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Laguna Mobile-Home Protection Law OKd

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a sweeping ordinance that will protect mobile-home residents against the closure of their parks.

Under the proposed law, which requires a second vote of the council next month, mobile-home park landowners wanting to convert their property to other uses would first have to file reports with the city, detailing the extent of the impact on residents.

The city would also require the landowners to buy the mobile homes or pay to relocate residents to a coastal park within 20 miles, including payment of security deposits at a new mobile-home park and the difference between the rental rates at the park that was to be closed and at the new site, if the new rent is higher.

Because the issue has been debated at length during previous city Planning Commission meetings, there was little discussion of the ordinance Tuesday. Representatives of residents at the city’s three trailer parks, totaling more than 400 units, briefly thanked council members in anticipation of their approval.

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Treasure Island residents have complained that the park owners--Merrill Lynch Hubbard, an investment unit, and Costa Mesa businessman Richard Hall--are slowly forcing out the residents by raising rents in order to empty the beachfront property and redevelop the land.

Because of the uncertain future at Treasure Island, residents have claimed that they have been unable to sell their homes and the landowners have purchased the units at bargain-basement prices.

“It’s hard living in Treasure Island,” resident Oliver Springer said. “Not knowing what’s going to happen to your home, it’s a hard thing.”

But the owners have denied trying to nudge out the tenants, adding that they were approached by the tenants to buy the units.

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Hall did not speak against the ordinance but said before the meeting that a court reporter was hired by the owners to record the council’s discussion in preparation for a possible lawsuit against the city.

“We have no other choice. We don’t think this (ordinance) is a constitutional document,” he said.

Letters sent to the city by an attorney for the landowners argue that the ordinance deprives the owners of basic property rights, including their right to go out of business.

The relocation-assistance ordinance goes beyond minimum state standards, which require the preparation of the impact report, city staffers said. The Laguna Beach ordinance was patterned after a similar law approved in 1988 by the city of Concord.

In other action, Laguna Canyon Foundation board members told the council that they hope to raise at least $4 million by the end of June to help pay for purchase of Laguna Canyon open space. The nonprofit group was formed in December to help the city raise the $78 million purchase price over the next five years. The first down payment of $33 million is due at the end of June.

Board members said a major entertainment event is being planned this year to help raise funds.


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