22 Aug 2014
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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.

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

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.

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