A recent decision by the California Court of Appeal upheld the City of Carson’s denial of the proposed subdivision of a mobilehome park on multiple bases, including that it was inconsistent with the open space element of the City’s general plan. Carson Harbor Village, Ltd. v. City of Carson, No. B25011 (Second Dist. August 21, 2015).
By way of background, Carson Harbor Village submitted an application to the City of Carson to subdivide the mobilehome park into resident-owned lots. Today, the park consists of 420 rental spaces on seventy (70) total acres, seventeen (17) of which are governmentally-protected wetlands.
In this case, the state and federal regulated wetlands within the park’s boundaries had a long history of environmental contamination that would cost the homeowner’s association approximately $50,000 on an annual basis (if the subdivision application was approved). During the initial phase of litigation, several residents within the park had gone on record voicing their concerns over the continued maintenance of the wetlands if the subdivision went forward. Ultimately, the City denied the subdivision application. The City had multiple bases for denial, most notably that the park contained an environmentally-sensitive habitat and faced significant resident opposition given the substantial ongoing costs to remediate environmental contamination.
Carson Harbor then filed a lawsuit against the City claiming that inconsistency with the City’s zoning designation for the wetlands was not a valid basis upon which to deny a subdivision application. The trial court sided with Carson Harbor finding that inconsistency with the zoning designation was an invalid basis to reject the subdivision application.
On appeal, the Court of Appeal stated that inconsistencies between statutory provisions must be reconciled whenever possible. Therefore, the Court ultimately determined that the City of Carson properly considered whether the proposed subdivision was consistent with City’s general plan when evaluating Carson Harbor’s subdivision application.
Ariel Bedell is an experienced attorney at The Loftin Firm. For questions relating to this blog or any other California real estate, corporate governance, land use, or estate planning matter, contact Ms. Bedell at 760-814-9649.