The City of Chino recently reached a $1.5 million settlement with a manufactured home community owner.
The suit originally asked for $34 million, and was filed in July 2010 by Chino MHC, owner of Lamplighter Chino Mobile Home Park, per the Champion Newspapers.
“The settlement agreement resolves long-standing disputes and litigation between the parties,” city spokeswoman Arianna Fajardo said in July. “The settlement makes clear that it is not an admission of any wrongdoing whatsoever on the part of the city. Instead, the city council wished to move beyond the disputes and avoid further expenditure of time and funds litigating these matters.”
The California Supreme Court declined the city’s request to hear the case.
In 2011, Superior Court Judge Joseph Brisco ruled that the City of Chino could not prohibit the conversion of the park, even though a survey of residents reportedly revealed most opposed the plan.
The City of Chino appealed, but lost in October 2012, when the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that the city council could not stop conversion of the mobile home park to resident ownership, unless city could show the owner was taking the step to avoid the city’s rent control policy on land-lease manufactured home communities.
“Under this scenario, non-purchasing resident households will not be required to vacate their spaces,” former-city attorney Jimmy Gutierrez told the council. He had warned officials that the decision could result in lawsuits that the city would lose.
A Community Sector Industry Attorney Comments
Hart King tells MHProNews that they were not involved in this case, and that the comments from C. William “Bill” Dahlin “are personal and do not reflect any client or the firm.”
“It is my understanding the tenants also sued the city [in 2014] and I am not sure if this second piece of litigation is also at issue in the settlement referenced in the article,” Dahlin told the Daily Business News on MHProNews.
“As an FYI, an approved subdivision of a MHP in California makes the park exempt from local rent control once the first space has been sold,” Dahlin said.
“As a generality most park owners do not require existing residents to buy their space when a subdivision is approved. Rather the park owner generally allows existing homeowners to continue as tenants, but frequently do require a successor tenant to buy the space.” the California-based attorney said.
“I assume this subdivision was pursued because the city’s rent control ordinance had the rents at a small fraction of market rent. After this subdivision was judicially approved the state legislature made it almost impossible to subdivide a MHP w/o tenant support. That legislation has effectively stopped almost all subdivision applications.” Dahlin added that this was “Just another consequence of rent control. The state has also made park closures economically VERY difficult and that has prevented older functionally obsolete MHPs from closing to allow newer developments to proceed. Yet another consequence of rent control and one factor in the state’s “housing crisis”…
The battle is part of the ongoing struggles between local jurisdictions and manufactured home community owners that are taking place in many parts of the country. Some other recent cases are linked below. ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
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