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MALIBU : City Appeals $1-Million Judgment in Mobile Home Rent-Control Suit

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Malibu officials are appealing recent federal court rulings that require paying more than $1 million to the owner of a mobile home park who sued the city over a rent-control law.

U.S. District Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer in March ordered Malibu to pay Kissel Co., owner of the 256-space Paradise Cove mobile home park, $605,448 for losses incurred under the 1991 law. Last month, Pfaelzer ordered Malibu to pay Kissel an additional $398,308 in attorney’s fees and $30,725 in other costs.

Kissel sued Malibu 3 1/2 years ago, shortly after the city enacted the mobile-home rent control law that, among other things, rolled back rents to 1984 levels. Kissel contended that the law was unfair because it did not allow the company adequate compensation.

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Pfaelzer struck down as unconstitutional several provisions of the mobile home law, including the rent rollback, and awarded Kissel reimbursement for its losses.

City Atty. Christi Hogin called the law “rational,” saying it “provides park owners with a fair return on their investment.”

Hogin initiated the appeal two weeks ago in federal court, but she emphasized that the process could take a year or more. Meanwhile, she said, the city may pursue a negotiated settlement, an idea Kissel officials said they would consider.

“We’re willing to listen to what the city has to say,” said Steve Dahlberg, Kissel’s chief financial officer.

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