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James Byrnes Schellenberg

James Byrnes Schellenberg (1954-2020), father, brother and friend, passed away at the age of 66 in his home in Pacific Palisades, California, after a heroic battle with cancer.

James was born in Bethesda, Maryland, the third son of 11 children of Bob and Kate Schellenberg, who predeceased him.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Debra Schellenberg, his daughter, Kathryn Schellenberg Bell, his son, Christopher Schellenberg, his son-in-law, Jason Bell, his daughter-in-law, Kristen Schellenberg, and his two grandsons, Wyatt and Beau Schellenberg. James is also survived by his 10 siblings, their spouses and children.

James believed we are what we repeatedly do and that excellence is not an act, but a habit. This motto guided and shaped his incredible and disciplined life.

He was a Vanderbilt University football player and earned a master of business administration from University of North Florida. He met Debra, his wife of over 40 years, at IBM training.

James had a successful corporate career, which was only paralleled by his love of his family and his devotion to his Catholic faith. James held many jobs, including the chief operating officer of the National Institute of Transplantation.

James also valued his time with his family and his time in service. Throughout his life, he pursued excellence both professionally and personally, demonstrating his love for his family, friends and God every day with humor and a smile.

Even during his cancer treatment, he still lovingly watched his two grandsons, served on the financial committee of St. Monica’s Catholic Church and walked his daughter down the aisle in her backyard wedding.

James will be remembered as a devoted father, grandfather, brother and husband, and an excellent shot. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his memory to St. Monica’s Catholic Church or the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Al Ramrus

Al Ramrus, age 90, an award-winning screenwriter, documentarian and novelist, passed away peacefully on December 27, 2020.

Ever the screenwriter, he scripted every last scene of his life. Cue the decades-long ritual of watching “60 Minutes” every Sunday, followed by dinner with his wife while watching a movie.

Within moments of his last breath, lightning and thunder crackled the atmosphere, torrential downpours flooded the streets, and an icy slush blanketed the beaches of Southern California.

Born in New York City, New York, on November 19, 1930, to Max Ramrus and Miriam Cooper, he spent his childhood in Brooklyn and The Bronx. He studied at The Bronx High School of Science and graduated from New York City College.

His career began as a news reporter in Canada. He quickly learned French by watching television shows with subtitles and practiced typing by making a keyboard from cardboard.

In 1959, he moved back to New York City to write for the TV Series “The Mike Wallace Interview,” the precursor for “60 Minutes,” earning a Peabody Award. In 1962, he relocated to Los Angeles, writing and producing over 80 documentaries with David Wolper Productions.

So began a lifetime of friendship and collaboration with his pragmatic mentors. Ayn Rand became a close friend, trailblazing a forward-thinking and objective idealism that Al held true to his moral compass throughout life.

Early credits include Academy Award-winning Jacques Cousteau’s “A World Without Sun,” “Hollywood and The Stars” and “Biography.” Al went on to write “Halls of Anger” in 1970, about the racially contentious integration of an all-black inner-city school.

The film’s success earned Ramrus recognition as a solid storyteller, providing more writing opportunities in the years that followed. Feature films include “Goin’ South” starring Jack Nicholson and “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”

Al met his wife in 1972 while living in West Hollywood; it was love at first sight. They married at Hotel Bel-Air in 1973 and welcomed their daughter, Tracey, 12 months later. Al was known for taking his daily runs throughout the neighborhood, his workouts were his religion.

A voracious reader and lover of classical music, he joyfully looked forward to Sunday night family dinners where his favorite cuisine of Asian food was most likely on the menu.

He is survived by his wife, Alleen, daughter Tracey, beloved son-in-law David, and adored grandchildren David, Bennett and Audrey. Al resided in Pacific Palisades for over 45 years.

Sol Goldsmith

Sol Goldsmith passed away on Thursday, December 24, 2020, at the age of 93 in Santa Monica, of natural causes, in his home. Born on June 10, 1927, in Los Angeles, Sol was the son of Barney and Hilda (Miller) Goldsmith.

Sol reported for Navy bootcamp the day after he graduated from Los Angeles High in 1945, a few days after his 18th birthday. While the war ended quickly, he served his term of service and was honorably discharged. He enrolled in UCLA and graduated from there in 1952 with a BA and primary and secondary teaching credentials. He later earned his counseling credential.

He taught for 30-plus years at Henry Clay, Gompers and Paul Revere Jr. High Schools; his subjects were math, history, geography—plus he coached several teams and was a school counselor. While he retired in 1987, while walking on the Santa Monica Promenade, former students would often yell out “Hey, Mr. G!” and he would smile and wave. Sol also served as a UTLA representative while at Paul Revere.

Sol was predeceased by sister, Jeanne Michaels. He is survived by daughters Caryn Goldsmith and Julie Goldsmith; nephews Jeff Michaels (Australia) and Alan Michaels (Japan)—and their families, first cousin Shandie (Jeanette) Miller and many additional Miller/Brostoff cousins. Additionally, he is survived by ex-wife Marcia Tull, brother-in-law Richard Kerner, nieces Eve Seagal, Debra Seagal Ollivier, and nephew Ron Seagal—and their families.

With the exception of his daughters, Sol never fully comprehended how much he meant to all that knew him. We hope he knows that now. As his nephew Jeff said: “I learned a lot about being a man from Sol. An expressive man, a stylish man, a loving person … who reached out to others and considered what a better world would look like.”

There will be no memorial service, per his wishes. Instead, when the weather is nice and it is safe from COVID, his daughters will honor his request of having his ashes at sea. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a small donation to an educational scholarship fund of your choice or to Macular Degeneration Research. (BrightFocus Foundation).

REEL PALI: Schwarzenegger in ‘Stallone: Frank, That Is’

Photo courtesy of YouTube

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Former Palisadian Arnold Schwarzenegger has a featured role as himself in “Stallone: Frank, That Is,” which will offer a “look into the fascinating life, career and survival of the most unknown famous entertainer in Hollywood,” according to a synopsis on IMDb.

The documentary dives into the life of Frank Stallone, whose music career spanned four decades, earning him three Platinum Albums, 10 Gold Albums and five Gold Singles. Frank is the younger brother of Sylvester Stallone, who will make an appearance in the film.

“Frank Stallone has seen it all. Frank Stallone has done it all,” the “Stallone” movie website reads. “But, who is Frank Stallone? You know the name, now discover the Grammy and Golden Globe nominated singer, songwriter, musician and actor who has been entertaining audiences for over 50 years, all the while living in a giant shadow.”

His movie soundtracks have included “Rocky I,” “II” and “III” and “Rambo II,” and he has appeared as an actor in more than 60 films and television shows.

“Stallone: Frank, That Is” tells the story of Frank’s life, through his own eyes and a plethora of other big names in Hollywood. The film, written and directed by Derek Wayne Johnson, will include appearances by Billy Dee Williams, Joe Mantegna, Frankie Avalon, Richie Sambora and more.

“It’s not easy, because you live in a shadow, and every time you get a great job, you know, people saw you probably got that because of your brother,” Schwarzenegger shared in the film’s trailer. “He didn’t He got this because of his talent.

Executive produced by Ronald Zamber, the film’s music was done by Greg Sims.

The film has garnered several award nominations and wins, including Best Feature Documentary 2020 at the 20th Beverly Hills Film Festival and an Honorable Mention award in the Santa Monica International Film Festival.

“Stallone: Frank, That Is,” which was originally due out in 2019, is now slated to release on Tuesday, January 19. The film can be pre-ordered on iTunes.

Post Welcomes New Intern

Photo courtesy of Karina Eid

The Palisadian-Post has welcomed a new intern, Karina Eid, to assist with stories and newsroom tasks.

My name is Karina Eid and I am a sophomore at Brentwood School, where I write articles for the school newspaper, The Flyer. I have recently written about QAnon and COVID-19’s effects on small businesses. Being part of The Flyer team has been an amazing experience as I love to write and work alongside the other journalists.

I also enjoy creative writing and recently attended the Georgetown Creative Writing Academy, where I participated in workshops and listened to lectures held by various published authors. It was a terrific learning experience and expanded my interest in writing. I hope to pen a YA novel one day, in addition to pursuing my love of journalism.

I also have a passion for helping animals which led my friend and I to create a website selling handmade, pet-themed face masks this summer. As a result, we raised over $1,700 in support of Dawg Squad, an animal organization in Los Angeles. In light of our success, my friend and I started a service club at Brentwood called Paws for a Cause where we continue raising awareness and money for local animal organizations. 

I am also an avid golfer and a member of the Brentwood Golf Team. On weekends, I compete in SCPGA Jr. tournaments throughout Southern California.

However, the most important thing to know about me is that I am incredibly excited to intern at the Palisadian-Post. I am grateful for the opportunity and can not wait to start my internship.

Renaissance Man

Steve Markoff
Photo courtesy of Steve Markoff

Author Steve Markoff Wins Best of Los Angeles Award for “The Case Against George W. Bush”

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Palisadian Steve Markoff wears many hats but he added another feather in his cap with his new book “The Case Against George W. Bush,” which won a Best of Los Angeles Award for “Best Political Book of 2020.”

“It’s something to be proud of,” Markoff admitted. “This takes an incredible amount of work.”

Released in late October, the book chronicles the presidency of George W. Bush through almost 600 quotes from over 90 authors and other sources, including Bush himself, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and journalists like Steve Coll, Craig Unger and Bob Woodward.

The book’s foreword is written by Richard A. Clarke, a national security and counterterrorism expert under three presidents.

Markoff is donating 100 percent of the royalties from the book to the nonprofit National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City.

“The Case Against George W. Bush”

“Money hasn’t been a motivator, it’s more about providing some context and clarity because there are so many issues people can’t understand,” he said. “I’ve always been attracted to the law as it’s really logical. I’m one of those people who has the resources to put into these projects but I get angry at just how difficult it is to get real data. Liberals and conservatives look at the same information but come to different conclusions. You need to see both sides on an issue.”

Born in 1943, Markoff graduated from Los Angeles City College with an Associate of Arts degree in 1964. He was in the precious metals and numismatic business for 50 years (1954-2005).

He became chairman and CEO of A-Mark Financial Corporation, a Santa Monica-based financial services company he founded in 1965 that was originally named A-Mark Coin Company.

In 2004 he founded procon.org, a 501(c)(3) public charity promoting critical thinking that as of December 31, 2019, had been or is being used by over 10,000 schools in over 90 countries. The charity merged into Encyclopaedia Britannica in May.

Earlier this year, he launched secondamendment.org, a website that he designed to include many of the pieces of the puzzle that make up our individual rights to arms.

A meticulous researcher who knows how and where to get the facts, Markoff has been in business since he was 6 years old and joined the ACLU in 1980. He made a solo parachute jump from 2,800 feet in 1966 and was honorably discharged from the Army in 1970.

He has twice made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for purchasing rare coin collections. He joined the Sports Car Club of America in 1977 and began racing Formula Fords.

In 2013 he was inducted into the PNG Coin Dealers Hall of Fame. His hobbies include cars, archery, fly fishing, golf, ping pong, pool, scuba diving and, of course, reading.

A modern-day renaissance man, Markoff has traveled the world extensively, exploring every continent and visiting 105 countries (his favorite places are India, Papa New Guinea and Antarctica) and last summer, he traveled around the North Pole in a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker. He calls his wife of 33 years Jadwiga—a retired Polish physician with a PhD in psychopharmacology (how drugs affect the brain)—“a brilliant travel agent.”

When they are not spanning the globe, Markoff and Jadwiga are enjoying life in the Rustic Canyon area of the Palisades. He bought a house on Sunset across the street from the entrance to Will Rogers State Historic Park in 1980 after surveying the area from a bird’s eye view.

“I was living in Bel Air for a year when I rented a helicopter and flew around West LA,” he recalled. “This whole area stands out like the Amazon. The next day, I left notes in people’s mailboxes. I got a call back from a woman two doors away whose mother was living here and she offered to sell it for $950,000, which was a lot of money back then.”

The gated property has plenty of tall trees and the couple have a variety of animals: 20 chickens, a guinea hen (an African bird with a head that, as Markoff described, “looks like it’s been crushed by a car”), two dogs (a bulldog Fred and a pit bull mix Sheila), and two cats, Sammy and Mimmy.

Markoff and Jadwiga also spend time at their log cabin in Bodfish in the southern Kern River Valley. His three children all went to Palisades High School: Chris (50), a shrimp fisherman in San Diego; Thomas (31); and newlywed Emily (30), a teacher in the San Fernando Valley.

Markoff has published numerous other articles and informational booklets, many dealing with various aspects of America’s drug policy. He is currently working on several other projects, including “The ACLU’s First 100 Years at the U.S. Supreme Court from 1920 to 2020,” a compendium of more than 1,175 ACLU cases at the Supreme Court (to be released in two different stand-alone formats in 2021) and “Official Anti-Jewish Acts Throughout History,” which he started researching in 2011 and hopes to have published by 2030.

“The Case Against George W. Bush” is available online at Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Powells, Rare Bird and Amazon.

Summer Creative Writing Contest 2020: ‘Bella Gets Surprised’

By Quinn Everly Weingarten | Contributing Writer

The Palisadian-Post is running a selection of winning pieces from the 2020 Pacific Palisades Library Association’s Summer Creative Writing Contest, which featured the theme “Surprise Us!” The following piece was penned by Quinn Everly Weingarten, who was awarded second place in the Scribblers category (grades one and two).

There was a girl named Bella, and she was very sad in her life. She didn’t have any birthdays, her mom and dad didn’t buy her presents, and she never got surprised. She had been waiting all these years for a gift. Then, when she was eleven, her mom and dad said, “We have a surprise for you.” She ran downstairs as fast as she could. And then, her mom and dad gave her a box. She was really disappointed because she thought it was just something to use to organize her school supplies or her clothes. And then, she opened the box and there was a little, little blonde puppy. Ruff! Ruff-ruff! Bella screamed as loud as she could. She asked her mom and dad, “Is this real? Is this our puppy?” They said, “No, it is not our puppy.” Bella looked so disappointed. Then her parents said, “It’s not our puppy. It is YOUR PUPPY!” Bella screamed and smiled. She looked at her new dog and said, “You are my little sunshine. That’s what I will name you. Sunshine!” Bella realized that one surprise is all she ever needed.

A Warm Modern View in the Upper Rivera

1635 Casale Rd, Pacific Palisades | $17,000,000

Enter sophistication; a two-story foyer with a wall of limestone, skylights and a floating wood tread, glass rail staircase. Great room with gorgeous city views, a full bar, granite fireplace and a powder room that leads out to the rear pool/spa area. Multi-sliding doors open to an entertainment front view patio. Gourmet, modern chef’s kitchen with a large island and a butcher block seating area that is open to formal dining space and nook area. Lower level has a state-of-the-art large home theater, a climatized wine cellar and tasting area, a work out room with sauna and bathroom, a guest suite and a large laundry room. An oversized 3-car garage and ample storage completes this level. Take the 4-stop elevator to the 3rd level and hold your jaw from dropping at the panoramic view, A Master suite with large steam shower plus 3 bedrooms and an executive office complete this level. The rooftop deck has views from the Getty museum to Catalina Island.

1635 Casale Rd, Pacific Palisades | $17,000,000
1635 Casale Rd, Pacific Palisades | $17,000,000
1635 Casale Rd, Pacific Palisades | $17,000,000

address: 1635 Casale Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90402
Price: $$17,000,000
CONTACT: Eric Knight, DRE #00977963
Phone: 310.230.3700
EMAIL: ericknight@bhhscal.com

Crystal Ball Gazing

Photo courtesy of Michael Edlen

By Michael Edlen | Special to the Palisadian-Post

We have arrived at that point in time when we take a look back and ponder about the future of Pacific Palisades real estate. Though fully aware of the bizarre path the world has taken since March, this has been an astounding year in real estate.

Our profession has had to make a series of major adjustments in how we perform our work. It took several weeks to learn what was needed to remain safe, provide services within a framework that was evolving rapidly, and utilize technology to help accomplish the many activities and functions required of us.

Open houses are not possible during a pandemic, face-to-face meetings are much more difficult to arrange and coordinate safely, and the processing of escrow actions has been challenging to complete in a timely fashion.

Despite all of the hurdles in the world, we have just closed the books on an extraordinary year of buyers and sellers achieving their goals. Because interest rates have been reduced more than 12 times during last year, an increasing number of buyers have been able to succeed in purchasing a home. Correspondingly, more sellers have been able to sell their homes at record new highs.

Indeed, the buying pressure that began in earnest by June has resulted in a classic “seller’s market” environment, wherein an increasing number of buyers are entering the market at the same time that the number of homes available for purchase has declined steadily.

The net effect, as we begin the new year, is that median sale prices are higher by about 7%, with about four months of inventory at the current rate of sales. Another indication that, at least as of December, we have been in a strong seller’s market is that 40% of the Palisades homes sold over the last several months have had multiple offers and sold at full price or higher, and went into escrow within two weeks of being on the market.

So what does our crystal ball say about 2021? Let’s make a few assumptions: Interest rates are going to remain near historic lows for at least six months, the pandemic environment will be lessening both actually and psychologically, and there will not be a large increase in the number of Palisades owners who will choose to sell soon.

Given that set of assumptions, it is logical to conclude that the increasing number of buyers who can still afford the higher prices here will be paying somewhat more than what the prices were on average over the last several months.

As prices do continue to increase, however, we might anticipate that the rate of increases will steadily slow down as the year progresses. Perhaps over the course of the entire year we may see 5% appreciation rates on average.

Sellers of homes above the median level, which is now about $3.5 million, may find that the market slows down sooner. This is of particular concern because at the current rate of sales there is more than a year of inventory of homes available in the higher price ranges.

Obviously, that look at the crystal ball could easily be altered by any number of events, as this past year has shown. The market would be impacted by an unexpected increase in interest rates, which might occur if the economy shows stronger signs by mid-year.

It would also be affected if there is a slowdown in the rate of new buyers trying to purchase a home here. Conversely, the market might react due to an increase in the number of people putting their homes on the market to benefit from the all-time-high value of their home or perhaps to relocate to a more tax-friendly state.

The value of a home is always determined on an individual basis. Homes in different neighborhoods and varying price ranges have their own uniqueness.

Before deciding whether the time is right to sell or purchase a home, many other factors need to be considered, especially in times of great uncertainty such as the present.

Michael Edlen is available for no-cost and no-obligation consultations about real estate related issues and decisions. He can be reached at 310-600-7422 or michael@edlenteam.com.

Neighborhood by Neighborhood: 2020 in Review

By MICHAEL EDLEN | Special to the Palisadian-Post

A s of December 31, 2020, 75 single-family Palisades residences were listed in the Multiple Listing Service. This current level of inventory is 14% higher than last year’s December 31 available inventory (66).

A total of 251 homes were sold in the Palisades in 2020, which is 19% higher than last year.

Median sale prices were up by 6% over 2019. The median list price is at $5.95 million, which is up by 7% from the same period last year. There are currently 37 escrows open in the Palisades, which is an increase of 131% from last year at this time.

The lowest-priced residence available is a two-bedroom, two-bath home on Sunset, which is listed at $1,495,000. The highest-priced available property is an eight-bedroom, 14-bathroom on Corona Del Mar listed at $34 million.

The most affordable areas in 2020 were Lower Marquez/Bel Air Bay and the Highlands. The Riviera and Huntington Palisades continue to have the highest median average sales prices. The Riviera and Upper El Medio/Bienveneda areas currently have the largest number of homes for sale in the Palisades.

The lowest sale price for 2020 was on Avenida de Santa Ynez ($1.45 million). The highest home sale in 2020 was a newly built home on Chautauqua, which sold for $24 million.

There are 24 condominiums/townhouses on the market, which is up 9% over last year’s available inventory. They range from a one-bedroom, one-bath on Sunset being offered at $639,000 to a five-bedroom, six-bath on Tramonto Drive being offered at $4,955,000.

Sixty-eight condominiums were sold in the Palisades in 2020 (down 10%), ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bath on Sunset, which sold for $605,000, to a two-bedroom, three-bath on Sunset, which sold for $3.5 million. The median sales price for condos at the end of 2020 was $1,146,000, which is a 2% increase from the end of 2019.

There are currently six pieces of raw land available, ranging from $799,000 for 1.8 acres on Calle Bellavista to $11.9 million for nearly one acre on Sunset. Five land sales took place in 2020, ranging from a 42,000-square-foot lot on Posetano, which sold for $545,000, to a 1.5-acre hillside lot on Marquette, which sold for $8.25 million.

There are currently 58 leases in the Palisades, starting at $3,550 per month for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo on Sunset, and asking as high as $75,000 per month for a five-bedroom, six-bath house on Corona Del Mar.

There were 223 Palisades leases (12% fewer than last year) done in 2020, ranging from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo on Sunset, which leased for $2,800 per month, to a six-bedroom, six-bath home on Corona Del Mar, which leased for $90,000 per month.

Michael Edlen, an agent with Coldwell Banker, has been keeping statistics of Pacific Palisades housing prices for the last 35 years.