Word Spreads Yucaipa To Replace 7 Mobile Home Parks With 1,128 Dwelling Units

Yucaipa residents who have already expressed concern that City Manager Chris Mann’s stewardship of the city has set it on a trajectory that will see its semi-rural character obliterated by aggressive urbanization are citing policy changes now being enacted that will facilitate a first wave of conversions of seven of the city’s 42 mobilehome parks into what will essentially be apartments and condominiums as proof of their suspicions.
The best calculations available indicate the 547 mobilehome spaces in those parks will be transformed into 1,128 dwelling units.
This intensification of land use, according to those residents, is part and parcel of Mann’s approach to managing city operations.
Mann, who is a developer himself, is the principal in Mann Communications, which serves as a leading advocate on behalf of developers, land speculators, landowners, the building industry and those intent on building homes, apartments, commercial centers and warehouses.
Mann was hired as city manager on January 9 in the same fell swoop by which Mayor Justin Beaver, Councilman Bobby Duncan and Councilman Matt Garner forced the resignation of former City Manager Ray Casey.
In seeking to explain why the trio had settled on Mann as city manager to replace Casey, Beaver alluded to Mann’s status as the president of the Yucaipa Valley Water District Board of Directors and referenced Mann’s knowledge of the community based upon his residence in the city.
Almost simultaneously, it was pointed out by those skeptical about the hiring that Mann is the principal in Mann Communications.  According to the Mann Communications website, Mann has successfully served as a representative of developers and development interests seeking to move building proposals past the planning process and get them approved. According to that website, the firm endeavors to make sure that “elected officials are… provided the political cover they need in order to support good projects” to “provide our clients with a wealth of knowledge and experience and a winning approach to land use entitlement. Mann Communications Principal Chris Mann has been an active partner in numerous development projects in California, Nevada and Arizona. Having worked both as an elected official and as a developer, he uniquely understands the development process from both the public and private perspectives. Understanding the practices and motivations of each side better than most, he is able to provide tremendous value to the entire development process, making Mann Communications an invaluable member of any project team.”
From shortly after Mann was brought in to replace Casey, a cross section of Yucaipa residents has been troubled by the conflict they perceive between having Mann serving in the role of city manager and overseeing the regulatory process relating to land use decision-making and planning functions while he is simultaneously working for and accepting money from developmental interests, the very entities the city is supposed to be holding in check. Among Mann Communications’ major clients are residential developers Lennar, Pardee, Meritage Homes, Richmond American, Holland Development, the Golshan Group, Rotkin Real Estate Group as well as Jacobsen Family Holdings, Turner Dale, Carlton Properties, Preferred Business Properties Real Estate Services and Oakmont Industrial Group.
The prime movers on the city council in the hiring of Mann were Mayor Beaver and council members Duncan and Garner. It was relatively widely known previously that Duncan was a real estate agent. His election to the council in 2012, followed by his reelection in 2016 and 2020 seemed to demonstrate that Yucaipa residents did not object to the real estate industry being given a place at the table in the discussion and decision-making process with regard to municipal policy. With the hiring of Mann, however, some Yucaipa residents – of whom a few are quite vocal – have begun to question the wisdom of allowing the real estate and building industries inside access to City Hall.
This was exacerbated when Mayor Beaver, in attempting to justify forcing the resignation of Casey and the hiring of Mann, asserted Mann “has the right relationships to help our city work collaboratively throughout the region for the benefit of Yucaipa residents.” It was Mann’s relationships with Lennar, Pardee, Meritage Homes, Richmond American, Holland Development, the Golshan Group, Rotkin Real Estate Group, Jacobsen Family Holdings, Turner Dale, Carlton Properties, Preferred Business Properties Real Estate Services and Oakmont Industrial Group that came to the fore of many people’s minds when Beaver made that utterance. Residents began to question their previous assumption that Beaver was a controlled growth advocate.
Garner, one of the primary owners of a large building materials company which does, he maintains, “over $4 billion of business per year,” was elected to the council last year. His ties to the development community did not raise any red flags before the election, but there is now a persistent perception that Duncan, Beaver and Garner compose a ruling council coalition intent on allowing aggressive development to take place in Yucaipa. The hiring of Mann as city manager is concomitantly seen as a crucial element in implementing that pro-development policy.
In 2016, long before Mann was brought in as city manager, the city council adopted Ordinance 344, which established mobilehome park conversion standards. Ordinance 344 permitted proponents of projects to be built on property previously used as mobilehome parks to construct up to 16 residential units per acre on that land. Some Yucaipa residents at that time and since considered that density allowance to be too generous, since single family homes in Yucaipa historically fell within the common range of four to six units to an acre, with neighborhoods more recently developed in which eight-to-ten units to the acre were considered to be at the top end in terms of density.
On September 6, preparatory for the then-upcoming September 25 city council meeting, the Yucaipa Planning Commission at its meeting discussed a proposed alteration of Ordinance 344 in the form of Ordinance 429. The upshot of that discussion was a decision by the planning commission to recommend that the city council adopt, at its September 25 meeting, Ordinance 429. Superseding elements of Ordinance 344, Ordinance 429 offered up language amending the city’s development code to allow “24 dwelling units per acre through a development opportunity reserve as a ‘by-right’ residential base density within the Mobilehome Park 3 Overlay. Instead of a conditional use permit application which requires discretionary review by the planning commission, a land use compliance review with architectural review would become the pertinent planning entitlement for the conversion process and could be approved administratively by city staff.”
In other words, city staff would be given full “ministerial” authority to approve replacement projects on any property where mobilehome parks within the circumscribed “overlay” district are now located, and would be able to do so without review/approval by the planning commission or the city council. Those replacement projects could entail densities of up to 24 units per acre. In addition, Ordinance 429 calls for a “streamlined process” in making those conversions, indeed empowering city staff – i.e., Mann, Director of Development Services Fermin Preciado, Deputy Director of Community Development Benjamin Matlock or Associate Planner Madeline Jordan – to approve those projects/conversions on their own authority.
There are 42 mobilehome parks in Yucaipa. Seven of those – Westwind, Mountain View, Melody Lane, Hide-A-Way, Hitching Post, Las Casitas and Holiday Mobile Rancho – fall within the Mobilehome Park 3 Overlay. In that way, Westwind, with its 86 units; Mountain View, with its 77 units; Melody Lane, with its 32 units; Hide-a-way, with its 46 units; Hitching Post, with its 109 units, Las Casitas, with its 68 units and Holiday Mobile Rancho, with its 129 units, are targeted for easy and expedited removal.
Ultimately, based on calculations the Sentinel can make based upon the somewhat inexact available documentation pertaining to the overall acreage the seven trailer parks in question entail, the eventual owner or owners of those seven parks would be able to develop 1,128 units on the approximately 47 acres that would become available for development if and when the mobilehome parks’ owners opt to convert those seven properties.
Some Yucaipans, primarily ones who believe that City Manager Chris Mann has already commandeered too much unbridled control over the 27.8-square mile, 55,495-population city, see Ordinance 429 as providing Mann with even more authority.
According to Deputy Director of Community Development Benjamin Matlock, the provision of Ordinance 429 creating the Mobilehome Park 3 Overlay which zooms the number of permitted units per acre to be developed to 24 applies only to the seven circumscribed mobilehome parks. He indicated that Ordinance 429 merely gives the owners of those properties the option of redeveloping them as residential units at that level of density, since they could choose to develop at a lower density or could instead not make any conversion. The benefit to the city of allowing such properties to be built to that degree of density, Matlock said, is that doing so would help the city achieve the goal of meeting the mandate of accommodating, theoretically, the construction of more than 2,800 total housing units under the guidelines of the State of California’s so-called Regional Housing Need Allocation process.
That program, administered and monitored by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, determines the total housing need for each region and regional subjurisdiction in the state. The Regional Housing Need Assessment makes a determination of the number of dwelling units according to affordability type each community is to accommodate over an eight-year period, in this case during the October 2021-to-October 2029 planning cycle. According to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, Yucaipa must allow for the construction of 2,859 dwelling units by October 2029, of which 714 are to house those of very low income, 495 are to be for those with low income, 509 are for those in the moderate-income bracket, and 1,142 are to be home to those of an above moderate income.
Matlock said that by converting some of the city’s more dilapidated trailer parks into high density housing, the city will ensure that affordable housing stock is available in Yucaipa in the future.
The Sentinel was unable, by press time, to induce Mann to go on the record with regard to the perception that he is intent on intensifying density within the City of Yucaipa in accordance with the interests of the building industry and land speculators.
Residents of the city’s mobilehome parks have told the Sentinel that they are concerned that within the next generation, Yucaipa, which has historically been more accommodating of mobilehome parks than virtually every other city in Southern California, will have eliminated the lion’s share of the 42 trailer parks that are in the city at present.
Mark Gutglueck

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