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No City Council Decision Yet on Beloved Trailer Park's Fate

Santa Monica City Council hears array of opinions from 70 speakers on the future of one of the city's last remaining trailer parks. Several say they wouldn't want to be in the leaders' shoes.

Residents of Village Trailer Park will remain in limbo as the Santa Monica City Council delayed early Wednesday morning its decision on the park's fate.

Dozens flooded to object to the proposed razing and rebuilding of the park into a 378,500-square-foot residential and commercial development, while a smaller number expressed support. Mayor Richard Bloom estimated a total of 70 individuals spoke during a hearing that lasted until 12:40 a.m.

"It’s going to be difficult—if not impossible—to complete this tonight," said Bloom.

The council's discussion of the project will resume Aug. 28. A decision is not expected that evening either.

Councilman Kevin McKeown indicated that at that meeting, he wants to look more closely at Santa Monica-based architect Ron Goldman's plan for a smaller development that would preserve a section of the park with 58 trailers.

A proposal from nonprofit housing corporation Residents Owned Park, Inc. to have the trailer owners purchase a smaller portion of the park for $1.5 million might also get more council vetting. So might concerns raised by many in the community who questioned why city staffers have brought the development project, called "The East Village," to the council without first completing the Bergamot Area Plan.

The plan will assess parking and traffic near the neighboring , which is poised to undergo a transformation with the arrival of the Expo Light Rail in 2016. A number of other big developments are proposed next to the arts campus.

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In its most recent iteration, the plan calls for 438 residential units, 5,080 square feet of ground floor creative office space and 20,960 square feet of ground floor retail outlets.

Village Trailer Park is home to fewer than 60 residents, many of whom are elderly and disabled. They have known since 2006 that the park owners intend to boot the trailers, but some have held out hope that the city or courts might intervene.

Speakers who don’t live in the park but spend time in the area said they are eager to see restaurants and shops rise out of "the concrete jungle" on the eastern edge of town, where there's few such options.

"Change is hard but can be a good thing and we should not be afraid of it," said a woman who operates a daycare from her home in the neighborhood.

A few said they weren't envious of the council's position. They said the final decision, whichever the outcome would in essence be a lose-lose.

In exchange for building beyond what’s permitted in the city's zoning codes, developer Village Trailer Park, LLC. is required to sign an agreement with the city that guides construction and also includes a number of benefits to the community, such as:

  • The construction of two new streets;
  • A $1.85 million payment to improve infrastructure in the neighborhood;
  • A $350,000 contribution to a trust fund that would provide services for seniors, disabled, and families with children—particularly those living in Village Trailer Park.

At 2930 Colorado Ave., just east of 26th Street, the park was built in 1951, and was originally one of 11 trailer parks in Santa Monica, according to ICF International, a consultant hired by the city to assess the site's historical value. It is now just one of two.

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The city is required by law to ensure those who are displaced find adequate housing in another mobile home park, likely in Santa Monica.

Developer Mark Luzzatto of Village Trailer Park LLC has worked out a relocation package with city staffers that his supporters called "generous." Some of the options that could be available to residents include having the developer buy new trailers at Mountain View; paying for the difference in rent at a temporary apartment during construction for up to five years, with a relocation into new rent-controlled units at the East Village; paying rent differential for up to four years if residents relocate to conventional rental housing.

Still, it seemed as if no amount would be acceptable to some speakers Tuesday who consider the park to be an irreplaceable piece of Santa Monica history.

"Losing this unique housing is a detriment to city’s affordable housing stock, which is between apartments and condos," said speaker Ellen Hannan.

"This is for young people without families... who will grow up and move on with no vested interest in Santa Monica," said Mid-City Neighbors board member Nancy Morse.

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Editor's Note: This story was udpated at 11:21 with the correct spelling of Nancy Morse's name.

christopher d walton July 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Save Village Trtailer Park! Just say NO to more concrete, condos, and traffic...
Brenda Barnes July 25, 2012 at 08:38 PM
People who came into this mess late do not realize Santa Monica has conspired since 2007 with developer Luzzatto to close this trailer park. Ignoring all protections of law—City, state, federal, and Constitutions—they bulldozed over 40 homes without permits and coerced people into “selling” their trailers for as little as $1. See www.occupysm.com. Until yesterday, all we had ever been offered for homes people OWN was rental housing. Luzzatto finally offered to buy some new homes, only for low-income people who would move to Mountain View, which although only 5-6 blocks away, is inferior on any objective standards. E.g., we have about 300 trees in a very quiet set back park. MV is barely landscaped, on a former landfill by the 10 freeway and City yards. No one ever received an offer for what the law requires: adequate replacement space in a mobilehome park for ourselves and our mobilehomes. Therefore, we will sue and win against Luzzatto. He came here knowing 109 families OWNED homes and were protected from eviction by rent control. He never even applied for rent increases and now pretends the Park, which had paid its bills for 56 years, is "not feasible." We will win against the City too, since only corruption could cause this to be approved. All help from anyone who really wants to save the last chance for low-cost home ownership here is appreciated. We meet in our community room, 2930 Colorado, Sundays 3 to 6 p.m. for potluck and dividing up work.
sandra smith July 26, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Oh ya, that's all Santa Monica needs.....MORE TRAFFIC.....more apartments.....more people.....more polution.....more,more,more!!!!!!! Let's hear it for development!!!!
RJ July 26, 2012 at 08:21 PM
......the level and amount of "development" that has been allowed in the downtown area has only caused more gridlock that will not go away just because a Metro station will be "planted" at 4th & Colorado. Wasn't someone on the City's legal team an attorney that specialized in representing developers? Don't know how any more traffic can be stuffed on to Lincoln Blvd., 4th Street, Olympic Blvd., etc. If there ever is a major crisis affecting the City after 6 am on any given day we would be unable to evacuate or allow emergency vehicles to get in with the normal gridlock let alone with panicked drivers on top of it all.
Rebecca A. Anderson July 27, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I don't know a whole lot about this particular case. However, people who have had their home in one particular spot for a long time if they are comfortable there, and especially if they are Seniors find it particularly greivious to have
Rebecca A. Anderson July 27, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I don't know a whole lot about this particular case. However, people who have had their home in one particular spot for a long time if they are comfortable there, and especially if they are Seniors find it particularly greivious to have
Rebecca A. Anderson July 27, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Oh no, my So-called Smart Phone? Sent my message before I was ready.. ...anyway, these people are in trouble to have to move, Babyboomers only want peace, in my opinion, heeding Kevin McKeown's input is good, if you have ever had to live under the poverty level in this area and now have to find a new place to live after many years, it is very awful.

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