UCI Law Clinic Helps Mobilehome Residents Purchase Park in $9.863 Million Deal


IRVINE, Calif. (April 10, 2018) — With the legal assistance of the University of California, Irvine School of Law Community & Economic Development Clinic, Capistrano Terrace Organization, Inc., a non-profit corporation controlled by the residents of a mobilehome park in San Juan Capistrano, purchased the park for $9.863 million 
on Thursday, April 5th. 

The park, Capistrano Terrace Mobilehome Estates, is situated on an 18.188-acre parcel of land containing 151 spaces (146 of which are currently occupied).  At least 91 percent of the park’s residents are low-income tenants, many of whom are elderly, and/or disabled. The CED Clinic has represented the park tenants since 2012, when CED first worked with the residents to form Capistrano Terrace Organization for the specific purposes of purchasing the park and providing affordable housing for low- and moderate-income persons. Since then, the crux of the CED Clinic’s representation has been to negotiate a purchase and sale agreement and secure financing for the park’s purchase. In January 2018, the CED Clinic was successful in obtaining a commitment from Clearinghouse CDFI, a California-headquartered financial institution that addresses unmet credit needs throughout the Western United States, for a $9.863 million “bridge,” or short-term loan, for Capistrano Terrace Organization’s purchase of the park.  

“This is such a critical milestone and achievement for all of us,” said Nikki Lawrence, President, Capistrano Terrace Organization. “In most cases, these low-income, elderly, and in some cases disabled residents could not otherwise afford to live anywhere else in Orange County. So many years of broken promises, failed attempts at ever achieving ownership left most without hope. Thanks to the incredible effort and determination by the UCI Law CED clinic professors and years of its dedicated energetic law students, they made the seemingly impossible possible.”

“The past two years of helping the Capistrano Terrace Organization apply for financing, prepare for ownership, and purchase the Park have been the most challenging and rewarding experience I have had in law school,” said Amanda Cordova, third-year UCI Law student in the Community & Economic Development Clinic. “With the help of the CED Clinic, the Capistrano Terrace Organization, and so many others, 146 families can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their housing will remain affordable.”

The CED Clinic’s work for the park’s residents is not yet finished. Capistrano Terrace Organization must secure permanent financing to complete needed rehabilitation. In March 2018, the CED Clinic submitted an application with the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Mobilehome Park Rehabilitation and Resident Ownership Program to secure some of this financing. Prior to submitting the application, CED Clinic students spent hundreds of hours developing a legal argument interpreting state regulations, meeting with public officials, and walking door-to-door at the Park, speaking with residents to gather forms and garner support for the purchase of the Park. Additionally, the CED Clinic is working with a potential lender to obtain long-term financing capital through various U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development insured loan programs. To date, the certified law students in the CED Clinic have dedicated nearly 5000 hours on this project.

Through representation of low-income communities, the UCI Law CED Clinic strives to contribute to the availability of affordable housing in Southern California. The CED Clinic is one of 14 clinics at UCI Law School in which students, working under close faculty supervision, tackle complex client issues using a wide variety of advocacy methods, including transactional facilitation, litigation, policy advocacy and community education. All legal services are provided free of charge to clinic clients.  

Affordable housing is an especially acute problem in Orange County. According to the California Association of Realtors, Orange County is one of the most unaffordable housing markets in Southern California and one of the most expensive in the nation. Only 21 percent of households can afford a typical house payment based on the median price of a single-family home.

The Orange County Business Council puts the housing supply shortfall at 50,000 to 62,000 units per year, and at the state level, according to the HCD’s January 2017 Housing Assessment Report, California will need 1.8 million units by 2025, or 180,000 new units annually, to meet population and household growth. Further, according to the Orange County Community Indicators Report of 2017, the housing costs in Orange County are estimated to be 365 percent higher than the national average. According to HCD, the current area median income for a four-person household in Orange County is $88,000.

There is a great need to protect affordable housing in San Juan Capistrano. According to the 2010 United States Census Bureau, San Juan Capistrano had a population is 34,593, with only 11,940 housing units. Per the City of San Juan Capistrano’s website, there are only four developments, which provide 268 units (0.22 percent of the total housing units), available for low-income individuals. This staggering statistic emphasizes the immense need to protect affordable housing.


Carrie Hempel
Co-Director, Community and Economic Development Clinic

Colleen Taricani
Assistant Dean for Communications

Ryne Hodkowski
Public Relations Manager