California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, First Division
DUNEX, INC. et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents,
CITY OF OCEANSIDE, Defendant and Appellant.
APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, No. 37-2010-00061745-CU-EI-NC Jacqueline M. Stern, Judge.
Richards, Watson & Gershon, Rochelle Browne, Ginetta L. Giovinco; John P. Mullen, City Attorney, and Barbara L. Hamilton, Assistant City Attorney, for Defendant and Appellant.
Hart, King & Coldren, Robert S. Coldren and Mark D. Alpert for Plaintiffs and Respondents.
BENKE, Acting P. J.
In this case, a municipality denied an application for a tentative subdivision map and coastal development permit which would convert the applicant's mobilehome park from a rental subdivision to one in which individual residents owned the spaces where their respective mobilehomes were located. The municipality denied the application on multiple grounds, including its finding that the application did not comply with the municipality's local coastal program (LCP) and a separate finding that the application was not a bona fide attempt to convert the park to individual ownership but was instead an attempt to avoid the impact of local rent control ordinances.
The applicant challenged the denial of its application by way of a petition for a writ of administrative mandate, which the trial court granted. The trial court found the municipality had no power to deny the application on the grounds it was inconsistent with policies embodied in the municipality's LCP. The trial court also found the record did not support the municipality's finding that the application was an attempt to avoid the impact of its rent control ordinances.
In light of the Supreme Court's opinion in Pacific Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates, LLC v. City of Los Angeles (2012) 55 Cal.4th 783, 807-808 (Pacific Palisades), which was filed after the trial court's judgment in this case was entered, we must reject the trial court's determination that the municipality had no power to deny the application on the grounds it was inconsistent with its LCP. In Pacific Palisades, our Supreme Court held that Government Code section 66427.5 et seq., which permits conversion of rental mobilehome parks to individual ownership, does not relieve the owner of a mobilehome park from its obligation to comply with the separate provisions of the California Coastal Act of 1976 (Pub. Resources Code, § 30000 et seq.; hereafter Coastal Act) and the Mello Act (Gov. Code, §§ 65590, 65590.1). The court further held that a mobilehome park conversion is a project within the meaning of the Coastal Act and that a conversion applicant must obtain a coastal development permit, which a municipality may deny if the proposed conversion is inconsistent with an adopted LCP. Here, the record supports the municipality's determination that, because the applicant's mobilehome park is in a flood zone within the coastal zone, conversion is inconsistent with its adopted LCP, which seeks to limit risk to lives and property in such areas.
Because the conversion was inconsistent with the municipality's LCP, the municipality lawfully denied the conversion application. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and direct that it enter a judgment denying the applicant's petition.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiffs and respondents Dunex, Inc. and Cavalier Mobile Estates (collectively Dunex) own a mobilehome park, which they operate on a rental basis. The mobilehome park is located within the City of Oceanside (the city), defendant and appellant herein.
In August of 2009, Dunex filed an application with the city under section 66427.5 for a tentative subdivision map converting its mobilehome park to individual lots that residents could purchase from Dunex. The application was filed after Dunex had unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a rent increase under provisions of the city's mobilehome rent control ordinance.
As part of its application, and as required by section 66427.5, subdivision (d), Dunex submitted a survey of tenant support for the proposed conversion. The occupants of 166 of 339 spaces at the park responded to the survey. Of those that responded, 20 indicated support for the conversion, 14 declined to state an opinion, and 132 opposed the conversion. Because a portion of its mobilehome park is within the coastal zone and subject to the Coastal Act, along with its application for a tentative subdivision map, Dunex also filed an application for a coastal development permit.
After Dunex filed its application, Dunex and city planners engaged in a great deal of correspondence and disagreement with respect to what was required to complete a conversion application. In particular, although city planners believed the application was subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Public Resources Code section 21000 et seq., Dunex argued that because it did not propose any physical change to any structure in the mobilehome park, its application was not a project within the meaning of CEQA. Alternatively, Dunex argued that the application fell within specific CEQA exemptions. Accordingly, ...