Curbed LA Is Closing

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Getty Images/EyeEm

It’s not good-bye — we’re moving to a new home.

Dear readers, hate-readers, and vicious commenters,

Googie. “Greenmailing.” NIMBYs. (So many NIMBYs!) Ugly buildings. Beautiful buildings. Maps. Maps. Maps. Renderings. Filming locations. Earthquakes. Wildfires. Beyoncé’s house. Jeff Bezos’s house. Regular people’s houses. Haunted houses. Walk more, drive less. Seriously, though: Drive less. Trailblazing architects and groundbreaking designers. Travel. Conspiracies. Breeze blocks. Snow. Heat. One epic Los Angeles love letter.

For more than 14 years, Curbed LA chronicled and explored neighborhoods, covered the housing market, tracked development, informed voters, recounted important history, and broke lots of news, thanks to the site’s many editors, writers, photographers, and illustrators. Cary Kadlecek, Josh Williams, Eve Bachrach, Marissa Gluck, James Brasuell, Dakota Smith, Neal Broverman, Adrian Glick Kudler, Pauline O’Connor, Jeff Wattenhofer, Elizabeth Daniels, Elijah Chiland, and Bianca Barragan are just a few of our longtime contributors who captivated readers as they explained, critiqued, and celebrated Los Angeles.

Like the ever-evolving city we cover, Curbed LA has changed over the years, from an aggregator with attitude, to a gossipy real-estate blog, to a trusted local-news source. Now it’s time for a new chapter.

Effective today, we’re stopping production on this site. But it won’t be the end of Curbed stories about Los Angeles. Starting Monday, June 29, our stories will appear on, our flagship site. That’s in preparation for an exciting move over to New York Magazine this fall, where Curbed will relaunch as the newest vertical alongside brands like Vulture, the Cut, and the Strategist. At New York, we’ll have a bigger platform to tell the nation what’s happening in its best city, and even though I’ll be writing for an East Coast publication, I personally promise never to pen a story that wins New York Times bingo.

Curbed LA’s unapologetically Southern Californian point of view will live on, as will the Curbed LA newsletter, which will blast into your inbox every other Friday. Plus, you can still reach us anytime through the Curbed LA tipline. And even though we’ll no longer publish new stories, the archived version of Curbed LA will remain online — a testament to the fact that we built an influential, multifaceted voice for Los Angeles in the time it took to complete one Target.


Koreatown Craftsman With Lots of Hand-Carved Woodwork Asks $1.5M

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A shady front porch beckons from the end of the landscaped walkway. | Photos by Anthony Barcelo Photography, courtesy of Michele Moses/Ernie Carswell and Associates

It also has a koi pond.

Price: $1,438,000
Location: Koreatown

Situated in a pocket of lush, palm-tree-lined blocks in the northwest corner of Koreatown, 138 South Hobart Boulevard is walking distance from the shops and restaurants along Western Avenue. Nestled among homes with ample front lawns, the house is only a mile from some of the best Korean BBQ in L.A. along West 8th Street. Larchmont Village, with its multitude of shops and cafés, is only a five-minute drive west.

Specs: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,498 square feet, 0.16 acres

Peeking out from behind a gated wooden fence and bougainvillea-draped arbor, the 1910 residence sits at the end of a stone pathway, from which steps ascend to a roomy porch shaded by deep eaves. The front door, ornamented with stained-glass panels, opens to a living room with beamed ceilings, picture windows, built-in bookshelves, and a dramatic Batchelder-style fireplace. The formal dining room features box-beam ceilings and a built-in hutch embellished with a striking stained-glass panel depicting a peacock, while the farm-style kitchen is big on wood cabinetry and bench seating. One bedroom, one bath, and a sun porch round out the lower level; two more bedrooms and another full bath with a claw-foot tub are found upstairs. Out back is a kid- (and koi-) friendly yard with artificial grass and playground equipment. A detached recording studio–guesthouse further sweetens the deal. Take a 3-D tour here.

Living room with wood beam ceilings and a tiled fireplace.
A Batchelder-style fireplace is the focal point of the living room.
Sunny dining room with built-n hutch, large windows, and a stained glass window depicting a peacock.
The dining room’s peacock-themed stained glass is complemented by the blue-green ceiling and walls.
Kitchen with wooden island and built-in seating.
Custom cabinets and bench seating line the farmhouse-style kitchen.
Room with French doors leading to a sun room and another door to the kitchen.
French doors lead from the first-floor guest room to the cozy sunroom.
A bedroom with vaulted beam ceilings.
The master bedroom features open-beam ceilings and a built-in window seat.
Two outdoor chairs sit under a large palm tree.
Mature trees shade the backyard patio and detached recording studio–guesthouse.


How L.A.’s Richest Neighborhood Tried to Stop a Black Lives Matter Protest

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A woman with a gray white dog on a leash looks up at a boarded up Goyard storefront spray-painted with “ACAB.” Images of protests on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills inspired a protest in Bel Air. | AFP via Getty Images

In Bel Air, the negative response backfired on those who didn’t want a protest at all.

The twisting, mansion-lined roads in the L.A. hills had been relatively quiet as tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets in the flats below after George Floyd was killed by police officers on May 25. But it’s getting louder in Bel Air.

On a recent Friday, Three 6 Mafia’s “Hit a Muthafucka,” UGK’s “Tell Me Something Good,” and YG and Nipsey Hussle’s “Fuck Donald Trump” blasted from the speakers of an SUV parked at the end of a driveway. The trunk door was left open, and the beats and lyrics spilled out loud enough for neighbors and customers buying açai bowls and picking up dry cleaning at the nearby Glen Centre, a tile-roofed, eucalyptus-shaded shopping mall, to hear.

The music, along with speeches from Martin Luther King Jr., have been playing almost every day for more than three weeks, after a Bel Air resident tried to stage a small, peaceful protest at the shopping center — but neighbors said it would harm the community, and the Glen Centre shut down for the day in response.

It all started five days after Floyd’s heart stopped beating as a Minneapolis police officer pinned him down by the neck. The killing ignited protests around the world, and on May 30, demonstrators on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills spray-painted anti-police messages on boarded-up luxury storefronts: “Fuck LAPD” at Chanel; “Eat the rich” at Hermès; “Make America pay for its crimes against black lives” at Alexander Wang. Photos of the vandalism were broadcast by local news stations, and that evening, Bel Air resident Mele Black posted a comment to an album on Facebook. “I don’t condone this behavior,” she wrote, referring to the looting. “But at this point …. I excuse it. I will be on Mulholland and Beverly Glen protesting tomorrow at 11 a.m. Peaceful.”

Black, who is white, says she was fed up with the racial injustices that had touched off the uprisings down the hill, and she wanted to stage a demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter in her own neighborhood. Located at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, Bel Air is 87 percent white and only 3 percent Black. With a median household income of $210,000, it is part of the wealthiest Zip Code in Los Angeles.

A resident in the area saw her comment about holding the protest and then posted to Nextdoor saying that it shouldn’t happen: “I just saw somebody comment on one of my friend’s posts that they are planning on doing a protest up at the Glen Centre tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. on Sunday. I have of course told them that we do not want or desire them in our neighborhood … If anybody knows management of that building or has a relationship with the proper police departments please put them on notice.”

Neighbors accused Black of trying to incite riots. They said she would endanger families and Glen Centre businesses, like an upscale market and Starbucks. One neighbor warned that “professional agitators” would take advantage of the little protest and harm “our lovely community.” Soon, the local homeowners’ associations caught wind of the protest, as did the owners of the shopping center.

“We just received a notification from social media site that a protest is being planned at 11 am this morning at the Beverly Glen Ctr as a way to show that protests can reach affluent areas,” a warning from the Mulholland Estates homeowners’ association read. “Please take extra precautions … We also strongly urge you to not have any outside visitors coming into the Mulholland Estates community today so we don’t distract the guards away from their primary responsibility of protecting residents.”

To the dismay of residents and shoppers, the Glen Centre shut down. One resident wrote on Nextdoor: “Center closed in response. Lost business. Our poor local merchants.” Wendy Goldman, who is listed on LinkedIn as the owner and manager of the Glen Centre, wrote that she wanted to charge Black for the lost revenue that day. “You wanted to stand around by yourself and hold a sign, so now you should have to pay the piper,” she wrote. ( Messages left by Curbed with the Glen Centre were not returned.)

 Jenna Chandler
Supporters left flowers and notes in the trunk.

Black was scared off, and with businesses closed, how much of an effect would a protest have anyway? She called it off and instead showed up unannounced one week later, on June 7, and was joined by her friend Courtney, who is Black and lives near the shopping center. (She did not want her last name used.)

This time, the Glen Centre stayed open, but the Glen Development Company hired an armed security guard just in case. “As you have probably noticed, a couple of protestors with protest signs are standing on Beverly Glen Boulevard. It also appears that customers have now started to join them,” the company wrote in an email to tenants. “Although this protest seems to be peaceful, and we have no reason to believe it will escalate, our security company has recommended that we add an armed guard, in addition to the current on-site guard.”

Black says she had been thinking of Courtney’s family when she planned the first protest that never was. “They’ve been racially profiled since the day they moved in. After two and a half years, people still mistake them for being outsiders,” Black says. “I wanted to show my solidarity for them. I knew there was a possibility it would make my neighbors uncomfortable, but why would I go somewhere else to protest something that’s happening right in my backyard?”

In 2018, Courtney moved her family from Culver City to Bel Air to be closer to her daughter’s school. “We were excited to be here,” she says. “We no longer had to be on the 405 to drop off at school. We got a very private property where my kids could ride bikes and scooters, and we had the idyllic little market across the street.”

But even though her new neighbors in Bel Air regularly hosted big parties and celebrations at their homes, she says her family could too easily make waves in a very white community. “I spent the better half of two years saying ‘We have to be quiet.’” When her children did make noise in the front yard, she claims their neighbor sprayed them with a hose, something the neighbor refutes.

Courtney says her family has been asked to leave the shopping center when they ride their bikes in the parking lot or walk there with their dogs, whereas white dog owners have not. Lately, photos have surfaced on social media of her and her family on neighborhood walks that she says were taken well before the protest started. “I’m wearing clothes in the photos that I have not worn in the past few months,” she says.

She says the photo- and video-taking has escalated over the past few weeks, with neighbors commenting on the father of her children’s large stature. He is also Black. One photo that surfaced was of him holding a baseball bat in their driveway. The implication was that he was aggressive, not that he was playing with his children.

 Jenna Chandler
The Glen Centre shut down on May 31 after a resident planned a small peaceful protest.

The Glen Centre’s closure on May 31 signaled to Courtney that the owners did not care about her family, who shops there daily, or the Black Lives Matter movement. “To close it says something. Sunday is a big day,” she says. “It was deafening.”

Courtney isn’t afraid of being too loud anymore. The family is playing a curated selection of music by Black artists and speeches by civil-rights leaders from their car. “This music gets across what I feel and what I live every day as a Black woman,” she says. “My son can’t play with a water gun because he might get shot like Tamir Rice.”

She’s getting some of the reaction that Black got, with neighbors more concerned about the “obscenities” in the music and the disruption to local businesses (one commenter on Nextdoor said they weren’t being “neighborly”) than how Courtney and her family are feeling and how they have been treated. But some residents have started coming to their defense.

“How about [we] all go give this guy a hug or a handshake (i guess COVID-19 won’t allow this) or honk to show support,” one neighbor wrote on Nextdoor. A couple of supporters have left bouquets and cards in the trunk. (“I was just there, it was horrible. It looked like the man was selling flowers out of the back,” one upset resident posted on Nextdoor.)

Employees who work at the shops have been supportive too, but Courtney and Black say shop owners haven’t even done the smallest things to show their support, like putting signs up in their windows.

About a week ago, three men who don’t live in Bel Air showed up to support Courtney. As they stood outside, Courtney and the men, who are Black, shared stories about being called the N-word as children and not knowing what it meant, but knowing it must be derogatory because of the hateful way it was said. “Even in these affluent communities, they still feel the same things we’re feeling,” says one of the men, Chris Rogers, 29, who lives in Hollywood, where protests against police brutality have drawn tens of thousands of people.

Mostly, Courtney’s interactions have been with the police. Cops have been called multiple times, and she received a misdemeanor citation from the LAPD on June 13 for “loud, unnecessary, and unusual noise,” “loud music from car,” and “disturbing neighbors.” But she says she’s willing to face arrest to keep the musical protest going. “We’ve lived uncomfortably every day … Now, finally, you all see what living uncomfortably is like every day,” Courtney says. “You won’t have silence for a good, long while.”


Tiny 1920s Bungalow Near Dodger Stadium Asks $699K

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A small pitch-roofed house hidden behind bushes.

The compact home lives large under skylights and vaulted beam ceilings.

Price: $699,000
Location: Echo Park

One of eight bungalows clustered into a small cul-de-sac off the east side of the street, 1821 12 Echo Park Avenue is of walking distance to the west side of Elysian Park, including its 2.3-mile dog-friendly trail. Dodger Stadium (currently serving as L.A. County’s largest COVID-19 testing site) and the plentiful shops and restaurants along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park are all a three-minute drive away.

Specs: 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 936 square feet, 0.04 acres

According to building permits on file with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, 1821 12 Echo Park Avenue is one of four residences constructed concurrently in 1921. At the time of its construction, the neighborhood was well served by the Red Car railway system, which explains the bungalow court’s dearth of garages and driveways; most of the cul-de-sac’s residents park in front of their homes. Serving to buffer the bungalow from outside intrusion is a set of box hedges. Beyond the hedges is a relatively spacious front porch shaded by deeply overhanging eaves. The compact interior is economically divided up between a front lounge, a galley kitchen–dining area, bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, and a loft space reached via a narrow nautical-style ladder. You’ll find vaulted wood-beam ceilings throughout, as well as hardwood floors, double-hung wood windows, skylights, butcher-block counters, pocket doors, a walk-in closet made over with the Container Store’s modular Elfa shelving system, and a claw-foot tub in the bathroom. Take a virtual tour here.

A small pitch-roofed house hidden behind bushes.
The bungalow’s deep front porch is partially hidden behind box hedges.
Living room with beam ceilings and three windows.
Hardwood floors and beam ceilings are found throughout.
Living area with built-in bench under exposed beam ceilings.
A built-in seating area is slotted into a corner by the kitchen.
Bedroom with a huge opening to a large walk-in closet.
A set of pocket doors separates the sleeping area from an expansive walk-in closet in the bedroom.
Bathroom with white tiles.
The bathroom has been updated with subway tile and new lighting.
Lofted living space under pitched ceilings.
A nautical-style ship ladder leads to the sunny loft.

Sun-Dappled Mid-Century Bungalow Asks $899K in Highland Park

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A one-story house surrounded by trees.The property is well hidden from the street. | Photos by Christine Bullard, courtesy of Alyssa Valentine and Kurt Wisner/Compass

The airy abode makes the most of its space.

Price: $899,000
Location: Highland Park

Tucked into the hills west of Figueroa, 1209 Le Gray Avenue sits on the curve of a narrow sidewalkless street that feels more like a country backroad the deeper you go. Reinforcing the oldfangled rusticity is the nearby Galco’s Soda Pop Stop, a century-old family-run business purveying a dizzying selection of old-timey sodas and candy.

Specs: 2 beds, 1 baths, 972 square feet, 0.25 acres

Built in 1958, the one-story house sits at the end of a sloped driveway, well hidden from the prying eyes of passersby. Further privacy is supplied by a tall gate, beyond which lies a large front deck with expansive canyon views. The property also has a side yard with artificial grass and a built-in grill. Inside, it’s a classic mid-century modern with clean lines, an open-plan common space, and walls of glass. Along with an updated kitchen and bathrooms, it’s got polished-concrete floors, a limestone fireplace, louvered windows, and period-style light fixtures. Copious custom built-ins, including dressers and bookshelves, mitigate the home’s modest size. Take a virtual tour here.

Sunny living room with beamed ceilings and walls of glass.
Walls of glass make the living space feel larger than its actual square footage.
Sunny room with a round dining table and kitchen with built in cabinets.
The open plan living-dining area features beamed ceilings and polished-concrete floors.
Kitchen with wood cabinets and black range hood.
The kitchen has been updated with custom cabinetry, countertops, and new appliances.
Bedroom with gray rug and white built-in cabinet.
The two bedrooms feature built-in storage and designer lighting.
Room with desk.
A movable wall enables a flexible floor plan.
Deck at dusk.
The spacious deck is lined with built-in seating.

How to Bribe a Los Angeles Lawmaker

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A worms-eye view of a looming white concrete building, L.A. City Hall, many stories high. It feels ominous and foreboding, towering above the viewer’s vantage point.Getty Images/iStockphoto

Escorts, cash, and karaoke bars.

José Huizar has presided over Downtown Los Angeles during its emergence as a neighborhood for wealthy locals and tourists, holding more sway over what gets built than anyone else, other than, perhaps, the developers themselves. Huizar, who grew up just outside Downtown in Boyle Heights, was elected to represent both areas on the Los Angeles City Council in 2005. He has staked a large part of his legacy on making the Broadway corridor the heart of Downtown, reopening old movie palaces and attracting businesses like the Ace Hotel, which opened in 2014, and Eggslut, which opened in Grand Central Market in 2013.

Huizar has not been charged in a federal corruption case that’s unfolding in Los Angeles, but he’s the only person who matches the details in court documents describing an L.A. lawmaker, identified as “Councilmember A,” who took a cash bribe from Downtown developers in exchange for help getting rid of opposition to their plans.

From a videoconference broadcast to a courtroom in the federal courthouse on June 3, Justin Jangwoo Kim, a real-estate appraiser and former City Planning commissioner, pleaded guilty to fixing the bribe: $400,000 in cash, collected in a paper bag. The courthouse, fenced off because of protests over police violence, and closed to the public because of the pandemic, was almost entirely empty, as Kim remotely entered his plea.

George Esparza, whom the Los Angeles Times has described as one of Huizar’s closest aides, has also agreed to plead guilty to racketeering as part of what the U.S. attorney has described as a “pay-to-play bribery scheme.” In a plea agreement Esparza signed on May 21, he is described as a city employee and a special assistant for Councilmember A, for whom Esparza admits helping Kim arrange the bribe.

Also pleading guilty — to falsifying facts during the FBI investigation — is a second City Council member, Mitch Englander, who represented a swath of the San Fernando Valley from 2011 until 2018.

Huizar is not named in any plea agreements, but based on their conclusions regarding the details in the court records, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Council president Nury Martinez asked him to resign on May 28, saying details in those filings are “disgusting.”

The corruption probe has proved, in sordid detail, that at least two Los Angeles City Council members were not working for average Angelenos. As court records make clear, they were working for companies that can afford to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and hand it off in a paper bag like a $15 takeout meal.

The development company referred to in the court documents is a limited-liability corporation named 940 S. Hill LLC that has three managers listed in state business records: Dae Lee, Jeong Kim, and Hyuk Lim, three Fashion District merchants. (This is the limit of Jeong Kim’s involvement, as described in court records; all other references in the story are to Justin Jangwoo Kim.) An appeal had been filed against their plans to build a high-rise with 232 condominiums on Hill Street, and they wanted Councilmember A to get that appeal dropped.

The councilmember was down to help make the appeal go away — at a price. In a series of meetings that took place in cars, a coffee shop, bowling alley, hotel, and karaoke bar in 2016 and 2017, Kim helped negotiate the sum — an aid for the councilmember initially wanted $1.4 million and agreed to $400,000. (The developer would later tack on an additional $100,000.) The bribe was handed over in February 2017. The condominium plans were approved two months later by the City Planning department, but construction has not started.

Toward the end of the June 3 hearing, U.S. Central District Court judge John Walter asked Kim if he had done all of these things, and Kim responded demurely: “Yes, I did.” As part of a plea agreement, he must cooperate with federal officials as they continue investigating corruption and “pay-to-play” real-estate deals with elected officials in the city of Los Angeles.

Some of the details that investigators have uncovered — escorts and Lakers-game tickets and greed, clandestine meetings, and cover-ups — belong in the plot of a great noir, a genre that has fictionalized some of L.A.’s ugliest truths. But unlike the movies, no one is watching as the Department of Justice slowly but publicly untangles how some wealthy developers get their projects approved.

It’s unknown at this point exactly how many deals like this the councilmember put together (others have been described in court records), but Kim had a long-term vision for building up a lucrative development operation in Downtown L.A., and it hinged on the councilmember, who Kim referred to as his “boss.” Together, they were plotting a succession plan, with Kim agreeing to find an unidentified “associate” who would form a political action committee supporting the councilmember’s unnamed relative in a bid to replace him when he terms out this year.

The succession plan is one of the key details in the court documents that seems to point directly to Huizar: The filings say a relative of Councilmember A announced her candidacy to succeed him in September 2018. They also say that Councilmember A was the chair of the City Council’s planning and land-use-management committee.

The timeline matches Huizar’s own: In September 2018, Huizar’s wife, Richelle, announced a campaign to replace her husband, but she dropped out of the race two months later after the FBI raided their Boyle Heights home. Huizar also chaired that committee from July 2013 to November 2018, when he was stripped of all committee assignments. Huizar’s attorney declined to comment for this story.

Kim, who resigned from the L.A. City Planning commission in 2011, has donated to the campaigns for a majority of the current City Council, including Mitch O’Farrell, Herb Wesson, Paul Krekorian, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and Huizar. He was also a business associate of George Chiang’s. (Chiang is another development consultant and real-estate broker from the San Gabriel Valley who has agreed to plead guilty in a separate case tied to the corruption investigation.)

According to the FBI, Chiang connected Councilmember A, again widely believed to be Huizar, to a Chinese developer, who the Real Deal has identified as Shenzhen Hazens Real Estate Group. Together, Chiang and the developer arranged a trip to Hong Kong and China for the councilmember and his family, agreed to contribute $100,000 to his relative’s election campaign, and gave tickets to Lakers games to his aides. In exchange, the councilmember helped get the developer’s plans for a W hotel and 435 condominiums near L.A. Live approved, including writing a motion needed to clear the plans through the Huizar-chaired planning and land-use-management committee.

Huizar has given no indication that he will give up his seat before his term ends. He seems to have enjoyed the power, even just the appearance of it. In an email to one of his aides on December 15, 2015, he wrote, “Just a reminder to commit and follow up when people ask me to be on honorary committee. For events even when I am not attending. I just saw that practically all of councilmembers were on HOPE honorary committee and I wasn’t.” The aid, Mayra Alvarez, sued him in 2018, claiming wrongful termination. Copies of emails and text messages contained in the lawsuit, which has not been resolved, show how Huizar treated her, constantly demanding cups of tea, almost always without saying please or thank you. One text thread reads only:




Huizar and Englander, the other Los Angeles councilmember implicated in the investigation, served on the planning and land-use-management committee for more than five years. Englander stepped down from the council two years ago to work for a sports and entertainment company. After he resigned, the FBI accused him of trying to cover up gifts and trips he took with real-estate developers.

As part of his plea agreement, he has admitted to taking a trip to Las Vegas in 2017 with an unnamed real-estate developer, lobbyist, and an unidentified business executive who worked with developers. They paid for his hotel room, $34,000 in bottle service, and ordered him an escort. At one point, the business executive gave Englander an envelope with $10,000 in cash in a casino bathroom.

Later, after the FBI had begun questioning Englander and the business executive, the two drove around Downtown L.A. in Englander’s car while the councilmember allegedly coached the executive on how to lie to investigators, like a scene out of a political thriller. If they asked about escorts and checked his phone records, Englander told him to say, “I was so drunk I don’t remember calling,’ or ‘I don’t remember, maybe I called the wrong number.’”

Black Lives Matter Organizers Share How Defunding Police Could Fund a Better L.A.

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Melina Abdullah, center, chants after she was detained by police in July 2016 while protesting the deadly police shooting of Redel Jones, a 30-year-old mother of two. | Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

“No one is saying that we don’t want to have strong systems of public safety.”

Every morning around 7 a.m., the older folks who lived around Audubon Middle School in Leimert Park spilled out onto their front porches. They would chat with each other as they sipped their coffees, some still dressed in their robes. Sometimes they would shout a warning to the stream of kids walking by: “Stop cussing or I’m gonna tell your mama.”

As someone new to the historically black neighborhood some two decades ago, Melina Abdullah remembers watching the spectacle each morning with growing curiosity, until one day she asked her new neighbors what they were doing. They were watching the babies go to school, they said.

That, she says, was public safety.

“It was beautiful. It was the building of community,” says Abdullah. Neighbors knew each other and looked out for each other. It was why Abdullah, as a young single woman, felt safe living in an apartment that was accessible to the street.

On Monday, Abdullah shared the anecdote with lawmakers who serve on the City Council’s budget committee, making the case that defunding the LAPD is not just about reimagining an entirely new form of public safety but a better Los Angeles, one built around strengthening and supporting communities.

In making the presentation, Abdullah was joined by Baba Akili, a longtime activist and orator; David Turner, a youth organizer and doctoral student at UC Berkeley; and Kendrick Sampson, an actor and activist who founded BLD PWR. Together, they laid out a simple but revolutionary vision for L.A. shaped by their own experiences.

Turner, who grew up around Florence Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard in Hyde Park, says his parents struggled with domestic violence, and when the police got involved, it never helped. Either his mom or dad went to jail, and they never resolved their issues. Instead, he said, it broke their family apart.

“You all have the power and ability to make a new Los Angeles … that protects little black boys like I was, little black girls like my sister,” he told councilmembers.

If the bulk of local taxpayer money did not go to policing in the city of Los Angeles, the money could instead be spent on food, homes, and health care. It could ensure more residents, especially in communities that have been undervalued and ignored, had access to libraries and parks and free public transit. Trained family counselors could respond to domestic disputes. Their message was: Police don’t make communities feel safe.

Their vision has the support of 24,426 Angelenos; that’s the number of responses they’ve received over the past 30 days to a survey asking residents how they would spend the city’s budget. Their responses have formed the “People’s Budget.” Nearly half, or 46 percent, said they would maximize investments in universal aid and crisis management, a category that would include economic assistance, food security, housing security, public health, and health care. The second-biggest priorities were the built environment and reimagined community safety. Nearly 2 percent said they would prioritize law enforcement and policing.

“No one is saying that we don’t want to have strong systems of public safety,” Abdullah told ABC7 on Tuesday. “Just that when you talk about public safety, you can’t reduce it to policing … It’s really important that people understand that those calls for abolition are rooted in real logic. Policing in this country evolved from slave-catching.”

Abdullah moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s to earn her master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science at USC. She’s now a professor of Pan-African studies at Cal State Los Angeles and a Los Angeles Unified School District parent. In 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, she helped form the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter. Over the past few years, she has routinely disrupted police-commission meetings, led a sit-in at City Hall to demand the firing of former police chief Charlie Beck, and coordinated weekly rallies at the Hall of Justice calling for the resignation of Los Angeles district attorney Jackie Lacey.

Over the past several weeks, Abdullah has helped guide huge marches through some of L.A.’s wealthiest neighborhoods, a strategy to get white people to finally pay attention to police brutality against black Angelenos.

On Monday, she told City Councilmember Paul Krekorian that for as long as he’s been chair of the budget committee, she and other organizers have been countering the mayor’s budget proposals, only to be met with silence. “We’ve been calling on the defunding of police for almost five years,” she said.

Now she finally has their attention.

Nury Martinez, the first Latina president of the City Council, said anyone “who grew up in those neighborhoods” and has “actual lived experiences” would not find it difficult to support their vision.

Martinez has already proposed pulling $100 million to $150 million from the $1.86 billion LAPD budget, part of a larger $250 million investment that Mayor Eric Garcetti has said will be diverted to job programs in health and education in black neighborhoods and communities of color.

That’s a start. It’s the equivalent of the $120 million budget increase the LAPD was set to receive this year — until protesters swarmed the mayor’s mansion in Hancock Park, demanding that he defund the police.

On Tuesday, City Councilmember Herb Wesson introduced a motion to replace police officers with unarmed service responders — such as medical professionals, mental-health workers, and homeless-outreach workers — in “noncriminal situations.” It was a direct response to the presentation Abdullah and other activists had delivered the day before.

“The presenters… were absolutely right, we need to reimagine public safety in the 21st century,” Wesson said in a tweet. “We have gone from asking the police to be part of the solution, to being the only solution for problems they should not be called on to solve in the first place.”


Mid-Century Lodge With Ocean and Canyon Views Asks $4.8M in Topanga

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Low-slung home with redwood siding, large glass windows, and large patio. Photos by Pablo Rodriguez, courtesy of Michelle Bolotin/Compass

Designed in 1963 by noted local architect W. Earl Wear.

Price: $4,800,000
Location: Topanga

A winding ten-minute drive from Topanga’s famous storybook restaurant Inn of the Seventh Ray, which is once again open for business, 2440 Minard Road is tucked into the hills just north of the 1,255-acre Tuna Canyon Park. In case you missed it, a recent feel-good story around these parts was the discovery of a new litter of mountain-lion kittens in the Santa Monica Mountains, believed to have been fathered by P-63, who “hails from the northern side of the 101 freeway,” according to National Park Service wildlife biologist Jeff Sikich.

Specs: 3 beds, 3 baths, 1,661 square feet, 0.88 acres

Built in 1963, this two-story lodge was designed by W. Earl Wear, a Canadian-born architect who worked in John Lautner’s office during the early 1950s before launching his solo practice in Topanga. Wear’s homes are known for incorporating copious amounts of redwood, stone, and glass — and this one, which was Wear’s personal residence, is no exception, with both exterior and interior redwood siding, hand-carved stone floors, clerestory windows, and a massive stone fireplace. The gated property also features a 400-square-foot guesthouse with a kitchenette, mature fruit trees (including pomegranate, fig, apple, peach, and citrus), and parking for ten cars.

Notable feature: Angles, angles, angles

Irregular angles throughout the home — like the open-plan kitchen’s trapezoidal marble-topped island and the upper-level bedroom’s slanted ceiling and windows — are visible traces of the house’s distinguished architectural pedigree. They draw a line from Wear to Lautner, a master of dramatic shapes and angles who apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, itself a glorious composition of angled structures made of desert rocks, wood, and glass.

A massive stone fireplace surrounded by walls of redwood and stone floors.
The centerpiece of the home is a stone fireplace that rises up two stories.
Overhead view of a column of redwood beams under clerestory windows.
A bank of clerestory windows tops a tower of redwood beams.
Kitchen with angled countertops.
The open-plan kitchen features angled marble countertops.
Bedroom with angular windows.
The home’s three bedrooms are studies in geometry.
Outdoor stone patio with mountain and ocean views. A hammock hangs between two trees.
Occupying the better part of an acre, the property enjoys stunning ocean and canyon views.


1930s Spanish-Style Home With Original Tile Asks $1.4M in Los Feliz

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Bright living room with casement windows, fireplace, and a gray coffee table and sofa.

Plus stained glass and scalloped cabinets.

LOCATION: Los Feliz — Sitting on the northeast corner of Los Feliz, 3024 Surry Street is about a block west of the Rowena Reservoir. There was some talk of turning the ten-acre fenced reservoir into a true public recreation space last year, but for now it’s a scenic spot for strolling by (you’ll probably pass it on the way to Gelson’s or Trader Joe’s, both less than half a mile away).

PRICE: $1,399,000

SPECS: 2 beds, 2 baths, 1,302 square feet, 0.21 acres — Built in 1937, this tile-roofed Spanish Colonial Revival house remains well preserved. The entrance, complete with a covered patio, opens to a small foyer. On the left, you have a large living room with a stained-glass picture window and wood-burning fireplace. On the right is the dining room, which leads to a kitchen with scalloped cabinetry, original yellow tiles (you’ll also find original tiles in the two bathrooms), and a breakfast nook. Two bedrooms and a laundry room are at the rear of the house. The property also comes with a detached two-car garage, mature trees, and drought-tolerant landscaping.

Dining room with chandelier, large windows, and wood floors.
The formal dining room’s jalousie windows let in both sunlight and cool breezes.
Kitchen features original yellow tiles and scalloped-edge cabinetry.
A newly installed checkerboard linoleum floor complements the cheery kitchen’s original yellow tile and scalloped-edge cabinetry.
Small dining area with built-in cabinets.
A sunny breakfast nook comes with built-in cabinets.
Bedroom with two windows and mirrors on the wall.
One of the two bedrooms.
Pink tiles in a bathroom.
Happily, the beautiful original tile in both of the home’s bathrooms still survives.

California Lawmakers, Trying to Stop Evictions, Still Won’t Cancel Rent

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Under a new bill, tenants would not be evicted for missing rent payments.

For years, California has been gripped by a housing-affordability and homelessness crisis, which has only been amplified over the past three months by a global pandemic. As the state begins to reopen, emergency measures designed to help renters will lapse, and evictions will mount.

“There is no evidence that state or local leaders have begun to plan for what now appears to be an inevitable intensification of what was already a humanitarian crisis,” UCLA professor and public-interest attorney Gary Blasi said last month when he warned of a flood of evictions in coming months.

Five legislators finally did act on Wednesday, introducing a bill that would make it temporarily illegal for landlords to evict tenants who haven’t paid rent during the pandemic. If the bill passes, it would undoubtedly help keep unemployed renters — a number that totals 449,000 in Los Angeles County alone — in their homes at a time when California cities cannot afford to have more people on their streets.

But Assembly Bill 1436 would not provide rent forgiveness or relief in the form of cash assistance, which renters have been demanding since March. Landlords would still be allowed to collect rent through other means, like small-claims court, says Sasha Harnden, a policy advocate at Western Center on Law & Poverty, which is sponsoring the bill.

“We were already struggling before the pandemic. What’s going to happen when I get a bill for past-due rent?” said Imperial Beach renter Patricia Mendoza, holding back tears. “How am I going to pay that?”

Mendoza, a single mother who was furloughed in March, then laid off in April, joined a press briefing Wednesday to announce the bill. She called it “an important step” when more are needed.

There’s a patchwork of temporary rules and laws in place to help renters across California impacted by the coronavirus, but there are also a lot of gaps. Most significantly, even though renters can delay payments to landlords right now, they still have to eventually payback what they owe, and the governor has not stopped property owners from filing eviction cases in court.

On April 6, the Judicial Council of California suspended all hearings on eviction cases, preventing “an eviction tsunami that should have hit L.A. County the first few weeks of April,” says Elena Popp, an eviction defense attorney in Los Angeles.

The rule is set to expire 90 days after the governor’s state-of-emergency declaration is lifted. At that point, Popp says cities without strong tenant protections will face what she calls Tsunami No. 2. “Much more must be done to protect tenants from displacement,” she says.

In the city of San Francisco, supervisors voted Tuesday to permanently bar landlords from evicting tenants who haven’t paid rent, even after the pandemic ends. But like AB 1436, tenants would still have to pay back what they owe over time. The city of Los Angeles is moving to create a $100 million rent-assistance program using federal relief funds, enough to help 74,074 renters.

If signed into law, AB 1436 would be in effect for 90 days after the state’s COVID-19 emergency order expires.

In his May report, Blasi concludes that the most direct strategy to reduce evictions for the nonpayment of rent is what activists have been demanding since the pandemic started: eliminate the need to make rent payments at all.