ZIPping around Long Beach: 90815, from Los Altos on up
Long Beach’s eastern ZIP code 90815 is, to a large degree, a twin of its neighbor to the north, 90808. Both areas blossomed from sugar beet and bean fields into large suburban areas virtually overnight as developers swooped into the mostly undeveloped or agricultural acreage to feverishly build entire tracts of houses to meet the needs of the sudden influx of post-World War II families and workers finding jobs at Douglas aircraft, the Navy Shipyard and other businesses that provided living incomes and sustained a middle-class lifestyle.
Most notable of the developers was Lloyd Whaley, who came to Long Beach from Nebraska and eyed the blank canvas of land east of Bellflower Boulevard and set out to plan that part of the city, with churches congregated around various intersections, spaces for parks and golf courses, shopping districts that would include the Los Altos Shopping Center, and the hopes of a college coming to the area, which happened in the early years of the area in 1949 with Long Beach State College.
Building acres and acres of new housing would require better roads, and the main thoroughfares were extended beyond their old range, and, of course, there would be a need for schools for the early families who sent their kids to inner parts of the city by bus for their education. In a single decade, from 1949 to 1959, the 90815 ZIP saw the construction and openings of Millikan High School, Stanford Junior High School, and Minnie Gant, Bixby, Emerson, Prisk and Tincher elementary schools as well as the Catholic schools St. Joseph and Our Lady of Refuge.
Grocery stores popped up along what would become busy intersections. Parks flourished. It got to the point where people in Los Altos had no reason to ever leave Los Altos, and that sense of it being its own town outside the other parts of Long Beach still remains in the area where everything and anything you need is a couple of minutes away.
The homes in 90815 were, for the most part, built for middle-class families, with their original cost in the 1950s mostly under $15,000 for a well-constructed three-bedroom, two-bath home with hardwood floors and a fireplace.
Today, these go for upward of $750,000—sometimes well upward of that, and in the tonier parts of the area, they routinely fetch above $1 million. That includes the prestigious area of Park Estates, a tract of custom homes set aside by Whaley for the more well-to-do residents, including himself. Whaley’s 5,439-square-foot French Provincial home that he had built on Bryant Road in Park Estates, sits on what remains the largest residential lot in the city at more than two-and-a-half acres.
To a lesser degree, but still in the $1 million-plus range, are homes on Bixby Hill by Rancho Los Alamitos, and La Marina, at the foot of Bixby Hill between Anaheim Road and Atherton Street. South of Palo Verde Avenue.
Here is a sampling of homes on the market in the 90815 ZIP code area:
Here’s an added-on three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,605-square-foot home tucked away on a little tree-lined cul-de-sac south of Studebaker Road. Its curbside appearance is a tad plain, but well xeriscaped, which is a good thing in the age of drought. Inside, it explodes with bold and adventurous colors in every room. A formal living room leads to a large family room—a common add-on with homes built in the Whaley era—with a fireplace and built-in shelving. The primary bedroom has an upgraded bathroom and the backyard is inviting and perfect for visitors with its patio and a parklike conversation area centered on a stone fire pit. The 1954 home is listed by Aldona Sneary of Keller Williams Pacific Estates at $995,000.
If you’re a big believer in the worst-home-in-the-best-neighborhood theory of real estate investing, you’ll want to jump on this three-bed, two bath 1,626-square-foot home north of Stearns Street and just a couple of blocks east of the Los Altos Shopping Center. It’s a fine location, but just looking at this home and realizing how much work it’s going to take to make it comfortable and bring back a bit of cheerfulness to it makes me extremely weary. It starts out bad, with its overgrown yard, and then turns almost tragic inside. Nothing doesn’t need a lot of work, especially, perhaps, the kitchen that’s appliance-free and needs a total tear-down and rebuild. Flooring everywhere is of no further use. Plus, it is required to warn you, a man died in it recently. To further complicate matters, it’s a probate sale and you’re encouraged to place your bid on it, so long as the bid is in excess of the $559,000 listing price. The 1953 house is listed by Rhett Winchell of Kennedy Wilson Real Estate.
When my wife and I were home shopping, I was hoping to find a place for sale on Faust Avenue, just so I could constantly bore people with the Faustian bargain I made to buy it. Instead, we ended up on a street with no literary or mythic relevance. Now, there’s this place for sale on Faust, and you can make a deal with the devil to come up with the $912,000 asking price. It’s relatively worth it. The home is a beautiful residence on a nice street in Los Altos, with lush landscaping in both the front and extra-lavish backyard, which also features a brick patio with sitting areas and a built-in barbecue. Inside, you get a living room with a fireplace, a serviceable kitchen and a large sunroom with wood flooring. Other bonuses include air-conditioning and a tankless water heater. The 1951 home is listed by Jonathan Hall of Keller Williams.
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