The city has 4.5 miles of coastline that is all deeded to the city. The only multiple housing in Palos Verdes estates is located near the commercial districts in Malaga Cove and Lunada Bay. Nearly all homes in Palos Verdes Estates are custom built rather than tract homes.
Palos Verdes Estates is unique in that it is a 'deed restricted city' and has a controlling body known as the 'Homes Association'. Architectural styles and designs are subject to the review and approval of the 'Art Jury' (a panel including professional architects). Each lot has specific architectural controls that dictate exterior styles such as Spanish, Ranch, etc.; and also specify exterior design features such as windows, roof, materials, and colors. Each property owner is a member of the Homes Association and each parcel of land entitles the owner to one vote. The Palos Verdes Homes Association is responsible for enforcing the deed restrictions of the City of Palos Verdes Estates. The Planning Commission reviews applications and makes recommendations to the city council which is the governing body. The Homes Association and the Planning department are separate bodies and approvals must be obtained from both. A copy of submitted plans for each home is maintained at the Homes Association office.
Building new or remodeling in Palos Verdes Estates requires the following steps:
1) Submit plans to the Homes Association and obtain Art Jury approval.
2) Submit application to the city Planning Commission and obtain approval for 'neighborhood compatibility,' if required (normally needed).
3) Submit working drawings to the Homes Association and obtain approval.
4) Submit working drawings to the building department for plan check.
5) Obtain building permits when working drawings have been approved.
The rural character of the city is maintained as much as possible. The only street lights in the city are along Palos Verdes Blvd. at the entrance from Torrance. The current street signs are still the original design from the 1920's. There are no traffic lights in the city and only a minimal amount of sidewalks. Many areas have no curbs or gutters. Trees in city easements and rights of way are under the purview of city control and maintenance. In order to enhance appearance, trash containers must be retained in drying yards hidden from view for each home in the city and the trash collection company retrieves the trash from those secluded locations once per week.
The city of Palos Verdes Estates has only seven access routes into and out of the city: Palos Verdes Drive North at the Rolling Hills Estates border, Via Valmonte at the Torrance border, Palos Verdes Boulevard at the Torrance border, Palos Verdes Drive West at the Rancho Palos Verdes border, Granvia Altamira (both ends) and Mossbank at the Rancho Palos Verdes border.
Palos Verdes Estates has its own governing body and police department but contracts fire department services from the county of Los Angeles.
Palos Verdes Estates is included in the Palos Verdes Peninsula school district and has the following schools:
Palos Verdes High School - 600 Cloyden Road
Lunada Bay Elementary - 520 Paseo Lunado
Margate Intermediate - 2161 Via Olivera
Montemalaga Elementary (1121 Via Nogales)
Zurita school site is used as a youth baseball field.
Malaga Cove Intermediate (re-open plans in work) 300 Paseo del Mar
Valmonte Elementary - administration offices (3801 Via La Selva) - planned re-opening