Press ReleasesDecember 19, 2014
Garden Grove Families Forced Out of Homes for Water Park File State Lawsuit over Relocation Denial
GARDEN GROVE – Families forced to move from their homes to make way for a taxpayer-funded water park hotel have filed a lawsuit asking that the State of California approve relocation costs and an affordable home fund for the city. The lawsuit comes after the State of California ignored an Orange County court ruling that more than 30 families, many of whom had lived in the Travel Country RV Park a decade or more, were legally entitled to relocation costs.
Public Counsel, the Public Interest Law Project, and Fulbright & Jaworski LLP filed Limon v. Department of Finance (Case No.: 34-2012-80001994-CU-WM-GDS) in Sacramento County Superior Court earlier this month. On December 19, they asked the court for a temporary restraining order to preserve $140,000 for relocation payments to families and funding for 38 new affordable homes that were approved by the court and a local oversight board.
Links to the legal documents are below.
Because taxpayer money was used for the water park hotel, the city of Garden Grove is required to pay relocation costs for people who lost their homes and to build replacement homes. But the State of California – in an attempt to dictate what happens in Garden Grove – is wrongfully using a law passed by the Legislature in 2011 to fund the water park while denying residents their relocation assistance.
“We fought hard to receive some assistance after we were forced to move from our homes, and now the state wants to stop Garden Grove from paying us what they are obligated to,” said Garden Grove resident Jose Sanchez, who owned a trailer home at the Park for nearly 13 years. He is owed $3,079 and hopes to use this money to improve his family’s living situation.
“Not receiving these funds creates uncertainty, stress, and now we have to spend all this time fighting for something that the court already determined is ours. Receiving these funds would bring stability back to our lives.”
Construction of the water park hotel has already begun, and the state has approved $45 million in taxpayer subsidies.
“The thousands of dollars these families are owed is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the water park hotel, but would make a huge difference in their lives,” said Public Counsel attorney Nisha Vyas.
“Garden Grove promised jobs and economic growth for the taxpayers because of the water park,” said Craig Castellanet, an attorney with the Public Interest Law Project. “But the City needs to build more affordable homes so that its residents can share in the promise and live near the jobs that will be created.”
“A state court has determined that Garden Grove is required to pay this relocation assistance and build more affordable housing, and the City wants to comply with that judgment. The State of California is standing in the way. The state is refusing to respect the court judgment and the voice of Garden Grove residents,” said John O’Malley of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.
Attorneys representing residents of the Park filed a lawsuit in 2009 because they were losing their homes and would not receive relocation support required by law. The Superior Court of Orange County resolved the lawsuit Limon v. Garden Grove Agency for Community Development by authorizing payments. But the state has refused to allow the payments required by the decision of the Superior Court in resolving this case.
Public Counsel is the nation’s largest not-for-profit law firm of our kind handling impact litigation, pursuing legislative change, and providing direct legal services that reach more than 30,000 people every year in California and across the nation.
The Public Interest Law Project (PILP) is a non-profit law center providing litigation and advocacy support on affordable housing and public benefits to local legal services and public interest law programs throughout California.
Fulbright & Jaworski LLP is a member of Norton Rose Fulbright, a global legal practice with more than 3,800 lawyers based in over 50 cities across Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.