City lawsuit names park residents

Huntington Beach has now named 30 mobile home park residents in a lawsuit against the park's owners, a move that will force the residents to hire their own lawyers and respond directly.

Huntington Beach City Attorney Jennifer McGrath said Pacific Mobile Home Park's residents haven't been served with the lawsuit yet and before that happens, she will be meeting with them to explain why they've been named in the lawsuit.

A meeting is tentatively scheduled for Saturday.

As far as the city is concerned, the move to name the individual residents is no more than a technical step to continue to argue for the city's rights in court.

"In order to continue to preserve the property, we had to name the individual coach owners," McGrath said.

Those coaches and/or their accessories have over the years crept up toward city property on Huntington Street. The city initially filed the lawsuit against the park owners to establish its property lines in case the city needs to improve its streets in the future, but said the residents will not be kicked out even if court ruled in the city's favor.

"What happens is if we're successful in court, when and if we want to do something is when we trigger the necessity for them to move," McGrath said. "We don't have that plan in place. The way we probably resolve this is as they vacate, we'll remove their mobile homes and we won't let someone else go in."

But Mark Alpert, Pacific Mobile Home Park's lawyer, said the city could have established the rightful owner of the strip of land through what's called a quiet title action. That wouldn't have led to naming the residents in the lawsuit, he said.

"The city is putting them in a position where they have to hire attorneys and face the threat of losing their homes," he said.

There's more to this than just the issue of encroachment. The park owners filed a lawsuit against the city in August after being denied a request to convert the mobile park and offer residents the chance to buy the land under their coaches.

The city denied the application, which was initially filed in April on the grounds that the conversion cannot be done if parts of the land encroaches on city property.

That lawsuit is also playing out in court.

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