A Farewell to Palms
For those who missed it on Twitter, home base for this blog recently relocated from Palms to Glendale. While I’m excited to get to know another part of the LA region much more closely, I won’t lie: I’m really going to miss Palms.
Palms is one of LA’s most low-key neighborhoods. Instead of calling to mind stereotypes, like places as varied as Beverly Hills, Compton, Venice, and Silver Lake do, mentioning Palms is likely to elicit a puzzled expression, even from longer-term LA residents. We’d occasionally joke that when you say you live in Palms, people would think of Palm Springs or Palmdale.
In a way, flying under the radar is one of the greatest strengths of Palms. Rather than getting downzoned in the firestorm of NIMBYism that exploded over so much of the Westside in the early 1970s, Palms remained zoned R3 and R4. This has led to a natural, gradual evolution of the neighborhood’s housing stock, with single-family residences (SFRs) being replaced by dingbats in the 1960s, early-style podiums in the 1980s, and modern podiums in the 2000s to the present. This pattern of development is unavailable today in many LA neighborhoods, because after decades of zoning restraints, land prices are too high for the first stages to pencil out.
Meanwhile, the commercial boulevards of Palms – Motor and Overland Avenues – have grown into a wonderfully chaotic mix of apartments, retail, industry, and even a few holdout SFRs. You might even call this the “C2 development pattern”, which emerges all over LA in C2 zones. You really can’t plan that diversity of use at such detail; you have to enable it and let it happen.
It’s no coincidence that Palms became one of the most affordable areas on the Westside, and one of the most diverse neighborhoods in LA. Palms isn’t a destination; it’s just an ordinary dense urban neighborhood that gets the job done for its residents – a vale of humility among hills of conceit. It’s the kind of place that politicians and planners should facilitate more development of, rather than trying to create headline destination districts.
Change is never easy. With growth strangled across most Westside neighborhoods, Palms is one of the few outlets for the market to provide new housing supply to meet surging demand. Inevitably, that has meant that newer projects in Palms have a more upscale flair, and rents for existing buildings have been creeping up. The g-word has been thrown around, though I wouldn’t call it that, since Palms has been undergoing continual redevelopment and change for decades.
Sometimes, you change neighborhoods. And sometimes, neighborhood change comes to you. I’m fortunate enough for it to be the former, and for change to be an opportunity. Palms has been, and will continue to be, an important part of this blog. But be prepared for some in depth posts on Glendale. Change isn’t easy, but it’s often necessary for us to evolve and grow, precisely because we’re not quite sure where it will lead. Let’s go, Glendale!