CHALLENGES Confronting PVE Trails & Parklands
Encroachments on Parklands and Paths by Adjoining Owners.
Many people have been attracted to Palos Verdes Estates because of it's abundance of Parklands and other Open Spaces. Seventy-Five years ago residents of Palos Verdes Estates decided to become a city primarily so that they wouldn't loose their Parklands. However, unbeknownst to many, there is a relatively small group of residents adjoining Parklands and trails that are well organized who want to close certain trails and make the Parklands less accessible. In addition, there are over 100 encroachments where residents adjoining Parklands and Paths are taking over these public lands for their own use or to make them inaccessible to others. In the months since both the city staff and City Council have learned of these encroachments, nothing has been done about them.
Abuse of and Inappropriate Behavior on Parklands and Trails.
Granted, certain areas of Parklands and trails have involved drinking, drugs, sex, graffiti, litter, vandalism and other unlawful behavior. And in response, the City has improved police enforcement, created a trails curfew, developed a Parklands Use Policy and also limited parking to only residents on a particular street, which has reportedly reduced these problems. But there are still those who live adjacent to Parkland trails and Paths that believe to have adequate privacy and protection they need to take over Paths, have a large buffer of Parklands or that still insist on closing certain trails. As mentioned in the By-Laws of the PVE Trails Group, it is believed that the taking of public property without due process is inappropriate.
The Neglect of Trails and Paths (Pathways)
The City of PVE has apparently believed that it's best not to bring any attention to Trails and Paths. This is why the City has an informal policy not to have a map of Trails and Paths either internally, for residents, or for others. This is why there is also no signs identifying trails or Paths. There is also no maintenance standards for trails/paths, no trail/path inventory, no trail maintenance (except for just a few trails), no maintenance for most paths, and no plans or budgets to restore or repair trails and paths. A recent proposal to hire a trails consultant to determine the work necessary to repair some trails was approved by the Parklands Committee, but rejected by the City Council, due to the concerns of those residents adjoining Parklands, mentioned above. Rather than avoiding problems, it is believed that the City's aforementioned practices have actually exacerbated the noted problems. For instance, misuse is often more likely to occur in an area that is more isolated, as opposed to one that is more frequented.
The Neglect of Parklands and Other Open Spaces
Similar to Trails and Paths, the City of PVE has believed that it's best not to bring any attention to Parklands and other Open Spaces and has avoided any maps for residents, signs, new tree plantings, removal of flammable plants, removal of logs and stumps, plans and budgets...
Fear of Attracting "Outsiders"
Some PVE residents are fearful that repairs or restoration of trails, and any favorable publicity of the Parklands, will attract so many people from outside of PVE that it will substantially increase home invasions and other crimes in the city. However, another community that was once part of Palos Verdes Estates, Miraleste, which also has Parklands and trails designed by the Frederick Olmsted Jr. and his firm, recently restored their trails and Parklands over the past few years, and has not experienced any of the aforementioned concerns. An adjacent community, Rancho Palos Verdes, also has numerous public lands with trails overseen by the PVP Land Conservancy. Their preserves usually have many more amenities than PVE (such as restrooms, trails heads with parking, maps, signs, a web site). So, there is already a viable hiking option next to PVE, which is much more user friendly than in PVE. In addition, PVE is not the most convenient place to find, there are few ways to get in and out and some trails and most Paths will normally be used much more by residents than those from outside of the area. Finally, PVE has is own Police Force that is considered to be very effective and responsive. This fear or paranoia seems to be lacking any real substance. Of course, if those adjacent to Parklands can make enough people in the City accept this viewpoint, it will allow them to take over more public land and create more value for their own property. In addition, the City's efforts to prevent residents from knowing about trails and Parklands is also a major deterrent for residents to benefit and enjoy lands they have a right to use. Further, if residents were more aware of the trail system and more actively used it, possibly in connection with Neighborhood Watch, it would help reduce the above noted abuses.
Failure of the City Council to Uphold Deed Restrictions Preventing the Sale of Parklands.
As noted under Covenants and Restrictions, many residents were startled when the PVE City Council rather quickly approved the sale of nearly two acres of Parklands in 2012 to a resident that had encroached upon Parklands for several years. With a law suit filed by residents and nearby residents to reverse this sale, the City Council, the PVHA and their attorneys have taken the position to that they have the right but not the obligation to enforce these deed restrictions. If the Council Members and the Board of the PVHA are successful in defending their actions, it would appear to negate the restrictions to retain the Parklands for recreational and park use in perpetuity. The council for the Plaintiffs reached out to the City Council at a public meeting in March, 2014, to help resolve this litigation by asking for a provision in the recently approved Parklands Use Policy that would protect Parklands. But this request was ignored by the Council members.
The PVE City Council and the Board of the PVHA obviously don't want to admit any wrong doings. This is why they are spending resident tax dollars for attorneys that advised them to sell Parklands. Of course, they may still believe they acted reasonably to resolve a threat from the PVU School District (PVUSD) to try to sell school property that still retained certain Deed Restrictions, and for the PVHA to receive a settlement for legal fees to defend against this. Ironically, if the Council and PVHA are successful in defending this case, it would seem to support the PVUSD's ability to sell school land (as well as Parkland) in the future, which is what the City Council and PVHA had previously sought to defend.