THE SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL has approved a plan that will close 99 of the 109 trailer spaces at the Village Trailer Park for the construction of 377 residential units and up to 24,940 square feet of ground floor retail.

Residents of the Village Trailer Park in Santa Monica have been given a sense of closure after years of uncertainty regarding the future of their development.
Most of the remaining residents will move away from their homes at one of the city’s last two trailer parks after the City Council voted Nov. 14 to certify the final environmental impact report and approve the development agreement for a mixed-use project at the site. Under the project, 99 of the 109 trailer spaces will be closed at Village Trailer Park, 2930 Colorado Ave., for the construction of 377 residential units, including 161 apartments and 216 condominiums, and up to 24,940 square feet of ground floor retail.
The redevelopment of the 3.85-acre mobile home property has been the subject of controversy since plans were first announced in 2006 due to the resulting relocation of residents, many of whom are longtime tenants and some of whom are elderly. The park, which opened in 1951, currently has about 36 full-time residents and those who have lived there spoke of the sense of close-knit community it offers.
The project has undergone several iterations over the years and after the latest revision this past summer, the developer chose to retain 10 spaces on the eastern edge of the park, while reducing the number of residential units from 438 to 377 and the total floor area from 378,450 square feet to 341,290. For tenants who were forced to move, developer Mark Luzzatto has offered to purchase new manufactured homes at the city’s other mobile home park, Mountain View, in addition to other relocation options.
“We’ve gone well beyond the call of duty in providing reasonable costs of relocation in connection with the closure,” said Luzzatto, who told the council that residents who have located to other properties are very happy in their new homes.
Project proponents have touted the property’s proximity to the future Bergamot Station stop on the Expo light rail line. Luzzatto stressed that the project will fulfill a key city need – housing – particularly in an area where residents can walk or bike to work. Referring to the controversial plan, the developer said he spent a great deal of time interacting with the residents to address their concerns and believes he did all he could to demonstrate good faith in the negotiations.
“I would not in good conscience propose a project and relocation that I didn’t feel in my heart was sensitive and positive,” he said.
When Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis and Councilman Kevin McKeown proposed Nov. 13 to continue the plan until early next year when two new council members would be seated, Luzzatto urged the council to not delay the vote, saying that he and remaining residents were hoping for a decision. After hours of public testimony, the council carried over the motion until Nov. 14, when only Councilman Bobby Shriver was absent.
Jing Yeo, special projects manager for the city, said the project is consistent with the Land Use and Circulation Element and Bergamot Area Plan. “In general, it achieves what the vision for a mixed use creative district is in terms of a mixed-use transit oriented environment,” she said.
The plan features 16 affordable housing units including nine that are for very low income and seven for extremely low income tenants, she said. Yeo noted that the relocation plans offered by the developer were focused on mitigating the impact of increased housing costs and allowing residents to choose from the widest range of options.
Park resident Bob Bruner, who said he had dealt with anxiety and stress related to the pending development, called for a council decision and voiced support for the Mountain View relocation.
“We want the new homes at Mountain View and many of us are willing to go as soon as possible. Let us go so we can live in peace at Mountain View,” he said.
Others expressed disappointment at the council’s approval of the development agreement.
“Many have known for a long time how the vote would go. Money-love clouds good judgment and sensitivity to humanity, yes?” stated David Latham, who has lived at the park since 1990.
Calvin Normore, a 14-year resident and UCLA philosophy professor, claimed the vote was taken before an Area Plan was in place, a new zoning ordinance for the land had been passed and before many details of the tenant relocation plan had been worked out. “Such bending over backwards to get a (development agreement) before the new council takes off smacks of favoritism to a remarkable degree,” he said.
Councilman Bob Holbrook said that most of all, he was concerned about the relocation and how it would affect the people who were forced to move. He called the process a “long, arduous journey,” but he believes the city should move forward and those who relocate to another property will have an improved situation in the long run.
Davis, who along with McKeown voted against the project, said she appreciated the concessions made by the developer but felt it was difficult to evaluate the relocation package without onsite appraisals of the units.
McKeown had been troubled from the beginning of the process that senior residents would be evicted and he took issue with the environmental review finding that the mixed-use project would lead to unavoidable traffic impacts. He argued that the revised project should not have been brought hurriedly before a “lame duck” council and called the outcome heartbreaking.
“In the end, I could not vote for the removal of vulnerable senior homeowners for a project of questionable community benefit, which the EIR predicted would significantly and unavoidably increase traffic in the area, not move us toward our expressed land use and circulation goal of no net new p.m. trips,” the councilman said.
McKeown added he has not given up on finding a better outcome, saying he has identified a part of the municipal code that identifies the trailer park as part of a multi-family residential district. If that interpretation sticks, he said, the project would be subject to a more stringent affordable housing replacement policy that could bring the issue before the newly elected council.