VILLAGE TRAILER PARK: UNFINISHED STORY
Every point made by Zina Josephs is correct and irrefutable.
However, the conclusion must not be that consideration of saving half the Park should be made. It is understandable that people are worn down by over six years of incredible nonsense proposals for the land here, but it is nowhere near time to give up and settle for half. In fact, no lawful removal permit can be granted by the Rent Control Board at all at this time, without regulations and notice of the issues in advance, as required by the Rent Control Charter Amendment, City Charter Chapter 18, section 1803(g).
When the Board had regulations applying to removal permits–before they were suspended for a “brief hiatus” in 1999 to consider the effects of vacancy decontrol–those regulations always required the developer of a multi-family development to replace all the rent-controlled units on the site, like-for-like. What like-for-like meant was defined as all rights, amenities, the same rent, and even down to the same distance from churches and synogogues as was given to the protected units prior to the development. Some of us here walk to the synagogue on the corner of Berkeley and Colorado, two blocks away, every Saturday. Nothing has been proposed to give us replacement housing we own, with the same space rent and amenities including an iconic Mid-Century community room with a view of a swimming large enough for all of us and a deck and BBQ area with two bathrooms and showers, plus a library and separate reading room. We are entitled to such replacement housing being in the proposal before any removal permit can be granted to change the use from mobilehome park to develop a multi-family development here.
This is particularly so since the MOU between the City and this proposed developer on 11/27/07 required an EIR to consider alternatives to closing the Park, including but not limited to a resident-owned mobilehome park. No such EIR has been prepared. In fact, the proposed developer’s agreement to that as well as to build a replacement building for 109 replacement rent-controlled spaces while all 109 resident families were allowed to stay on the site, have just been ignored as though they were not conditions of the MOU. They were, in fact, conditions. They are binding on the proposed developer and the City. Neither can just decide not to include one of the conditions that allowed this unlawful MOU to be entered into and plague us for six years already. It would be bad enough to have to deal with the City agreeing to help the proposed developer get around our rights under rent control, if he at least did all the things he agreed to do that the City told the Council at the time were reasons for entering into the MOU. If he has welched on two major ones already, the only ones that benefited the current residents so could have given the City any excuse for helping him, why would anyone believe he is going to do anything he promises in any new plan?
The conclusion therefore is that everything that has come to light both before and after that unlawful MOU was entered into shows this proposed developer never intended to do any development at the VTP property, but instead intended to level the land and sell it to a real developer for millions in profit compared to its value when encumbered by mobilehome park zoning and 109 separate homeowners with rights under both state and local laws and constitutions. The MOU itself violated CEQA by indicating a decision was already made to approve the development agreement many years before an EIR was prepared and reviewed as it is required by law to be by the decision-makers. A real review, not a check-off-the-box procedural step for an already-made decision. What has come to light after the MOU is that the City wanted infrastructure to develop the entire industrial area paid for by developers’ fees for the three projects at the gateway to demolishing the entire area. The City was therefore prepared to issue an EIR for the VTP site that never analyzed whether the soil is safe to excavate two stories into the ground and build tons of buildings. This is on soil the Atkins map attached to the LUCE for this area shows is in “medium to high” or “high” danger, over 90% “high,” from liquefaction, which is often caused by earthquakes on major faults such as the one located 700 FEET to the south of the south border of the City, less than two miles from the VTP site.
We submit there are reasons, which will come to the public’s attention if we have to pursue the litigation we have prepared these past three years against development of the VTP site, that the City has “not been able to locate” the original building permit for VTP from 1950, even though it can produce entire files for the Landmark Commission regarding houses and other structures built in 1909. Those reasons undoubtedly include reference to infilled soil, clay pits, leaking underground tanks in the Southern California Gas Company adjacent land, and references to liquefaction dangers in the underlying soil, which required development only of the level of 28 units per acre of very lightweight housing units and limited permanent buildings no deeper into the soil than a six-foot deep swimming pool. Those were the limits on development then. They still are.
Any development proposal that removes even one of the 109 rent-controlled units at the Park without replacing it like-for-like is theregore not only unwise and far beyond the expertise of anyone on the City’s side to maneuver or justify. It is also unlawful, and that is why we always say when we comment on any such proposal that it will not happen.
Very truly yours,
Peter Naughton, Brenda Barnes, and Michael McKinsey, homeowners and residents since 1986, Village Trailer Park
———- Forwarded message ———-