Lakeland Estates v. King County, Ct. of Appeals Div. I Case No. 57432-9-I (June 4, 2007)*

Monday, June 4, 2007

* This post is published here under the Creative Commons License. The post was authored by Keith Ganey and originally published to his blog at Ganey is a 2008 graduate of the University of Washington School of Law.

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An owner may not sell the lots of a trailer park to the residents when the sale is contrary to the land’s zoning and the trailer park was approved as a planned unit development (PUD).


Lakeland Estates, which owns a great deal of land in southern King County, applied for and received permission to create a 13 unit mobile home park in 1979. From the facts in the case, it appears that Lakeland operated the mobile home park without incident for nearly twenty-four years. In 2003, Lakeland decided it was willing to sell individual residents of the park the land under their homes. The ordinance approving the park, though, specified that the park not be subdivided.

Unlike a rezone, which changes the range of land uses available at a site, a PUD retains the zoning limitations and carves out a single exception. In this case, the PUD permitted the use of the parcel as a mobile home park with thirteen homes. Any other use would have required new approval under the standard zoning rules. While the law is clear on this point, the language used at the time is rather confusing. In this case, the PUD used the word “lot” to mean two very different things without any attempt to clarify. The PUD refers the mobile home sites as “lots” and without differentiating the legal meaning of “lot” as an individual tax parcel.

Perhaps relying on this ambiguity, Lakeland sought approval to divide the property through a binding site plan (BSP). The BSP process is an alternative to the usual land division process. BSPs, though, only bypass the usual process if the property will later be used by a condominium entity. Since Lakeland was seeking to fragment all ownership of the mobile home sites, the BSP process did not provide a loophole.

Lakeland had another method available to sell the mobile home sites. As the court notes, Lakeland could have created a formal residential community, a condominium association for example, and transferred ownership to the residents through that structure.


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