SANTA ANA : Rezoning of Mobile Home Parks Sought

More than 150 mobile home park residents urged the City Council this week to draft ordinances that would provide extra protection should their parks be closed and converted to another use.

The residents, all wearing yellow ribbons, rallied in support of ordinances recommended by the city's Housing Advisory Commission to ensure relocation benefits and create a special zoning category for mobile home parks.

This special zoning would require two public hearings before the zoning category could be changed for any of the city's 29 mobile home parks. The parks are currently zoned for industrial, residential, commercial or agricultural uses.

"When a park closes because of an owner's action, mobile home owners are displaced and they need some protection on relocation," said Marty Orth, president of the Santa Ana Mobile Home Park Owners Assn. "It costs money to move a coach, it's a disruption of lives and it can cause economic problems. State law only says that homeowners get reasonable compensation, an interpretation that can be very harmful."

Vickie Talley, executive director of the Manufactured Housing Educational Trust, an organization representing mobile home park owners in Orange County, spoke out against the proposed ordinances.

"We feel there's no need to rezone the mobile home parks because state law already provides for relocation benefits and procedures which protect the residents when the parks close," Talley said.

Richards L. Norton was the only council member who voted in favor of having the ordinances drafted immediately. Norton said the issue is a personal one for him because his grandparents were once in danger of being displaced from their mobile home in Arizona.

"I think anything the City Council can do to ensure the peace of mind of mobile home residents should be done," Norton said.

But Norton was outnumbered by a majority of the council, which requested more information before deciding whether to proceed with the ordinances. They instructed city staff to determine the current zoning for each park, to explore the legal ramifications of the ordinances and to look into state legislation being considered on the relocation rights of mobile home owners. The council will reconsider the matter in 60 to 90 days.

Other cities in the state that have adopted mobile home park relocation ordinances include San Marcos, Fremont, Sunnyvale, Escondido and all of Sacramento County.

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