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Charming SaMo Trailer Park Threatened By Development

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A picturesque trailer park in Santa Monica (with "abundant trees and vintage mobile homes") is at the center of one of those uniquely Southern California battles for the future, according to the LA Times. James Muramatsu, the owner of the Village Trailer Park wants to close the 109 trailer spaces off of Colorado Boulevard and build two four-story and two five-story buildings with "nearly 400,000-square-foot, mixed-use project with 393 residential units, 105,334 square feet of 'creative' office space and 11,710 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail businesses," plus 778 below-ground parking spaces. The plan includes 166 apartments, with 109 falling under SaMo's rent control ordinance and 59 deemed affordable. The other residential units would "include 227 market-rate condominiums." The development plans, however, would come at the expense of a population of older and low-income residents who have inhabited their little rent controlled slice of SaMo for decades. The park has demolished trailers as residents die or move out.

Councilmember Kevin McKeown opposes the project, suggesting that the city buy the $30 million property instead of allowing the redevelopment. McKeown says that "Letting development displace vulnerable seniors and destroy the homes that represent their lifetime equity isn't the Santa Monica way." But Marc Luzzatto, a principal of Village Trailer Park LLC, argues that the company will offer $20,000 in relocation fees to residents, which is more than what the city requires. The company is also trying to help residents find Section 8 housing or spots in the Mountain View Mobile Home Park nearby. The new proposal would also include units for the current VTP tentants.

The city's Landmarks Commission is currently evaluating the park's historical import, with the possibility that the park could be made a local landmark, "an action that could slow redevelopment plans." The city may not issue permits until the matter is decided in February.

And in a answer to a trivia question, somewhere, someday, scenes from the 1993 Robert Altman film Shortcuts were filmed in the trailer park. Image via LA Times
· Santa Monica trailer park residents face uncertain future [LA Times]