HISTORY - DE ANZA COVE MOBILEHOME PARK
Our law firm represents the De Anza Cove Homeowners Association, Inc. ("Association"). The Association was formed in order to pursue and protect the legal rights of its members, as well as the legal rights of the approximately 1,100 mobilehome present and former owners, tenants, residents, and occupants of the approximately 509 lots within the De Anza Cove Mobilehome Park ("Park"), which is located on Mission Bay at 2727 De Anza Road, San Diego, California. We, on behalf of the Association, oppose the City of San Diego's ill-conceived and illegal proposed eviction of the residents of the Park.
The vast majority of Park residents are elderly, many are infirm, and most live on a limited, fixed income, such as Social Security disability benefits. Many have lived in the Park for decades, finding strength in a community that revolves around Sunday gatherings at the Park church.
The City Violates State Law and Threatens Immediate Eviction
On October 22, 2003, the City came to a resident meeting at the Park hall to talk with Park residents for the first time about its long-awaited "Transition Plan." Presenting the “plan” was the City's Director of Real Estate Assets, Will Griffith, who was flanked by four armed policemen. The message from the City was clear: waive your legal rights and sign the City's take-it-or-leave-it agreement or the City will throw you out of your homes starting on November 24, 2003. The City's so-called "Transition Plan" cavalierly - and without any rationale at all - declared inapplicable the entire body of law that was passed by the State legislature to protect these residents. Written documents were sent to residents in the following days, which were accompanied by a cover letter stating: "Please be advised that if you do not accept the offer, eviction proceedings will be commenced against you and all other occupants of your mobilehome beginning November 24, 2003."
Ever since the City threatened them with eviction, the residents have been terrified that they are going to lose their homes and their community. The vast majority of Park residents do not have the resources to even get on a waiting list at another mobilehome park, much less to have their homes retrofitted for safe transport or relocation. Moreover, most of the homes located at the Park, having been exposed to salt water for so long, are simply too old to move. In fact, most other mobilehome parks will not even accept homes more than five to ten years old. So, effectively, the City is attempting to force Park residents to abandon and demolish their homes without regard for the utter scarcity of alternate housing or the financial hardship that the City is attempting to impose on these residents.
Lawsuit Filed and City Asked to Reconsider its Actions
On behalf of the Association and all of the individuals that it seeks to protect, we filed a class action lawsuit against the City of San Diego in San Diego Superior Court on November 18, 2003. On that day, we also made a presentation to Mayor Murphy and the City Council at City Hall. We urged them to review the laws for themselves and negotiate with us in good faith before the City unjustly proceeded with its "plan" to evict and make hundreds of elderly and disabled people homeless. The City Council, however, voted instead to evict all non-settling Park residents without comment.
Emergency Restraining Order Sought to Stop City's Evictions
On November 20, we sought an emergency restraining order to stop the City of San Diego from proceeding with any eviction actions against the residents. Later that day, the Superior Court granted the emergency restraining order, which was to last a few weeks.
On November 25, 2003, the City and its attorneys asked the Judge to dissolve the emergency restraining order so that it could begin evictions, which we opposed. The Court denied the City's request and ordered the emergency restraining order to remain in full force.
Injunction Sought to Stop City's Evictions for Duration of Lawsuit
Later on November 25, 2003, the Association filed its Preliminary Injunction motion, which asked the Court to protect the residents from eviction for the duration of the lawsuit. The City strenuously opposed the Association's motion, claiming that there was no chance for the Association to win the lawsuit. On Tuesday, January 6, 2004, the Honorable Charles Hayes issued his final order and granted the Homeowner Association's Preliminary Injunction Motion. Under the order, the City is prohibited, for the duration of the lawsuit, from attempting to evict any resident of the De Anza Cove Mobilehome Park, and the City is prohibited from closing any common areas or discontinuing any previously provided services to the Park and all of its residents. During a hearing, Judge Hayes warned that the status quo was to be maintained at the Park for the duration of the lawsuit. Most importantly, the Court analyzed the laws and facts of the case and concluded that "Plaintiff has established a reasonable probability of success on the merits," meaning that it was reasonably likely that the Association will win its lawsuit and the City will lose. (The Court's final order, the Association's Preliminary Injunction Motion, the City's Opposition Brief, and the Association's Reply Brief, are available below.)
Lawsuit Amended to Include City's Retaliation Against Residents
Despite the Association's resounding victory in this major legal battle, the City continued to refuse to even open a dialogue with us so that we could discuss making life at the park more bearable for all concerned. Instead, the City stubbornly proceeded with its ill-fated plan and unleashed deplorable retaliatory tactics on its own citizens. Therefore, seeing no other viable alternative, we amended the Homeowners Association's lawsuit against the City of San Diego on January 20, 2004 in order to include, among other things, the City's many violations of the Mobilehome Residency Law that have occurred since the time it took possession of the De Anza Cove Mobilehome Park on November 24, 2003. (See First Amended Complaint, which is also available below.)
For example, the City has retaliated against non-settling Park residents by, among other things, reducing Park services, shutting off utilities to multiple homes, including water, gas, and electric, limiting access to the Park's common areas, towing the residents' trailers, impounding their items from storage areas, unilaterally creating new "rules" for the Park without even disclosing those "rules" in writing to the residents, the Homeowners Association, or its representatives, restricting owners from freely renting and selling their units, refusing to allow the Homeowners Association to replace the chairs and tables that the City had ordered removed from the Park's church and club house, and failing to maintain the Park's common areas. The City's latest tactic -- as of the week of January 12, 2003 -- was to reduce the temperature of the Park's swimming pool -- which is used by elderly residents for exercise -- from 85 degrees to a chilly 70 degrees. These violations and others are contained in the First Amended Complaint, which is available below.
We repeatedly requested, both orally and in writing, a meeting with the City's representatives so they would sit down with us and discuss and rectify these and other issues, but the City dragged its feet about scheduling any such meeting. (Please see our letter dated December 31, 2003, which addresses some of the residents' concerns and is available below.)
The City's mantra, as defiantly stated directly to us by Mr. Griffith, is: “No one is going to tell us how to run this Park.” Unfortunately for the elderly, disabled, and fixed-income residents of the Mobilehome Park, no relief is expected until either the City agrees to act more humanely and reasonably discusses and corrects these grievances, or the Court forces the City to do so.
On January 20, 2004, we formally served the City with the First Amended Complaint, to which the City demurred in an attempt to get the entire lawsuit thrown out. While the Court dismissed a few of the Homeowner Association's minor claims, most with our stipulation, the Court ruled that the City's challenge was not well taken as to the Association's most powerful claims -- including the First Cause of Action for violations of the Mobilehome Residency Law.
As part of our numerous requests to have a meeting with the City, we have repeatedly asked that key City of San Diego representatives be involved, attend, and participate in the meetings, including any City Councilmembers and the Mayor, City Attorney Casey Gwinn, and City Manager Michael Uberuaga. After receiving the First Amended Complaint, which details the violations of the Mobilehome Residency Law due to the City's failures listed above and its failure to meet with us, the City wrote to our office on January 22nd and said that it was ready to meet with us. But, as unfortunately expected, it took the City another month to finally sit down with us, Hawkeye Management, and Councilwoman Donna Frye. In the meantime, the City's abusive tactics--designed to force residents to give up and leave the Park--continued to escalate daily.
Although there were many poignant disagreements during the February 25th meeting between the City and the Homeowners Association's representatives--which was the first meeting that the City agreed to attend since the HOA's lawsuit was initially filed in November 2003--certain agreements were reached. Although we've repeatedly asked the City's representatives to confirm the agreements that were expressly reached at the meeting, they have asked for additional time to do so. Due to the critical need to inform the mobilehome park residents of the issues where resolutions were agreed upon, we posted our February 26th confirming letter to the City here, which details these agreements, as well as the City's response letter dated February 27th. Unfortunately, the City later claimed, under penalty of perjury, that the City never made any agreements during the February 25th meeting.
Pursuant to the Court's order on the City's Demurrer, the Homeowner's Association filed its Second Amended Complaint on April 27, 2004, which essentially boils the lawsuit down to the Homeowner Association's six most powerful claims against the City.
Fed up with ongoing harassment by the City and Hawkeye Management, several hundred residents filed individual administrative claims against the City the week of April 20, 2004. Administrative claims--which are usually denied by the City--are very often a precursor to individual lawsuits which, in this case, could be filed as early as June 2004.
City tries to sue each resident at De Anza Cove
The City of San Diego recently asked the Superior Court to allow it to turn around and sue all residents of De Anza Cove. We opposed the City's motion and suggested a more reasonable, practical solution: allow the City to file its document, but not start the lawsuits against individual residents at least until after the Court rules on the Homeowners' Association's motion for summary adjudication. If the Court agrees that the Mobilehome Residency Law applies as the Association has maintained all along, we argued that the City's attempt to sue the residents would be completely inappropriate.
On Tuesday, October 12, 2004, the Superior Court denied the City's ability to start the lawsuits against any of the over 800 people named by the City until further order of the Court. The Court ruled that the City can, however, proceed with its counter-suit against the former operator of De Anza Cove, DHRG, and its related entities. The Court's ruling, along with the City's motion and the Homeowners Association's opposition brief are available to download by clicking the link on the right margin of this webpage. To see whether you are on the list of residents being sued by the City, you can view the City's Cross-Complaint.
County Assesses "Possessory Interest Tax" to Residents
When the Homeowners Association won an injunction against the City of San Diego's threatened evictions, the Superior Court ordered that the status quo was to be maintained—residents were to continue paying the same amount of rent and services at the park were to continue. In October 2004, however, the County sent out hundreds of individual possessory interest tax bills to residents of the De Anza Cove mobilehome park. In the decades before the City took over the mobilehome park, this County tax had always been paid from residents' rent payments by the prior operator, DHRG, as an operating expense.
On behalf of the Homeowners Association and all residents at the park, we asked the City to pay the tax—just like DHRG had—out of the rent that residents had already paid to the City over the past year. The City refused. Due to the tax payment deadline of December 10th, we then sought an emergency hearing with Judge Hayes of the Superior Court, which took place on Wednesday, December 8th. The brief we filed, as well as the key exhibits and supporting declarations under penalty of perjury, are available to download on the right margin of this webpage.
The Court indicated that no decision could be made before the December 10th tax payment deadline. Instead, the Court calendared the matter for a full hearing. After the hearing, we again asked the City to simply pay the tax without waiving any of its rights to oppose our motion. The City then agreed to pay the taxes. Please see the Stipulation to Stay Litigation, paragraph 6.
Update regarding Possessory Interest Taxes as of February 28, 2005
The City of San Diego has agreed to pay all unpaid possessory interest taxes and any penalties directly to the County of San Diego on or before March 1, 2005. Therefore, if you have not paid those taxes yet, please do nothing. The City is paying the tax.
Only if you have already paid the possessory interest tax directly to the County, then you may deduct that exact amount from your next month's rent. Please be sure to enclose proof of payment-such as a copy of the check to the County-along with your rent check to Hawkeye Asset Management. For more information, please click here.
The City asks the Homeowners Association to halt the litigation and stipulates to commission an independent Tenant Impact Report
With the Homeowners Association's summary adjudication motion looming—which asks the Court to rule once and for all that the State's Mobilehome Residency Law applies to De Anza Cove just like every other mobilehome park in California—the City requested an immediate stoppage of the litigation so that settlement negotiations can take place.
In order for the Association to agree to postpone the hearing date for the Association's summary adjudication motion to May 20, 2005, the City Council had to approve the Stipulation to Stay Litigation, which requires the City to, among other things: (1) commission a Tenant Impact Report to be conducted by an independent consultant in conformance with the State's Mobilehome Residency Law and other statutes; (2) pay the residents' possessory interest taxes like the De Anza Cove's prior operator had; (3) revisit the issue of appointing an independent third-party management company and security company to return the status quo to De Anza Cove as had been previously ordered by the Court; and (4) toll the deadline to file any administrative claims against the City until September 30, 2005. On February 14, 2005, the City Council, in closed session, unanimously voted to approve the Stipulation, and on February 22, 2005, the Court entered the Stipulation as an order of the court.
The Tenant Impact Report is not some mere formality—it is a comprehensive study that will address relocation needs, relocation costs, relocation assistance, relocation benefits, replacement housing needs, replacement housing availability, appraisal of existing mobilehomes, and replacement housing payments for all homeowners, tenants, and other occupants of the mobilehome park as of October 22, 2003—as well as any and all homeowners, tenants, and other occupants of the mobilehome park who may have entered the mobilehome park after October 22, 2003. It will be conducted in accordance with all notice and hearing requirements and procedures contained in California's Mobilehome Residency Law (Civ. Code §§ 798 et seq., Gov't Code §§ 65863.7, 67863.8), California Relocation Assistance Law (Gov't Code §§ 7260 et seq.; Code of Reg., Title 25, Ch. 6 et seq.), the City of San Diego Mobilehome Park Overlay Zone (San Diego Municipal Code §§ 143.0610 et seq.), and any other applicable sections and regulations. The Tenant Impact Report will be conducted by Overland, Pacific & Cutler—the same company that prepared the Tenant Impact Report for the City of Vista when it recently closed its mobilehome park—and is expected to take five to six months to complete. Importantly, once initiated, the Tenant Impact Report process cannot be unilaterally halted or terminated. The Tenant Impact Report and the underlying supporting documents, reports, spreadsheets and the like from the TIR Company will be admissible in the Association's lawsuit against the City in the event the parties cannot settle the case.
A new status conference is set before Judge Hayes of the Superior Court on April 29, 2005 at 10:30 a.m.
Homeowners Association seeks to stop City's continuing violations of Court Orders-which could lead to Contempt of Court proceedings against the City.
On November 20, 2003, the Superior Court ordered the City of San Diego to preserve residents' rights and maintain the status quo. Since that time, unfortunately, the City has deliberately violated the Court's orders and destroyed parts of the mobilehome park and used armed guards to intimidate the residents—most of whom are senior citizens. The De Anza Cove Homeowners Association recently filed motions with the Superior Court seeking to stop the City of San Diego's continuing violations of Court Orders. In those motions the Association asks that the Court appoint a Receiver to take over all management and operations of De Anza Cove. In addition, the Association requests that the City and its attorneys immediately cease and desist any further unlawful contacts with De Anza Cove residents. The Court can also initiate Contempt of Court proceedings against the City and compel sanctions and attorneys' fees against the City. The key portions of these motions are available to download by clicking on the documents listed in the right margin.
Judge enters restraining order against guard charged with felony counts of impersonating an officer, false imprisonment, and bringing a gun into court.
On June 23, 2005, San Diego Superior Court judge Charles R. Hayes granted our request for a Temporary Restraining Order against Timothy David Higley, the supervisor of the City's armed guards patrolling the De Anza Cove mobilehome park. Higley is the guard who is charged with felony counts of impersonating an officer, false imprisonment, and bringing a gun into court. Judge Hayes ordered Higley to stay at least 500 yards away from De Anza Cove and surrender all guns and firearms. A copy of the TRO is available for downloading here. If you believe that Higley or other guards have treated you inappropriately or violated the law, you are asked to call our office at (858) 244-5032 and the Sheriff's Department at (888) 835-5728.
After learning of the rampant abuses by Higley and the City's other armed guards, Judge Hayes also set an Order to Show Cause Hearing for July 8, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. in Department 66 of the San Diego Superior Court to determine whether an independent Receiver should be appointed to take over the management and security for De Anza Cove. The City of San Diego must file any opposition by July 1, 2005. To view our Motion to Appoint a Receiver for De Anza Cove and key evidentiary declarations and exhibits showing how the City deliberately violated the Court's prior orders, destroyed parts of the mobilehome park, and used armed guards to intimidate the residents-most of whom are senior citizens-please download the files listed in the right margin of this webpage.
Court of Appeal asked to review Judge Hayes' decision granting parts of Defendants' Demurrers.
On February 1, 2006, Plaintiffs filed a Writ-a special kind of appellate petition-with the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, based on what we contend were erroneous rulings by Judge Hayes when he granted parts of the City and Hawkeye's demurrers to Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint. Our Writ is available here for you to download, as well as our initial opposition brief to the City's demurrer and Judge Hayes' ruling.
Unlike an appeal of a final judgment that a Court of Appeal is required to review, a writ is a special kind of appellate petition that the Court of Appeal has the discretion to decide whether or not it wants to accept it for appellate review. Most often, writs are summarily denied without ever reaching the legal merits since the Court of Appeal does not have the capacity to accommodate the shear volume of mandatory appeals and discretionary writs. If a writ is summarily denied, all legal issues are still preserved for later full appellate review after a final judgment is entered. If the Court of Appeal decides to accept our Writ, however, the City and Hawkeye will likely be given an opportunity to file an opposition to the Writ, followed by a hearing. We hope to know if the Court of Appeal grants our request for review in the next week or so.
Update: We learned that the Court of Appeal has declined to review Judge Hayes' ruling at this time. This means that since the Court of Appeal summarily denied the Writ without ever reaching the legal merits, all legal issues we raised are still preserved for appellate review after a final judgment is entered in the trial court.
Judge modifies Preliminary Injunction to stop City's continuing mismanagement of De Anza Cove.
After holding hearings in July, San Diego Superior Court Judge Charles R. Hayes recently signed a Modified Preliminary Injunction to stop any further mismanagement of De Anza Cove by the City of San Diego. The Modified Preliminary Injunction is available to download.
Judge Hayes ruled that the City's unilaterally-imposed rules for the park and its residents were unenforceable. He ordered that the Rules and Regulations for De Anza Cove—that had been in effect since 1997—were to continue in effect. The "Rules and Regulations De Anza Harbor Resort, Mobilehome Community" dated July 14, 1997 are also available for downloading.
Judge Hayes also ruled that the City's attempts to force homeowners to sign release agreements that purport to waive all rights to statutory relocation benefits—just so they could continue renting their homes like before—were wrong. By Court order, residents can again rent their homes as they had done for years before. Of course, no homeowners will have to waive any of their rights just to rent their homes.
Also, by order of the Court, anyone who signed a settlement agreement with the City can stay—or place on hold—the Settlement Agreement by simply completing the Notice of Intent to Stay Settlement Agreement, signing where indicated, and returning the Notice to the City Attorney's office. The Notice of Intent to Stay Settlement Agreement is available for downloading. Please note, there is a time-sensitive deadline to return the signed forms, so please contact us immediately if you have any questions.
If you want to rent your home—or you already rented your home—all homeowner(s) and subtenant(s) will need to fill out an Application for Subtenancy form, which is available to download. By Court order, only those new subtenants coming onto the property after August 4, 2005, are not entitled to relocation assistance benefits. All homeowners, as well as all subtenants who resided at the mobilehome park before August 4, 2005, do not waive any of their rights, including their potential rights to relocation assistance and benefits, by signing the form. The information provided on the Application will be used by management to account for current subtenants, and also to consider and approve future proposed subletting. Please complete the forms and turn them in to the on-site management office no later than October 30, 2005. The normal $60 subleasing fee will not be charged until after October 30th.
Based on the City's past misdeeds and its attorneys' and management company's improper communication directly with park residents, the Court also ordered that the City, its agents, and attorneys, may not initiate communication with the park's homeowners and residents regarding the subject matter of the litigation or settlement.
Court Grants Class Action status to De Anza Cove's homeowners and residents.
Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification was granted by the Court over the objections and opposition of the City of San Diego. This means that the case is now a Class Action on behalf of De Anza Cove's homeowners, tenants, and residents. Now that the Class Action is certified by the Court, when the Court later rules on the legality of the City's attempt to close the mobilehome park without following State Law, that ruling will affect the entire Class—estimated at over 1,000 people.
Judge Hayes' ruling (dated October 16, 2006) is available here for you to download, as well as our initial moving papers and reply brief. In ruling in favor of Plaintiffs, the Court found, among other things, that the questions of law and fact concerning the City's attempt to close the mobilehome park were common to the Class members and that a Class Action was a superior method to determining those claims. The Court also found that Plaintiffs "fairly and adequately represent the interests of the Class" and had "retained competent counsel experienced in class action litigation." The Court has set a hearing for October 27th to finalize its definition of Class members.
Court Grants Homeowners' Motion for Summary Judgment
Plaintiffs, on behalf of all De Anza Cove homeowners and residents, filed a motion asking the Superior Court to rule, once and for all, that the City of San Diego is under a duty to comply with the State-law mandates of the Mobilehome Residency Law before it closes the De Anza Cove mobilehome park. You can download the motions by clicking the following links: (1) Plaintiff's Notice of Motion and Motion for Summary Adjudication;* (2) City's Opposition; (3) Plaintiff's Reply in Support of Motion for Summary Adjudication. The Mobilehome Residency Law regulates how a mobilehome park can be closed, requiring—more than a year before park closure—preparation of a tenant impact report, delivery of the report to all residents, public hearings to discuss the findings of the report, and mitigation of the harm resulting from park closure. The Association has also asked that the Court find the City liable for violating this State law since the City admittedly failed to prepare a mandatory tenant impact report. The City of San Diego has also filed its own motion for summary judgment, available here: (1) City's Motion for Summary Judgment;* (2) Plaintiff's Opposition; (3) City's Reply Brief*.
UPDATE: On March 28th, Judge Hayes ruled in favor of Plaintiffs and denied the City's motion. The Court ruled, as a matter of law, that: 1. "De Anza Cove is a mobilehome park and the Mobilehome Residency Law (Civil Code §§ 798 et seq, Gov't Code §§ 65863.7-65863.8) applies in full to De Anza Cove and the City of San Diego"; 2. "The City of San Diego is under a mandatory duty to comply with the Mobilehome Residency Law, including but not limited to Civil Code §798.56(g)-(h) and Gov't Code §65863.7, which regulate closure of De Anza Cove, the timing and content of Notices to residents, and tenant-impact-reporting and relocation assistance requirements"; 3. "The City violated the Mobilehome Residency Law, Civil Code §798.56(g)-(h) and Gov't Code §65863.7 by failing to prepare a tenant impact report and serve lawful Notices that complied with the MRL's timing and content requirements." The Court also denied in whole the City's motion. Click here for a copy of the Court's order.
Throughout the case, which was initially filed by the Association against the City in late November 2003, the City's attorneys have argued in Court—and reported through the media—that another State law, known as the Kapiloff Bill, allowed the City to evict these hundreds of homeowners without having to comply with the Mobilehome Residency Law like all other cities and mobilehome park owners must.
But the actual author of the Kapiloff Bill—former Assemblyman Larry Kapiloff—testified under penalty of perjury that the State legislature never exempted the City from having to comply with the Mobilehome Residency Law ("MRL"): "nowhere in the Kapiloff Bill are any such words or intent stated. Moreover, it was never agreed during any discussion or debate by the Legislature in enacting the Kapiloff Bill to suspend the provisions of the MRL as they apply to the City of San Diego or as they apply to the De Anza Cove mobilehome park." Assemblyman Kapiloff emphasized: "There is nothing on the face of the Kapiloff Bill, and there is absolutely no legislative history or intent that I am aware of, that was intended to permit the City of San Diego to evict these mobilehome park owners and residents without first complying in full with the applicable State laws, including the provisions of the Mobilehome Residency Law."
Even former City Councilman Mike Gotch—who was the Councilman representing the De Anza Cove district at the time the City of San Diego expressly ratified the Kapiloff Bill—provided testimony undercutting the City's present-day arguments. He testified that: "During 1980 through the end of January 1982, no member of City staff informed me that passage of the Kapiloff Bill could or would exempt the City from compliance with the body of laws known as the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) or other State laws. The City Council and I, as far as I can recall, never discussed, considered, or were informed during this time that by ratifying the Kapiloff Bill, the provisions of the MRL would not apply to the City of San Diego or the De Anza Cove mobilehome park." Councilman Gotch also added notably: "Certainly, no one at the State level, including Assemblyman Kapiloff, ever said such a thing to me. And, I have not read anything in the Kapiloff Bill that would lead someone to reach the conclusion that passage of AB 447 exempts the City from the MRL."
And lastly, the Kapiloff Bill itself—rather than exempting the City from any State laws as the City's attorneys have repeatedly claimed—simply delineates that it "is not intended to affect the rights and obligations of landlord and tenant under the terms of existing leases."
Judge Hayes issued a final Statement of Decision recently. Judge Hayes has ordered two special masters to oversee the commissioning of a tenant impact report which was long-ago required by State Law, all of which is to be paid for by the City of San Diego. After the report is completed, the special masters are supposed to make recommendations back to Judge Hayes, who is then expected to enter a final judgment against the City. This whole process could take 3-9 months to complete. The Statement of Decision leaves several questions either unanswered or ambiguously answered. A copy of the Statement of Decision and our clarification requests are available here.
Court issues Tentative Ruling after Class Action trial to determine Relocation Benefits owed by the City of San Diego.
Earlier in 2007, the San Diego Superior Court agreed with the Plaintiffs—De Anza Cove's homeowners and residents—that the City of San Diego broke the law. The Court ruled that: 1. "De Anza Cove is a mobilehome park and the Mobilehome Residency Law (Civil Code §§ 798 et seq, Gov't Code §§ 65863.7-65863.8) applies in full to De Anza Cove and the City of San Diego"; 2. "The City of San Diego is under a mandatory duty to comply with the Mobilehome Residency Law, including but not limited to Civil Code §798.56(g)-(h) and Gov't Code §65863.7, which regulate closure of De Anza Cove, the timing and content of Notices to residents, and tenant-impact-reporting and relocation assistance requirements"; 3. "The City violated the Mobilehome Residency Law, Civil Code §798.56(g)-(h) and Gov't Code §65863.7 by failing to prepare a tenant impact report and serve lawful Notices that complied with the MRL's timing and content requirements." The Court also denied in whole the City's motion. Click here for a copy of the Court's order.
A bench trial took place before the Hon. Charles R. Hayes in October 2007 and culminated in closing arguments on November 13, 2007. Trial was to determine the relocation assistance and benefits that the City of San Diego owed to De Anza Cove's homeowners and residents due to the City's violations of the Mobilehome Residency Law. On March 10, 2008, Judge Hayes issued a Tentative Decision, which is available for downloading by clicking this link. The Judge's Tentative Decision does not discuss individual dollar amounts but, rather, lays out a potential framework for calculating relocation benefits. Even though, if confirmed, the Judge's decision has the possibility of culminating in a judgment worth multi-millions, everyone reading this is once again cautioned that until a final ruling is issued, this tentative decision is nothing more than, essentially, a "draft" subject to revision. The final ruling could be more favorable, less favorable, or remain the same and any final ruling would then be subject to appeal by the City of San Diego or Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs have requested that the Court finalize the decision based on the evidence presented at trial, which is called Plaintiffs' Request for Statement of Decision and is available for downloading by clicking this link. Both parties will likely file additional briefs and objections before the Court issues a final Statement of Decision.
Plaintiffs file Notice of Appeal
On July 18, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal, which is the first procedural step towards Court of Appeal review of Judge Hayes' ruling after trial-a trial meant to decide the amounts owed by the City of San Diego due to its violations of State law. Although Judge Hayes recently issued a final Statement of Decision after the trial that had ended back in November, Judge Hayes unfortunately failed to address a number of key issues that were raised at trial, and also failed to clarify other areas in his Decision. Those issues are stated, for example, in Plaintiffs' Request for Statement of Decision and our objections to the Statement of Decision. Because Judge Hayes declined to make rulings on these key issues, today, July 18, 2008, we begin the appellate process hoping that the Court of Appeal will provide the clarity and finality that all of De Anza Cove's homeowners and residents deserve.
For more information on this case feel welcome to contact Tim Tatro or Peter Zamoyski.