Newport Beach : Hearing Scheduled on Rent-Hike Settlement

Talks to determine the amount of rent increases for about 180 Newport Beach homeowners whose residences sit on rented land will begin in late October, after arbitrators settled a long-running battle over how the property should be valued.

Residents of the Newport Shores development, who own their houses but lease their land, have been wrangling with the landowner, Irvine-based Signal Landmark Inc., for more than a year over the 1959 lease agreements, which required leaseholders to pay 6% of the 1959 property value per year, with a rent adjustment after 25 years.

While Signal Landmark said the agreements call for rent increases to be based on actual property values, the leaseholders have maintained that the agreements require the rent adjustments be based on the unimproved value of the land, as had been the original rents, set 26 years ago.

A three-member arbitration team --formed earlier this year to mediate the dispute--last week sided with the renters and ruled that rent increases would be tied to the value of the lots without sidewalks, grading and other improvements.

Retired Superior Court Judge Bruce Sumner, one of the three arbitrators, said on Tuesday that while the two parties have been told how to determine the rent increases, hearings to determine the actual increases will begin Oct. 29.


Ron Beck, a Long Beach attorney representing the homeowners, said appraisers retained by the leaseholders will attempt to negotiate minimal rent hikes.