Saturday, February 7, 2015

Are The Two Camillo Road Houses Robert Ho's Revenge?

….. ………. Alien spaceport, boutique shoeboxes, or angry REALTOR® revenge housing?……….. …..

Those two strange looking structures on Camillo Road hit the real estate market yesterday for the first time, and the news is just about as bizarre as the appearance of those two, um, things. Apparently the listing agent is none other than Robert Ho of the very special real estate selling concern, Long Dragon. Or, as they are often referred to in the house peddling trade, "Little Snake."

As you perhaps may recall, Ho is the kinda cranky Taiwanese dude who assumed that he was going to make a big killing with his million dollar love pads upside the One Carter hillside. But we didn't let him, and for some very good reasons.

When the City of Sierra Madre told him that this would not be the case, the choleric Mr. Ho proceeded to rant and rave in an unhinged (though unintentionally hilarious) sort of way at several City Council meetings. Making for exotic and colorful evenings.

Once again One Carter had worked its voodoo magic on yet another developer. This truly is a place where certain ineffable forces will prevent anything from ever being built. For developers it has become the hillside of broken dreams.

Needless to say, we all found Mr. Ho to be rather a hoot, and laughed loud and long at his sputtering broken English, bug-eyed angry demeanor and wild arm waving while at the public comment podium. But do you know what? We might have hurt his feelings. And, by helping to enable those two houses on Camillo Road, he could now be taking it out on all of Sierra Madre.

In other words, the Danny Castro block of Camillo Road might very well be the first ever Sierra Madre location for revenge housing. An intentional thumb in the eye to everything those living here believe to be good and right about this community. How else can you explain it?

Here is how these two irregularly stacked rectangular piles are described in the alien tongue known as Real Estate-ese:

Featuring 2 energy-efficient contemporary homes in beautiful Sierra Madre in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Adjacent to the coveted Arcadia Highlands Neighborhood, these sustainable homes are on a quiet neighborhood street surrounded by mature oak trees and have an amazing view of Angeles National Forest.

Both double story homes feature an open floor plan with large atrium spaces to maximize the flow between both levels. Additionally, large sliding doors, which connect indoor and outdoor living spaces. Carefully placed windows allow air circulation, let in optimal natural light, and frame the outstanding views. Secluded backyards with native and drought tolerant landscape are maintainable, generous spaces for play and entertainment. Both homes are equipped with solar system, top of the line appliances, Scavolini Cabinet from Italy, security cameras, and delicate circuit for plug-in electric vehicle charging station.

The cost per architectural boxy bivouac? $1,650,000 for one,  $1,750,000 for the other.

I have some observations to share with you.

1) They might have an amazing view of the Angeles National Forest, but some of the other homes on Camillo Road now have only an unappealing view of the backsides of a couple of Ho houses.

2) I have electric car charging stations in my house. They were installed by the late Ed Clare shortly before his passing. And I have never heard the term "delicate circuit" before. The whole thing, including the specially designed cables needed for my two 240 volt stations, cost around $1,900.

3) The reason being adjacent to the Arcadia Highlands area is so desirable is it's a neighborhood that, up until now anyway, had not succumbed to the cancer of mansionization. Apparently, and just like on Camillo Road itself, this will soon no longer be the case.

4) Tragically, there are people in this world stupid enough to swallow all of the above boutique blather about "sustainability" and pay $1,650,000 for these lulus. All sustainable means in this case is that they have solar panels and a place to plug in your godforsaken Prius. That hardly makes them worth the additional $750,000 you will have to pay for all the pretentious and quite common nonsense. They have houses like these down by the ocean in Venice. You can sit in your atrium and watch as the garbage floats by on the canal. Go move there.

5) The security cameras discussed here are the kind you can hot wire into your smartphone. International buyers from certain cultures use these to keep an eye on their young wives. In a town with as many handsome men as Sierra Madre, this would be considered a must.

6) "Secluded backyards with native and drought tolerant landscape are maintainable." That means you can plant cactus in your backyard. You can plant cactus in a maintainable trailer park, too.

7) I knew someone who had Scavolinis. The remedy for the constant itching was calamine lotion.

Remember going to see the "house of the future" at Disneyland when you were a kid? Well, the future is here, the houses are schlock and deeply marinated in pointless sustainability jargon. These 2 homes are described as having electric charging stations in each garage, don’t you think that makes them worth the price? At about a 1,000% mark up? Yes, these are the GREEN homes of the future, and you will pay out the nose to own your piece of it.

Today we find ourselves on the cutting edge of the tomorrow-morrowland of housing. And whoever would have thought that this magic moment might very well have been brought here by someone looking to pay us back for having the temerity to not allow him to build 6,000 square foot McMansions on one of our most visible and naturally treacherous hillsides?

And yes, some fools will probably buy them. Alien spaceport attitude and all. But it might take these new residents a little time to make friends with their new neighbors.

It seems that some of them are not quite into it.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

79 comments:

  1. Who approved these things?

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    1. Danny Castro. Over the counter and without anyone knowing about it. Then he left. Your tax dollars at work. Against you.

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    2. The Brown family architect, the guy who designed the box trying to take the place of the Darling house, made a reference to these houses in his guest lecture at the CC meeting. He said the Camillo houses seemed to be causing a fuss (makes you wish they were next door to him) but that the rules that allowed them to happen were already changed. So these couldn't happen now.
      But since that was his theme, and all the anti-demolition moratorium speakers' theme, "We have enough rules already", who knows whether it's true or not that the Camillo plague couldn't spread further.

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    3. Vandevelde repeatedly mentioned while he was a planning commissioner that in his part of town there was no privacy.
      That translated to his inability to consider privacy of adjacent homes as a planning consideration.

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    4. About four months ago I was walking past these houses. There was an Asian man with his young son, told me that they had gone to the neighbors to explain what they were going to build, and were looking forward to moving in. He said the neighbors were all okay with their plans. I did talk to the neighbors as well, and they were astounded at what what actually happening versus what they'd been told. Here we go again - "I want to move to your beautiful city because I want to raise my family here." As Planning Commissioner Gina Freyerman-Hunt said to Adele Chang (I think it was), "Yeah, yeah. We hear that all the time." Can we picket any Open Houses? Please go drive by, if you haven't already, and take a look at 363 Camillo, that is going up and will also block the views of the neighbors....Then notice the house on the southeast corner of Foothill and Camillo, that will be next. That owner, whom I've met, is also Asian. Gag!

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    5. So 11:27 so Asians make you Gag ! and there is no view Ordinance any body can build a house next to your's and block your view it is not agains any code unless it is in your local CC&Rs

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    6. I think 11:27 said that liars make him gag. Nationality is a secondary consideration. Probably going to have to add you to his list.

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    7. All I can say is that the immediate neighbors are going to have to help themselves. It seems there are too few people who are looking out for the community as a whole. Alot of people won't help at all unless it affects them directly. Alot fo the immediate neighbors are so apathetic they don't realize that something like Camillo right next door will hurt your property value if it blocks your views, light and privacy. But, hey, if the neighbors don't care, I'm not going to help them.

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    8. 1:45 I think you need to reread that last line there is no mention of lairs only asians

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    9. Good point. Those Ho houses look like lairs.

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    10. Oops, I'm 11:27. I didn't mean to imply that Asians make me gag - it's the lying (as someone pointed out) developers who are invading Sierra Madre, trying to build these horrid McMansions, always swearing they are going to live there with their family.

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  2. I think the Tattler has said it all about the mindset we are dealing with here. They build these things and then market them as having views of the Angles National Forest. Do you think there was any regard about what those houses now do to the neighbor's views? Also, when they market the property as adjacent to the Highlands in Arcadia. Can you think of what clientele they are aiming at when they say this? Usually, just being in Sierra Madre is enough of an attraction. The fact that Sierra Madre is situated so close to ground zero in Arcadia is why Sierra Madre is now being marketed as a great place for the over-flow. There are only so many homes you can tear down in Arcadia before there's nothing left to tear down. No worries though, Sierra Madre is conveniently located close to the Highland in Arcadia. As the Highland HOA found out when the City Council voted against them and allowed the 6,500 square foot McMansions to go forward, once you have crossed the tipping point, its over. You can't stop it. Hopefully, Sierra Madre will wake up before its too late and put appropriate measures in place to stop McMansions and excessive over-development in our community. It will happen one project at a time. Each project in and of itself will not ruin the city. Its the accumulation of such projects that ruin the city. But as you allow each one of these to happen, you very soon lose the ability to stop it. That's what has happened in Arcadia as the Highlands HOA found out the hard way. They would have needed to launch their efforts 10 years ago before it reached that tipping pointing. Sierra Madre is where Arcadia was 10 or 15 years ago. It needs to be stopped now before the Robert Ho's of the world transform Sierra Madre into something much different from what it is today. You have Camillo, then One Carter, then Stonehouse, then 576 Elm Street, then the Monastery project - combine that with 126 E. Mira Monte, the Henry A. Darling House, the Rancho house and it goes on and on and on. At this pace, what will Sierra Madre look like in 10 years?

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    1. Great summary 6:48. Projected population increase, with the Kensington, over 400? Hello stoplights, goodbye forever to good water.

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  3. I think it's so cool that you can watch your gar from the living room window. There really is no garage, just a glorified car port. Oh, and let's not forget the very upscale use of grey metal doors, in the front, to house the electrical system. A must see! There is another house of large size going up down the street. And on the corner is a tear down with another house to be built. Maybe the Camillo people like it. There are no Preserve Sierra signs that I've seen.

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    1. Maybe they believe in the freedom to be taken advantage of and used.

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    2. Maybe they are getting offers they can't afford to refuse.

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  4. That pack of luxury sport cars parked under those buildings don't look very sustainable.

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    1. It frees up the charging stations for Christmas lights.

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    2. Great place to plug in the beer fridge.

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  5. Le Corbusier is rolling in his grave.

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  6. These homes are just too massive for the neighborhood regardless of their poor design. They represent the poster child for how things can get away from you. What's done is done. We need to lick our wounds and make sure something like that never happens again.

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  7. How come Stonegate (One Carter), Stonehouse, Camillo, 576 Elm Street and almost every project nobody seems to want are all owned by Chinese developers. There is a pattern here that is a bit disconcerting. I guess they now see Sierra Madre as the new place to invest their money. Not a good sign if you want to maintain Sierra Madre's unique charm and village-like ambiance. If they want to do to Sierra Madre what has been done to Arcadia, Temple City and Monterey Park, we are in serious trouble

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    1. The fact is the new Chinese immigrant with lots of money didn't grow up in the area an absolutely does not care about the existing culture or history of an area. They didn't grow up in the area. They don't feel that sense of nostalga for the old day or for preserving the look of the city. And you can't expect them to. They see things only from an investment standpoint and how can they maximize the return on the investment. There is no sentamentality in that whatsoever.

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    2. People who are basically insecure in their sense of self-worth are drawn to the ostentatious and tawdry. Arcadia is filled with those kinds of people now.

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  8. Take a look at Elaine's report on the cities website. Many, many new houses going up. Many over 4,000 sf. I look at the hillside from Santa Anita Blvd. and I can only wonder who and why anyone lives in those monstrosities. Wait till that over 4000 sf two story house goes up on Elm. They can only look down on you.

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  9. My wife and I drove by those things last night and the first thing that came to our minds was "business park." The second thing that came to our minds was they do not fit in SM at all. Our last thought was for those poor neighbors. If we lived next door, we'd probably sell. Sad.

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  10. Ho really is a bit of a hothead.

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  11. Is there room to park an RV or two?

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  12. In the Spring of 1991, when the city of Pasadena passed an anti-mansionization ordinance that included FAR restrictions and height limits, REALTORS® from the Pasadena Board were satisfied because they had been involved in the process and given their input on the proposals from the very beginning. The Board appointed a subcommittee of the Local Government Relations Committee, whose members teamed up with the American Institute of Architects. The subcommittee members worked with the Planning Department staff and Planning Commission to help draft the ordinance. In the end, REALTORS® were pleased because their efforts resulted in an ordinance much less restrictive than those in nearby communities. For example, one of the specific provisions they were satisfied with was an increase in FAR and height limit restrictions as lot size increases.

    From a CAR paper at http://www.car.org/governmentaffairs/localgovernmentaffairs/mansion/

    These minimal standards have resulted in some serious problems that have move the city to take further action now:

    A series of new projects horribly out of scale and character with their surrounding neighborhoods has recently lead City Council to ask the Planning Department to study this issue. At a November (2014) Planning Commission hearing, Planning Staff proposed a work plan to examine potential zoning code amendments that would encourage compatibility of new single-family home construction with neighboring properties.

    https://www.pasadenaheritage.org/content.php?pgID=206

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. To 11:39A-I think people choose to live in the canyon. 9:20AM-please tell em you're being sarcastic. Do you really believe that these immigrants want to know what we think? They ghettoize themselves, don't talk to anglo neighbors much, shop at their own stors, hire their own, etc. Whoever buys one of the Camillo houses will have the joy of looking at their 125,000 mercedes from their living room window. That's what matters.

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    2. Sierra Madre is a white ghetto - 82% white; .1% Asian, according to the 2010 census.

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    3. Like everything else you post here, that is a lie.
      http://www.city-data.com/city/Sierra-Madre-California.html#b

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  14. You people & the Tattler should not be so harsh and a little more understanding. These poor people came from crammed in living stacked high and close to each other. They are use to that kind of smelly living. And like other new immigrants they are bringing their living style and beliefs to the new country they are moving to. In the old days with the Europe immigrants they only wanted to speak English and did not want to bring with them the horrible life style they had left behind. We should be more helpful to them and explain how being so close is intrusive and does not allow for fresh air to circulate so that the neighbors don't have to smell your cooking. We are all being unkind by not explaining how they are ruining our way of life and are developing resentment by bringing these unwanted changes to our living conditions. What a shame to have a monster packed next to your house, something that towers over you and blockes your once nice view. Wonder if a person could project a picture of the mountains on that kind of house, that and a big fan to duplicate the once nice breze you had. That won't happen as most Americans respect their neighbors space. For me it would be hard to respect a neighbor who doesn't respect my space, oh the missery of an inconsiderant neighbor.

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    1. Speaking for myself, I were to move to a different country, I would like to assimilate and, if I had the money or desire to build a new home, I would certainly do it in such a way that it would be in keeping with the neighborhood and not have any adverse impact on my neighbors. That's called being considerate and respectful. Too many people now, mainly new immigrants just see Arcadia or Sierra Madre as a place for exploitation to make the most money possible. Sad commentary on the times.

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    2. Uh oh, another historical revisionist in our midst. The 'Europe immigrants' of 'old days' were often discriminated against and sacrificed their names, heritage and culture not particularly for love of their new surroundings but to avoid discrimination. Many Germans, Irish, Italians, Poles, Jews, and others retained their culture and congregated together form ethnically homogenous neighborhoods. If you think "being so close" is intrusive or stifles your air you've failed to enjoy partly the reason why the canyon is such a nice place to live.

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    3. Your space ends at your property line.

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    4. Your space begins at your ears.

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  15. Don't they look like office buildings? Maybe offices in Pasadena on El Molino, for dentists and root canal specialists?

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    1. Chiropractors would feel at home there.

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    2. I'd venture the offices look like a leading proctologist.

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  16. The real estate ad is selling "secluded backyards"! Argh! Insult added to injury.

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  17. The houses like these are intentionally garish and oversized for the communities they are built in.
    It's intentional.
    The aggression against neighbors' quality of life is part of the thrill.

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    1. I agree. It's revenge housing. Fueled by aggression, resentment and antipathy.

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    2. Yes, you can see why people in that field would be drawn to those buildings.

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    3. Sierra Madre means nothing to these vultures. The reason its such a nice community and they are able to make a big profit is because of the back-breaking work and committment of so many people who made Sierra Madre what it is today. People out there want to now take advantage of that for their personal gain. They don't give a rip about Sierra Madre, its heritage, its historical homes etc...

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  18. Google maps still has the before pictures. Probably won't help the realtors much if prospective buyers who want those elevated boxes google the addresses. They'll get classic old Sierra Madre - small house with lots of open space around it.

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    1. 9:45, these potential owners might like seeing what they've vanquished....

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    2. A new form of racism for this town, enabled by our tireless city officials.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  19. We've seen this same kind of drawing style with the CETT fantasy hillside homes. Note there are no neighbors; the houses exist alone on a field of nothing. No context, infinite space around them. Very misleading.

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  20. We can all help prevent more Camillo Rd. type houses from being built by taking 30 seconds of our time and go to the Feb. 19 Planning Commission meeting and during the public comment section say the following.

    "I support your effort here tonight to lower the CUP threshold, include most if not all 2-story houses in the Planning Commission review process, eliminate the antiquated minimum S.F. rule, and reduce the allowable square footage. Thank you for your time. I will now go home to watch your decision on TV so I can be with my family."

    Then go home and know you made a difference.

    This is the only item on the agenda so you will not have to wait long to speak.

    If the commissioners complete their discussion and send their recommendations to the City Council we will be miles closer to preventing more grossly oversized homes from being built.

    I hope to see you at the Planning Commission meeting. City Hall, 7 PM, Feb. 19.
    Barry Gold

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  21. Below is a short primer on the importance of the floor area limits that are now being reviewed by the Planning Commission and the City Council. If you understand this then you understand why, when it comes to preservation, this is the whole ball game.
    The floor area limits are crucial because if we can lower the size of the home that developers are allowed to build on a certain size lot, they will have less of an incentive to tear down an existing home and it will prevent the mansionization of our community. Essentally two problems have been solved with that one change.
    The only way it is cost effective to tear down an existing home is if you can absorb that cost by being able to build a significantly larger home. You make up for that cost by the spread between the cost to build which is about $200 per square foot and the ultimate market value which may be $600 per square foot. That's a $400 per square foot difference.
    As an example, if you have an existing home that is 2,000 square feet on a lot in which the floor area limits allow you to build a home of 4,000 square feet, it can be very profitable to tear down the existing home even though the developer may have paid alot of money for that existing home. The cost to build that 4,000 square foot home at $200 per square foot will be $800,000. The market value for that new home at $600 per square foot is $2,400,000. That leaves the developer with $1,600,000 to cover both buying the existing home and their profit. If they are able to buy the existing home for $1,200,000, that means they made a profit of $400,000. That's a simplistic analysis because there will be some other expenses but that is basically the formula that a developer uses in their calculations of whether or not to take on a given project.
    Let's use that same example, but in this case, let's make only one change. Let's say that the Planning Commisson and the City Council reduced the floor area limits such that the developer can only build a 3,000 square foot home on that same size lot rather than a 4,000 square foot home. With that one change, it will now not be worth it to pay $1,200,000 for the existing home and tear it down. The cost to build would now be $600,000 at $200 per square foot for that 3,000 square foot home and the market value would now be $1,800,000 at $600 per square foot for that brand new 3,000 square foot home. So if they purchase the existing home for $1,200,000 and tear it down plus the costs to build of $600,000, the developers costs are $1,800,000 and the market value is now $1,800,000. Consequently, the developer is left with no profit rather than the $400,000 profit they would have had if they had been allowed to build a 4,000 square foot home.
    In other words, the developer always needs to build the biggest home they can to make the numbers work. That is why developers and general contractors want the floor area limits to essentially have no limits. If you want to preserve Sierra Madre from mansionization and if you want to prevent the demolition of existing homes, you only need to squeeze down the floor area limits to make it unprofitable for developers. You solve two problems with one change. It doesn't get any more important than that.

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    1. 10:16, thanks for that education.
      Great information.

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    2. Did the public notice actually show up in the Looney Views News today?

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    3. Hard to tell. Nobody reads it.

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    4. They put the notice on the front page. There is an accompanying article but the delay of this meeting and the reason for it is suppressed.

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    5. Susan doesn't do truth.

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    6. So how do we (SM, Temple City, the Highlands) you have your "cake and eat it too"?
      I don't like living next to a monster house either. But is your 2000sqft house worth $600sf if you weren't allow to build that 6000sqft house? How much would you spend on improving your house if it didn't give you a return on investment? If I spent $500k to remodel my house, will I get my money back or will it be worth the same? These are real questions. A lot of retired folks are on fixed incomes and would like to cash in and move someplace more affordable. Also, how many "remodels gone wrong" have you seen? Alot of times, starting from scratch is the way to go.

      If you're only allowed to build a 4000sf house vs a 6000sf house, is your house still worth $600/sf? - I don't think it is, it's worth a lot less. If you don't care how much the value of your property is, then restricting square footage is the way to go.

      Although these HO houses don't fit the neighborhood, I must admit that they are at least trying to do something more enviromentally friendly. Compare that to Bowden or Mursol developers - they just do the same monster houses with no solar panels at all. FOR MULTI million dollar houses!

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  22. "Luxury" housing market is at the top right now, so everyone is throwing their investments at it. From John Burns, a real estate consultant for the industry:

    Luxury homes, whether in urban or suburban environments, continue to outperform, and for very good reason:

    Rise in affluence. The economic recovery has been fueled by low interest rates, which have increased the value of most assets----- stocks, bonds, homes, etc. This has heavily benefitted the rich, who are the primary owners of these assets.

    More of them. Luxury home buying typically occurs when buyers reach their years of peak earning and net worth. The US currently has more people in this group, aged 46---60, than ever before, and they have more income (two careers) and less expenses (fewer kids) than any generation before them. Compared to prior generations, this group is loaded.

    Their research portal is here http://www.realestateconsulting.com/consumer-research

    The Chinese money is therefore chasing this opportunity as fast as it can. With their own bastardized ideas of what a big luxury house looks like. They hire cheap designers to keep the front costs down, and so forth. So this is what you get.

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  23. Anyone know who the architect of the Camillo twins was?

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    1. its on the plans in city hall

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    2. Scott Yang. It is on The Tattler, of course.
      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2014/08/unhappy-details-about-camillo-road.html

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    3. Surprise, Mr. Yang designs multi-family housing and office buildings:
      "In 2000, he became one of partner in Nevis Homes that specializes in developing multi-family residential and office projects. He was featured in LA World Journal (世界日報) for an Arcadia residential project in 2013."
      From the Creative Design Associates website, and yes, that really is the name they've given themselves. Creative Design.

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  24. About that "delicate circuit" - maybe a non-native English speaker who meant "dedicated circuit."

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    1. 11:03, or:
      Fujian Fuqiang Delicate Circuit Plate Co., Ltd. manufactures printed circuit boards. The company was incorporated in 1996 and is based in China. It operates as a subsidiary of Sinotronics Holdings Ltd

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  25. Open House 2-4 Sat and Sun. Go take a good look. My eyes are still burning from the outgassing of all the plastic materials in the construction. Stomach still churning from disgust at the hubris of it all.

    Lot to North is listed value on the LA County Parcel Viewer as $371,679. House on that lot now: $1.75 M
    Lot to South is listed value on the LA County Parcel Viewer as $200,908. House on that lot now: $1.65 M

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    1. Did you go to today's open house? Was there much interest?

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  26. Yes, I took a look. At 2:15 a few folks. Did not hear any enthusiasm from the viewers. The lady giving out the info sheets and her business cards was trying eagerly to get reactions from a very non-commital group wandering through. I saw one guy opening and closing the kitchen cabinets. The color scheme is as cold inside as it looks from the outside: grey on grey on white steel/glass. Info sheet was renderings instead of actual photos. Middle back fence has a gate opened through the two lots?! Check it out tomorrow.

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    1. I figured this would be a sale to a multi-generational family group.

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  27. Here is a thought! If you go to any new hyper modern Chinese restaurants you will see these same types of styles in play.

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    1. The buildings definitely have a utilitarian boxiness to them. Absolute eyesores from Grandview looking north.

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    2. Neo-Stalinist. Maybe Hasan Ikhrata will buy one.

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  28. The deck balusters inside and out are horizontal. This is a code violation. Balustrades for child safety are to be vertical and no wider than 4 inches apart to keep children from climbing on them or getting their head stuck through. How did this pass inspection. This is required even if the expectation that children will not be in residence.

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    1. There is little law enforcement at this level. LA County is a joke. These little governments are run like little kingdoms.

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    2. Ohhhhhh, I have small kids. Taking them to view the houses tomorrow could be all kinds of fun. Maybe cause the realtor some heart palpitations as they nearly go over the railings?

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    3. Maybe in addition to hating Sierra Madre they also hate children.

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    4. Kids ruin everything.

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