Real Estate newsletter: Rams star Aaron Donald lists home turf

Welcome back to the Real Estate newsletter. This week, we saw two of L.A.’s most notable athletes make housing moves.

The first is Aaron Donald, who’s shopping around his Calabasas mansion for $6.25 million just a few months after leading the Rams to a Super Bowl victory. Donald’s timing is curious, since retirement rumors have been swirling and the three-time defensive player of the year has yet to confirm whether or not he’s returning to the team next year. Let the speculation commence.

The second is basketball star Lonzo Ball, who moved from his hometown mansion in Chino Hills to buy a new place in Sherman Oaks for $7.25 million. At 6,200 square feet, it’s a bit smaller than the 16,000-square-foot mega-mansion he shared with his family back in Chino Hills, but the property comes with an ADU.

If you’re looking for something a bit more attainable, we profiled a couple who got fed up spending all their money on renting an illegally subdivided dwelling plagued by mold and mice in Echo Park. The story has a happy ending, however: they’ve since moved into a garage-turned-ADU in Eagle Rock. It’s the latest example of a trend that’s becoming common as California eases its ADU laws to make them more accessible.

Speaking of renting, we took another look at the ever-changing rent freeze regulations, which seem to expire or update every few months since the pandemic started. Most L.A. tenants should be protected for another year, but we checked the fine print to make a complicated policy a little bit clearer.

We also got a big investigation this week from Napa, where Evan Halper explored a billionaire’s program that was originally pitched to help the poor. You can probably guess the ending. In a tale as old as time, the rich have exploited the program for tax breaks to fund and renovate luxury high-rises and high-end hotels while struggling towns that the program promised to help have been left behind.

Before we get into the stories, a quick plug for the Great SoCal House Hunt, our step-by-step guide to buying your first home in Southern California. The package is an invaluable resource if you’re getting into this market this spring or summer.

While catching up on the latest, visit and like our Facebook page, where you can find real estate stories and updates throughout the week.

Rumors swirl as Rams star lists home

Set on an acre, the private compound includes a 7,000-square-foot home, basketball court, billiards room and swimming pool.

Set on an acre, the private compound includes a 7,000-square-foot home, basketball court, billiards room and swimming pool.

(Jeff Elson)

After weighing retirement in the offseason, Rams star Aaron Donald and his wife, Erica, are shopping around their custom Calabasas estate for $6.25 million.

The listing arrives two months after Donald helped the Rams win the Super Bowl in a dominant performance that left some wondering whether he would return the following season. The three-time defensive player of the year recently confirmed that he’s been in talks with the team but hasn’t yet publicly announced a return.

Set on nearly an acre, the 7,036-square-foot mansion is found in the Oaks of Calabasas, a guard-gated, star-studded neighborhood with other celebrity residents over the years including Katie Holmes and Bret Michaels. Six bedrooms and seven bathrooms are spread across the two-story floor plan, which also includes a step-down lounge, open-concept kitchen and self-contained guest quarters.

The star defender has an eye for decorating as well. Listing photos show that Donald made a few aesthetic changes during his stay, bringing sleek shades of gray to the living spaces and adding a barbershop.

Ball brother makes off-court move

Newly built, the modern residence comes with a two-car garage that's been converted into an ADU.

Newly built, the modern residence comes with a two-car garage that’s been converted into an ADU.

(Hilton & Hyland)

Chicago Bulls star Lonzo Ball is making his way to L.A., shelling out $7.25 million for a newly built house in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Sherman Oaks.

It’s a westward move for the point guard, who grew up in Chino Hills and became a star at Chino Hills High School before spending a year at UCLA and being drafted by the Lakers in 2017.

Shortly after being drafted, he spent $5.2 million on a 16,000-square-foot Chino Hills mansion, which became the headquarters for his basketball-centric family. His father, LaVar Ball, called it the “best house in an 80-mile radius.”

Ball’s latest purchase comes about a year after he inked a four-year deal with the Bulls worth $85 million. At 6,200 square feet, it’s a bit smaller than his previous place but comes with an accessory dwelling unit in case LaVar or his brother (and fellow NBA star) LaMelo come visit.

An ADU success story in Eagle Rock

ADU in Eagle Rock, Rt, is a very simple garage conversion with two bedrooms, one bathroom, a full kitchen and living room.

This ADU in Eagle Rock is a simple garage conversion with two bedrooms, one bathroom, a full kitchen and living room that was built in 2018-19 for $300,000.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Six years after meeting as students at UC Berkeley, Nadine Levyfield and Charlie Marshak were excited to reconnect romantically in Los Angeles as professionals. Their enthusiasm for the L.A. life faded a bit, however, after moving into their first apartment together in Echo Park, writes Lisa Boone.

“We were spending all of our money on rent,” Levyfield says of the 100-year-old Craftsman she describes as an illegally subdivided dwelling that was plagued by mold, poor ventilation and mice.

That all changed when they moved into a two-bedroom, 825-square-foot ADU that had been a garage used by Levyfield’s mother as a workshop.

Built over three and a half months in 2019 for approximately $300,000, the ADU retains the rectangular shell of the garage along with its dramatic exposed beams. Ample windows and skylights create a sunny and bright environment for Levyfield’s abundant tropical houseplants, with lovely views of the expansive backyard and shady pergola where the family has gathered for parties.

Will your rent rise?

Katie Falkenberg  Los Angeles Times ORGANIZERS WITH advocacy group Housing Long Beach hang a sign.

Organizer with Housing Long Beach hang a sign in the courtyard of a Cedar Avenue apartment complex last year. The California Legislature narrowly passed a bill to limit rent hikes statewide, the result of a deal brokered by the governor.

(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Most Los Angeles tenants are protected from any rent increases at their apartments until at least spring 2023. But the rules are confusing and hard to follow, writes Liam Dillon.

Here’s how to tell if you qualify for the freeze on rent hikes and what regulations remain that may shield you from eviction.

Program meant for poor helps the rich

Opportunity zones were supposed to encourage investment in low-income communities.

Opportunity zones were supposed to encourage investment in low-income communities. But billionaires are building luxury hotels and high-rises instead.

Billions of dollars’ worth of tax breaks for the wealthy are being generated by the Opportunity Zone program, often in pursuit of luxury high-rises, high-end hotels and swank office space. It has subsidized hulking self-storage units nestled alongside freeways and upmarket apartments for employees of the hottest Bay Area tech firms, writes Evan Halper.

One thing the tax break has fallen short on: creating opportunities in low-income communities.

“This has been perverted into a huge gift for people who did not need it,” said Aaron Seybert, managing director of social investment at the Kresge Foundation, which has found it difficult to put the tax break to work toward its effort to bring opportunity to America’s struggling communities.

“They are spending my money and yours. They said they would do that because these low-income areas are falling behind and they want to help people who live there,” Seybert said.

What we’re reading

Home prices in Canada have soared more than 50% in the last two years, and the government is taking an aggressive approach to curb the trend: banning foreigners from buying houses for two years. Bloomberg has the story.

Eyeing a project? Forbes looked into the renovations that add enough value that the entire cost would be recovered if the home is eventually sold. Prime examples include refinishing hardwood floors, upgrading the insulation and adding a new roof or garage door.