father and I looked at it and were stunned because we had never seen a red diamond that size before," Kazanjian said. "She had a history on it, including papers from (the previous owner)."

Kazanjian told his father he felt as if his ancestors had sent the red diamond to them from heaven. Kazanjian's grandfather James Kazanjian had traveled the world in search of rare gems and discovered the world's largest ruby in what is believed to be the legendary King Solomon's mines.

The family founded Kazanjian Bros. in 1918 in New York, then opened a Los Angeles location a decade later and relocated to Beverly Hills in 1969.

Knowing the diamond's history, Kazanjian bought the gem and named it the Kazanjian Red Diamond. He declined to disclose the purchase price or identify the woman who sold it to him.

He plans to sell it someday and use the proceeds for his family's scholarship foundation, but decided to send it on a world tour first, starting in Los Angeles.

The exhibit at the museum's Gem and Mineral Hall includes a display called "Hollywood Jewels," also on loan from the Kazanjian Foundation and featuring gems owned by Hollywood luminaries from Carole Lombard to Madonna.

All the jewels are displayed inside the museum's Gem Vault, which is watched by security guards during the day and "locked up tighter than a drum" at night, Kampf said.

Kampf said the heightened security is necessary given that value of the red diamond. In 1987, a 0.95 carat blood-red diamond set a world-record price of $926,000. Kazanjian declined to estimate the value of the Kazanjian Red Diamond.

"This stone is worth a lot more than five times that because it's not just five times bigger; it's a thousand times more rare," Kazanjian said. "It's so rare, it's priceless."

From the Daily News / Troy Anderson