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Mobile home park conversion stirs up residents

ENCINITAS — Despite the objections of several residents, City Council voted to allow the owner of a mobile home park to convert the rented lots to individual ownership during its meeting July 15.
The motion passed 3-1 with Councilwoman Teresa Barth opposing out of concern for the residents’ health and safety concerns at the aging facility. Councilman Jerome Stocks was absent.
The final parcel map for the Sands mobile home park conversion was approved by the Planning Commission on May 7, despite the protests from some people who complained that the owner, Sands Encinitas, LLC, was neglectful.
The city has been interested in the status of mobile home parks as they represent affordable housing. During a public workshop in April 2008 on ways to preserve the affordability of mobile home parks, some residents asked City Council to become more involved.
The Sands ownership opted for a conversion into subdivided lots in 2007. The subdivision will convert the park’s 56 individual spaces of land at 1624 North Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia into resident-owned plots.
Built in 1947, the park is located just two blocks away from the beach. Currently, residents own their homes but not the land beneath them. Lots at the park range in size from 700 to 750 square feet.
The Sands Residence Association, Inc. represents approximately 40 residents at the park and was formed in an effort to negotiate with park owner Patrick O’Malley who purchased the property in 2005. An initial offer was made by O’Malley to sell the lots for $325,000 — a price resident and president of the association Ken Stendel called “absurd.”
Resident Chris Carbonel told the council that ongoing infrastructure problems at the mobile home park have gone unnoticed. He cited “unpotable water” taken from his kitchen sink.
City consultant Gerald Gibbs told the council that misunderstandings about the city’s role and actual authority have permeated the conversion process. “Unfortunately, the state has come out and said that they preempt all local jurisdictions when it comes to conditions for approval (of a mobile home park conversion),” he said.
Stendel urged the council to be cautious in its approach to the conversion. “Make sure you know that you have done everything in your minds to protect mobile home park residents,” he said.
The state’s Department of Real Estate will have the final approval of the standards for the mobile home park conversion as early as August according to the staff report.