Santa Monica considers razing 'last, best trailer park'

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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Dora Viesca and her husband have lived in Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park for 15 years. She keeps a garden and takes computer classes.

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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Michele Cole, a resident of nearby Mountain View Trailer Park, protests outside Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park on Thursday afternoon.

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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David Latham makes his way to a protest to keep open Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park, which is in danger of being closed down.

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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Lawn decorations outside a home at Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park, which is in danger of being closed down.

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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A trailer in Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park. Some trailers in the park are newer but most date back decades.

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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Peter Naughton is the most vocal resident of Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park, which is in danger of being closed down. He runs a website dedicated to the legal proceedings surrounding the park.

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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Gayle Cooper has lived in Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park for more than ten years. She is part of the effort to keep the park open.

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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Peter Naughton walks into the community library at Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park, part of a two-room complex near the pool.

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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An empty lot in Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park, which is in danger of being closed down. Since 2006, nearly half of the people who lived in the park have left.

Santa Monica Trailer Park

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The decorations outside a home in Santa Monica's Village Trailer Park, which is in danger of being closed down.


Santa Monica’s city council was to vote Tuesday evening on the fate of one of its last standing trailer parks —  but after deliberations that lasted until 12:40 a.m., they've decided to shelve the decision for another month.

Santa Monica Village Mobile Homes has sat on the beach city’s east side since 1950, but a recent proposal would raze the 4-acre park’s 59 trailers and replace them with more than 400 apartments and condos, according to the the Los Angeles Times and residents.

Rents on the trailers here, some of which are still standing from the '50s and '60s, range from $370 to $410 a month, say residents. Their neighbors, meanwhile, pay between $1,500 and $3,000, according to the Associated Press.

"We are one of the last and best parks in the city," says resident David Latham.

Marc Luzzatto has been pushing to develop the area since 2006 and has met resistance from the (mostly elderly) residents at virtually every turn. The families meet every Sunday to discuss strategy, make signs and proofread speeches and potential editorials.

Many of them have been there for 20 years or more — including Peter Naughton, a skinny man with a soft British lilt who moved there in the 1980s with his wife.

"Every Sunday we ask each other how many years we’ve been in the park," he said. "In any average Sunday, we have over 280 years of living experience in the room."

Almost half of the park’s trailers are empty or have already been bought out by Luzzatto, who has offered residents as much as $20,000 to relocate. He’s also offered space in one of the site’s new apartments, but "our grandkids have actually grown up in this house."

"They know the cats and the trees and the birds and the squirrels and everything here," said Naughton, echoing the sentiments of many. "When they come to visit us, that’s what they remember."

In order to bulldoze the property, Santa Monica must first change its zoning, which currently allows only a mobile home park to exist on the grounds. However, after a night of deliberations and hearing testimony from 70 citizens, the city council voted Wednesday morning to delay its decision on the park's fate.

The council's discussion of the project will resume in late August.

This story was updated with the council's decision.

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