The Lazy Wheels Mobile Park will likely not be gone anytime soon, even though the city had planned for it to be removed by 2018.
The bottom line is the state has jurisdiction over the non-conforming use and the city needs to look into what recourse it may have to abate the use.
Christopher Hoem, director of Community Development for the city of Ceres, was directed to look into the matter after Ceres resident John Warren last month reminded the commission that the park was to be abated by 2018. He gave a very brief report at the Ceres Planning Commission meeting of Oct. 3.
Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park, which was established in 1947 east of Highway 99, is considered by many to be a community eyesore.
On Aug. 5, 2013 the Ceres Planning Commission approved an action to file a Notice of Nonconformance which limited the park’s use to no more than five years – meaning it had to be gone by 2018.
“Non-conforming use” is a planning term meaning that while a use was permissible at the time it was established, subsequent zoning changes make it no longer a permitted use. In this case, the land is zoned Highway Commercial which does not permit residential uses.
“Although the city declared the Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park to be a terminating land use, the city does not have full jurisdiction for mobile home parks,” Hoem reported to the commission. He cited the California Health and Safety Section 18.300 which states that the California Housing and Community Development has jurisdiction to enforce regulations pertaining to mobile home parks. The property owner of the mobile home park must also abide by the mobile home residency law, which is found in Civil Code 798. This law is enforced by HCD.”
None of the commissioners asked what steps could be taken by the city to see that the state enforces the city action.
Hoem said the city next needs to evaluate its options.
“There are a lot of moving pieces,” said Hoem.
The zoning change came about in 2010 when the state purchased the park and parcels west of Ceres High School north of Whitmore Avenue as part of the reconfiguration of the Whitmore interchange with Highway 99. The state found it simpler to buy the entire property – including Lazy Wheels – rather than pieces needed for right-of-way. After the state completed the interchange it disposed of the property. The park and neighboring parcels were bought in March 2013 by the Sugarman Asset Group of Calabasas which invested in it to either sell or develop the freeway commercial sites. Calls made by the Courier to the firm have gone unanswered.
The state’s purchase of the park is what triggered the city’s move to declare it is non-conforming to zoning so that a new owner would know that the mobile home park use was not what the city intended to be long-term, even though the park has been around for seven decades.
Then City Attorney Michael Lyions in August 2013 said that whoever bought the property would acquire it with the knowledge that the mobile home park use would be ending within five years. The park was purchased by Sugarman 16 months prior to the park’s scheduled termination.
Before closing a mobile home park, owners are required to follow the requirements of the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). That process can take years with all displaced residents must be provided with notice as prescribed by HCD. It also requires the owner to make the arrangements for any relocation of displaced residents.