Cherry Blossom Festivals Return In March

Spring is on our doorstep, and the corresponding flower blooms in Los Angeles County (such as they are) are right around the corner. While places like the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve are likely to have a  down year due to lack of winter rains, there are still spots in the greater L.A.-area where you can enjoy a bit of colorful and fragrant fun. Case in point: Cherry blossom festivals.

To that end, if you’d like to check out some of the cherry blossom related events/festivals/walks available in and around our city, ‘We Like LA’ has compiled a handy list of locations, dates, times, and costs for you to peruse below. These include the South Coast Botanic Cherry Blossom Festival, The West Covina Cherry Blossom Festival, the Torrance Cherry Blossom Cultural Festival, and Cherry Blossom Festival in Monterey Park.

And of course if you need a little inspiration to plan a date, you can check out the video below showing off the cherry blossom bloom from last year (2017) at Descanso Gardens.

One quick note on Descanso for 2018: Instead of back-to-back weekends of cherry blossom festival events, this year they’re spreading out their talks/workshops/performances on various dates throughout March, while also offering ‘spring bloom walks’ every weekend in March and April.

Just something to bear in mind as you scan the list. In any case, enjoy!

2018 Cherry Blossom Festivals and Events in L.A.

South Coast Botanic Cherry Blossom Festival
Saturday, March 3, 2018, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
26300 Crenshaw Blvd.
Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274
General Admission is $9, seniors and students are $6, and children are $4

2018 Cherry Blossom Festival in West Covina
Saturday, March 17, 2018, noon to 6 p.m.
112 Plaza Dr, West Covina, CA 91790

2018 Cherry Blossom Festival in Huntington Beach
Sunday, March 18, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
711 Talbert Avenue, Huntington Beach, CA

Torrance Cherry Blossom Cultural Festival
Sunday, March 25, 2018, 11 am.m. to 4 p.m.
Columbia Park, 4045 190th St, Torrance

2018 Cherry Blossom Festival in Monterey Park
Saturday, April 21, 2018, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 22, 2018, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Barnes Park, 350 S. McPherrin Ave., Monterey Park, CA

Spring bloom walks and cherry blossom-related events
various dates throughout March and April 2018
1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
General $9. Seniors 65 and over/Students $6. Children (5 to 12 years) $4.
Keep in mind some special talks and workshops include additional costs.

Schedule provided by We Like LA.

Uber Lauches ‘Express Pool’ In Los Angeles

A new Uber service is launching in Los Angeles today. It’s called Uber Express Pool, and it works by asking pool riders to walk to and from nearby pick-up and drop-off locations.

The POOL option already offers lower prices to riders who are willing to share their ride with other passengers. This typically takes a bit longer, as drivers take brief detours to pick up and drop off other riders along the way.

Express Pool seeks to streamline that process. Here’s how it works:

In the Uber app, Express POOL will appear as an option on the slider next to POOL. Choose Express Pool, then call for a ride. Within a few minutes, the app will assign you a driver and that driver’s ETA, just like with a standard uberX ride. However, the app will also provide you with walking directions to a nearby location where you will meet your driver. When your driver arrives, you’ll get in a car that may or may not contain other Express Pool passengers. When you get close to your destination you’ll be assigned a drop-off point and provided with walking directions from that spot to your final destination.

Uber Express Pool Photo: Uber

Ideally, this ride will be faster than your typical POOL ride because the driver is picking up and dropping off passengers stationed along the route. Uber also estimates that an Express Pool rides is 50 percent cheaper, on average, than POOL and as much as 75 percent cheaper than uberX.

This is potentially an ideal situation for commuters who regularly rely on ride sharing services to get to and from work, or for people going for a night out who don’t mind a brief walk.

It could also potentially alleviate some of POOL’s problems, such as an anecdote published in Motherboard in which a POOL passenger and their driver spent 40 minutes looking for another passenger who was seemingly lost “somewhere between a road closure and his hotel.” The author finally snapped, using the driver’s speakerphone to ask the passenger why he couldn’t just walk to a nearby gas station.

Uber first launched this service in San Francisco and Boston in late 2017. The service launches in San Diego, Denver, and L.A. today, while Miami, Philly, and D.C. will get it tomorrow.

Of course, there’s another service that already functions very much like Uber Express Pool: the Metro system, where standard fare is always $1.75, with free transfers within two hours. It may not always be as reliable as calling a car, but it’s pretty cheap!

Article courtesy of We Like LA.

Video: LAX’s Automated People Mover

LAX’s Automated People Mover (APM) is part of the Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), which is a multi-step plan to make it easier for us to get around the busy airport without relying solely on cars or buses.

According to Los Angeles World Airports, the APM is an electric train system that runs 2.25 miles on an elevated guideway. There are three stations inside the terminal loop, and three outside. There will be nine trains total, each with four cars, capable of carrying 200 passengers and their belongings at a time. They’ll show up every two minutes, shuttling passengers between terminals, to car rental agencies, or to Metro. The entire journey will take each train about 10 minutes.

Construction on this project will begin in 2018, with a projected completion date in 2023. Under that timeline the People Mover will be functioning long before the 2028 Summer Olympics, which is visually referenced in the video. 

Story courtesy of We Like LA.

Economic update for the week ending February 17, 2018

Key index shows inflation picking up – The Labor Department reported on Wednesday that the Consumer Price Index rose 0.5% last month. Economists had expected a 0.3% jump. Core CPI, which strips out food and energy as they tend to be more volatile, rose 0.3% in January. Although that was the largest month-over-month increase since last January, the year-over-year increase was just 1.8%. After 10 years of inflation below the target level, this report shows that fears of inflation normalizing may be sound. Low inflation has kept interest rates at historically low levels for a decade. Higher inflation would cause higher interest rates. Bonds and mortgage securities reacted negatively to the report and interest rates rose sharply after the release. The CPI has been so stable for so long, at such low inflation levels, that it’s something we have not been talking about. As inflationary pressure picks up, it is an index we will be paying a lot of attention to.

Stock markets rebound this week – Stocks rebounded from two weeks of steep declines to close the week making up about half of the losses seen in the previous two weeks. Investors, while still fearful of how higher interest rates and labor costs will effect profits, embraced that these factors are a symptom of a more robust economy. They felt that while interest fears are rational, the market oversold and over corrected. Stocks gained about 4.3% for the week, and all major indexes are higher than they were at the start of 2018. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 25,219.38, up from last week’s close of 24,190.90.  It is up 2% year-to-date. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,732.22, up from 2,619.55 last week. It’s up 2.2% year-to-date. The NASDAQ closed at 7,239.47, up from 6,874.49 last week. It is up 4.9% year-to-date.

Treasury Bond Yields –  The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 2.86%,  up from 2.83% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 3.13%, unchanged from 3.14% last week. We watch bond rates because mortgage rates follow bond rates.Mortgage continues to rise – The February 15, 2018 Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 4.38%, up from last week’s 4.33%. The 15-year fixed was 3.84%, up from 3.77% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.63%, up from 3.57% last week.

Retail sales weak in January – The Commerce Department reported that retail sales unexpectedly decreased 0.3% in January. Economists had expected a 0.2% increase. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, was reported to have increased at a 3.8 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter. The economy grew at a 2.6 percent pace in the final three months of 2017, and holiday spending in 2017 was 4.9% higher than 2016.  After a strong holiday season, the largest decline in retail sales in 11 months took experts by surprise.

California home affordability slightly higher in fourth quarter over third quarter of 2017 – The California Association of Realtors released their housing affordability survey for the fourth quarter of 2017. According to the report, 29% of California homeowners could afford to purchase a $550,990 median priced detached home in the fourth quarter of 2017.  That was up from 28% in 3rd quarter, but down from 31% in the fourth quarter of 2016. The minimum income required to qualify for a median priced home was $111,260. The payment was $2,780 a month with a 4.17% mortgage. 37% of California households could afford to purchase a condo, or townhouse.  It took a minimum income of $90,810 to qualify for a median price of $449,720, with a mortgage payment of $2,270. The Los Angeles region had a higher affordability rate than the state as a whole. 31% of Los Angeles households could afford to purchase a median priced detached home compared to 29% statewide. Interest rates are higher in the first quarter of 2018, so I’d expect affordability to be even lower now.

Home sales down in numbers, but prices higher in January – The California Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales in California totaled 388,800 in January on a seasonally adjusted basis. This represented a drop of 7.6% from December’s pace, and a drop of 2.9% from last January. We watch year-over-year because January closings are often much lower than December. The statewide median price paid for a home in California was $527,800, up 7.3% from January 2017. The unsold inventory index rose to a 3.6-month supply from just a 2.5-month supply of activity listings in December. It was 3.7 months in January 2017.

Have a great weekend!

Rodeo Realty’s Studio City Agent Todd Jones Talks About LA Luxury Market With Forbes

An article published this week by Forbes takes a look at several markets around the country where “the luxury segment is currently showing some weakness signaling buying opportunities.”

According to Forbes, there are currently several luxury markets to consider if you are shopping for your dream home.

“…if you are in the market for a luxury home, now may be the time to make an offer,” said Forbes.

One of the luxury markets compared and talked about in the article is Los Angeles. Forbes interviewed Todd Jones of Rodeo Realty Studio City to get a better idea on the luxury market in the area.

“For the higher end, I look at Days on Market (DOM),” said Todd to Forbes contributor, Ellen Paris. “When I last checked there were 406 active listings with an average of 208 DOM in that luxury category. That would tell you it’s a buyer’s market in that $5 million and up price range.”

The article also looks into the luxury market in Chicago, Atlanta and Boston.

To read the entire Forbes article, click HERE.