The Huntington Beach Planning Commission denied a request to convert a mobile home park from rental to residential ownership on the grounds that approving the conversion would allow further encroachment on public property.
The City Council also voted unanimously last week to file a lawsuit against Pacific Mobile Home Park, which has 252 lots.
The owner of the Huntington Street mobile home park has applied to subdivide the property, which would allow the park's residents to buy the lots under their coaches.
Over the years, parts of the coaches and accessories of the coaches, like overhanging patios, have crept toward Huntington Street, encroaching on the sidewalk and street, said City Atty. Jennifer McGrath.
"The case that we're filing is designed to preserve the city's right to improve the street," she said. "However, there are no plans to do that, and we're not planning on removing the coaches. That would be up to the park owner how to fix it."
If the city allows the park owner to go ahead with the subdivision, it would make it difficult to later improve the street, and Huntington Beach would be fighting with individual residents instead of the current mobile home park owner to get its property back, McGrath said.
It would be the park owner's responsibility to vacate from city property, but Huntington Beach will not go after residents even if the court rules in the city's favor unless future improvements on the street are needed, McGrath said.
The Planning Commission denied the application on several grounds.
Not only will the subdivision encroach on the city's right of way, but the plan violates the state code, said Jennifer Villasenor, city senior planner.
The park owner's request or subdivision map does not meet the state requirement because the owner is not simply converting the property from rental to resident-owned mobile home parks, she said.
"In this case, it has boundary and lot line discrepancies that would result in physical changes in the property that kicks it out of conversion based on the ownership," Villasenor said. "It became more than just a change of the ownership."
Although parts of the park are technically on the city's right of way, Mark Alpert, the park owner's attorney, said it is not relevant to the application to subdivide the park. He added that a subdivision would take care of the encroachment issue. But, before a resident can finalize a purchase, the park owner would still have to address the encroachment issue, he said.
Except for Alpert, all other three speakers were opposed to the subdivision.
Sharon Dana said allowing it would ultimately make it harder for the park's low-income residents, who are mainly seniors with fixed incomes, to afford the rent.
Alpert said he will appeal the Planning Commission's decision to the City Council.