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Opinion | Village Trailer Park: Why the City Council Should Vote 'No'

Friends of Sunset Park President Zina Josephs argues an agreement with the Village Trailer Park developer does not protect its current residents.

The following commentary is by Zina Josephs, President of Friends of Sunset Park.

I strongly urge the Santa Monica City Council to vote "no" on the Village Trailer Park development agreement ordinance.  

The election campaign website of one of the City Council members who was re-elected on Nov. 6 states he "protected renters rights and affordable housing by voting to prevent evictions of Village Trailer Park residents." Yet on Nov. 14, eight days after the election, he voted in favor of the Village Trailer Park development agreement, which would force the eviction of the remaining Village Trailer Park residents.

See:

Lots of verbal promises were made by the developer Marc Luzzatto during public hearings concerning the Village Trailer Park development agreement. However, the only promises concerning current park residents that are actually in the Development Agreement ordinance the Council will be voting up or down on Nov. 27 are:   

The Project provides for the donation of land and the development of parking spaces for future affordable housing and the provision of 16 affordable housing units within the proposed project, of which 7 will be affordable to extremely low income households and 9 for very low income households

I.e., the developer will be eliminating 109 rent-controlled spaces in the return for building 16 affordable apartments and donating an unspecified amount of land (supposedly for the 10 existing trailers of his choice).   

Nothing in the development agreement ordinance language specifies how much land is being donated, how many trailers will be allowed to remain, how those residents will be selected, or how long they will be allowed to live there.     

The city of Santa Monica does not have a great record when it comes to enforcing Development Agreements. Examples:         

  1. St. John's Health Center promised in its 1998 Development Agreement to build a 422-space subterranean parking garage. It never built the parking structure, much to the dismay of nearby residents and, in 2011, the City Council amended the agreement, relieving St. John's of the parking requirement.
  2. "In Santa Monica, affordable-housing rental agreements are often not enforced" (Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2010):  "For decades, Santa Monica has allowed developers to add floors to their buildings or exceed other zoning restrictions in exchange for providing affordable housing to poor and moderate-income tenants. Such was the case with Dorchester House, a luxury condominium low-rise just blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Almost three decades ago, the city approved a development plan in which 15 first-floor units were earmarked as affordable housing."  But the city did not enforce the Dorchester House development agreement. In 2010, a prospective condo dweller found condo owners living in the income-restricted units instead of renting them to low- and moderate-income tenants. One rental was advertised at $2,000 per month, although the rent-control price would have been about $1,200. The city only moved to crack down on violators after threats of litigation, but nothing has been resolved—all 15 units are apparently still out of compliance.  

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Santa Monica Ex-pat November 26, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Village Trailer Park is a blight on the eastern portion of Santa Monica. The last I checked in America the land owner has the right to determine what business they want to be in. Bulldoze this eyesore and progress into the 21st Century!
Zina Josephs November 26, 2012 at 11:07 PM
As homeowners, the residents in the Village Trailer Park also have rights, and they are protected by the California Mobilehome Residency Law.
Dan Charney March 14, 2013 at 09:44 AM
'There are so many issue here that are vital- if they are allowed to take houses out from under home owners- which these are- then they have a precedent- they can do as they wish- this is a mistake that must not happen- also - cities almost always target lower income people to walk all over- they don't even care if they are knowingly breaking the law and are sued- they know it takes years- like with Lincoln Place- but there is more here- to me- the huge business parks and pretentious everything are a blight that should be torn down- this little park is quite different than many other parks of its kind- it's richly landscaped and well laid out- it has a mid-century community building that is nice- and architectural- it would be great if instead of ripping down every single thing and slapping up a ton more condos- we could let it be and restore it- maybe a well polished Airstream Village- back to it's original glory - we need some diversity in our city -I see a neglected jewel- I would love to see it shining and vibrant again- and I find it outrageous that the city or a developer can throw out 109 homeowners or renters for that matter- and provide nothing for them to go to that is comparable - this is wrong- in spirit and in reality - 20 grand buys you nothing - all these community benefits they talk about don't replace throwing people out of their communities -especially when done illegally
Zina Josephs March 14, 2013 at 02:24 PM
A City Council hearing is schleduled on March 19, 2013 to consider the revised development agreement -- a "compromise" that apparently lets the city off the hook re the developer's $50 million lawsuit, but does not seem to really protect the current Viallage Trailer Park residents.

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