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Westminster : Trailer Park Tenants Seek Hearing on Rents

Residents of a Westminster mobile home park have petitioned the state Supreme Court to hear their case protesting a retroactive rent hike made possible by the City Council’s repeal of a 1981 rent control ordinance.

The petition by residents of Los Alisos mobile park follows the withdrawal in late May of an Orange County Superior Court judge’s restraining order against retroactive portions of the city’s repeal of the rent controls. In lifting the injunction, the judge cited a recent appellate court decision invalidating the city’s original rent control ordinance.

That ordinance had been a subject of litigation since it became law, and as a result of the ongoing lawsuits, tenants either paid increases demanded by the park owners into a trust account or withheld them.

Retroactive rent totals anywhere from $2,000 to $3,300 for each of the park’s residents, according to their attorney, R. Richard Farnell.

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Farnell said several California cities will join in the petition for a Supreme Court hearing, filed last week in Los Angeles. Santa Monica, Hayward, San Franciso and Palm Springs are among cities claiming the appellate court’s ruling could also threaten their rent control ordinances, Farnell said.

In Orange County, an uproar over the rate increases has centered around the fact that many of the Los Alisos park residents are senior citizens on fixed incomes, a factor prompting the original rent control ordinance, Farnell said.

“This ruling represents a tremendous amount of hardship for many of the residents,” he said.

Residents must still pay back rent while awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision.

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Los Alisos’ park owner, Lee Miller, could not be reached for comment on the petition.


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