San Pablo will take mobile home park: Contra Costa (CA) Times, 4/19/05

By Tom Lochner

The [San Pablo CA] City Council on Monday voted to take over the Alvarado Mobile Home Park by eminent domain.

The 49-unit mobile home park is part of an 18-acre tract on San Pablo Avenue between Church Lane and Vale Road that the city wants to redevelop with market-rate housing.

Dubbed the Circle S Project Area, it includes Alvarado; the 200-plus unit Circle S Mobile Home Park; a defunct lumber yard and warehouse; and a Salvation Army store.

Alvarado owner Edward Biggs doesn't mind letting go of the property, said his representative Robert Trockey. But Biggs doesn't like the $2.76 million appraisal price the San Pablo Redevelopment Agency is offering.

Biggs wants $4.2 million.

The legal process of forcing a sale through eminent domain could take about a year, Arner said. The process often concludes "on the courthouse steps," said City Manager Brock Arner.

The council vote was 4-0. Councilwoman Sharon Brown, a real estate broker, recused herself to avoid any appearance of impropriety, even though she has no conflict of interest, she said.

The council will likely decide in the next four months whether to also acquire the Circle S park by eminent domain. It already owns the lumber property.

Once the redevelopment agency has assembled the entire 18 acres, it may seek a developer or develop the property itself, Arner said. He said construction could begin in a few years.

Mobile home residents would be offered relocation benefits of as much as $50,000 per household, officials have said.

If the city turns to a developer, current residents would not be offered any protections other than the relocation benefits, Arner said.

If the city develops the property, elderly and disabled residents could stay as tenants in new housing units at rents equal to what they paid for their spaces as of March. Other tenants could stay at subsidized rents for three to five years, Arner said.

Contra Costa Times: www.mercurynews.com