July 31, 2017
President's Message
Real Estate
The chances that your neighbors won't change in the near future have improved for most Eagle Rockers. According to recent MLS statistics for the 2nd quarter of 2017, sales of single-family homes fell 21% for Eagle Rock; however, sales in neighboring communities (Glassell Park + 32%, Highland Park + 11%, Mount Washington + 35%) all increased.

I reached out to a friend in the real estate business to better understand why the trend has changed so dramatically in Eagle Rock. Her first point was that Eagle Rock remains an especially desirable neighborhood. However, the low number of homes currently for sale in our community limits the number of sales. She attributed the low inventory of homes for sale to the greater stability of Eagle Rock residents, who tend to stay longer, less frequently selling their homes. In response to my question regarding the potential resistance of buyers to higher prices, she disagreed with that being an issue. Her experience, prior to 2015, was that it took 5 to 7 open houses to open escrow. Now her experience is that most desirable homes will secure multiple offers very soon after the first open house. Many of the offers will be over the asking price.

Years ago, when we bought our house, the timing was off. Prices were going up. A realtor convinced us that $210,000 was something we could handle. We were not so sure, but took a chance. Looking back more than 30 years ago, I consider the decision to take a chance on buying an outrageously expensive home in Eagle Rock to be a life changing experience in the best possible way. We will contribute to the scarcity of listings in Eagle Rock, as this house ultimately will pass to our children.

In January of 2013, TERA sent a letter to Councilmember Huizar stressing the fact that any proliferation of billboards in Eagle Rock would not be welcome. We placed significant stress on the opposition to digital billboards. Four years later, again we have reason to be concerned.

Most would agree that the presence of billboards rarely improves the quality of life in a community. If we could just snap a finger and billboards would be gone from Eagle Rock, there would be a resounding snapping sound, but it's not quite that easy. A key factor for billboards located on private property is that the owner receives income for allowing the billboard on their property. For some locations, the income is considerable. Electronic billboards, that are impossible to ignore, are even more lucrative and intrusive.

In the past, the City has recognized that the proliferation of billboards, especially the digital type, can have a considerable negative impact on a community, especially when they are placed in areas that are not predominately commercial. In 2002 the Los Angeles City Council voted for a ban on "off-site billboards." The ban required that products featured on the billboard be sold at the location of the billboard. Unsuccessful litigation ensued when a billboard company contended that the ban infringed on their free speech rights.

Once again the City is considering legislation that will soften the ban by allowing a tradeoff. The elimination of a certain number of conventional billboards will allow the erection of a new electronic billboard. The precise details are still in the Planning / Land Use Committee (PLUM). Once the proposal is fully defined it will be presented to the City Council for a vote. Given the generous financial support that billboard companies provide to government officials, it is hard to not assume that there will be some "yes" votes.

There are places where an abundance of billboards, especially electronic, makes sense. Times Square is defined by the plethora of billboards. LA Live, which is developing into Times Square West, would have little of the energy and vitality it enjoys today without the many oversized electronic billboard displays. However, Eagle Rock is not a place for additional billboards of any kind! It's time for us once again to be vigilant.

Details for the latest proposed legislation are still being developed in the PLUM Committee. Therefore, it would be premature for our Council Office to make a statement about the latest proposed legislation. However, according to, Rick Coca, Communications Director for CD14, "Councilmember Huizar will do everything in his power to protect the communities he represents from any unwanted uses." TERA will continue to monitor this issue. We should hold him to that promise. For more detail information on this issue go to http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2011/11-1705_rpt_PLAN_03-28-2017.pdf

Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council launched Safe Sidewalks LA in December 2016. The goal of this multi-year program is to encourage sidewalk repair citywide. Approximately $31 million is budgeted for repairs in the coming year. If the sidewalk in front of your home needs fixing, a part of that $31 million could be yours. But it won't be unless you take action. Some key points:
* Cost Sharing: For a limited time this program may provide rebates to offset a portion of the repair cost.

* Prioritization: Top priorities will be given to sidewalks that are utilized by those disabled. Proximity to public transportation is also another factor that results in a higher priority.

* Council Office Support: An endorsement from your council office can also be beneficial.

* Trees: Tree removal is included in the program, allowing for a permanent repair to the sidewalk, with sidewalk friendly tree replanting after the sidewalk is repaired..

To reiterate, the $31 million will be spent on someone's sidewalk. It could be yours if you take action.  For complete information on Safe Sidewalks LA go to http://sidewalks.lacity.org/

The phrase "a tree-lined street" conjures up the most pleasant streetscape vision. We are fortunate to have an abundance of such streets in Eagle Rock. Shearin Avenue is typical of so many streets between Colorado Boulevard and Hill Drive. Consider how much less attractive these streets would be if they were not "tree lined." Later in the newsletter, Jane Demian, TERA Board Member and a passionate advocate for trees, writes about trees in this newsletter. Jane is the best kind of advocate, one who often turns her passion into action by partnering with the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, the Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful and others to care for trees and the overall streetscape throughout Eagle Rock. Her love of trees and understanding of their importance in our community is crystal clear in her writing.

In the last issue of this newsletter, CD14 was listed as the sole sponsor of the Zumba classes. Please be advised that the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council partnered with CD14 and provided the funding for the Zumba classes. Many thanks to the ERNC for underwriting this community event.


  Bob's Signature   
Bob Gotham, President
In This Issue
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Land Use

1332 Colorado Boulevard / Pillarhenge

The special significance of this development is clear to the TERA Board.  For those exiting the freeway, this is the first major structure that will be seen.  For new visitors, to a degree it will set the tone for expectations as they drive further into our community.  The fact that this property has been blighted and abandoned for so many years, and that it has been extremely difficult to find an investor willing to make a leap of faith that he/she could profitably build on the property was part of the equation.  The reality that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" was also a factor - some on the TERA Board were not thrilled with the design.  At the end of the discussions the majority of the Board agreed to support the projects dependent on the several caveats that we felt make this a better project for the community as well as the developer.

Connors - 4680 Eagle Rock Boulevard

The prospect for a new bar / pub called "Connors" and the preservation of the signage that for many years announced Connors Plumbing to the community is a great example of looking forward and looking back.  The location is not directly adjacent to any residents.  However, TERA's support includes language that is protective of the residents in the general area.  

All About Trees
by Jane Demian, TERA Board Member - Secretary

Trees are an important part of Eagle Rock's living infrastructure.  Trees provide beauty, shade, cooling and pollution control for our urban environment, and are one of the most sensible and effective pollution fighters for our city.  As living things, trees require care and maintenance.  TERA has been working with the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC) and Council Office to help fund planting, watering and maintenance of street trees. 
There are three different ways that trees are planted in Eagle Rock:  
  • Residential Parkway Trees
  • Private Residential Trees
  • Street Trees
Both City Plants  and Northeast Trees will plant free trees on parkways for residents on residential streets.  Generally, the trees are planted according to Urban Forestry guidelines.  Issues that are specific to street/parkway tree planting are: the type of tree, the size of tree, the location and the time of year the tree is planted.  Both native and non-native trees are listed on the Urban Forestry Tree List.  The type of tree planted in a parkway is important so that the tree's roots do not break the sidewalk.  A new residential parkway tree will most likely be planted by either City Plants or Northeast Trees, then staked and tied.  The resident is expected to care for the tree over a period of 3 years.  Watering and maintenance instructions will be provided to the owner/resident.  Both agencies will require that the property owner / resident sign a written agreement agreeing to care for the tree.
If residents would like free trees to plant on their property they can obtain up to seven (7) free trees delivered from City Plants along with ties and stakes so property owners can plant the trees themselves.  On occasion our Assembly member or City Councilmember may provide free trees at a Saturday morning tree event.  Residents are responsible for picking up the free tree at the tree event while supplies last, and planting the tree themselves or with the help of a gardener.  For any kind of tree planting the soil must be prepared, a large hole dug in an area large enough to accommodate the tree's roots and canopy.  The new tree must be watered twice a month using at least 15 gallons of water and deep, slow watering so that roots will grow deeply.  A Tree Gator may be purchased online, wrapped around the new tree, filled with 15 gallons of water and allowed to seep slowly over a period of 8 hours.  Drip irrigation around the drip line over several hours is also a good way to water a tree.  Sprinkler watering is not advised because the tree's roots will not grow deep into the ground, but will tend to remain shallow.  Mulch spread around the tree's drip line is recommended to keep the soil moist being careful to leave "breathing room" around the tree's trunk.
These are the trees that line our major thoroughfares in commercial districts and very often reside in narrow sidewalk cutouts.  Street trees are the most stressed of all trees in the City.  They are necessary to provide beauty, shade, cooling and pollution control as City streets are bombarded by heat, dirt and pollution from car/truck traffic and freeways.  In Eagle Rock we are flanked by two major freeways: the 134 to the north and the 2 frwy to the west, so we need all the pollution control we can get.  Trees are the important silent workhorses that exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen.
Approximately three years ago in 2014 the ERNC along with the Council office and TERA collaborated on an ambitious tree planting project where 270 street trees were planted in tree wells on Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock Blvd., Figueroa Blvd. and York Blvd.  There was an attempt to get commercial business owners to provide maintenance for these trees, but that was not a guaranteed way to get tree care.  A tree inventory was created on a Google doc and that tree inventory has been maintained and updated.  A maintenance contract was obtained through Northeast Trees for two years of tree watering and maintenance.  During those two years a persistent drought settled over much of California.  Eagle Rock's trees suffered as did all the trees.  Even with regular watering many of our new and existing trees died.  We were fortunate that the majority of the new trees were receiving regular watering for the first two years.  The problem arose when the 3rd year loomed.  As a member of the ERNC Sustainability Committee, I joined with others on the ERNC to attempt to obtain additional funding from the Council office for a 3rd year of watering, but that request was denied.  The Council office had agreed only to a two-year maintenance contract, and they were sticking to it.  TERA agreed to provide some additional funding for summer watering only in 2016.  The Community Forestry Advisory Committee (CFAC), which is comprised of members from various tree organizations in Los Angeles, have collectively determined that new tree maintenance and watering needs to continue for at least three years and up to five years, ESPECIALLY during drought conditions.
As luck would have it, during the winter of 2016-2017, the rains came and all our trees received the wealth that is water.  Now we are facing another hot summer and again have to design a plan to water the new trees that have not consistently received at least 3 years of watering and maintenance. 
TREE WATERING PROGRAM:  Ursula Brown from the Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful (CERB) and I watered the medians and pots along Eagle Rock Blvd. and Sierra Villa pots for at least the last 2 summers.  The planting on Eagle Rock Blvd. was started by Eagle Rock environmental activist John Stillion Ursula has maintained those plantings ever since.  She and I would go out approximately once a week during the summer.  Often Ursula would go out on her own and water.  Through ERNC funding she and CERB obtained a 100-gallon watering tank that she placed on the back of her Subaru truck.  At the end of 2016 the ERNC asked Ursula if she would be willing to water the new street trees since we were not able to get another watering contract.  She said she needed her expenses paid because it was a large project and she would have to go out to water more often.  Between the ERNC as funder and TERA as fiscal agent, we found the money to pay Ursula and the Tree Watering Program was born.
Ursula could certainly use more volunteers.  She has two male volunteers who help on occasion, and I help when I can.  She keeps track of the new trees she waters making sure to create a berm, remove weeds and trash from around the tree well, assures that stakes are intact and tied, all very time-consuming efforts.  To work with Ursula as a volunteer please contact her at 323-202-9261.
EXISTING STREET TREES:  Unfortunately we are not providing any additional watering or maintenance for the existing, mature street trees.  It is assumed that if they have survived the drought and have been receiving rainwater from above and ground water through their taproots, they will have adjusted to the generally dry conditions of this geographical area.  Over 8,000 trees have died in Los Angeles during the drought, and had to be removed by the City workers, however, there are still some that have not been removed.  Urban Forestry has a backlog of tree removal going back several years.  Tim Tyson, the relatively new Supervisor of Urban Forestry, explained Trish Gossett and me in a meeting about our collective trees in both Eagle Rock and Highland Park, that Urban Forestry is working on tree removal with a 2-3 year backlog.  Urban Forestry's budget was cut after the 2008-2009 crash and they are just now beginning to grow their staff and take care of tree trimming and tree removal.  Tim said Urban Forestry can provide watering and maintenance but the Council Office would have to make a motion to the City Council to pay Urban Forestry for that service.  Urban Forestry now has a staff of 135 with 20 arborists. 
Trees in general become weakened due to the lack of water, which also weakens their ability to fight off pests and infestations such as the golden spotted oak borer, and the poly phagus shot hole borer, two pests that attack and weaken our protected oak trees.  Xylella infests liquid amber, birch and oleander, and lurp psellid infests eucalyptus as well as multiple strains of fungus.  Photosynthesis and transpiration also become negatively affected due to lack of water and nutrients.  Tree leaves are not able to perform the function of gas exchange efficiently through the stomata of their leaves during drought conditions.
There's so much more we can be doing to help our Eagle Rock trees.  If you are interested in getting involved please contact TERA, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council or the Council Office for more information.
Membership Support

TERA, The Eagle Rock Association | | president@tera90041.org | http://TERA90041.org
PO Box 41453
Eagle Rock, CA 90041
Phone: 323-799-1190