Legal Hot Shot

Goleta Mobile Home Park Owner Hires Ted Olson

Ted Olson, former solicitor general under President George W. Bush and certified legal heavyweight, has been hired by landlord Daniel Guggenheim, owner of Rancho Mobile Home Park, to take his anti–rent-control case against the City of Goleta to the U.S. Supreme Court. Guggenheim, who contends Goleta’s mobile-home-park rent-control ordinance constitutes an illegal confiscation of private property, was recently shot down by a panel of 11 judges serving on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They argued that Guggenheim knowingly bought the property in 1997 when rent control was already in effect and that the purchase price he paid reflected the reduced rents the law enabled him to collect. If the law were struck down, they opined, it would constitute an unfair windfall for Guggenheim and shortchange mobile-home-park residents who purchased after the law went into effect to the tune of $100,000 per coach. (That’s the difference in sales price between a coach on a rent-controlled space as opposed to one not covered by rent control.)

Ted Olson

Typically, the Supreme Court agrees to hear only a tiny fraction of the petitions submitted. By bringing in a high-profile appellate specialist, Guggenheim might be able to increase his odds of being heard. Olson argued the landmark voter recount case that gave the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore. Most recently, he argued that California’s Proposition 8, which excludes gays and lesbians from marriage, was unconstitutional. Goleta City Attorney Tim Giles expressed skepticism that the Supreme Court would hear the case even with Olson involved. The facts of the Guggenheim case, he said, are so unique and narrow that they have minimal application to other mobile-home-park rent-control disputes. As for Olson, Giles said, “It’s like he’s coming in after the 10th inning and the game is already over.”


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