Archives for November 2011



You have no doubt used it. No doubt wondered how you got along without it. It has guided you to a party out of town and has never been wrong. Some may consider it essential when life gets crazy and you find yourself running around getting everything on your list done. No, I am not talking about the old school Thomas Guide. I am talking about the GPS. You know, the Girly Pointing System, aka your wife or girlfriend.


This just came in from the  Verdugo Woodlands West Homeowners Association. We encourage everyone in the Verdugo Woodlands area of Glendale to take this very seriously and to be safe.


Actually, it’s much more than that. Very early Friday morning, a resident on Bonita heard scuffling outside in the back yard. Upon looking out her window, she saw large mountain and began screaming, realizing that her small dog was sleeping in its dog house outside. The lion took the dog from its dog house, jumped the 6-ft-high wall and took it away. The woman’s husband who also saw the mountain lion, reports it is a large one, approximately 200 pounds.

Upon hearing of this, your homeowners association advised the police that we would send an e-blast to our membership and requested that a mobile trailer with a reader board be positioned on Opechee so that everyone, members who do not regularly open their e-mails, and non-members alike, will be aware of the current situation. Informational flyers will soon be distributed throughout the neighborhood.

We all appreciate the pro ific wildlife in the Woodlands and from time to time we’ve all heard reports of mountain lion sightings. For many reasons, it is disturbing to hear of one as far down as Bonita.

Please be extra vigilant. We’ll keep you apprised of any further information that comes our way.

Verdugo Woodlands West Homeowners Association



Please do your part to prevent repeat visits. The animal will remain in the area if it finds food.

Don’t leave small children or pets outside unattended.

Don’t allow pets outside when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk, and at night.

Bring pet food inside to avoid attracting raccoons, opossums and other potential mountain lion prey.

Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.

Trim overgrown landscaping.

Never water your lawn at night.

If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.

If attacked, fight back.

If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.

For more information, contact Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA 626/792-7151 –

Short Painting Life

Glendale is such a cool city to live in with really cool communities and cool people living in them. Tell us what you are doing and what makes your community so neat. We are posting this video of Local Glendale artist Farzad Kohan and his Super daughter made a short film. I love the California lifestyle that we share in Glendale. I love that fathers and daughters are combining their creative talents to make such a fun, cool project!

8 Things to make Glendale Safe for driving (& living)

So if you remember, last week I wrote about how Glendale is listed in the Worst Drivers in America as number 3. I asked what can we do to make our city a safer place for driving? Here are some of my thoughts.

1. Make Driver Education a mandatory class. Glendale Unified School District can apply for defense department grants and claim the need for money to pay for this under National Security.

2. GDMV (Glendale Department of Motor Vehicle) – Lets start our own GDMV and issue driver license. Lets make it safer by making it tougher.

3. Civil Suits – I’m no lawyer but I say that the city sues the car dealers and manufactures. Lets not sell over powered cars to people who can’t drive them safely. If the car companies and dealers learn that they will be held responsible for the people who buy them then they might think twice about selling them to anyone.

4. Raise the driving age to 21 in Glendale. – Why not? If you can make it illegal to purchase alcohol until you are 21 why not make it illegal to drive a car until you are 21?

5. Improve Public Transportation – Glendale (and everywhere else in Los Angeles) needs better Public Transportation. If people could get around town easier without a car they wouldn’t drive so much. Less driving equals safer roads.

6. Crossing Guards at all Schools! – Yes I know it’s crazy but really. How much do crossing guards cost? I’m thinking they can’t be a really big ticket item but yet they can save lives every day! So come on, lets

7. Sidewalks – Do you know that there are some neighborhoods near schools that don’t have sidewalks? This requires children to walk in the road on their way to school and home again? Let’s make sure that every neighborhood within 5 miles of every public school has a sidewalk!

8. Car Tax! – Lets make a crazy high tax for everyone who owns a car and stores it within the city of Glendale. The city can own a huge parking lot on the edge of town and with all that money from the car tax they can pay for a public transportation system to get people to the public lot. Maybe the Car Tax can help pay for the sidewalks, the crossing guards, etc.


Eating Healthy on the Road



Road trips and airplane rides can be a breeding ground for nutritional disaster, especially if you are not prepared. Yes, vacation is a time to let loose, but not so much so that you come back 10 pounds heavier. To keep this from happening, make sure that you have a plan.
Spend your calories wisely and plan out your indulgences. For example if you know that you are going to have a decadent dinner later on plan out your other meals and snacks appropriately. This can be done by packing smart snacks. Fresh fruit, energy bars, trail mix and air-popped popcorn travel well and are easy to eat while on the road. If you have ready to go healthy snacks in the car you are less likely to stop at a convenience store and buy junk food or overeat at your next meal.
Not only are your food choices important, but your beverage choices as well. Not all beverages are created equal. Water, especially on long flights or road trips will keep you well hydrated. Unsweetened ice tea can also be a good choice if caffeine is not a problem for you. If you must have a soda, choose a diet soda. But be careful, some studies have shown that drinking diet soda may cause a person to snack more on salty foods and consume more calories in general than if a person were to drink just plain water.
Airplanes can also be a trap for eating high calorie unhealthy foods. Pack a snack while traveling by plane and try and stay away from the boxed lunches and snacks that are served on the plane because many are loaded with fat, calories and sugars. Carrots, apples, bananas, granola bars, water, and peanut butter pretzels are easy portable foods that can be brought on an airplane.
One final component of being able to indulge on vacation and not come back with tight fitting pants is to remember your exercise routine. If you are taking a long road trip map out places that you are able to stop for a walk or hike and include in your itinerary. Also once you reach your final destination check with the concierge at your hotel for all the local running/bicycling/hiking paths as well as the hours of the gym located in your hotel. If you are traveling by plane make sure you get up frequently from your seat to walk around the plane and stretch your muscles.
You are on vacation so let loose and enjoy yourself. But remember if you have to think twice about eating something, it’s probably not worth eating!
Have a great vacation!

Real estate’s class divide…


…seen from the other side

At any party or social gathering in Glendale, the topic of conversation invariably gets around to real estate. Nothing unique to Glendale — mortgage rates and the price of homes have been a national obsession for years. But it has been particularly manic here in Southern California, home to one of the biggest real estate bubbles of all time.

I’ve been in dozens of those conversations. “Did you hear what the Jones’s house sold for?” “Have you refinanced?” “I’m thinking of getting a broker’s license.”

In the last three years, of course, the tone of the conversations has changed. Now it’s “There’s another foreclosure on our block.” “We’re under water, but hanging in there.” “Do you think the market’s turning around?”

Back in the heady days of 2006, my wife and I were homeowners in Glendale’s Verdugo-Woodlands neighborhood. Like everyone else in our situation, we watched our home value soar and our home equity cushion grow. That was going to help fund our retirement and our kids’ college education.

We had bought our little two-bedroom bungalow in 1998 for $289,000, and eventually put another $100,000 into it, including an addition with a third bedroom. Even with a big home equity loan on top of a mortgage, by 2006 we were way ahead of the game, so far above water we couldn’t see the waves. We and our neighbors toasted our good fortune.

But not all of our friends were hoisting glasses. Some were renters, and for them it was an entirely different conversation. Their dream of home ownership was slipping out of reach. Those conversations could get a little uncomfortable, as our dream of fat home equity cushions became their nightmare of unaffordable housing. And their hope of a real estate crash bringing prices back within their reach was our nightmare.

Reading real estate blogs in 2006 (didn’t everyone?) was a sobering experience: Homeowners cheered the bubble and rooted for more price gains, denying the possibility of a crash. Renters, angry at being priced out of the party, excoriated the greed of home sellers. They predicted an armageddon that would punish the avaricious and reward those who waited on the sidelines. It was out-and-out class warfare: land owners vs. serfs.

That same year, I accepted a transfer from my employer and we moved to Washington, D.C. We sold our house in V-W at the top of the market, and packed what seemed like suitcases full of cash (figuratively) for our move back East.

Put simply, we were drunk on home equity. We bought a 3,200-square-foot house in suburban Vienna, Virginia. We knew we were paying too much and that prices were not likely to keep moving up. But we could afford it, we told ourselves, and felt we deserved it after living in small houses for 18 years. Plus, we were planning to live there for many years, not trying to flip it.

Then came the crash of 2008. I lost my job, and we ended up back in Glendale. We couldn’t sell our house in Virginia, but we managed to keep up the huge mortgage and tax payments and avoid foreclosure by renting it out.

We put it on the market for sale three times over a two-year period as its value eroded, before we finally sold it in 2010. We were luckier than many — we weren’t under water, but we lost almost half of that big home equity pile we had accumulated over two decades of home ownership.

Today we are renting a little Spanish bungalow in Verdugo-Woodlands, about six blocks from the home we once owned — which, to add insult to injury, has been painted a hideous lime green by the new owners.

These days, I see those Glendale real estate conversations in a different light. I sympathize with our neighbors who are struggling to hold onto their homes, or have seen their nest eggs evaporate. They talk hopefully of a market rebound, a day when prices resume their upward climb and make them whole again.

That’s when the conversation becomes a little uncomfortable — for me. I know that our only hope of getting back into home ownership is for prices to keep falling, maybe another 10 or even 20 percent. We still have a decent sum in the bank, but not enough for a prudent down payment and a manageable mortgage at current prices.

In truth, given our age (mid-50s) and with two kids to put through college, I’m not sure it will ever make sense for us to be homeowners again. Those are the cold, hard financial facts, but emotionally it’s hard to give up on the dream of owning your own little patch of the Earth, especially when you had one for 20 years.

Economists talk about a possible double-dip recession in 2012, and another wave of foreclosures waiting to flood the market. What a miserable prospect — and what a hopeful sign for us. It gives me no pleasure to think that, but there it is.

Among friends, I keep my thoughts to myself. I don’t rant on blogs about greedy home sellers, having been one myself. I sit silently on the sidelines, a renter in the neighborhood where I was once an owner, waiting and watching from the other side of the property class divide.

That’s my Glendale real estate story. What’s yours?

Got something to say?

Every feel like you have something to say but you just aren’t quite sure where you want to say it? Writing letters to the newspaper is cool but it feels so old school. Does anyone even read the letters section anymore? I don’t know either. Well what about griping about it on Facebook? Yeah that’s okay as well but only your friends and your 4th grade teacher will see it. Plus they can’t do anything about the reason you are upset?

Maybe you’d like to write an opinion piece on Urban Toot? We are currently looking for individuals who want to donate their time to write opinon and news events for Urban Toot! Just use the contact page and tell us what you want to write about and we’ll get back to you. Be sure to include a writing sample so that we know you are serious about doing that. We ask that your writing be honest, ethical and while you might disagree with something somewhere we want you to be respectful. It’s just good manners.


Bad Driver, Bad!


What I’m going to say isn’t going to shock anyone who has lived in Glendale for more then a day. Glendale, California has some of the worst drivers in the nation. A recent article in Forbes  points out the top cities for the worst drivers in America. In fact what they said is:

3. Glendale, Calif.

Glendale residents are estimated to get into an accident once every 5.5 years.


Now it’s easy to say to one’s self. Hey, one accident every 5.5 years isn’t bad. So that’s like a fender bender and one rear end while my kid is in Middle School and then High School. Another way to look at it is well at least we are number three! Those other people in Washington D.C. and Baltimore must be really bad drivers! In fact the truth is that in Washington D.C , Forbes reports that they average accidents 4.8 years and Baltimore is every 5.3 years. Again, that might not seem very bad until you realize that the average US driver, on average, only is involved in an accident once every 10 years!

So my big question is why? Why are we such bad drivers? I mean seriously? We are worse then Newark, New Jersey? Seriouly? When I was a young man I used to work for a rent a car company and had to drive in the Newark area on a regular basis. Let me tell you that Glendale is no Newark, nor do we ever want to be! We shouldn’t be anywhere Newark in this regard!

Don’t even get me started that we are worse drivers then Jersey City! Jersey City is where the Holland Tunnel enters and exists into and out of New York City! They only get into accidents once every 6.4 years and in 2007 they had 34,698,000 vehicles go through. How do they have a better traffic rate then Glendale?

So my question is why are we such bad drivers? Aren’t Glendale and Burbank so similar in so many ways? Don’t we share a helicopter with Pasadena and Burbank? Don’t we share an airport? I’m sure that we share a bunch of other things but we don’t seem to share our bad driving habits with them? What is Burbank’s driving record? What about Pasadena? I know that no two or three cities are never the same but come on. Why are they completely out of the top 12 and we are number 3? What are our elected officials doing about it? What is the police doing? What are we as a community doing about it? What are we as a city doing about it? What are we as drivers doing about it? What are we as citizens doing about it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this? Why do you think Glendale, California is home to so many bad drivers? Maybe even more important is the question, What can we do to improve our city so that we get off that list and start being safer?

Next week! My top ideas to make Glendale, California a safer city to drive in!





La Cañada Flintridge Homes Values Report

As I look at the charts of our performance in La Canada real estate I am struck by how much of our market is driven by the school schedule. Sellers and buyers jump into the market right at the first of the year. Our savvy population understands that completing the move from house “A” to house “B” can take a few months, and it is mission critical to be in and settled by August.

This year the predictable spring rise in inventory stopped early and suddenly at the end of May- typically this rise lasts until end of July.

Home sales rose steadily until August and then fell sharply once school registration was over. The most disturbing number, though, is the sharp decline in new contracts in September. Only 6 homes entered escrow for the entire month. This will negatively impact the number of closed escrows 60 days from now.

Our Months Supply of inventory has been rising since July and we are now at 5.1- solid Neutral Market. Average price per square foot reflects this with a flat trend line since May.

Under 1 Million

This category did not even exist in La Canada 5 years ago, and now represents about 25% of the market. Inventory did NOT rise this spring has been falling steadily, all year. At the same time, sales have been steady resulting in the months supply of inventory that has fallen into solid Seller Market. Price trends are nearly impossible to comment on, however, because the average of just a few sales is meaningless.

1 Million – 2 Million

This is our “Bread and Butter” price range, with 42% of the homes currently listed as well as a majority of the sales falling in this category. Because this is the majority of the market, trends predictably follow the overall La Canada market. Inventory rose until the end of spring; sales rose until the end of summer. In September, we saw a bump up in inventory and a sharp decline in closed escrows, landing us at 5.5 Months Supply of Inventory- a strong Neutral Market. Average price per square foot, however, has been bouncing all over the place with 7% decline from one year ago.

2 Million and Above

Our upper end represents nearly 30% of our inventory, but only a small percentage of the sales. The good news is this dynamic is reflected through out Southern California. Even marquee areas like Newport and Beverly HIlls have an over supply of high end homes.

La Canada represents a tremendous value over these marquee areas and with our world class schools, stunning natural beauty and close proximity to several major business centers.

A few of these trophy homes have sold each month and the rate has been quite steady.

Kendyl Young blogs daily at and she covers local real estate trends, hot properties and community happenings in Glendale, La Canada and La Crescenta. You call or text her at 818-396-7588 or email Amusing tweets; @kendyl

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