More houses on market: Way more, in fact, according to the latest numbers from the end of March. The L.A. area saw a 12.8 percent increase in inventory levels compared with a month earlier. Only SF comes close among the major markets, at 12.2 percent. To give you some perspective, the March inventory increase averages 1.7 percent nationwide. One explanation: sellers wanting to move over the summer are realizing that it will be tougher to unload their properties than it was a couple of years back and are putting their homes on the market sooner.
Help for evicted tenants: Out of the kindness of its collective heart, the L.A. City Council has raised the relocation fees that condo developers must shell out when they throw renters into the streets. The fees range from $6,810 to $17,080 - based on age, length of tenancy and income (several councilmembers voting against the measure wanted all tenants to receive the maximum amount). About 12,000 apartments have been converted to condos or demolished since 2001, with the Westside and Studio City taking the biggest hits. LAT
Student aid probe: Why on earth did USC's director of financial aid hold shares in a student loan company that the school recommends to student borrowers? Catherine Thomas, who is also associate dean of admission, sold 1,500 shares of stock in Education Lending Group, the former parent company of Student Loan Xpress. NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose office is investigating the relationships between student loan companies and universities, said in a letter that "students may have been left with the false impression that the company was preferred." Financial aid officers from other schools are also being investigated. NYT
Supermarket impasse: Negotiators for Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons were scheduled to fly home for the Easter weekend (the Ralphs folks are the only ones based here), so don't expect much movement until next Monday. That's when the contract extension lapses, at which point it's renewed automatically on a day-to-day basis unless one side gives 72 hours to terminate it. That could mean a strike/lockout by the end of next week. But the chains' decision to lock out their employees if the United Food & Commercial Workers Union calls a strike against any of the others may be more of a tactical move. OC Register
KB names Bollenbach chairman: He'll be non-executive chairman, which means that the L.A.-based homebuilder's heavy lifting will continue to be handled by CEO Jeffrey Mezger. Mezger replaced Bruce Karatz, who agreed to leave as chairman and CEO after an internal investigation found that he backdated his own option grants to increase his pay. Bollenbach is stepping down as CEO of Bev Hills-based Hilton Hotels at the end of the year.
Love Boat economy: Turns out that the Port of Los Angeles is the nation's fourth-busiest cruise-line port and last year provided 2,478 jobs generating more than $89 million in salaries. Those facts and figures, along with many others, are presented in a study that presents the case for a new L.A. cruise ship terminal. In the cruise business, Los Angeles trails three Florida ports — Miami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral. With a new terminal located in the outer harbor, the larger cruise ships would avoid the busy main shipping channel. LAT
Leave it to the NY Post: The paper , reporting on the Tribune tribulations, is referring to Broad and Burkle as the "B&B Dudes." I'm quite sure it's the first time Eli Broad has ever been called a dude, at least in public.