CITY HALL — The Planning Commission is expected to consider a controversial development that would create a dense residential complex over what is now the Village Trailer Park, something residents of the park are fighting tooth and nail.

The owner, Village Trailer Park LLC., proposes to replace the park with a mixed-use complex with almost 500 units and approximately 8,650 square feet of either office or retail space.

According to the staff report, 109 of those units would be rent-controlled to replace those being taken out of the current park. Another 38 units would be restricted for very-low and extremely-low income individuals.

It’s a far cry from the group’s original proposal of 339 apartments and condominiums and approximately 48,000 square feet of office and retail which was rejected by officials concerned about its mass, scale and dominance of tiny studio units.

According to the staff report, the developer has also agreed to pay approximately $3.7 million in fees either required by code or as community benefits, a trade between City Hall and the developer for the right to build taller than code allows.

The agreement includes local hiring provisions as well as incentives for prospective employees to find alternative ways to get to work other than driving.

Improvements to the design and free bus passes do little to mollify opponents of the project, mostly people concerned over the potential traffic impacts that the development will have on the surrounding area and residents of the trailer park who will be displaced if it goes forward.

Those residents, many of whom are elderly or disabled, have been living in uncertainty since the summer of 2006 when the owners of Village Trailer Park, LLC. first sent notice that the park would close by July 31, 2007.

Since then, the proposed development has been caught up in negotiations with City Hall, which put closure first at Jan. 31, 2008 and later into a hazy future date.

Now that the day for negotiations seems to be drawing to a close, residents are fighting hard to get their voices heard and put all options on the table to preserve what they see as one of the last options in Santa Monica for affordable home ownership.

They’ve taken the fight to the Landmarks Commission in an attempt to give special status to pieces of the park, a designation that would make it harder to develop the property.

No public meeting is complete without a resident speaking out at public comment to remind people that the “Occupy Santa Monica” movement meets between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Sundays at the park.

On Saturday, there was an art show hosted at Gallery 169 featuring photographs of residents and trailers in the park in an attempt to raise money for the preservation struggle.

It’s become a serious issue to residents who, at the beginning of the process, felt that City Hall would protect them and their homes, said Calvin Normore, a professor of philosophy at UCLA and resident of the park.

“It’s not going to be the case that the political will in the city will preserve the trailer park unless we work hard,” Normore said.

An environmental document that the Planning Commission will comment on Wednesday spells out six relocation options for residents that would cost the developer almost $2 million in direct payments to residents and fees to move their trailers, according to estimates in the staff report.

They could end up at Mountain View Mobile Home Park, a park that City Hall purchased in 2000, or wait out the construction and move into the low-income apartments that will be part of the proposed development on the site.

Alternative affordable housing in “traditional” apartments is also on the table, according to the report.

Only one of the options ends with the residents maintaining their current lifestyle in their trailers, but it would force them to move to one of 10 trailer parks in a 50-mile radius of Santa Monica.

None of those are acceptable, Normore said.

Few of the so-called “mobile” homes are actually mobile. Many were bolted to the ground long ago. Relocating to a park that’s far away would hurt the elderly residents that already struggle to get to doctor appointments and other critical care, Normore said.

Finally, the trailers represent the life savings of the oldest residents, some of whom paid over $100,000 for a unit that is now being valued at far less because it no longer comes with a Santa Monica address if the park closes, Normore said.

“It’s a question of location,” he said.

While the Planning Commission already has a great deal to consider — over 1,000 pages of documents in the environmental impact report alone — Wednesday night may have some surprises.

At the Planning Commission’s May 16 meeting, Commissioner Ted Winterer alluded to a yet-unseen alternative to the project that, according to those who have heard of it, would propose saving a portion of the park.

It’s unclear what kind of alternative proposal would be financially feasible to the developer, however.

According to the staff report, the project is now estimated at “marginally feasible.” Changes to rents or condominium prices used in the model could drive the project below that threshold.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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