CORRECTION (Published 4/25/2013)

Because of an editing error, a story about Hayward mobile home parks incorrectly referred to an 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals decision. The ruling was made by the 9th District Court of Appeals.

HAYWARD -- Five of the city's nine mobile home parks are open to senior residents only, and Hayward officials are taking steps to make sure they stay that way.

A proposal to make it illegal to convert senior-only mobile home parks -- open to those 55 and older -- to all-ages parks goes before the city Planning Commission on Thursday. The zoning change, part of Hayward's effort to preserve affordable housing for seniors, is supported by the Hayward Mobilehome Owners Association.

Eden Gardens Mobile Home Park is photographed on Wednesday May 9, 2007 in Hayward, California.(Aric Crabb /The Oakland Tribune)
Eden Gardens Mobile Home Park is photographed on Wednesday May 9, 2007 in Hayward, California. (Aric Crabb /The Oakland Tribune)

"We need more senior housing in Hayward, and this is a viable option to help that," said Kathy Morris, the association's president.

When the city's mobile home parks were built in the 1970s, all nine were senior-only, Morris said. After four converted to allow residents of all ages, the association lobbied the city to preserve the remaining five as senior-only. The City Council agreed, and in 2010, directed staff members to come up with an ordinance.

The proposal was put on hold after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that American Canyon's senior-only mobile home ordinance violated the federal Fair Housing Act. Then, in 2012, the 9th District Court of Appeals upheld the city of Yucaipa's ordinance prohibiting conversion of existing senior-only parks to all-ages ones, effectively overturning the American Canyon decision, according to the staff report.

"The court's decision opened the door for us" to move forward with Hayward's proposed ordinance, Morris said.

The ordinance would only apply to parks where at least 80 percent of current residents are age 55 or older. Those include New England Village, Georgian Manor, Hayward Mobile Country Club, Eden Gardens and Spanish Ranch II.

The four parks that allow all ages -- Continental, Eden Roc, Pueblo Springs and Spanish Ranch I -- would not be affected.

Hayward's nine mobile home parks have about 2,500 spaces and more than 5,000 residents. The five senior-only parks have 1,230 spaces, Morris said. She did not have the number of residents living there.

None of the owners of the five senior-only parks have indicated they plan to convert the parks to allow all ages, said Maureen Conneely, assistant city attorney. However, New England Village Mobile Home Park representatives expressed concern about the ordinance, according to the staff report. Brandenburg, Staedler & Moore, which owns New England Village, has no plans to change the park from seniors-only, confirmed Rose Minasi, director of property management.

"But it does prevent us from converting to all-ages if that need ever comes up," Minasi said. "It has certain restrictions that may or may not be beneficial to future business."

Carol Friesen, treasurer of the mobile homeowners association, said the mobile home parks were not designed for families.

"There is no place for children to play. There are no sidewalks, no play equipment," she said. "The only place for them to play in the streets, and that's not safe."

The park where Morris lives, Pueblo Springs, was converted to an all-ages park, and she estimates it has twice as many residents as it used to.

"We lost our sense of community, our sense of cohesion. We had social functions, we had potlucks. Then, boom, that all went away," she said.

Busy families have different priorities, Morris said.

"I have nothing against families, but they have their own lives. They have soccer and stuff with the kids. We have working parents. It's a whole different lifestyle," she said.

Traffic has increased, making it more dangerous for seniors out walking and for children, she said.

The manager of Eden Roc, one of the parks that allows all ages, has a different perspective.

Dixie Guy said the park attracts families because of its small-community atmosphere.

"It feels safer here. And affordability has a lot to do with it, especially if you want to live in the Bay Area," she said.

Eden Roc has a small play area for younger children, though there isn't a lot geared toward preteens and older, she said. The children ride their bikes in the streets, but she said it hasn't been a problem.

The City Council is scheduled to consider the planning commission's recommendation on the proposed zoning amendment at its May 7 meeting.

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.

Hayward Planning Commission
When: 7 p.m. April 25
Where: Council Chamber, Hayward City Hall, 777 B St.