Discriminatory statements and actions against Latinos costs CA mobile home park owners $70,000

The owners of Golden Gate Trailer Park in Greenbrae, California have paid a $70,000 settlement in a case involving discrimination against Latinos. In addition, the Defendants in the case will attend fair housing training, post all vacancies at a community organization serving Latinos, provide translation services for prospective Spanish-speaking tenants, and distribute a nondiscrimination policy to all employees.

In December 1999, a white former tenant of the park, filed a fair housing complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) with the assistance of Fair Housing of Marin (FHOM), a nonprofit fair housing agency serving northern California. Smith and FHOM later filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Northern California.

Defendants retaliated against white tenant who complained of discrimination against Latinos

The former tenant and FHOM asserted in their complaints that the owners and manager of Golden Gate discriminated against Latinos and prevented the man from renting his space in the park to Latinos. When he complained of the discrimination, the  defendants retaliated against him by making threats, denying approval to prospective tenants who wanted to rent his park space, leveling complaints of rules infractions, and eventually evicting him from the park.

In the federal complaint, the plaintiffs asserted that Wallace and Dora Holmes made discriminatory statements about Latinos and instructed Greg McGovern, the resident manager, to steer Latinos away from the park and to make it hard for Latinos to apply for housing or lots within the park.

Allegedly, Dora Holmes instructed McGovern to steer all Latinos applicants to an adjacent trailer park, telling him, “Once you let one of them in, you have a whole bunch
move in after. Next thing you know, you have shitty diapers all over the driveway, and
who needs that?” The Defendants also allegedly placed Latino applicants on a waiting list for vacancies but never called Latinos on the list when spaces became available.

Different terms and conditions for Latinos

The Defendants allegedly required prospective Latino tenants to own their own mobile home towing vehicles if they wished to place a mobile home within the park. Latinos were also required to pay credit check fees and fill out applications while in the rental office. The same was not required of non-Latino tenants. McGovern allegedly ejected Latino visitors to the park and was purposefully rude to Latinos to discourage them from applying to live in the park. McGovern allegedly told tenants at the park that “Mexicans cause trouble” and that he tried hard to keep “Mexicans out of the park.” He also allegedly said that it was difficult to do so because of fair housing laws in place.

FHOM heard from at least four former, current, or prospective residents of Golden Gate who expressed concerns about national origin discrimination in the park. DFEH’s investigation revealed that no Latinos lived in Golden Gate Trailer Park at the time the plaintiffs filed complaints and that the only minorities present in the park were one African American man and one Asian woman, both of whom lived with white tenants at the park. During the DFEH investigation, McGovern admitted to investigators that Wallace and Dora Holmes had given him explicit instructions to discriminate against Latinos.

The plaintiffs withdrew their complaints from DFEH and filed a federal lawsuit against the Defendants with the assistance of California civil rights attorney Scott Chang.
The Consent Decree in the case requires the Defendants to pay $20,000 to FHOM, $15,000 to the former tenant, $20,000 in legal fees, and to forgive a $15,000 unlawful
detainer judgment the park had obtained against him.

Fair Housing of Marin v. Golden Gate Trailer Park
Case No. 3:02-cv-01604 (N.D. Cal.)
The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson, U.S. District Judge
Scott Chang, attorney for Plaintiffs
Federal complaint filed: April 3, 2002
Consent Order: April 16, 2003