Protective Covenants and Deed Restrictions
The founders of Palos Verdes Estates (PVE) created Protective Covenants when PVE was being planned and developed in the 1920's. These restrictions were intended to provide for "an ideal garden suburb and residence park, with all the advantages of the city, in the country" and "to make sure that the neighborhoods in Palos Verdes (Estates) can never be spoiled." Provisions were made for "a body (the Palos Verdes Homes Association / PVHA) to maintain the parks (Parklands)... and to perpetuate the restrictions." This was done "to assure the greatest common welfare to all residents and owners." In particular, the parks (parklands) were to be maintained in perpetuity. These restrictions were contained in a "Green Book" supplied to every purchaser of property in PVE back in the 1920s and every property in PVE is still subject to these restrictions, along with some modifications. There were some provisions for these restrictions to be changed. But major changes, such as the elimination or restructure of the PVHA and it's obligations, can only be made every twenty years, beginning from 1960, by the majority of owners. At the time these Protective Restrictions were developed, they were some of most extensive ever created and served as a model for other developments and communities.
During the Great Depression beginning in late 1929, PVHA started to become financially distressed., as lot owners increasingly became unable to pay their association dues. By the late 1930's the PVHA became deficient in the payment of property taxes on its private Parklands and there was fear that this land could be sold. To avoid this, PVE was given the alternative to make their Parklands public, not private, by converting itself into a City of the sixth class. This was accomplished in 1939 and the PVHA transferred 655 Parklands to this new City entity according to an article in the Palos Verdes News, dated October 25, 1940. The Protective Covenants regarding Parklands were confirmed and fortfied by the Deed Restrictions involved in this transfer. In particular, the deeds specifically provided in the transfer of these (park)lands "to be used and administered forever for park and/or recreation purposes only..." They also stated that the parklands "shall not be sold or conveyed, in whole or in part..." These Parklands were to be "for the benefit of the (1) residents and (2) non-resident property owners within the boundaries of PVE." In addition, the PVHA also conveyed about 110 acres of Parklands to the Palos Verdes School District (now the PVUSD), some 40 acres to the Miraleste Park District (now part of RPV) and the balance to the PV Library District. In all, the noted article mentioned that the PVHA transferred a combined sum of 831 acres. What is still somewhat unclear, however, is whether the PVHA has retained any ownership interests in certain PVE lands, such as various right-of-way (R/W), including streets, Lanes, Paths and surplus R/W.
Some interesting developments occurred from this 1940 transaction:
1. AMOUNT OF PARKLAND ACREAGE.
Before this transaction PVE claimed to have about 3,225 acres, including some 850 acres of Parklands. However, afterward the newly created City of PVE lost 100 acres of Parklands to the PVUSD and also lost some 350 acres when it lost Miraleste, including about 43 acres of Parkland. Therefore, the City of PVE appeared to have lost a total of about 450 total acres, including the loss of over 140 acres of Parklands, shortly after it became a City. This would have reduced its total area to approximately 2,775 acres and its Parklands area to about 700 acres. (About 25.2% in Parklands). PVE still claims to have 28% of its land in Parklands,
including about 3,200 acres including 849 acres of Parkland, which would be close to this at 26.5%. However, recently the City Council adopted the Parklands Land Use Policy
, which excludes most of the recreational areas in PVE (including the golf, tennis and beach clubs, as well as the stables). This reduces the Parklands acreage by about 150 acres to around 550 acres. According to this Policy, the actual percentage of Parklands in PVE is therefore now slightly under 20% (19.8%)
. Apparently, PVE has never conducted a land inventory or revised its Parklands acreage or percentage over the past 75 years.
2. CONTINUED JURISDICTION OF PVHA's ART JURY. Even though Miraleste became part of RPV, the PVHA and the Art Jury still retained authority for approving and exterior changes to develop or remodel buildings in this area. The residents of Miraleste now reside in another city (Rancho Palos Verdes), and this requirement that causes some additional expense and building or remodeling delays, has not always been well received by many Miraleste residents. Nevertheless, it has helped preserved the character of the area.
3. CONTROL OF PARKLANDS. Interestingly, the authority to manage Parklands in Miraleste was vested with a Parks and Recreation District, but not in PVE. Instead, the control of Parklands in PVE was placed under the ultimate control of the City Council, but a Parklands Committee was ostensibly created to make Parkland recommendations. However, Council has relegated the actual management of the Parklands primarily to a couple people on the city staff, with the use of subcontractors (costing the City about $275,000 annually), and without any active oversight by the Parklands Committee, the Council or any other committee or group of residents. By contrast, the Miraleste receives dedicated tax revenues by virtue of being a Park District amounting to about $150,000 annually, for its 40 acres. If an equivalent amount was provided to Parklands in PVE as in Miraleste, it would amount to over $2 million annually; several times more than is currently being spent on Parklands and trails in PVE.
Many people assume the Parklands Committee has a great deal of influence over PVE's Parklands, but this committee's title has been misleading. The Parklands Committee has basically only recommended street tree plantings, trimmings or removals on right-of-way; seldom on Parklands. It has only acted as an advisor to Parklands (and Paths/Lanes) if requested by the PVE City Council. A proposal to hire a consultant in 2013 to make trails safer and more self sustaining because of the lack of the staff's expertise in this area was approved by the Parklands Committee, but was rejected by the City Council. However, in April, 2014, the City Council approved a Parklands Use Policy
that has provided the Parklands Committee with greater authority to make recommendations regarding Parklands. But these recommendations must still be approved by the City Council.
APPARERNT VIOLATION OF THE DEED RESTRICTIONS BY PVE's CITY COUNCIL. Despite the covenants and deed restrictions noted above, the PVHA and the City of PVE sold 1.7 acres to a resident in 2012. This appears to be unlawful, and was upsetting to many residents in and near PVE. Shortly after this event occurred, an effort was made to reverse this transaction by Citizens for Enforcement of Parkland Covenants (CEPC). For more information about this, please visit www.pveopenspace.com, and also visit "Challenges."