Historic Protective Restrictions

Excerpt from 1923 publication on PVE

Ever since people began to congregate together in cities, and even in country communities, the problem of touching elbows has been with us.  In Palos Verdes Estates constant effort has been directed to building an ideal garden suburb and residence park, with all the advantages of the city, in the country.

From the very beginning of this project, in the Trust Indenture which is the constitution under which it is being built, and through all the plans and layouts made, every possible protection has been established, to make sure that the neighborhoods in Palos Verdes can never be spoiled, that every man who builds a fine home or other building here need not fear that a thoughtless or unsympathetic neighbor would put in a kind of building next to him so unattractive or inappropriate as to be ruinous.  All this has been done, we believe, in a way that will not prove onerous, and yet give the fullest protection.  Careful zoning has been done to locate the few areas necessary for business, apartments and house-courts at appropriate and convenient centers, leaving, however, over ninety per cent of the property restricted to detached single family homes, under the most favorable conditions possible.

The restrictions have been most carefully worked out for every part of Palos Verdes Estates, to accomplish the following results:

  1. To preserve the fine views of ocean, mountains and park
  2. To increase with the years the wonderful natural beauty of the property, enhanced with fine planting; and
  3. That every purchaser in Palos Verdes may be sure when building his home there that his neighbor will have to build an equally attractive type of building.  In other words, he will feel secure in knowing that his home can never be damaged by any unsightly or undesirable structure either upon adjoining lots or in any part of Palos Verdes Estates.

The experience of many of the finest residential tracts in other large American metropolitan areas has clearly demonstrated the advantage of the adoption of such protective restrictions as will promote and safeguard the attractiveness and desirability of residential neighborhoods.

In preparing the restriction for Palos Verdes Estates, the project has been guided by the experience of many years in these other parts of the country; by the counsel and advice of Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, the foremost landscape architects in this country; by Charles H. Cheney, nationally known Consultant in city planning; and by the experience of an able staff of architects, landscape architects, engineers and city planners.

In thus taking advantage of the best experience of the country and adapting it to the special conditions of site, climate and residential ideals of Palos Verdes Estates, it is believed that the protective restrictions here worked out are the best that have been yet devised for any American community, and will result in making Palos Verdes Estates not only the most beautiful and attractive residence park in California, but one of the finest and most notable in any part of this country or abroad.

On account of the large extent of Palos Verdes Estates, the varying character of the property, the great number and wide range in location, size, slope and outlook of the lots, the declarations of restrictions taken as a whole may seem to be somewhat complex.  The fact is, however, that the restrictions and conditions relating to any one lot are quite simple, and may be easily summarized.

Briefly, their main features are as follows:

Marking a greater step forward in the time that the protections will last than any other residential subdivision in Southern California, is the provision of the Palos Verdes restrictions extending their life over a period of 37 years, or until 1960, with automatic extension for successive 20 year periods thereafter unless then changed by two-thirds of the property owners.  Although the protection of such long time restrictions is most desirable the conditions surrounding property are subject to somewhat rapid change in a section so fast growing as Southern California, and hence a term as long as the above would be unsafe except for the provision which has been included providing a means by which the zoning and local restrictions as to any lot may be modified with the approval of the owners of two-thirds of the property within 300 feet of the proposed change and of Palos Verdes Homes Association and the Art Jury.

One important feature of the restrictions is that which requires an open or free space on each side of every dwelling, the extent of which varies with the location and the width of the lot.  This assures the maintenance of that bright, open sunshiny neighborhood for each dwelling, with a maximum of light and air, and avoids that unpleasant jamming of one house up against another, which has spoiled so many residential subdivisions.

The building set-back requirements from the street are based on a careful consideration for maintaining views and increasing the architectural perspective.  The average set-back is 20 to 30 feet, varying in different tracts according to the kind and type of house best suited to that location.  For fire protection a set-back from rear lot lines is also required.  All setbacks have been much modified where the lots are shallow or on hillsides where it is difficult to get into the buildings unless they are near to the street.

Not more than one house may be built on any building site of class A.  Nor may any building site be re-subdivided.  In some cases, however, large lots have been designated as including more than one building site.

Palos Verdes Estates is, of course primarily a high-class residential suburb, of which over 90% of all lots are restricted to one-family houses.  No flats, apartments, duplexes, house-courts or stores are permitted in the single family neighborhoods, but only at very limited convenient centers where they have been designed to be as much out of the way of the strictly home neighborhoods as possible.  The four principal communities of Malaga Cove, Lunada Bay, Valmonte and Miraleste have as a matter of convenience reasonably small business centers, about two miles apart, where a few blocks of necessary stores, garages and service stations may be located.  Adjoining them are some blocks open to apartment houses, hotels and house-courts.  But the number and kind of these buildings has been strictly limited, and the project will control their architectural design in such a way as to make them distinctive, attractive and convenient without in any way detracting from, but rather supplementing the fine and extensive residential neighborhood surrounding them.

There are also established as a matter of convenience additional small local building groups at local centers about a mile apart, as at Montemalaga, Zurita, Margate, etc., to serve areas that would otherwise be inconveniently far from a neighborhood store and market.

Industries, asylums, or nuisance businesses are prohibited in all parts of the Estates.

No billboards, advertising signs or “For Sale “ signs can be erected on the Estates, and the few store and business signs necessary must meet with the approval of the Art Jury.

The Character of the property is such as to preclude the keeping of live stock, which includes rabbits, pigeons, chickens and other poultry, except where there is no residence within a considerable distance when they may be permitted in special cases, for private use only, by a special permit from the Palos Verdes Homes Association.

No outhouses, private garages or tents may be erected prior to the erection of the dwelling house or principal building on the lot.

The minimum cost of houses that may be erected ranges from a fairly low amount in areas where there are cheaper lots to considerably higher restrictions along the ocean bluffs and at special points, the amount being determined by the size, value and neighborhood of the lot.

But more important than any specific minimum cost of house requirement is the provision in the restrictions for the approval by Palos Verdes Homes Association and the Art Jury of the plans and specifications of all buildings prior to the beginning of construction, and of inspection during construction.  This will be done as carefully and thoroughly as if all the property were in a well established modern city, thus preventing the danger of careless or bad construction, defective wiring and plumbing, unfortunately so common in most of the unincorporated areas outside of the larger cities of Southern California.  The experience of the best Eastern subdivisions has shown that in practice this kind of regulation works greatly to the advantage of lot owners as a whole.  It will further the harmonious and attractive development of the Estates and prevent unsightly building either with respect to their location on the lot, design or color scheme.  It is also believed that with the long experience of the men intrusted with this part of the work, it will be possible to give, when plans are presented, suggestions of substantial value to home builders and to prevent costly errors.

Fences, walls, hedges and poles will be limited to a reasonable height.  No trees on any lot larger than twenty feet in height may be cut down without the consent of the Park Department of Palos Verdes Homes Association.

Easements and rights of way are reserved for sanitary, electrical utility and other necessary purposes on the rear five feet of lots, and also over side lines where needed.  These easements will not interfere with the full and free use of property by owners for planting.

As nearly every lot must be provided with a private garage special attention has been given to the prevention of unsightly garages.  Architects and builders have learned that the garage can very agreeably be made a part of most dwellings, but where this does not seem practicable the restrictions as to the location of garages have been carefully drawn to keep them in a location as unobtrusive and unobjectionable as possible.

To carry on the common interest and look after the maintenance and welfare of all lot owners right from the beginning, a community association, with the name of Palos Verdes Homes Association, has been incorporated as a non-stock, non-profit body under the laws of California, in which every building site has one vote.  It will be the duty of this body to maintain the parks, street planting, and other community affairs, and to perpetuate the restrictions.

The Association is governed by a Board of Five Directors elected by the members.  Each purchaser on receiving his deed or contract of sale automatically becomes a member of this Association and entitled to vote upon issuance of a membership certificate by the secretary.

One of the greatest difficulties in starting new communities outside of an incorporated city is to bridge the gap of time from the beginning of the project until there are enough people under state law to organize the ordinary forms of government and to employ the necessary help to keep up streets, parks and playgrounds and to look after other community interests such as fire protection, secure the necessary watchmen and police34, collect garbage, and the like.  In smaller projects the selling company often provides a temporary paternalistic interest, which unfortunately, however, often later requires concessions for the sake of making sales that are not always to the greatest common good.  To avoid all such difficulties Palos Verdes Homes Association and the Art Jury have been legally constituted under the restrictions, as perpetual bodies to carry out and look after from the beginning, the highest ideals of the purchasers.

They will take care of the common and private parks, parking strips on the street, sidewalk planting, etc.; see that vacant lots are kept free from weeds and rubbish; supervise the ornamental lighting features; care for and maintain club houses, tennis courts, golf courses or any other recreation features that the members may desire; arrange with county authorities for the upkeep of streets, fire and police protection, and otherwise co-operate with all authorities to assure the greatest common welfare to all residents of and owners of Palos Verdes Estates.

In order to defray the expenses necessary to properly maintain the Estates and to fulfill the purposes of the Association, an annual tax or assessment will be levied each year by the officers on all lots which have been subdivided and legally filed of record in Palos Verdes Estates, including those owned by the Project.  This tax or assessment is limited so as never to exceed the rate of the old City of Los Angeles, and established on the assessed valuations of the County Assessor.

While this maintenance charge will naturally be only made large enough to produce as much as is required for the proper upkeep of the property, and may in some years be considerably less than Los Angeles City taxes, the maximum has been established sufficiently large that the Association may have means for making an equitable assessment should residents and property owners desire further playground equipment, community meeting houses or other common improvements.

The Art Jury and the Palos Verdes Homes Association exist solely for the common benefit of all property owners in the Estates and should be made use of by them to bring about the most attractive, convenient and satisfactory development possible.

Owners expecting to build should instruct their architects to secure copies of the printed building code and other regulations from the Secretary of the Palos Verdes Homes Association, 504 Lane Mortgage Building, Los Angeles or at Hotel Redondo, Redondo Beach, and to submit preliminary sketches to the Art Jury for approval in advance of starting working drawings.  A building permit, such as is usually required in every incorporated city, is necessary before any construction can be commenced, signed by the Building Commissioner of Palos Verdes Homes Association and the Secretary of the Art Jury.

A complete printed copy of the restrictions of record for each tract will be furnished when contracts of sale or deeds are signed, or can be had upon application to Henry Clarke, Director of Sales, 501 Lane Mortgage Building, Los Angeles