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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony soon for Ballona Creek Connection Project

Image is an illustration of a ribbon cutting ceremony.Local listing agent Martin Feinberg was excited to learn that the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Park to Playa Culver City Ballona Creek Connection Project and the Nature Trail Rehabilitation will be held one week from today at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 25.  The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place in the lower parking lot of Culver City Park.

According to a Culver City press release, the Ballona Creek Connection Project and the rehabilitation of the Culver City Park Nature Trail—also know as The Boardwalk—will complete Segment 7 of the Park to Playa Trail.

Culver City Mayor Thomas Small stated, “The City of Culver City is proud to have partnered with our many regional stakeholders, including the County of Los Angeles, the Baldwin Hills Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, in the development of the Park to Playa Trail. The link to Ballona Creek, which Segment 7 has established, is of major importance to us since the revitalization of Ballona Creek is a core tenet of the City Council’s Strategic Plan. With the latest developments of the extended bike and dog paths as well as new ADA accessible features, more members of the community can enjoy all that Ballona Creek and the surrounding areas have to offer. The City is pleased with the results of these projects, and we can’t wait to share them with everyone on January 25.”

The Park to Playa Trail is a 13-mile regional trail that will eventually connect a network of trails, parks and open spaces from the Baldwin Hills Parklands to the Pacific Ocean. Existing segments of the trail travel through some parts of the Culver City Real Estate area.  The press release states that Segment 7 is fully ADA-accessible, from the Baldwin Hills Scenic Outlook Gateway through Culver City Park to the Duquesne Avenue entrance of the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that the Culver City Parks, Recreation and Community Services and Public Works/Engineering departments are hosting the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Ballona Creek Connection Project and the Nature Trail Rehabilitation. For more information, call (310) 253-6668.

Image is a bird standing on a beach boardwalk.

Storm Brings Rain and Risk of Floods and Mudslides to Culver City Area

Image is a city skyline seen through a rainy window.A storm hit southern California, including the Culver City Real Estate area, Monday, bringing with it rain and snow that is likely to continue throughout most of the week.  The storm has created dangerous travel conditions and also raised the fears of widespread flooding and mudslides.  Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that areas that have experienced wildfire damage are especially prone to mudslides and debris flows.  L.A. County is at high risk due to the Woolsey fire a few months ago.

A little after 6:30 on Monday morning the National Weather Service issued an Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory for western Los Angeles County.  Culver City was included in the list of areas that could experience flooding.

L.A. County coast also experienced high surf warnings on Monday, with breaking waves around 5-8 feet by Monday afternoon. The high surf is likely to continue through Friday.

According to the National Weather Service, such conditions create “an increased risk for ocean drowning.  Rip currents can pull swimmers and surfers out to sea. Large breaking waves can cause injury, wash people off beaches and rocks, and capsize small boats near shore.”

Forecasters warned swimmers who get caught in a rip current to “relax and float. Don’t swim against the current. If able, swim in a direction following the shoreline. If unable to escape, face the shore and call or wave for help.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Hall stated, “The storm arriving Monday will produce between a half-inch and an inch- and-a-half of rain and up to 2-and-a-half inches in the mountains and foothills.  The three storms expected this week should generate between 3 and 6 inches of rain in coastal valleys and 7 to 9 inches in mountains and foothills.”

“It’s going to be a very wet week for Southern California,” Hall said.

Hall also stated that the Woolsey Fire area in Ventura County and in the Malibu area in L.A. County is the most vulnerable of the region’s burn areas. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department highlighted the risks in a statement.

“Authorities warn that all residents who live in or near the Woolsey Fire burn area should remain aware of their surroundings and weather conditions during these storms. Even small amounts of rainfall rates may result in significant mud and debris flow, so we strongly encourage residents who live in or near Woolsey Fire burn areas to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Captain Darren Harris.

“If you feel unsafe or think that hazardous conditions near your home may develop, do not hesitate to leave. Elderly residents, individuals who have medical conditions and residents who own large animals should make plans now to leave their homes as a precaution.’

L.A. County public safety officials stated, “As a series of winter storms hits L.A. County, residents who live in or near recent burn areas should remain vigilant and prepare for possible evacuation. Communities in low-lying areas or next to steep slopes or waterways are particularly at-risk of mudslides and falling debris.

As a series of winter storms hits L.A. County, residents who live in or near recent burn areas should remain vigilant and prepare for possible evacuation. Communities in low-lying areas or next to steep slopes or waterways are particularly at-risk of mudslides and falling debris.”.

“If your property becomes unsafe and there is no time to evacuate, seek safe high-ground,” urged the sheriff department statement. It added:

“Since all canyon roads may be blocked and subject to closure for extended periods, residents should have enough food, water, medication and supplies for at least seven to 10 days for all family members, including pets and large animals.”

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg reminds readers that the rain is forecast through Thursday and to stay vigilant.

Image is a huge ocean wave breaking.

Property Managers and Accepting Credit and Debit Payments

Image is a man holding out a credit card for payment.In this day and age, almost everything that we pay for is through a debit or credit card. Being able to pay for goods and services using a card is convenient and in some cases can even be more secure. Such a reliance on credit and debit payments can cause a property manager to consider whether or not it would be a good idea to allow tenants to pay their rent with plastic as well.

Unlike most rental property owners, professional property managers are often set up to easily accept rent payments online.  This allows property managers—and the owners they represent—to benefit from many aspects of card payments.  That doesn’t mean however that there are no cons to accepting payments through plastic though.

Benefits of Accepting Credit and Debit Payments

1) No Checks to Cash or Bounce

The biggest problem with accepting checks for payment of rent is that sometimes they bounce.  A check is a promise of payment and not actually payment itself.  If a bad promise is made, the property manager and rental owner can suffer.  By accepting credit card payments for rent, nothing is dependent upon the state of the renter’s bank account.

2) Speediness

Checks may come in on time, but they still require someone to drive to the bank to make the deposit.  Then, there is the wait for the check to clear.  Debit and credit card payments, on the other hand, go directly into the bank account.  It’s easy and it’s quick.

3) Renters can Earn Points and Improve their Credit

Most tenants have a credit card that utilize some form of rewards program, such as air miles or cash back.  Accepting credit card payments for rent allows renters to earn a lot of reward points everyone month.

Accepting credit card payments can also help tenants build a positive credit history.

4) Use Rent Collection Platforms

It’s hard to use online rent collection options if you are still accepting physical checks from your tenants.  When a property manager like Martin Feinberg allows credit card payments, they gain the option of using online software to collect them.  Such software allows tenants to pay rent through a resident portal, usually either by credit card or through their bank account. Online systems also allow renters to set up automatic payments, which mean no more late rent.

Disadvantages of Accepting Credit and Debit Payments

1) Processing Fees

Credit card companies and processing platforms usually charge a fee for every payment processed. Some online options charge 2.75% for each transaction, for example. Property managers should take that into account.

2) Credit Cards Payment Disputes

Though credit card payments can seem like a sure thing, they can be disputed.  If a tenant disputes a credit card payment the payment is put on hold while the company investigates whether or not it should be honored.  If a renter has a legitimate complaint, such a dispute is not guaranteed to go the property manager’s or owner’s way.

Additional Points to Consider

When property managers weigh the benefits and disadvantages of accepting debit and credit card payments, there are still a couple of things for them to consider.Image is a close up of a Mastercard, Visa, and American Express credit card.

  • Even though credit payments go into an account quickly, it can still take a couple of days for the credit card company to release the funds. Property managers need to make sure that delay is taken into account.
  • Property managers should always run a credit check on all prospective tenants to make sure that they have good credit. No matter how a tenant pays rent, knowing that they have a history of paying on time can make things a lot easier and more lucrative, both for the property manager and the rental property owner they work for.

Athletes Chosen to Represent Culver City in Shenshu Marathon

Image is picture of Shenshu Marathon runners at holiday dinner party.Martin Feinberg, Realtor, was excited to learn that two athletes have been chosen to take part in the 26th annual Shenshu Marathon on February 17 in Osaka, Japan.

According to Nancy Joujon-Roche of the Culver City Sister City Committee (CCSCC), “Ricardo Galiano and Erin Okawa have been chosen to represent Culver City as guests of our Sister City, Kaizuka City in Japan.”

The runners will fly to Kaizuka in the middle of February to compete in the annual Shenshu Japan road race. Last year, Jessica Dorsey, from the Culver City Real Estate area, won the 25th annual marathon.

As part of the exchange, later in the year Galiano and Okawa will host two Japanese runners from Kaizuka for the March 2019 Los Angeles Marathon.  The Culver City–Kaizuka Marathon Exchange has been taking place for more than 25 years. Some past participants have been Culver City mayors, employees, and residents, Joujon-Roche stated.

Galiano is 42, has two children, and is an IT director. He has completed four marathons.

“It is a privilege and an honor to be part of this fantastic running and cultural exchange,” Galiano said. “I’m humbled and grateful by the opportunity that has been bestowed upon me by our beautiful cities.”

Okawa is a pediatric endocrinologist at UCLA and this will be her second marathon.

“I am very grateful to the Culver City Sister City Committee for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and am excited to be a participant in such a wonderful event,” Okawa told CCSCC officials. “It goes without saying that I will run this race to the best of my ability and hope to make the city proud.”

Local listing agent notes that all marathoners, road racers and long-distance competitors are invited to participate in the Sister City marathon exchange. Any and all interested racers can contact the Culver City Sister City Committee at more information

Image is an illustration of a man and woman running.

Culver-Palms Meals on Wheels Serves those in need in Culver City

Image is a senior couple sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean on a sunny day.Culver-Palms Meals on Wheels has been serving the Culver City Real Estate area and the surrounding communities since 1974. The independently operated nonprofit offers meals while allowing area seniors to connect with volunteer visitors.

In the Culver-Palms Meals on Wheels program, Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that volunteers typically deliver the meals.  These helpers devote a few hours a week to pack the meals and then “hand-deliver prepared meals to home-bound individuals,” said Pam Frieden, Culver-Palms Meals on Wheels executive director.

Frieden continues, “The majority are senior citizens who are unable to shop, prepare and cook a meal for themselves.”  Currently, “about 90 volunteers and three part-time workers together donate about 650 hours per month.”

“It is such a rewarding organization that touches the lives of individuals that otherwise may have been forgotten, ” said Rich Kissel, Board Member.

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg was interested to learn that the price of a meal, including delivery, is $7.  Frieden stated that Culver-Palms Meals on Wheels pays what the recipients can’t. An estimated 30% of the recipients cannot afford to pay the full $7.

“Because we don’t get government funding, we need the community to support us,” Frieden said.  “I love when a neighbor calls to say that they have a neighbor who is in need and pays for a few months worth.”

According to the website, Culver-Palms Meals on Wheels also does a safety check for all meal recipients.

Beyond the nutrition, Meals on Wheels also provides much-needed visits and personal connection for many recipients.  The program also provides an opportunity for someone to check in on the recipients once a day, and get help if needed.

“When a volunteer knocked on the front door of a senior citizen who did not answer, she became concerned and peered through the window. She could see him sitting on the couch. She raised her voice asking him to answer the door. When he opened the door, it became obvious he needed medical attention because there was a large gash on his head. Thankfully the volunteer was there to notify emergency personnel to get him the help he needed.”

Image is someone carrying a tray with food on it.Frieden also explained that for those with specific dietary needs  “accommodations can in most cases be made by the staff if an individual has a dietary restriction or in some cases even a food preference.  We want to make sure they will eat what we are bringing them.”

Information about Meals on Wheels can be found by visiting here.

Rental Property Tasks a Property Manager can Effectively Help With

Image is an illustration of two townhouses attached together.Investment property owners who have owned their property for any length of time understand that managing a rental can be financially rewarding.  At the same time however, they’ve probably also discovered that property management requires a lot of time and a lot of effort to do effectively.  But a property manager can help.

The do-it-yourself approach can sometimes make sense on paper—especially for those who are handy, live close to their properties, and don’t mind spending hours every month dealing with the job—in many cases though it’s just not practical.  This becomes especially true if a rental property owner wants to expand their business.

With this in mind, here are some critical tasks a property manager can help with:

  1. Setting the right rental rates: A good property management company will have the tools and experience necessary in order to set the best rental price for a property.  This will help ensure that an owner achieves the perfect balance between maximizing monthly income and maintaining a low vacancy rate.
  2. Collecting and depositing monthly rent payments on time: Securing payment from clients can be difficult and awkward. Property management companies have efficient and tested systems in place to collect rent and deal with late payments.  By collecting payments on time investment owners are more able to maintain cash flow, which is especially important for those with a small investment property portfolio.
  3. Marketing and advertising the property:  Experienced property managers will know exactly where and how to market a property effectively.  This will help avoid long vacancies.
  4. Finding the right tenants:  Professional property managers are excellent at finding good tenants.  They will also take care of handling all criminal background and security checks, running credit reports, verifying employment, and collecting previous landlord references.
  5. Managing tenants:  Being a landlord is more than just finding good tenants and collecting rent.  A property management company can manage all aspects of the tenant-landlord relationship. Property managers handle routine and emergency maintenance, take care of inspections, and basically manage any situations where conflict resolution is required.
  6. Managing vendor relationships: One of the best things about using a property management company is that management companies already have relationships with maintenance workers, tradesmen, contractors, suppliers, and vendors in place.  Property managers can get owners the best work for the best price, and also oversee any necessary repair work.
  7. Ensuring that owners are in compliance with housing regulations and property laws: There is a multitude of applicable laws and regulations to abide by when renting and maintaining a rental property. These include local, state and federal regulations, as well as fair housing regulations (such as the ADA). A property manager can also help owners avoid lawsuits by keeping the property in compliance with legal regulations.
  8. Enabling owners to invest in geographically distant properties: Owners who manage their own property are typically limited to investment opportunities near home. By hiring a property manager, an owner can take advantage of investment deals in any location.
  9. Maximizing the profitability of an owner’s time: Investment property owners can use property managers to free up time, enabling them to identify other investment opportunities rather than using all their time to keep one property in the black.
  10. Maximizing the profitability of an owner’s money: Most property managers charge a percentage of a property’s monthly rental rate in exchange for their services. The rate typically runs anywhere from 6-8%.  This amount is usually less than the money saved by hiring a property manager to handle the property.

Image is a black and white image of a hand giving house keys to another hand with a home in the background.

New ShakeAlertLA App Provides Earthquake Warning for Culver City

Image is an illustration of a seismic graph during an earthquake.Los Angeles County residents, including those who live or work within the Culver City Real Estate area, will hopefully now have a few extra seconds of warning before the Big One hits. A new app unveiled yesterday will provide Angelinos with an early warning for earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 or greater in Los Angeles County.  The app is called ShakeAlertLA.

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg notes that the app is the nation’s first public early warning system.  It is part of a pilot program with the U.S. Geological Survey, AT&T, and The Annenberg Foundation.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stated on Twitter, “Earthquakes are a matter of when — not if. We’re officially launching #ShakeAlertLA tomorrow, and today you can become one of the first to use our early warning technology.”

The ShakeAlertLA app was officially unveiled at City Hall on Thursday, but it has been available for download for a few days on many mobile phones at Mayor.LA/3pwx30nakMm.

The app is designed to save lives by giving people time to head to safety before major building damage. It remains to be seen however just how much, if any, warning residents actually will get.

According to the app description, “ShakeAlertLA is NOT a prediction that an earthquake will occur. It signals that an earthquake has started and you may feel shaking. This app is meant to help provide alerts for your safety.”

The mobile app is designed to provide advance notice that an earthquake is about to strike through a text or other electronic means. It works with the ShakeAlertLA system, which is made up of a network of in- ground sensors that can detect seismic activity.

“You may receive the alert before, during or after shaking,” the app tells users. “Take protective action as soon as you receive an alert or feel or hear an earthquake. Drop, cover and hold on.”

Image shows the earthquake damage on the corner of a building.The City Council in June approved the negotiation of a $300,000 contract with AT&T and the GRYD Foundation for the design, creation and deployment of the Early Earthquake Warning System Mobile Application.

Martin Feinberg, Realtor, was interested to learn that in addition to providing quake alerts, the app also includes tips on preparing for and recovering from an earthquake. It also includes a listing and map of recent quakes.

3 Ways Property Managers can Kick off a Successful 2019

Image is of a business woman walking a rope between 2018 and 2019.As the U.S. heads into a new year of new goals, new challenges, and new opportunities, it’s a great time for professional property managers to make sure they are doing all they can to put their best foot forward in 2019.  Here is a short list of easy things a property manager can do to lay a solid foundation for the work that’s ahead in 2019.

  1. Overhaul Your Marketing Content

One word:  Templates. They make things easier and get the job done. They can get stale however.  Property managers can take this opportunity to overhaul the listing descriptions they’ve been using. Their amenities and location should always stand out among the rest.

  1. Only Sign the Best Renters

Experience property managers such as Martin Feinberg are always concerned with signing the best tenants. That commitment should be renewed in 2019. The best way to do this is to have strict tenant screening criteria and apply it to each and every prospective renter, regardless of who they are.   It’s also critical not to let emotions take the lead when a perspective tenant shares a story that tugs at the heart.  If it’s difficult to remove the human bias from decision, employing a screening tool can help.

  1. Keep Renters Happy

Resident retention is an essential part of property management.  Some tenants will move on no matter what a property manager does, but many renters want to be long-term residents.  They will stay if treated right, are happy, and have what they need in their rental.  Property managers need to be responsive, keep renters informed, and maintain the property.

Good property managers can make 2019 a year to remember for their property management business.  They can reinvent themselves with modern marketing, fill their properties with the best renters, and ensure they’re keeping the good ones around for as long as possible.

Happy New Year!

Image is the year 2019 surrounded by blue arrows pointing upward.

Culver City Faces No-Burn Orders Two Days this Week

Image is a no-burning sign, with picture of match and flame surrounded by red circle with a slash through it.Los Angeles County, including the Culver City Real Estate area, was under a No-burn order for the second day in a row.  Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that despite the cool winter mornings, residents of multiple California counties were prohibited from using their wood-burning fireplaces and pits both Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued the no-burn order for much of Southern California in an effort to help ease air pollution in the area.

According to their website:

“During late fall and early winter, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) asks residents to participate in its “Check Before You Burn” program by not burning wood in fireplaces when unhealthful air quality is forecast. Under the program — intended to help improve wintertime air quality –SCAQMD may issue mandatory no-burn alerts from November 1 through the end of February.

No-burn alerts are issued for 24-hour periods for residential wood-burning fireplaces, backyard fire pits and wood stoves when emissions and stagnant weather conditions raise fine particulate pollution to unhealthy levels. Alerts are typically issued for the entire South Coast Air Basin, which encompasses all of Orange County and the non-desert portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.”

On Thursday December 27 a mandatory “no-burn” alert was in effect from 11:59 p.m. to the follow midnight for everyone living in Orange County and non-desert portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

No-burn orders of this type do not apply to mountain communities above 3,000 feet or homes and low-income households that rely on wood as a sole source of heat, according to the AQMD.

Gas burning fireplaces and fire pits are permitted, as they are no different in their emissions than the natural gas furnaces in most people’s homes.   However, burning wood or manufactured logs does contribute to the concentrated air pollution.

Image is a close up of the smoke from a wood fire.“No-burn alerts are mandatory in order to protect public health when levels of fine particulate air pollution in the region are forecast to be high,” according to the AQMD. “Smoke from wood burning can cause health problems.”

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg suggests that those wanting to know more about the Check Before You Burn program should visit here.

Culver City Exchange Club Holds Annual Gift Purchase for Area Youth

Image is a red gift bag full of wrapped presents against a silver glitter background.Martin Feinberg, Realtor, is happy to announce that the Culver City Exchange Club will be engaging in its annual purchase of gifts tomorrow, December 21st.   The gifts will go to students who are part of the Exchange Club’s backpack for kids program.  The gifts will be purchased from Target in Culver City.

Tasha Lowitz of the Culver City Exchange Club explained that the 160 students in their backpack program, which covers all elementary and middle schools, will receive gifts for the holiday season. Elementary students will receive toys while the middle school students will receive gift cards.  There are no high school students in the backpack kids program but some do take part in the Exchange Club’s food pantry program and they will also receive gift cards.

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg notes that this year marks the third year of the program.  Lowitz stated that the annual gift purchase is funded by a special donation.

“We get a donation of about $3,000 from an anonymous donor and then we go and buy whatever gifts we need for the backpack program,” Lowitz said. “Each member gets a list and we go and buy the gifts. Then we distribute them.”

The Culver City Exchange Club is made up of members who reside, own businesses, or work within the Culver City Real Estate area. According to their website, the organization provides funding for community-based organizations such as the Culver-Palms YMCA, Culver City Little League, Culver City High School Athletics, Culver City Youth Health Center, the Culver City Senior Center, and others.

Membership in the CC Exchange Club is open to all persons who either live or work in the local area. The website states that “the cost of membership is a low monthly dues payment, which includes weekly lunches at the Elks Lodge.”

“Each member is expected to work on one or more of the local community service projects conducted by the club (e.g., Annual Search for Talent Show, 4th of July Fireworks Show, Get Out the Vote projects, Senior Citizen dinners, etc.).”

For more information on this weekend’s Target gift purchase event or on the CC Exchange Club, call (310) 499-4840.

Image is a line of brightly decorated presents against a snowflake background.