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First Impressions of Playa del Rey

This is the kick off of the First Impressions column. A new Playa del Rey resident muses on her first impressions of moving to and living in Playa del Rey.

Welcome dear readers to the maiden voyage of the First Impressions column, which I will navigate through the Marina del Rey Patch.com site for the next however much time. 

I am your skipper at the wheel of this vessel.  Should you need anything during this undetermined-length-of-time tour please refer to the “email the author” button next to my name.  

In welcoming you to the first edition of my very own patch of this vast Patch.com domain, I want to set the intention for the First Impressions column-- to open a dialogue between myself, a newly transplanted Playa del Rey resident, and you-- whether you are new to the area or a long-time resident. 

This will be my forum for talking about my first impressions of my new neighborhood and area of town.

And I hope to engage you in conversation. I believe you will teach me some things about this area of town. And maybe I can open your eyes to some of the delights of Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and Del Rey that you didn’t know exist.   

And with opening a dialogue, I invite your feedback- comments, emails, Facebook posts and tweets.  (Just don’t show up at my front door!) 

But if you spot me at the local coffee shop or super market, please say hello.  Tell me if you like what I wrote or you think I got it wrong. 

In kicking off this inaugural post of the First Impressions column, here are some of my first impressions and the story of how I came to Playa del Rey.

I love the beach. I love vast expanses of water.  These reasons are initially what prompted me to want to move to a beach town after having lived in the thick of urban Los Angeles, landlocked and gridlocked and pining for a beach cottage, for approximately 2 years while it slowly chipped away at my soul. 

My thinking was: why live in a coastal metropolis if you never get to enjoy the beach? At that point, I was averaging a beach visit every couple of months. 

Every afternoon, I would walk my dogs and watch the sun set behind the high-rises in Koreatown and wonder what the sun looked like setting over the Pacific Ocean.  I knew I had to get out.    

Fast forward to a meeting in November between me and a Craigslist “roommate wanted” poster at her rented Playa del Rey house, just a couple-minute walk to the beach and I was sold.  The house had me at street view.

After the meeting, I drove through the neighborhood, planning the route I would walk every afternoon with my dogs once I moved into the house.  The sun happened to be setting.  It happened to be breathtaking. 

I rolled down the windows as I cruised the residential streets, and I couldn’t believe I could smell salt in the air.  The smell reminded me of vacation.

 I approached Vista del Mar and saw the actual sun setting over the actual Pacific Ocean.  I thought I might cry.  It looked just as I had imagined - painting the sky all sorts of hues of pink and orange, and I thought this has got to be paradise. 

And if my first encounter with Playa del Rey says anything, I’ve only fallen even more in love.

The first week I was here, I went to the beach daily.  Not to sunbathe or swim, but to walk my dogs.  But at the beach nonetheless!  Sure beat the pants off sidewalks. 

It’s been over a month now and while I don’t go everyday, I still get to the beach several times a week, and it is magical for me. 

I love how when the sun is setting people will stop what they’re doing and just watch.

They sometimes pull out a camera or cell phone and take pictures of the sunset. (And yes I’ve done it, too.)

I’m in awe of how they are in awe.  We share the awe.  And their appreciation of my beach, (yes, I call it “my” beach), makes me love it even more.  I know I’m not alone in thinking it’s breathtaking. 

Part of why I love this beach so much is because it feels private.  It’s not overly crowded, and it’s bordered by mostly residential rather than commercial properties with the beach condos and houses lining the sand.  

We’re privileged in Playa del Rey to be secluded from the sprawl that defines the rest of Los Angeles’ beach towns. 

We have the marina and Marina del Rey to the north to shield us from the congestion of Venice Beach, and we have good ol’ Los Angeles International Airport to the south.  While it creates regular fly-over noise it also takes up a lot of the buildable beach-front property, thus creating a barrier to commercial encroachment and keeping the beachgoers, tourists and partiers south of El Segundo. 

The seclusion has made this part of town even more comfortable to me.  Instead of feeling like I have to fight for a piece of it with every other person in Los Angeles, I really feel like it can be mine.  Or at least a little part of it.  And feeling like you've found home is the best feeling to have. 

Justin Levine January 19, 2011 at 02:29 AM
Sums up many of my feelings after living here for 17+ years. We need to fight to make sure it remains a hidden gem and not an over-developed piece of beach real-estate the way so many other coastal communities have become.
Rebecca Jane January 19, 2011 at 02:44 AM
What a fantastic piece of writing, look forward to your future pieces.
Elizabeth Pollock January 19, 2011 at 03:10 PM
I assume that your dogs are always leashed and that you are not walking them on the state beach. With certain exceptions, even leashed dogs are not allowed in state parks or on state beaches, and the fines are hefty -- about $1000. That said, there is a movement to have part of Dockweiler Beach set aside as a dog park, i.e. leash-free, and www.hautedogs.org lists parks that are "dog-friendly".
Charlotte January 19, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Great article. Enjoy your exploration of our wonderful hamlet at the beach!
Barry gribbon January 19, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Nicely done. Welcome to the PDR hood. This is our secret and it is a jewel. I remember having breakfast in PDR on sunny Sunday morning and there was an open house. I figured it does not hurt to look. Once I realized I could live at the beach and still be part of the diverse LA community, I was old. I was not sold on that house but I moves to Playa 6 months later. That was 2001. Let's keep Playa unique while adapting to change.
Cheryl January 19, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Justin, I was thinking the same thing after reading some of the development information. People often think that making more money is the most important thing. Sometimes having a quiet peaceful place to live is the MOST important thing to have in our lives. I think the push to develop every corner of the earth for the sake of investment is over rated. Value isn't only about money. I love the Marina & Playa Del Rey areas because it's a hidden gem, peaceful and quiet!
Alaena Hostetter January 20, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Elizabeth, Thanks for your comment. Yes, I have my dogs leashed. I'm aware that there is a no-dog policy on the beach, although I believe you can have dogs on the walking path or strand. I'm going to look into the dog park movement for the beach! Do you have any more info on that? Thanks! Alaena
Alaena Hostetter January 20, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Thank you, everyone, for your comments and feedback! I really appreciate it!!!

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