Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter • December 2015

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

Newsletter • December 2015 • Los Angeles, California                                                                                                    

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Season's Greetings
from the Miracle Mile Residential Association

Breaking News:
Miracle Mile Mail Thieves Arrested

                                                                                                  Courtesy of Roque Wicker
As this edition of the newsletter was going to press, news broke that arrests had been made of two suspected mail and package thieves who have been targeting Miracle Mile apartment buildings. Here are the links:

Larchmont Buzz, December 12, 2015:
Suspects Caught in Miracle Mile Mail and Package Thefts.

Larchmont Buzz, December 12, 2015:
Eye Witness Provides Lead on More Package Thieves.


Petersen Musuem Reopens


Petersen Museum Reopens
MMRA Negotiates Agreement to Limit Noise
from Nighttime Events

The Petersen Museum reopened December 7th after completing its 90-million dollar renovation – which included a major overhaul of its exhibition space as well as its controversial exterior facelift. The stainless steel ribbon wrapped façade has provoked “love it or hate it” reactions from residents, architectural critics, and other commentators [see links below]. But there is no question that the new design has put the museum on the map.
MMRA President James O’Sullivan and Vice President Ken Hixon recently met with Terry Karges, Executive Director of the Petersen, to discuss special events conducted on the rooftop areas of the museum. Karges agreed to a MMRA request that all exterior amplification (public address systems and/or amplified music) be stopped by 10 PM, seven days a week. Noise from nighttime events have been a point of contention between the MMRA and the museum in the past. Karges pledged to work closely with the MMRA to mitigate noise disturbances on nearby residents.

Karges provided O'Sullivan and Hixon with a personal tour of the renovated museum a few days before the official reopening. "The new galleries are a great improvement to the museum," said Hixon. "They really set off a stunning collection of cars and motorcycles. The interactive approach to automative history is very innovative."
Click on image to view a time-lapse video of the Petersen Museum remodeling.

[Images courtesy of the Petersen Museum.]

For additional information:

Petersen Museum website
Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2015: Petersen Automotive Museum’s New Look Conveys Grid Shock., December 4, 2015: Our Look Inside the Petersen Museum’s Beautiful Renovations.
Park LaBrea News/Beverly Press, December 9, 2015: Petersen Museum Shifts Into Fast Lane. Architects Newspaper, December 10, 2015: Petersen Automotive Museum.


Baseline Mansionization Ordinance Revisions Released
– MMRA Votes to Support


Courtesy of                

Baseline Mansionization Ordinance
Revisions Released

– MMRA Votes to Support
by Elizabeth Fuller

Baseline Mansionization Ordinance History:
In May of 2014, City Council Member Paul Koretz introduced a motion calling for revisions to the city’s Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, the document that governs residential building sizes and is aimed at controlling the proliferation of over-sized construction in single-family neighborhoods.  The original BMO, adopted about seven years ago, turned out to be full of loopholes that, instead of having the desired curbing effect, actually allowed developers to increase square footage in a number of ways.  As a result, many of our local neighborhoods have seen increasing numbers of smaller original homes torn down and replaced with new homes that are two or three times larger than the originals.
Neighborhood outcry against “McMansions” has been building ever since, and several local neighborhoods not currently protected by Historic Preservation Overlay Zones have taken steps to protect themselves by applying for HPOZ status and/or Interim Control Ordinances that would help discourage teardowns of original homes while the city works on revising the flawed BMO.
Last week, after almost a year and a half, the city finally released a draft of the revised BMO, and the public consideration process is kicking into high gear with opportunities to review, analyze, discuss and comment on the proposals.
Activist Response to the Proposed BMO Revisions:

One group at the forefront of the anti-mansionization movement for several years has been NoMoreMcMansionsInLosAngeles. A few days ago, the Miracle Mile Residential Association released a video [see article below] of an interview in which NoMoreMcMansionsInLosAngeles’ Shelley Wagers discusses the proposed BMO changes and points out some of her concerns.

In the video, Wagers says that, on the positive side, the new BMO draft “sticks close to Council Member Koretz’s motion and his vision” to correct flaws in the original BMO.  She says the new draft eliminates most of the exception and bonus opportunities in the old law, and that it contains better methods for more accurately calculating floor area ratios.  Floor area exemptions for attached garages (which are often later converted to living space) are gone now, and “proportional” second stories (set back a bit from the front of the main floor of the house) would now be limited to 60% of the main floor living space instead of the old 75%.
At the same time, however, Wagers goes on to say in the video that there are still some concerns to be addressed.  First of all, the new BMO draft puts no limits on patios, breezeways and other areas without solid roofs, even though those spaces, according to Wagers, do significantly affect a property’s interaction with its environment and neighbors.  Second, while the second floor calculations are set as a percentage of first floor area, the draft is not clear enough on how first floor area is to be calculated.  And, finally, Wagers says the draft also contains a provision that would allow a Zoning Administrator to allow an extra 10% of floor area, without providing any parameters for how, when or why that bonus would be awarded.  Wagers says the city already has an established process in place for reviewing variance requests, so there’s no need for a more arbitrary and “behind closed doors” process such as this.
Getting the Word Out:

Ken Hixon, who produced the video for the Miracle Mile Residential Association, says that organization, which has secured an ICO for the Miracle Mile neighborhood and is now working hard to establish an HPOZ, is trying to use its website in new and better ways to get the word out about preservation and issues – like the BMO draft – which directly affect neighbors.  ”We have been trying for the last three or so years to create a “digital” residential association. And our YouTube channel is one of those tools. I am attempting to step up the number of videos we produce. Some people are readers and others are watchers. We’re just trying to get the information out anyway we can.”
In Hixon’s video, Wagers also encourages neighbors to get the word out specifically about the proposed BMO changes, to educate themselves on the issue (even if their neighborhoods already have an HPOZ or ICO in place), and to speak out – loudly – and make their opinions known.  ”There is only one way to make a difference” she says, “…and it is making sure the decision-makers hear your voice.”
To learn more about the proposed revisions to the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, you can view Hixon’s full interview with Wagers here. There is also more information at the website.
And the city of Los Angeles will be holding a series of informational meetings:
Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
: Belmont Village Senior Living Westwood, 10475 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
Ronald F. Deaton Civic Auditorium, 100 W First Street, Los Angeles (Corner of Main St & W First), 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center, Conference Rooms 1a & 1b, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd, Los Angeles, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
Neighborhood Response – Miracle Mile Residential Association:
Many local neighborhoods are also holding their own meetings on the proposed BMO revisions.  The Miracle Mile Residential Association discussed the proposal at its December 1st board meeting and adopted the following resolution, supporting NoMoreMcMansionsIn LosAngeles’ official position:

The board of directors of the Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA) fully supports the positions held by Shelley Wagers and the organization she represents,, regarding the proposed amendments to the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO).
We are in agreement with Ms. Wagers that an amended BMO can provide much needed relief from mansionization provided that the following provisions in the draft proposal be revised and/or eliminated:
1) Eliminate the exemption for patios, breezeways, balconies, etc. 

2) Base the “proportional stories” bonus on the net footprint of the first floor, excluding any space not included in the FAR calculation. As with other “discretionary” matters, have the Planning Department handle bonuses in a properly-noticed public hearing.

3) The provision granting Zoning Administrators the privilege of awarding a 10% “bonus” adjustment in square footage without any public oversight must be eliminated.

The original BMO was riddled with loopholes that made the ordinance utterly ineffective in stemming mansionization. It is crucial that all aspects and formulas contained in an amended BMO be clearly defined and unambiguous. Every aspect of the review process must be transparent and open to full public examination and input.

If the loopholes referenced above are eliminated, the MMRA board of directors believes that the amended BMO would successfully mitigate the most egregious impacts of “McMansions” on established residential neighborhoods.
In approving this motion, the board directs the President to write a letter to Councilmember David Ryu and to the executive board of Mid City West Community Council detailing our “conditional” support of the amended BMO provided the three items above are revised to our satisfaction.
Hixon said after the meeting that “We have the utmost respect for Shelley. She has done her homework.”

For additional information:

Park LaBrea News/Beverly Press, December 2, 2015: L.A. Releases Plans to Fix Mansionization Loopholes.

Larchmont Buzz, December 3, 2015: First Community Meeting on Revised Baseline Mansionization Ordinance Highlights Viewpoint Differences.

This article first appeared on December 2, 2015 in the Larchmont Buzz. The Larchmont Buzz provides online news from Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire area. Elizabeth Fuller is the co-owner and publisher of the Buzz. Our thanks to Liz for permission to republish this article.


Now Playing on the MMRA Channel on YouTube

 Now Playing on the MMRA Channel on YouTube  


Amending the

Baseline Mansionization Ordinance

A Conversation with Shelley Wagers


The first step in the long awaited reform of the City’s infamously ineffective Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO) arrived in a flurry of public outreach meetings that began December 2, 2015. The dates and locations of upcoming meetings – as well as important information about the proposed amendments – can be found on the website.
The Planning Department is aiming for Council adoption of the amendments sometime late next summer, following a comment period, environmental analysis, more public comment, a staff report, and hearings before the City Planning Commission and the Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.   
Shelley Wagers, who has spearheaded the fight against mansionization, discusses the pros and cons of the proposed amendments in a recent video interview for the Miracle Mile Residential Association’s MMRA Channel on YouTube. Wagers issues a call to arms to the opponents of McMansions to make their voices heard at these public hearings, “It’s very important for people who care about mansionization in their neighborhoods and on their blocks to hang together and hang tough.”
This new video, “Amending the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance – A Conversation with Shelley Wagers,” recorded November 28, 2015, is a follow up to an earlier video interview with Wagers recorded last July: “Reforming the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance,” which details the history of the BMO and how the original ordinance was riddled with loopholes that failed to stem the tsunami of McMansions in Los Angeles.


Click on image to view video.



MMRA Launches Inventory of Damaged Sidewalks in the Miracle Mile


MMRA Launches Inventory of Damaged

Sidewalks in the Miracle Mile



The Los Angeles City Council’s Public Works and Budget Committees are wrestling with how to repair L.A.’s broken sidewalks. In settling the Willits vs. City of Los Angeles lawsuit, the city committed to spend $1.4 billion over the next 30 years to fix damaged sidewalks. How this goal will be achieved is very much in flux, but identifying sidewalks in need of repair and prioritization of those repairs is an obvious first step.
The MMRA board of directors will launch a block-by-block inventory of damaged sidewalks in the Miracle Mile in January 2016. This inventory will be submitted to Councilmember David Ryu and the Bureau of Public Works with recommendations of how repairs should be prioritized. There will be no “quick fixes” given how slowly City Hall moves and the vast scale of the problem, but the MMRA wants to do everything within its power to expedite the repair of our sidewalks.
Residents can assist in this effort by emailing photographs of damaged Miracle Mile sidewalks (along with the address) to:

For additional information:
L.A. Streetsblog, November 17, 2015: Muddled L.A. Sidewalk Repair Hearing Inconclusive On How to Proceed.
Los Angeles Daily News, December 12, 2015: Los Angeles’ Sidewalk Repair Program Under Fire.


Miracle Mile Spotlight: Jacob Diaz – The Miracle Mile's Youngest Small Business Owner

Miracle Mile Spotlight:


Jacob Diaz
The Miracle Mile’s Youngest Small Business Owner

The MMRA is an ardent supporter of small businesses in the Miracle Mile. These independently owned and operated enterprises are an integral part of our neighborhood. Local business owners provide an array of services and goods from estate planning to freshly baked cupcakes. Some businesses have been around for decades and others are newcomers. 
Of all the entrepreneurs in the Miracle Mile, Jacob Diaz is the most unique. He is the smallest of the small business owners – literally and figuratively. Jacob is 8 ½ years old, he is very precise about his age. Jacob’s business is retrieving his neighbors’ trash, recycling, and yard waste cans after they have been emptied by the city. He has two customers. He had three, but recently lost one. A 33% drop in revenues would be devastating to most business owners, but Jacob takes the loss in stride.
Jacob is a Miracle Mile resident through and through. His mother has lived in their South Sierra Bonita Avenue home since she was in high school. Jacob and his sister, Bella (age 6 ½ – she, too, is very precise about her age), attend Cathedral Chapel School. Jacob is in third grade which he says in more interesting than second grade. Asked what his favorite subject is at school, Jacob replied, “I don’t know, they’re all good. And really hard, too. There’s some tricky stuff. Math I’m doing good on.”
Jacob explained how his business plan evolved: “My mom like suggested that I should get a business and make some cash and I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll do that.’”
Jacob says that the Miracle Mile is a good place to live and do business. He has found a good balance between work, school, and his personal life. He enjoys swimming, kick ball, and basketball. “I like to play. I like to read. There’s this book called Magic Treehouse – these kids travel in time and sometimes they have riddles to solve.”
Jacob’s mother, Esther, helped him with a practical aspect of his business he explained, “When I got money I put it in my piggy bank, but then it would always get stuck in there. So, then by mom made a Piggy Box.”
A Piggy Box is a clever way for children to organize their finances. It has three drawers designated save, give, and spend. Jacob also uses an app to keep track of his money. Jacob readily agreed with this interviewer that he has a pretty cool mom.


Miracle Mile Real Estate • November 2015 Sales


Miracle Mile Real Estate
• November 2015 Sales •


749 S. Cloverdale Ave. #102 condo: 2 bdrm; 3 bath
1,626 sq. ft
listed price: $799,000
sale price: $789,000
sale date:11/20/2015

744 S. Ridgeley Dr.
6 unit apt. bldg.
6,019 sq. ft.
lot: 8,575 sq. ft.
listed price: $2,485,000
sale price: $2,485,000
sale date: 11/10/2015



(...below the fold...)


MMRA Board Meeting
January 5, 2016
@ 7 PM

Board meetings are held at

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Miracle Mile

History Quiz

The May Co. appliance store on Wilshire Boulevard decorated for Christmas, circa 1949. What building now occupies this location?

Miracle Mile Farmers' Market
Every Wednesday 11 AM ~ 3 PM

Wilshire Courtyard

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

James O’Sullivan, President

Alice S. Cassidy, Vice President

Joseph Steins, Treasurer

Ken Hixon, Vice President
Director of Communications

Mark Zecca, Chairperson
Miracle Mile HPOZ Committe

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Copyright © 2015 Miracle Mile Residential Association.  All rights reserved.

Miracle Mile Residential Association
P.O. Box 361295
Los Angles, CA 90036-9495


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