Farewell but Stay Tuned

Boyce Belt

As his final gesture, Boyce Belt, outgoing president of the controversy-laden Laguna Terrace Mobile Home Park, sent 15 copies of a five-page packet to the California Coastal Commission questioning why the commission has yet to allow lots at the park to be sold separately.

Belt, who has been president of the park’s resident association for the last four years, resigned last month, was recently re-elected to the association’s board but then resigned again.  Resident Daga Krackowizer was elected president by the board’s seven other members this past Tuesday.

“I’ve done this for four years and I’ve run out of energy and gas to do it,” Belt stated.

During that time, the park’s owner, Stephen Esslinger, has been attempting to subdivide the trailer park and sell the 130 lots individually.  The process is now in the deep waters of the California Coastal Commission system.

Sean Schlueter, a new board member elected by write-in votes, said he doesn’t understand why Esslinger has not pursued the necessary permits that would allow subdivision of the property, within the commission’s zone of jurisdiction.

“We’ve been waiting for the owner’s subdivision for four years and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere,” said Schlueter.  “I don’t know why they won’t get a coastal development permit.  That’s the big question.”

Boyd Hill, Esslinger’s attorney, said the park has been “stymied” in its attempts to obtain the permit from the Coastal Commission.

“They want us to study every piece of flora and fauna over the whole property, which would take hundreds of thousands of dollars and would not be cost-effective,” said Hill. Even at that, he said, it won’t guarantee approval.  “They’ll give us plenty of unreasonable conditions,” he speculated.

The park’s subdivision has been questioned by nearby residents who brought protection of the surrounding habitat to the attention of the Coastal Commission.

Schlueter officially proposed a residents purchase offer of $40 million to Esslinger, but it was not accepted.  “Maybe someday he’ll sell us the park and we’ll do our own subdivision,” commented Schlueter.  “That’s the only thing left.  His thing obviously hasn’t worked.  I don’t think they’ve moved the ball at all.”

In the meantime, Boyd, who owns Tustin’s Santiago Financial Inc., which specializes in manufactured home lending, said he’ll sit on the sidelines now and see what happens.  “The park should be subdivided and people should be able to buy the lots,” said Boyce, who owns two homes in the park, adding that he has no business contract with the park.

“I laugh when people say that I can make money on this stuff,” Boyd commented.  “I’ve answered that question from day one.  There’s no way. Even if tomorrow it got converted, I would not be the lender or be involved in doing loans on the permanent financing. Yes, there are opportunities for mobile home loans that could come, but there’s very few sales and the sales that have occurred recently have been cash.”


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