Celebrating The 40th anniversary of The Flagpole Case: rules and regulations prohibiting “non-growing objects” outside the mobilehome: including 15 foot embedded flagpoles (flying an American flag).

In a case reported nationally and on local television news, a mobilehome park owner now celebrates the 40th anniversary of a trial and appellate victory vindicating rules and regulations we drafted which, among other things, prohibited “non-growing objects” outside the mobilehome. This general and broad rule clutter in a small high density park filled with single-wides, while encouraging landscaping (grasses, shrubs and plant-life).

I was opposed by my good friend and tenant attorney Stu Parker. I tried to resolve the legal action by “grandfathering” and dismissal, but Stu would hear nothing of the sort. Always keenly aggressive, he was buoyed after defeating a motion for injunction pending trial. He insisted on his day in court. “No-brainer” he told me several times, with a mandatory MRL attorney’s fees award. Gerry Dougher, the park owner, merely sought compliance with rules and regulations. Fight or become “Sanford and Sons,” I thought.

[We had substantial attorney’s fees as well. The MRL provides a mandatory award to the victor. And that right cannot be waived under Civil Code §798.19, §798.77, not even in favor of tenants].

After 4 days of trial, Judge Mark Soden took the case under submission and subsequently ruled in my favor. Still unconvinced, Stu appealed, steadfastly convinced he would prevail. He lost the appeal as well. Subsequently, the court awarded attorney’s fees in the sum of about $26,000. The tenant filed bankruptcy and subsequently moved out.

The fundamental philosophy remains: rule enforcement is central to park quality and value. Residents who agree to comply with the rules and regulations should do so, or may be terminated from tenancy or judicially ordered by injunction to honor their promises. But, of all mistakes, one of the most serious of miscalculations for management is to allow a negative precedent to be set which will degrade the maintenance and condition, and hence value, of your mobilehome park investment.

In mobilehome parks, it is very much the “broken window” theory of property maintenance which applies today.