Senate Approves Bill Replenishing Funds for Small Business Stimulus

Key Takeaways:

Congress reached agreement on $484 billion measure designed largely to fund the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which depleted the original $349 billion it was allotted within two weeks

Of the total, approximately $310 billion will fund the PPP, serving to provide small businesses with loans

These loans are forgivable if several provisions are met:

· Keeping/rehiring staff

· Using 75% of money for payroll

· Funds used within eight weeks

· Additional criteria

The bill will also provide $75 billion for hospitals and health care, and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing

White House Issues Guidance on Easing Restrictions on Activity

Key Takeaways:

· The White House has issued guidance for state and local governments outlining a three-stage plan for rolling back restraints on activity

· Key hurdles before beginning reopening include a two-week downtrend in COVID-19 cases, assurance that health care facilities have adequate capacity, and robust testing

· The three phases include gradually opening up restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, schools, and sporting venues with continued adherence to social distancing and sanitation, and special considerations for vulnerable populations

· Cautious thawing of restrictions while maintaining positive momentum on health front could ease job losses and support economic growth

Home Sales Activity Falls

Key Takeaways:

· Existing home sales dropped 8.5 percent in March as concerns over healthcare crisis and economic uncertainty weighed on buyers purchase decisions

· Many of the March closings were put under contract in January and February, so the full extent of the impact on sales is not yet fully reflected in the data

· Home buyer traffic index declined more than 50 percent from February to March pointing to continued weakness in the coming months

Community Service

Community Service Award presented at City Hall by Councilmember Tom LaBonge, along with Councilmember Paul Krekorian.

Steve Hampar has immersed himself in the Community of Toluca Lake, as a community organizer and advocate. Some of his involvements are as follows:

  • President of the Toluca Lake Homeowners Association 2018-
  • President of the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce- 2012-14
  • Board Member of the Public Safety Committee- 2007-14.
  • Helped create the Merchants Discount Program thru the Chamber of Commerce, which is still active today.
  • Together with the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce and Richard Bogy, started the Old Fashioned Pancake Breakfast at Fire Station 86. Steve chaired the event for over 10 years, and has raised thousands of dollars that directly benefits the fire station, and the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen’s Fund.

    Pancake Breakfast Committee at Fire Station 86
  • Created the Toluca Lake Neighborhood Watch, with the help of Janice Eaton, under the direction of Jay Goldberg,Chairman of the Public Safety Committee of the GTLNC. Over 10 years later it is still going strong, withover 110 Watch Captains! According to Rob Benavidez, Senior Lead Officer for the LAPD,“The Toluca Lake NW Program is one of the exemplary watch programs in Los Angeles, and is often used as a training template for other watch programs”.
  • Coordinated with Alice Roth of Council District 4 to install a stop sign at Moorpark and Ponca.
  • Created the “No Solicitors” signs one sees in many yards throughout Toluca Lake.

    Steve with the No Solicitors Sign
  • Working with the TLHOA, introduced the ACS patrol service to Toluca Lake.
  • Past committee member and supporter of the Holiday Open House, National Night Out and Turkey Trot.
  • Contributing editor to the Tolucan Times.

Steve and his wife Sandi have lived in Toluca Lake for over 25 years, raising their children there. They enjoy walking their dog Zoey in the neighborhood, and love the small town feel of the “Village within the City”. Probably the best part of living in Toluca Lake are the neighbors and friends they have made over the years!

Tree plantings along the medians throughout Toluca Lake
2011 TLHOA Turkey Trot

Toluca Lake Homeowners Association presents $7000 check to East Valley PALS!

A special check presentation took place recently at the North Hollywood LAPD, where the proceeds from the TLHOA’s 6th Annual Turkey Trot was donated to the East Valley PALS.

East Valley Pals is a non-profit booster organization for the North Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. They provide financial support for the men and women of the LAPD. It often comes as a surprise to the average Angeleno how difficult it is for the city to pay for some essential equipment, training, and special events. PALS attempts to bridge that gap.

They also encourage, support and sustain LAPD sponsored youth programs within the Division with an emphasis on the Cadet and Jeopardy programs. Just a small sampling of the work PALS has done for the North Hollywood LAPD has been:

  • Paint purchased to repaint some of the rooms at the North Hollywood LAPD.
  • Sponsored the range fees for all officers as part of their annual testing.
  • Sponsored the Narcotic Team to a sponsored seminar on learning how to detect and best practices for dealing with the growing problem of Meth labs in the division.
  • Provided funding for new mattresses for the COT Room.
  • Rewarded deserving six Jeopardy Students who have improved on their school performance with a trip to the Hollywood Hayride at Griffith Park.
  • Provided meals for 50 officers assigned to mandatory training for arrest and control.
  • Z-Ram” bar to help breach fortified doors. Makes quick work of entry for Special Problems Unit.
  • GPS tracker for automobiles. Helps track vehicles under surveillance.
  • GPS tracker for bicycles. Bike thefts are one of the most common property crimes in the East Valley.

And of particular importance to the communities of North Hollywood and Toluca Lake, they participate, support, and strengthen “community policing”, serving as communication conduits between the public and the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Toluca Lake Neighborhood Watch relies heavily on this program! The Toluca Lake Turkey Trot took place on November 18, 2018, and is an annual event. Much of the proceeds and the ultimate success was due in large part to our generous Sponsors who had donated money, coffee and food. They include NBCUniversal, Craig Strong, Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce, Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club, Malbec Restaurant, A5 Events and Hampar Properties.

The North Hollywood Police Dept. has always been there to support and protect Toluca Lake, so this was a great opportunity to give back!

For more information about East Valley PALS (Police Activity League Supporter) you may visit:

6th Annual Toluca Lake Turkey Trot raises $7000 for PALS!

After a 2 year hiatus, the 6th Annual Turkey Trot returned with a roar, (Or should I say Gobble!) attracting runners and local families to partake in the festivities. Hosted by the Toluca Lake Homeowners Association, it was decided all proceeds would go towards the East Valley PALS program. East Valley Pals is a non-profit booster organization for the North Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. They provide financial support for the men and women of the LAPD. It often comes as a surprise to the average Angeleno how difficult it is for the city to pay for some essential equipment, training, and special events. PALS attempts to bridge that gap. The North Hollywood Police Dept. has always been there to support Toluca Lake, so this was an opportunity to give back.

We were fortunate to have with us David Ono, Multi-Emmy winning News Anchor for ABC7 Eyewitness News as our Master of Ceremonies. Festivities kicked off (Literally) with a choreographed demonstration by KMA Martial Art kids. Next, trainers from the Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club led the runners to an arsenal of stretches to prep them for the run. .

A special sentiment of gratitude goes out to the Turkey Trot Committee, led by Ryan Kugler, who brought immeasurable experience in organizing race events. Dana Boyd and her team were responsible for the Sponsors, which is the heart of the proceeds raised. Beth Eras, Susanne Hayes, Kari Negri, Steve Hampar, Jon Mukri, Mary Vossler, Pam Scharlach, Robyn Allyn and Dianna Buck rounded out the committee. Of course there was Board Member Bob Wexler, our illustrious Turkey Mascot, who seemed to be everywhere during the event. It was possibly the only Turkey Trot in history where the turkey led part of the race on a Segway!

The event could not have been possible without our generous Sponsors who have donated money, coffee and food. They include NBCUniversal, Craig Strong, Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce, Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club, Malbec Restaurant, A5 Events and Hampar Properties. Thank you Councilmember David Ryu and Alice Roth, and Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian for your support and helping to coordinate with the City. Thank you Chase Bank for hosting the event. Thanks to Officer Rob Benavidez, Officer Barbara Galicia, and the cadets for making it a safe run. You are appreciated!

The Toluca Lake Turkey Trot was originally conceived by Toluca Lake resident Piper Welch in 2011, and ran and promoted through the TLHOA. We hope to see you next year as the tradition continues!

2018 Pancake Breakfast a Success

Photographs: Fred Spigelman

Thank you to all who sponsored and
those who helped with this year’s Pancake Breakfast!
Proceeds benefit Fire Station #86 and the Widows,
Orphans and Disabled Firefighters Fund.

Finding the L.A. real estate gold rush — in Compton, Watts and South L.A.

Steve Lopez  
Contact Reporter

Real estate broker Julio Ruiz, who moved to Compton from San Fernando Valley and is now selling South Los Angeles real estate, shows homes in Watts and South Los Angeles to clients who are looking for a more affordable place to live.

If you were to stand near the corner of 57th Street and South Vermont Avenue, you might not see many great selling points.

But if you were to stand there with Julio Ruiz, you’d get a different take.

He’d point out the nearby transit options, which could get you to USC, downtown, and all the way to the beach.

He’d tell you about all the people moving into the area and all the investors who want a piece of the action.

And he’d tell you this:

“There is cheap housing in L.A. … The American dream is still affordable in Watts, Compton and all the forgotten ghettos.”

Ruiz saw my column last week about frustrated Californians leaving the high-rent districts of coastal Los Angeles for cheaper housing in Las Vegas.

Inside the home in South L.A., where home values in Watts and Compton indicate increased demand to live or invest, an economist says. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

No need to go east, he said, when there’s so much right here. And to prove he’s more than just a pitch man, he offered a few details about himself:

“I have a wife and three kids. We own a home. We moved to Compton from the Valley. I didn’t have to go out of state.”

Ruiz, I discovered, is always on the run and often on the phone. With lenders. With City Hall. With buyers and sellers. He sniffs out investment opportunities and cobbles together deals as he travels by Jeep through neighborhoods where others might fear the crime and gang activity long associated with the South Side, but Ruiz sees nothing but opportunity.

“There’s a buzz all over here,” he said. Houses are getting multiple offers, sometimes all cash, and some are selling above asking prices.

Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at the online real estate site Trulia, took a quick look at the numbers and said home values in Watts and Compton are at post-recession highs, indicating “increased demand to live or invest” in these areas.

Ruiz said one of his clients is an Asian professor at UC Irvine who bought a three-unit property near USC with plans to live in one unit and rent out the other two. Ruiz also represents a Koreatown couple interested in a $500,000 home in South L.A. because the price would be double that amount where they now live. And he handled one sale in which a white gay couple bought a rehabbed Craftsman near Slauson and Western avenues for just under $500,000.

“One of our neighbors … said she was so happy the gays were moving in because property values would be going up,” said Steven (last name withheld by request), who lives in the house with his partner.

Steven said he’s lived in areas with majority-minority populations before, and that wasn’t a consideration. When he and his partner bought the home, one worked in Hollywood and the other in El Segundo, and they both had relatively easy commutes by bike and transit.

“We have a bunch of friends in Echo Park and Silver Lake, where our money would have gotten us one or two bedrooms. But in our place, we have four bedrooms and three bathrooms,” Steven said.

They don’t have the same social, dining and shopping options, however. And then there’s the nearby prostitution problem. Still, it works for them, if not for everyone.

A housing affordability crisis can change minds, though, and reverse trends. Ruiz said his strategy is to stay “one step ahead of gentrification.” The Olympics are returning in 2028, and the city will want to keep the area around USC cleaned up while knocking down crime, he said. So that’s a solid investment area. So is anything near transit, existing or proposed. The new soccer facility near USC will bring up values. The Rams will lift Inglewood.

“I don’t look at today’s market,” said Ruiz. “I look five years out.”

What about those pushed out?

As much as I admired Ruiz’s hustle and pluck, I had to point out that he’s riding a wave that will lift some people and drown others, particularly low-income minorities.

Broker Julio Ruiz, right, who moved to Compton from San Fernando Valley, is now selling South Los Angeles real estate. “There’s a buzz all over here,” he says. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

He argued that he used to work for banks and had to clear squatters, gangs and drug dealers out of houses all over the South Side. Neighbors appreciated the improvements, he said.

“There was an opportunity for people to fix up these houses and for first-time buyers to get in through FHA, VA or different types of loans. As these houses started getting rehabbed, I felt like South L.A. was getting cleaned up,” Ruiz said.

Lots of longtime owners, black and brown, took nice chunks of equity out of those homes and retired somewhere else, he said, adding that he’s putting neighborhood craftsmen to work flipping the houses.

But look at Boyle Heights, I told him. Latinos are being forced out by rising rents.

Boyle Heights vs. Brooklyn Heights

“Boyle Heights used to be Brooklyn Heights,” Ruiz said. “It was Jewish. Neighborhoods are always changing.”

And there will be more “browntrification,” he said. That’s his term for Latinos moving to places like the area around the Jordan Downs housing projects.

“There’s a $5-billion mixed-use development coming in there,” said Ruiz. He showed me a fixer-upper one of his investors bought less than half a block from the projects, anticipating neighborhood improvements and rising property values.

I met up with Ruiz one morning at a duplex on 57th Street, near Vermont, listed at $449,000. He said he and his business partner, Armin Soliemini, had made a cash offer on the house on behalf of some investors, but on the way to check out the property, he got a call tipping him off to another house on the block that was coming up for sale at $310,000.

Just after we arrived on the block, a truck pulled up, hauling a trailer filled with power-washing equipment. I assumed the driver, Rigoberto Galvan, was there to do some maintenance.

I was wrong.

Galvan, who takes the profits from his cleaning and maintenance business and dumps them into real estate, stopped by during his work hours to see if he might want to buy something on 57th Street.

He liked the $310,000 house, which Ruiz saw as a can’t-miss investment. For about $100,000 to $120,000, Ruiz said, the house could be rehabbed, with a granny unit added. And based on comparables in the neighborhood, it would sell for close to $600,000.

But it’s still South L.A., I said. Crime is real, schools are a problem.

It’s risky, no?

“No risk-it, no biscuit,” said Ruiz.

Galvan told me he had been investing in car washes, but the profit margins were marginal.

“Then I met Julio, and he started telling me about different properties,” said Galvan.

Galvan, 38, said he dropped out of school after the ninth grade to work full-time. He said he has bought and sold five properties in South Los Angeles this year alone. His goal is to retire at age 50.

When Galvan left 57th Street, another investor showed up. It was George Janian, the guy who bought, rehabbed and sold the Craftsman to the gay couple. He inspected the duplex inside and out, and talked to the renter, who pays $1,300 a month for one of the duplex’s two units. If he buys the duplex, Janian said, he might sit on it for a while, collecting rent, and maybe sell later.

Ruiz, meanwhile, had already redesigned the vacant unit in his head.

“People want more bedrooms,” he said, and Los Angeles needs more density to address the housing shortage. So he would eliminate the dining room, bump the kitchen into that space, and turn a 2-and-1 into a 3-and-2, possibly with a rear granny unit for added income.

Ruiz showed me two more South Central rehab projects, one owned by Galvan, the other by Ruiz and an Orange County beauty salon operator who has become one of his investors. He noted there were no bars on the windows. These are homes, not prisons.

On the floor of the larger unit in the duplex was a suitcase, a cart and piles of clothing. Ruiz said on a rainy day, he came upon a homeless woman nearby and offered to keep her things dry until she wants them back.

He was briefly on the street himself, he said, back in San Fernando. His father lost his job at a kitchen fixture plant, his parents split, and Ruiz ended up in a one-bedroom apartment with his mother and two siblings. Maybe the reason he’s such a hustler now, he said, is to avoid a replay for his three kids.

The good life in Compton

His house in Compton is on a quiet, tree-lined street, and there’s a big Santa display in the frontyard.

“I wanted each kid to have his own bedroom,” he said as we toured the four-bedroom house he bought two years ago with his speech therapist wife. He figures the house is already into six-figure equity.

“I could’ve moved anywhere,” he said. But for his money, he wouldn’t have gotten a roomy house with a tiny mortgage, proximity to work and shopping, and a few bucks in his pocket.

“I’ve got my oldest kid in private school,” he said, “and we’ve got year-round passes to Disneyland.”

He’s living his dream — and he earned it.

But private schools and Disneyland passes are out of reach for many. And what do we do when even Compton becomes unaffordable.


Get more of Steve Lopez’s work and follow him on Twitter @LATstevelopez

Janice Eaton, Toluca Lake Organizer, Honored

Photography by Jessica Sterling

Janice Eaton, a longtime community organizer, advocate, and resident of Toluca Lake was recently honored and recognized by the many groups she has so graciously served. The event was held at Ca’ Del Sole in Toluca Lake, and was sponsored by the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council (GTLNC), Toluca Lake Homeowners Association (TLHOA), Concilmember David Ryu, TL Chamber of Commerce, Craig Strong, and Steve Hampar.

Janice had served as Secretary of the TLHOA for over 10 years, as well as a long standing Board Member for the GTLNC. She was instrumental in reinvigorating the Toluca Lake Neighborhood Watch Program. According to LAPD Senior Lead Officer Rob Benavidez, “The Toluca Lake Neighborhood Watch is one of the most effective in Los Angeles, and is often used as a shining example when forming new programs.”

Janice organized and ran the National Night Out for the GTLNC, an annual event in Toluca Lake which brought neighbors together and raised awareness of crime prevention. She was an integral part of the Annual Pancake Breakfast at Fire Station 86, which raises funds for the fire station and for the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen’s Fund. If there was any fundraiser or public event in Toluca Lake, it was likely that Janice was somehow involved!

Heartfelt expressions of gratitude and accolades were given by Master of Ceremonies Steve Hampar, Councilmember David Ryu, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, TLHOA President Richard Bogy, GTLNC President Ryan Altoon, TL Chamber of Commerce VP Jon Molin, Public Safety Chairman Craig Strong, North Hollywood LAPD Captain Donald Graham, and Senior Lead Officer Rob Benavidez. Also in attendance was LAFD Captain Daniel Foote. The common tone was that Janice worked diligently, always for the good of the community, and never sought recognition.

Janice has been a resident of Toluca Lake since 1981, and will be moving to Nashville. She will be sorely missed by all!

Fire Service Day Pancake Breakfast

2015 PancakesOn Saturday May 13, 2017, the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce will celebrate Fire Service Day by hosting the 13th Annual Old Fashioned Pancake Breakfast at Fire Station #86 in Toluca Lake.

Saturday, May 13th   8:00 am – Noon
4305 Vineland Avenue
Toluca Lake, CA 91602


Come out and support your local firefighters. All profits from the event will benefit Fire Station #86 and the Widows and Orphans Fund.

2015 Firefighter 2

L. A. Times Neighborhood Spotlight:
Toluca Lake is a homey backdrop for Hollywood elite

by Scott Garner 
L. A. Times

One of the toniest celebrity addresses in Los Angeles gets its name from what was once an unassuming spring-fed marsh in a far-flung corner of land baron John Lankershim’s vast rancho in early San Fernando Valley.

This muddy little lake’s journey to becoming the centerpiece of Toluca Lake, a genteel gated community popular with the Hollywood elite, began when Gen. Charles Forman purchased the land on which it sat in 1889.

LATimesTolucaLake(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

An industrious pioneer from New York whose exploits included selling Brigham Young the lumber that built Salt Lake City and founding the Los Angeles Cable Car Co., Forman had amassed a huge fortune over the years.

Money and common sense being no object, he had once packed up his massive Nevada mansion and moved it at great expense to the corner of Pico Boulevard and Figueroa Street, but as he aged he began looking for a country place where he could while away his golden years as a farmer. The fertile land east of the Cahuenga Pass, with its lake and the nearby Los Angeles River as irrigation sources, was perfect.

Soon enough — and no doubt to his dismay — the city followed him out to the Valley, as engineers succeeded in running a trolley line through the pass.

Before long, Hollywood studios, hungry for room for sprawling backlots and stages, began spilling over the hill, first with the opening of Universal City Studios in 1915 and later with motion picture mills owned by the Warner brothers, Walt Disney, Mack Sennett and others.

The booming popularity of civil aviation also brought development, with three airports and countless manufacturing plants springing up across the Valley.

Real estate developers seized on the opportunity to market luxury homes to the stars and aeronautic industry execs, laying out in the 1920s a planned community with a newly manicured, asphalt-bottomed Toluca Lake at its center.

Amelia Earhart was among the first to buy in the neighborhood, and soon, other luminaries of screen and sky followed suit. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, W.C. Fields and, most famously, Bob Hope called Toluca Lake home at one time or another, and the neighborhood remains a popular destination for industry types looking for a low-key lifestyle with a short commute.

In the late 1940s and 1950s Toluca Lake also became a center of Valley car culture, with a concentration of drive-in restaurants and other car-oriented businesses on Riverside Drive. The street was home to the first International House of Pancakes and today boasts the oldest remaining Bob’s Big Boy in the United States.



Neighborhood highlights

Unseen scenery: It’s stocked with fish and adjacent to the lush greens of the Lakeside Golf Club, but scenic Toluca Lake is kept under lock and key behind a gated entrance, accessible only by residents.

A blast from the past: The Bob’s Big Boy parking lot is the site of a weekly classic car show that’s a must-see for gearheads.

Welcome to the neighborhood: Toluca Lake’s pleasingly unpretentious shopping district has a definite homey feel and includes one of the Valley’s best Irish bars.

Neighborhood challenge

Ch-ch-changes: The recent listing of the Bob Hope estate raised fears that it could be subdivided and redeveloped, a situation that could arise again as more estates change hands, potentially threatening the unique, historic character of the neighborhood.

Expert insight

Hilton & Hyland agent David Kramer, who earlier this year renovated and flipped a Toluca Lake estate once owned by Bing Crosby, is bullish on the neighborhood’s star appeal.

“While it’s always been known as an entertainment mecca, you’re certainly seeing young Hollywood embrace the area,” he said. “In a lot of neighborhoods, the Hollywood aspect fades away, but not here.”

Kramer points to the Crosby property as a perfect example. The seller and the eventual buyer of the estate were both celebrities in their 20s. “It has a small-town feel that a lot celebrities find attractive.”

Market snapshot

In September, based on eight sales, the median price for single-family home sales in the 91602 ZIP Code was $1.073 million. That was a 53.3% increase in price over the same month the previous year.

Report card

Within the boundaries of Toluca Lake is Toluca Lake Elementary, which scored 837 out of 1,000 in the 2013 Academic Performance Index.

Nearby public institutions include R.L. Stevenson Elementary, which scored 905, and Rio Vista Elementary, which had a score of 898. East Valley Senior High scored 625.

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