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Laguna Terrace residents asked to pay for court appeal

Even if park association comes up with the $50,000, there's no guarantee of subdivision if appeal is successful.

October 06, 2011|By Barbara Diamond

The Laguna Terrace Park Assn. reportedly was given until Oct. 15 to mull over ramifications of a request by the park owner to fund an appeal of a court decision that gave jurisdiction over development to the California Coastal Commission — with no guarantee of subdivision.

An association meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the park clubhouse to poll members' response to the request, characterized as the first step in selling the land now rented by residents.

Individual ownership of the land under their mobile homes is the goal of the association members, who offered in September to buy the land when they were informed that the owner, Steve Esslinger, was not interested in pursuing subdivision because of the court decision.

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"I have not received any answer to the proposal sent about a month ago to buy the land," association President Boyce Belt said Wednesday evening. "I was hoping to have something, but as of this moment I have nothing. There are things going on, but I can't talk about them today."

The owner's request for $50,000 from the association to finance an appeal was conveyed by attorney Boyd Hill to Belt on Sept. 21, according to an email he sent members that was obtained by the Coastline Pilot.

A copy of the request, identified by Belt to be from the owner, was emailed to association members, along with Belt's comments and some conditions that could be included in the association response.

Belt cautioned association members about two issues of concern in the last paragraph of the request:

"By placing the financial burden of an appeal on the park residents via the homeowners association, LTP (Laguna Terrace Park) does not guarantee that the park will be subdivided if the appeal is successful. A successful appeal will only get the park one step closer to sale of the rental spaces, because there are significant additional hurdles, including city approval of the final map, DRE (state Department of Real Estate) approval of the subdivision and lender approval of partial reconveyance."

Belt advised association members that the matter of lender approval of partial reconveyance could be a major hurdle.

"There is currently one loan on the total of all land owned by park," Belt wrote. "In order for each of us to purchase our lot, there will need to be a release of that parcel. We will have more details on this matter as time passes."

Belt said the board's intention is to present all of this information to members so they can make an informed decision.

"As you will note, we are requested to raise a fund in the amount of $50,000," Belt wrote. "This will be possible with at least 100 residents contributing $500. Of course there are some residents that may be willing to contribute a larger amount.

"The concern that we have is the statement in the letter: 'LTP does not guarantee that the park will be subdivided if the appeal is successful.' This seems somewhat one-sided."

Belt is recommending that if the appeal is successful and the owner does not proceed with the subdivision, the association should require that residents who contributed to the legal fund be given a credit toward future rent.

Calls from the Coastline Pilot were not returned by park General Manager James Lawson or Hill as of Wednesday.

coastlinepilot@latimes.com

Twitter: @CoastlinePilot

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