No walk in the park

Residents at Pacific Mobile Home Park fear relocation as city plans to widen a two-lane street.

April 27, 2011|By Mona Shadia,
(Scott Smeltzer )

Colette Chaillou has been a resident at Pacific Mobile Home Park for more than 20 years. Over the years, she built many memories and a well-kept garden full of lilacs, roses and orchids.

But she may have to let it all go.

"I don't think it's right," she said as she sat on her couch on a Monday afternoon caressing her dog, Misty. "This is my home, my place. My little garden is here."

Huntington Beach is in the middle of plans to widen Atlanta Avenue where the mobile home park meets the corner of Huntington Street and Atlanta. The city is widening Atlanta between Huntington and Delaware streets to bring it into compliance with its general plan and the county's Master Plan of Arterial Highways, according to a city staff report.

Widening the street seems like a simple enough goal. But in order for the city to do so, it will need additional property that is now inhabited by eight mobile homes with mostly elderly residents.


The case represents a classic example of the tension that arises between local municipalities and the people they serve when projects such as the street-widening impact the livelihood of residents. Although the city would compensate them in accordance with federal guidelines, the move would disrupt the residents, especially those who thought they would spend the rest of their lives there.

"Eminent domain always presents challenges, and my position is they need to be used only when necessary," said Councilman Don Hansen. "My goal would be to make sure any displacement or challenges provide the least disruption that we can."

City Atty. Jennifer McGrath said the city is not exercising eminent domain because "we will have to negotiate or at some point reach an agreement with the individual coach owner and the property owner."

If the property owner or the residents challenge the project, the city has the right to exercise eminent domain, which would need the council's approval, said Travis Hopkins, director of public works.

Chaillou said she's in limbo, and not sure when it will happen and if it will happen because the city has not provided her with the details.

The 72-year-old, who lives on a fixed income, said she can't afford hiring a moving company to relocate her, nor can she do it on her own.

"If I move, I'm going to take every plant with me," she said. "They better give me a garden."

Sue Rock, 51, and her husband will also have to move if the city begins construction.

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