MHC Owner Wants to Convert to All-age, City Balks

vcstar reports from Ventura County, California, the owner of a land lease community in Fillmore filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging the city is preventing her from converting the 55 and older community to for-sale condominium lots open to all buyers and ages. Nancy Watkins, owner of El Dorado Mobile Home Estates on E. Telegraph Road, alleges the city initiated a series of demands beginning in April 2009 to deliberately thwart the conversion, which followed vocal residents of the 302 homesite community pressing the Fillmore City Council to institute rent control. Last year Watkins sued in Ventura Superior Court over an environmental compliance requirement, and the judge ruled in her favor. The federal suit charges the city has “determined it would take whatever steps it could legally take to delay, impede, or deny” the move to an all ages community. The suit notes an email from City Attorney Ted Schneider to a park resident saying El Dorado’s being subject to the Environmental Quality Act might convince the owner not to change to an all-age community. Watkins further says the city is in violation of the U.S. Fair Housing Act by preventing her from leasing or selling her property to whomever she chooses. She is seeking unspecified compensatory damages as well as injunctive relief and court costs. The city has moved to dismiss the case for lack of standing, not having exhausted all administrative remedies, and for not stating a claim. Schneider also says the city has not taken final action on the application, and filing a lawsuit is a bullying tactic. Watkins’ attorney, Mark Alpert of Hart, King & Coldren, responded with, “I’d say they are the experts on bullying tactics.”

(Graphic credit: Yahoo! Maps)


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