The location: 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".

    (Julie manages eventually loses the condo, and winds up in a trailer park.)

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. An actual motel.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. It's the Driftwood Motel, at 3960 Pacific Coast Highway, in TorranceCA.

    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:

    [ Warning: Remember that these are private apartments, so do not knock on their doors,
    or do anything else that might disturb the residents' privacy.

    This was the first time The O.C. filmed in Torrance.

    (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.

    Here is a map link with the exact location in Torrance. And here is an aerial photo from Bing.

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...

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