Julie's Cheap Motel.
Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. A motel.
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
A. The location
isn't mentioned, but somewhere near Newport Beach.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. We see the motel in Episode 5 (of season three), "The Perfect Storm", where Julie Cooper-Nichol, virtually penniless after the death of her bankrupt husband (Caleb), has lost her mansion, and is forced to move into a cheap motel.
Her daughter, Marissa, is temporarily staying at Summer's house, when Julie phones her.
At first, we only see a head shot of her, wearing sunglasses and holding her cell phone - as she reassures Marissa that she has everything under control.
After she hangs up, though, the camera pulls back to reveal her surroundings.
A policeman almost bumps into her as he hauls away some handcuffed guy that he has arrested at the motel.
Then an aerial shot shows the small, somewhat shoddy motel, its blue pool littered with leaves.
We see it again later in the same episode, when Charolotte (Jeri Ryan) comes to the motel and knocks on Julie's door. She tells Julie that she has bought her a marina condo (all part of Charlotte's con job, designed to swindle Julie's rich friends).
Julie won't let her into the crappy room, and she refers to the motel as "a flea-bag hell-hole".
eventually loses the condo, and winds up in a trailer
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. An actual
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. It's the Driftwood Motel, at 3960 Pacific Coast Highway, in Torrance, CA.
That's just west of Hawthorne Blvd, and about 2 1/2 miles from the beach at Redondo, in a neighborhood known as Walteria
Here are two
photos I shot of the motel, in 2010:
Remember that these are private apartments, so do
not knock on their doors,
(The only other
time was for the Pawn Shop, near the end of
Season 3 - but that was over in Old Town Torrance, a good five miles
to the northeast of this location.)
But this motel is still fairly close to a number of other O.C. locations, including Johnnie's Surfing Beach, Alex & Trey's apartment, and the Balboa Bakery. It's about a four mile drive from the Pier.
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. I didn't. I checked all of the usual locations: Redondo, Long Beach, etc. My hunch was that it was probably in the Lawndale/Hawthorne area, where they had filmed many of the Chino locations, since that seemed to be their area of choice when they wanted a working class locale. But it was nowhere to be found.
Years later, in 2010, a fan, Geoff, stumbled across it, and was good enough to let me know. (Thanks, Geoff! )
I went there
in person to shoot the photos you see above. Considering that it's located
in a fairly nice area (near both Rolling Hills and Redondo), I assumed
that it would probably actually be a more upscale place than the way it
was depicted on the show. I assumed that they had deliberately messed it
up a bit (by putting leaves in the pool, etc) to stress the fact that Julie
was down on her luck. But when I got there, I found (what else?) leaves
in the pool! And when I Googled for customer reviews about the motel when
I found reviews
that were, to be kind, not exactly flattering...
O.C. screenshots from the show and all related characters & elements
are trademarks of and © Warner Bros Entertainment Inc.