Should I spit the Hook? or Sue

I bought an MHP in San Diego County in Feb 2020. The park had an approved permit for 26 MH spaces and 10 cabins. During my Due Diligence, I discovered an old permit for the property for 45 RV spaces with Drains (Full-Hook-up RVs). The permit was “closed” because the bankruptcy administrator didn’t pay the $400.00 annual permit fee.

It took me about 6 months to convince the County Of San Diego that they didn’t follow the proper codes to close the park down. Specifically, they didn’t follow title 25 Section 1052. I now have 26 MH, 45 RVs, and 10 cabins approved!

The park is a legal non-conforming use and was built back between 1969-1975. The RV section has a bunch of old water spigots, some abandoned overhead electrical, and septic in some areas but not others. It’s far from what a Full Hook-Up RV park should look like, but all the essentials are there.

I am trying to pull permits to “repair” all the utilities etc. The County is denying my permit saying I am expanding a Legal Non-conforming use by “repairing” the utilities. I have spoken with a CA MHP code consultant and a CA MHP attorney who both say that I am within my legal rights to pull the Permits and re-establish the entitled use.

The RV park section full is worth $3.5-$4.0MM. I estimate it will cost me $500,000 in building costs and $250,000 in legal fees to get everything approved.

I am torn as to whether or not I should fight this fight. I could take the same money and just go buy an MH park somewhere else.

Should I spit the hook? Or should I Sue the County to get my repair permits approved?


I’d seek legal advice from a specialty land use lawyer you trust then follow that advice. I agree that making operational something for which you already have a use permit isn’t an expansion.


They sound to be in the wrong - but it doesn’t matter as the city official can bend the rules and proving them wrong is only done with an attorney (typically…).

I have a suggestion - how about partnering with an Attorney who is experienced at this and they fight your case for equity? Meaning, if they win against the city, they get some equity in the deal. You get to spend 0 for their services and the equity can be negotiated… Could be a win-win. Just a suggestion…

Paging - @TheMHPLawyer - he may know somebody or may even do it himself…


@Gonzalo, I think it will be tough to convince many attorneys to take a case like this for contingent fee. I wouldn’t mind it for my fees but this would require local litigation co-counsel. I agree with @KurtKelley comment as well.

@SDGuy, based on the limited facts I see, I think you are in the right but you may have to sue and prove it to get relief. Not fun or inexpensive. Under some rare circumstances you may be entitled to return of legal fees if they discriminate in a manner that violates your civil rights.

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I am in CA so the prevailing party is entitled to legal fees.

I agree that they are in the wrong. The problem is they have unlimited resources to defend their position. While I am just a small time MH Park owner. They could easily bury me in legal fees etc. They have done it before to a park up the street from me. The park ended up getting free legal aid to fight for his rights and eventually won. $1.2MM in legal fees later.

I figure my time is worth $300-400/hour. So if I spend 10-20 hour per week on this and it takes 2-3 years to litigate. That’s $400-650K or so worth of my time. Plus Legal fees, plus $500K to rebuild the place.

Easily $1.0 - 1.5MM in opportunity costs.

I appreciate everyone’s feedback.

I needed sounding board and appreciate everyone’s input.



$1mm-$1.5mm invested to straighten out an asset that you already own that will be worth $3.5mm-$4mm when complete sounds like a no brainer no me…


Why is the county involved? You have a permit to operate that says the correct number of spaces. Shouldn’t you just be pulling permits with HCD?

That’s a very scary thing to see. I currently have a park with some zoning challenges and navigating them with the city has been difficult.

One thing I will never appreciate is why a city fights an owner so much with ridiculous technicalities when you may be the only place in town giving residents somewhere decent to live at a certain price point. It’s almost as if the cities say they stand for one thing, but in reality they don’t act like it at all.

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In a similar situation , but 2 years in with legal fees. The city administrator and building commissioner got the Council to changes the laws during Covid. So even when this goes to trial the new laws in place don’t allow for permits. So from my experience a lot of legal fees and they can tie it up for years and change the laws during your litigation.

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San Diego County is the Local Enforcement Agency for the unincorporated area of the County.

duplicate response. Sorry