Neighborhood Spotlight: Palos Verdes Estates’ luscious view goes both ways


Travelers heading south along the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway that runs through the crowded South Bay can hang a right at Palos Verdes Boulevard and within minutes arrive in a place of gracefully curving streets, lush green space and stunning ocean views.

There they’ll find the peak of an ancient seamount, and on its slopes, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is Palos Verdes Estates.

Which is all just a way of saying that the city of Palos Verdes Estates and environs is California coastal scenery at some of its most spectacular.


And it should be: Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. created the master plan for the development in the 1920s, after its subdivision from Rancho Palos Verdes (he also created a plan for the eventual city’s next door neighbor, Torrance, which was never fully implemented).

Olmsted, who also designed the grounds of the Jefferson Memorial and many of the scenic byways of our national parks system, used his considerable expertise to lay out the new city’s streets in a way that maximized the views. He also set aside more than a quarter of the available land as open space and created a landscape design that would transform the dry, sage-covered hills of the peninsula into verdant parkland.

A detailed set of zoning regulations governed everything from the preferred type of architecture for homes in the city (Mediterranean) to who would be allowed to buy those homes (whites). The restrictive racial covenants are, of course, long gone, although new homes are still subject to a review by an art jury to ensure compliance with the rules, which were enshrined in the city’s zoning code when it incorporated in 1939.

Like many other master-planned communities, Palos Verdes Estates had designated business districts built into the design process, including the historic Malaga Cove Market.

Olmsted’s vision of a bucolic neighborhood of open space and scenic vistas lives on today, zealously guarded by the residents of the city, many of whom recently fought a long, bitter legal battle to prevent the sale of public parkland to a private homeowner.


Neighborhood highlights

An archipelago of parks: Open space is interwoven in the neighborhoods of Palos Verdes Estates, with plenty of places to hike and otherwise get back to nature. Combine an amazing coastal landscape with a cunningly designed network of roads and terraces, and you get a succession of pleasing views wherever in town you go.

Villas galore: PVE has stunning luxury homes for every taste, as long as that taste is for variations on the Mediterranean style.

Neighborhood challenges

A history of hooliganism: Rich surf locals are as jerky as every other surf local, and the crew at Lunada Bay continues to live down to its reputation as the worst in the region.

Close to the coast, not to the city: PVE can feel wonderfully isolated — but very far from much of L.A.


Expert insight

Cari Corbalis, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Estate Properties, describes Palos Verdes Estates as a “well-kept secret.”

A combination of great schools, ocean views and limited inventory have kept the PVE market fluid, Corbalis said.

Last month, Corbalis held an open house for a new listing that saw more than 75 people attend. “There were a lot of younger couples there who were looking for yard space and parking that you can’t find in [South Bay] communities like Hermosa and Manhattan Beach.”

Potential buyers need to do their homework, be prequalified and be ready to move quickly, she added. “You have two to three days to view it, make a decision and make an offer.”

Market snapshot


In the 90274 ZIP Code, based on 26 sales, the median sales price for December was $1.66 million, according to CoreLogic. That was a 7.1% increase in median sales price year over year.

Report card

Within the boundaries of PVE is Montemalaga Elementary, which scored 947 out of 1,000 in the 2013 Academic Performance Index.

Lunada Bay Elementary scored 940, Dapplegray Elementary scored 932, and Palos Verdes Intermediate had a score of 950. Palos Verdes High scored 884.



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