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L.a. Land

Housing on their minds

March 29, 2009|Scott Marshutz; Andrea Chang; Richard Abowitz

More than half of respondents to a recent national poll are concerned they or someone they know will face foreclosure in the coming year.

Looking further out, however, 23% said they plan to buy a home in the next five years, according to the survey commissioned by Move Inc., which owns and operates several real estate-related websites, including Realtor.com.

Other findings from the survey, conducted by OmniTel from March 6 to 8:

* 18.9% said they plan to try to use the government's program to help prevent foreclosures.

* 21% of those with a mortgage had contacted a lender within the last year to discuss restructuring their loans.

* 72% had reduced their spending on discretionary purchases, personal items, personal care and energy in the last year to pay housing costs.

The findings are based on 1,005 interviews.

-- Scott Marshutz

From: L.A. Land: The rapidly changing landscape of the Los Angeles real estate market and beyond

For more, go to latimes.com/laland

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LIVE & BUY IN L.A.

Company looking for toy tester

One lucky kid won't have to do chores around the house or sell lemonade to make money this summer.

Los Angeles-based ToyQuest is searching for candidates for "the best summer job in the world" -- a toy tester who will earn big bucks to play with some of the company's latest products.

The job pays $100 per hour and includes hotel accommodations and free round-trip airfare from the successful applicant's home state to L.A.

The tester will be expected to play with currently released toys and product samples from the company's Banzai line. Banzai toys include water slides, bouncers, water and foam blasters, sprinklers and pool toys. The tester will then report back to the ToyQuest development and creative teams.

The winner must be energetic, outgoing, creative and at least 9.

"He or she will need to discuss their impression of the toys with our team, so it is important that the candidate is a creative speaker," said Brett Bogar, vice president of product development. "The Banzai tester must have lots of energy and love the sun and water."

Bogar said that although the goal of the campaign was to find ways to improve the line of Banzai toys, the company also was looking to give back to a child and his or her family in these tough economic times.

"We are looking for a kid who not only wants to get 'paid to play,' but who really wants to do some thrilling work as well as receive a great vacation," he said. "The reality is a lot of families don't have the extra finances to travel these days."

Applications are open until May 1.

-- Andrea Chang

From: To Live and Buy in LA: Trends and tips for shoppers and savers

For more, go to latimes.com/shop

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MOVABLE BUFFET

Taxing paid sex in the Silver State

One of the oddities of Nevada is that opponents of legalized prostitution lead the fight against the state's brothels by pretending they don't exist. So, while the governor of Nevada is opposed to legal prostitution, this is expressed by a refusal to tax brothels. No, really. To express his opposition, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons isn't trying to rid Nevada of brothels; instead, he is trying to keep them from being taxed. Here is the governor quoted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal expressing his logic:

"I'm not a supporter of legalizing prostitution in Nevada. So, by taxing it, there's a recognition of the legality of it. And that's all I want to say."

Notice how in the first sentence the governor objects to "legalizing prostitution" in the state, apparently ignorant that brothels are already legal in 10 counties in Nevada. But then, in the next sentence, the governor clears things up: Yes, he understands brothels are legal and therefore he thinks the correct response is to pretend that they are not legal. In essence, taxing brothels, Gibbons implies, would ruin his ability to maintain what one literary critic called "the willful suspension of disbelief" that brothels are not legal in Nevada. Yes, this is political logic in this state.

Anyway, all of this is now an issue because a state lawmaker is proposing a $5 tax on acts of prostitution, which he estimates can bring in about $2 million a year to help with Nevada's massive budget problems.

Technically, the tax would be applied to every act of prostitution that takes place in Nevada including the illegal prostitution in Vegas. But when I reached out to two Vegas hookers who work on the wrong side of the law to ask if they would pay such a tax, both laughed. On the other hand, a spokesperson for a legal brothel, the Chicken Ranch, e-mailed me that they support the tax.

Still, the political experts say that despite the legal brothels supporting being taxed, and Nevada's money problems being so severe, this $5 tax is unlikely to happen. Here is the weird part. No one in a position of power, including the governor, is proposing making prostitution illegal in Nevada. The legal brothels are crucial support for rural counties in Nevada that depend on taxing them for a large part of their local budgets. So, instead of fighting to make prostitution illegal, opposition to legal brothels is generally expressed in Nevada by opposing any effort to tax them. Are ostriches indigenous to this desert?

-- Richard Abowitz

From: The Movable Buffet: Dispatches from Las Vegas

For more, go to latimes.com/movablebuffet

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