Besides the Parklands, another quarter of the land in Palos Verdes was set aside for the Right-of-Way (R/W) of streets, alleys (Lanes), Medians and Paths. Together, this R/W and the Parklands form PVE's Open Spaces.
Trails were made through the green belts that allowed both equestrians and pedestrians to access and enjoy the Parklands. Equestrian use in particular became very popular in PVE during the 1920's. A stable was established by a prominent equestrian from Colorado. Photos from that era depict large groups of people on horseback convening on the weekends at La Venta and some riding on the beach in Malaga Cove. There was even a field in Valmonte that was used during for polo matches for a short time. Bridle trails were formed extensively throughout PVE and extended from the stable in Valmonte Canyon along what is known today as the Boundary and Palomino trails and included several bridle trails along the creek beds of the PV Golf Course (with access between the 10th green and 11th fairways as depicted on a 1930's map). The Paseo Del Sol bridle trail (that has now become the Del Sol Fire Road Trail) extended from the golf course up to La Venta Inn and into Lunada Bay, becoming what is known today as the Douglas and Apsley trails.
However, bridle trails in PVE began to decline in the mid 1960s, during a period when the Peninsula was experiencing tremendous housing development and population growth. It was also around that same time PVE lost it's long time Mayor, Fred Roessler, who held that position for some 25-years, beginning from when the city was incorporated. Apparently, some PVE residents were not fond of the dust and smells associated with the horses. With opening of the Palos Verdes High School in 1961, and with no school bus service in PVE, school children were also using the trails more frequently to go to and from school. Therefore, it appears there was a transition from the mixed use of "bridle" trails in PVE from equestrian to pedestrian use, to pedestrian and (non-motorized) mountain bike use during the sixties and seventies. Today, there are only about 2.5 miles of equestrian trails in PVE compared to some 20 miles of bridle trails that are contained in each of the other three cities on the Peninsula (Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes.) This is somewhat ironic considering equestrian use on the Peninsula began in PVE and the City was actually planned to accommodate equestrians.
Some of the Parkland trails in PVE were expanded to become over 10 feet wide to accommodate service vehicles and smaller fire trucks and are sometimes considered to be fire trails. Examples are the Boundary, La Costa and Apsley trails, as well as the previously noted Del Sol Fire Road Trail. Most trails in PVE are dirt and are not maintained. However, there are a few that are asphalt (e.g the North entrance, Malaga Cove, Paseo La Cuesta, Del Sol, trails) and a couple of the fire trails and Median trails have occasional maintenance. The two medians in PVE are on Palos Verdes Drive West and North, are six foot wide, made of Decomposed Granite (DG) and even though they are located on R/W, they may be considered to be trails rather than Paths because of their length (of 2.5 miles and 1 mile). Normally Paths are only a few hundred feet in length.
The Forestation of PVE. When development in PVE began, most of the Parklands and lots were barren grazing land. Olmsted Jr. and his firm wanted to transform these lands into an aesthetic mixture of open and forested areas, enhanced by an ocean backdrop. This necessitated the planting of thousands of trees comprising dozens of varieties, both native and non-native. To do so, Olmsted's firm provided research to arrive at recommended plantings for Parklands, along streets and for residences. A nursery was also located in Carrillo Park area of Lunada Bay where resident's could easily obtain approved plantings at reasonable costs.
Currently, the term "Parklands" may at times seem inappropriate, considering many canyons and hillsides in PVE can be full of invasive weeds and brush. However, other Parkland areas contain some of the trees that were planted according to the Olmsted's plans back in the 1920s and, in the Valmonte area, most of the eucalyptus trees were planted even earlier, by a rancher to serve as a wind screen. Unfortunately, many of the trees on the major Parkland parcels located in Malaga Cove and Valmonte were destroyed by fire decades ago, and were never replanted. Over the years some invasive vegetation also took hold, including some that are very flammable and non native. Some of this vegetation includes very thick growth, including dense ivy as well as brush. As a result, some trails have become overgrown and the Parklands are not as accessible as they once were. To reduce the risk of fire in PVE, there is also a need to remove the invasive and flammable vegetation with plantings that are more fire retardant and drought resistant. However, instead, PVE has decided to simply increase its budget to only cut vegetation by $50,000 annually, to about $120,000/year, beginning in 2014. It appears no serious efforts have been made involving habitat restoration, reforestation and better trail maintenance in Parklands since the Olmsted's work in the 1920's. And, funds that were earmarked for Parkland enhancement by the City Council in 2012 were never made because of cost overruns associated with beautifying a couple entrances to PVE.
When Frederick Olmsted Jr. and his firm, the Olmsted Brothers, designed Palos Verdes Estates (PVE), certain landscape principles were applied in order to enrich peoples lives and to allow them to better connect to nature. Care was taken to provide open spaces throughout all of PVE to make it easy to access and enjoy. A unique aspect was that some one quarter of the project comprising several hundred acres, was dedicated to remain in perpetuity for use as parks and recreational use. These lands became know as "Parklands." Even though some of Parkland was on steep slopes that would have been difficult to develop and was also used to facilitate storm drainage, the design intentionally linked many of the Parkland parcels to form various "Green Belts." (An example of one of the Green Belts is below)
The green belt above connects the four different neighborhoods of PVE (Lunada Bay, Malaga Cove, Montemalaga and Valmonte). The thin white line shown are the trails that provided this connection. There are other green belts in PVE that sometimes just extend through one neighborhood or that may connect a couple neighborhoods. These green belts are comprised of Parkland parcels, which are protected by covenants and deed restrictions that limit their use for park and recreational purposes. (Note: Despite the restrictions mentioned, however, some 1.7 acres of Parkland were sold in 2012, but it is being contested. See www.pveopenspace.com.)
The perceived benefits and intent of the green belts are not dissimilar from those of a newer phenomenon known as conservation developments.