Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter • May 2016

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

Newsletter • May 2016 • Los Angeles, California                                                                                                    

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Property Crimes on the Rise
in Neighborhood

By Patricia Lombard

May 12, 2016 – The Los Angeles Police Department has reported that property crime is on the rise in our neighborhoods, as well as in the rest of the city and county.  Property crimes – defined as theft and burglary/theft from motor vehicles – are the single largest category of crimes in the United States today, accounting for about 60% of all crimes reported, according to SSA Security Group, Inc., which provides private security services in our Greater Wilshire area.
According to SSA,  law enforcement experts think the increase in property crimes in the Mid-Wilshire area, including Hancock Park, Windsor Square, La Brea Hancock, etc., maybe be related to the passage of Prop 47 and the reduction of criminal prosecution and incarceration for these crimes. But many of these crimes are preventable by simply locking your car and removing personal property from your vehicle.
“It has been our experience that most criminals search for easy targets. Thus, by hardening the target it can either prevent the crime from occurring or buy enough time for suspects to be apprehended,” wrote Terry Segraves of SSA Group in a recent message to clients and homeowners in the area.
Burglary and/or Theft from Motor Vehicle is the single most prevalent crime in the nation. Auto theft follows closely behind. From experience, we know that car burglary/theft suspects look for cars that are left unlocked, making entry and ultimate theft simple, explained Segraves.
According to SSA, these are the reasons for persons breaking into or entering vehicles:

  • There is a wide variety of merchandise generally left in a car (phones, laptops /tablets /clothes /music /change /wallets /credit cards).
  • It is easy to complete this crime.
  • It takes less than a minute to enter a vehicle, especially if unlocked. Most of the time there are no witnesses, due to stealth, speed and ease of entry.
  • It is hard to get caught. Car entry thieves/burglars usually work during the hours of darkness, late at night or early in the dark hours of the morning (after midnight) when no one is around and the residents are sleeping.
  • The crime is usually a misdemeanor, so the risk factors of getting caught are minimal…and if a thief does get captured, the punishment is minimal.
  • Thieves look for cars of value, because a valuable car equals “good stuff inside.”
  • Do not leave valuables in your car, take them with you into your home.
According to SSA, thieves include a wide range of people, including homeless persons, drug users, and younger criminals. Theft is primarily a crime of opportunity.
SSA offers the following tips on how to avoid being a victim and make your vehicle a “hard target”:
  • Do not leave valuables such as electronic equipment, brief cases, phones, GPS devices, clothes, gifts or packages, visible inside the passenger area of your vehicle. Secure these items in the trunk of your car.
  • Always lock and secure the doors and windows of your vehicle, even if it is only going to be left unattended for a short time.
  • Park in a well-lit area or in your driveway. If you have a driveway gate parking it behind the gate and ensure the gate is closed.
  • Never leave your keys, wallet, purse or credit cards in the car.
  • Use the alarm on the car. If you car does not have and alarm, consider installing one.

Regarding thefts using keyless devices, Wilshire Area Senior Lead Officer Dave Cordova recently reported that LAPD arrested a pair of car break-in specialists who had an electronic device to unlock cars.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau has reported that thieves are using high-tech electronic devices to break through the keyless-entry systems that lock modern cars. Thieves may also be using electronic “scanner boxes” that allow them to mimic the signal emitted by key fobs, which open car doors with the click of a button.
However, citizens can “insulate” their smart keys from devices that pick up the signal in several ways.  At a recent Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association meeting, SLO Dave Cordova suggested storing your keys in a tin can.  SSA suggests using a “Faraday Cage,” a nylon pouch which prevents the device from sending a signal.


Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the LarchmontBuzz, where this article first appeared.
For additional information:
New York Times: Keeping Your Car Safe from Electronic Thieves
Los Angeles Times: L.A. Crime Maps
Los Angeles Times; Op-Ed: Why L.A.’s Crime Rise is No Surprise



Now Playing on the MMRA Channel on YouTube:
Miracle Mile HPOZ Informational Meeting

Now Playing on the MMRA Channel on YouTube:

Click on image to view video.
Miracle Mile HPOZ
Informational Meeting

As part of the official process of creating the Miracle Mile Historic Preservation Zone (HPOZ), the Los Angeles Department of City Planning held an outreach meeting on April 26, 2016 to provide information to residents on the HPOZ program, the adoption process, and the next steps for the Miracle Mile HPOZ – which is scheduled to be enacted by March 2017.
Ken Bernstein, Manager of the City's Office of Historic Resources and Renata Dragland, Planning Associate with the HPOZ Unit, briefed the community and took questions.
The meeting was videotaped for the MMRA Channel on YouTube. Click here to view the video.
The Miracle Mile Residential Association initiated the process of creating the Miracle Mile HPOZ in the fall of 2014. Former Councilmember Tom LaBonge sponsored a motion nominating the Miracle Mile for the HPOZ application process and the motion was unanimously approved by the full City Council. Current Councilmember David Ryu is an enthusiastic supporter of the Miracle Mile HPOZ.
The MMRA has conducted extensive outreach, including mass mailings,  to residents regarding the proposed HPOZ. The MMRA hosted two large public meetings – as well as several block meetings – to discuss the pros and cons of HPOZ. Residents have expressed overwhelming support for the creation of the Miracle Mile HPOZ – and for the many benefits and protections it will provide our historic neighborhood.
The previous two public meetings were videotaped and posted on the MMRA Channel on YouTube. The first meeting was held on January 10, 2015 and the second meeting was held on September 19, 2015 (click on links to view).

Other videos regarding the Miracle Mile HPOZ have also been posted:


Miracle Mile HPOZ • Frequently Asked Questions

Miracle Mile HPOZ Chairperson Mark Zecca talks with Robby O’Donnell about how an HPOZ is administered and how it impacts property owners.

Miracle Mile HPOZ Historic Resources Survey

The MMRA engaged the services of Architectural Resources Group to do  an historic resources survey of the Miracle Mile, which is a prerequisite for applying for HPOZ status. This video shows the ARG team surveying properties in the Miracle Mile.
For additional information:
Miracle Mile HPOZ Website
LarchmontBuzz: Public Review and Adoption Process Begins for Miracle Mile HPOZ


Toothless Mansionization Ordinances Won't Stop Reckless Development



Toothless Mansionization Ordinances
Won’t Stop Reckless Development

 by Shelley Wagers
May 12, 2016 – The Department of City Planning recently unveiled its second draft of amendments to the city’s toothless mansionization ordinances, the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance (BMO) and Baseline Hillside Ordinance (BHO.) Consternation ensued. 
Their first draft of amendments, put forward for comment late last year, drew more than 600 responses. By almost 4 to 1, people asked for tighter limits on home size. But the latest draft seems to address developers’ demands, not the needs of our communities.
We asked for meaningful reform. Instead, it preserves loopholes that undermined the ordinance in the first place. To name just two, these include the exemption for attached garage space (even in “the flats”) and bonuses in non-R1 zones that increase house size by 20 percent with no public notification or oversight. 
The exemption for attached garages adds a whopping 400 square feet of bloat to houses, and the bonuses add hundreds of square feet more with no transparency or accountability whatsoever. And hillside neighborhoods are understandably concerned about inadequate conditions applied to grading and hauling, as well.
The Council Motion provided the blueprint for a simple, effective fix. Instead, the latest draft borrows elements from Re:Code LA that make the ordinance harder to understand and harder to enforce. These include “encroachment planes” [graphic below] and “side wall articulation.” 

Click on graphic to enlarge.
City planners note that neighboring communities like Pasadena employ design standards of this type. Adopting best practices of other communities is great. In fact, LA should do much more of that – if and when we have the resources to implement them properly. Angelenos who have seen the inability or unwillingness of the Department of Building and Safety to enforce even simple floor area ratios may be excused for having their reservations.
The city sought input on the first draft of amendments and then ignored the concerns of an overwhelming majority. Six months have passed, and reckless development continues to threaten neighborhoods all over Los Angeles. We need to stop mansionization in the simplest, most effective and timeliest way. That’s what residents and homeowners want and what the Council Motion calls for. 
It’s time for Los Angeles to put stable communities and neighborhood character ahead of real estate speculation.  
Photo credit (top): Los Angeles Times.

This article was first published in
CityWatch, edited by Miracle Mile resident Ken Draper. Shelley Wagers is a homeowner and a community activist who has spearheaded the effort to stop McMansions. Shelley has been interviewed about the Baseline Mansionization Ordinance [BMO] and the long battle to plug its loopholes in several videos for the MMRA Channel on YouTubeFor more information about the citywide effort to reform the BMO visit: NoMoreMcMansionsInLA.

For additional information:
LarchmontBuzz, May 10, 2016: Second Draft of BMO Revisions Gets Community Hearing
LarchmontBuzz, April 26, 2016: Initial Reactions to New Baseline Mansionization Ordinance Draft


Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste:
A Forum on Los Angeles Planning Ballot Initiatives


Click on image to view video.

Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste:
A Forum on Los Angeles
Planning Ballot Initiatives

Most people give little thought to urban planning. It’s a wonky topic with an impenetrable lingo that dwells in the weeds of “smart growth,” “density bonuses,” and “framework elements.” But when a McMansion goes up next door or a nearby mega-development clogs your street with traffic, you wonder how in the hell did this happen?

Urban planning is how it happened – or, in the case of Los Angeles, some would argue that it happened because political corruption has derailed rational urban planning. The common perception is that developers trade campaign donations to get their parcels “up-zoned.”

The only consensus on planning in L.A. (regardless of your perspective) is that the process is utterly dysfunctional. Developers, residents, planners, community activists, academics, editorial writers, affordable housing advocates – everyone agrees that the system is in desperate need of repair.

Two proposed ballot measures, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative and the Build Better L.A. initiative, have sparked a red-hot debate on just what is wrong with development in Los Angeles and created a spirited tug-of-war over how to fix it.

Recently, the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate posted a video of a forum it hosted in late April to discuss the state of planning in Los Angeles and the competing planning initiatives. The forum focused on the underlying issues raised by the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which has potentially sweeping implications for large-scale development in Los Angeles.
The forum also discussed the Build Better LA affordable housing ballot measure and the recent call by Mayor Garcetti have the City’s “community plans” revised by 2026, which would set the allowable size and density of development projects in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.
Participating in the forum were: David Abel (moderator) Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, The Planning Report; Zev Yaroslovsky, Director, LA Initiative, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs; Gail Goldberg, Executive Director, Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles; Jill Stewart, Campaign Director, Coalition to Preserve LA; Dana Cuff, Director, CityLAB and Professor UCLA Architecture and Urban Design; Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, LA County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; Mott Smith, Co-founder & Principal, Civic Enterprise; and Jonathan M. Zasoff, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law.
The forum provides a real insight into how we got into the mess we’re in and the hard work facing us in devising a plan for growth that we can all salute – or if that is even possible. The pros and cons of the competing ballot measures are dealt with fairly and honestly. The panelists are smart and well-spoken. The discussion is relatively jargon-free and refreshingly to-the-point.
It’s a hard sell to pitch a 90-minute forum on urban planning as scintillating viewing, but you will have a better handle on the issues if you watch this video. This is a discussion worth having and worth listening to.

UCLA Ziman Center – L.A. Ballot Initiative Forum Video



Making Lemonade Out of a Lemon: Bob's Air Mail Service Station



Making Lemonade Out of a Lemon:
Bob’s Air Mail Service Station

The Miracle Mile has been home to an assortment of businesses in its celebrated history as one of the first regional shopping districts in America. One of the most unusual enterprises was Bob’s Air Mail Service Station at the corner of Cochran and Wilshire. Bob Spencer was a Mobil Oil franchisee who wanted to get his new station off the ground in a big way. Spencer found success by exploiting the failure of a “state of the art” aircraft build in 1929 by the Fokker Aircraft Corporation.

Click on image to enlarge.
The Fokker F-32 [above] was the first four-engine plane built in the United States. The front engine powered a two-bladed propeller and the rear engine a three-bladed one. The rear engines were inefficient due to the turbulence created by the front propellers. The rear engines also had cooling problems. The unusual concept must have looked good on paper, but F-32 was underpowered and the first one manufactured crashed into a Long Island, New York home in November 1929 during a demonstration flight.
Changing to more powerful engines didn’t help improve the aircraft’s dependability. Only ten F-32s (so named because they carried 32 passengers) were built and only two entered commercial service. Western Air Express utilized two F-32s for sleeper berth service from Central Airport in Glendale to Oakland and other California destinations.
The F-32 proved too trouble-prone and expensive to operate, particularly in the midst of the Great Depression. By 1932 Western Air Express retired both aircraft and sent them off to the junkyard.

Click on poster to view trailer of film.
The failure of the F-32 did not detract from the immense sex appeal that flying held for the public in the early 1930s. One of the most popular films in 1932 was “Flying Down to Rio,” the story of an aviator-bandleader who falls in love with a Brazilian beauty. The movie featured the debut pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Click on image to enlarge.
No one knows what inspired Bob Spencer to think outside the box when planning his Mobil Oil service station in the Miracle Mile. But a grounded F-32 made perfect sense to him. Its 99-foot wingspan would shelter cars filling up at the pumps. It certainly would get his enterprise a lot of notice – especially when he would rev up the front propellers to the double-takes of passing motorists.

Click on image to enlarge.
Spencer opened “Bob’s Air Mail Service Station” in 1934. He painted his F-32 white with the Mobil Oil flying red horse logos on the wings. He christened his aircraft "The Happy Landing.”

Click on image to enlarge.
Spencer’s business took off. In his first year in business he sold more Mobil Oil gas and products than any other West Coast dealer. But his gas station didn’t survive the advent of World War II. It is assumed that his F-32 was sacrificed to the pressing need for scrap metal to maintain the war effort. The Miracle Mile lost one of the most unique service stations in the world to a worthy cause.

Photos from the Miracle Mile Historical Photo Collection.


The Miracle Mile played a critical role in the development of commercial aviation in the United States; you can read more about it here:


Miracle Mile Real Estate • April 2016 Sales


Miracle Mile Real Estate
• April 2016 Sales •


750 S. Stanley Ave. #214
condo: 2 bdrm; 2 bath
1,433 sq. ft
lot: 5,500 sq. ft.
listed price: $699,000
sale price: $
sale date :4/19/2016

1108 Meadowbrook Ave.
duplex: 1 - 2 bdrm; 1 bath &
1 - 3 bdrm; 1 bath

2,642 sq. ft.
lot: 6,266 sq. ft.
listed price: $1,380,000
sale price: $950,000
sale date: 4/12/2016 


(...below the fold...)


MMRA Board Meeting
June 7, 2016
@ 7 PM

Board meetings are held at

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Miracle Mile

History Quiz

The automobile played a key role in the development of the Miracle Mile. Simon's drive in restaurant was a popular spot. Where was it located?

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 © 2016 Miracle Mile Residential Association.  All rights reserved.

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


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