|Santa Monica Lookout|
|B e s t l o c a l s o u r c e f o r n e w s a n d i n f o r m a t i o n|
Send PR here.
City Council Postpones Decision on Fate of Santa Monica Trailer Park
By Jason Islas
June 26, 2012 -- In a meeting that ended at 1 a.m., the City Council heard more than 80 speakers weigh in on a mixed-use project that has made national headlines because it would replace one of Santa Monica’s two remaining trailer parks.
The council decided to continue a vote on whether to enter into negotiations on a Development Agreement that would raze the 61-year-old Village Trailer Park at the eastern edge of the city to pave the way for a 438-unit development.
“It was intense; it was emotional. It’s clear this is a big issue,” said Council member Bob Holbrook.
At one point, Mayor Richard Bloom called for a five-minute recess after Council members Holbrook and Pam O'Connor called out Council member Kevin McKeown for what Holbrook characterized as the "uncivil treatment" of a speaker.
Of the 82 speakers Tuesday night, about two-thirds opposed the project, with many citing concerns about the relocation of the 38 remaining residents.
The proposed project -- four buildings spread over the nearly four-acre lot -- would include 438 residential units, 109 of which would be rent controlled. It also would include 5,080 square feet of ground floor creative office space and 20,860 square feet of retail.
But Marc Luzzatto, part owner of Village Trailer Park, LLC, said he and his partners have gone to great lengths to make sure the residents are taken care of. The company has offered tenants several relocation packages, he said
They include purchasing mobile homes for the tenants at the City-owned Mountain View Trailer Park four blocks away or at a trailer park outside Santa Monica.
Council member Kevin McKeown, however, is not convinced that displacing tenants should be an option.
"I don't disagree with the relocation packages, I disagree with the relocation," McKeown said after the meeting.
"Before we allow the eviction of vulnerable seniors, we should explore options that let them remain in their homes while still giving the developer the opportunity to build a profitable project," he told The Lookout.
McKeown said he would like to see half of the developer's land sold to a third party to insure it remains a trailer park.
"It's taken (Luzzatto) six years to get to last night," Holbrook said after the meeting, adding that Luzzatto has gone well past the one-year notice that state law requires landlords give tenants.
Holbrook also said that claims from the public that this would "make people homeless" were not true.
"They'll have a place to go," he said, referring to the options offered by Luzzatto.
The story of elderly tenants ousted from their homes has garnered attention from more than 80 news outlets around the world, including The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom, the Associated Press, The Houston Chronicle, The Miami Herald and the Seattle Times.
But Luzzatto doesn't think the characterization -- of landlord versus tenants -- is fair.
"I think that people who come to this story now don't know the history," he said.
"We, at great cost, agreed to keep the park open well beyond the time we had a legal obligation to," Luzzatto said. "We are the ones who kept the residents in their homes."
Luzzatto added that he and his partners have spent "seven figures" in the process.
"I'm looking forward to digging back into this," said Mayor Richard Bloom.
|Copyright 1999-2012 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.|