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Trailer Park Development Approved Without Condos

The Santa Monica City Council votes 4-3 in favor of developing one of Santa Monica's last remaining mobile home parks with 377 apartments, but no condominiums.

Village Trailer Park, one of two remaining mobile home parks in Santa Monica, will be converted into a large apartment complex with 377 units and ground-floor retail under a new development agreement approved 4-3 Tuesday night by the City Council.

Opinions on the dais differed about whether the new plan, which does not contain any condominiums, will actually make the project more affordable to future residents. The approval comes as city officials try to persuade private developers to build more "workforce" and family housing, in part to cutback on gridlock caused by commuters.

Under the new Village Trailer Park development agreement—which requires a second vote before it is officially adopted—38 of the 377 apartments will be deed restricted to tenants with "very low" and "extremely low" incomes. An earlier plan restricted 16 of 161 apartments to tenants with "very low" and "low" incomes. There would have also been 216 condos.

Also under the new plan, a small section of the park, enough for 10 of the existing 105 trailers, will remain open under the ownership of the current property owner and developer, Marc Luzzatto. He has the option to shut it down in as soon as five years.

It is "highly probably we will seek to redevelop that parcel," Luzzatto said.

In the earlier plan, Luzzatto agreed to donate the parcel, valued at $2.5 million, to the city so it could retain the 10 trailer pads.

Tuesday's vote was 4-3 with councilmen Tony Vazquez, Kevin McKeown and Ted Winterer dissenting. McKeown and Winterer said the new plan is "arguably worse."

"We're getting a few more units, but with residual parcel, it’s a worse deal," Winterer said.

But maybe this time, the agreement will actually stick.

In December, the council rescinded its approval of an earlier deal with Luzzatto and re-opened negotiations in the hopes of securing more affordable housing at the site. The changes made to the agreement over the past few months swayed Gleam Davis' opinion Tuesday night.

"The shift to an all rental project increases the affordability," she said. "In this day and age... asking a young person... to save up $100,000 to purchase a condo makes that prohibitively expensive."

There were more than a handful of young adults who spoke at Tuesday's meeting to urge the council to approve the agreement, which requires the developer to reach out to nearby employers, such as those at the Colorado Center and Lionsgate Entertainment, when renting the units.

"The project is exactly what the city needs… we desperately need more housing," said Luzzatto, who is a Santa Monica resident. Referring to the earliest of plans submitted to the city, he said the project used to have a much larger commercial component, which could have generated more traffic. It is now 93 percent residential.

In addition to the 38 deed restricted units, 99 have to be rent-controlled at current market rates, according to the plan. "That's also a benefit," Davis said.

A recent study done by the city found only 45 percent of workers in the Bergamot area—which encompases the trailer park—could afford to rent a home in Santa Monica and just 19 percent could afford to buy a condo. One percent could afford to purchase a single family home.

At 2930 Colorado Ave., just east of 26th Street, Village Trailer Park was built in 1951. It was originally one of 11 trailer parks in Santa Monica, providing residents an inexpensive option for home ownership—but is now just one of two.

In the summer of 2006, the park owners announced their intent to close the park, a community described by its residents—many of whom are elderly—as tight-knit, void of crime and altogether irreplaceable. Not wanting to lose their homes, some have fought the plans for development.

SEE ALSO:

Trailer Park Developer Sues City for $50 Million

New Council Cans Approval of Trailer Park Development

New Condos at Trailer Park Get Final Council Approval—With a Twist

How Much New Traffic Will Trailer Park Development Generate?

Trailer Park Denied Landmark Designation

Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 12:05 AM
So true. The Council pretends to believe lie after lie when it gives an excuse to take $3-5 million for them to waste on things like $55 million for two blocks of park in front of City Hall. That to benefit Village at SM, 300 luxury condos they approved next door with little green space. Every development they try to make up for mistakes of the last 10. All of which make gridlocked traffic, but there is no improvement in that existing problem. If one new car trip a day happens from 377 units, 278 more than are there now--and who believes there won't be many more than 1???--that will make things worse. You can't make things better by making them worse, no matter how you try to spin it. Underneath it all, of course, hardly mentioned and little noticed, is the last low-income home ownership opportunity in SM would be destroyed. I really don't care how many pie-in-the-sky maybes they want to put in front of me--taking my home away is deprivation of property without just compensation. If they can do it to me, they can--and will, just give them a few years to think of a spin for it--do it to other home owners.
Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Thank you so much for your support, Martha. You're so right in your hunch, too. There may be personal graft. I know people on the Council in the past, employees, their spouses, sons, and others related to them, have gotten jobs, political posts, board memberships, and consultancies that are far more lucrative than they had before they let all this development happen. Current members rightly figure the revolving door will swing to help their futures too. It's hard to show a direct connection, since it's not cash in a paper bag and an actual promise to vote for the donor's project--no one outside Illinois or Louisiana seems to be that dumb anymore. The worse thing is they just do what developers--who supported them in the last local election to the tune of most of $1.2 million spent--want, and no one can figure out why. It makes people crazy spending a lot of effort trying to figure it out. I say it's just like a cheating husband--it doesn't really matter why, it's what is being done that matters. What we are going to do about it is all we should spend our time and effort on.
Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 12:33 AM
They did four EIRs about this, none of which was even close to covering what the law requires. The most interesting thing was the two proposed huge developments to the west of us--which, by the way, are on industrial land the proposers of development own completely, with no one else having any ownership rights or being covered by rent control, so would have plenty "workforce" and "affordable" housing if that were really going to happen, without taking away homes 109 families owned here--are on dangerous liquefaction land not as dangerous as the VTP land. Their EIRs have hundreds of pages about liquefaction and what mitigation measures have to be taken. In four EIRs, and even after wqe discovered it and pointed it out, the EIR for VTP has absolutely not one word about liquefaction. That tells you two things. One, the City Council cares nothing about the environment. To them EIRs are just a check-the-box procedural step they have to go through. Second, nothing proposed for the VTP is really intended to be built, so that is why it could go from half creative office to all housing and then from two-thirds condos to no condos and from building with 109 units to replace the ones taken away being built first so no one had to move to approving the DA without any provision at all for over 49 families to have any replacement housing--and still, the votes were always 4-3 to approve, with just a little delay about how much affordable housing needed to be in the replacement.
Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 12:34 AM
The result is not even just arguably worse. It is the worst yet by so far one cannot count the ways. That does not matter because nothing proposed was ever going to be built. No, all that they ever really planned was we would be gone and the land speculator would sell vacant land with all necessary permits for $20 million more than he paid and pay the City $5 million for letting him do that. Then they would "discover" a liquefaction problem and adjust what the new buyer would really build.
Henry Hall March 21, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Our City is becoming another sewer for developers to come in and ruin our lives, take their profits and run like hell to the next place they destroy.
Dan Charney March 21, 2013 at 01:28 AM
Bravo- agree
Dan Charney March 21, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Becoming? Done deal- only way to to dead stop it- laws are being over-looked here too - this is how money plays
Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 02:40 AM
I wonder why people who own homes don't see this is about them, too. Especially those who own condos, who don't own all the land, and ones with condos in highrises where they don't own any land. I lived near Palm Springs for three years,where half of the land is leased from a first nations' tribe given every other section back when it was worthless desert. Million-dollar houses and shopping areas are built on that land. No one would dream the owners of the buildings have no rights. So if people think they even have the right to have an opinion about it, when it is my home we're talking about--especially when I'm not even being compensated for any value of my home, not even scrap metal or what I paid for it, but that's a different issue--then let's let me have an opinion about whether the highest and best use is being made of the land their home is on. After all, you pay property taxes on that home, and the City can have a 2/3 majority decide to raise taxes on just 109 of your houses so high that you could not afford to live there. Then would you know people's homes are their castles? Would you think rental housing at five times the price with one-tenth of the amenities was a good trade? I don't think rental housing of any type, not a mansion for free, is a trade for something I've told my granddaughter since she can remember will be hers when she grows up. Everyone knows the difference between owning and renting, so don't kid me if you say you don't.
Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 03:00 AM
The 38 low-income units would be one-third of the people's income, whatever that is. But the land where we are, and the housing services required under rent control to be provided, rent for average $425 a month, and that is no matter what your income is. You don't have to have your privacy invaded by disclosing your income and assets every year. That's the deal we made when we paid in some cases $149,000 for homes here. So 38 families get completely rental housing, no ownership rights, 325 square feet in a highrise, with no parking, no iconic mid-Century community room that seats 50, no library, no Olympic size pool to share with only 109 families, no common BBQ area with deck to seat 100 more, no two common bathrooms with hot water showers, no free water to their unit, no yard of any kind, much less a private one where they can sunbathe in the nude if they want, no private entryway where they can dash out to get the paper in their pjs, and up to three common walls where we have none with anyone. This is all why we are fighting so hard. Anyone with any sense would have known not to offer us nothing in return for this, the relocation choices we have been given being the same ones available to apt dwellers with none of these things or rights. And then we get to the current residents who don't qualify as low-income. They have the choice of the same 325 sq ft apt described, for $1500 a month. I ask you, who could have imagined this was OK?
Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 03:18 AM
Lest one think the land owners were not making a fair return with our rents that low and the services that great, I was a real estate investor for years before I went to law school, and represented landlords applying for rent increases under SM Rent Control, who had to tell me their income and expenses to do that. I know how to figure out what the owners were making. At full occupancy before they stopped renting vacant units in about 1997, the net profit on this Park was $500,000 a year. The former owner was a caregiver who in the 1960s or 70s was willed the property by a patient she cared for, I hear from people here who knew her. She was here every day, and having been interred during WWII herself, told people repeatedly that they had homes here "forever." When her son inherited it from her, I hear he came here once a month, driven by a driver, spoke to no one, and spent less than half an hour picking up the rent from the manager. Honestly, you couldn't make up this story if you were a very imaginative scriptwriter, and if you did, no one would believe it. So how fair was $500,000 a year on this property?
Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 06:10 AM
BTW, the "young adults" referred to are the same shills Luzzatto had at five hearings. We're going to put a video on YouTube of them all saying the same words--it will be hilarious. Those 25 people at the beginning of hearings--apparently he believes massing them all together is impressive, but what it really is is obvious shilldom, or maybe they all wanted to get done, get paid, and leave--said the most outrageous things. Like since they were born or work in SM, they would like to live here. It's bad enough they cross the street in packs paying no attention, teetering on 6-inch heels, texting, and talking on cell phones. Now they think they should get to move us out of our homes too! If I were going to mention them--without indicating they all said the same things and spoke for Luzzatto--I would point out the "young adults" were an average of about 40 years younger than residents whose homes they were talking about bulldozing. Who cares what 20 somethings think about housing in SM? When I was a 20-something, I bought the house I could afford, sold it after a few years and a lot of work and got a better one in a better neighborhood. They will have to do the same, or never own a home. I did not start out owning, or even renting, in one of the most expensive neighborhoods on Earth. If they think they should be able to, I don't want such entitled-feeling people anywhere near. Typical of Luzzatto, though, to think stage creatures added enlightenment. .
JohnCySmith.com March 21, 2013 at 09:02 AM
Sad. And a raw deal for the many good people who live there. Big profits for the developer. Three Council members stood with the residents, four sided with the developer. Hopefully this vote will not be forgotten...
Dan Charney March 21, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Forgotten? At the least. Fought and stopped is what we need to work for. This must not happen.
Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Davis will say in the next election—when really most people will have forgotten details, which is why they moved so quickly after the election to approve so much, since it will be almost four years from now when they run again—that she voted to delay this to get residents a better deal and that was done. Never will she admit unless someone is there who knows and is able to pin her down, that she has now voted five times to close the Park. The Council wanted this development to happen so they could get $3-5 million in developer fees and increased revenue from higher property taxes. That is the only way they know to run the City. That is why they approve every development. They also know the revolving door will guarantee good futures for them if they do what Big Money wants. What are a bunch of old trailer park residents going to do for their children and spouses and themselves? Give them jobs, consultancies, board memberships, contracts the way developers do? No. Follow the money. That is the entire explanation. Deputy City Attorney Allen Seltzer told the Planning Commission at the meeting May 23, 2012 that the Council agreed in 2007 to close the Park. The MOU they signed then says so. We got numerous letters from the City and visits from employees including Seltzer and Rent Control Board Administrator Tracy Condon telling us the Council had decided already. To act like they just decided it is pure hypocrisy, lying to the public to put it more bluntly.
Brenda Barnes March 21, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Davis is the worst b/c she's a Harvard-educated lawyer and knows better. She uses that pedigree to get elected and seem like the voice of reason on the Council, but when she needs an excuse, falls back on the old City Attorney gave us legal advice, we had to follow it excuse. When I sue people, I sue the individuals first. They need to know I am going after them, not just the City. They have personal responsibility for what they do. The other three are just Developers' Lapdogs, predictable votes not worth discussing. The voters should learn from this and get rid of O'Day, Holbrook, and O'Connor, too. The public keeps commenting about losing Norms and Lincoln Blvd months after the story broke. There seems to be a critical mass against all of this development, even though they got misled at the last election by their SMRR cheat sheets, not realizing three of the four same candidates developers recommended were recommended by SMRR. Things have changed on all sides. Maybe the public will have a memory of what really happened this time, and take back control of the City from developers and their DL Council.
Dan Charney March 22, 2013 at 12:18 AM
One would think Gleam Davis -being a lawyer should be held to a far higher standard as should the City Attorney's office- knowingly violating the law, much less against the vulnerable who have rights- should hold serious consequences- they should all be disbarred for it
Brenda Barnes March 22, 2013 at 05:05 AM
They have gone after plenty of people without cause, so again, as always, what goes around comes around. However, my motivations are pure here. I just want my granddaughter to have a home in SM forever, the way I bought it for her, when her father was only 16, long before she was born, in 1986. I also want the other residents of the Park to have what they invested to get with reasonable and legal expectations, whenever they did. My oldest neighbor, next door, in in his late 80s or 90s and served in the Navy, then came to SM and bought this home b/c his four Navy buddies live here, maybe 30 or 40 years ago, I don't know b/c he can't hear and he doesn't understand me well, so we can't communicate. I do know enough about his story to know you can't just uproot people who own their homes and have been here for decades, just b/c the City and a wannabe want to make a bunch of money. People have rights that must be honored. That is what the Constitution entitles us to, and I believe in legality. I believe justice will prevail, if people keep fighting for it long enough.
Frank Fields March 22, 2013 at 06:06 AM
I'm coming around to that conclusion myself. I sincerely regret my vote for Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day. And for this voter, SMRR has some 'splainin' to do!!
Brenda Barnes March 22, 2013 at 07:50 AM
Very well put, Frank. Without SMRR endorsing three of the four candidates developers did, we would not have a DL Council. There were good people running, all brought out b/c of dismay at the overdevelopment the Bloom Council started. But SMRR sold out long ago. It has an incestuous board-crossing relationship with Community Corp, a non-profit that supposedly protects affordable housing by buying up apt buildings, but the truth is they rent only to people who could get apts on their own. It's a total rip-off organization, which the City shuttles money and clients to, no telling what other corruption is there (which we will find out in discovery in the VTP lawsuits), and now SMRR has become that, too. I think that's what happens when people decide the end justifies the means. SMRR went along with development to get "more apts" after state law changed and the Council let developers build all these 5-story bldgs, so people kept demolishing rent-controlled bldgs. SMRR figured there would be no apts if they didn't have market-rent ones. I say so what? If we are going to have market rents, what is the point? And now Community Corp is co-developer with the biggest developer in the US of Village at SM (now called Ocean Avenue South, according to the sign in front on Main St), a 300-condo luxury development where there was no development at all. More and more traffic, more and more rich people pushing out the poor, and SMRR and Community Corp sponsored it.
SMresident007 March 22, 2013 at 05:48 PM
Why do you all feel entitled to lease your land in perpetuity? Any investments made on structures permanently affixed to your property was not forced upon you. Investments are just that,investments, which have the ability to decrease in value or reach their economic obsolescence. I feel for the seniors and residents of VTP, but over the years it seems like the developer has acted within his rights as a business man and property owner to maximize his return on investment on what he sees as the highest and best use.
Dan Charney March 22, 2013 at 08:33 PM
The developer, the city and the city attorney's office have violated so many 'rights' that its frightening- these are not renters= these are "homeowners' - just like you or anyone else- they simply live on leased land- as many in California do- no one - including the city has the right to throw anyone off their land except for serious highwway construction or other major situations - of which this is not- it's simple- it's illegal- everyone who buys a home probably wouldn't if they were told they would be thrown off so some land developer can flip land- it's the people who own homes there that have rights - not the developer- it's an illegal deal the city should never have entered into - and why again do they feel they have the right to lease in perpetuity ? Because those were the terms they bought under- to say you "feel" for them is absurd- you do not care one bit- but you sure would if they came for your house or that of your property-
SMresident007 March 22, 2013 at 09:21 PM
I think if any of these "homeowners" could furnish a deed to the land their dwellings are affixed to we would not be having this thread. If the city did "take" their land in eminent domain, there is due process for that as well. No one is "throwing" anyone off their land. They are following due process over several years and different layers of city municipalities to achieve common goals. I sympathize with these folks, but as a tenant, they must play the hand they are dealt and attempt to make the most of it. If anyone has gripes over this process they should be screaming at the city and not the business man/developer. The developer has showed patience and consistency throughout several years of give and take with the city. Luzzatto is a man of his word and integrity and I challenge any VTP resident to sit down with him one and one and say otherwise.
Dan Charney March 22, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Yes they are - and they have not followed any due process which if you were a lawyer and knew this sort of law and it's precedent you would know- please- express your joy at losing the park- but stop pretending you care about the residents losing their homes- be who you really are
Brenda Barnes March 22, 2013 at 10:26 PM
I am so glad you asked why we feel entitled to lease our land in perpetuity, SMresident007. We feel entitled because we are. 109 spaces at 2930 Colorado were registered with the Rent Control Board in 1979. Not one of those has ever been removed from rent control. State laws allowing raising rents upon voluntary vacancy and going out of the rental housing business both explicitly state they do not apply to mobilehome parks. This means as long as rent control lasts in SM—in perpetuity, as of today—we are entitled to lease space there and have all the rights and privileges residents—called homeowners under the Mobilehome Residency (state) Law—had on April 10, 1978, the base date for SM Rent Control. It also means we are, as all tenants covered by rent control are, protected from eviction except for a list of good causes given in the City Charter. None of those is changing the use of the land, unless it is condemned, which it has not been. After we filed a billion dollar claim against the City for all the wrongs they have committed in a criminal conspiracy with Luzzatto, the proposed developer, already, you can be assured they will not try that trick.
Brenda Barnes March 22, 2013 at 10:38 PM
One could also argue under Measure RR, passed by the voters in Nov 2010 and now also, along with Rent Control, part of the City Charter, any renter in SM has the same protections (unless state law preemption exists). In Nash v. City of Santa Monica (1984) 37 Cal.3d 97, 108, the California Supreme Court upheld power of the Rent Control Board to keep properties as rental properties unless owners qualify for and in advance obtain a removal permit. Luzzatto has three times applied for such a permit and withdrawn. I have a lawsuit pending against the RCBd showing it has no jurisdiction to give a removal permit for the property. That suit, filed Dec 24, 2012, is Case No. SC 11945 in LA Superior Court if you are interested in details. The suit is also at www.occupysm.com/resouces. You might also be interested in knowing about the argument Luzzatto made in 2006 when he gave us eviction notices and has continued to claim all these years--that he has a right to close the Park without any local permits because state law preempts the local law. The very same property owner still a partner with Luzzatto made that very same argument and lost at the RCBoard, the Superior Court, and the Court of Appeal levels. Therefore, the ONLY party involved in the issue to date who has absolutely no right to do anything with the land other than continue to rent it to 109 homeowners covered by rent control or sell to some other party who will, is the nominal owner on the deed.
Brenda Barnes March 22, 2013 at 11:00 PM
The argument you make about investments not entitling investors to anything unless it comes from something else certainly applies to Luzzatto. He bought into a rent-controlled property knowing there were 109 separate homeowners he had not made any agreement with or with the RC Board (not that he could under the law make one with the RCB, as indicated in my suit referred to above). Therefore, any investments he made, such as negative cash flow from not renting out spaces when people moved, were just investments on the chance that he could get all approvals needed later. He is not entitled to any of his money back. The situation was the same when rent control first became City Charter law in 1979, and some owners were in the process of converting property from rental to condominiums or demolishing. If they had what the law calls a "vested" right to continue, they could do so, regardless of the fact the new law prohibited what they were doing. However, if their right to continue was deemed to have been not vested when the law passed, any expenditures they made after that--knowing the property would not be allowed to be converted under the new law--were expenditures made--as gamblers say in craps--"on the come," on the chance that they would be allowed by the Board interpreting the law to continue. In the same way, investments homeowners made in their homes before 2006 could not have been knowing their legal right to get investments back would be taken away later.
Brenda Barnes March 22, 2013 at 11:02 PM
We have caught him in numerous lies. He would never meet with us one on one. That is why we present the evidence of his lies, cheating, and thefts of trailers from old and vulnerable people in public. He brought it on himself.
Brenda Barnes March 23, 2013 at 04:36 AM
Well put, Danielle. To say nothing of how courageous it is to kick out old people from homes they invested in and claim some inherent right in land ownership to do that--when it doesn't exist--and then not even have the courage to use your real name. I see the shill words. "Fair and reasonable" and "patient" were in every single shill speech. Five hearings' worth. Irrelevant every time they said it, but that's their story and they stuck to it. Nothing else to say, when you have no rights under applicable law.
Brenda Barnes March 23, 2013 at 04:37 AM
The billion dollar claim was filed against the City.
SMTruthSeeker April 06, 2013 at 04:02 PM
How is it Brenda Barnes, that when I view the video from the city council meeting, several residents either gave testimony, or asked others to give testimony on their behalf that they were ready to move and they feel Marc Luzzatto has treated them MORE than fairly, and yet you imply that the entire resident community feels the same as you? How is it that, when I read the presentation provided by the city, that there are no less than 8 OPTIONS to assist residents in their move? How is it, when I read those options, that you say you are not being provided equitable value for your home, when, in one of the options, A NEW HOME WILL BE PURCHASED FOR YOU if your home is too old to be moved off the land you LEASE? Please explain the bias that seems evident in your posts. Also, while you're at it, please provide proof of your claims of 'personal graft' against the developer and the stated city council members. You are an attorney. Surely you understand the terms libel and slander? Libel: "a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression" Defame: "to harm the reputation by libel or slander" Unjust: "characterized by injustice: Unfair". To make claims of personal graft without documented proof matches the definitions pretty well. I have personally gone through the transition facing the current residents and I would have been SO grateful to have had ONE Mr. Luzzato's offers to consider!

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