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Curbed LA’s top stories of 2019

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A butterfly invasion. Nostalgic photos of 1970s Los Angeles. An experimental housing community. A new law to help renters. And more.

This year, we chronicled the restoration of the iconic Brady Bunch house, waxed nostalgic, showed you the best of Los Angeles real estate, explained a game-changing law designed to help renters, and continued to chronicle the drama of a half-built mansion in the hills. Here, nine of our most-read stories of 2019, along with a short list of my favorites stories of the year.


Painted lady butterflies.
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
Rain brings millions of painted lady butterflies to Southern California

In the spring, millions of butterflies fluttered around Los Angeles, feasting on plants that proliferated in the wake of an exceptionally wet winter. Swarms of painted ladies were spotted all across Southern California, from the Walk of the Fame, to the hills of Griffith Park, to South Bay beaches.

California passed statewide rent control.
Here’s how California’s rent control law will work

On January 1, the state will begin to regulate how much Californians’ rent can increase every year, limiting it to 5 percent, plus the local rate of inflation. The rules, however, will vary for cities that already have rent control laws—and that makes things pretty complicated. We broke down the rules.

The facade of a midcentury home with an off-set pitched roof, clapboard siding, and partial stone facade. The double-front door is painted blue. The home is fronted by a deep lawn.
HGTV bought and restored the Brady Bunch house.
Courtesy of HGTV
HGTV’s restoration of Brady Bunch house unveiled—and they didn’t mess it up

A crew of HGTV stars spent eight months renovating a pink ranch house in Studio City that appeared in almost every single episode of the Brady Bunch. Of course, HGTV turned the renovation into a TV show all of its own. Curbed LA contributor Chris Eggertsen tuned in to recap the the first episode.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Co. / Everett Collection
‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’: Mapping Tarantino’s LA fairytale

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has been described as the director’s love letter to late ‘60s Los Angeles. Here, a map of some of the film’s major locations, which include swinging nightspots, drive-in theaters, hillside getaways and secluded movie ranches.

The LAX people mover.
Renderings courtesy Los Angeles Mayor’s Office
LA officials break ground on LAX people mover

Set to start running in 2023, the automated shuttle system will connect to a future light rail station along the under-construction Crenshaw/LAX Line, finally creating a rail connection to the world’s fourth-busiest airport.

Village Green.
Photo by Liz Kuball
An urban oasis

Both a National Historic Landmark and a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, the sprawling Village Green complex is an affordable “garden city” in the heart of Los Angeles.

Grand Central Market, 1978.
Roger Steffens/The Family Acid
1970s photos capture a vanishing LA

Under the name “The Family Acid,” one family has photographed and compiled thousands of images of Los Angeles from the 1960s through the 1990s. As contributor Marissa Clifford writes, they immortalize ephemeral moments in an ever-evolving city.

Betsey Johnson’s trailer.
Photo by Jordan Reid, courtesy of Compass
Betsey Johnson’s pink mobile home in Malibu is for sale for $1.9M

In September, fashion designer Betsey Johnson put her first Los Angeles home on the market: a pink trailer in Malibu’s funky Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom trailer was an extension of her fashion style: colorful, girly, eclectic, and a little bit punk.

An aerial photo of a half-finished mansion jutting out of a hillside.
Mohamed Hadid’s spec mansion.
Courtesy of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
Former Hadid construction manager says ‘entire house must be demolished’

A civil lawsuit brought new information to light about the mansion that Mohamed Hadid has partially built into a Bel Air hillside. In records made public in June, a contractor raised concerns about friendships Hadid—who is the father of models Gigi and Bella Hadid—forged with city inspectors.

Editor’s favorites

361 North Citrus Avenue.
Photo by Bianca Barragan
They loved the house. Then they tore it down. The neighbors cried.

A Hancock Park couple sold their Tudor-style home to a buyer who they believed would cherish it for a long time. But almost as soon as escrow closed, the new owners tore it down. The story struck a chord with neighbors, who tried to save the home, and with readers—it was one of the most commented stories of the year.

A large rectangle building constructed by small geometric shapes. There’s an opening on the left side of the building base. On top of the base there’s a diagonal shape structure leading to a second level. Illustration.
Seventh Day Adventist Church in Hollywood.
Illustration by Ellen Surrey
An illustrated guide to breeze blocks

Once you know what they’re called, you’ll start noticing them all over Los Angeles. Here’s a guide to get you acquainted with one of the grooviest features of midcentury modern architecture.

Only 14 percent of trips in Los Angeles were made by walking, biking, and public transit last year.
AFP/Getty Images
Walking is LA’s future—but the city keeps designing streets for cars

In 2018, according to city estimates, walking, biking, and transit only made up 14 percent of trips in Los Angeles. The city won’t survive if it keeps putting cars first. By 2035, Alissa Walker writes that LA needs a network of safe, shaded, well-lit right-of-ways connecting people, parks, and transit throughout the city. She calls it “a freeway system for people on foot.”

A home in Crestwood Hills.
Photo by Maggie Shannon
The modernist enclave that tested a utopian vision of LA

Brentwood’s Crestwood Hills is an “architecturally controlled community” on the scenic ridges above Kenter Canyon. In the 1940s, its founders set out to build a sustainable modern community with shared principles and amenities at a reasonable price. Today, the neighborhood is a jewel box of single-family homes designed by midcentury masters. One of those homes, by the way, burned to the studs during the Getty Fire.

Photo by Janna Ireland
Chasing Paul Williams

In this moving, eloquent first-person essay, photographer Janna Ireland writes about Paul R. Williams, the first black member of the American Institute of Architects and one of the most important figures in Los Angeles architectural history. Here’s an excerpt: “Williams taught himself a brilliant trick; he learned how to draw upside down as well as he could right side up. A skittish prospective client could be drawn in by the magic of watching the home of their dreams appear on the table in front of them without the impropriety of sitting next to the architect.”