NO DICE, A Novel by Mar Preston

Previous section posted on July 22

Chapter Four, continued

Delgado took time off to stage a war council with Maria and her six brothers and sisters. Prudencio couldn’t take the old lady because his mother-in-law lived with them and helped out with their four kids. Eduardo was a druggie with no fixed address. Raul thought he was hot stuff because he had his AA degree and worked for the state. His wife didn’t do anything but sit on her fat ass and watch telenovelas and do her little crossing guard thing. Molly? She worked. Graciela? She hated her mother.

Mason walked the few blocks over to the six-story office building that fronted the ocean where the casino people had set up operations. The homies, drifters and crazies, pimps, muggers, and the rest of the low life Mason kept at an us vs. them distance. He watched the rookies develop attitude, a tough shell with its own brand of tasteless, thoughtless, racist, and sexist jokes that people on the front line used among themselves and didn’t mean anything–for the most part. It did and it didn’t.

He wanted to know why Barry Forsythe’s name was scrawled into Dyson’s day planner book on the last day of her life. The PR firm occupied the first floor, the gaming operations and legal side lay on the next floors up. A Victoria’s Secret model look-alike came to the front desk twirling her hair around a pencil and went off to look for Forsythe.

She sneaked looks at Mason from her office as Mason waited in a gallery reception area.

The art on the walls looked like real money. He and Diana took an art appreciation class at UCLA to keep the marriage together, and what classes Mason was able to make stirred a curiosity. The paintings and sculpture looked like good stuff, as far as he could tell. Casinos were big art for investment buyers.

A few minutes later a brash young guy breezed in looking fresh and fit, starched and crimped, with big white teeth like Chiclets. Introductions all around.

“Barry Forsythe, Community Relations,” he said, walking backwards to lead Mason past offices filled by pretty young people who looked like him. They must keep the ordinary looking people in the back offices, Mason thought.

“You have pretty interesting work, Detective.”

“Sometimes,” Mason allowed, taking a seat at the small conference table in Forsythe’s office. “You won’t believe this but I spend more time typing than chasing bad guys down alleys,” he smiled, looking around at the luxurious fittings.

The furniture looked too pricey to have been purchased with public money. The walnut desk filled an entire corner, and the chair itself was a high-end model that probably topped a few thousand dollars.

“Can I offer you something to drink?” Forsythe said. “Glass of wine? Perrier? Energy drink? We have a selection of vitamin waters?”

Mason shook his head and Forsythe hesitated, then sat opposite him at the small table. He wore a white golf shirt with the logo of the Riviera Country Club. No scratches on him as far as Mason could see. Probably wasn’t the knife artist.

He waited for some impression about the guy to gel for him.

“This is about what happened to Kathleen Dyson, I’m sure,” Forsythe prompted.

Mason took out his notebook and got comfortable. “Sure. Our procedure here is to fan out interviewing family and friends in the early stages of the investigation. Just to fill in the picture.”

“I suppose you want to know if I have an alibi,” Forsythe said confidentially. He leaned forward.

Mason caught it now. Watched CSI and cop shows, read murder mysteries.

“Do you have a suspect yet, Detective? How close are you to an arrest?”

“Why don’t you tell me how you knew Ms. Dyson to start off.”

“Well, I met with her a few years ago when Century Gaming began preliminary investigations. Our firm came in at the request of Century and the Gabrielino-Tongvas. Santa Monica is well within their ancestral lands, you know. Their people were settled here for over ten thousand years, all the way from the ocean out to San Bernardino, seventy miles away. Did you know that?”

“No, I didn’t. You don’t hear much about them.”

“They’re around, believe me. They applied for tribal recognition back in 1982. That’s a long time to be patient with a federal process that’s riddled with incompetence and politics, don’t you think?” Forsythe waved a hand in the air and smiled a big Boy Scout smile. “Oh, don’t get me started on that. We’ve been helping them move the process along. No secret.”

“How have you been helping them?”

“Lobbying in the right places. We have federal contacts. Conversations happen.”

He stood up and gestured to an architectural model set up on a table near the window.

“Take a look at this. I could play a presentation for you on my laptop. Takes four minutes.”

“And this will occupy the property the mall is on now and the old Sears store?” Mason asked, walking around the model trying to get a sense of its bulk, the changes made to the downtown.

“Roughly sixteen acres and huge, huge revenues for the City and law enforcement. Not as big a parcel as we would prefer but the location is very favorable. You like action, don’t you Detective.”

“I like Vegas. Show me then.” Mason sat down to watch the slick video presentation. The more he thought about it, the more it seemed that a casino would create more problems than the new money would solve. When it was finished, he looked up at Forsythe.

“Very nice. Tell me about your involvement.”

“We work with a management company that would contract the gaming operation itself. It’s the right time for us to expand to Santa Monica and perhaps down the coast to other beach cities.” Forsythe’s gee whiz golly, puppyishness bothered Mason.

“You must have ties on city council to move this along?”

Forsythe hesitated. “Of course, and the state government as well. We’ve make small contributions here and there to favorite charities for each of the city council members. Things like that. It ensures we have access, get our calls returned. That’s about all you can expect, you know.”

“We’ve heard something about a suit before the City Attorney that may throw a monkey wrench in your plans.” Mason was fishing, seeing what he could spin out from McNair’s mention of Wally’s big hush hush tip.

“Oh? Well, that could be, I suppose. Who told you this?’

Mason didn’t answer. Instead he drew out his notebook, paging through blank pages as though he was looking for something.

“So take me through how a project like this gets started?”

“Okay. We’re taking advantage of our new business-friendly Republican administration.”

He gave a big grin. “Think of it this way. We offer family entertainment, good union jobs, a draw for tourists, celebrity entertainment. All that.”

“What’s the down side?”

“We feel that everything we’ll bring to Santa Monica will outweigh the negative.” He got up and retrieved a press packet from the credenza. “This will explain traffic mitigation measures, environmental protections. We’ve met every objection this little community group hits us with. The profits to Santa Monica are fantastic.”

“Is it worth killing for?” Mason said. “That’s what I gotta ask myself.”

“Ask all you like, Detective Mason,” he said spreading his arms outward, showing off his gym rat physique. He added a thick sheaf of glossy handouts to what had already come in as a result of the financial subpoenas, the kind of stuff that made Wozinski cream his jeans.

“Your name was written in Kathleen Dyson’s day planner on the day she died. Can you tell me why that was?”

“I’m surprised.” Forsythe sat back. “I didn’t have an appointment with her. Of course, I saw her that night at the Council meeting. But so did nearly five hundred other people.”

“Just routine. Tell me where you were following the council meeting?”

Forsythe fingered his square jaw. “Let’s see. I talked to Tom Lawrence and Jimmy Edwards for say, ten, fifteen minutes. People kept coming up, congratulating us. Then my wife called me to stop off at Albertson’s to get diapers on the way home. I probably paid with a credit card. Will that help?”

Yeah, that would help, Mason thought, if it all checked out.

Much as she loved her Dad, Bert McNair’s presence in Ginger’s small apartment made her long for solitude. Cooking aromas, a drift of aftershave in the bathroom, sports on TV, country music on the radio took over her home. Her brother Art who was single insisted on spending the next few nights. She got home just in time to see her Dad take a heavy casserole out of the oven. Sergeant McNair had one eye on the TV, one eye on the salad he was making. He chuckled to himself about some stupid joke Emeril made.

“I hate that guy,” Ginger said, tossing her purse and briefcase on the table.

Lester stalked off when her father pushed him out of the blue wing chair. Jake gave Bert McNair a slow, unforgiving blink.

“I like him. I want you to go out to the range with me this week.”

“Dad, knock it off, will’ya? I can shoot. How could I live in the same house as you and Art and not be a good shot?”

“Okay, missy. When did you last qualify?”

Ginger couldn’t remember. She turned to the window, her eye caught by the unfamiliar gleam of metal. “What’s this?”

“I want to make this place secure for you.”

“You’ve already put in police locks and now the windows are clamped down so tight I can hardly get them open.”

“I’d like it a whole lot better if you’d move in with me or your brother until they get this guy. You being on the first floor at the back here isn’t good.”

“I’m just not going to, Dad. It’s too far to commute.”

“How’s your fibro these days?” he said, watching her, drying his hands on a dishtowel.

“I’m all right,” she said grumpily. She took the bowl of silk flowers off the dining table and set them on the bookcase. She had once taken her body casually, hardly thinking about it. She assumed that her arms and legs and every part of her would continue to do exactly what she wanted, as though she were the puppet master in control of it all.

“You get used to it, Dad. It’s just background roar.” She turned to face him. “I’m okay.”

“Honey, you don’t get through an assault like the other night and be exactly the way you were before.”

“Assault?”

“What happened is going to change you in some way. That’s the way violence is. I’ve seen victims all my working life. Even if you’re screamed at by some crazy in the street, it has an impact and an attack like what happened to you is much, much worse.”

He ran water fast in the sink and looked up at her. “I know you stand up to things. I watched that debate you did on TV with that Forsythe guy, but what you went through the other night is nothing like that.”

“Dad, you’re just giving me an excuse to act like a wimp.”

“You’re no wimp. But you don’t need to start proving you’re a tough guy either.”

Ginger hit send on an email blast to all the Coalitions’ supporters and looked around the community hall. What protection Betty Maxwell, a retired nurse in her seventies, would provide if any threat arose during the day was questionable. Or Fran Boyarsky, a scrawny grandmother who barely topped five feet. But they were cheerful, played the radio, brought snacks, and worked like demons. Fran’s son was a compulsive gambler. No task that Ginger set for her was enough to soothe the wound she felt gambling had inflicted on her family.

Kathleen had been murdered long enough. Ginger decided to go over to her building in Ocean Park and ask nosy questions. The murder dropped from the daily newspapers. It was daylight and a busy neighborhood–too early for the criminal classes to be out of bed–late enough for law-abiding citizens to have already gone to work.

“Hey, folks, I’m just going out for an hour or so,” she called out.

Betty frowned but didn’t protest. Ginger turned to KJZZ on her car radio. An old Duke Ellington tune was up. Santa Monica was still a great place to live, despite the legendary city council meetings that stretched to 3:00 a.m., the silly attempt to ban ATM fees and circumcisions, to ban declawing cats, to declare Santa Monica a nuclear free zone. She loved it.

Sunny days, one right after the other, till sunny days and balmy weather were ho-hum. So what? Another beautiful day. The marine layer in summer that gave rise to foggy cool mornings was welcome.

Heaven for the homeless, those who had stopped taking their meds, and for the recently released. Ginger was used to people with purple hair, day laborers on corners, ninety degree Christmases, and those glossy head shots of show biz unknowns mounted on the wall of every small business.

Kathleen’s neighbor, Mrs. Zabrowitz, told Ginger without any prompting that she saw a man who said he was looking for Kathleen the day before the murder.

“I was just waiting for somebody to ask me,” she said, twisting her Elvis ring on arthritic fingers. “See here, my windows look out over the street, and I was watching for the mailman. Waiting for a new Elvis clock. An old station wagon drove up.”

Ginger could see over her shoulder to the apartment stuffed to the rafters with Elvis memorabilia. Wow, she said to her herself, taking it all in. Wow. A home Elvis museum.

“Don’t you think for a minute I’m just one of those dizzy old dames that’s got nothing to do but watch the neighbors all day. I’m a collector and Elvis keeps me busy. I’m marketing some new Elvis handbags on the Internet now. What do you think of that? Every day I get letters from my Elvis pen pals. You love The King?”

“That I do, Mrs. Z.”

“I’ve got my Current Events class at the Emeritus College and my painting and I keep rotating my Elvis art stuff around on the walls. Place has just got too small,” she said, looking over her shoulder, considering. “I have to pack away some of my best stuff.”

“So what happened? You’ve got me all curious.”

“This guy sat in his car for awhile and that got me curious. Just sitting there, you know? So I noticed him. Then the mailman came and we got to chatting. Sold him one of my Blue Hawaii movie posters once. I walked him back out to the sidewalk. I could see into this old station wagon where the guy was still sitting and it was all filled with boxes of papers.”

“Did you recognize him?” Ginger had a hard time taking her eyes off the fake Christmas tree that was still hung with Elvis ornaments, red and blue and green lights shimmering. An Elvis angel was tilted askew at the top.

“Never saw him before in my life. But I knew him again when I saw him later sitting right over there on the wall outside Kathleen’s apartment. Bold as you please. I just opened my door and asked him who he was looking for.”

“What did he look like?”

Mrs. Zabrowitz thought, fingering the guitar pendant hanging around her neck. “He was tall, on the skinny side, about your age. He didn’t have nice manners,” she confided. “He was eating a Subway sandwich and he picked his teeth with his fingernail while I was talking to him.” She made a face. “Then Kathleen came in from her parking place in back and let him in her apartment. She usually passed the time of day with me but this time she was all business. But—she invited him in! Isn’t that something? She didn’t very often have visitors, you know. I know I’ve seen you here before, haven’t I, honey?”

It was odd. Kathleen only met people in restaurants and offices and at public meetings. Except for her.

“When was this?”

Mrs. Zabrowitz gazed up at the staircase, collecting her thoughts. “Well, let’s see. The garbage truck went by in the alley and they make such a racket, don’t they?” She consulted the Kid Galahad calendar by the door. “Musta been a Monday. So it was the day before she got killed. So awful, I still can’t get over it.”

“Did you tell the police about this?”

“I meant to, but we were both in a hurry, this young officer in a uniform. He treated me like some boring old lady.” She snorted. “I was catching up on the posts to the Elvis collectors list. I get a lot over the weekend.”

Ginger immediately went back to the office and called Mason’s cell phone. He picked up on the second ring.

“Mason.”

“McNair.” She laughed, straightening the collar of her blouse as though he could see her and patted her hair. “It might turn out to be nothing, but you did ask me if anybody new had shown up in Kathleen’s life lately, anything unusual. You know Mrs. Zabrowski who lived next door to her, the neighbor.”

“The Elvis lady.” He continued walking towards his unmarked unit in the police parking lot, his cell phone pressed to his ear.

“Mrs. Zabrowitz remembers a visitor Kathleen had the night before the murder. She let him into her apartment, which was very unusual. Kathleen wasn’t much of a housekeeper and she never wanted people to see her place.”

“And she just called you up and told you this?”

“Well, actually, not really. I went over there. I asked her.”

“You stay out of this,” he exploded. “I don’t want you interfering in a police investigation. You’ll do more harm than good.”

He clapped the phone shut while she was still protesting and instantly regretted it. But he didn’t call her back. He kicked himself he’d missed that lead and an amateur had to bring it to his attention.


(to be continued next week)

THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT PALM TREES

Editor’s note: Residents on Marguerita between 17th and 22nd Streets, 18th
Street north of Washington, and 22nd Street north of Montana have devoted
much of the last month attempting to ensure that if the City replaces the
palm trees on their streets for whatever reason, it replaces them with three
specific species of palms. But as one resident reports in an email to her
neighbors. the City doesn’t seem to be listening.

Here’s the latest chapter in the saga of the palm trees.

Last night, at a meeting of the city’s Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force,
Caryn Marshall and I proposed the Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis),
the edible date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), and the Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta) as the best replacements for the palms in our neighborhood. These were the recommendations that our group developed
with the help of Don Hodel, horticulture advisor for the University of
California system and author of “Exceptional Trees of Los Angeles
(California Arboretum Foundation).

The task force had originally planned to finalize species selections this
month. In response, however, to widespread concerns about inadequate notification of residents and lack of transparency, the task force announced
a change in its schedule.

It now plans to hold two sessions for public input in September, and finalize
its species selections afterwards.

The public input sessions are scheduled for September 7 and September 14. Please mark those dates on your calendars and plan on coming to one or both sessions.

We recognize that everyone has already put considerable time and effort into
this issue, ever since we learned by accident last month that the city’s draft
urban forest master plan had designated sycamores and Torrey pines as replacements for the palms on 18th Street north of Washington, 21st Street
north of Montana, and Marguerita Ave. between 17th Street and 22nd Street.

We have submitted more than 300 signatures on petitions, turned out 50 people at a public tree workshop, and testified en masse before the City Council. We have written countless letters, consulted with a leading arborist, and made recommendations for replacement palms: Species that are identical to those listed in the city’s master plan as palm replacements for the neighborhood immediately west of us.

And yet, after all of our efforts, the city’s master plan (available on its website
at www.santamonicatrees.com) still lists sycamores and Torrey pines as replacements for the palms on our streets. And last night, when the city’s community forester gave his official report about public reaction to the draft master plan, he failed to mention our petitions, our testimony and our activism.

So it appears that we will have no choice but to turn out again in September. Please, everyone, enjoy the rest of your summer and come back energized and ready to turn up the heat.

This is about more than just palm trees.

Patricia Bauer

RED CROSS HOLDS BLOOD DRIVE, OFFERS CPR TRAINING

The American Red Cross of Santa Monica and 95.5 KLOS Radio will host the 30th Annual American Red Cross/KLOS blood drive in Santa Monica Friday, July 29, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, July 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Those wishing to participate in the drive are encouraged to make an appointment. Local residents can call the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Persons in good health over the age of 17 (age 16 if accompanied by a parent) and who weigh at least 110 pounds are eligible to donate blood. A photo ID is required for blood donations. Potential donors should drink plenty of water and eat normally before giving blood.

Donations will be taken at the Santa Monica Red Cross chapter at 1450 11th Street in Santa Monica near Broadway. Free parking is available. .

Participants in this year’s Red Cross/KLOS Blood Drive will receive a commemorative 2011 KLOS Blood Drive T-shirt, a free Queso appetizer from Chili’s and a concert voucher (per blood donor with a scheduled appointment) to one of the following concerts at the Greek Theater: George Thorogood (July 31), Yes/Styx (August 2), Hippiefest (August 4) or Cheap Trick (September 23) — all courtesy of Nederlander Concerts, or Judas Priest/Thin Lizzy (October 22) at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino courtesy of Live Nation.

The Red Cross of Santa Monica will hold its thirteenth annual Citizen CPR Saturday on July 30, 2011. Free adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) classes will be offered all day.

Citizen CPR Saturday will be held at the Ken Edwards Center, 1527 Fourth Street (between Colorado and Broadway) in Santa Monica. Limited free parking is available.

This non-certification training is divided into three one-hour class sessions –- 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Classes consist of text, lecture and hands-on CPR/AED training. Participants will learn how to overcome a reluctance to act in emergency situations as well as recognize and care for cardiac or life-threatening respiratory emergencies.

The Red Cross urges people to register in advance to ensure a place. Call
310-394-3773 ( Monday through Friday business hours) or 800-627-7000. Participants should check in 15 minutes before they’re scheduled to start,

Red Cross CPR classes for certification are given throughout the year, but this is one of the few opportunities for the public to learn various life-saving techniques free. During the past fourteen years, more than 4,400 area residents have taken advantage of this free opportunity to learn CPR.

This event is a part of KABC, Channel 7’s “ABCs of a Safe Summer.” campaign and is being held in conjunction with the City of Santa Monica. For information about Citizen CPR Saturday, go online at www.redcrossofsantamonica.org or call the Santa Monica Red Cross during business hours, Monday through Friday at 310-394-3773 and mention “CPR Saturday.”

The American Red Cross of Santa Monica is a publicly supported, 501(C)(3) nonprofit corporation that provides health and safety education, youth services, CPR and first aid training, disaster awareness and disaster relief efforts. For additional information or to inquire about other programs or assistance call 310-394-3773 or go online at www.redcrossofsantamonica.org.

WHERE ARE THE PLANNERS WHEN WE NEED THEM?

Last night’s City Council hearing on a Development Agreement and Final
EIR for the proposed four-story, 191,982 square foot creative arts and entertainment production facility, 2834 Colorado Avenue Creative Studio,
at Colorado Avenue and Stewart Street demonstrated how muddled our planning and development process has become.

Gridlock has seized all of our major streets, as well as the 10 and PCH and an ever-increasing number of once-serene residential streets. Over 2 million square feet of commercial development projects in the eastern reaches of the City are in the works, but the City has yet to make a comprehensive plan of all the proposed new projects and their impacts. Downtown Santa Monica and the Civic Center are undergoing major changes, but the planners have yet to do specific plans for either of those areas. City staff repeatedly vowed that 94 percent of Santa Monica –- i.e., the residential neighborhoods — would remain unsullied by the changes in the revision of the Land Use and Circulation elements in the General Plan, (LUCE) but, in fact, once sacrosanct neighborhoods are under increasing fire.

Recently, the Council allowed St. John’s hospital, in effect, to violate its 1998 Development Agreement with the City, abandon plans for an on-site underground parking garage and rent parking space in Yahoo Center, thus exacerbating traffic congestion in the area, while simultaneously allowing Yahoo Center owners to go into the big-time parking business.

The primary tenant in the proposed 2834 Colorado development, Lionsgate Films, has been in Santa Monica for some time, and the developer is Jack Walter, a well-known and well-liked Santa Monica resident. It was all quite jovial at the outset. Walter and his architect made the case for the project. A letter was read from Lionsgate vice-president Mike Burns. Over a dozen Lionsgate employees, would-be employees and would-be friends focused exclusively on the project, and were very enthusiastic about it.

A somewhat larger number of residents focused on the excessive size of the project, its architectural shortcomings, its multiple negative impacts on the neighborhood and area traffic, and its less than compelling “public benefits.” A number of people also spoke about the perilous position of the Village Trailer Park, which may be swept away by this latest wave of oversized commercial development.

It opened in the 1940s. It is genuine affordable housing, which this City claims is a top priority. Its residents are, for the most part, older people on small fixed incomes, whose well-being the City claims is a top priority.

There are over 200 healthy trees on the property, some of which are over 100 years old, and a vital part of the City’s much-bruited “urban forest. A species of hawk resides in the trees — surely a wondrous addition. But if
the owner of the property has his way, all that will be razed to make way
for one more mega-commercial development, and its residents will be scattered, with most being forced out of Santa Monica.

City Attorney Marcia Moutrie vetoed a Council discussion of the trailer park, as it was not on the agenda – to the obvious relief of the Council. We think it was a bad call. This latest wave of mega-commercial development is located in the midst of an established residential neighborhood and it will impose irreparable changes on it, including the destruction of the Village Trailer Park and the drastic disruption of the lives of its residents, and those changes and disruptions needed to be discussed, and while the trailer park
was not on the agenda, it was on many residents’ minds, and one of the
stated purposes of the meeting was “to receive” public comments.

Lionsgate and Walter’s popularity notwithstanding, this project will not improve the neighborhood, but diminish it. Hank Koning, an architect and member of the Planning Commission, suggested that it be sent back to the Commission for more changes, before going on to its final approval by the Architectural Review Board. If it was so flawed, why did Koning and his colleagues send it on to the Council? And why did the Council okay it, after
a mind-numbing discussion.

The commission’s primary responsibility is to thoroughly evaluate a project on a broad range of levels – from its design to its impacts on both the community as a whole and its specific location. But Koning’s comments suggested that the commission forwarded this project to the Council prematurely.

There is tangible proof all over Santa Monica that the City’s review of big commercial projects is wildly inconsistent, but Koning’s request suggests that it is also arbitrary and incomplete. That, of course, is no consolation at all to the residents of the neighborhood. Nor is the knowledge that, as we saw last night, the people making the decisions – from the planning staff
to the developer’s architects to the Planning Commission to the City Council – don’t understand the process of planning, much less the concept of cause and effect.

For the record, only four Council members were present last night – Mayor Richard Bloom, Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis and members Pam O’Connor and Bob Holbrook.

TO THE CITY COUNCIL: HONOR THE LUCE

July 26, 2011

To: City Council
From: Zina Josephs
RE: Colorado Creative Studios Project — 7/26/11 agenda item 7-B

I am writing this letter only on my own behalf.

1) This project is one of three adjacent projects: Colorado Creative Studios (Lionsgate), Roberts Business Center, and the Village Trailer Park.

The three projects total over 9 acres in a 19-acre block, and will stretch along Colorado Avenue between Stewart/28th and Stanford.

2) Two new road extensions will be created:

a. Pennsylvania between Stewart and Stanford
b. Yale between Colorado and the new Pennsylvania extension

3) The Village Trailer Park project contains more than 200 trees that are more than 50 years old, including two trees which are more than 100 years old. Migratory birds nest on this site and this spring three baby hawks were born at the trailer park.

4) One of the three projects will directly evict residents (109 family spaces for mobile homes). Mobile homes are the only form of low income resident-owned housing left in Santa Monica. Village Trailer Park residents own their home and rent their space. It is rent controlled.

Although the residents at Village Trailer Park range in age from one year to 90+, most are over 80 years old. They have resided, worked, and raised their families in Santa Monica, and they are now retired homeowners.

My understanding is that the new trailers at the city-owned Mountain View Trailer Park (on Stewart/28th next to the 10 freeway) are being sold for $150,000, which most VTP residents can’t afford. Many of them also have incomes too low to quality for apartments owned by Community Corporation of Santa Monica.

Where are they supposed to go if/when they’re evicted? One VTP resident who was persuaded to move out of the trailer park has already died of exposure while living in a car.

Recommendations to the City Council:

A. Honor the LUCE and require that Colorado Creative Studies fulfill the 50/50 housing/jobs balance for this district (Colorado Creative Studios is 100% commercial) by working with Village Trailer Park.

B. Honor the LUCE and require that these 3 projects work together and build around the Village Trailer Park.

C. Honor the LUCE and preserve/protect residential neighborhoods to the north and east of the projects by not creating additional car traffic from two new roads.

D. Honor the LUCE and meet the Circulation/TDM requirements by creating dedicated pedestrian/biking paths instead of new streets. These paths could connect the SMC Academy for Entertainment and Technology on Stewart, the office area to the west, and the bike street on Broadway without creating traffic impacts on residential neighborhoods that cannot be mitigated.

E. Honor Landmark and Sustainability objectives by preserving a historic site. Village Trailer Park was built in the late 1940’s and is one of only two such sites left in Santa Monica.

F. Honor the existing zoning, which designates Village Trailer Park as R-MH (residential mobile home) and ties the trailer park to the R1, R2 zoning directly across Colorado Avenue.

G. Honor the LUCE and insist that this activity center be compatible with the adjoining neighborhood to the north.

H. Honor the LUCE Housing Element by meeting the State requirements that Santa Monica retain all housing types, for all income levels, and for all family types and age groups.