On October 22, the Marineland Mobilehome Park at 531 Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach will close in escrow, successfully converting the park to resident ownership after a grueling eight-year process. Tuesday night, the Hermosa Beach City Council approved a resolution to award financial assistance to the project.
Janice Yates is the President of the Marineland Community Association, Incorporated (MCAI), the association that will acquire and own the park. She addressed Hermosa Beach City Council Tuesday night to ask for final financial support in the process.
In 2008, MCAI approached the City of Hermosa Beach to ask for assistance in converting the property to a limited equity housing cooperative. Steve Burrell, city manager at the time, helped the association find funding in the form of a $111,831 reserve that was targeted to be used for affordable housing in Hermosa Beach.
“The fund resulted from a lawsuit against the city,” Yates said. “It had just been sitting around since the 1980s because it had to be used for affordable housing in Hermosa and there’s not a whole lot of that. So the city let us have $70,000 of it in 2009.”
The money was used for pre-development costs. Now that MCAI is about to close in escrow, the association asked that the $70,000 be converted from a loan into a grant and that the remaining $41,831 of the affordable housing funds be awarded to MCAI to assist low-income residents to maintain their homes.
“I want to thank the City of the Hermosa Beach and its staff,” Yates told the council. “We would have very likely not been able to do this conversion without the help of the city council. I am here asking, one more time, for your support.”
Council members Jeff Duclos, Howard Fishman and Peter Tucker all expressed concerns over the resolution. Tucker was especially skeptical, repeatedly demanding that the council move to have MCAI pay back the loan.
“I think we’ve spent $70,000 on this and we need to get that money back and make the $111,831 grant whole again,” he said.
After a drawn out debate over guarantees that the park will remain focused on low-income housing, City Attorney Michael Jenkins sternly intervened.
“We are a very minor player in this,” Jenkins said. “This is not our park, but it has played an important role in providing affordable housing in our city. The city decided years ago to give assistance to help get tenants’ ownership, and we used money that couldn’t be used for anything but affordable housing. Now they are asking us to simply convert that money from a loan to a grant. We don’t have to do it. This deal is pretty much cooked without us. All we are being asked to do is provide funding that has to be used for affordable housing.”
Mayor Pro Tem Michael DiVirgilio moved to approve the staff recommendation and Mayor Kit Bobko seconded the motion. After brief further discussion, the council finally unanimously approved MCAI’s request.
“We are thrilled that 92 percent of our residents have signed up to be owners,” Yates said. “For many Marineland residents, this is their biggest investment. It’s been a long, long road but we are finally here.”