Community Voices

Mobile Home Park Sues Homeowners

Rancho Fullerton Mobile Home Park, owned by the Nicholas Family, has sued an elderly couple. The senior couple, the Kims, will have to pay the lawyer fees and also have been threatened with eviction. So how did this happen, and what could have been done differently?

The Kims moved to Fullerton on May 26, 2022, to escape the Texas heat. They retired to the 55+ community of Rancho Fullerton (no, not the infamous Rancho La Paz with its predatory owner John Saunders – this is a different senior mobile home park on the southwest side of town). The Kims purchased their mobile home and never failed to pay the park’s $950 monthly space rent. The couple are American citizens, but their first language is Korean.

Mr. Kim applied on June 7, 2022, for a building permit to expand his home’s California Room (also known as an enclosed porch) and add stairs front and back. He obtained the permit from the Department of Housing and Community Development (the State agency that oversees mobile home regulations). Rancho Fullerton park operator Andrea West signed the application on June 9, 2022. The permit showed an expiration date of December 6, 2022. It was a big project, but having the required skills, Mr. Kim, at 76 years old and living on a fixed income, proceeded with the construction plans, cutting costs by doing the work himself. As you can imagine, progress was slow, but he was meeting his inspection deadlines.

As with all construction projects, equipment, supplies, and demolition debris waiting to be removed were stored in the yard. Unfortunately, the park operator apparently expected that the construction would be faster and less messy and, in September 2022, enlisted the park’s lawyer to send the Kims notification that they had seven days to clear the yard of all the construction debris, including saw horses, plywood, wooden beams, shingles, paint, building supplies, etc.

Under pressure to clean up the property and finish the construction, Mr. Kim severed his thumb and ended up in the emergency room on October 10, 2022. The doctor issued a temporary no-work disability notice to December 2022 and a second extending the no-work period through March 28, 2023. Despite the doctors’ disability note, the park management issued a second and final seven-day notice on November 14, 2022. This time the notice cited that the construction debris, stored items, and a homemade trellis needed to be removed, and the safety handrails for the stairs and porch had to be completed. In December 2022, the Department of Housing and Community Development inspector Deyvisonn Martins extended the building permit expiration date to June 2023.

On December 5, 2022, Mr. Kim called Gregory Beam, the park’s attorney, telling him that he had remedied the violations and was unclear about what more had to be done. The attorney told Mr. Kim that various improperly stored items needed to be removed and the handrails were still not in compliance with state law, and the terraced planter next to the steps had to be removed.

“All of the tools, including but not limited to a shovel and broom, have to be in a proper place inside the shed or home,” the letter read. Mr. Kim told the attorney that the HCD had granted an extension of his construction permit to June 2023.

A December 6, 2022, letter to Mr. Kim from Attorney Beam informed him that he would be recommending his clients “seek a court order forcing you to comply with the rules. Govern yourself accordingly.”

Rancho Fullerton filed a permanent injunction against the Kims in Superior Court on April 12, 2023. The framing passed inspection and was approved by HCD inspector Martins on June 13, 2023. The inspection record featured the new permit expiration date of November 21, 2023. Also, on June 13, California Fish and Wildlife issued an order to not disturb the active nest of birds in the arch of the trellis that the park management had demanded be removed. Mr. Kim had called the agency for advice about how to deal with the birds.

The ruling on the case brought by Rancho Fullerton against Mr. and Mrs. Kim took place on June 15, 2023, in Superior Court at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. The Kims were disappointed by the court-appointed Korean language translator they had relied on to relay their evidence to the judge. Mr. Kim said that, except for the Fish and Wildlife order protecting the nesting birds, none of his other evidence made it to the judge, including the lack of date and time stamps on the park’s photos which misrepresented the current state of the property, information about his accident that delayed the project and clean-up, and more.

Judge Cramin granted Rancho Fullerton a permanent injunction requiring the Kims to immediately remove all items stored outside the home except items stored inside an approved storage shed and to remove the wooden arches installed over the steps. The judge also ordered them to bolt down all handrails to the landing and steps, install handrailing around the entire perimeter of the porch, and attach endcaps to all handrails. Most of these things had already been done at the time of the hearing. However, the injunction is to remain in place for three years pursuant to Civil Code Section 798.88(d)

“If the court, by clear and convincing evidence, finds the existence of a continuing or recurring violation of a reasonable rule or regulation of the mobile home park, the court shall issue an injunction prohibiting the violation.”

The amount of attorney fees to be awarded to the park’s lawyer, Gregory Beam, will be determined by the court upon the filing of a motion. After the case, Mr. Kim was verbally informed by the Rancho Fullerton attorney to look for the eviction notice, which would arrive soon.

At the June 20th city council meeting, the Kims told their story in Korean during the public comments portion, asking the city for help. There was no official Korean/English interpreter available at the session though a member of the audience stood and repeated the story in English.

Mayor Jung did not explain what the Kims had said to the council, but after they spoke, he left the dais to meet with them in his office. Stay tuned for updates as we continue to investigate and, hopefully, a happy outcome.

10 replies »

  1. I finished reading the article, and to throw somebody out of their home who pays their rent on time is wrong in my opinion. Yes Kim should have been cleaner, yes the neighbors have a right to be upset. However I bet if this was a English speaking person, there would have been a different outcome.

  2. This so called “newspaper” has become completely anti-Jung or anti-Whitaker, biased, and just unreadable at this point.

    • To Thee J. (obviously not a journalist of any sort.
      As the story points out Mayor Jung did the right thing and offered to help the Kims.
      How is that a negative? The paper reports on what happens whether you agree or not.

  3. I can’t help but feel bad for the Kim’s. But I know men that insist on doing everything themselves to their home. I have a friend who had to shower in her backyard for 10 rears because her husband insisted on rebuilding their only bath himself and found out he had cancer after the teardown. They had a 1/2 bath that kept them from having to use an out house. My friends husband told her he’d leave her if she hired someone to finish it. After he passed away she hired someone to finish the bath. Some men!

  4. The photo you showed is quite deceptive. That is a lovely mobile home but not the one in question in this case. This is a very biased article not showing the true condition that the place was in and what the Park and neighbors were dealing with. Nobody was being evicted, only having to follow the rules that ALL people at the park agreed to when they moved in. The Kims were given many opportunities to abide by the rules, but chose not to. They easily could have hired someone to clean the mess if his finger was hurt. Ask the neighbors how they liked having a mess that showed no end in sight? Why should one person not have to follow Park rules when everyone else does? Clearly, the judge was able to see the full picture.

    • The photo was taken on June 20, 2023, at 3 pm at the Kim residence. The Kims have a fixed income and could not afford to hire anyone. They cleaned up the construction debris before the trial and have time-stamped photos to prove clean up took place. The judge never looked at the Kim’s evidence. The headphone translation was difficult to understand as more than one voice at a time does not translate well. The Kims obviously needed help. I agree that everyone should follow the rules, yet I also think that extenuating circumstances can be accommodated. I also believe that if you see a person struggling and needing help, it is incumbent on all of us to find the resources to help one another. Thank you for your comments and for reading the Observer.

  5. There are PLENTY of Korean speaking attorneys in Fullerton! Plenty of translators! What is going on?!?!

    • Lori – The photo is the Kims home at the park and was taken by the editor right before the article came out. It shows the exact current condition of the Kims home. I know because I went with her. The judge never saw the current condition and ruled on photos taken by the park officials during construction. The construction was delayed 6 months due to Mr. Kim severing his thumb and a doctor’s note . I do agree the Kims needed help at that point – too bad no one came forward.

  6. Is there an attorney willing to work with the Kims and arrange a hearing to show this judge the past rulings in the favor? If the park is fully aware of them, I’d say the Kims have grounds to file a harassment complaint against the park.