Moratorium will protect senior parks – for now

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

The Huntington Beach City Council adopted a moratorium Monday that temporarily prevents senior citizen mobile home parks from opening to all ages.

"Property rights are very important to me, and mobile home park owners deserve to make decisions for themselves," Councilman Joe Carchio said. "In this case, just setting aside for a couple of months doesn't make that much of a difference. If everybody on both sides is sincere about what they really want to do, I think that the mobile home park owners, and the residents that live there, can come to some sort of an agreement."

Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Harper cast the lone dissenting vote in the 6-1 decision.

"Why would any property owner, after being provoked, not seek to preserve their rights?" Harper said. "By supporting this action, you're supporting the taking away of those rights."

The move was designed to allow the city time to draft an ordinance that would enable city officials to be included in the talks of such a change.

The moratorium will protect the 10 senior parks from a status change for 45 days, as city officials write the ordinance, a process that can take several months.

"It was designed to preserve the status quo as city staff researches and develops an appropriate ordinance that's consistent with the Yucaipa decision that was previously quoted," city attorney Jennifer McGrath said.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a case last year between Putnam Family Partnership and the city of Yucaipa, where Judge Karen Moore stated in her opinion that the city wasn't barred from creating a senior housing district.

Councilman Jim Katapodis asked his colleagues at the July 15 meeting to consider creating a senior housing district to protect aging residents and provide living options for them in Huntington Beach.

McGrath said that Rancho Huntington, a senior park on Brookhurst Street near Yorktown Avenue, was changing to an all-ages park and would be affected by the moratorium.

However, Rancho representatives said there was no intention to switch the park to an all-ages property and that they want it to remain a senior complex.

Harper compared supporters of the ordinance and moratorium to the late Chinese Communist dictator Mao Zedong and former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Mayor Connie Boardman took offense to Harper's statement and reiterated that representatives of Rancho said there was no intent to convert it to an all-ages park.

"The mobile home parks are an important part of senior housing," Boardman said "They are not the only kind of senior housing the city offers, but it is worthy of protecting."

[For the record, 9:50 a.m. Aug. 9: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the vote as 7-1.]

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