Bird Streets Blog


Have you seen the recent Nor Cal News story about a Gasline Explosion destroying 20 some homes?

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You might be asking if your home is nearby a major gas pipe line- Southern California Gas Company controls all the gas pipelines in Los Angeles and they have a very helpful interactive map on their website that you can use to check it and find out:

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How to turn a 30 Year Fixed Mortgage into a 15 Year Fixed

Many buyers are torn between getting a lower monthly payment and longer term length of a 30 year fixed, or getting a lower interest rate and pay less interest on a 15 year fixed. Depending on your financial situation, I usually recommend to go with a 30 year fixed- the reason is that you can turn a 30 year fixed into a 15 year fixed without refinancing but once you get the 15 year fixed you are stuck with the higher payment.

All you have to do to turn your 30 year fixed mortage into a 15 is make an additional payment each year- to determine the size of the extra contribution each year you will need a mortgage calculator- I like’s mortgage calculator:

Step 1:
First we will need to know how much Principal is remaining to pay off. If you haven’t started paying yet that’s easy- its whatever the loan is for. If you have made a few years of payments already- no problem, your monthly statement will have your principal balance on it- or you can calculate how much principal is remaining by putting your numbers into that handy bankrate mortgage calculator above to figure out what your principal balance is. You will need to know your loan amount, interest rate, and how many payments you have made so far or the date of your first payment. Create an amortization table by clicking the [Show/Recalculate Amortization Table] blue button. Then find the payment number or date that you are currently at and on the column farthest to the left labeled “Balance” will show our remaining principal. Pretty easy so far!

Step 2:
Determine what the 30 year monthly payment is. In the example used herewe assume 600K purchase price, with 20% down for a mortgage balance of 480,000 at 6% interest. The monthly payment is $2,877

Step 3:
Determine what the 15 year monthly payment is. For the same example as used in step 2, the monthly payment for 15 years is $4,050

Step 4:

Minus the 30 year payment from the 15 year payment to determine the difference- in this case its $4,050 – $2,877 = $1,173. $1,173 is your magic number, if you add that amount to each payment you make each month you will have turned your 30 year into a 15 year.

Knowing how to do this calculation, you can now determine how to turn a 30 year fixed into any number of years by calculating the difference in payments.

On an aside note: The fact of the matter when it comes to investing is that- to invest well takes a lot of research and homework, and the very best on the planet routinely get 24% returns, the good get 7%, and everyone else swings around wildly, and in some cases loses their ENTIRE principal for a total loss. By paying down your mortgage more quickly you are getting a guaranteed return that you are unlikely to beat in the market on your own, or having someone invest for you (unless they are a top fund manager.) Paying down your mortgage may not be the sexiest investment, but it’s hard to beat a guaranteed 6%.

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Rod’s Autotech

Rods Autotech and marine


999 N. La Brea Ave


Located near the Corner of La Brea and Romaine is Rod’s Autotech- Rods is the second automotive shop in from the corner, to the north of the Rods is the South Parking entrance to Target/Best Buy. I had difficulty finding Rods the first time I went there because the address, 999 N La Brea, suggests that Rod’s has frontage on La Brea, but Rod’s is actually on Romaine. Rod’s has been there for over 20 years. Rod does excellent work and is a very savvy Mechanic. I recommend Rod’s to everyone. Rod’s is the best! You won’t find a more reasonable, honest, and skilled mechanic. When I pic up my car, I always try to shake Rods hand out of habit, but because Rod has been working with the cars and he doesn’t want to get my hand dirty, Rod gives me a fist pound 🙂


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Los Angeles Crime Map

The Los Angeles Times has an excellent CRIME MAP online that buyers can use to compare the safety of various Los Angeles neigbhorhoods:

WARNING: You might be unsettled the first time you look at a crime map because there are a lot of crimes!

la times crime map home page

Some general things you should know about crime:

-Poor neighborhoods have higher crime rates

-Rich neighborhoods have lower crime rates

-Poor neighborhoods have higher rates of violent crime

-Rich neighborhoods have higher rates of property crime

-Los Angeles is a big city- there is crime anywhere you go

-The suburbs are safer than the city


The LA Times Crime Map is color coded.

Los Angeles violent crime map color code

When looking at the crime map, pay special attention to violent crime (Red). This kind of crime is unacceptable. Examples of violent crime: Homicide, Rape, Assault, Robbery. Try to avoid neighborhoods with high violent crime rates, these neighborhoods aren’t safe. The worst kind of violent crime is Homicide- if there are more than 1 or 2 homicides within 1 mile each year, I’d avoid that neighborhood. You can look up the story behind the homicide- if its gang related that is obviously worse than something like domestic violence.

Property crime (brown) is about 3-4 times more frequent than violent crime, and tends to occur more often in richer neighborhoods where residents are likely to own expensive possessions. Examples of property crime: Burglary, Theft, Grand Theft Auto, Theft from Vehicle. I am not as concerned with property crime as violent crime when considering a potential neighborhood. It’s a nuisance, but you don’t have to worry about your physical safety.

Beverly Hills has its own crime map. Santa Monica is not yet covered.

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H.M. Warner House

H M Warner House Hancock Park

501 S Rossmore Ave

In 1923, Harry Warner of Warner Bros. studios, commissioned this 8 bedroom 5.5 bath, 5,555 sqft Hancock Park Georgian Colonial-style Mansion. Built on a 29,400 sqft lot, this historic home features include Detached Guest House, Pool, Private clay Tennis Court and maple paneled screening room. H.M. Warner House is located on prestigious Rossmore Ave. in between 5th and 6th Street. The home was designed by A. Burnside Sturges, and is a Windsor Square- Hancock Park Historical Society Landmark (#92).

Harry Warner Foyer


501 S Rossmore Living Room



501 S Rossmore Staircase


H M Warner house maple panels


H M warner house yard


HM Warner House Guest House



H M Warner House Pool


Warner stayed in the house only a few years. He sold the property shortly after it was built to raise capital to finance a film- “The Jazz Singer” (1927), starring Al Jolson. It was followed by Warner Bros. classics “The Maltese Falcon” (1941), “Casablanca” (1942), and “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955).

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Natural Light


The sun travels east to south to west in the northern hemisphere (east to north to west in the southern hemisphere). In the northern hemisphere, for most of the day, the sun is shining from the south. The sun heats the ground and south facing walls, so that side of the house can become hot. The trade-off is that these south facing walls get the best light. The north facing walls conversely, are dark and have very little light, however they are cooler. If the temperature is too hot in your south facing walls you could consider planting some trees for shade or changing your windows to a higher quality insulating window or adding shapes. Air conditioners can usually maintain a 25 degree temperature difference between the inside and outside temperatures. The coolest an air conditioner can get is somewhere around 52 degrees. Air conditioner’s should not be run when outside temperatures are below 65 degrees, or they may break.

East facing windows get soft morning light- but be careful, if your bedroom is facing this direction you will be waking up early when the sun rises. Some owners use thick shades to block the morning light when they want to sleep in. I personally think that it’s an advantage to have a bedroom facing east for that very reason; however I always feel like I am running late if I haven’t woken before the sun has come up.

West facing walls and windows get afternoon and evening light. So, the east side of the home in the evening will be cooler than the west side, however from the east side of the house, you will not be able to observe the sunset. Since the sun sets in the West, the west side of the home is warmer than the east side.

There is a real estate axiom that home buyers like “Light and Bright” as oppose to “Dark and Scary” I suppose. Natural light plays a big part in your mood. Sunlight helps the body produce Vitamin D which is an important compound in fighting seasonal depression. Also regular sunlight, keeps your bodies circadian system in balance, so that you can avoid those feelings like you feel when you are jet lagged. Light is also important because human beings are actuarial creatures (as opposed to nocturnal) and we are our happiest when we are awake during the day and asleep during the night.


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Batchelder Tile Co.

Ernest Batchelder

Ernest Batchelder

Ernest A. Batchelder, 1875-1957, was a leading Arts and Crafts movement tile maker during the 1920s. Batchelder had a vivid imagination- the tiles that he created depict scenes from storybooks, mythical creatures, scenes from far away places- he was very creative. Batchelder’s favorite motifs were birds and animals, flowers plants and leaves, geometric shapes and Mayan.


Batchelder Tile

Peacock figure with Batchelder Wordmark

Batchelder Pomegranate tile

Pomegranate Tile

Batchelder Shape Tile

shape tile

Batchelder Mayan Tile


Batchelder Story tile

Many of his fireplaces and tiles can be found in homes around Los Angeles, including Hancock Park and Pasadena.

Batchelder Fireplace

Batchelder Fireplace


Mr. Batchelder founded Batchelder Tiles in his home in Pasadena in 1909. He moved twice due to expansion, with his largest business site occupying six acres. Batchelder’s products earned a gold medal at the 1915 San Diego Exposition. One of Batchelder’s last and largest projects was the Hershey Hotel in Hershey, Pennsylvania, built by the famous chocolate manufacturer in 1930. Like many arts and crafts enterprises the firm was put out of business by the Depression; all of its assets were sold in 1932.

Mr. Batchelder studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Birmingham, England, and also taught at the Harvard Summer School of Design, organized the Handicraft Guild in Minneapolis, and directed the department of arts and crafts at Throop Poly- technic Institute in Pasadena.

Mr. Batchelder published Principles of Design in 1904 and his numerous articles for The Craftsman were compiled as the book Design in Theory and Practice in 1910.

A Quote from Batchelder Tile’s 1924 Fireplace Mantel Catalog:

“The Fireplace- the place where the fire burns,- suggests at once a place of comfort, of cheer, of friends, of books. In a peculiar and intimate sense it is the center of the home. The mantel serves to unite the homely utility of fire, soot and ashes with a form, color and texture designed to bring the fireplace into harmonious relation with the decorative scheme of the room. The mantel becomes at once the focal point of interest; one can afford to devote thoughtful attention to its design. It should possess a distinctive character of its own sufficient to assert itself, but withal should not be unduly conspicuous. It should have a “built in” appearance as if it were an inevitable part of its environment.”

Batchelder House was buit in 1910 at 626 South Arroyo Boulveard in Pasadena.


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