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City steps in to look at trailer park rent

City manager says it’s uncertain how laws protecting residents can be applied in situation.

April 28, 2008|By Chris Caesar

Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever is concerned enough about rent hikes as high as 35% at the Anchor Trailer Park in downtown Costa Mesa that he has directed city staff to look into whether the park’s owners are engaging in an illegal attempt to rezone the parcel.

Average monthly rent, which went from $660 to $850 last year, is scheduled to balloon to as much as $1,025 this year — significantly more than any other comparable mobile home spaces in the city, which average about $700 a month.

The increase has concerned the park’s tenants who believe the park’s owners, Los Angeles-based V2 Ventures Acquisitions and Development Company, have long-term plans to demolish and rezone the property, and are simply trying to push tenants out of the park without having to pay for their mandated relocation costs.

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“I did see some evidence [to that effect] that caused some concern,” Bever said. “If, in fact, there is intent to close the park, then the owner is responsible under state law to go through a very clearly defined process, and it does not look like they are going through that process.”

While numerous attempts to contact V2V were unsuccessful, a representative from the group’s contracted management company, J & H Asset Property Management, said the park’s owners had no intention of closing down the park, but acknowledged he wasn’t in a position to be sure.

“I suppose these are just my conclusions, but the ownership has spaces for rent posted on the property, and the ownership is considering bringing in some park-owned models for the facility,” property manager Joe Levy said. “That’s my understanding of the situation, though I’m not in [V2V Properties’] inner circle.”

City Manager Allan Roeder said the legal rights of tenants under such a conversion may only apply when a developer acts in good faith — it is not clear what laws protect residents, he said.

“That’s one of the challenges: What would we need to be able to prove that a developer planned on rezoning the property in the long term?” he said. “Would a rent of a certain increase constitute a planned change in the park? Or, if increases result in a certain amount of turnover or vacancies, or if those vacancies aren’t being filled — would that constitute a planned conversion?”

Roeder said a consideration of rent control would not be a part of the deliberations, though Anchor Trailer Park resident Adrienne Watkins — who will have to leave the park to continue buying her prescription drug regimen — said it may be the only way to save the neighborhood.

“I think [the City Council’s approach] is great — I don’t know whether the city can make them lower the rent, but whatever they can do for us is great,” she said. “I was struggling to pay $875 last year. I don’t know how I’ll make $990.”


CHRIS CAESAR may be reached at (714) 966-4626 or at chris.caesar@latimes.com.

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