Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sundays In My City #2 & LAST DAY FOR GIVEAWAY!

LAST CHANCE: Leave a comment on THIS POST by midnight TONIGHT, AUGUST 16th to automatically be entered in The Fifty Factor Time & Money GIVEAWAY! For full Contest details click here or on the picture of the cake in the above right corner.

Do you know Unknown Mami? She's awesome and she's started a fun Sunday theme inviting you to get out and take pictures of your city to share with the rest of us. Click here for details and her logo and here to see Unknown Mami's city.

My City is Los Angeles, California-- Home of 9,862,049 people*. Sometimes it feels like all 9.8 million of them are in their cars on the freeway; but that's mostly at rush hour, or when I need to be somewhere on time.

I've said in this space before that I'm not a big fan of Los Angeles, mainly due to earthquakes, traffic and the massive size of our fare city, but there really are so many other things to love about it, especially in the winter. You just can't beat our weather.

Saturday was a perfectly beautiful day in LA so I strapped on my pedometer and took a one mile walk around my neighborhood taking pictures to share with you today. Maybe you'll notice the same things I did.

There doesn't appear to be an economic downturn or a housing slump in my 'hood! I know I shouldn't complain about that; it's a really good thing, but, I was sadden by the changes taking place before my eyes. Here's what I mean.

The two pictures below are examples of many of the houses around my area-- Mostly single story, well maintained homes built in the 30s and 40s. They have nice deep lots, at least by this area's standards, and are situated near a terrific elementary school in walking distance. What do you think? Nice, huh?

But below is what I saw happening to A LOT in these charming houses in my neighborhood. Many of the lovely smaller houses are being torn to the ground....

....And bigger houses are being built. This one below looks nice, doesn't it?

It's nice until you see it next door to the other one story houses on the street. Then, not so nice. We call this a McMansion. Do they call great big houses like this the same thing in your neighborhood?

Below is a lovely house a few doors from mine. I'm really worried about it too. It was recently sold and permits are being pulled to tear the house down and build TWO houses in its place. I'm not looking forward to that.

But I suppose I shouldn't complain because at least it's not one gigantic house like another one going up in the neighborhood. Yes, the pic below is of ONE HOUSE, not a hotel, not a condo and not an apartment building. It's a 6500 sq. ft house on a 10,000 sq. ft. lot. I'm hoping when it's finished it looks better than.....

.....This house below built on a postage stamp size lot. We call it the @#$%^& Palace! Where's the charm? Where's the character? Where's the yard? And where in the heck are they getting the money, in this economy, to build spec houses like this? By the way, the two charming houses at the top are a few doors away from this monstrosity. How'd you like to be their neighbors?

As I finished my walk, a giant air conditioning unit was being lowered onto the roof of yet another McMansion by a giant crane on a flatbed truck. At this point, I was, frankly, a little depressed to see so much change in my neighborhood happening so fast. But then I took a closer look at the truck and laughed the rest of the way home.

I may not like change but it's hard not to like Los Angeles and the ingenuity of the 9.8 million people living here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against big houses. I'm just sorry, in this case, it's at the expense of a charming, affordable Los Angeles neighborhood. There aren't have many of those left around here.

How's your Sunday and your neighborhood?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
*July, 2008 U.S. Census Bureau
Photo Credits: Mine


  1. Hmmm. There's only so much space a family can actually 'live' in and so much money a family needs to live comfortably. Yes, it's their money to do with what they wish...but when it destroys the environment and/or a neighborhood's charm,what then? Where do we draw the line? Is this 'more, more, more' mentality the product of small dicks and low self-esteem? That's my time-tested theory. ;)

  2. I agree with PJ...about how much space one really requires. I think a lot of it is appearance sake and another side of it is more places to store more stuff! Anyway, nice shots, beautiful homes...but I'll be happy living in our 5th wheel on the road!

    Your post HAS given me an idea for a post on Yooper Yarns before we head south!

  3. Thanks for showing the photos, I like the smaller quaint homes. My home is 860 sqare feet. It is big enough for us, not spending hours cleaning, but I do have a huge back yard which is what I wanted. Take care.

  4. I loved seeing your neighborhood! Very interesting. I´ve noticed the same trend in my old neighborhood in Canada as well. Huge mansions are being build just like the ones you pictured, next to little normal houses. It´s such a shame. Not that I´m against them, but it looks so out of place.... And the people that leave, are always the little guys!
    Thanks for sharing that!

  5. I too love the older quaint houses with character.

  6. I want to know where all this money is coming from!

    Do you know what I've noticed in my general area? Lots of really big houses for sale, and they sit and sit and sit. I wonder how many are trying to unload before they get foreclosed on.

  7. As you know, I don't live in the city, so no houses are being torn down. However - there are some pretty big houses going up! I wonder, do they ever spend time together in those huge houses? And of course - I think about how much there is to clean. I'm sure they have someone come in to do it though.

  8. I was near LA once, Thousand Oaks to be exact, while it was very nice, it was too busy for me!

  9. Those are beautiful homes. I've never been to LA but from what I hear it is pricy, too bad homes like this going into those more affordable areas are making them rise too.

  10. What a shame that sweet little neighborhoods like this are being lost to McMansions (Love that term by the way!) lol

  11. When we moved here, my home in Maryland which was a sweet three bedroom Cape Cod on an acre+ of woods with a stream in the back, sat on the market for a year.

    I was told that my home was not fashionable by today's standards, no open floor plan with gourmet kitchen etc...

    AND, no one wanted all that space around them anymore. Too much upkeep.


    So, these huge houses on these non-existent lots? A bizarre trend in the world. Not one that I agree with at all.

    What can I's all a visual reminder of how, "My *d--k* is bigger than yours.

    I'm with you...this would make me sad if it was happening in my quaint, stylish neighborhood. But, who am I to talk? Only a few years ago my community was a former farm....

    I'll shut up now. But, hugs to you Sister in Snark!!!

  12. You know Joanna, my dream was to be a waitress in LA! I love your city.

    As for the houses, it is happening everywhere. The word charming has a new definition.

  13. I live near Boulder, CO and there is a lot of controversy here about building the McMansions. Builing a house that blocks someone elses view of the mountains is also a big issue. A lot of those deep lots have been divided and two houses built, one in front of the other.

  14. of course we call them McMansions too but we are just south of you. I like small. In face we are in 1200 square feet right now and it takes me 1-1/2 hours to clean it. Love it. I don't know why anyone would want some big huge house. There's lots of McMansions here and a lot of them are foreclosed ones which is sad. Me and hubby went through some of them at open houses just to see what they looked like. Huge, nicely designed, but huge. We thought we would get lost in them for sure.

    thanks for sharing your neighborhood with us; I did enjoy the pictures and your commentary

    and you are right, there is nothing that compares to winter weather like So. Calif :)


  15. I'm trying to wrap my mind around living in a city of that size as compared to living in a small rural community, of a couple of thousand, in the middle of Minnesota. I grew up on farm with the closest town having a population of 50. And then I raised my children in a neighboring town from where I live now, with a population of 1,200, so I have only known this. There have been times that I have wished to live someplace like you do, in a much bigger city, so reading this fascinates me.

    We do have some giant houses, much like you showed here, around some of our lakes, which I love to look at. I cannot fathom living in one of them or fathom what they possibly do for a living!

  16. It seems such a shame to change the feel and appearance of a neighbourhood by building such huge houses on tiny plots...

  17. thanks for the lovely house tour, very interesting. Much the same happens and has happened in our suburban neighbourhood.

  18. I want a McMansion here on our lot. We could use a bigger house than a double wide for 6 people and 100 animals.
    My town is FULL of history and if a quaint little home was demolshied to make way for a McMansion, I'd cry. When homes are re-done here they take care to protect it's history and original brick work. I might have to do this and admit that I don't really live in South Park!
    Thanks for walking me around your neighborhood today. I have to go and color my hair now!
    Hugs and love,

  19. Thanks all for your comments.

    I'd like to add one note-- I grew up in a BIG house that held 5 kids, my parents and a variety of animals, and I LOVED the house. It suited our larger family's needs and "fit" in the neighborhood and on the property.

    I also lived in an area that took great pride in the care and maintenance of homes. Having a "Century Home"-- a home 100 years or old-- was and still is a very big deal.

    Maybe what I miss most here in Los Angeles is the loss of history that comes with an "original" home and the sense of "belonging" that goes with it. I know we have earthquake building standard to meet these days but I get the feeling most of the houses that are torn down have little to do with that.

    Regardless, I hope the people buying the McMansions raise families and build traditions in the changing neighborhood so the next generation doesn't tear those down and start again too.


  20. Great photos, Joanna. I grew up in Riverside and my cousins lived in Gardena so we made the trip often to stay with them. I have lived in Nebraska a little over a year now and I have to say I never want to leave this area. Strange to be a stranger here and not feel like a stranger.

  21. Hey Joanna. Thanks for the pics. I wish the phenomena of your neighborhood was unique, but it's very common. Has slowed down considerably in the last 18 months or so, but still going on. I love old homes and old neighborhoods. I live in both. :) We managed to raise 4 kids with about a thousand friends, two dogs, a cat, fish, turtles and more in 1500 sf very comfortably.

    Not that I don't dig a big home. My father moved us into a 5,000+ sf tri-level home when I was maybe 11. I loved that place, still drive by it once in a while as an adult when I'm back in town. Ah, memories.

    Anyway, great post, thanks!

  22. The houses get bigger, but the since of community gets smaller. No more working in the yard, stopping to talk to your neighbor. Now everyone builds big houses and hides out in them. Kids don't play outside, but stay inside in a house big enough to be isolated from their parents. It's not healthy. It's not wise.

  23. I love the older, charming homes. I appreciated this post so much!

  24. Did you know that I grew up in LA? All over the place Huntington Park, the Valley, West Hollywood. I love the old houses. I think they have so much character. Not a fan of the McMansions.

    Thanks for sharing! So glad we found each other.

  25. Stopping by from Unknown Mami's page and Sundays in My City. I love your photographs but I'm sad it makes you sad. Scotland...where I live...has 5 million people in the whole country so I'm surprsied at the population of LA. I had no idea. But hey, the sun is shining, unlike the blowing wind and grey blue skies here. :O) xx

  26. I loved the small charming homes. I grew up in L.A. until I was three and then moved to West Covina. I wish that the neighborhoods were still very closeknit. Once the houses get large, it tends to lose the personality of a closeknit neighborhood.

    I was somewhat close to your area yesterday. I went to Pasadena to visit my daughter.

    Let me know about August 27th! I'm looking forward to it!

  27. Oh no! I'm with you, I think the older houses have a charm and although the new ones may offer more space and 'mod cons' they lack the character of the old. Still it has to be said that it looks as though you live in a lovely area ... and clearly other people think so too if you're seeing so much re-development.

    (Over from 'Sundays in my city' BTW) :)

  28. We call them McMansions, too, in Savannah. They were great, when we bought our 40 yr old house 5 years ago, because no one wanted it so we got all 3600 sq feet of well built goodness for less than $175,000, BUT now that we're considering selling it,everyone wants a new house with a garden tub, which ours isn't. Alas.

    I love the pictures, and I'm thinking I'll take a little stroll and make some of my own. :)

  29. I still haven't gotten out and about my neighborhook to take pictures, I'm a slacker! I will, soon! Thanks for sharing, I enjoy looking at other neighborhoods.


  30. This reminds me of our town, they are taring down the old and putting up condos.

  31. You have to wonder what the current "school of Architecture" will be referred to in 50 years. Possibly "The Should be Shot" school?
    We have McMansions all over the place. I understand that the price of the land is so high that they must maximize the square footage. The latest trend is huge basements which require digging down deep and pumping out water for months. If you change the water table what do the nearby trees do? By the time we see them die it will be too late.

  32. Oh, I could go on and on about this...we have had this same situation. What? are you do impressed with yourself that you have to tear down a house and rebuild. Why didn't you just buy a bigger house to begin with? It definately takes away from the charm of a neighborhood and it frustrates me to no end. I'm so against this.

  33. How fun to see your neighborhood! I love those little one-story homes. They have so much charm. Don't get me wrong... I could live in a mansion too, but it would require a maid or two!

    Many of the newer homes lack charm, they are only BIG. My favorite style is french country. There are some builders that manage to build large homes that actually look smaller and lower... I actually prefer that!

    Well, thanks for letting me see a little bit of LA. It sure is a long way from home. Please come over and visit me at Sweeter Living to see my neck of the woods... I'm linked up over at Unknown Mami.

  34. Wow. I love the houses on your street. SO beautiful! I hope your home never goes thru that kind of destruction! Nice to meet you!

  35. i like the little rancher they are tearing down...we spent a little time this weekend looking at houses here in FL...not my fav thing to do...

  36. Lot of butt ugly houses going up in your neighborhood.

    Not that much money in our area, I don't think.

    Cletusville (across the street) is an old Victorian, on the nat'l registry of historic places... but it's still an awful mess from when Cletus lived there.

    I always wonder, if someone has millions to build, why they'd choose an in-town location, too.

    If I had millions, I'd get the hell out of town.

  37. There is a definite plight of the "starter home" in our area too. We live in a farm of the original homes in our area. Not too many people want to live in a house built in 1927 with radiator heat and no central A/C---but my husband and I fell in love with its history and charm. Yet around us, McMansions are sprouting up like fungus---no one wants to live in subdivisions...everyone wants to custom build and they only way to do that is to rip down what has been here for decades---it is so sad. Bigger don't mean better in my book.

  38. Believe it or not...your McMansions are nothing in comparison to those in metro Atlanta!

  39. This is happening down here in OC too!

  40. This is happening down here in OC too!

  41. This is happening down here in OC too!

    (Knittnkitten knows why she left Blogger all those moons ago)

  42. Seattle has lots of McMansions. It's kind of sad, for me, to see these lovely little homes being torn down for great big houses on tiny lots.

  43. I'm a huge fan of old houses. Our house was built in the 1860's, so it's a century home and then some! I can't imagine anyone tearing it down to build something newer and bigger.

    I don't worry that we will have a problem with McMansions in our small town, but foreclosures are a very real possibility. Our neighbors recently lost their house and it makes me sad to see it sit empty. They were wonderful neighbors.

  44. Change is hard. It's kind of sad to see those houses go if you are the sentimental type, which I am. When they tore my grade school down, I bawled.

    Yes, we do call a nearby house the McMansion, though I have no idea where that came from....

  45. I'm used to seeing houses filling up the land and no yards here, but the houses sure aren't that big. I wouldn't mind more space, but I want some space with character!

  46. Oh Golly, Yes! I drive home to visit my mom and this has happened all over.

    The houses are so close together that we joke that the inhabitants could open their bathroom windows and share the paper during their morning crap. ;-)

  47. The same thing has been happening here in Wrightsville Beach NC for many years. We used to have so many historic beach home that were built in the 1930's. The fact that they survived Hurricane Hazel should have made them worth preserving. Sadly, almost all of them have been torn down, replaced by condos and McMansions. And the owners? Out of state rich folk who use these places a few weeks out of the year.

  48. Yes McMansion is a common term now. Change is inevitable and certain to upset someone. I agree that many old things are worth keeping the same, but where you draw the line is a subjective thing.

    Sometimes I think the McMansion dislike might be envy.

    Some days I think we should tear down our small house. It seems like it want to tear itself down.

    I often think those McMansions are empty and lonely, but maybe I'm just jealous.

  49. Just about 10 years ago our neighborhood was really nice, then traffic started using my street as a shortcut to a major street. Then I started renting out my deceased moms
    house next door to me and I have had such shitty renters (that is one long story) and some people moved in a few houses down and park in the yard. Our town even has a law against that but the code people don't work evenings and weekends when they park in the yard so reporting does it not good. Uggh

  50. I just wanted to comment how I love the original homes. Even the in the fist photo of new homes. Your Sunday walk looked like a nice one. xoxo

  51. I feel the same way as you...I live in Houston, home of the McMansion!I am happy...happy...happy in my 2000 sq foot house. I like to know where my family is: )

    The town I grew up in in MA is like your neighborhood...cute beach cottages being torn down for huge houses on the ocean...gorgeous? Yes, but it has moved all of the middle class out! It's as if they just discovered the town was on the ocean!

  52. The same thing is happening in my neighbourhood. Established areas are changing. Thats what happens I guess. Your weather looks beautiful there though, perfect blue skies.


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