Council strikes down mobile home park's subdivision plan

A proposal that would have allowed a mobile home park at Huntington Street and Atlanta Avenue to convert from rentals to for-sale units was denied this week by the Huntington Beach City Council.

With a 6-1 vote, the council upheld Monday a Planning Commission recommendation to stop the park from subdividing the land. Councilman Devin Dwyer dissented.

The commission denied Pacific Mobile Home Park's request to subdivide the park once before because the conversion would encroach on public property. City administrators recommended denial in both hearings.

"No one can legally sell something that they do not fully own," said resident Mary Jo Baretich, who spoke against the park's request.

Over the years, parts or accessories of some units have crept toward Huntington Street, causing the council to unanimously vote in April to file a lawsuit to preserve its right of way.

City Atty. Jennifer McGrath said the city isn't planning on evicting residents whose mobile homes encroach on the public right of way, but the move is to protect the city in case the street needs widening in the future.

Mark Alpert, the attorney representing the park's owner, said allowing the subdivision would take care of the problem because the sale of the land under the encroaching units would not be allowed if parts of it belong to the city.

But those residents would then have to move, violating a state rule that requires park owners to give all renters the option to buy the property under their units, according to a city staff report.

If renters have to move, they will not have the opportunity to buy the land, Councilwoman Connie Boardman said.

"That's the conflict that I see, and that's the reason I will be supporting the staff's recommendation," she said.

Aside from not having the opportunity to buy the land under their units, residents living there would have to deal with the city on an individual basis in the future, had the city allowed the subdivision to go through.

Park residents were concerned about the subdivision's consequences, including increased rent and the elimination of any incentives offered to the elderly who live on fixed incomes, similar to what residents said happened at Huntington Shorecliffs Mobile Home Park off Beach Boulevard.

Pacific Mobile owner Jim Hodson said the park plans to keep the residents and continue to offer them reasonable prices.

He expressed dismay with the city's willingness to move residents when it needs to widen its streets, but deny him the opportunity to benefit his business. The city is in the middle of plans to widen Atlanta Avenue, and additional land that would be taken from the park is needed to complete the project.

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