Guimont v. Clarke

Citation121 Wn.2d 586,854 P.2d 1
Decision Date10 June 1993
Docket NumberNo. 57765-0,57765-0
Parties, 61 USLW 2790 Robert Patrick GUIMONT and William Patrick Guimont, dba National Trailer Park, Winifred Roosendaal, dba Winifred Roosendaal, dba Gables Motel; Larry Klaas, dba Issaquah Village RV & Mobile Home Park, Ronald Simosky, Kathryn Anderson and Darlene Young, dba Country Manor Mobile Home Park; Franklin W. Evans and Joann S. Evans, dba University Trailer Park; Frances Shook, dba Blockhouse Mobile Home Park; Les Rowland, dba Les Rowland Enterprises; Keith Malcom, dba Mill Village Mobile Home Park; Clifford H. Sands and Norma N. Sands, dba Sands Mobile Home Park; Lonney Ford and Max Ford, dba Royal Apartments and Mobile Park; Alvin Richardson and Bonny Richardson, dba Riverside Mobile Park; Ada Stratton, dba Spacette Mobile Court; Wallace R. Barnett, dba Olivia Park Trailer Court; Stephen J. Kolcsey, dba Mobile Home Wonderland; Betty Mae Berman, dba Central Valley Mobile Home Park; John M. Graham, dba North Bend Mobile Home Park; V.O. Manasco, dba Manasco's Mobile Home Park; Joseph Lee and Penelope A. Lee, dba Linden Square; Stan Delong and T.R. Gillespie, dba Camelot Square Mobile Home Park; Hilda E. Wothe, dba Fall City Mobile Park; Karl Grasse, dba Evergreen Mobile Home Park; James Carrieri and Melinda Carrieri, dba Brewster Motel; S. Anderson, dba Redmond Mobile Manor; Ed Coyle, dba Harbor Mobile Estates; Ronald W. Myers and Daryl W. Noyd, dba Cascadia Mobile Home Park; John Massman and Shirley A. Massman, dba Lone Cedar Mobile Home Park; Marvel I. Olsen, dba Laurelwood Park; Jean E. Earl, dba Town Mobile Park; Michael Spencer and Ruth Spencer, dba Red Gate Mobile Home Park, Respondents, v. Chuck CLARKE, Director of the Department of Community Development of the State of Washington, Appellant, v. WASHINGTON MANUFACTURED HOUSING ASSOCIATION, a Washington non-profit corporation; and Bear Creek Associates, a partnership, Intervenors/Respondents. En Banc
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington

Christine O. Gregoire, Atty. Gen., John J. Ryan, Asst., Olympia, for appellant.

Montgomery, Purdue, Blankinship & Austin, John D. Blankinship, Jerry W. Spoonemore, Seattle, for respondents Guimont.

Kargianis, Austin & Osborn, Russell A. Austin, Bellevue, for respondent Washington Manufactured Housing Authority.

Casey & Pruzan, Jane Ryan Koler, Seattle, for respondent Bear Creek Associates.

Norm Maleng, King County Prosecutor, Michael Joseph Sinsky, Deputy, Seattle, amicus curiae for appellant.

Mark H. Sidran, Seattle City Atty., Hugh R. Tobin, Asst., Seattle, Robin Jenkinson, Puyallup City Atty., Martin F. Muench, Asst., Ephrata, amicus curiae for appellant on behalf of Washington State Ass'n of Mun. Attys.

David B. Girard, Seattle, amicus curiae for appellant on behalf of Evergreen Legal Services.

JOHNSON, Justice.

The issue in this case is the constitutionality of the Mobile Home Relocation Assistance Act, RCW 59.21, as amended in 1990. See Laws of 1989, ch. 201; Laws of 1990, ch. 171. When a mobile home park is closed, this law requires the park owner to contribute money toward the tenants' relocation costs. The Thurston County Superior Court struck down the law as unconstitutional under a number of different theories. We affirm on the grounds that the law violates the park owners' substantive due process rights.

I. BACKGROUND

Mobile home park residents generally own their own mobile homes, but they lease from the park owner the "pads" upon which the mobile homes rest. Because of their dual capacities as owners and renters, these residents face particularly difficult financial burdens when parks are closed. See Note, Mobilehomes: Present Regulation and Needed Reforms, 27 Stan.L.Rev. 159, 166-67 (1974-1975). When forced to relocate from a closing park, these residents face the expensive task of moving not only themselves but also their homes to other sites. In fact, relocation costs often represent "a significant fraction of the value of the mobile home itself". Yee v. Escondido, --- U.S. ----, ----, 112 S.Ct. 1522, 1526, 118 L.Ed.2d 153, 162 (1992); see also Baar, The Right to Sell the "Im"mobile Manufactured Home in Its Rent Controlled Space in the "Im"mobile Home Park: Valid Regulation or Unconstitutional Taking?, 24 Urb.Law. 157, 158 (1992); Manheim, Tenant Eviction Protection and the Takings Clause, 1989 Wis.L.Rev. 925, 955 n. 179 (1989). Typically, the transportation costs amount to several thousand dollars, and the setup costs can be $10,000 for a double-wide home. Baar, 24 Urb.Law. at 170-71. Many of the tenants of these mobile home parks are not in a financial position to afford these relocation costs. See Laws of 1991, ch. 327, § 8. As the Legislature has specifically found, "manufactured housing and mobile home parks provide a source of low-cost housing to the low income, elderly, poor and infirmed, without which they could not afford private housing...." RCW 59.22.010(1)(a); see also Manheim, 1989 Wis.L.Rev. at 955 n. 179.

In response to this problem, the Legislature passed the Mobile Home Relocation Assistance Act (Act) in 1989, and amended the Act in 1990. 1 Laws of 1989, ch. 201; see Laws of 1990, ch. 171. The Act generally requires the owner of a mobile home park to pay relocation assistance to the park's tenants if the owner wants to close the park or convert it to another use. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 2(1). Tenants are entitled to $4,500 for single-wide mobile homes and $7,500 for mobile homes double-wide or larger. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 2(1).

For relocations occurring prior to July 1, 1991, the park owners generally were required to pay the full amount of these assistance amounts. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 2(2). Beginning with relocations occurring after June 30, 1991, the payment of relocation assistance depends in part on whether the tenant is low income. When a low income tenant is forced to relocate after June 30, 1991, the assistance cost is paid one-third by the park owner and two-thirds by the mobile home relocation fund. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 2(3). When a low income tenant is forced to relocate after July 1, 1992, assistance payments depend on the relocation notice that was provided. If the park owner gives 24 months' notice, then the park owner pays $500 for a single-wide mobile home and $1,000 for a double-wide or larger mobile home, and the relocation fund pays the balance. If the park owner gives less than 24 months' notice, then the park owner pays one-third of the assistance cost and the relocation fund pays two-thirds. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 2(4).

The park owner becomes responsible for paying up to the full amount of the assistance obligations if "there are insufficient moneys in the [relocation] fund...." Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 2(6). Tenants who do not qualify as low income are not entitled to receive any assistance from the relocation fund. However, the park owners must still pay these tenants the same amount the owners are required to pay directly to low income tenants. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 2(7).

The relocation fund is in the custody of the State Treasurer and is administered by the Department of Community Development. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 5(1), (4). The relocation fund may be used only for paying mobile home relocation assistance, although certain surplus funds may be transferred to the mobile home park purchase fund established in RCW 59.22. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 5(1), (2). The relocation fund may receive money from three sources. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 5(1). First, the Legislature may directly appropriate money for the fund, although there is no evidence the Legislature has yet done so. Second, the Legislature in 1990 enacted a $65 fee on transactions transferring mobile home ownership, $50 of which goes to the relocation fund. Laws of 1990, ch. 171, § 6(1). Third, a park owner who owes assistance to low income tenants pays the assistance to the relocation fund, and the fund then distributes the assistance to the low income tenants.

A group of park owners sued the Director of the Department of Community Development (Department) in Thurston County Superior Court. They sought a declaratory judgment that the Act was unconstitutional and requested a permanent injunction against enforcement of the Act by the Department. The park owners did not seek monetary damages.

The Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of the park owners and struck down the Act as unconstitutional. The court ruled the Act violated the park owners' constitutional right prohibiting the taking of property without just compensation and violated the park owners' rights to due process and equal protection. The court permanently enjoined the Department from enforcing the Act.

The Department appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals partially stayed the Superior Court's injunction. The appeal was transferred to this court pursuant to RAP 4.3.

II. ISSUES

At issue in this case is the constitutionality of requiring mobile home park owners to pay a portion of their tenants' relocation costs when the owners convert their parks to some other use. Specifically, does the Act result in private property being taken for public use, requiring the payment of just compensation under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments? Also, does the Act deprive the park owners of property without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment?

III. ANALYSIS

The analytical framework for resolving these issues was developed in Presbytery of Seattle v. King Cy., 114 Wash.2d 320, 787 P.2d 907, cert. denied, 498 U.S. 911, 112 L.Ed.2d 238, 111 S.Ct. 284 (1990). A land use regulation may be challenged either as an unconstitutional taking or as a violation of substantive due process. Presbytery, 114 Wash.2d at 329, 787 P.2d 907. If the regulation is challenged on both grounds, under our Presbytery framework, we begin by analyzing the takings issue. The court first asks two...

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