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Laguna Terrace files suit

Mobile home park owner takes legal action to bypass Coastal Commission jurisdiction over a subdivision of the property.

August 12, 2010|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com

Laguna Terrace Park went to court rather than deal the California Coastal Commission on a proposal to subdivide the parcel and let residents buy the land on which their mobile homes sit.

The park owner has petitioned the court to block the commission from assuming jurisdiction over the proposed conversion to a resident-owned park and prohibit it from challenging a coastal development permit, which the city approved and declared unappealable.

The proposed park map would subdivide 19 ½ acres of a 46½ acre parcel to create 157 individual parcels and a common area, which the owner claims does not qualify as development since it already exists and therefore limits the commission's jurisdiction, according to a petition filed Aug. 3 in Orange County Superior Court.

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"We are asking the judge to order the Coastal Commission to do what we think it should do," park manager James Lawson said. "It says something when people prefer the legal route to dealing with the commission.

"Going to the commission is a non-starter."

City planners have opined that the landowner's proposal is not subject to the Coastal Commission jurisdiction because it is solely for the purpose of giving the residents ownership of the park. The petition to the court also states that the Planning Commission determined that the park is outside the commission's area of deferred jurisdiction and is more than 100 feet from any stream identified on its official map.

Judge Ronald. L. Bauer has been appointed to hear the petition. He is the same judge that ruled that the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School project, which is adjacent to Laguna Terrace Park, did not come under commission jurisdiction.

"The city did not think St. Catherine's was appealable either," Lawson said. "But the commission said it was and the diocese of Orange went to court."

That case is cited in an attachment to the petition filed by attorney Boyd L. Hill on behalf of Laguna Terrace, noting similar issues are involved in both cases.

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COASTAL COMMISSION POSITION

The commission also claims jurisdiction over the subdivision based on a 1995 lot line adjustment, which created the 46½-acre parcel, on part of which the park sits. The adjustment never received a coastal development permit, according to the commission, and therefore the subdivision application should include the entire 270-acre parcel — on which there is a stream.

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