Sidewalk Rebates, Real Estate, Billboards, and more…

Sidewalks

Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council launched Safe Sidewalks LA in December 2016. The goal of this multi-year program is to encourage sidewalk repair citywide. Approximately $31 million is budgeted for repairs in the coming year. If the sidewalk in front of your home needs fixing, a part of that $31 million could be yours. But it won’t be unless you take action. Some key points:

• Cost Sharing: For a limited time this program may provide rebates to offset a portion of the repair cost.
• Prioritization: Top priorities will be given to sidewalks that are utilized by those disabled. Proximity to public transportation is also another factor that results in a higher priority.
• Council Office Support: An endorsement from your council office can also be beneficial.
• Trees: Tree removal is included in the program, allowing for a permanent repair to the sidewalk, with sidewalk friendly tree replanting after the sidewalk is repaired…

To reiterate, the $31 million will be spent on someone’s sidewalk. It could be yours if you take action. For complete information on Safe Sidewalks LA go to http://sidewalks.lacity.org/

Real Estate

The chances that your neighbors won’t change in the near future have improved for most Eagle Rockers. According to recent MLS statistics for the 2nd quarter of 2017, sales of single-family homes fell 21% for Eagle Rock; however, sales in neighboring communities (Glassell Park + 32%, Highland Park + 11%, Mount Washington + 35%) all increased. I reached out to a friend in the real estate business to better understand why the trend has changed so dramatically in Eagle Rock.Her first point was that Eagle Rock remains an especially desirable neighborhood. However, the low number of homes currently for sale in our community limits the number of sales. She attributed the low inventory of homes for sale to the greater stability of Eagle Rock residents, who tend to stay longer, less frequently selling their homes. In response to my question regarding the potential resistance of buyers to higher prices, she disagreed with that being an issue. Her experience, prior to 2015, was that it took 5 to 7 open houses to open escrow. Now her experience is that most desirable homes will secure multiple offers very soon after the first open house. Many of the offers will be over the asking price.

Years ago, when we bought our house, the timing was off. Prices were going up. A realtor convinced us that $210,000 was something we could handle. We were not so sure, but took a chance. Looking back more than 30 years ago, I consider the decision to take a chance on buying an outrageously expensive home in Eagle Rock to be a life changing experience in the best possible way. We will contribute to the scarcity of listings in Eagle Rock, as this house ultimately will pass to our children.

Billboards
In January of 2013, TERA sent a letter to Councilmember Huizar stressing the fact that any proliferation of billboards in Eagle Rock would not be welcome. We placed significant stress on the opposition to digital billboards. Four years later, again we have reason to be concerned.

Most would agree that the presence of billboards rarely improves the quality of life in a community. If we could just snap a finger and billboards would be gone from Eagle Rock, there would be a resounding snapping sound, but it’s not quite that easy. A key factor for billboards located on private property is that the owner receives income for allowing the billboard on their property. For some locations, the income is considerable. Electronic billboards, that are impossible to ignore, are even more lucrative and intrusive.

In the past, the City has recognized that the proliferation of billboards, especially the digital type, can have a considerable negative impact on a community, especially when they are placed in areas that are not predominately commercial. In 2002 the Los Angeles City Council voted for a ban on “off-site billboards.” The ban required that products featured on the billboard be sold at the location of the billboard. Unsuccessful litigation ensued when a billboard company contended that the ban infringed on their free speech rights.

Once again the City is considering legislation that will soften the ban by allowing a tradeoff. The elimination of a certain number of conventional billboards will allow the erection of a new electronic billboard. The precise details are still in the Planning / Land Use Committee (PLUM). Once the proposal is fully defined it will be presented to the City Council for a vote. Given the generous financial support that billboard companies provide to government officials, it is hard to not assume that there will be some “yes” votes.

There are places where an abundance of billboards, especially electronic, makes sense. Times Square is defined by the plethora of billboards. LA Live, which is developing into Times Square West, would have little of the energy and vitality it enjoys today without the many oversized electronic billboard displays. However, Eagle Rock is not a place for additional billboards of any kind! It’s time for us once again to be vigilant.

Details for the latest proposed legislation are still being developed in the PLUM Committee. Therefore, it would be premature for our Council Office to make a statement about the latest proposed legislation. However, according to, Rick Coca, Communications Director for CD14, “Councilmember Huizar will do everything in his power to protect the communities he represents from any unwanted uses.” TERA will continue to monitor this issue. We should hold him to that promise. For more detail information on this issue go to http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2011/11-1705_rpt_PLAN_03-28-2017.pdf

Trees
The phrase “a tree-lined street” conjures up the most pleasant streetscape vision. We are fortunate to have an abundance of such streets in Eagle Rock. Shearin Avenue is typical of so many streets between Colorado Boulevard and Hill Drive. Consider how much less attractive these streets would be if they were not “tree lined.” Later in the newsletter, Jane Demian, TERA Board Member and a passionate advocate for trees, writes about trees in this newsletter. Jane is the best kind of advocate, one who often turns her passion into action by partnering with the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, the Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful and others to care for trees and the overall streetscape throughout Eagle Rock. Her love of trees and understanding of their importance in our community is crystal clear in her writing.


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