In an ongoing debate about rent control legislation on his Goleta property, Rancho Mobile Home Estates, real estate mogul Daniel Guggenheim is attempting to carry his case to the United States Supreme Court.
The series of appeals stretches back to 2009, when Guggenheim persuaded the city council to approve plans converting the park into condominiums through a legal loophole, requiring residents to either purchase the land their mobile homes rest on or lose rent control protection in as little as seven years. After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 8-3 against him last December, Guggenheim enlisted former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson as his attorney to take the case to Washington, D.C.
Goleta City Attorney Tim Giles said Guggenheim had little precedent to attempt to evade the legislation as he purchased the mobile home park in 1997, knowing that it was protected under Santa Barbara County rent control ordinance.
“Mr. Guggenheim got exactly what he purchased, which was a park subject to rent control,” Giles said. “And what this case was about was giving him a windfall just because the city [became] incorporated.”
According to Giles, Guggenheim sought to push the boundaries of the ordinance to exact more profit from tenants after the incorporation of the City of Goleta in 2002.
The Supreme Court consents to only a portion of the petitions it receives throhout the year.
Despite Olson’s impressive credentials — including arguing against California’s Prop 8’s constitutionality — Giles said it is unlikely Guggenheim’s appeals will go any further.
“[Olson] has an excellent reputation and a tremendous amount of experience with the Supreme Court,” Giles said. “The problem is the Supreme Court takes on very few cases, and they take cases based upon the decisions of the courts below, or the decisions of the court of appeals and not on the personality of the attorney.”
Additionally, Giles said the Court of Appeal’s decision is clear and well reasoned, and he doubts the Supreme Court would accept a case so specific to the parties involved, instead of an issue that would establish broad legal precedent.
“I think that they are going to look at this, and look at the facts and the law here and see that this is not something they want to waste their precious time on,” Giles said.