In Fryman Canyon, they no longer allow you to park on the streets to the public trailhead, but they love their Harvard socialism.
There is a small pay lot on Laurel Canyon that has perhaps 1/3 of the capacity needed for weekend hikers. In the event of overflow, we would use one of the many empty streets nearby and partake of the public good known as the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, an accommodation the gentry has done away with. First by guile, and now by civic order they’ve persisted.
There are three houses on this street for sale, all over $5 million. Is this in keeping with Elizabeth’s claim to be capitalist to her bones?
For that price, it better be Instagram about to happen. And it is. The long-vacant Panorama Tower has, after 25 years, adaptively re-purposed and will open for leasing next week, Blade Runner views in all directions.
Infrastructure is minimal, in keeping with the live/work loft fiction. At 600 sqft, units are generously sized for a studio, but there is no getting around the one room problem. Two people who aren’t sleeping with each other are going to have trouble sharing it.
Clearly the developer wants white people to move here though I anticipate few will arrive with children. The Era of the Vertical Valley has begun.
The Sunset district in San Francisco is a quiet beach town 15 minutes from the urban core…
…and five minutes from miles and miles of off-leash sand. I have friends who live here and it’s always fun to visit. When I stay over I take their dog for a run in the morning mist.
Many of the houses were built in vast tracts over sand dunes by Henry Doelger, much in the same vein as Henry Kaiser built Panorama City. They have a standard template: 2-3 bedrooms/one bath over a single car garage. As the Sunset gradually slopes toward the ocean, the elevated configuration offers every house a water view.
They may look small from the outside but are actually quite substantial: my friends have built two additional bedrooms and baths in the undeveloped downstairs space adjacent to the garage, fully within the footprint for the foundation. Doelger houses may not wield the aesthetic pull of the Victorian but have stood up well over the years: old-growth timber, oak doors, coved ceilings, terrazzo steps rising from the street…
Doelger went on to develop the Westlake district in Daly City, immortalized in the song “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds, later by Pete Seeger, and covered by just about everybody. Cultural condescension notwithstanding, the little boxes of ticky-tacky have become a $1.2 million proposition. Our California moment can be summarized thus: the mockery of the boomers is now the desideratum of Gen Xers, and the reason Millennials must move to Texas.
You may know the song from the TV show “Weeds”, which was about rather big boxes in the outer reaches of the San Fernando Valley (Amazing how many pop reference points have a Valley tie-in). Though it went off the air in 2012, the transgressive premise was a widow dealing marijuana in the suburbs to pay bills. Sunday night, ganja in the cul de sac! Now they sell it off of billboards next to the convenience store. You couldn’t make this show today.
I met a guy last month who works in a weed warehouse in North Hollywood producing 100 pounds a week, all the workers with W2s. One of three jobs he had. The other gigs were downtown, tending bar. His wife worked at the swank Nomad Hotel. A hundred hours of labor a week between them. They were from New York.
“If you get your hustle on, you can kill it in LA,” he told me. They had a dream. The dream was to afford a condo. If they had a condo, no one could stop them from having a dog. They loved dogs.
Impractical, gorgeous, Jet Age modern Van Nuys Savings and Loan, more recently operating as La Tapultecha mercado, has finally met the wrecking ball. In the 1960s it paid 4% interest on savings accounts. Trying finding that today. Banks offer 1%, maybe, less monthly fees.
Usury was illegal then. Usury, meaning 18% loans. Anything beyond that was in the hands of the mafia. Now credit cards frequently charge 30%. Payday loans can run to 400%. They offer them up the block at PL$, 24 hours a day, from behind bulletproof glass.
It was a different world, reflected in the architecture.
To understand just how shocking the idea of 18% interest was not so long ago, here’s a clip from the original Fun With Dick and Jane, set in the San Fernando Valley of the late 70s. The protagonist couple, middle-class and overextended, visit a clip joint looking to borrow their way out of trouble. The scene is an earth-toned bridge between the aspirational world of mid-century thrift, with passbooks, and the quantitatively eased may a billion debtors bloomelectronic currency casino we enjoy today.
Guess who’s living inside the old safe? You can’t blame them. The door was open, and it’s quiet inside.