Orange County News

Newport Beach mobile home park to give way to city project

Monday, September 30, 2013

Dozens of Newport Beach families are searching for new homes after being ordered out to make room for a new park project. All 54 mobile homes in Marina Park along West Balboa Boulevard between 18th and 15th streets are set to be demolished to clear the way for the new project.

Packing is underway, but Deanne Johnson and her husband are still looking for a place to live.

"We're guardian of a foster child, my 87-year-old mother, so the four of us, you just can't find a place like this," said Johnson.

Johnson's home for nearly a decade in Marina Park in Newport Beach has a spectacular view of Newport Bay.

"It's been fabulous. We love it here. It's very hard to leave," said Johnson.

The mobile home is among more than 50 to be demolished in December to make room for a $30-million park. The city says the 12 acres will include a public marina with more than 20 boat slips, a multi-purpose community center and a new Girl Scout facility.

"I think it would be good because I think we need more area here, especially in the summer when this place gets crowded," said Rancho Santa Margarita resident Keith Shequin.

"Being retired and enjoying having all this beautiful area to come paddle-boarding in, it would also bring more crowd to the area, which wouldn't be good for me," said Vicki Shequin.

The project has been decades in the making. In a 2007 settlement agreement, the city paid residents $35,000 for each mobile home and lowered the monthly rent. In August, the city received permits from the California Coastal Commission clearing the way for construction to begin. Residents then received a 90-day notice to leave.

"We're scrambling because we don't have the down payment. And it costs a lot of money to move," said Deanne Johnson.

Johnson says her retirement of $125,000 paid for their home in 2004. And $35,000 from the city is not enough to buy a new house.

City officials, however, say each resident signed the agreement. The property was always public land.

"This land belongs to all the people of the city, all the people of the state of California actually. So now it's time to open it up for everybody," said Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry.

The city says the residents have the option to take their mobile homes with them. They would subtract the moving expenses from the $35,000 already paid by the city. The city says so far no one has chose that option.

Demolition is scheduled for early December. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2016.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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