In the fall of 2015 several homes above Bluff Cove, which were owned by the City of PVE and previously rented mostly to prominent City employees (e.g. as the City Manager and Chief of Police), were demolished. Numerous trees were also removed and a concrete culvert near the edge of the cliff was created that will drain water into a collection basin that will then pump drainage water up to a storm drain system along Palos Verdes Drive West. The area was fenced and closed in 2016. But it is now cleared and open for walking. Boulders near the street edge were added to prohibit vehicles from driving onto the area and also scattered throughout the area. Parking is allowed adjacent to this area along PV Drive West.
The top of Bluff Cove in Palos Verdes Estates (PVE) has 11 cliff side lots and all were developed with single family homes by the early 1970s. Unfortunately, some drainage issues caused a land slide on the far north portion of this area in the 1980s. It was necessary to demolish two of the northern most homes and the City of PVE faced litigation from the other home owners on this Bluff. To resolve the litigation over 30-years ago, PVE decided that the best remedy was to take possession of 9 of the 11 lots on this Bluff, which were improved with 7 homes. (The City's property is as shown below.)
The two homes the City did not acquire, on the third and fourth lots from the far south of the bluff and parcels 8 and 9 on the Assessors Map, still remain privately owned and occupied. As noted, the homes acquired by PVE were leased for decades, usually to prominent City employees. However, in 2012, safety and liability concerns arose over these homes and the City Council decided that they should no longer be rented to avoid potential liability exposure. Some studies and hearings were held about this city owned property from around 2013 to 2015, including a preliminary economic analysis by a consultant (Kibel Geen).
However, some residents with technical experience believed a more thorough studies were warranted, but never completed. In particular, there seemed to evidence that not all of this area was in danger of a catastrophic slide as most Council members feared. It appeared to some residents that at least one or two homes, north of those homes still remaining, could be used by residents as a community building, which PVE doesn't have, and/or sold as private residences. It was felt that these homes might be worth about $2 million or more each (and possibly a total of around $4 or $5 million). It was also thought that arrangements could be made to limit any possible recourse to a buyer of a city owned home should there be any possible issues in the future. After all, if the City was so concerned that the entire cliff would fail, why didn't they acquire the two homes remaining on the bluff? If it was alright for two homes to remain on the cliff, then it certainly seemed plausible to keep and/or sell one or two of the City owned homes adjacent to these privately owned homes. By not doing so, some residents believe the City Council made an irresponsible decision that lost $2 to $4 million belonging to PVE. Further, as mentioned below, it is believed that the culverts and drainage basin built on the bluff could actually prove to be a liability in years to come, and could increase instability to the cliffs. Before the City Council decided to remove the Bluff Cove homes, it was not with a good deal of controversy.
In converting the Bluff Cove area owned by the City to Open Space, some residents thought the City would provide deed restrictions on this land that would dedicate the land forever as Parkland. However, this hasn't occurred. In the spring of 2017 a Measure D was not passed to increase taxes on property owners to support the shortfall the City was experiencing to retain its own Police Department. PVE is the only City of four on the Peninsula where police service is not contracted out to the L.A. County Sheriff Department. Should PVE experience financial difficulties, many residents are concerned the City would try to start selling its Parklands, even though the deed restrictions prevent this. However, the City and the Palos Verdes Homes Association illegally sold Parkland in 2014 and both tried to invalidate the deed restrictions. It appears they have been unsuccessful. However, the City it would appear that since the Bluff Cove Property was never "protected" to be Parkland or permanent open space, at least a couple lots that do not appear to be subject to unstable soil conditions could be sold. Should the City attempt such a sale, it would be very controversial.
Bluff Cove in Palos Verdes Estates, CA
PVE owns 9 lots with 7 homes on this Bluff.
View them on Google Maps, below.