continued "Besides, if the city is planning to turn this area into parkland," asks Abbit, "why are they cutting down these beautiful 30- to 40-year-old trees? The city is harassing the residents here, hoping they'll move, and that is against California's mobile-home residency law."
If a city wants to turn mobile-home parks to other uses, the residency law requires that the city help its residents relocate and forbids making significant changes to the property before residents vacate. The city of San Diego, however, claims that subsequent legislation, known as the Kapiloff Bill, permits the city to waive residents' legal rights.
But former San Diego assemblyman Larry Kapiloff, who sponsored the law in the California legislature, wrote a 2003 letter stating that the purpose of his bill was to reinforce the mobile-home residency law and add to it further protections for De Anza mobile-home park residents.
According to attorney Peter Zamoyski, whose firm Tatro and Zamoyski has filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of the De Anza Cove Homeowners Association, the city pretends that residents are trying to stay in De Anza Cove forever. They knew when they moved in that they would have to move eventually. Zamoyski has a court date of January 7, 2005.
"The real issue," Zamoyski says, "is when the city will come up with a good exit plan for residents, one that will address their costs of relocating and pay for mitigation of damages they face. That's what the law requires it to do."
I asked Zamoyski if the city isn't planning to promote hotel development at De Anza Cove land, despite its claim to follow through on the state mandate to turn the land into a park. "The city's actual wording," he says, "is that it will 'return it to park and recreation use consistent with the Mission Bay master plan.' That plan includes the possibility of commercial development.
"The city first discussed the possibility of having a hotel in De Anza Cove in 1981. During the 1990s, they even prepared an environmental impact report for a potential 600-room hotel there."
Zamoyski's firm's website (www.sdrealestatelaw.com) posts a letter sent to superior court by former San Diego city councilman Mike Gotch. In the letter, Gotch says that despite the understanding with the state of California that De Anza Cove would become parkland in 2003, the city contemplated all through the 1980s the possibility of having a hotel on it.
Potential delays in development may explain why the city is trying so hard not to comply with the mobile-home residency law.
"When Donna Frye takes over as mayor and Mike Aguirre as city attorney," says Zamoyski, "a good question to pose to them would be: When is San Diego going to stop throwing money away on losing lawsuits, like the nearly hundred-million-dollar one by Roque de la Fuente?"