City moves to protect senior mobile home parks

Huntington Beach residents living in senior mobile home parks and fearing their conversion to parks with no age limits may get some protection from the city.

Council members voted 5-1 on Monday, with Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Harper dissenting and Councilwoman Jill Hardy absent, to ask city staff to write an ordinance that would prevent such changes to the eight senior parks in the city.

The motion directs the planning and building director, city attorney and the Mobile Home Advisory Board to draft the document. The city attorney was also asked to write a moratorium ordinance to prevent any senior parks from being converted while the law is being drawn up.

About 10 senior mobile home residents said during the meeting that conversion would increase rents and destroy the lifestyle they have chosen.

Councilman Jim Katapodis brought the topic to the council, with hopes, he said, of protecting the senior citizens in the city.

He said Tuesday that he had recently talked with a few senior mobile home residents who told him they heard of parks in other cities facing conversion to family parks and didn't want that happening in Huntington Beach.

"This is about seniors and taking care of the seniors here in Huntington Beach," he said. "There's eight manufactured home parks that are specifically for seniors. It's no different from senior organizations or [other forms of senior] living that we have here in Huntington Beach."

Harper said he was concerned about the ramifications of the ordinance and believed it would send the wrong message to property owners.

"I think there's an ideological agenda here," he said. "It clearly seems like folks' minds are made up and we're ready to fast-track this into a city ordinance. I'm very concerned about the heavy hand of government in the people's property here in Huntington Beach."

Harper added that past items, like the recent plastic bag and pet shop bans, tell residents that city government is there to dictate their lives.

Harper participated in a back-and-forth, sometimes heated, dialogue with Councilman Joe Shaw, who said the ordinance tells residents that they are being heard.

"Each of those items that he's talked about, [like] the plastic bag ban, was brought to us by the high school students and all the other people involved with that," Shaw said. "They came to us and asked us to do that. Same thing with the pet shops. We do ordinances because the residents bring them to us. And this is no different."

Harper shot back that a ban on the conversion of senior mobile home parks would be a "move to the left" and would "follow in the footsteps of much more liberal left-wing cities, like West Hollywood and Los Angeles."

"Cities that have a significant problem with private property rights," he said.


Electric vehicle parking spaces

In other news Monday, council members passed an item asking city staff to prepare a resolution that would create a minimum number of electric vehicle spaces for new residential, commercial and industrial developments.

While Mayor Connie Boardman and Councilmen Carchio and Shaw saw the action as putting Huntington Beach in the forefront of new technology, Harper saw it as another move to the left.

"Once again, this is another proposal to be in a race with the California Legislature to expand the role of government into our daily lives," he said. "This is not market-driven. This is city-mandated. This is the heavy hand of government, once again, intruding into how we deal with our own property. I would submit ... that we're creeping toward socialism here in Huntington Beach."


Community Services Commission and doubled alcohol-related fines

Also, council members took another step toward changing the structure of the Community Services Commission.

Council members unanimously agreed to alter the makeup, having seven appointed members — each chosen by a council member — instead of the previous five, and retaining the six members representing all the school districts in Huntington Beach and the Coast Community College District.

And effective from Monday night, alcohol-related fines are now doubled on specific holidays and during the US Open of Surfing.

First-time violators will be issued a $250 fine for violations on New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July and Halloween, in addition to the US Open.

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