The City of San Diego has offered to settle a decade-long lawsuit over prime real estate in Mission Bay Park.
The offer by the city is to pay about $22 million plus attorney fees to the De Anza Cove mobile homeowners in relocation benefits before closing the park and kicking them out.
“In return, neither party would appeal and the residents would be required to leave, returning De Anza Cove to the City of San Diego,” a news release from the City of San Diego said.
The city’s offer to settle follows a ruling made by a Superior Court judge in August calling for the city to pay the homeowners $22 million.
The residents filed a class action lawsuit against the city in 2003 when the park’s lease expired. Their attorney Tim Tatro argues that under state law, lease expiration in a mobile home park does not constitute grounds for eviction.
Tatro has said at full occupancy, there were 509 homes in the park, about two-thirds of which remain. He said the rest have already been destroyed, taken to landfills or transported to Mexico.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told NBC 7 this offer is important for two reasons. First, a judge has made a decision on a fair settlement amount after 11 years of litigation.
Second, the city has at last agreed to a judgment.
"I'd like this property to belong to the people of San Diego, and I know the city council and mayor agree," said Goldsmith.
The homeowners' attorneys released a statement Friday evening, saying the city's admission that it is financially responsible for the relocation costs is a positive first step.
However, the judgment does not comply with the state law on park closure, they claim.
"Plaintiffs will respect their ethical obligation to honor the confidentiality of these negotiations and will not provide public comment until the judgment is final and an actual agreement is reached," the statement read.
If they agree to the settlement, residents have 12 months to leave. If they refuse, they run the risk of the city winning the case, and they won't receive any money, Goldsmith says.