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Orange County Focus

WESTMINSTER : Park Residents Back Conversion Proposal

September 27, 1993|BERT ELJERA

Mobile home park residents are embracing a proposed ordinance outlined at a City Council study session last week that will give the city more control when park owners decide to covert their property to another use.

A key provision is for the city to hire a consultant, at the park owner's expense, to conduct a study on the effects of the conversion. It is considered crucial in protecting the interests of park residents.

A current conversion ordinance allows the park owner to hire the consultant to conduct the study, raising charges that the park owner influences the study. If the city hires the consultant, it will ensure an objective study, residents said.

"We are pleased," said Ethel Hirsch, who joined about three dozen other mobile home park residents in the two-hour study session. "These are good ideas from the council."

Under the proposed ordinance, the park owner will also be required to provide a timetable to complete the conversion. An owner who does not meet that timetable could lose the option to convert the property for about two years, officials said.

"The park owner must follow through if he's serious (in converting)," said Councilman Tony Lam. "He cannot put the residents in limbo. This causes a lot of anxiety."

The clamor for a new ordinance started last year when owners of the Mission Del Amo Mobile Home Park notified park residents of plans to convert the park.

Eight months later, there has been no conversion, said Hirsch, who lives in the 217-coach park. In the meantime, she said, residents are moving or are trying to move. Several lots are now empty, and dozens of "for sale" signs are displayed on coach windows.

Because of rising land values in the city, residents of 17 other mobile home parks fear that they too may be forced to relocate.

In response, the council formed a mobile home task force with representatives from park residents and park owners. But after only one meeting, the panel failed to draft an ordinance acceptable to both sides.

After last week's study session, the council directed the city staff to draft the new ordinance, integrating the key provisions discussed.

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