The city of Moorpark has agreed to amend a rent control ordinance governing its only mobile home park as part of an out-of-court settlement of a suit challenging the law, authorities said last week.
The settlement also allows Villa del Arroyo Ltd., owner of the 240-unit park off Los Angeles Avenue, to impose a one-time rent increase this month averaging 18% and to begin separate billing for water next year instead of including it in rents. Villa del Arroyo, which filed the $1-million lawsuit in February, had applied for the special increase independent of the issues raised in the lawsuit.
The one-time increase will raise rents to $330 to $375 a month, up from $279 to $320 a month, according to a summary of the settlement released by the city.
Opposition to the proposed increases prompted about 200 park residents to attend a City Council meeting on Sept. 20. A spokeswoman for the park's homeowners association could not be reached for comment on the settlement.
Robert S. Coldren, a Santa Ana attorney representing the park's owner, said his client was agreeable to the settlement but was not entirely satisfied. "We don't like government intrusion into private property rights in any form," Coldren said.
Coldren said the decision to challenge the ordinance, which the city adopted after its incorporation in 1983, stemmed from the success of a similar case in Santa Barbara. In that case, he said, the owner of a mobile home park won $315,000 in damages from the city of Santa Barbara after a rent control limit on increases after resale was declared unconstitutional.
Acknowledging the outcome of the Santa Barbara case, Moorpark City Manager Steve Kueny said Moorpark's settlement could only save the city money in legal fees and potential damages. Under terms of the settlement, the city will pay only $10,000 over the next three years to help low-income tenants of the park.
Amendments to the ordinance will allow rents to be raised each time a mobile home space is sold.