Saturday, May 2, 2015

Has A New Kind Of McMansion Driven Land Grab Now Reached Sierra Madre?

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I received a scan of the following idiosyncratic piece of snail mail from a good friend yesterday evening. It is an interesting and timely little document, and I thought I should share it with you here. I mean, why not? After all, it is Saturday.

Apparently somebody wants to pay hard cash and buy my friend's home. Which could be the beginning of a new trend here. Unsolicited and unwanted real estate offers written on a child's lined notebook paper and mailed directly to the targeted house. Perhaps it is the work of a DIY non-traditional real estate predator who wants to make an Arcadia-style scrape and drape mansionization deal work in Sierra Madre? That and make some really mad stacks off of the assumed gullibility of the party currently living there while doing it?

Maybe, and perhaps not. Here is the scan of that letter:


Pretty wild, right? Handwritten on lined loose leaf paper, and personalized with a phone number and a confidential plea for a personal call. All as stuffed into an envelope with an actual postage stamp on it. It certainly does seem sincere.

I admit that I am disappointed that no offer came with this note, however. Despite the claim that there was something like that to review. I guess Danica wanted the chance to size up her target first before making any offers. Apparently that kind of detail would have been discussed during the hoped for phone call. Which, as of this typing, has not happened yet. Nor, I suspect, will it occur anytime soon.

Here is the key to this mystery. The house of my friend sits on a very big lot, much larger than most found here in Sierra Madre. So I suppose that we can assume our carefree and capricious friend Danica has lined up some major cash financing from a party that wants to build an Arcadia-style starter castle here.

What else could it be? Apparently it is the size of that lot and not the quaint though attractive Sierra Madre home currently sitting upon it that is the main attraction here for Danica. That and the potential to double or even triple her money should she ever persuade my friend to sell. Done by tapping into the oceans of foreign cash being plowed into mansionizing this area.

So who is Danica Patton? Apparently she isn't the dumb bunny real estate newbie her goofy note might suggest. But instead a woman with a sophisticated knowledge of how these matters work, and the ability to finance such highly profitable property deal. After all, and as she says, Danica can offer you what nobody else can.

Here are a couple of things that turned up in our cursory Google search.


Judging by the topic of her book it does appear that Ms. Patton does have some major expertise in the house trading world. Here is an Amazon blurb about "Where Do You Go From Here" (link).

In 2005 Danica started investing in Real Estate as a wholesaler with her partner, now husband, Rob Patton. Danica was constantly approached by Homeowners who owed more than their home was worth, could not afford their payments and did not want to loose their home. Due to the change in the market, Danica made it her mission to help every homeowner she could in Southern California avoid Foreclosure. Since then she has been specializing in educating hundreds of homeowners about Real Estate so they know their options in avoiding Foreclosure so they can get back on track towards home ownership. Her mission statement says it all, “Solving Situations, One House At A Time”. Danica and her husband reside in Altadena, California where she owns and runs a Full Service Real Estate Brokerage called California Property Solvers. California Property Solvers is registered with the BBB with an A+ rating.

A search for California Property Solvers turned up this block of throbbing prose (link).

California Property Solvers was originally created 11 years ago as a construction company building custom homes as well as rehabbing homes in Pasadena, California and the surrounding areas. Throughout the years the company has grown into a Full Service Real Estate Brokerage located in the heart of Altadena, California.

California Property Solvers is now a family run boutique Brokerage with 5 specialty divisions: Luxury Homes, Investment Properties, First Time Home Buyers, Educating Homeowners in Real Estate and Helping Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure. We incorporate a team of Real Estate Attorneys, Escrow Companies, Title Companies, Mortgage Brokers and Licensed Realtors.

OK, so we have found our lady and the source of the unsolicited offer to buy a Sierra Madre house on a very big lot, as written by hand on lined notebook paper.

But this does beg another question. Why Sierra Madre? Isn't this place on lockdown as far as McMansion development goes? Haven't the actions of our City Council these last 18 months or so made that kind of thing improbable, and perhaps our Danica is wasting her time here?

Well, maybe the City Council did do that. But perhaps a smart lady like Danica Patton might also have figured out that the situation has changed in the last couple of weeks. Actions do have consequences, and there is always someone around who is going to see the opportunities.

Here is a chart that was sent to The Tattler detailing changes then Mayor John Harabedian, with a grinding lawyerly persistence, plowed into the R1 planning revisions the Planning Commission put together. Specifically allowable square footage changes. Note the section highlighted in yellow.


If this is our smoking gun, and John Harabedian's changes have opened up certain properties here to the outré' blandishments of the Danica Pattons of this world, then perhaps more people with homes on big lots will be getting their own handwritten letters soon.

You never really know for sure, at least at first. But you can always make an educated guess.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

64 comments:

  1. I have a big lot and I never receive these. I feel discriminated againsst. Do you think I have a case? Who should I contact? Goss or Harabedian?

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    1. Call Gene. After all, everybody else does.

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  2. Innarestin'. So did Harabedian's square foot finagling create a special class of McMansion development here?

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  3. Following the recommendation in the staff’s agenda report, the Sierra Madre City Council added an ordinance to the municipal code that bans common sense in city government. The council’s action formalizes a practice that has been followed since incorporation in 1907.

    Accordingly, the city will continue to maintain a bloated staff, and to pay salaries and provide benefits and pensions unmatched in the private sector. The city will also continue to pay at least double the going rate to consultants, to contractors for capital improvement projects and to property owners for purchases.

    In keeping with the new ordinance, the council and staff will continue to coddle developers, encourage density bonus projects, and try to pack high density and mixed use development near transit corridors. Further, the city will emphasize its disingenuous claim that such development significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and slows climate change.

    “Common sense has no place in city government,” said the staff report. “Inefficiency and misuse of public funds are city government’s intention, its raison d’être, so to speak. The ordinance that staff recommends for adoption by council codifies a longstanding tradition. It assures lunacy and weaves guaranteed misappropriation into the city fabric.”

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    1. don't forget "highest UTT tax"

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    2. Was this passed in closed session?

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    3. 7:57A Nope!

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    4. It must be from the Shenanigan Era.

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    5. That's a great post, 6:06. Reminiscent of Jonathan Swift.

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  4. Danica's next book: how to fake mass printed letter to look like school-girl, handwritten-on-exercise-lined-paper appeal for your property and other tawdry gimmicks. Egad!

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  5. What size lot does Harabedian's house sit on. Is he cooking up this category for his own benefit or that of family? If so, this is a Fair Policital Practices violation.

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    1. I don't think his lot is big enough to build. It's a little over 7,000sf I think. His house is 1600 sf. He could maybe add a room. The house has 3 bedrooms as is.

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    2. What is his tree diet? He could build a tree house. They have the advantage of providing excellent views without blocking anyone's access to sunlight.

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  6. This is my house. I wonder if I was targeted because she saw our dead lawn and dead trees, because we've actually been conserving water, and thought the property is going into foreclosure. Or, did she take a look and think "Aha, this is a luxury home." I certainly didn't know it! It reminds me of the time I asked one of my friends if he ever thought he'd live in a million dollar house. His response was, "Yeah, but I didn't think it would be this one!"

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  7. Hey, today is the Fireman's Pancake Breakfast. I better hurry on over there for some good pancakes and friendly talk. Wonder how many of our towns leaders we will see over there? Our city manager can be seen during the week going to various city organizations in town, wonder if you will see her or Bruce today?

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    1. I don't know. So heavy a political presence might put me off my feed.

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    2. I saw Henderson(gag) and Mr. Inman. That was it.

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  8. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it combines to real estate agent and developer outreach directly to homeowners in Sierra Madre to entice them to sell their home. That's what happened in Arcadia and then the land grab was on. To preserve the Sierra Madre we all know is going to take a lot of work and vigilance. Harabedian is a decent guy and some good things have happened on his watch so let's see what happens. I'm not prepared that he has gone over to the dark side just because of his most recent views. He certainly changed the tone from the Nancy Walsh era and I give him alot of credit for that.

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    1. OK. But I have seen enough to know that we need to hold his feet to the fire.

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  9. Overall, things have been going in a very positive direction for the preservation movement in Sierra Made which is due in no small part to all the current members of the City Council. Granted, Goss and Harabedian have gone a little sideways lately for some unknow reason but I'm confident that, at the end of the day, we will have put some pretty good things in place to prevent the mansionization of Sierra Madre and preserve the property rights of neighobrs. Very few cities have been able to put in place what this city has done so I'm proud of everyone who helped in all of this. In short, all of the heavy lifting that has been put in by so many good people is paying off.

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    1. Trust, but verify. And if that doesn't work, scream as loud as you can.

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    2. So 8:17, just how long have you been participating in Sierra Madre politics?
      Remember, no one ever, ever says, "I am for development." Not out loud, and not in public.
      Up until these code changes, what was put in place is just a pause.

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    3. The development enabler posse always depends on the residents being nice.

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  10. That letter isn't actually handwritten but instead employs a digital font designed to look as if it were penned. Even more of a lie.

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  11. You're kinda like the Fox News of the blogosphere, unsubstantiated fear mongering, you're a real piece of work Crawford.

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    1. Go have a pancake. It will make you feel better.

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    2. 9:15 is right. Don't worry your pretty (or handsome) little heads about anything. There is no MacMansion trend, there are no real problems wih overdevelopment and resource use. Everything is fine. Repeat after me:
      Ignorance is Strength

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    3. If Harabedian really wanted to stop McMansions this would have all wrapped up weeks ago and we wouldn't be having this conversation today. We have seen this before, and more than once.

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    4. 9:15AM It's only because you're a progressive and believe all that entails. Betcha never went to a planning meeting or a city council meeting.

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    5. 9:54....what a maroon!

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    6. there's a bit of truth there though- this blog does delve into tabloid territory on occasion.

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    7. The Tattler is the voice of the people.

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    8. 6:11 - why do you read it?

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    9. 6:47 - for the same reasons you do

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    10. 6:35 the Tattler is the voice of John Crawford. The comment section is the voice of the people... pending moderator approval.

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  12. Interesting topic for Tuesday evening's City Council meeting
    http://docs.cityofsierramadre.com/tylercm/eagleweb/downloads/1___Statewide_Water_Conservation_Regulations.pdf?id=DOC201S24.A0&parent=DOC201S24

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  13. What does Danica mean when she says she can offer what nobody else can?

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    1. Call her and find out, YOU DO SOME WORK!

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  14. The main problem with both the PC and Harribedians proposals is that neither take into account the area of the actual building pad. I live next door to the recipient of the letter. Although both of our properties are large, a lot of the square footage is hillside. So like with the Carter properties, you will end up with a much to large house on the actual building pad.

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    1. That is a very important consideration, 10:00. Our code must start addressing "buildable area" as a part of lot size calculations.

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    2. It was addressed by Preserve at one of the Adele meetings. But has not been brought up again. Great point! I believe something is in the Hillside code that addresses slopes. I am going to check to see if this was changed. Thanks!

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  15. I'm sorry to see this happening to the greatest community. Unfortunately, I've lived in Arcadia for 50 years and I'm afraid to say this is what started 30 years ago here. It's when they come in Chinese, it's extra special. My investment condo in Arcadia gets them too. On average, it's at least twice a week I receive this. The scary aspect is they really, really work.

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    1. What do these people pay? It seems to me they are going to be offering cash amounts that could be substantially less than if you just sold the house through normal means.

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    2. 10:09, I think they use the notes because it works, and they pay cash, and it's a lot of money. Cash.

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    3. There is a sucker born every minute.

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  16. In San Marino it's gotten to the point where you can't even sell your house on the open market (scan the MLS, practically nothing) because the local realtors have got their Chinese cash clients all lined up and have locked up the market. That's what's been going on over the last decade or so, sellers don't even have a choice anymore. Thus the massive ramp-up in home values in Zillow over the last couple of years (almost double). Can you say bubble?

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    1. Aren't they shooting corrupt real estate speculators in China these days?
      http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2015/04/14/trial-links-key-officials-in-chinas-corruption-crackdown/

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    2. Obviously they are not shooting enough of them.

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    3. Xi Jinping's Economic Reforms and Consolidation of Power is at
      http://www.cfr.org/china/xi-jinpings-economic-reforms-consolidation-power/p36051

      and I'm hearing from my Chinese friends that the money flow from China is starting to slow down because of it. What does it say about a country when its successful people are all planning to leave and are stashing their money overseas? The workarounds are starting to get shut down.

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    4. 10:07.....are you more concerned about selling your house on the open market or getting the highest price for it? If it's the former, list it yourself.

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    5. sellers don't have a choice to do what exactly? choose the kind of person they want to sell to?

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  17. There is a small house on Mariposa which was bought and flipped. the asking price is high. I am told there are many Chines people looking but not buying because they tell neighbors they cannot take it down and rebuild. Very sad because it is livable and appears quite lovely.

    What is it with MacMansions?The cost of gas, electric, not to mention cleaning and upkeep. Where have our values gone that we have forgotten to be together and cozy? Is this a new social phenomenon?

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    1. My theory is that McMansions are for families who hate each other. They live together but can get far away from each other and only see each other in passing.

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    2. As Marguerite Shuster once put it, they are monuments to conspicuous consumption.

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    3. it's largely a nouveau riche thing. human natue

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  18. For Sale signs are gone from the Camillo houses. Does anyone know if they got sold, or if Ho got tired of twice weekly Open Houses? Should I ask Goss about this too, since he seems to talk to people no one else does.

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    1. Maybe they're coming off the market for a while so they can reintroduced as something fresh and exciting later on?

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    2. That could be it. They're a bust and Long Dragon needs to come up with another marketing plan.

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  19. Need front yard signs that say:

    "House Not For Sale"
    "Lawn Is Dead Due To Drought"

    ...because as you know a dead front lawn in Arcadia is the signal for the bulldozers.

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  20. Banker's insider secretes. Danica is that legal?

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  21. Camillo Carbuncles only come up with one address, 319 for both assessor parcel numbers: 5764-01-0008 and
    5764-01-0007. The one to the north, with the address of "321" is a larger square footage lot by only a few square feet, and assessed in 2012 @ $371,679. The smaller lot, to the south (where the old garage was) shows 2012 assessment @ $200,908. So, an earlier guess as to why they were pulled off the market...who knows.

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  22. For sale sign on Darling House (which did have a sale pending sign) is down today. Sold? Anyone know?

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    1. Sold. Cleared escrow, yo.

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