One of the Most Sought After Areas in Pacific Palisades

The area south of Sunset from Temescal Canyon to Swarthmore and over to where Friends and Earlham terminate next to Portrero Canyon are generally referred to as the Via bluffs because two of the defining streets are Via de la Paz and Via de las Olas. Not many people know that the streets here were mostly named for American Christian colleges, and are in an alphabetical sequence similar to the “alphabets” section north of Sunset: Antioch, Bowdoin, Carthage, DePauw, Earlham, and Friends.  

This area has always been highly desirable due to its proximity to village shops, schools, park, and ocean-view bluffs. It was the second part of what became Tract 9300 in 1928, and now has approximately 670 homes and several condominium buildings. Palisades Elementary School was dedicated in 1931. 

Portrero Canyon has been the site of what must be the country’s most costly municipal park project. The history and complexity of the geologic, political, and economic issues involved in this project could easily be a very large book, with the conclusion still evolving after more than 40 years. In the 1950s this geologically unstable area could have been preserved as open parkland, and water runoff from an underground storm drain could have been extended much further toward the ocean.  This would have removed most of the hazardous conditions that were rapidly contributing to significant erosion.

Unfortunately, uncontained storm waters eroded more of the canyon sides, landslides put homes at risk, and the City of Los Angeles had to deal with a $75 million class-action suit in the 1980s after many homes had to be demolished. The resulting project eventually required filling the canyon to a depth ranging from 40 to 200 feet, utilizing more than 3 million cubic yards of dirt, and the installation of an extensive drainage system to minimize future storm problems. The city was fortunate to have bought 22 of 35 properties that had been impacted along the canyon edge, as these 22 were sold at public auction many years later when prices were higher and the enormous costs were substantially covered.

The final phase of the project is still ongoing and is supposed to meet strict conditions for restoring natural vegetation and a riparian zone along a streambed.  A pedestrian path is to extend from the south end of the Recreation Center down to the Pacific Coast Highway, and a pedestrian bridge will most likely be built for a safe crossing over to the beach. The project was to have been completed about ten years ago, then estimated to be done by 5 years ago at a total cost of more than $30 million, and now is hoped to be finished in 2023.

As is the case in the rest of the Palisades, the Via bluffs has seen a dramatic recovery in home values since the 2008-2011 market correction.  Fueled by a steady increase in demand, and sales of many large new homes, prices have more than doubled in the last 10 years.  This chart illustrates the remarkable strength of the current market, and why sellers today are able to access such high equity.

The Last Decade of the Bluffs Sales and Prices (as of May 2022)
Sold #Median $Avg. $$ / SqFt
% Diff53%+268%+210%+175%+