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December 2006

Eagle Rock High School Production

Hello Friends and Colleagues,

This fall Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High school is putting on a uniquely festive production, "Cancel  Christmas." It is in essence, a middle school piece, performed with high school students, targeting an elementary school audience.  Our local elementary schools are actively promoting the show. If you have younger family members, neighbors and/or friends, direct them to our part of the woods. They will encounter santacams, snow machines, scootering trolls, rollerblading elves and much more.

For more information visit:

In season at the Old LA (Highland Park) Farmers Market

By Seth Budick, Cross-Posted from NelaList
Farmersmarket_11 After an early autumn absence, Sidney Spencer was back at the market last week bearing two of her most delicious late fall fruits, Zutano avocados and Satsuma mandarins. In inland San Diego County, where Sidney's farm is located, there's a brief pause in the avocado season between the late varieties available in the summer, and the first fall varieties available now. The bright green Zutano is a fairly mild avocado that you'll rarely see in the supermarket since it doesn't transport well, but is a great avocado for guacamole and other recipes. Keep your eyes open as new varieties including Hass, Pinkerton and Fuerte become available in the coming weeks, giving you a great opportunity to settle on your favorite. While avocados are high in fat (something's got to be responsible for their addictive buttery flavor), they primarily contain monounsaturated fats, the same as are found in olive oil, and which are considered protective against cardiovascular disease. Avocados are also very high in potassium and B vitamins. The changing seasonal availability of fruits, and even specific varieties, at the market is a real treat that reminds you of the connection between our food and our environment that's so easy to ignore when buying shrink-wrapped fruits from around the world at the supermarket.

One of my favorite things about winter in Southern California is the abundance of amazing citrus that you can find in your backyard and at the farmers market. Satsuma mandarins were originally developed in Japan and are one of the earliest varieties available in Southern California, but like a lot of citrus, their flavor changes substantially as the season progresses. The early season satsumas available now have a skin that sticks close to the fruit, which is still slightly tart (but easy to peel). Later in the season, the skin will peel away from the fruit and the sugars will become more concentrated, resulting in a sweeter fruit, though I personally prefer the early season mandarins with their more complex blend of flavors. In addition to Satsumas, Sidney also now has lemons and large yellow Mexican limes in season. Other new items at the market this week included the first artichokes of the season from the cool latitudes of Tamai farms in Oxnard and garlic chives from Frog Dog Farms. Take a look at for a complete rundown of what's in season at the market, along with recipes and nutritional information.

Amazingly, even with all of these early winter fruits becoming available at the market, high quality tomatoes, including heirlooms from Tamai farms, are still available at the market. Last week, I found myself with a hungry wife and a pile of ripe heirloom tomatoes so I whipped up this roasted garlic tomato sauce which I think will allow me to forsake forever store-bought sauce, and, best of all, can be prepared in the 15-20 minutes it takes to boil water and cook your pasta. Start by roughly chopping 3 large tomatoes and placing them on a baking sheet together with the peeled cloves of 1 head of garlic (or if you're less of a garlic fiend, 1/2 a head). Drizzle with olive oil and place in a broiler (a toaster oven works fine) for about 15 minutes or until the garlic and tomatoes just begin to char. As your pasta is cooking, place the roasted vegetables in a food processor along with 1/4C olive oil and 1.5 tsp salt (or to taste) and puree until smooth. If your timing is good, the sauce should be ready just as you're draining your pasta, and if you like the taste of roasted garlic, you'll love this sauce.

As always, fresh breads and pastries are available at the market courtesy of Ann's Bakery, Uncle Berch will be selling fresh cheese and fruit preserves and roasted chicken, fresh tamales and roasted corn and potatoes should tide you over until you get home. Fresh roasted nuts and fresh pomegranate juice will also tempt your tastebuds.

Please stop by the market for fresh, field-ripened, high quality produce from local farmers and spend time with your friends, neighbors and other community members.

The Highland Park Certified Farmers Market is located adjacent to the Highland Park Gold Line station at Marmion Way between Ave. 57 & 58 and operates Tuesdays from 3-7PM.

Seth Budick

Dingbats: Counterpoint

Brian Brady writes that he loves 50s and 60s "dingbat" apartment buildings with under market rents.  But before anyone gets too excited here, lets remember that the City of Los Angeles is subject to rent control.  That means that the rents cannot be raised just because a building has come under new ownership; and that tenants cannot be evicted except for breach of contract, or occupancy by the property owner, or the owner's immediate family.  And if the eviction is for owner occupancy, payment of relocation assistance to the tenant is required.  Here's a link to the City of Los Angeles Housing Department Landlord-Tenant Handbook.

But more particularly, here in Highland Park, many folks might have very mixed feelings about "dingbats".  Yes, they provide housing for lower income families, and yes, they provide an income stream for the property owner.  But in this neighborhood dingbats were often built in flurry of destruction and demolition. 

Ashstreet_1Take a look at this photo.  To the right is a 1903 Craftsman home.  To the right of the Craftsman is a 1903 Victorian.  To the left of the Craftsman is a 1956 Apartment Building.   And to the left of the apartment building?  More apartment buildings.  Guess what stood on those parcels before 1956?    Yep.  Demolishing historic properties was a commonplace occurence in Highland Park in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

In the early 1980s, an Interim Control Ordinance was passed by the City of Los Angeles, and Historic Preservation Overlay Zones were designated.

With the HPOZ now in place to prevent further demolition, maybe you're on to something, Brian.  Let's look at the dingbats with new eyes, and learn to appreciate their mid-century kitsch.  Or ... How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the ... Dingbat

I love Dingbats

I must admit that my heart finds for some strange affections.  I love dingbats!   Now..I better explain myself.  I'm not referring to an "intellectually disinclined" woman.  I'm talking about the multi-family building so prevalent to Southern California.


A dingbat (also called a stucco box or a shoebox), is a type of architecturally undistinguished apartment building that flourished in the Sun Belt region of the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Dingbats are boxy, two- or three-story apartment houses with overhangs sheltering street-front parking. 

Particularly popular in southern California, but also found in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii and Nevada, they are known for their downmarket status and inexpensive rents. They are currently experiencing a minor sentimental renaissance thanks to the mid-century modern design return to vogue. In spite of their serviceability as functional, affordable housing, and the niche appeal of their trappings and trim, dingbats are widely reviled as socially alienating visual blights; California historian Leonard Pitt said of them, "The dingbat typifies Los Angeles apartment architecture at its worst".

Why do I love dingbats? These apartment buildings offer one of the greatest challenges to a real estate financier.  They don't qualify for residential financing because they are usually greater than 4 units.  They are "small commercial" deals that banks pick apart with a fine tooth comb.  They generallly don't cash flow greater than 60% LTV in Southern California so it is hard for investors to leverage themselves.   They do, however, provide a great opportunity to make money because they have been generally mismanaged and aren't receiving market rents.pool

Let me give you an example of a property I just financed.  It is less than 500 feet from the sands of the beach in Imperial Beach, CA and was built in 1954.  It is mostly studios and one bedrooms with monthly rents of $6600.  The investor bought the property for $1.1 million.  Banks wanted to finance him at a maximum of $500,000 with no subordinate financing; they were going off of his market rents.  Now come on!  $660/month for a beach apartment in Southern California..unheard of!

This investor plans to sink $100K-$150K into the building to upgrade the facade and interiors.  Updated, an apartment this close to the beach can command upwards of $1,000/month.  It is extremely close to Coronado Naval Base, home to over 5000 sailors.  These sailors receive over $1,200 allowance for off base housing.  He has a natural market less than five miles from his property.  Now, what do you think the effect of future rents will have on the ability to service the loan?  If you're thinking that it is positive, you are correct.  We recognized that and made a hard money loan to purchase this building, allowing for seller-carryback financing of 30%.


One of my favorite things about dingbats is the kitschy names for them.  The complex namewilshire is usually emblazoned across the facade in aqua or salmon and has names like "Palm Gardens" or "Beverly Palms".  Dingbats are so retro cool, it makes you want to don a bowling shirt and fedora and have your picture taken in front of the property.

Yep...I love dingbats. I love the fact that they offer affordable rents to the masses and a great return for investors.  Banks hate them, I love them.


Houseblogsnet If "Holiday Time" equals "Repair, Restore and Renovate Time" on your calendar, here's a web site for you to bookmark: .  Folks join the community, and create blogs to document their home renovation projects.  As of this morning, the blog has  948 members, and 450 blogs.

In season at the Old LA (Highland Park) Farmers Market

From Seth Budick

Farmersmarket_10 Unfortunately, we don't yet have a poultry vendor at the farmers market, but with Thanksgiving on Thursday, our farmers can supply you with all of the wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables you need for the big meal. Between the beautiful selection of golden, red, and candy-striped beets available from Tamai farms, carrots from Santiago farms and potatoes from Gama farms (including the sweet potatoes and yams that I mentioned last week), are the makings for a delicious dish of roasted root
vegetables. Or how about a fantastic salad of wilted spinach from Tamai with one of their sweet heirloom tomatoes, chives from Frog Dog Farms and topped with crumbled Point Reyes blue cheese from Uncle Berch's fresh cheeses, a sensationally creamy and mild blue? Or if you love the convenience of pre-mixed salad greens, ZRanch has a wonderful bagged mix perfect for your holiday meal.

To really impress your guests, why not make a delicious seasonal and surprisingly easy dessert of apple flautas topped with homemade caramel? (inspired by a certain local tamale vendor). Flautas are rolled, lightly fried flour tortillas that usually contain savory fillings, but work deliciously with fresh Fuji apples as well. To make 6 flautas, peel, core and thinly slice 3 medium apples. Saute the apples over medium heat for 8-10 minutes with 2 tbsp butter and 2 tsp sugar until soft and lightly browned. Mix the cooked apples with 1 tsp cinnamon and the juice of 1 lemon and then place 1/2C of apples in the center of a large (10") flour tortilla, rolling the tortilla tightly around the filling. Fry the flauta, seam side down first, in 1/2" of oil pre-heated over medium-high heat, for 1 minute/side until the tortilla just starts to turn golden (the flautas are much better if the tortillas are not cooked long enough to become crispy). Remove from the oil onto a paper towel to drain, and serve immediately topped with caramel sauce.

To make the caramel, heat 1C sugar over high heat in a large saucepan, whisking, until the sugar has all melted. Immediately add 6 tbsp of butter to the melted sugar and keep whisking until the butter has melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in 1/2C heavy cream, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Voila, caramel after only about 5 minutes of work! Make the sauce ahead of time and you can warm it to serve with the flautas. To go all out (Thanksgiving only comes once a year after all), serve with vanilla ice cream, Mexican crema, or creme freche.

For those who fear deliciously decadent desserts, Gama farms has also been bringing sweet pink guavas to the market the last few weeks which would make a great light dessert along with some raspberries, blackberries and strawberries from Santiago farms (just ask for the new, sweeter guavas). To plan your holiday shopping, take a look at for a list of what's in season at the market, along with recipes and nutritional information. And have
a wonderful holiday!

As always, you can also pick up fresh bread, along with artisanal cheese and fruit preserves at the market. And if you come hungry, you need not go home that way, with roasted chicken, corn and potatoes, along with Korean barbeque and tamales vying to fill you up.

Please stop by the market for fresh, field-ripened, high quality produce from local farmers and spend time with your friends, neighbors and other community members.

The Old LA (Highland Park) Certified Farmers Market is located adjacent to the Highland Park Gold Line station at Marmion Way between Ave. 57 & 58 and operates Tuesdays from 3-7PM.

- seth budick