Today, California boasts 36 million people, with a growth rate of approximately 600,000 each year, thanks to newborns and those relocating to the Golden State. Ironically, California has not approved a statewide growth plan in 25 years, which is why we’re always found scrambling to deal with supply and demand.

What is the vision for housing, growth and land use needs to best meet the needs of our people? The State Department of Housing and Community Development projects a need of 3.7 million units of subsidized housing by 2020. Who is going to pay for this? Steps should be taken on the state level to ensure that local communities can meet their growing infrastructure and service needs. More....


We’re very lucky here by the Pacific Ocean — the climate is perfect and we can leave the windows open all year around. Around the rest of the country, a body and a home have to weather through brutal winters or soaking rainy seasons. We’ve just got sunshine. The sun is 93 million miles away and its rays beam to earth at 186,000 miles a second. SoCal properties are blasted with sunshine virtually all day, every day. Constant exposure makes exterior surfaces bake and peel, while sun coming through windows makes fabrics fade.

1911 - 2004


Didja know, without additional construction, traffic growth for Santa Monica is estimated to be at least 4% per year, compounded?


The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) statistics compiled for the California Department of Justice revealed that total Part I, nonviolent crimes in Santa Monica were reduced 4% from last year’s lows and had reached their lowest level in over 40 years. The Santa Monica Police Department received reports of 4,501 Part I crimes in 2003, down 59% from their peak of 10,891 in 1993, and lower than any year going back to 1960.

Violent crime (Murder, Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault) fell 14% in 2003 and 62% over the last 10 years. This would be noteworthy in itself considering that statewide crime rose 2.3% for the first 9 months of 2003 (final numbers are not in statewide as yet). However, this decrease is far more significant when one considers that Crime has declined in 9 of the last 10 years and 7 years in succession. In the 38 years prior to 1994, crime has fallen only 2 years in succession on 3 occasions. In the last 47 years, crime has fallen only in 19 calendar years. Nine of those decreases occurred in the past decade.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the use of white roofs and shade trees in Los Angeles would lower the need for air conditioning by 18 percent, or 1.04 billion kilowatt-hours, for the buildings directly affected by the roofs and shaded by the trees. If we assume a price of peak electricity of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour-not uncommon-this translates into savings of $100 million per year.

Because white shingles show discoloration by fungus, the manufacturer must add fungicide, raising the cost. The difference, however, is not large. For a 1,000-square-foot roof, the cost premium of cooler shingles is less than $25. The additional investment pays for itself in less than one summer's worth of lowered air-conditioning bills.

There is also a large indirect benefit. If an entire community drops a degree or so in temperature, thanks to lighter roofs and pavement and to the evapotranspiration from trees, then everyone's air-conditioning load goes down-even those buildings that are not directly shaded or that still have dark roofs. This indirect annual savings would total an additional 12 percent-0.7 billion kilowatt-hours, or $70 million.

The cooler temperature would lower smog, too. Smog "exceedance"-the amount by which ozone levels top the California standard of 90 parts per billion-would drop 12 percent. Ozone can irritate the eyes, inflame the lungs, trigger asthma attacks, and lower the respiratory system's ability to fight off infection. While other components of air pollution also exact a toll on health-especially particulates and sulfur dioxide-ozone is figured to be responsible for about $3 billion in health-related costs every year in the Los Angeles basin. Thus a 12 percent reduction in ozone exceedance could save $360 million.


Trees and flowers are a good thing; everyone should have plants in their homes. Greenery brings nature back into our over-urbanized existence, adds some color to our day; and more profoundly, plants are part of the cycle of life. Scientifically speaking, plants give off oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Humans breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide -> thus plants provide a fresh supply of air and absorb the dangerous gases we exhale. Man and plant: it’s a very balanced relationship.



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Question: What’s a good way to get more bird and butterflies around your garden?
- N.J.
Mar Vista

Answer: For birds, the word is to create a fountain or birdbath. Using a drip tube or pump keeps the water fresh and replenished. The experts at onthehouse.com suggest offering a nearby feeding mix of seeds like millet and sunflowers, and bright, colorful blooms.

For hummingbirds -> 1/3 cup of sugar to 1 cup of tap water (because of the minerals in the water) is said to be the optimum mixture. Red or orange flowers are the biggest attraction, and the trumpet shape is appealing.

To attract butterflies, leave out a slice of melon near a clay pot saucer with moist stones.


Question: What’s a good way to get more bird and butterflies around your garden?
- S.K.

Answer: The owner of real property used as a principal residence may protect their home against unsecured judgment creditors by filing a declaration of Homestead at the County Record’s Office. The homestead must be recorded to be valid.

In the state of California, the homestead exemption is $50,000 for a single person. It grows to $75,000 for married individuals and for one who is principle in the family unit. A $125,000 exemption is allowed for any individual who is more than 65 years old, or if they are physically or mentally incapacitated.  


Highlights of the 2003 American Housing Survey, courtesy of the Department of Housing and Urban Development

· Homeowners occupied more than 72 million homes. Overall, the nation had about 106 million occupied housing units.

· Renters occupied 33.6 million housing units.

· The nation's median current mortgage interest rate was 6.7 percent, down from 7.5 percent in 2001.

· Approximately 7.2 million homeowners took out home equity lines of credit last year, up 12 percent from 2001 when 6.4 million such credit lines were established, according to statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

· The median value of owner-occupied homes was $140,000.

· Between 2001 and 2003, the number of owner-occupied units with four or more bedrooms increased by about 1 million to 18.7 million.

· There were 3 million owner-occupied homes in gated communities.