Mobile Home Park Residents Take Steps to Buy Their Culver City Site

Times Staff Writer

About 200 residents of a Culver City mobile home park have taken preliminary steps to convert the park to a tenant-owned and -operated cooperative.

Residents of the Baldwin Hills Trailer Park on Playa Street want to buy the 5.5-acre park from its owner, Volkswagen of America Inc., using a regular bank loan and low-interest loans from the state, Los Angeles County and the Culver City Redevelopment Agency.

The co-op plan is similar to one used by residents of the Seminole Springs Mobile Home Park in Agoura, who bought their park for $4 million last month. Baldwin Hills park residents have hired the nonprofit Los Angeles Design Center, which helped form the Agoura co-op.

Volkswagen officials said the Baldwin Hills park is valued at about $3 million. It has been on the market for five years.

Otis Ginoza, a senior planner of the Los Angeles Design Center, said that the mobile home residents could probably finance about 80% of the park purchase through a bank or savings and loan association. They would have to provide the remaining 20% themselves, he said.

But more than half of the residents are senior citizens, many of whom live on Social Security or other pensions, and cannot afford the $3,000 to $4,500 that each would have to contribute to the down payment, Ginoza said.

They could apply for low-cost loans from the state Mobile Home Park Assistance Program, offered through the state Office of Housing and Community Development. They may also ask the county Community Development Department and the City Council and Culver City Redevelopment Agency for loans, he said.

If the residents buy the property, each would be responsible for a share of the monthly co-op mortgage payment and a management fee, the exact amount depending on the sale price of the land, Ginoza said.

Earlier this year, Ginoza obtained loans of $301,000 from the state and $116,000 from the county for the Agoura residents who purchased their park in May. The county money was used for the roughly $4,500 down payments for 26 low-income residents, who will not have to repay the loans until they move or sell their mobile homes.

The Agoura residents pay about $280 a month in mortgage and maintenance fees, Ginoza said.

The Baldwin Hills Trailer Park, with 117 mobile homes, is the largest of three in Culver City. Rent on each lot is about $200 a month.

Volkswagen bought the 25-year-old park in the mid-1970s along with a 12-acre parcel for the company's Western regional office and parts warehouse.

Larry Brown, a spokesman for the Michigan-based company, said the firm plans to relocate its regional office in the Los Angeles area sometime this year and is looking for a site.

Brown said the 12-acre parcel is worth $20 million.

The company is moving its inventory of auto parts out of its 275,000-square-foot warehouse to a larger building in the City of Commerce. About 270 employees work in the regional office and warehouse.

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