As a Los Angeles Westside Realtor specializing in traditionally Jewish neighborhoods, when clients tell me their wish list for a house in the Pico-Robertson/Beverlywood area, one of the first questions I used to ask was, “Are you willing to look east of Robertson? Now, I’m also asking how they feel about living east of La Cienega! Some are surprised at the question, but many in the frum community have been talking about the eastern migration for a few years already.
Chabad SOLA (an abbreviation for “South La Cienega”) on La Cienega and Pickford, was on the leading edge of the trend. Primarily composed of young families committed to living in a Jewish neighborhood, many found houses in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood unaffordable. Since walking to shul is at the center of the Orthodox lifestyle, SOLA’s Rabbi Zajac realized that if he started a shul near more affordable housing, the families would come. And they did, in spades, contributing to the real estate website Redfin naming Faircrest Heights (the area south of Pico and east of La Cienega) #3 on the “Hottest Neighborhoods in the Country” list in 2013.
It’s not just the lower prices that are luring the community east. While Faircrest Heights (south of Pico) is still relatively affordable, the South Carthay/Carthay Square neighborhoods east of La Cienega and north of Pico are barely more affordable than Beverlywood, and the competition among buyers is just as fierce. In fact, I recently sold a 3 bedroom fixer on Sterns in multiple offers for $106,000 over the asking price. Values in Carthay Circle, north of Olympic, are even higher.
But Shomer Shabbat Jews are increasingly choosing these neighborhoods for several reasons. Some prefer the 1920’s “Character Spanish” style that pervades the Carthay neighborhoods and is very rare in Beverlywood’s newer housing stock. For others, it’ s a problem of inventory. There is simply more to choose from when buyers expand their boundaries. People are also realizing that the walk west to Robertson from Carthay is not any longer than the walk north to Pico from the Southern edges of Beverlywood, such as Duxbury Circle, one of the most desirable streets in Beverlywood, where teardowns are listed for over $2 million.
The east of La Cienega crowd is definitely growing, spurring the “B’nai David Judea East Minyan” this year, held for the first time on a Shabbat afternoon in November at BDJ member Shep and Shari Rosenman’s house in Carthay Square. “It was a huge success, a real family experience, with 35 adults and about 10 kids,” Mr. Rosenman said. “The group reflected an interesting mix of people, with members of the B’nai David community as well as people to the religious right and left of B’nai David – a true community minyan.” Interestingly, the Rosenman family recently relocated from Beverlywood to Carthay Square, and it seems they are on the forefront of helping to create a vibrant Jewish life in their new neighborhood.
Of course, many Traditional and Conservative Jewish families have lived in the Carthay neighborhoods for decades, close to Temple Beth Am and its day school Pressman Academy on La Cienega just south of Olympic. There is actually a story about Rabbi Jacob Pressman himself going door-to-door after the L.A. riots in the 1970’s, pledging that the synagogue would remain in the neighborhood if 150 families would pledge to stay. They did, and the synagogue and school remain thriving to this day.
But it’s the Orthodox migration that is the more recent news. LINK, the Los Angeles Intercommunity Kollel, opened “LINK East”, a satellite branch, last summer, on the corner of West Pico and Crescent Heights. The “About” page of the Link East shul website says it all. It asks, “Why open a shul in the ‘Far East’?” LINK’s answer is, “Pico is bursting! As young couples frantically search for more affordable housing alternatives, many have identified the area East of La Cienega as an appealing place to live, and have begun to settle there. A dynamic shul providing warmth, community and direction for those who are there, and primed to anticipate the needs of those who will come is vital.”
The Pico-Robertson/Beverlywood Jewish community has always been diverse, ranging from Modern Orthodox families to Chabad, mainline Orthodox, and Traditional and Conservative families, as well as families from countries as far-flung as Israel, Iran, France, and South Africa. The success of the community is evidenced by the expansion into areas previously not thought of as an option. This growth is an indication of a vibrant, growing community of which we can all be proud.
Naomi Selick is a realtor with Teles Properties in Beverly Hills, and specializes in the Beverlywood, Carthay, and Faircrest Heights neighborhoods of Los Angeles. She lives in Beverlywood with her husband and three children.