Viewpoint: Affordable Housing Exists in Pacific Palisades, Despite Statements to the Contrary

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The Palisades Bowl mobile home community in Pacific Palisades is considered affordable housing. It is one of three mobile home parks along the coast.

“There you go again,” was a phrase spoken during the second presidential debate of 1980 by Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan to his Democratic opponent, incumbent President Jimmy Carter. Reagan used the line in several debates over the years, always in a way intended to disarm his opponent.

Pacific Palisades residents should put that line in their pocket and pull it out every time someone says “there’s no affordable housing here.”

When Mike Bonin was City Councilman for this area, he often stated that there was no affordable housing in Pacific Palisades. He was wrong. There are at least 549 units in a town of 28,000.

When this community was founded in 1922, it was so far removed from the rest of Los Angeles that it was not considered a prime location to live. But when Beverly Boulevard (now Sunset) was paved between  Beverly Hills and the Palisades in 1926, and Roosevelt Highway was completed through Malibu in 1929, the town gained easy access to the outside world.

It was still not considered a desirable location, such as Beverly Hills or Hancock Park, and even with Will Rogers moving here to live on his ranch, the area was seen as an outlier. The Santa Monica Mountains to the north and the ocean to the west made it hard to expand housing.

After World War II, the population grew from barely 1,000 to 6,390 people by 1950. The town acquired its first theater in 1949, when the Bay opened. That same year the Chamber of Commerce organized to promote the community as a place to live and shop.

Temescal Canyon Road was paved, and Palisades High School was built in 1961, but most homes remained small and belonged to middle-class working people who could afford to live here at that time.

Today, there are also numerous apartment and condo buildings found along Sunset Boulevard, starting at Via de la Paz, and going westward to PCH and the ocean. There are also apartments/condos located on Haverford Avenue and up in the Highlands.

An apartment is for rent in this building, which is describe as “fully renovated unit in an apartment’ community located in the 90272 Zip Code.” The building has 75 updated units, which are a mix of single, one bedrooms, loft and two-bedroom apartments.

At the base of Palisades Drive (off Sunset), there are 100 city-controlled, low- to moderate-income apartments, built in 1988 as part of an agreement with the developer of the Highlands.

There appears to be no governmental oversight of who is allowed in those apartments, and several residents have long requested that there be some sort of investigation. Apparently, a single man, the son of a well-connected woman, has a three-bedroom apartment that was meant for a family.

Councilman Bonin’s field deputy, Noah Fleishman ,was going to look into this and other allegations, but Bonin has retired. CTN was told that the situation has not changed, but residents feared going on record because they might be turned out.

In addition to the 100 affordable housing units at the base of Palisades Drive, there are three mobile home parks, all considered low-income, and all governed by the Mello Act, which was adopted by the state of California in 1982 to preserve the overall number of residential dwelling and affordable units within the Coastal Zone.

The most recent challenge to Mello was in 2010, when the owner of Palisades Bowl Mobile Homes sought to change the property from rentals to ownership.

At Palisades Bowl, a 170-unit park, the land is owned by Edward Biggs and leases are protected under rent control. (Mobile Home Residency laws can be found at hcd.ca.gov).

In 2015, the L.A. City Council requested that City Planning prepare a permanent ordinance that implemented the state Mellow Act (No. 15-0129-S1). A draft document was released in December 2019.

Tahitian Terrace, which was built above PCH and Temescal Canyon in 1963, has about 250 homes, all under rent control. According to one source, the average annual increase is about three percent.

At Malibu Village above PCH (south of Sunset), the owners of the 29 homes own the land and their mobile homes. They pay property tax, but no rent.

The total number of affordable units in Pacific Palisades is 549, and that doesn’t count the apartments and other rentals in town.

A L.A. Times OpEd piece today, August 6, (“Don’t Worry, Affordable Housing Won’t Squash Property Values”) quoted Adlai Wertman of USC’s Marshall School of Business as saying, “We’ll never get affordable housing in the Palisades,” Wertman said. “The world will end first.”

“There you go again Adlai,” Ronald Reagan would say.

This is the site of the affordable apartments at the base of the Highlands. There is a unit for rent and it was advertised “just across the street from coffee shops and restaurants and minutes away from the beach or The Palisades Village.  Restrictions Apply a person must be at least 62 years of age with income to be under $97,381.84.”

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One Response to Viewpoint: Affordable Housing Exists in Pacific Palisades, Despite Statements to the Contrary

  1. Jo says:

    When the City or state mentions “affordable housing,” they mean covenanted affordable housing. That is, housing for which the owner is obligated (typically for 55 years or more) to designate a specified number of dwelling units for occupancy by persons of either extremely low, very low, low or moderate income levels (as defined by HCD) at rates affordable by those income categories. While there are units in the Casa Gateway complex on Palisades Drive that do fall into this category, those in the mobile home parks and the various apartment complexes in town do not. Palisades Bowl is covered by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance which limits the amount by which the landlord can increase rent for an individual tenant each year, but the landlord is not obligated to rent to persons of certain income categories, and is able to raise the unit rent to market rate once a given tenant leaves. The new apartment building that was proposed for the former Jack-in-the-Box site on Sunset will include eight covenanted affordable units once built, but as far as I know, the other apartment complexes in town charge market rates and are not obligated to rent to persons in specified income categories.

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