Carson mobile home park closures put owners, residents at odds, with city in the middle – Press Telegram

Morton Holtzman has lived at the Imperial Avalon Mobile Estates, in Carson, for more than 50 years.

But his time there is running out.

The park is scheduled to close in January, and, Holtzman said, he doesn’t know where he’ll live after that. Holtzman, 91 years old and on a fixed income, said the park’s owners, under a City Council-approved relocation plan, offered him $37,000 for his home, which he owns. But Holtzman, who also pays about $500 a month in rent on the land and utilities, said that’s not nearly enough to help find a new place to live.

The owners of the park say they’ve gone above and beyond what state law requires to accommodate Holtzman and the 130 or so other residents there. That includes, officials said, offering to let residents stay in a planned mixed-use development on that site with the same rent they pay now.

But that doesn’t make the prospect of finding a new home any easier, Holtzman said. Especially with 20-year-old mobile homes selling for $250,000 on the open market and studio apartments in the area renting for $1,800 a month. And, if he were to move into the future development, he’d get less than half of what the park has offered for his mobile home.

“I’ll be out on the street. That’s what they are offering me,” Holtzman said. “The city is not standing up for us. They are standing up for the owners of the park.”

Some city officials, including the Carson mayor, have said the town is doing its best to manage dueling interests – property owners and tenants – and lauded the deal Imperial Avalon offered residents.

But those dueling interests have become more pronounced recently, with two other mobile home parks in Carson also set to close, and the number of such communities dwindling over the decades, from 28 in the 1990s to 21 currently. Shuttering the three slated for redevelopment would bring the number to 18, with at least one more rumored to be nearing closure.

(The third is the Park Avalon Mobile Estates. There is a relocation plan, one relatively similar to those for the other two parks, but it has yet to be finalized. And the owners have not put forward a redevelopment plan.)

Residents of other mobile home parks say they expect their communities to eventually close as well, with land values rising amid a housing shortage that’s spurring more development – even though the mobile home parks these developments will replace, some residents and city officials say, are the type of affordable housing the region desperately needs.

That’s why Holtzman joined about 60 other mobile home park residents – from Imperial Avalon and elsewhere – in front of Carson City Hall recently to protest the closures.

“My heart goes out to these people,” said Councilman Jim Dear, who has advocated for mobile home park residents. “Some of them, at their age, they’ve told me this is where they are going to spend the rest of their lives. They’ve fought and now they are being evicted from their own home.”

Carson has in place a process to compensate residents when mobile home parks close, but it is subject to changes depending on the will of the City Council and the laws in place at the time, which is why the deal for one group of mobile home park residents might be different from another.

Residents at Imperial Avalon say the offers they received are way too low to make finding equally affordable housing possible.

The Carson City Council, meanwhile, approved another closure of a mobile home park earlier this month, this time the Rancho Dominguez Mobile Estates, but with a far better compensation deal, Dear said.

But in each case — at Imperial Avalon and Rancho Dominguez — the decision facing residents is not easy, underscoring the complexity, as city officials said, of balancing the interests of mobile home park owners and those who live there.

Decision reached

Under the decision reached on July 16, Rancho Dominguez residents will be paid the appraised value of their mobile home or the price they paid for it originally, whichever is higher.

Residents will also receive a lump sum matching the difference in rent between their new place and current one for two to five years, depending on their appraisal amount.

They will also have 2.5 years before the park finally closes. And if the owners develop the property with apartments, as they have indicated, residents would also have a right-of-first-refusal to rent one of the units.

“If a private developer or government agency is going to take someone’s property,” Dear said, “they should be compensated and that’s all we’re asking, that the owners of the property compensate the residents so they aren’t financially damaged.”

Eduardo Almeida, a resident at Rancho Dominguez Mobile Estates, said the owners, Carter-Spencer Enterprises, have been making offers to buy mobile home units for several years. Carter-Spencer confirmed that, with a representative adding it’s a trend among mobile home parks.

“Then they would fix the mobile homes,” Almedida said, “and rent them out for more money.”

Almeida and other residents said they essentially felt coerced into selling to the park owners because they were told they wouldn’t be able to sell it to anyone else.

Casparian denied that allegation. Rather, the owners explained to them that they would have trouble selling their homes with the park set to close.

“That’s absolutely false,” Casparian said, “that the owners of the park told anybody that they could not sell their home to whoever they wanted to.”

The park will close, Casparian said, because the land it sits on is not technically zoned for a mobile home park. Casparian said the city refused to extend the variance, which is why the park will close.

The city refuted that and said the park could continue operating as it had for decades.

That issue, however, represents a long-standing dispute with the city, which could tie up the buyouts in court.

Rancho Dominguez owners were reviewing their legal options, Casparian said.

“The park is closing because it does not want to continue operating with an illegal use,” Casparian said during a June 16 public hearing. “No one will lend for property that’s use is no longer legal. Residents can’t get loans for their homes either and not many people will buy once it’s been disclosed the park must close.”

Carter-Spencer wanted residents taken care of as the law requires, Casparian said, and “redevelop the property with an appropriate use that will further benefit the city.”

Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes said the city was doing its best to balance the property rights of the mobile home park owners with those of the residents.

She said passage of Assembly Bill 2782, which became effective Jan. 1, should provide greater protections for residents and increased buyout values.

But notices of the three impending closures were all filed with the city before 2021, she said.

Appraisals too low

At the 55-plus Imperial Avalon Mobile Estates, where Holtzman lives, the closure is five months away. Residents there now have three options.

First, they can accept an appraised value of their mobile units — which the homeowners association says is roughly 35% to 50% of the fair market value — and use that money to buy a new mobile unit. The second option is to have it relocated, though both sides say there isn’t any place to really go.

The final option would be to accept short-term housing until the mixed-use development planned for the site is completed, at which point they could live there for the same rent they are paying now for up to 20 years.

But not one person yet has taken the third option, a representative for the owner said, and one likely reason is because residents would first have to forfeit 55% of the buyout value of their mobile home.

“There is some interest, though not a tremendous amount,” said Darren Embry, spokesman for Imperial Avalon LLC. “We are working hard with our relocation consultants.”

Embry said the owners were going above and beyond what was legally required, which they were glad to do.

“We are making sure that every resident has the one-on-one attention, care, and understanding of their specific circumstances that they deserve,” Embry said.

Davis-Holmes heralded the package offered to Imperial Avalon residents, saying it was designed to make sure “not only every single senior citizen but all the residents of the park would have a place to live at the affordable rents they were paying for at least 20 years.”

“No one will be homeless,” Davis-Holmes said. “The City of Carson prides itself on its reputation across the state for being an ardent supporter and protector of the rights of mobile home park residents.”

For those who complained the offered price was far too low, Embry said, they were welcome to sell their mobile home on the open market. The problem, of course, is there are few places, if any, to move it to and nobody will buy it when the park is closing.

“Considering that the park is closing,” Embry said, “we are actually paying significantly more than the residents would find on the open market for their coaches.”

After two appraisals of Imperial Avalon units and various increases imposed by the city, Embry said, the mobile home park will end up paying more than $22 million for residents to relocate. The park, which had about 400 residents, was now down to about 130, according to the homeowners association. The average home buyout is around $90,000, with some households receiving up to $230,000.

“To our knowledge, this is the most expensive private park closure in California history,” Embry said. “We have already entered into over 70 successful escrow processes with residents and more are contacting us every day to begin the process.”

But for some residents, almost all of whom live on fixed incomes, the anxiety has been too great.

Deanna Glasco, who lives at Imperial Avalon, said she had a stroke last year, which she attributed to the stress of possibly losing her home.

“I’m scared to death about what’s happening to me,” Glasco said.


Carson’s mobile home rent-control ordinance is one of the most stringent rent control laws in the country, Davis-Holmes said, adding that the city has advocated on behalf of mobile home park residents.

Dear, meanwhile, said the city should do a lot more — though in many ways, he added, Carson’s hands are tied.

Carson mobile home park closures put owners, residents at odds, with city in the middle – Press Telegram Source link Carson mobile home park closures put owners, residents at odds, with city in the middle – Press Telegram

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