Del Amo Gardens Mobile Home Park

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Residents of Westminster’s Green Lantern village are protesting property owners’ plans to close a 130-site mobile home park that would displace more than a hundred households in the county, which is facing a growing housing shortage.

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Ever since Green Lantern Village owner Walsh Properties LLC applied for a land use permit from the city last year, the park’s residents, many of them elderly and low-income, have struggled. park on another. type of house.

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At last week’s planning commission meeting, dozens of tenants filled the room, pleading with the board not to seek permission to change the building.

Dorothy Wilder, who moved to Green Lantern Village with her husband in 1988, says, “I’m 96 years old, and I hope this is my last house.” Wilder and his daughter, Judith Rose, both depend on Social Security.

At least half of the households in Green Lantern Village are elderly, and three-quarters of the 98 households have low incomes. Most of them were Vietnamese Americans, refugees, and South Vietnamese fighters drawn to the social and political scene in Little Saigon.

Kiman Lee Thi, who works seven days a week, took time off to attend the public hearing, where no action was taken. Tia’s father was imprisoned in a communist camp in Vietnam and came to the United States with her mother.

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“I work hard to support my mother and to pay for the house I live in now,” Tee said. “My mother is very worried … I am worried that if this continues, my mother will pass out from the stress.”

The entrance to Green Lantern Village is on Westminster Beach Boulevard. Credit: THY VO, Glas OC

Ross Bartlett, a member of the park’s owning family, told tenants at a meeting last year that he had been considering selling the property for the past decade, according to the Los Angeles Times. Bartlett believes the park needs major upgrades to its electrical, plumbing and sewer systems, which are too expensive for families.

According to a report by a consultant hired by Walsh Properties, the sale of the building to another cellular operator would still require infrastructure upgrades from the tenants. Most of the residents have their own apartments and rent land from the park, while a small number rent apartments and land.

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Under Westminster’s Mobile Home Park conversion regulations, owners must pay for the cost of moving their mobile homes or renters if they are unable to move their homes. The landlord will also pay the tenant $100 per month for 12 months to cover the rent.

But with limited open space at nearby mobile parks, most residents don’t think moving to another park is a viable option.

“Here’s the situation. Our park rent is about $900…so how do we go from $900 to $1,900?” Paul Labooker posted a copy of an Orange County Register article to the Planning Commission that identified the median monthly rent in Orange County as $1,900. – There is no way.

City staff are working on an environmental impact report documenting the effects of the land change, which will take several months to complete. After this report is completed, the Planning Commission will vote to approve the conversion and conditional use permit.

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“If you go through with this closure, it’s only going to make one family happy and rich,” resident Lynn Truong told the Planning Commission. “But you are ruining many families…unfortunately. They will have nowhere to go.”

Many Green Lantern residents say the low rents — with most people paying $900 to $975 a month for their apartments — make the lifestyle rare in Orange County affordable.

“This place is very quiet and very cool. I know a lot of people, friends in the neighborhood on both sides,” said Son Do, 67. “No one wants to leave. We are very happy here.”

Although the park is away from the main and noisy highway, Beach Boulevard, the traffic noise disappears as you get deeper into the park. The average age of a home in Park is 37.5 years, but most owners have updated their homes with new paint, siding, porches and decks.

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Some make small plots around their chariots to grow beautiful gardens, oranges, dragon fruit and papaya.

The park is less than a mile from the Westminster Senior Center and a few miles from Little Saigon, where many residents can visit Vietnamese shops, attend cultural events and see Vietnamese-speaking doctors.

According to 2016 data from the state Department of Housing and Community Development, there are 197 mobile home parks in Orange County and 17 in Westminster alone.

According to the Southern California Association of Governments, mobile homes make up 3.2 percent of housing units statewide and 11.3 percent of housing units in Westminster.

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In recent months, dozens of residents from three other mobile home parks have attended Westminster City Council meetings to complain about steep rent hikes by new landlords and call on city officials to stabilize rents or implement rent controls.

Linda Tang is the senior project officer for the affordable housing advocacy group, the Kennedy Commission, in partnership with the Legal Aid Society of Orange County to help residents prepare for park closings. – nature.

“Many of them said they could not attend [the public hearing] because they were old or sick. If they can’t have a meeting a mile away, I can’t imagine asking them to move 25 miles away,” Tang said.

Tang said moving into an apartment is out of reach for many residents due to high rents. Picking up and moving an entire mobile home is not difficult for most park dwellers.

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Mobile home parks within 100 miles of Green Lantern Village require a report prepared by the owner’s consultant, known as a Conversion Performance Report, to determine housing options. The owner is also responsible for moving the mobile home to another park within a 50 mile radius.

The report found vacant lots at other mobile home parks with rents ranging from $631 to $1,850 a month. But most of these parks do not receive construction for five years or later. Nine mobile homes in Green Lantern Village meet this requirement.

In real estate, owners must pay renters for their units, but many residents believe that parkland owner assessments are significantly lower than the market value of their homes.

Luis Santiago, whose family bought a new mobile home when he moved to Green Lantern in 2013, said park officials didn’t tell him about plans to close the park when he moved.

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“The biggest problem is that I still have a $98,000 mortgage,” said Santiago, who estimates his home is worth $150,000. I have money to pay off my house. What about my loan?”

Larry Lazar, a planning consultant for the Walsh family, which owns the park, said he could not directly contact the family about the complaint.

He worked as a custodian in the Garden Grove Unified School District until a spinal cord injury forced him to leave his job and home for 16 years with his wife and children. He said he bought an old mobile home in the 1980s for $30,000 and replaced the roof, windows, furnace, water heater, interior and exterior paint.

He is trying to organize park dwellers and hopes to organize mobile park dwellers across the city.

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The residents’ association is exploring a state program that offers grants to nonprofits and community groups to help buy mobile homes.

According to Evan Gerberding, spokesman for the Department of Housing and Community Development, the grants are $43 million worldwide, with a maximum of $5 million per project. Since 1984, about 30 national parks have used this program.

“The best option would be legal assistance, so [the association] can negotiate with the owner to allow the residents to buy the garden,” Do said.

“My mayor lives in a mobile home down the street,” Griffin said, referring to Mayor Tri Tag, who lives at the Mission Del Amo mobile home on Bolsa Avenue. “Maybe he’s next.”

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