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Mobile home residents get help from city

ENCINITAS — City Council approved a policy to assist low-income residents in obtaining home ownership when the opportunity arises.
Housing Director Ron Barefield asked City Council to consider an acquisition program to provide mobile home residents the ability to purchase the mobile home parks they live in on Feb. 18.
Deputy Mayor Dan Dalager wanted clarification that the city was not seeking eminent domain.
“Let’s just be really clear here that we are talking about helping folks out,” he said.
Dalager said that if the approximately 11 mobile home park owners wanted to sell for some reason the city would be in a position to assist the residents with a plan to purchase the park.
Often residents do not have the upfront money to finance a park purchase Barefield told the council. However, using the federal, state and local funds available to low-income residents to purchase the parks is an option.
Barefield said that if a park owner wants to sell, the policy would allow the city to access Community Development Block Grants and HOME Investment funds for low-income housing from the federal government.
The affordable housing funds would not be set aside for the mobile home park purchase until the opportunity became available, Barefield said. The city would continue to use the funds for current affordable housing programs.
“I was really pleased with the staff report,” Mayor Maggie Houlihan said. “I think it’s important that we continue to try to secure housing opportunities available for all sectors of our residents,” she said.
Councilman Jerome Stocks supported the measure but clarified that in-lieu fees received from developers who choose not to build the required affordable housing units would only be used for acquisition and construction of new housing units.
“As long as we understand that we are not using these then I can support the motion,” he said.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth called residential acquisition a “daunting task.”
She said the city’s assistance in forming a plan to help the residents purchase the park was valuable.
Councilman James Bond said he wanted to make sure the city did not get into the business of buying and managing a mobile home park. “Once an opportunity (to purchase) is available we will do what we can to make it work,” Bond said.
The city’s Mobilehome Park Study was developed after officials feared losing the parks as a source of affordable housing and were hopeful the study would reveal ways to conserve the approximately 700 housing units.
The council authorized $45,000 to initiate the study in February 2007 with an eye toward gaining a better sense of the current housing stock that exists within the city’s 11 parks. An outside consultant was contracted to assist city staff in conducting the study in order to recommend strategies to encourage conservation, rehabilitation and maintain affordability within the parks according to a staff report.
From Wee Mobile Home Court in Leucadia with only eight spaces to Park Encinitas on El Camino Real which boasts 155 lots where the residents retain ownership of both the land and the mobile home, the city’s parks have several distinguishing characteristics. The typical owner is either a family or individual with a long history of ownership. Most mobile homes and trailers serve as the primary residence for the owner and many parks are family-owned and operated.