Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter • November 2013

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

Newsletter • November 2013 • Los Angeles, California                                                                                                    

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MMRA Annual Town Hall Meeting • Saturday, November 2, 2013
MMRA Introduces the First Annual Resident Poll
A 21st Century Residential Association
The Mid City West Trolley Plan

Then and Now • James O'Sullivan
One More L.A. Neighborhood on the Verge of Being
Saved from Mansionization • Dick Platkin

Miracle Mile Real Estate • October 2013 Sales

(...below the fold...)

Miracle Mile Residential Association
Annual Town Hall Meeting

Saturday, November 2, 2013
10 AM ~ 12:30 PM

Korean Cultural Center • 5505 Wilshire Boulevard

The MMRA will celebrate its 30th Anniversary at our Annual Town Hall Meeting, Saturday, November 2, 2013 at the Korean Cultural Center. The Miracle Mile is the location of an extraordinary number of upcoming projects that will have a direct impact on all of our residents.
Updates on:
Purple Line Subway Extension Construction
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
and other Major Projects

Everyone is welcome – even if you aren’t a member. The MMRA represents all the residents of the Miracle Mile: renters and homeowners. We are a consensus-based organization; we need to hear from you.
Town Hall Discussion:
Traffic, Parking, Safety, and other Miracle Mile Issues

and yes, refreshments will be served…

Thanks to the 100-plus residents who put up lawn signs promoting the annual meeting. The steel U-shaped lawn sign stands can be reused next year – so, please return them at the annual meeting or at the next MMRA Board of Director’s meeting, Thursday, November 7, 2013, 7 PM at the Westside Jewish Community Center, 5870 W. Olympic Boulevard.
MMRA Introduces the First Annual Resident Poll

MMRA Introduces the

First Annual Resident Poll

MMRA boundaries [click image to enlarge].

In the spirit of our upcoming annual town hall meeting – where we will have the opportunity to hear from many of you in person – we have implemented our first annual poll of Miracle Mile residents to gather as much input as we can. This survey will help us better understand how you feel about things in general and what specific issues matter most to you.
In the future, we will be creating smaller, more targeted polls to gauge your opinions on single topics, such as subway construction, bike lanes, new developments, historic preservation, and other matters. The Miracle Mile Residential Association [MMRA] is a consensus driven organization and polling is one of the best ways for us to arrive at consensus.
This annual poll is not just for residents living within the boundaries of the MMRA [see map above], we are also interested in how residents in neighboring areas feel, too. We are utilizing SurveyMonkey for our polls; it is a secure and simple way to gather your input. Poll participants are anonymous and your honesty is welcomed. So, please take a few minutes to complete the poll – there are over 50 questions with opportunities to make specific comments. And you can skip over the questions that don’t interest or apply to you. Just click on the link:

Thank you…


A 21st Century Residential Association

A 21st Century
Residential Association

What a difference a few clicks can make…

The digital outreach campaign the Miracle Mile Residential Association initiated this year is not just to improve communications with the residents; it is also part of our plan to create a 21st Century residential association via MailChimp, Twitter, Facebook, SurveyMonkey, Word Press, and soon YouTube. Frankly, many people are either too busy to participate in community affairs or they are just allergic to meetings. We get it.
In this age of ever-evolving technology people want immediate connectivity. They want to know what’s happening now. Photocopied newsletters and monthly meetings don’t always cut it. We have all become accustomed to instantly voicing our opinions – thumb up or down, send, like, or friend – with a click.
The MMRA believes that the vast majority of our residents really do care about what happens in the Miracle Mile. Some are more demonstrative and love to have a public forum to express themselves – others prefer private ways of sharing their opinions. It is our goal to engage and include everyone, regardless of how busy, tired, or shy they may be.
We are using every digital tool at our disposal to keep you in the loop and to attract your participation in the discussion. We are not just giving lip service to feedback – all of our effort to create a digital residential association is pointless without it. If you have an idea or an opinion, share it with us. If you disagree with us, tell us. If there is something we could do better, we are all ears. Contact us at:
All of this is designed to be a two-way street between the MMRA and our residents. And this is the time of year when we need you to click a few extra buttons to support our efforts by joining or renewing your membership in the MMRA. Your dues pay for our digital toolbox: our newsletter, website, and future YouTube channel productions. For a few cents more than $2 per month you can help the MMRA join the 21st Century.
For those who prefer the old school way: click HERE to print a membership form and for the address of where to send your check. And for those of you who are down with new school: click on the PayPal button.


The Mid City West Trolley Plan


The Mid City West Trolley Plan

[or how to get you husband to leave the car at home…]

Last June billionaire developer Rick Caruso introduced the idea of an extension of the Grove’s fixed rail trolley to connect the popular shopping center with Museum Row at Wilshire and Fairfax. Recently, it was announced that the Los Angeles Museum of Art had teamed with Caruso to study the proposal. The results of an engineering study Caruso commissioned are expected later this month.

But several years before Caruso’s plan, Julie Anne Brame had a problem. Brame, who lives in the Crescent Heights/Melrose area, likes to walk – her husband doesn’t. After work, Brame would often encounter resistance from her husband when she suggested that they walk down to 3rd Street to try one of the many restaurants there. He would usually prefer to drive, even though parking is always difficult. Out of her idle wish that there were some easy way to quickly get around the area – so that she could get her husband out of the house without driving – came an idea: the Mid City West Trolley.

Brame [photo right] is a resourceful woman and persistent, too. She kicked around the idea with like-minded friends and a plan evolved to have a rubber wheel trolley that would connect Melrose, Fairfax, the Grove, the Miracle Mile, La Brea, 3rd Street, the Beverly Center, and the Cedars-Sinai medical complex. She and her supporters did their homework, studying successful rubber wheel trolley projects across the country.

They took a fresh and modern approach to develop a program that would connect densely populated neighborhoods, existing parking garages, and popular destinations to facilitate circulation and reduce local automobile traffic. Their target riders would be residents, business patrons, employees, students, and tourists.

Their research helped them devise a check list: the trolleys would have to come every 15 minutes, their time of arrival easily monitored via a GPS smart phone app, they would have to provide free wifi access for passengers, and be comfortable and fun. The trolley program would also have to be flexible to allow for route expansion and to navigate around obstacles, like the upcoming subway construction in the Miracle Mile.

They knew that to succeed their trolley would need savvy marketing and promotion and both private and public support. And it would take a lot of outreach. That’s when Brame looked around for a way to learn the ropes and promote her trolley plan. So, in 2011 she got herself elected to the board of Mid City West Community Council [MCWCC]. As she got the lay of the land – how things get done in L.A. – she began to pitch her trolley idea to fellow board members, representatives of homeowner and residential associations, City council members, and anyone else who would listen.

Click on map to enlarge.

Her skills of persuasion and well thought out approach began to win fans. She did not have to make a hard sell: ever worsening traffic congestion constricts travel and commerce in the area and the advent of the Purple Line subway extension makes “first mile-last mile” transportation from subway stations imperative. And the projected one million visitors a year to the soon-to-be Academy Museum at the former May Company will only exacerbate gridlock along Fairfax. The consensus was clear: something had to be done.

Soon, MCWCC endorsed a motion in support of studying the feasibility of Brame’s trolley plan, Councilmember Tom Labonge publicly announced his support at recent meeting of the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, and the Miracle Mile Residential Association will consider a motion in support of the project at its upcoming board meeting on November 7th. And even Rick Caruso gave a nod to the Mid City Trolley by asking his engineers to include a review of Brame’s plan in the study of his fixed rail trolley, which many residents strongly oppose on grounds that it would only further clog traffic and present many safety issues.

While Caruso’s fixed rail trolley grabs all the headlines, Brame’s rubber wheel trolley steadily gained traction. Brame is clear that her plan is very much a work in progress and that the current proposed route could and probably will change depending on which parts of the area are most supportive. Hence, the inherent advantage of a rubber wheel trolley – the route can be expanded to meet new demand and include more of the Mid City West area.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation would operate the system, but the financing is complex. It will take a mix of private and public money to get the trolley rolling and, long term, it would take an ongoing financial commitment from the City to sustain it. Although, Brame aspires to follow the example of other successful rubber wheel trolley programs that generate substantial income from advertising revenues.

The initial plan is to begin on weekends to test the concept with service beginning of Fridays from 6 PM to midnight; Saturdays 10 AM to midnight; and Sundays from 11 AM to 10 PM. If this pilot plan succeeds service would be expanded to 7 days per week.

And, perhaps – in a year or so – Brame and her husband (and the twins she is soon expecting) will be able to leave their car at home when they go out for dinner.

[Image credits: Grove Trolley, courtesy of Chloe Woods; all other images courtesy of Julie Anne Brame.]

For additional information...

Mid City West Trolley Quick Facts Fixed Rail Trolley between LACMA and the Grove?

Los Angeles Times: Grove developer, LACMA study feasiblity of Fairfax trolley

Park LaBrea News/Beverly Press: Mid City West Gets Rolling with Trolley



Then and Now • A Message from James O'Sullivan


Then and Now…
A message from James O’Sullivan, President of the MMRA

The Miracle Mile Residential Association celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. It is a milestone that naturally provokes reflection both in terms of where we have been and, more importantly, where we are going.
Suffice it to say, a lot has changed in the Miracle Mile since the founding of this organization in 1983 when the residents rallied together over the development of the Wilshire Courtyard complex [photo below]. At that time, the project – which occupies Wilshire to 8th Street and from Curson to Masselin Avenues – caused a great deal of alarm in the community. The MMRA was formed as a vehicle to express our concerns and our collective effort was rewarded when the development was scaled down and a privately maintained public park area was created along 8th Street. That park is one of the greatest achievements of the MMRA. It established an important precedent to maintain a landscaped buffer along the north side of 8th Street for all the projects to follow.
But there are many projects and battles that did not have such happy endings. Sometimes we had very little time to react and other times our voices were ignored. But win or lose, then and now, good communication between the residents and the MMRA is absolutely essential. This year we have made a concerted effort to improve communication. We have instituted a new monthly newsletter, refreshed our website, and revitalized our use of Facebook and Twitter. In December we will be launching the MMRA Channel on YouTube as yet another means of sharing discussions about important issues and to cover all sides of any given topic. We are committed to encouraging a lively and open dialogue with all residents of the Miracle Mile.
We have a proud past but that doesn’t guarantee our future success as a vital and viable residential association. The Miracle Mile – and the City at large – is confronting major challenges, problems, and issues. How well the MMRA represents you is solely dependent on how well we understand you. That is why this year’s Annual meeting will be in a town hall format. Yes, there are impending projects and immediate matters that we need to make you aware of – but we need your input, your questions, and your opinions to help us shape our agenda and to give focus to our efforts to protect and improve the quality of life in the Miracle Mile. The MMRA is only valuable when it effectively advocates for the residents we strive to represent. Our strength depends on your support.
The poll in this edition of the newsletter is another way for us to gather your input. We all have different perspectives and experiences. Some of us are homeowners, but the majority of our residents are renters. Some are retired “empty-nesters” and others are dual-income families raising children. Some ride a bike every day and others haven’t been on bike in decades. Some of us work at home, but the majority of us work outside the Miracle Mile. Understanding the diversity and lifestyles of our residents will help the MMRA understand how you relate to this community and what you want from it.
For example: when I first moved to the Miracle Mile in 1987 much of what I needed on a daily basis was here. The Auto Club had a branch office on Wilshire and Ridgeley where I could renew my auto registration, plan vacations or pay my premiums. If I needed a new suit or tie I could go to Zachary All (where the Walgreen’s is now). I could buy a Christmas present or an umbrella at the May Company (soon to be the Academy Museum). My wife could buy a dress or a scarf at Orbach’s (now the Petersen Automotive Museum). If I didn’t want to battle the long checkout lines at Ralph’s, I could duck into Roman Foods (now part of the Staples store). In other words, traveling outside the Miracle Mile for something I needed was an option – not a necessity. Now, because we no longer have these types of stores, I am frequently stuck behind the wheel of my car trying to get to Trader Joe’s or Macy’s. I have become part of the problem: adding to the traffic congestion that has grown so much over the last thirty years.
In 1987 there were a lot more affordable apartments in the Miracle Mile. Albeit, they were in older buildings, but they were built in an age when craftsmanship was valued. They had plaster crown moldings, custom ironwork, beautifully tiled kitchens and bathrooms. They were practical, aesthetically pleasing, and tenants tended to stay put. They weren’t as expensive and lacked the amenities of the new complexes built along Wilshire Boulevard in the last ten-or-so years. These newer buildings cater to single, well-paid young professionals who tend to move on once they marry or have children or wake up one day and realize that their mortgage-size rent payments could actually buy a house in Valencia or Riverside. And then they become part of the transportation problem, too, as they join the ranks of commuters who pour in and out of L.A. every day.
Economics, of course, is one of the motors driving all of these changes. The economics that brought department stores to the Miracle Mile in the first place closed them down when shopping malls like the Beverly Center or the Grove became the new models of profitability. Ditto the new apartment complexes: the price of land and construction dictated cramming in as many units as possible. And the economics of scale doomed many small retailers and replaced them with franchise or chain operations.
But the politicians and city planners have had the strongest hand in all this. Their notions of Regional Planning and Smart Growth and Elegant Density have been anything but. They strive to maximize density without any regard to where all these people are going to work, shop, or play.
So, what do I want in the Miracle Mile? I want it to be more of a self-sustained community with a larger variety of retailers so I can walk to get what I need instead of driving. I want less density so that the historical fabric and livable scale of the Miracle Mile is not eradicated by bland, ubiquitous buildings that bring thousands of new residents (and their cars) into the area. I want a better DASH or trolley system that will efficiently transport me to Cedars-Sinai or the Grove. And, while I’m at it, I want the sidewalks repaired, too.
But right now, both as a neighbor and as the President of the MMRA, I am much more interested in hearing what you want. See you at our annual meeting on November 2nd.

[Image credits: Miracle Mile postcard, courtesy of Plummer & Associates; Wilshire Courtyard, courtesy of; Zachary All, courtesy of the Marlene Laskey Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.]


One More L.A. Neighborhood on
the Verge of Being Saved from Mansionization

One More LA
On the Verge
Being Saved
from Mansionization

by Dick Platkin

[Editor’s Note: On October 18, 2013 the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance that would restrict the size of new residences in the Beverly Grove District. The ordinance limits new residences built in Beverly Grove to 3,000 square feet on an approximately 6,100-square-foot lot. In the following article Dick Platkin describes the long battle to stop “mansionization” in this area.]

Beverly Grove, a neighborhood sandwiched between Park La Brea, LACMA, the Farmers Market, Cedars-Sinai, and the Beverly Center is on the verge of becoming the third Los Angeles neighborhood to obtain protection against mansionization through a Residential Floor Area (RFA) district.  Since many other Los Angeles communities are interested in similar safeguards, here is a brief overview of what has transpired and what is on the horizon. 
First, so far the Los Angeles City Council has adopted two Residential Floor Area ordinances: Sunland-Tujunga and Studio City.  In both cases the existing ordinance, the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance, was totally ineffective in stopping the construction of super-sized, spec houses that tower over existing homes.

Second, three other Los Angeles communities – in Valley Village, Beverlywood, and Brentwood – all suffering from the same oversized, out-of-character houses, received City Council motions directing the Department of City Planning to prepare a local Residential Floor Area ordinance.  But, because the Department of City Planning failed to act on these motions within a two year City Council deadline, these three motions were voided.
Third, Council District 5, which backed the Beverly Grove RFA, announced that three other communities have also requested RFA's in order to stop similar, fast-paced construction of oversized houses. 

Fourth, in the case of the Beverly Grove RFA, Council District 5, under Councilmember Jack Weiss and his successor, Paul Koretz, conducted two independent surveys of constituent attitudes regarding mansionization and a proposed RFA.  In both surveys, 62 percent of local households (with a 50 percent plus response rate) supported local regulations to stop mansionization or a specific RFA ordinance.  Furthermore, the proposed RFA ordinance that Paul Koretz submitted to a vote was substantially more restrictive than the Beverly Grove RFA he actually proposed in his Council motion.

Fifth, at all public workshops and hearings on the proposed Beverly Grove RFA about two-thirds of attendees favored the RFA.  To be fair, there was a vocal minority at each of these meetings, and they repeatedly claimed they had signatures demonstrating a majority of local Beverly Grove residents opposed an RFA.  But, these signatures were never publicly released during this entire RFA preparation and adoption process for review or verification.  Furthermore, there was no way to know what claims RFA opponents made to Beverly Grove residents and absentee property owners to obtain their signatures.  This is why Council Office 5 relied on its own independent surveys, as well as many constituent meetings, to assess local opinion and prepare a potential RFA ordinance.

Sixth, based on the evidence that Beverly Grove RFA proponents and Council District 5 presented to the City Planning Commission (CPC), that about 3/4 of Beverly Grove's 70 plus over-sized, out-of-character houses were permitted through last minute loopholes inserted into the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO), the CPC unanimously approved the Beverly Grove RFA.  The City Planning Commission also called for revisions of the citywide Baseline Mansionization Ordinance to remove the loopholes that permit the mansionization of Beverly Grove and other Los Angeles neighborhoods.  

Seventh, the decade-long process to control the mansionization of Los Angeles residential neighborhood has moved on two tracks.  One track was at the policy level, where the city’s adopted General Plan, as well as City Planning Commission documents, was in clear opposition to residential mansionization.  A second track was legislative, to implement these official policies. 

This is where the process broke down.  The Baseline Mansionization contained last minute loopholes that permitted the continued construction of over-sized, out-of-character houses, despite its wonderful intentions.  The two most critical loopholes, the exemption of garages from floor area calculations, and a 20 percent square footage bonus for unverified “green” architectural features, also had an additional downside. 

These two loopholes not only allow new houses to become “McMansions” (oversized, suburban style houses inserted into older residential neighborhoods), but they promote much greater use of energy and the resulting generation of the Green House Gases responsible for climate change.  More specifically, all of the exempted garages are attached to houses and add 400 square feet of bloat. 

Furthermore, the “green” bonus was the height of contradiction because research demonstrates that the large houses consume twice the energy of the smaller homes they replaced.  

Furthermore, Los Angeles is legally obligated to comply with State of California climate change mandates (AB 32 and SB 375) to reduce the generation of Green House Gases.  Eliminating these loopholes is an amazingly easy step to comply with these state requirements.

[Dick Platkin teaches a course on sustainable city planning at USC. He is on the board of the Beverly Wilshire Homes Association and is an occasional contributor to CityWatch, where this article first appeared. It is reprinted here with Mr. Platkin’s permission and with our gratitude to Ken Draper, Editor, CityWatch. Please direct any comments or questions to]


Miracle Mile Real Estate • October 2013 Sales

Miracle Mile Real Estate
October 2013 Sales

900 S. Ridgeley Dr.
3 bdrm, 3 bath, 2,503 sq. ft.
lot: 9,655 sq. ft.
listing price: $1,495,000
sale price: $1,570,000
sale date: 10-4-2013

567o W. Olympic Blvd. #A9
2 bdrm, 2 bath, 1,078 sq. ft.
listing price: $470,000
sale price: $470,000
sale date: 10-11-2013

750 S. Spaulding Ave. # 310

3 bdrm, 3 bath, 1,649 sq. ft.
listing price: $569,000
sale price: $600,000
sale date: 10-14-2013

749 S. Cloverdale Ave. #103
2 bdrm, 2.5 bath, 1,645 sq. ft.
listing price: $799,000
sale price: $722,000
sale date: 10-18-2013

749 S. Cloverdale Ave. #PH2
2 bdrm, 2.5 bath, 1,808 sq. ft.
listing price: $899,000
sale price: $880,000
sale date: 10-24-2013

749 S. Cloverdale Ave. #PH1
2 bdrm, 2.5 bath, 1,513 sq. ft.
listing price: $939,000
sale price: $900,000
sale date: 10-18-2013

749 S. Cloverdale Ave. #PH3
2 bdrm, 2.5 bath, 1,766 sq. ft.
listing price: $939,000
sale price: $890,000
sale date: 10-18-2013


(...below the fold...)


MMRA Board Meeting
November 7, 2013
@ 7 PM

Board meetings
are held at
the Berch Lounge
Westside Jewish
Community Center

5870 Olympic Blvd.
on the first Thursday
of each month.

All are welcome.

In the news:

For lost and found pets,
crime and traffic alerts,
and breaking news
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Click image to enlarge.
1st Annual Mid City West
Harvest Fesival & Celebration

November 3, 2013
Sunday 11AM~3PM
Pan Pacific Park

Click on image to enlarge.

Miracle Mile
History Quiz

Where in the Miracle Mile is this intersection? And what building is now located on the lot with the billboard? (Hint: "Give me those shoes, my little pretty!") Click HERE to find the answer.

This month the

salutes Black Dog Coffee 
and Einstein Bros. Bagels
for contributing the refreshments
to our annual meeting.

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/
Newsletter Editor
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Copyright © 2013 Miracle Mile Residential Association.  All rights reserved.

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


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