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NEIGHBORLY ADVICE

A mingling of generations graces Sunset Park

May 11, 2003|Bobbi Olson | Times Staff Writer

Called "the last 'Ozzie and Harriet' area on the Westside," Santa Monica's Sunset Park is a place where retirees live next to young families and neighbors gather at block parties, the parks or the shops along Ocean Park Boulevard. On weekends, people can be seen meeting and chatting as they walk along shady sidewalks, enjoying the ocean breezes.

Drawing card

The beach drew the earliest settlers to Santa Monica, but Douglas Aircraft brought 40,000 factory workers to Sunset Park in the 1940s, when most of the homes were built. Today's newcomers are more likely to be a professional couple with young children, attracted to the well- regarded schools and Riviera climate. Clover Park and Marine Park are the recreation centers, with the ocean a walk away.

A family place

"This is still the place to go if you want to live in a residential neighborhood, raise kids and have a dog in the backyard," said Linda Lackey, an agent with Coldwell Banker Previews in Santa Monica, who drew the "Ozzie and Harriet" comparison. A mix of older and younger families, "people take care of each other," she said, with watchful neighbors enhancing safety. The neighborhood is bounded by Pico and Lincoln boulevards and is home to about a third of Santa Monicans, or about 29,000.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday May 14, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Santa Monica airport -- An article in Sunday's Real Estate section incorrectly called Santa Monica Municipal Airport the busiest single-runway airport in the nation. It has been surpassed by McClellan-Palomar Airport in San Diego County.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday May 18, 2003 Home Edition Real Estate Part K Page 3 Features Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Santa Monica airport -- An article in the May 11 Real Estate section incorrectly called Santa Monica Municipal Airport the busiest single-runway airport in the nation. It has been surpassed by McClellan-Palomar Airport in San Diego County.

Insider's view

With an office complex on Ocean Park Boulevard, the Rand Corp. think tank by the beach and several entertainment giants perched north of the Santa Monica Freeway, many residents have a short commute to jobs in town. Few residents work farther away than downtown Los Angeles, said Ed Carpenter, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. And Santa Monica's downtown, Third Street Promenade, Montana Avenue and Main Street districts offer so many leisure options that Sunset Park residents can play near home too. The downside is that these areas are tourist draws, and most weekends find the streets gridlocked.

Good news, bad news

Santa Monica has its own police and fire departments that can respond in minutes when called anywhere in the 8-square-mile city. But it also has the busiest single-runway airport in the nation. There's a constant drone of aircraft overhead despite longtime efforts to tone it down.

Hot spots

Most of the homes are traditional, one-story houses built in the mid-20th century. In a few areas, though, especially Hill Street and the "ocean-view streets," such as Sunset, Ashland and Bryn Mawr, remodeled or rebuilt homes are upscale. Some recent sales have topped $1.3 million. There had been a spate of new "monster mansions," but a new city ordinance tightens the building code, calling for deeper setbacks and smaller second-story additions, according to Ava Pecherzewski, an associate planner for Santa Monica.

Report card

Sunset Park is in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Will Rogers and Grant elementary schools had 2002 Academic Performance Index scores of 759 and 808, respectively, out of 1,000. Adams Middle School scored 739 and Santa Monica High 705. The district also offers a Spanish-immersion school and an alternative school, which do not report API scores. Santa Monica College, a two-year community college, enrolls 31,000 students.

Stock report

Expensive? "Astronomical" is a relative term to Santa Monicans. It's true that the lot alone in Sunset Park can run $500,000 to $600,000. But lots in Santa Monica north of Montana Avenue are worth more than $1 million.

Sunset Park has 2,708 single-family houses, 739 condominiums and 699 apartment units.

On the market

The housing inventory is low, with only 16 homes on the market at the end of April, ranging from $637,500 to $1.398 million, according to Lackey.

Historical values

Single-family detached resales:

Year...Median Price

1990...$442,500

1995...$303,500

2000...$518,500

2002...$610,000

2003*...$647,000

*year to date

Sources: DataQuick Information Services, www.smmusd.org, pen.ci.santamonica.ca.us/cm/, www.friendsofsunsetpark.org, Coldwell Banker Previews, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Santa Monica Planning and Community Development, Equity Title Co.

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