Gregory v. City of San Juan Capistrano

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Citation191 Cal.Rptr. 47,142 Cal.App.3d 72
Decision Date20 April 1983
PartiesTony A. GREGORY, et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. CITY OF SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Defendant and Appellant. Civ. 27114.

Duffy & Okazaki, Monterey, and M. Stephen Coontz, Park City, Utah, for defendant and appellant.

Kunath & Talley and Jim P. Mahacek, Laguna Hills, for plaintiffs and respondents Tony A. Gregory and Nancy M. Gregory dba Rancho Del Avio Mobilehome Park.

Tuttle & Taylor Inc., Joseph R. Austin, William C. Schweinfurth and David B. Babbe, Los Angeles, for plaintiff in intervention and respondent Rancho Alipaz Mobile Home Park, Ltd.

Stuart M. Parker for Golden State Mobilehome Owners League, Inc., Rancho Alipaz Homeowners Ass'n, Inc., and San Juan Mobile Estates Residents Ass'n, Inc., as amicus curiae in support of defendant and appellant.

Paul Reynaga, Sacramento, for California Dept. of Housing and Community Development as amicus curiae in support of defendant and appellant.

Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Crystal C. Sims and Robert Cohen, Santa Ana, for Olive Davis as amicus curiae in support of defendant and appellant.

Paul H. Morgan, City Atty., Westminster, as amicus curiae in support of defendant and appellant.

Ira Reiner, City Atty., Los Angeles, William J. Adams, City Atty., Palm Springs, George C. Thacher, City Atty., San Luis Obispo, John W. Scanlon, City Atty., Hayward, Steven F. Nord, City Atty., Merced, Richard M. Manning, City Atty., Capitola, Michael T. Riddell, City Atty., Redlands, Vincent F. Biondo, Jr., City Atty., Carlsbad, Arthur J. Shaw, Jr., City Atty., Pismo Beach, S.L. Kabot, City Atty., Visalia, Sabina D. Gilbert, City Atty., Rocklin, E.A. Demchuk, City Atty., Montclair, George W. Wakefield, City Atty., Rancho Mirage and K.D. Lyders, City Atty., Oxnard, as amici curiae in support of defendant and appellant.

KAUFMAN, Associate Justice.

The City of San Juan Capistrano (City) appeals from a judgment declaring its mobilehome park rent control ordinance invalid and enjoining enforcement of the ordinance.


This action was instituted by mobilehome park owners Tony A. Gregory and Nancy M. Gregory dba Rancho Del Avion Mobilehome Park, seeking a declaration of the unconstitutionality of City's mobilehome rent control ordinance and an injunction against its enforcement. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Another park owner, Rancho Alipaz, a limited partnership, was permitted to intervene and join in the Gregorys' summary judgment motion. In due course, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the Gregorys and Rancho Alipaz (collectively plaintiffs) having concluded that City's ordinance was preempted by state law and unconstitutional.

During the proceedings in the trial court City amended its ordinance numerous times, partly in an effort to meet constitutional objections raised by plaintiffs in this litigation. 1 The ordinance, repealed and reenacted, was again amended after the rendition of judgment in the trial court and City's filing its notice of appeal. The latest version is embodied in Ordinance No. 439 enacted November 3, 1981, as amended by Ordinance No. 456 enacted May 4, 1982. 2

City urges it is the current version of the ordinance which we must review. Rancho Alipaz objects in part, pointing out that the latest version of the ordinance has not been administratively interpreted and further, that while it believes it will be appropriate to attack the constitutionality of the ordinance as applied, the factual matrix for such an attack must be developed in an administrative hearing and trial court proceeding before this court may review it. We agree in essence with both parties.

Rancho Alipaz is correct that before this court may consider an attack on the constitutionality of the ordinance as applied a factual matrix must be developed in the appropriate tribunal below. Therefore, the present appeal is limited to a review of the facial constitutionality and validity of the ordinance. (See, e.g., Birkenfeld v. City of Berkeley (1976) 17 Cal.3d 129, 165, 130 Cal.Rptr. 465, 550 P.2d 1001.) However, City is correct that as to facial constitutionality and validity it is the ordinance now in effect that is to be reviewed. Absent due process considerations or problems of unfairness, when there has been a change in the law after rendition of judgment in the trial court, the law to be considered and applied by the reviewing court is the law in effect at the time of its decision. (Bradley v. Richmond School Board (1974) 416 U.S. 696, 711-715, 94 S.Ct. 2006, 2016-2018, 40 L.Ed.2d 476, 488-490; Thorpe v. Housing Authority of Durham (1969) 393 U.S. 268, 281-282, 89 S.Ct. 518, 525-526, 21 L.Ed.2d 474, 484; cf. Selby Realty Co. v. City of San Buenaventura (1973) 10 Cal.3d 110, 125, 109 Cal.Rptr. 799, 514 P.2d 111.) As to the absence of an administrative interpretation of the language of the ordinance, suffice it to say that for purposes of determining facial constitutionality this court is competent to interpret the language of the ordinance, which is in the final analysis a judicial function. (Sanchez v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd. (1977) 20 Cal.3d 55, 67, 141 Cal.Rptr. 146, 569 P.2d 740; Lake Forest Community Assn. v. County of Orange (1978) 86 Cal.App.3d 394, 407, 150 Cal.Rptr. 286.)

Ordinance No. 439 as amended by Ordinance No. 456 sets forth rent increase formulae which allow a park owner to pass on increased operating expenses measured by the percentage of increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus another ten percent of that or, alternatively, to increase rents by the percentage of increase in a modified CPI plus ten percent of that percent 3. A park owner is allowed only one increase per year by use of the formulae. However, the ordinance provides for a five-member Mobilehome Park Review Committee 4 (Committee) to receive and consider petitions for rent increases in excess of the formulae.

No later than 30 days after its receipt of a petition the Committee must hold a public hearing to determine the necessity or justification for the proposed rent increase. The Committee's decision on the proposed increase must be made no later than 10 days after the conclusion of the public hearing and the Committee is to "forthwith" transmit its findings and recommendations to the city council. Decisions of the Committee are to be reviewed by the city council at the next regularly scheduled council meeting at least 10 days after the Committee makes its decision. The city council is to make its decision in writing within 10 days after it reviews the decision of the Committee. In passing on the proposed rent increase, both the Committee and the council are to "consider all relevant factors, including, ... a fair rate of return on investments and increased property values."

The ordinance as amended also contains what City refers to as "reciprocal" provisions purporting (1) to grant "the residents" a preemptive right to purchase the mobilehome park in which they reside on the terms and conditions contained in any offer acceptable to the owner and (2) to give the park owner a preemptive right to purchase the mobilehome of any resident on the terms and conditions of any offer acceptable to the resident.

Contentions, Issues and Discussion

Four principal questions are presented on appeal:

(1) whether the ordinance is preempted by state law; (2) whether the ordinance takes private property without due process by denying owners a just return on the value of their property; (3) whether the ordinance imposes upon park owners an unconstitutional choice between giving up their right to privacy or their right to a fair return on their property; and (4) whether the ordinance's granting "the residents" a preemptive right to purchase the mobilehome park constitutes an unconstitutional taking of private property without just compensation.

I. Preemption

Respondents assert that City's mobilehome rent control ordinance is preempted by the combined effect of two state acts, the Mobilehome Residency Law (Civ.Code, §§ 798 et seq.) and the Mobilehome Parks Act (Health & Saf.Code, §§ 18200 et seq.). The trial court agreed. We do not.

Direct Conflict

Article XI, section 7, of the California Constitution provides that a city "may make and enforce within its limits all local, police, sanitary and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws." Any local law that directly conflicts with state legislation is void. (Galvan v. Superior Court (1969) 70 Cal.2d 851, 856, 76 Cal.Rptr. 642, 452 P.2d 930; see Lancaster v. Municipal Court (1972) 6 Cal.3d 805, 807, 100 Cal.Rptr. 609, 494 P.2d 681; Music Plus Four, Inc. v. Barnet (1980) 114 Cal.App.3d 113, 121-123, 170 Cal.Rptr. 419.)

Although plaintiffs do not agree entirely in their analysis, they both assert that portions of the Mobilehome Residency Law, primarily Civil Code section 798.18 read in combination with section 798.15, establish at least a limited form of statewide rent control for mobilehome park tenancies and that City's ordinance is in conflict with or will substantially interfere with the operation of the state legislation. Not so.

(All statutory references will be to the Civil Code unless otherwise specified.) Section 798.15 enumerates a number of provisions required to be in mobilehome park rental agreements including the "term of the tenancy and the rent therefor." Section 798.16 provides that a rental agreement "may include such other provisions permitted by law, but need not include specific language contained in state or local laws not a part of [the Mobilehome Residency Law]." Section 798.18 reads: "(a) A homeowner shall be offered a rental agreement for (1) a term of 12 months, or (2) a lesser period as the homeowner may request, or (3) a longer period as mutually agreed upon by both the homeowner and management. [p] (b) No such agreement shall contain...

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