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City continues to hold lease on mobile home park

OCEANSIDE — The city will continue to hold the lease on the Laguna Vista Mobile Estates after the Mobile Home Park Financing Authority voted down the sale of the lease in a 3-3 vote at an emergency meeting Aug. 24.
Mayor Jim Wood, Councilwoman Esther Sanchez and Laguna Vista Association chairwoman Frances Thoene cast the three no votes. Laguna Vista Association voting member Robert Neal Legal was absent from the meeting.
“I think we should have gone forward,” Councilman Jerry Kern said. “My personal philosophy is the city shouldn’t be in the mobile home park business.”
A 90-day period was proposed for requests for proposals so that Laguna Vista mobile home park residents could consider collectively buying the lease. The buyer of the lease would also assume $6.5 million in unpaid bonds.
The city has held the park lease for 13 years and has operated the park as a self-sustaining nonprofit. The city bought the park lease after a nonprofit group did not go forward with the lease purchase. Prior to the city taking over the lease there had been problems in the mobile home park.
“It wasn’t a wholesome environment,” Margery Pierce, neighborhood services director, said. “The goal of the city was to find a nonprofit and change that around and improve the quality of life. The city unintentionally ended up owning the park.”
Park residents said that they only recently heard the city was considering selling the lease. “With this new council majority we feel like we’re being abandoned,” said Ellenor Moore, a Laguna Vista Mobile Estates resident. “At least postpone this request today. Give our people in the park a chance to digest it and figure out what we want to do.”
Pierce said it is unlikely park residents will be able to raise the capital to buy the lease since more than half of them are low-income residents. “The residents are much better protected with an owner who runs it as a nonprofit,” Piercce said.
Many asked why the city wants to sell the lease now.
“It’s very incomprehensible to cause such stress and concern on seniors,” said Frank Bittle, a Laguna Vista Mobile Estates resident.
Some noted low market rates as a good reason not to sell the lease. “The timing is terrible,” Wood said. “I hope it comes back at a later date or not at all.”