Alimur Park Residents Purchase Their Park!
Date: February 1, 2016
Location: Alimur Park, 4300 Soquel Dr, Soquel CA 95073
What Happened: The residents of Alimur Mobile Home Park formed a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation and purchased the Park from its investor-owner.
The APHOA Board of Directors: Clay Butler, Bernadette Guimarin, Rickie Crane, John Bonsall, Dana Schlagheck.
The homeowners in Alimur MHP
Deane Sargent – Financial Consultant, PMC Financial Services, Medford OR
David Loop – Attorney, Aptos CA
John Leopold – Santa Cruz County Supervisor
Tim Hansen – Special Projects manager for the Park owner/seller
After two years of negotiations to buy their park, the residents of Alimur Park can breathe a sigh of relief. On January 5th 2016, escrow closed and their nonprofit corporation became owner of the Park.
“When I moved to Alimur fourteen years ago, it didn’t take me long to figure out that there was an inherent conflict between the interests of the residents, who own their homes, and the owner of the park, who owns the land” APHOA President Clay Butler said. “A few weeks later I saw a flyer for the homeowner’s association meeting. I went with the purpose of seeing if there was interest in buying the park. Coincidentally they were electing officers that meeting. I left the meeting as the new president.”
And so began the 14-year journey to purchase Alimur Park. Along the way, there was an attempt by the owner to subdivide the Park into individual lots. The residents organized, and with the help of attorney Terry Hancock of Senior Legal Services and the unwavering support of County Supervisor John Leopold, fought the unwanted “condo” conversion. Santa Cruz County denied the owner’s application to convert the park, and the owner sued the county in response. This led to an epic 5-year battle all the way to the California Supreme Court where Alimur’s residents and the County were victorious.
“It felt really good to be part of a ground-breaking case that helped to create a legal framework which other resident groups could use to fend off unwanted condo conversions” said APHOA President Clay Butler.
Unrelated to the conversion battle, the residents filed a failure-to-maintain lawsuit because of the deterioration of the Park’s condition. This led to a five year battle that was ultimately settled out of court in the residents favor.
“Fighting the conversion and organizing a failure-to-maintain lawsuit was a huge undertaking but we never saw either one as the end game” said Butler. “These were things we had to do to protect our interests so we could get to the finish line, which was owning the Park. Without ownership and the ability to control our future, the underlining power dynamic wouldn’t change, and neither would our problems”.
So with the conversion threat and lawsuit behind them, it was time for the group to figure out how to buy the Park. Enter financial consultant Deane Sargent and local real estate attorney David Loop.
Mr. Butler had contacted Mr. Sargent several times over several years to try to engage the owner in selling the park to the residents. Mr. Sargent had successfully helped dozens of mobilehome park resident groups achieve resident ownership, and he was a natural choice to start the process. However, all attempts to engage the owner were ignored. Until there there was an opening.
When the residents received their 2013 capital improvement pass-throughs under the County rent stabilization ordinance, Mr. Butler asked for a meet and confer with the Park owner to review the various pass-throughs. The owner sent Tim Hansen, special projects manager for his property management company. Mr. Butler and Mr. Hansen hit it off, and a meeting to discuss pass-throughs turned into a two hour discussion about objectives, improvements and the future. Before long Mr. Butler and Mr. Hansen were discussing the residents’ interest in buying the Park, how they had made little progress over the years, and how this might be changed. This was the opening the resident group had been looking for. Many years was of hard work now just might pay off.
Enter David Loop, a local attorney who over the past decade has worked with numerous MHP resident groups in California in their efforts to buy their parks. With Mr. Sargent as its financial advisor, Mr. Loop as its legal counsel, and a newly elected board to negotiate the deal, the Alimur Park Homeowners Association was fully realized and ready for action.