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Local News

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Goleta Rent-Control Case

The ruling is deemed a victory for mobile-home residents, but legal challenges loom

Monday brought a victory for mobile-home residents statewide when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a Goleta rent-control case, allowing an earlier ruling to be upheld in favor of the park’s residents.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the city’s rent control ordinance on the Rancho Mobile Homes in western Goleta, and because of the Supreme Court decision not to hear the case, the Circuit Court’s decision is final law.

The land where Rancho Mobile Homes sits was purchased by Daniel Guggenheim in 1997, before the city of Goleta was incorporated. When the city formed in 2002, it adopted identical rent-control ordinances.

“Because Guggenheim bought the property with full knowledge of the ordinance, the Ninth Circuit Court agreed with the city that Guggenheim had no reasonable expectation that he could increase rents beyond the levels allowed in the ordinance,” according to a statement from law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, which represented the City of Goleta in the case.

But the battle is far from over for tenants in the park. Another case is pending, which doesn’t challenge the rent control issue, but whether the city approved a development agreement with the owners correctly in 2009. The residents of the park sued the city, and that case has been pending for two years.

This case encompasses whether Guggenheim will be allowed to convert the park’s spaces to be individually owned. If tenants choose not to opt in, the remaining plots would still be owned by Guggenehim. If owners don’t opt for unit ownership, an eight-year transition would take place, transitioning the current rents charged to market rate.

“From Guggenheim’s perspective, it’s a different means of achieving the same result,” said Tim Giles, Goleta’s city attorney.
 
That case is now in front of the California Court of Appeals in Ventura, and Giles said it could be six months or more before that case moves forward.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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