“A hearing is set for April of 2014 to hear final arguments on the amount of compensation that is due to all homeowners and residents as part of a class-action suit,” said Peter Zamoyski of the law firm of Tatro & Zamoyski, which is representing the De Anza Cove Homeowners Association.
The city started the process of trying to remove residents from the 75-acre park on prime real estate jutting into the water in Mission Bay Park west of Interstate 5 in 2003.
After years of litigation, the city reached a $3.6 million settlement agreement on one of three lawsuits involving current and former residents of the 500-unit De Anza Cove Resort mobile home park.
The settled dispute stems from the treatment residents said they received by Hawkeye Asset Management of Laguna Beach — a company retained by the city to run the day-to-day operations of the park after the prime bayfront real estate was taken over by the city in November 2003.
De Anza residents claim strong-arm tactics were used by the city to coerce residents to leave, including installation of a guard house at the entrance, multitudinous speed bumps, high-intensity Klieg lights and barbed-wire fencing throughout the property.
“Common areas were destroyed, the clubhouse, car wash and laundry facilities were taken out, trees were clear-cut, a water feature and bougainvillea were removed — the entire place was denuded,” claimed Zamoyski, who noted mobile home parks can be sold by their owners but state law requires them to “provide a tenant impact report,” as well as “legally mandated compensation for loss of their homes and other relocation benefits.”
Zamoyski said the amount of the collective compensation to be determined this spring could be “anywhere from $20 million to $60 million.”
The fact that mobile home park residents will be required to leave is not at issue, said Zamoyski.
“That’s never been in dispute from the day we filed the lawsuit,” he said. “We’ve always said the city is welcome to do with it whatever it wishes; use the land for a public park or sell it to development interests to build a hotel or recreational facilities. The city can do with the property whatever it feels is in the best interest for its taxpayers and citizens. They just have to follow the law.”
Ernie Abbit, president of De Anza Cove Homeowners Association the past 13 years, said about 300 of the 500 units in the mobile home park are still occupied. He said residents are a little jittery about the judge’s upcoming decision.
“They’re concerned as to how this is all going to end up, how much they’re going to be awarded by the judge,” Abbit said. “We have to move. We’re not looking forward to it. We have to know how we’re going to be able to continue our lives, especially people who have invested their life savings in this place.”
Abbit said there’s some residual ill will among residents about how the park has been denuded, particularly regarding the trees.
“They tore out everything,” he said. “They made it like a bomb hit it, made it terrible for the people here. They cut down 200 trees unnecessarily. They gave the excuse that tree roots were affecting the infrastructure, killing the pipes and wires. So they cut down the trees but left the stumps, which are still growing roots.”
Abbit said the city “continues to fight this battle,” noting he felt officials were little concerned about “lower-income people.”
“Their (city’s) only concern was how we can make an extra buck,” Abbit said.
After repeated attempts, the city could not be reached for comment on the status of the DeAnza lawsuit by press time.
Previously, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said, “This insurance-funded settlement makes sense for all the parties as a compromise. The De Anza litigation has been ongoing for too long and needs to be brought to a conclusion.”