VILLAGE TRAILER PARK — About a week after a city board conditionally approved designs for the controversial project slated to replace the Village Trailer Park, property owners filed papers against a handful of remaining residents.
The Architectural Review Board’s Aug. 18 approval was all but inevitable — City Council approved the project in 2013 — but it was effectively the last step in City Hall’s development agreement process.
In June Millennium Santa Monica, LCC let some current residents of the 109-space mobile home know that they’d have 60 days to leave the premises. On Aug. 25 they filed for eviction of the tenants that didn’t comply.
A 362-unit mixed-use building with up to about 25,000 square feet of retail is planned for the plot on Colorado Avenue.
According to Millennium, three residents refuse to leave. Nearly all of the former residents have been relocated, compensated, or both, Millennium said in a filing.
The three remaining tenants have refused the relocation benefits and, according to Millennium, “have vowed to remain in the park until forcibly removed.”
Jack Waddington, one of the tenants, filed a special motion to quash Millennium’s summons.
In their response to Waddington’s filing, lawyers representing the project owners called the motion “the first in what is expected to be a continuing effort to drag out these unlawful detainer (eviction) actions as long as (Waddington) and his cohorts possibly can.”
Millennium asked a judge to dismiss the motion.
On Friday, in a room on the second floor of the Santa Monica Courthouse, Waddington showed up to defend himself.
Waddington is 82 years old and hard of hearing. He asked that a friend of his be allowed to help him hear everything being said. Judge Nancy Newman agreed. Another of the three residents filed the same motion and his complaint was heard alongside Waddington. This tenant also chose to defend himself.
Waddington called the claim that he is trying to delay his eviction “conjecture.” He challenged other assertions Millennium made about its rights to the land.
Newman explained that the motion to quash, or demurrer, is only a challenge to the complaint filed by Millennium. The case is in its very early stages, she explained.
“It is not a trial on the issues so when I am getting ready for the hearing on this, I look at the complaint to see if all of the elements have been plead properly and I believe that they have,” she said. “I understand that you have a number of issues that you are going to want to raise at the time of trial but I think that the complaint adequately sets forth a cause of action against both of you.”
Waddington and the other tenant attempted to argue their case but Newman ruled that Millenniums complaint was plead properly, overruling the demurrers. She gave the two residents five days to respond to the complaint. An attorney representing Millennium said very little. The tenants, and their friends who came to watch, left the courtroom quietly.
Council went back and forth on an agreement in 2012 and 2013, ultimately deciding to allow the park’s owners to develop the land and oust the residents.
Some residents accepted buyouts from the developer, sued, died, and/or relocated to the Mountain View Mobile Home Park, which sits on City Hall-owned land. Some trailers are allowed to remain on the Village Trailer Park land.
The project’s owners went before the Architectural Review Board once again last week, seeking approval for the final finishing touches. The ARB agreed that more work on the project needed to be completed.