De Anza Cove Class Action
Check here for the most recent news regarding the De Anza Cove Mobilehome Park class action case against the city of San Diego (San Diego Superior Court, Case No. GIC 821191).
Current News (Updated July 22, 2015)
PROPERTY TAX BILLS: if you are still receiving tax bills from the County of San Diego, take them or send them to the park oﬃce. If you have paid any such property tax bills in the past 12 years, please notify park management and provide (if possible) proof of payment. You may be entitled to reimbursement for any property taxes you’ve paid.
QUESTIONS REGARDING THE TAXABILITY OF RELOCATION BENEFITS: in light of the number of inquiries we’ve received about whether relocation beneﬁts received from the City of San Diego are subject to state or federal income taxes, we located a local tax attorney willing to research the issue and provide a formal opinion letter. We then forwarded his proposal to the HOA Board for review, but the Board rejected the proposal for cost reasons. If you have questions about this issue or the Board’s decision not to authorize the preparation of a formal tax opinion letter, please feel free to contact any of your HOA Board members. Please remember that Tatro & Lopez, LLP, cannot and does not provide any tax advice.
Past News (Updated June 22, 2015)
We will hold an informational meeting at the Bay Club Clubhouse at De Anza Cove at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. The meeting is open to all residents, whether you are a Class member in the De Anza Cove class action case or not. We will also update folks on the related Aglio v. City of San Diego case.
Since our last update, the City and Plaintiﬀs reached a Stipulation, which the Court approved and entered as an Order of the Court, that allows De Anza Cove Class Members who had not yet vacated the Park to receive 7% post-judgment interest on their relocation beneﬁt payment. Interest begins to accrue on January 14, 2015, which was the date that the City of San Diego served its Notice of Park Closure, and interest continues to accrue until the beneﬁts are paid. For more details about the advantages that beneﬁted our clients, feel free to read the Stipulation and Order.
For detailed information about the park closure and key FAQs, please read our February 11, 2015 Update below.
Past News Update (Updated Feb. 11, 2015)
OPC and the City of San Diego intend to hold an informational meeting at the Bay Club Clubhouse at De Anza Cove at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. At our insistence, the meeting is open to all residents, whether you are a Class member in the De Anza Cove class action case or not.
As ordered by the Court, the City issued 12-Month Notices of Park Closure and a Relocation Impact Report to all residents of the Park a few weeks ago in midJanuary 2015. All Class Members were also to receive a separately mailed Claim Form to complete and return to OPC. Final park closure will not take place at least until next year in mid-January 2016.
As you know from our web update in November 2014 and meetings at the Park, the Superior Court made its ﬁnal determinations and entered an Amended Judgment on October 16, 2014, in this class action case that has spanned nearly 11 years. The Court’s ﬁnal ruling is binding on the City of San Diego and all Class Members.
The City of San Diego must comply with, and pay all compensation owed under the terms of the Court’s ﬁnal judgment at an estimated value of more than $23 million, plus reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees. After more than a decade of ﬁghting for their rights, the De Anza Cove Class Members will at last receive the funds necessary to help facilitate their relocation from the park and defray some of the cost of losing their homes. The Court’s Judgment requires the City to comply in full with State law, issue a ﬁnal Relocation Impact Report in January 2015 along with a 12-month Park Closure Notice that will allow residents to remain at the Park for another year if they so choose, and begin making payments for those Class Members who have already vacated the Park as soon as January 2015. The Court appointed a third-party Relocation Coordinator, Overland, Paciﬁc & Cutler, to complete the ﬁnal Relocation Impact Report, provide Class Members with relocation assistance during the park-closure process, and process Class Members’ claims for compensation.
The Court’s Judgment orders the City to pay each eligible Class Homeowner utilizing the formula laid out in the Relocation Standards and Procedures of the San Diego Housing Commission, Policy 300.401, eﬀective 1995 (“SDHC Policy”). This is the policy that the City requires other park owners to follow. (See Amended Judgment, p. 4, para. A.) In general, the main compensation component for eligible Class Homeowners is 48 months of “rent diﬀerential,” which is based on existing space rent subtracted from comparable rent for a similarlysized apartment in a beachfront locale, multiplied by 48. In addition, the policy provides for payment of moving expenses, and temporary lodging expenses where reasonably necessary. (See Amended Judgment, pp. 4-5, paras. A-C.) Eligible Class Renters, who were renters in the Park as of October 22, 2003, are also entitled to certain relocation beneﬁts, which are comprised of two months worth of comparable rent plus moving expenses. (See Amended Judgment, p. 5, para. D.)
As ordered by the Court in the Judgment, considerably more information has been and will be sent to you by the Court-appointed Class Notice Administrator (named Gilardi & Co.) and also by Overland, Paciﬁc & Cutler. In the meantime, we’ve tried to provide brief answers, below, to some of the questions you might have.
Q: What’s going to happen next? What’s the timeline for park closure? When do I get paid?
A: As ordered by the Court, all eligible Class Members should have already received from the Notice Administrator: (a) an update notiﬁcation with a copy of the Amended Judgment back in November 2014; and (b) a Claim Form mailed out separately in mid-January 2015. Also, in mid-January 2015, all Park residents and homeowners should have been served at the Park with a 12-month Notice of Park Closure, along with OPC’s Relocation Impact Report, and a blank Termination of Tenancy agreement. (See Amended Judgment, p. 8, para. 9.)
By Court order, if you would like to leave before the Date of Park Closure, you can do so, but you have to give the City 60 days’ notice of your intent to leave, sign the Termination of Tenancy agreement (which extinguishes your lease and obligation to pay further space rent as of the date you vacate the Park), and submit a claim form to Overland Paciﬁc & Cutler. These particular documents should have already been sent to you by the Notice Administrator and/or Overland, Paciﬁc & Cutler no later than mid-January 2015.
You will receive half of your lump sum Relocation Payment on the 30th day of your 60-day notice to vacate, and the other half within two business days of actually leaving the park. (See Amended Judgment, p. 9, para. 12.) Payments to eligible Class Members can begin as soon as January 2015 (most likely for those eligible Class Members who have already vacated the Park and promptly complete the necessary claim forms) and will continue thereafter.
If you want to stay at De Anza Cove as long as possible, you may continue to reside at the Park until the Date of Park Closure listed in the 12-Month Park Closure Notice, following the same claim procedure above.
The Relocation Coordinator (Overland Paciﬁc & Cutler or “OPC”) was also ordered by the Court “to (1) explain beneﬁts and issues related to the closure of the Park; (2) identify replacement housing, (3) coordinate moving arrangements, (4) identify disabled-accessible accommodations and coordinate the relocation of any disabled Plaintiﬀ Class Members and/or any necessary disability modiﬁcations, as applicable, and (5) other individual relocation assistance that may be required on a case-by-case basis.” (See Amended Judgment, pp. 7-8, para. 6.)
Q: How do I know if I’m an eligible Class Member? If I’m not part of the class action, what will happen to me?
A: In summary, the Court deﬁned eligible Class Members as those homeowners and residents who: (a) lived at De Anza Cove as of October 22, 2003, (b) never signed a settlement agreement with the City, and (c) continued to live at the Park, or voluntarily vacated the Park without ever being evicted before trial started in 2007. For the complete Class Deﬁnition, please read the Notice that is being sent out during the week of November 17, 2014 (or read the Amended Judgment, pp. 6-7, para. 1).
If you are not part of the Class because you signed a settlement agreement or were evicted pre-trial, your relocation rights are not aﬀected by the Amended Judgment, which only binds the Class Members, and you may still be entitled to pursue your claim for relocation beneﬁts. (See Amended Judgment, p. 11, para. 18.) Please see the separate case information regarding the Aglio et al. v. City of San Diego case (San Diego Superior Court, Case No. 37-2009-00081994-CU-EI-CTL), which concerns certain people who were homeowners and residents of the De Anza Cove mobilehome park on October 22, 2003, but were coerced by the City to sign settlement agreements, or were evicted from the Park before trial, which caused the Judge to exclude them from the De Anza Cove class action case (San Diego Superior Court, Case No. GIC 821191) and to require them to pursue their claims against the City on an individual basis.
Q: Can I give the City more than 60-days’ notice of my intent to vacate?
A: Yes. 60 days is the supposed to be the minimum amount of notice you provide to the City. You can give the City as much notice as you would like of your intent to vacate, as long as it is at least 60 days. So, for example, you can send your 60-day notice of intent to vacate the Park now, but indicate you won’t be vacating the Park until January 10, 2016. Your claim will be processed by OPC and you should receive half of your relocation beneﬁts payment in 30 days, and the remainder within two business days after you vacate the Park.
Q: If I turn in my 60-day notice, but have fully vacated the Park within 30 days, can I get my full relocation beneﬁts on the 30th day after giving my Notice?
A: Yes–as long as your Claim Form has been processed and approved by the 30th day, you should receive your relocation payment no later than 2 business days after the 30th day. Also, as soon as you have vacated the Park (as deﬁned in the Termination of Tenancy), you will no longer be responsible to pay rent.
Q: Can I change my termination date after I’ve already provided the City with my 60-day notice?
A: The City will consider requests to change vacate dates on a case-by-case basis. There is no guarantee that the City will accommodate your request, so you should pick a vacate date that you feel you can commit to. If you have any doubt as to your ability to vacate on a particular date, it would seem wise for you to pick a later date, rather than an earlier date. No matter what vacate date you choose, you will receive the ﬁrst half of your relocation beneﬁts 30 days after providing the City with your notice of intent to vacate (as long as your Claim Form has been submitted and approved by the 30th day).
Q: Can I sell or move my home before I vacate the Park? Who gets the money from the sale of a home?
A: Yes, in addition to the relocation payment you receive, you are able to sell or remove your home on your own before your vacate date. This is a great option that could net the homeowner hundreds if not thousands of extra dollars in addition to the relocation payment. If you sell the home, the lawful homeowner is entitled to keep the net sales proceeds (not the City). There are certain individuals and companies that specialize in buying and removing mobilehomes and will be able to give you a quote for how much they will pay you for your home. As a courtesy, we will list a few names of such individuals/companies (but know that we have no aﬃliation at all with them and get absolutely no compensation whatsoever). You are welcome to choose any company that you’d like. Be sure to have them conﬁrm your net payment, that they will help you complete all necessary paperwork to transfer title, etc., and that they will provide the City with proof of liability insurance with the City listed as an additional insured.
Q: I am in escrow or about to make an oﬀer to purchase another home. My lender is requesting additional documentation related to my relocation beneﬁts. What should I do?
A: OPC has the discretion to consider special requests on a case-by-case basis. On your Claim Form, indicate what information or documentation your lender is requesting.
If you need the information or documentation right away, you can call or e-mail OPC, and let them know you have a time-sensitive request for information. OPC’s phone number is (619) 688-7980, and their e-mail is vmccaw@OPCservices.com
Q: I have special circumstances. What can I do?
A: OPC has the discretion to consider special requests on a case-by-case basis. On your Claim Form, indicate that what you are seeking/needing. Some people might have disabilities; some people might need help navigating an escrow and purchase of another home; some people might be on a wait-list for special housing and might require additional assistance. If so, you can also call or email OPC. OPC’s phone number is (619) 688-7980, and their e-mail is vmccaw@OPCservices.com
Q: How will my individual relocation payment be calculated?
A: Under the Court’s Amended Judgment, the two main variables to determining compensation for almost all of the Class Homeowners are: (a) your home size, and (b) your space rent. The Court did not consider any other factors like the condition or location of your home, the size of your lot, the quality of your upgrades, the market value of your home, or the cost to buy another home in another park.
The eligible size of your home determines which tier you fall into, each tier corresponding to a range of similarlysized apartments for rent in a comparable area. The Court ordered the following comparable rents for each respective home-size tier:
- Tier Square Footage Comparable Rent
- 1 1 – 664.9 $1,300/mo.
- 2 665 – 1,059.9 $1,750/mo.
- 3 1,060 – 1,379.9 $2,600/mo.
- 4 1,380 – 1,629.9 $3,395/mo.
- 5 1,630+ $3,595/mo.
(See Amended Judgment, p. 4, para. B.)
Under the City’s SDHC Policy, you subtract your current space rent from the comparable rent determined by the Court (per the table above), and that yields your monthly Rent Diﬀerential. That amount is then multiplied by 48 months-representing a lump sum payment to help you ﬁnd another place to live.
In addition, a moving allowance of $1,660 was added for moving your personal belongings. That stipend, plus your Rent Diﬀerential, represents the vast majority of your total Relocation Payment.
Ex: You have a 1,000 square-foot home and pay $700 per month in space rent. You fall into Tier 2 and your monthly Rent Diﬀerential is $1,750 minus $700, or $1,050 per month. Multiply that amount by 48 months and your total Rent Diﬀerential is $50,400. Add the moving allowance of $1,660 and your total Relocation Payment is $52,060.
You may also be eligible to recover Temporary Lodging beneﬁts if you show a reasonable necessity for temporary lodging. The Court ruled that the “amount of the lodging payment is to be determined on a case-bycase basis by Overland Paciﬁc & Cutler (“OPC”) and the aﬀected Plaintiﬀ Class Member based on reasonable and veriﬁable lodging costs at the time of their move, not to exceed $147 per night for up to seven (7) nights.” (Amended Judgment, p. 7, para. 5.)
Q: How were the home sizes calculated for the purposes of class compensation?
A: All available data was taken together by OPC, the Court-appointed Relocation Coordinator, to establish the eligible size of each home. More than 300 homeowners returned surveys in 2007 containing square footage information provided under penalty of perjury. Home size information was also pulled from the California Department of Housing and Community Development, MLS listings, and County Assessor records. In addition, Plaintiﬀs’ mobilehome appraisal expert visited the Park several times in 2007 and visually inspected all homes that remained in the Park at that time. From all these sources of information, OPC determined the squarefootage size of each home.
Q: I think the square footage, homeowner, or space rent listed on my Claim Form is wrong. What should I do? Will this mistake be corrected?
A: On your Claim Form, indicate what information you believe is incorrect. Include any and all documentation that supports what the square footage, homeowner, or space rent should be. OPC will investigate any discrepancies, and contact you if additional information is needed. If you are on a short time-frame to vacate the park at the time you send in your Claim Form, it’s a good idea for you to contact OPC yourself after sending in your Claim Form to ﬁnd out whether they will need any additional information. OPC’s phone number is: (619) 688-7980, and their e-mail is: vmccaw@OPCservices.com.
Q: Will I have to pay our attorneys out of the money that I receive?
A: The great news is, no, you don’t have to pay the attorneys’ fees–the City has to. We requested, and the Court ordered, that the City must pay Class Counsel’s attorneys’ fees in addition to the amounts to be paid to the Class Members, not from the compensation owed to the Class. After 11 years of litigation, the Court awarded Plaintiﬀs’ Class Counsel approximately $7.7 million, which represents 33⅓% of the estimated value of the Judgment. Plaintiﬀs have also requested that the Court order the City to pay for the litigation costs incurred during this case. On December 1, 2014, the Court ordered the City to pay almost all of the Costs sought by Plaintiﬀs’ counsel: $458,078.99. Plaintiﬀ’s counsel is also seeking reimbursement of an additional $21,000, which should be decided in Spring 2015.
Q: Do I get to vote on whether to appeal or to accept the terms of the Court’s Amended Judgment?
A: In certiﬁed class action cases like this one, the interests of unnamed Class Members are represented by Court-appointed Class Representatives and Courtapproved Class Counsel, and subject to the orders of the Court. Unnamed Class Members do not get a “vote”, but rather the Court-appointed Class Representatives and Class Counsel have the duty to act in the best interests of the Class as a whole. After considering the pros and cons of appeal versus accepting the terms of the Court’s Amended Judgment, the De Anza Cove Class Representatives acted on behalf of the Class Members and decided that not appealing the Amended Judgment was in the overall best interests of the Class as a whole. Class Counsel also agreed that not appealing the Amended Judgment was in the overall best interests of the Class as a whole.
Q: Who are the class representatives and what do they do?
A: In class action cases, only one person or entity needs to serve as the Class Representative. Here, because of the diverse nature of the people and their life situations at De Anza Cove, we asked the Court to appoint eight Class Representatives to act on behalf of the best interest of everyone in the Class. The De Anza Cove Homeowners’ Association, through its board members, serves as one Class Representative, and seven other individuals were selected as the other Class Representatives. These Class Representatives were then reviewed and approved by the Court during the class certiﬁcation process that took place in 2005. These individuals were chosen based on a multitude of considerations, including where in the park they lived, whether they rented or owned their home, their ability to make a good witness and give competent testimony, the similarly of their claims to those of the rest of the class, etc. In addition, the HOA Board is typically compromised of more than a dozen thoughtful, civic-minded individuals who, by the terms of their oﬃce, are looking to do what’s best for the park residents as a whole. For many years, the Class Representatives have been in close contact with Class Counsel to learn the pros and cons of each major decision and to be kept closely apprised of the class action case in detail. In total, all of these representatives, including the HOA Board, brought an immense amount of life experience, business acumen, and humanity to the table. Sadly, two of the eight Class Representatives passed away during this lengthy, arduous case, but the remaining six Class Representatives continued throughout this case, serving as representatives for everyone else in the Class so that each individual class member did not have to pursue a separate claim.
Q: If I’m not satisﬁed with the Court-ordered compensation that I’m supposed to get, can I appeal?
A: No. As an individual Class Member, you are bound by the Court’s Amended Judgment and by the decision not to appeal the Amended Judgment.
Q: Will Class Members have an opportunity to address the Court about the Amended Judgment or the decision not to appeal?
A: Probably not. Most class actions settle before trial, so the Court would normally hold a fairness hearing to ensure that the proposed settlement adequately compensates the class in the eyes of the Court. Here, however, there was a full-blown trial on the merits, and the Court issued an Amended Judgment that represents the Court’s ﬁnal determination of fair and adequate compensation for the class.
Here are also a few key documents from this case–a case that has been actively litigated for over a decade–that you might ﬁnd helpful:
Class Notice published in 2007 (short version)
Class Notice published in 2007 (long version)
Court’s Ruling Granting Plaintiﬀs’ Motion for Summary Adjudication 2007
Court’s Statement of Decision after Trial 2008
Court’s Decision Concerning Class Compensation May 2014
Court’s Amended Judgment dated October 16, 2014
Class Notice published November 2014 Post-Judgment
Background De Anza Cove History:
The class action case De Anza Cove Homeowners Association et al. v. City of San Diego (S.D. Sup. Ct., Case No. GIC 821191) has been actively litigated since November 2003. In 2007, we prevailed and proved that the City of San Diego violated state law (California Mobilehome Residency Law) when it sought to close the park in November 2003 without performing a tenant impact report and without providing the required relocation beneﬁts mandated by state law and local ordinances. Then, in 2008 after trial, Judge Hayes ordered the City of San Diego to prepare a tenant impact report.
On January 25, 2012, representatives of Overland Paciﬁc & Cutler, the company commissioned by the city to do the tenant impact report, delivered to the court an initial draft of the long-awaited tenant impact report. The court later appointed the Hon. Thomas Sharkey, Esq., as a Special Master to assess the suﬃciency of the tenant impact report and provide rulings and recommendations to the court to ensure that the tenant impact report complies with the law. The court has not permitted the initial draft copies of the tenant impact report to be released to the public because the report will likely be subject to substantial revisions. The Special Master issued certain ﬁndings and recommendations.
Judge Pressman reviewed the Special Master’s reports and recommendations and Judge Hayes’ “Decision,” and has made a ﬁnal determination of the compensation the City owes to the De Anza class members by entering the Amended Judgment in favor of the homeowners and against the City of San Diego.