Pacifica officials are holding strong that extensive renovations taking place at a mobile home park do not require a permit from the California Coastal Commission despite the agency’s claim that it does.
The Coastal Commission has determined that work being done on the Pacific Skies Estates on Palmetto Avenue is not a repair and maintenance project as the city insists but rather a complete redevelopment.
These types of jurisdictional disagreements, however, are not uncommon, said county Supervisor Carole Groom, who also serves on the Coastal Commission’s board representing the central coast.
“They sometimes take months to resolve,” Groom said.
The park’s owners received a permit from the state Department of Housing and Community Development Agency, the governing body over all mobile home parks in the state, for the proposed work back in 2013 and the city signed off on it, declaring it exempt for the need to obtain a Coastal Development Permit.
But commission staff maintain the exemption should not have been given.
“The project does not propose to repair or maintain development in its current legally established form; rather it proposes to change it completely, including installing all new units and infrastructure. Of note, among other caveats, the commission’s regulations state that replacement of 50 percent or more of a structure is not repair and maintenance, but instead constitutes replacement requiring a CDP,” the Coastal Commission’s Nancy Cave wrote to the city in November.
The park’s owners are currently dismantling older trailers at the park and replacing them all, 93, with new prefabricated homes.
Pacifica officials say the commission has no authority to reconsider the city’s exemption determination, according to a letter sent to the commission Dec. 29.
On Friday, Cave was preparing a new letter to send to Pacifica maintaining that it is staff’s opinion that the project needs a CDP.
The commission itself has not ruled on the matter, Cave said.
The park sits right at a cliff’s edge to the Pacific Ocean.
Rents at the park have typically been at below market rate but the new homes are expected to rent for double what tenants at the park currently pay.
Most of the tenants have already accepted up to $15,000 in relocation assistance to leave the park while the land is transformed into a more luxury community.
Ownership’s goal is to have 75 percent vacancy by the end of January, said Carol McDermott, an adviser to the ownership group.
Some of the tenants are refusing to accept the package, claiming it will do little to help them pay the rent at a new location.
Some of the tenants who owned their mobile homes have agreed to sell them to ownership in exchange for letting them reside in a newer prefab home at a lower rate, McDermott said.
Owners also plan to construct a promenade at the cliff’s edge and have already torn down some ancillary buildings on the property.
Late last year, private equity firm The Carlyle Group invested $42 million to bring in new manufactured homes and upgrade the streets and utilities at the park.
In response to the situation in Pacifica, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors passed an urgency ordinance preventing the closure of mobile home parks but it only applies to eight properties and only in unincorporated county lands.
The parks fill an affordable housing need in the county. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Mateo County is $2,516, a 50.2 percent increase in four years, according to the county Housing Authority.
Coastal Commission staff has asked the city to reconsider its exemption or to seek a formal ruling by the commission itself.
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