News


Mobile park owner sues city for $29 million

Cites damage to reputation, plans to sell lots to mobile home owners

The owner of the Vineyard Villa Mobile Home Park on Vineyard Avenue has filed a $29-million lawsuit against the city of Pleasanton after both the city's Planning Commission and City Council rejected his bid to convert the park into ownership lots.

The 208-unit mobile home park, with a street address of 3263 Vineyard Ave., extends along Vineyard and a part of Bernal Avenue, backing onto the Arroyo del Valle at its northern border. It abuts the Hacienda Mobile Home Park to the east, which is under different ownership.

In his lawsuit, Attorney Richard Close, representing The Guggenheim Corporation, Vineyard Villa's owner, argues that he and others have worked for more than two years to seek the city's approval to convert the park.

Residents now own the mobile and manufactured homes they occupy in Vineyard Villa and pay a monthly rental fee to Guggenheim for the property on which their homes sit. Guggenheim wants to sell those parcels to the mobile home owners, in effect subdividing the property into condominium parcels.

Although city staff recommended approving the Guggenheim request, both the Planning Commission and City Council voted unanimously to deny the application. Commissioners after a public hearing on Feb. 25 and councilmembers after their hearing on Aug. 18 expressed concerns that many mobile home owners might not be able to afford to purchase the lots, whose price Guggenheim would determine at the time of the purchase offers.

Close said the park's owners followed state guidelines in making their conversion bid and decided to delay the parcel purchase offers for residents for 10 years. Although residents could decide against purchasing their parcel and continue to pay rent for the space, Guggenheim would be free to raise rents based on state law.

The cost of mobile homes in the park range as high as $300,000, although most sell for $95,000-$150,000.The estimated cost of the land beneath the homes would be in the $120,000-$200,000 range, which Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio said would likely be beyond what owners could afford.

When the park first opened, it was restricted to adults only. Later, it was converted to seniors only and both Vineyard Villa and Hacienda are now restricted to those 55 years old and older, although a spouse can be younger. The parks also have changed ownership several times, but the city has controlled rents under an affordable housing agreement.

The lawsuit contends that both the Planning Commission and City Council ignored state law allowing mobile home park conversions and instead considered issues wholly outside their scope of authority. These included surveys conducted of residents to see if they supported the conversion, concerns over future affordability, and even the commissioners' and councilmembers' "resentment of the fact that the state has severely limited local authority in the area of mobile homes and mobile home park conversions."

"Additionally," Close states in his legal brief, "city councilmembers indicated dissatisfaction with the residents' response rate to the survey, despite the fact that the survey had been distributed to all park residents and the fact that 119 out of 208 units (approximately 57 percent) had submitted survey responses."

"For example," Close continues, "Councilmember Matt Sullivan stated: 'Sometimes, believe it or not, the state of California does not make laws that are in the best interest of the greatest number of people. In my opinion, this is yet another example of where the State Legislature has stuck its nose into a local planning issue where it does not belong and I think we need to be willing to stand up and say so. I will not be intimidated by lawsuits.'"

Close states that his client has "suffered and continues to suffer damages," in an amount "believed to be not less than $29,120,000."

City Manager Nelson Fialho said he and City Attorney Michael Roush plan to meet with the Vineyard Villa park owners to see if a mutually acceptable agreement for ending the dispute can be reached.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Enraged
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 16, 2009 at 9:41 am

Our city is working hard to ensure there is affordable housing for all citizens and is protecting the rights of these homeowners. On the other side is a greedy landowner who wants to force these homeowners to buy the land under their mobile homes for six figures, surely pushing them into a hardship or homeless situation -- and he's suing the city for $29 MILLION because he thinks this damaged his "reputation?" There's a special place in hell for people who take advantage of our senior citizens and hard-working members of society.


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 16, 2009 at 9:46 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"Councilmember Matt Sullivan stated: 'Sometimes, believe it or not, the state of California does not make laws that are in the best interest of the greatest number of people."

HAHA neither does Matt Sullivan!


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 16, 2009 at 10:19 am

I really do not care either way but my comment is this -- those who say the Lin's should be allowed to build monster homes on the ridge line just because they own the land better not balk at letting this owner do what he wants with his land also. Works both ways.


Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Oct 16, 2009 at 11:18 am

This lawsuit was filed within hours of Schwarzenegger vetoing Assembly Bill 566 Web Link to clarify what "survey of support" means. Both the majority of the Assembly and Senate believe that cities should be allowed to reject a conversion if the residents do not support it. Democrats voted for the bill and Republicans mainly voted against it.

Web Link

The state law in reference was put in place for resident-initiated conversions, not landowner-initiated conversions.

On Feb 25, Nava put forth a bill clarifying the existing "survey of support" language which is in state law to "survey demonstrating support of the majority of the residents of the mobilehome park."


Like this comment
Posted by Get it right, Stacey
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Actually, I believe it was Jerry Thorne who made the comment that the attorney attributed to Matt Sullivan. Stacey - you're a well known Sullivan-basher, but at least give credit where credit's due!


Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Oct 16, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Get it right is correct. Those were Jerry Thorne's comments, not Matt Sullivan's.

I guess Richard Close, the lawyer for the park owner, can't even get the city council members straight. Or maybe it is the Pleasanton Weekly trying to bash Matt Sullivan again.

From the August 18, 2009 p.7 meeting minutes, paragraph 2, on the city's website:

"Councilmember Thorne assured the applicant that his comments are not a personal affront and that he understands staff's recommendation. He said that as an elected official he is tasked with making decisions that will serve the interest of the greatest number of people in the community. Making a decision tonight about what will happen in 10 years is neither appropriate nor in those
residents' best interests. He cited this as another example of inappropriate state intervention in local planning issues and said the Council needs to stand against it without intimidation by threat of lawsuits. He explained that he is an avid protector of personal property rights but this does not benefit the majority of the community and he cannot support it at this time."

For proof, click Web Link and then click on Item 1. for the approval of the August 18, 2009 minutes.

Pleasanton Weekly, please issue a clarification or correction to your article. And check quotes before you print them. You could have checked the Pleasanton meeting minutes. That is responsible journalism. Indicating that this was Matt Sullivan's quote is not being very thorough. You could have referenced the brief, but clarified in the article that the comments originally were made by Jerry Thorne. Please make an attempt to get your quotes correct.


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Yes, that does sound like Thorne and it would be highly ironic if Sullivan said it. But the quote isn't the same.


Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Oct 16, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Stacey, the quote is paraphrased in the minutes because minutes are not word-for-word transcriptions. Look at the video of the meeting online for the exact wording of what Jerry Thorne said at around time 01:23 into the meeting and it is Thorne. Hosterman made the motion and Thorne seconded it.

The on-demand video is here Web Link and just go to the August 18, 2009 meeting and click on Video and use the bar below the screen to move the time exactly to 01:23:10 .


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 16, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I'm already watching the video. Thanks.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 17, 2009 at 6:06 pm

Good for you "Get it right"! Stacey often misrepresents facts...


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 17, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Oh, but it wasn't I who presented the quotation wrong. My failure was in not verifying the information for myself, which one must dig up the video in order to do. Even so, my point was that it was ironic if it were a quote from Sullivan.

Besides, where do I misrepresent facts and what proof do you have that it is "often"? Back up your accusations with evidence, especially if you want to chide me for not verifying the speaker of the quote.


Like this comment
Posted by Get it right, Stacey
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2009 at 8:00 am

It would be ironic if Sullivan made the statement? Ok - let's just make things up so that the world looks the way we want it to. Sullivan and McGovern are the only Councilmembers concerned with the general public in this town. The other three continue to throw you and everyone else under the bus to satisfy their Chamber and developer benefactors. Wake up, Stacey!


Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Oct 25, 2009 at 11:41 am

Stacey,

Are you an old bitty sitting around in a rocking chair? College grad with a big ego and no job? Get a life! It's obvious you don't have one.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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