The owners of a mobile home park just south of St. Helena have sued the city for rescinding a promise to supply water to the property.
In a suit filed last Thursday, Hall Vineland, LLC and Hall Vista, LLC seek more than $7.5 million in damages resulting from the city rescinding a will-serve letter that pledged to provide water for Vineland Vista Mobile Home Park, which is vacant and under renovation.
“There are no winners here,” said Kathryn Hall. “This lawsuit is something we do with great reluctance and with concern for its financial impact in particular on the residents of St. Helena.”
Last summer the City Council criticized Hall’s plans for the park for resembling a hotel instead of a mobile home park. The council questioned whether St. Helena is obligated to continue providing city water for what the council considers a new use of the property.
In September the St. Helena Public Works Department rescinded a will-serve letter it had issued in 2016, calling the project “new development” that requires a new water use agreement with the city.
Hall said the owners relied on the city’s promise to deliver water. Rescinding that promise “rendered our property economically unviable,” Hall said.
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The owners sued the city in January but withdrew the suit when the council agreed to set up a new administrative process for will-serve letters.
Hall said the owners dropped the last suit “to be overly cautious,” after the city’s attorneys claimed that the plaintiffs hadn’t exhausted their administrative remedies before taking the city to court. The owners filed a claim with the city in April, according to the new lawsuit.
County Planning Director David Morrison sent a letter to Hall’s lawyer in January disagreeing with the city’s claims that the new use amounts to something other than a mobile home park.
“The County considers the site to be a mobile home park, both now and as proposed” in the Halls’ requested use permit modification, Morrison wrote.
City Manager Mark Prestwich declined to comment on the pending litigation.