Housing: Pads for Singles

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There are apartment houses that ban pets, others that ban children, but the newest trend in Southern California is the apartment house that bans—of all groups—married couples. "The singles, the swingers, the young professional people are everywhere," explains Developer Howard Ruby, whose South Bay Club Apartments in the Torrance section of Los Angeles has been such a success that he is now putting up two more apartment houses with pads for singles only. "Generally, the apartment business developers weren't building for them and the landlords distrusted them, sure they would damage the place or skip the rent."

There's little risk of rent-skipping at South Bay, a $3,000,000, 248-unit complex housing 500 single stewardesses, doctors, teachers, engineers, secretaries and salesmen. Not only must applicants fight their way up through South Bay's long waiting list but, once in, they simply do not want to leave—even though they must pay rents from $125 for an efficiency to $260 for a two-bedroom pad. These rates are from $50 to $100 higher than those in comparable apartment houses, which are suffering an average vacancy rate of 15%, but South Bay is full up and turning away about 25 new applicants a week.

Almost from the day it opened, South Bay has gloried in its swinger reputation, and none of those who have moved in have any intention of letting the club down—least of all to outsiders. "It's exciting for a girl with all those men around," coos Social Worker Mary Lee Coe. "There's some student atmosphere —only much sexier than any college's." A secretary adds saucily: "This is a good place to be bad." New male arrivals have been known to hide the fact that they go to church, until they find they can safely be both unconventional and accepted.

What keeps the singles at South Bay hopping is a rigorous round of athletic and social activities. Besides a weekly dance, cocktail party and dinner, there are three tennis courts, two swimming pools, an outdoor communal whirlpool bath, two sauna rooms, a billiards room, a party room, and almost nightly discussion groups earnestly debating Viet Nam, drug addiction and civil rights.

"Here, intimacy, in the humanist sense, develops,"says Teacher Ron Wood. And inevitably, with intimacy comes romance, and sometimes marriage. Newlyweds can stay on in the singles' paradise until they find an apartment of their own somewhere in the outside world. Then they pack up and leave, abandoning their pads to the eager singles at the top of the waiting list.