Category: Los Angeles

Palm Trees in Southern California


Santa Monica


Rodeo Beverly Hills



Echo Park Lake

There is no other tree that is so quintessentially Los Angeles as the Palm Tree.  You can’t turn your head without seeing one. Palm Trees are everywhere- they line the sand at Will Roger State Beach in Santa Monica and the Palisades Park, festoon the entrance of Fox Studios in Century City, run down the boulevards of Rodeo Drive, line the streets of Hancock Park and Los Feliz, surround the lake in Echo Park, occupy “Avenue of the Palms” off Stadium Way in Elysian Park. 

Palm Trees have come to symbolize wealth, sunny weather, and a tropical climate.


Wilshire Blvd 1926

Early settlers moving to Los Angeles were awed by these exotic looking trees that gave Los Angeles the mystic of an urban paradise.

The city planted Tens of Thousands of Palm Trees in the 1920s and 1930s.  They were lauded by the LA Times as being “Magical” and “Plumed Knights”. These are the same Palm Trees we enjoy today. Most palms trees live for 50-100 years so many of the street Palm Trees are reaching the end of their life cycle. As the street palms are dying the city has adopted a policy to replace them with more draught tolerant native trees such as Oaks and Sycamores. Palm Trees don’t provide a lot shade because they don’t have a big canopy.

Palm Tree Shade

I don’t expect our well loved Palm trees to ever disappear. There is an estimated 10 Million trees in the city.  8 Million of those trees are privately held, and the other 2 Million are on public land. Of the cities 2 Million trees about 700,000 of them are streetscape trees. The streetscape trees are a mix of 80-100 different species. Palm trees are one of the most popular species.

The climate in Los Angeles is changing and becoming dry arid, I expect a similar trend for Palm Trees as we are seeing for grass lawns- many palm trees will be replaced with less water intensive tree species but I still expect plenty of them to be around.

As you can probably tell, I have a particular soft spot for the Palm Tree. I love the way they look.

Some people criticize Palm Trees and say that they are genetically more like grass than a tree. When you compare Palm trees with other trees they do seem quite weird.


Palm trees have no tree rings like other trees do. If you look at a trunk cross section of a Palm, the trunk looks like a Loofah Sponge. It’s trunk is very flexible and resilient to wind. Palm trees can withstand hurricane force gales. Another difference is the Palm Tree’s doesn’t have Bark.  Have you ever noticed Palm trees don’t have any tree limbs? Instead of Leaves or Needles, Palm trees have fronds.

Palm Tree Fronds come in two types: Feather and Fan


Palm Tree root structures are very fibrous. Removing a Palm tree is the easy part, but removing a Palm Tree stump is a pain! It is not unusual to see Palm Tree stumps just left abandon in the ground because they are so difficult to remove.


Palm Tree stump on Santa Monica and Gardner



Palm Tree fronds knocked down after winds blew in Hancock Park

Palm Tree Fronds die over time- if they are not removed than can become a safety hazard. The fronds are quite heavy, and when they fall from 30 or 40 feet they can cause some serious damage to cars or injury a pedestrian below.


These 40-50 year old Palms look like they have not been trimmed in 20+ years.

The city of Los Angeles is running its tree trimming service on a shoe string budget. They complete a trimming of all the cities street trees every 15 years. Richer cities like Beverly Hills and Santa Monica do their tree trimming much more frequently. If you as an owner are tired of waiting for the city to come do it, you can hire a tree trimming service on your own and pay for it.

In addition to Palm Fronds, a lot of species of Palm trees create fruit. When the fruit drops it can get gooey and messy.

These tree’s can handle temperatures down to about 30 degrees and weather classification between 9-11. It be surprising that aside from the popular California Fan Palm, all the other palm trees in Los Angeles are not indigenous.

Common Types of Palms

Mexican Fan Palm/California Fan Palm



California Fan Palms




Fan Fronds. The California Fan Palm is slightly “beefier” than the Mexican Fan Palm, averaging 2-3 Feet diameter trunk, versus Mexican Fan Palms 1-2 Feet Trunk. The Mexican Fan Palm is the tallest Palm tree, and it can group up to 100 feet tall. One way to easily distinguish Fan Palms is their Basket Thatch Like Bark Pattern.

Canary Island Date Palm





Feathered Fronds. Bear Orange Fruit. This is my favorite Palm Tree. Canary Island Palm are unique because they have massive trunks, giving them some serious gravitas. Their trunks can sometimes grow to 5 feet in diameter. The Dead Fronds leave a diamond pattern behind in their trunk. This girthy trunk gives the tree a very imposing, rich, and impressive look. Plant nurseries do not like to sell Canary Island Palms because they grow very slowly, averaging only 6 inches each year. Fully grown they reach 60 feet. It takes decades from them to reach their full growth height. To get a replacement tree, they are usually transplanted from another site. Prices for these trees can range from $15,000-$20,000.

Queen Palm





Feathered Fonds. Queen Palm trunks are fairly skinny, averaging 1 or 2 feet in diameter. Nurseries love to plant and grow these, because Queen Palms grow fast- almost 2 feet a year, and they aren’t very fussy about conditions, they grow well in most settings. They can grow to a height of 40-50 feet tall. They have very smooth grey bark. Loves direct sunlight.

There are over 2,600 different species of Palm Trees located all over the world in equator regions. As you can imagine with so many different species, the gives rise to a great amount of variety between palm species. There are small ground cover and shrub palms, Fruit Tree Palms (Coconut Trees, and Date Palms), and the more familiar ornamental palms which we often see in our landscaping.

Palm Tree Diseases: Fusarium Fungus, Red Palm Weevil,


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Hollywood Hills Trash Collection

Los Angeles generates 4 million tons of garbage each year. Private trash companies dispose of two million tons of waste, and the city of Los Angeles the other 2 million. The Bureau of Sanitation has a fleet of six hundred garbage trucks. The average person creates ~6lbs of garbage per day. 80% of trash is recyclable. The City has been promoting recycling programs (the blue bins) to reduce the amount of trash the city produces. 95% of trash ends up in landfills.

toyon landfill griffith park

Toyon Canyon Landfill – Griffith Park, closed 1985

City Trash Service



Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation collects trash for all single-family residences and 2-4 unit multi-family apartment buildings. For small apartment building owners this is the most affordable trash option. The Bureau serves 750,000 households and 540,000 multifamily units annually. The city may collect from Multi-Family buildings over 5 units, check with the Sanitation Department for availability.


The city does not offer dumpster service for its customers, only trash bins.

60-gallon Trash bins hold 60lbs-100lbs of trash

90-gallon Trash bins hold 150lbs-200lbs of trash


City Trash pickup service is once a week. Place the trash bins on the curb in the morning during garbage pickup.


Blue Bin Recycling, Black Bin Trash, Green Bin Yard Trimmings

The standard allowance for Single Family Homes is one 60-gallon black trash container, one 90-gallon green yard trimmings container, and one 90-gallon blue recycling container.

The standard allowance for Multi-family dwellings is one 60-gallon black trash container per unit, one 90-gallon green yard trimming container per lot, and one 90-gallon blue container for every four dwelling units.

Additional capacity beyond the standard allowance is additional charge of $5 to $10 per month.

The cost of City trash service is $36/mo. for single family homes, $24/mo. per unit for apartment buildings.


Private trash companies

athens trash

Waste Management, Athens, and Allied are three large private trash companies operating in Los Angeles.

If you go private, take advantage of The City of Los Angeles Free Recycling Program for Multi Family buildings

Private trash companies collect refuse from large multi-family residential buildings (greater than four units), commercial property and industrial waste. Private companies are more expensive than the city, but can provide multiple day pick up service, and dumpster service. Private Companies will want a minimuim 1 year contract. The longer the contract the better the rate they will offer. If you do a lot of business with your trash company they might also offer a volume discount. They are willing to negotiate, so shop around to find the best price.


A 3-yard bin will run $80/mo. per pick up day. So for a 3 yard bin with 6 day a week pick up, that would be somewhere around: $480 per month and $5,760 annually.


3 yard trash bin

4 yard dumpster holds up to 800 lbs

3 yard dumpster holds up to 600 lbs

2 yard dumpster holds up to 400 lbs
Depending where the bin is located, additional charges may apply.For instance, if you require a scout truck to ferry the bin to the street from a subterranean garage location where the trash shoot feeds, that will be a ~$15/mo. additional charge. If the trash bin is located nearby tenants that will complain about smell- then more frequent service may be required.

scout truck 2


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Southern California has high seismic activity. We are located at the intersecting point of two massive tectonic plates: the Pacific Plate (extends to Japan) and North American Plate (extends to Iceland). The Pacific Plate is moving northwest, grinding along the North American Plate at a rate of 2 inches a year.

The San Andreas Fault is the largest and most well known fault in California


Los Angeles county is crisscrossed by many smaller active faults. Because of all of these faults, the fact is a Los Angeles earthquake can happen pretty much anywhere.

Los Angeles Faults

Los Angeles Faults


The most famous earthquake in California was the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Most of the structures in San Francisco at that time were unreinforced masonry brick buildings- that completely collapsed during the violent shaking of the 7.8 magnitude quake. At the time, seismology was an emerging research field, and this quake was one of the first quakes to be studied using scientific techniques and measuring instruments.

The long beach earthquake in 1933, though much less deadly than the San Fransico quake three decades earlier, narrowly avoided a complete disaster. It occurred at 5:54pm, after school. The quake caved in several school buildings, and if it would have happened earlier in the day… you can imagine what a tragedy that would have been.

As a result of this earthquake, California instated seimic buiding codes to ensure that no public school was unsafe in California. This slowly carried over into residential building during the following 10 years.

In the past one hundred years, there have been four major earthquakes in Los Angeles: Long Beach 1933, San Fernando 1971, Whittier Narrows 1987, and the Northridge Quake in 1994. Earthquake Natural Hazard comes with the territory.

LA earthquake damage

Los Angeles is a sedimentary basin- the soil condition is especially prone to shaking during an earthquake, as oppose to other areas that have bedrock. The magnitude of a quake is not a good indicator of the destruction it can cause. How deep underneath the earth’s surface did the rupture take place, soil conditions, and how close to a densely populated urban area was the epicenter, determine an earthquake’s destructive force. Small tremors can be felt with regular frequency- as Los Angeles is an active seismic zone. Sometimes when I am lying in bed at night I will feel the faintest rocking, which is a gentle reminder that the ground underneath our feet is moving.

Complete California Earthquake History


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Where’s North?

I use to visit Boulder Colorado to go on running trips when I was in high school (my idea of a fun vacation back then was running at high altitude!). While visiting Boulder, I met a blind person who asked me for directions. I was very impressed with her clear sense of where she was- it is hard for me to imagine even now, how well she had a map of the world in her head.

If you have been to Boulder, you know that there is a very remarkable mountain range to the west of town called the Flatirons



One thing I learned from her is that she used the location of the mountains to help her orient herself. She always kept track in her head where she was in relation to the mountains, and from knowing that the mountains where west, she could figure out the other 3 directions, North East and South.

For us on the westside we have a very similar situation, the Santa Monica Mountains are directly North (Think Hollywood Sign, and the Hollywood Hills). This is a great Land mark to use in relation to figuring out direction. Since we Know that the mountains are North we can figure out South by thinking the exact opposite direction, and East by moving in a clockwise direction, and West by moving in a counter clockwise direction. Or you can use the Never East Slimy Worms method, Going from N clockwise, we have Never (N), Eat (E), Slimy (S), Worms (W). West is where the ocean is.


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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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Changes to Appraisals- HVCC (Home Valuation Code of Conduct)

Home Valuation Code of Conduct

Recent Twitter Appraisal Post:

Paulas*****: is going crazy (short trip) waiting for an appraisal to come in. Everyone, I need your good thoughts & luck (nothing else works these days!)

Lately, have you heard people tell you their appraisal horror story? 3 days before closing they found out that the appraisal was $100,000 below contract price! The appraisal process has become a big component of making a deal happen. That’s because of the HVCC agreement (No- not Heating and Air Conditioning silly!)

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) is the result of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s 2007 lawsuit against Washington Mutual’s preferred AMC (Appraisal Management Company) eAppraiseIt LLC. The lawsuit was brought after eAppraiseIt was supposedly forced into providing WaMu with inflated values for properties WaMu was making loans on— eAppraiseIt also allegedly benefited from the extra business WaMu provided because of their alleged willingness to be coerced into providing inflated property values.

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) sets standards for solicitation, selection, compensation, conflicts of interest and appraiser independence. According to the agreement mortgage brokers and real estate agents are prohibited from selecting appraisers. However, realtors and lenders can talk to appraisers including requests to consider additional data or to correct errors. Important information that may effect value that an out of area appraiser might miss are: located on busy street, was tenant occupied before sale and needed repairing, Investor purchase, home being used as a comparable had a bad floor plan etc.

Attention Buyers; Make sure your lender gets your real estate agent the appraiser’s information and the date of the appraisal, so that your real estate agent can talk with the appraiser about the market and provide comps during the appraisal.

HVCC took effect May 1, 2009, and applies to conforming loans, of 1-4 unit single-family, up to the conforming loan limit amount of $729,750, that will be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Conforming loans make up, according to the NAR, over 71% of the total loans originated in the United States. Note FHA loans do not apply under the HVCC rules. R

Read more on HVCC here:

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently put out a survey to members asking what impact, if any, the new Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) has had. Here are the results:

• 75% of Realtors representing buyers or sellers said that the time to obtain a completed appraisal increased after May 1st (when HVCC took effect). 69% reported an increase of over 8 days.

• Lost sales were reported by 37% of Realtors trying to get a sale to closing with 20% reporting more than 1 lost sale.

• Reports of lost sales will impact the fallout rate in pending home sales although some of these sales may be completed after a delay of who knows how long.

• Increased use of out of area appraisers was reported by 70% of Realtors trying to complete a sale.

• NAR appraiser members say they now obtain over 50% of their appraisal management companies (AMC).

• Around half of NAR appraiser members say their fees have been reduced by AMCs. 70% says consumers are now paying higher fees. Of course the AMCs are getting the difference.

• 85% of NAR appraiser members reported a perceived reduction in appraisal quality!

• NAR appraiser members reported that a ‘significant’ number of their assignments were in unfamiliar areas. 16% said that 11% of their assignments were in unfamiliar areas.

Why is the quality of Appraisals going down under the HVCC?

Appraisers that work with AMCs loose 40-60% of their income in fees splits with AMCs. Also, there is twice as much paperwork for appraisers to fill out to complete an appraisal according to HVCC rules. That means, appraisers are working twice as hard for half as much money, stated another way, appraisers are making about a fourth of what they were making 1 year earlier. It is a very tough time to be an appraiser!

AMCs assign appraisals on a first come, first served, rotation basis without regard to an appraiser’s experience. You may get assigned an appraiser who is from out of area and has no experience working in your local marketplace. This means, it takes longer to close escrow- I am recommending to all my clients 45 day escrows, and that you have to micro manage the appraisal process so that you can give yourself the absolute best chance to have your appraisal come in at contract sales price. Call me for a referall to my appraiser- he is a true professional 310-388-7332 or email James at

Appraisal Blog:

My Appraiser:

Fannie Mae FAQ:

Freddie Mac HVCC FAQ


James Colin Campbell

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