Thursday, July 14, 2011

[Update]:San Fernando Valley Youth Excelling In All Walks of Life

[Update: July 14, 2011]: Another San Fernando Valley Youth reported by Studio City Patch was Amy Weissenbach of Harvard-Westlake High won the Gatorade National Track & Field Athlete of the Year award. She had achieved a national federation record in the 800 meters competition at the CIF state finals in June.

Originally Posted on  June 24, 2011 at 9:00 AM PST:
In popular culture, the mention of the the San Fernando Valley conjures up immediate descriptions of Porn Capital of the World, Valley Girls with their Valspeak, and is considered second rate to the Westside. While these stereotypes may be true, they suggest that Valley residents are incompetent, lazy, sexually promiscuous, airheads, etc. It just occurred to me that something remarkable happened in the San Fernando Valley in the past couple of months that refutes these negative connotations.

Despite all the negative news you hear everyday of robberies, murders, fraud, etc occurring in the San Fernando Valley, the Youth have stepped it up big time this past year. Take note of the following
  1. Granada Hills Charter High School won the National Academic Decathlon in April
  2. San Fernando High School Baseball won the L.A. City Section championship beating Chatsworth, neighboring city in the SFV in June
  3. Alyssa Campbell of Sherman Oaks (although she was born and raised in New Jersey) was crowned Miss USA in June.
I am sure I missed other achievements that occurred during the past school year but this is what I can remember at the moment so I mean no disrespect. If you ask me, this is quite a set of accomplishments for the SFV to be proud of. Parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, etc are playing a significant role in the lives of the San Fernando Valley youth and their hard work and dedication can be seen from the list above. Keep in mind this is happening in the face of high unemployment, massive cutbacks in the school systems, and a housing market in the dumps.
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Carmegeddon and The San Fernando Valley: Everything You Need To Know



Starting this weekend at 10 PM Friday, July 15th through 5 AM Monday July 18, the 405 Freeway between the 10 and 101 will be closed to demolish the south side of the Mulholland Bridge in what has been termed CARMAGEDDON Weekend. Additionally, on-ramps to the 405 between the 10 and 101 will begin closing at 7 PM on Friday. The kicker here is that for each 10 minutes that the freeway is not returned for use on Monday morning, the contractor is fined $6,000 or $72,000 per hour in penalities.
By now I am sure you have heard about this weekend with all the media attention, celebrities tweeting, and freeway signs posted 24/7. I dont remember a time when something like this occurred so I have two burning questions regarding this weekend that I guess will be answered come Monday. The best part about this whole project is that we get to relive it next year around the same time. So hopefully its not as painful.
Courtesy Metro.net
  1. How many people are unaware about this shutdown or will forget about it over the weekend? Will visitors from other states and countries arriving at LAX who heading over to the Valley aware of the shutdown? How good is the communication of shutdown at car rentals/shuttles and in general for visitors? Also, what about truck drivers hauling in a load from up North traveling down the 405 into the Westside? Are they aware of the shutdown and alternative routes? Also, what about the late night group partying in the Westside and coming home to the Valley or vice versa. Will they remember about the shutdown seeking alternatives or even better to stay completely away?
  2. With the busiest freeway shutdown, what is the spillover effect onto nearby freeways and streets? Will the 101, 5, and 10 (and other freeways), be able to carry the "load" effectively or will those freeways become a living hell. The same applies to streets and major thoroughfares like Ventura, Wilshire, Sepulveda, Sunset, etc.
With that said, I thought I present some alternatives for hanging out in the San Fernando Valley assuming you didnt plan a getaway vacation. If for some reason, you have to travel over to the westside for work, special occassion like a marriage, or moving (I was told of a person who is actually moving from Encino to Brentwood this weekend, no joke), god be with you. One of the rather interesting things to come about because of Carmegeddon was Jetblue offering a $4 plane ride round trip from Long Beach to Burbank which takes about 20 minutes. This option is no longer available since it sold out in a hurry. Maybe this is the future of travel in L.A. 

For the rest, here are 5 ideas for things to do in the Valley if you are not the homebody type and need to get out. Also check out 11 Micro-Itineraries For The San Fernando Valley by Christopher Reynolds of the L.A. Times.
  1. Friday Night: relive the 50's car hop experience and have dinner at Bob's Big Boy in Toluca Lake, Northridge, or Sun Valley. Afterwards, enjoy the free classic car show. The classic car show is on Friday's from 5 - 10 PM and the car hop service is on Saturday and Sundays from 5 - 10 PM. If you have the choice, the Bob's Big Boy in Toluca Lake is the original and authentic location which incorpates the googie architecture of the 50's discussed in many blog posts. The other locations are just as suitable but the Toluca Lake location makes you feel like you are an in episdoe of Happy Days. If Bobs Bigy Boy is not your thing, I recommend attending a local bar, movie theater, comedy club, or night club. Or you can visit City Walk at Universal Studios and attend one of the above. 
  2. On Saturday, enjoy Universal Studios with the newest and redone King Kong exhibit (I actually havent seen this yet, so let me know how it is) amongst the other popular shows and rides.  I wish they never got rid of Miami Vice. For those who live near the orange line, the MTA is offering free rides, so you dont have to worry about driving and parking. 
  3. On Sunday, enjoy sites of historical significance such as the San Fernando Mission, Los Encinos State Historic Park (which might be closing down due to budget cuts), Leonis Adobe Museum, and Andres Pico Adobe. Before heading out to one of these locations, check the times. 
  4. In addition to the above and going off #3, the Valley has some 84 historical cultural monuments ranging from trees to houses to Post Offices to Museums. If the San Fernando Valley past interests you, I recommend visiting the Things To Do page of this blog which has an interactive map of these historical sites including a picture, link to site, and background info. Additionally, there are links to other things to do in the Valley.
  5. Lastly and in addition to the above, the San Fernando Valley has become a pseudo studio for TV and Movies. Numerous filming locations are located in the Valley. If you enjoy seeing the actual filming location, I recommend three that had significant presence in the Valley and have become well known. Back To The Future in Arleta/Burbank/Universal Studios, E.T. in Granada Hills/Porter Ranch, and Karate Kid in Burbank/Encino/Reseda/Woodland Hills.
  6. I know I only said 5, but I just remembered one that is fun, free, and time fulfilling in addition to healthy which is a local hike. The Santa Monica and Santa Susana Mountains boast great hiking trails. You can learn more at LAMountains.com
For other great sources check the following:

Zev Yaroslavsky, LA County Supervisor for the Third District which includes the entire San Fernando Valley and the Westside has the following:
The Metro website has the following:
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Celebrity Real Estate: Former Home of Al Jolson, Don Ameche, Kirstie Alley, Katey Sagal, and Charlie Sheen Listed For Sale in Encino

[Update December 6, 2011]: This historic home finally sold on December 2, 2011 for $5,200,00 which was significantly reduced from the original listed price in January 2011 from $6,495,000 representing a drop of $1,295,000. Moreover, the owners sold this property at a $1,420,000 loss from their original purchase at the peak of the market in 2006. Wow! This is such a massive loss, I am wondering if this became a short sale. Hard to believe the previous owners would take such a massive hit. And now the new buyers get to enjoy a piece of history and who knows, maybe they find some old crack pipes from when Charlie Sheen lived there. 

[Original Post]:

The SFValleyblog found an amazing property for sale while roaming the internet and couldnt believe what has been sitting on the market for several months now in Encino. The property has significant historical value that was owned by a multitude of A-List Hollywood Celebrities which we will discuss later on. 

The property for sale at $5,995,000 sits on 2.25 acres with 8,522 sqft of living space built in 1935 and includes 7 Beds/7.75 Baths. The property contains park like settings with a private gated driveway that leads to the residence, guest house, and a separate pool house complete with fireplace, kitchen, and bedroom. The main house consists of office/library, gym, wine cellar, theater room with bar, and staff quarters. This house has it all and no expense was spared. To get an idea of how massive this property is, check out the aerial view below:

Now lets talk about the owners because this is where it gets interesting. According to the Movieland Directory
  1. Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler lived here I believe sometime in the 30's and maybe 40's. Jolson was known as "The World's Greatest Entertainer" during his prime. Keeler was a tap dancer and successful actress. 
  2. Don Ameche owned this property in the 1960's. For me, I best remember him in the movies Trading Places, Coming to America, and Cocoon
  3. Steven Seagal supposedly lived here in the 90's but not sure on this one. Seagal is known for various action films and his latest reality show, Steven Seagal: Lawman.
  4. Kirstie Alley and Parker Stevenson lived here sometime in the 90's. Kirsite is known for television hit show, Cheers, and the movie series, Look Who's Talking. Lately she shows off her fat on Kirstie Alley's Big Life. 
  5. Katey Sagal and Jack White purchased from Kirstie Alley and Parker Stevenson in 1997. Sagal is known for "Peggy" on Married with Children
  6. Charlie Sheen purchased from Sagal in June 2004 for $4,200,000 with Denise Richards living at the residence. Sheen is known for being "Sheen", words cant describe him. I personally remember him as Bud Fox on Wall Street. 
  7. Michael and Patricia Jacobs purchased from Sheen in March 2006 for $6,620,000 which are the current owners. Michael Jacobs is a Broadway, Film, and Television producer.
So back to the current listing price. This property has been on and off the market since 2008 according to Redfin. It was last listed in January 2011 for $6,495,000 and was reduced $500,000 in April 2011 to today's current price of $5,995,000. Keep in mind, this property was purchased in 2006 for $6,620,000 so the current owners will be taking a loss not including fees and commissions. The market has dropped some 30 - 40% since 2006 so I dont know how this property will come close to selling near its last purchased price in 2006. Maybe the rich are immune to the real estate woes but that doesnt explain why its not moving. On the other hand, this is a classic property full of history (how much is that worth?) that you cant buy anywhere else.  

You can view other Celebrity Real Estate listings here or the tab in the menu bar above. 

Sources:

Arizona Property Site

Move.com

Property Records at Blockshopper

CarProperty.com

Movieland Directory
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Catherine Mulholland Passes Away; Grand Daughter of William Mulholland and Noted Historian and Author of San Fernando Valley

Today brings sad news that Catherine Mulholland has passed away of natural causes at her home in Camarillo at the age of 88. She is most known for being the granddaughter of William Mulholland who designed the Los Angeles Aqueduct which paved the way for exponential growth of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley by bringing water to what was then unreachable locations. William had developed a bad reputation after the St Francis Dam had collapsed killing more than 400 people. Additionally, William gained more controversy when conspiracy theories surfaced that Mulholland actually designed the Aqueduct to steal water from the Owens Valley and profit from the land with other investors which is supposedly the inspiration of the film, Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson. This is where Catherine comes in to provide the truth  behind her grandfather and that the St. Francis Dam tragedy was unavoidable with the engineering knowledge at that time and William did not make any profit off of the Aqueduct. To refute those allegations and also discuss San Fernando Valley History, Catherine wrote Calabasas Girls (1976), The Owensmouth Baby: The Making of a San Fernando Valley (1987), and William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles (2002). 

The Los Angeles Times has an excellent obituary on Catherine Mulholland
After the divorce, Mulholland moved back to Southern California and discovered that the "quaint little western villages" that had made up the San Fernando Valley of her childhood had been paved over and "uglified." A Kmart occupied the land where her home had stood. The loss of personal landmarks — ironically, because of development made possible by her grandfather's importation of water from the north — impelled Mulholland to become a historian.
I believe this Kmart was the old Kmart at Corbin and Plummer behind the Northridge Mall which is ironically torn down again at the moment to make way for another new development. 

Sadly, the San Fernando Valley has lost a great contributor to its history.

You can read more about William and Catherine Mulholland below:
The Disaster That Broke Mulholland by Kevin Roderick (author of the book San Fernando Valley)
Meeting a Heroine by Blogging Los Angeles
William Mulholland by Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area

Also, here is a video of Catherine speaking at UC Santa Barabara in 2008. She was going strong at 85! The video is about 30 minutes with the rest for Q&A.



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