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Friday, November 2, 2012

9th Circuit Upholds Ordinance Protecting Mobile Home Residents

Our friends at Inversecondemnation reported on a recent Ninth Circuit decision upholding two ordinances designed to protect residents of local mobile home parks.  Laurel Park Community, LLC, et al. v. City of Tumwater, (October 29, 2012). Tumwater, Washington had ten mobile home (or manufactured home) parks within its boundaries. Residents of some of these parks expressed concerns to the Tumwater City Council that one or more of the parks were going to close. In response, the City Council adopted two ordinances.  The first amended the City's comprehensive plan and zoning map to create a new Manufactured Home Park zoning district.  The second rezoned six of the mobile home parks into the new zoning district. The ordinances identified mobile home parks and a few other uses as permitted uses, and allowed limited conditional uses. Other uses would be allowed only by "use exception" if certain criteria were established by the owner. The stated intent of the ordinances were to promote affordable, high density single-family residential development and to provide sufficient land for manufactured homes.

Owners of three of the rezoned parks sued the City, claiming that the ordinances violated their constitutional rights, including the Fifth Amendment and state "takings" clauses.  The Ninth Circuit analyzed the owners' claims under the Penn Central factors, finding that the first two factors of the Penn Central test favored the City, as follows:  (1) the minimal economic effect of the ordinances did not support a takings claim; and (2) the possibility of redeveloping the mobile home parks was speculative and did not support the owners' claim that the ordinances interfered with their "investment-backed expectations." The third factor (the character of the government action) did favor the owners by practically forcing them to continue to use their properties as mobile home parks, but was not enough to overcome the other two factors.  Consequently, the Court found no violation of the Fifth Amendment takings clause. Similarly, the Court determined that the ordinances did not violate the state constitution or the owners' substantive due process rights.  The Court also rejected the owners' argument that the ordinances were illegal "spot zoning."

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink (with a thank you to Inversecondemnation!)


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