Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mobile Home Park Economic Eviction


Op/Ed: Mobile Home Owners Need Help

A Santa Cruz County Mobile Home/Manufactured Commissioner advocates for homeowner protections.


Lauri Beamish

6:22am on Monday, November 7, 2011

First let me say that I am so sorry for anyone else going through this, an example of "bullying" at it's finest. Capitola didn't spend 2 million to defend it's rent control. Over 10 yrs. the City spent approx. what amounts to $70,000. per year. The residents paid approx. $400,000. over a 6 yr. period, and in the end it still wasn't enough. Some of us will definitely be attending from Capitola to show our support and do whatever we can to help keep more from going through what we are now at the hands of the heartless park owners.

Op/Ed: Mobile Home Owners Need Help


Op/Ed: Mobile Home Owners Need Help

A Santa Cruz County Mobile Home/Manufactured Commissioner advocates for homeowner protections.

&nbps;1 Comment

By William Neighbors

Mobile/manufactured homeowner disputes and mobile home park issues are on the rise in Santa Cruz County.

I have had several phone calls from mobile home residents in Watsonville regarding Capitola’s rent control. Watsonville's Mobile Home Rent Control was enacted by the voters, not like Capitola where it was an ordinance and the city council had unilateral control to repeal rent control. Watsonville mobile home residents pay a very small amount for rent control, about $1 per month. This is not a lot of money for legal fees.

The city of Watsonville and the residents have to fight park owners who want
higher profits, so they repeatedly challenge rent control laws. Capitola spent over $2 million in legal fees on rent control.

So, what do we need to do? First we need to build a legal fund so when something happens to us we are ready to take it on. Park owners are challenging rent control laws in three mobile home parks right now that are creating legal fees for the city. I have spoken to two attorneys who represent park residents and they say the same thing: we must build a legal fund.

The county is proposing raising the yearly fee to help with their legal expenses defending rent control. It will be implemented in January 2012 for county residents, only not homes in the city limits.

I think we need to pass a city ordinance to collect a small amount from each mobile home owner per month to build this legal fund. I know these are hard times and people don't like fees or taxes, but we are facing litigation in two parks challenging rent control where park owners are proposing to dramatically double
monthly rents in addition to eliminating existing services in Watsonville.

We need to stop this from continuing throughout Watsonville and believe me it will continue just like it has in Capitola.

Owners of mobile homes and manufactured homes have a lot invested in their homes. Let’s all work together and solve these problems that are occurring. It is up to us, the homeowners, to protect our investments. Everyone should get together at their park association meetings and talk about it. I would be happy to attend your meeting.

William Neighbors is a mobile home owner in Watsonville and a commissioner on the Santa Cruz County Mobile Home/Manufactured Commission.

NOTE: A discussion of rent control and tenant rights will be held at Capitola City Hall on Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. It is open to all mobile home owners.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What is in the BEST INTEREST of California Manufactured Home Owners?

"What are the problems -- what are the best answers for manufactured home owners, in California's (or any other state) so-called Mobile Home Parks, aka Manufactured Home Communities?

[What are the most important threats to our housing?]
(1) Monthly out-of-pocket housing cost.
(2) Financing options to us and the next buyer.
(3) Estate planning.....Reverse Mortgage capability.

[What solves #1-3 above?]
(1) Eliminate ground rent and the increase due to cost of living -- an absolute must!!
(2) Own something that is financable. Note: Unless you own the land under your home, it is considered the same as a 'used car'!!...and is financed as such, if at all, in today's times.

[What solves the above?]
(1) Own the land under your home.
[How to own the land under your home]
(1) Buy the entire facility.

[Ok -- let's stop for a moment!!]
Resident advocacy organizations, large and small, local and statewide, have agendas that range from 'harassment' to 'rent control'/'de-control'.

[Ok -- Be honest!!]
(a) Would any of those agendas do away with Cost of Living? Answer: No, No, No.
(b) Would any one of those agendas put the ownership of your lot in your name? Answer: No, No, No.
(c) Would 'harassment', 'rent control'/'de-control become a non-issue if you owned your lot? Answer: YES, YES, YES.

Ok -- Please understand, those of you in an agenda group that may feel challenged, this information is to educate everyone so that we are all on the same transparent page as to where each of us may want to go.

If one wishes to pursue other issues, whatever they may be, you are certainly free to do so with organized groups.
Sooo- let's move on to: "What are the Resident's tools with which to purchase?? A Very Good Question.

[Tools to Purchase]
(1) We're California voters.
(2) Federal and State decisions (law) supporting "Affordable Housing".
(3) Quick method, i.e., 90-120 days.
(4) Cost to each Homeowner = about same or maybe less than existing rent - but no more increases.

[Explanation of Tools]
(1) As California voters, collectively, Residents/Mobile Home Owners number about 450,000+.
(2) The U.S. Supreme Court down to our State Legislative Counsel provide long time support of Cities and Counties absolute right to move land from the Investor to the Homeowner.
(3) Read the material provided by the State for Mobile Home Owners on "How to Purchase your Park". Note: The exemption under the Business and Profession Code allows a 'fast track'. It is known as the
"Mitchell Method:, named after the author and supporting firm that brought it into use.
(4) Costs, looked into and approved by the State Dept. of Corporations, are compared to existing housing
costs before the permit is issued to proceed with the purchase.

[Use of Tools to Purchase]
(1) (a) As a voter group, the Mayor and Council must listen if they want to stay in office.
(b) The State and Federal Agencies - i.e., Auditor's Office, Attorney General, IRS, etc. - do not respond to individuals. They want the most 'bang' for their time and effort; thus, a group presentation is far more
(2) The "Law" is very clear. As "Affordable Housing", the Law of the U.S., down to the State and Local levels- --we are supported.
(3) Our research found a 'Team' that:
(a) can create a Planned Unit Development (a form of Subdivision) so that you have a Deed to your home and land in 90-120 days+.
(b) From that, normal single family financing is available -- for example, today in the 4%+ area.
(c) Cost of Living of ground rent is eliminated!!
(d) If necessary, through another "Mitchell Method" law change, a third party can step into the escrow, and close ---- all cash --- in the necessary time period.
(4) [Costs]: Using the home and lot as security for a loan to cover the purchase of the land, the total cost is composed of (i) loan payment, (ii) HOA Fee. This is the measuring device the "Mitchell Method" uses --- and the State supports. The total cost of (i) and (ii) is probably less than your current rent.

Sitting on your duff waiting for the harassment and de-control efforts to solve the purchase effort is like the self-denial group who was the last one off the Titanic and into the water.

If your park is already owned by a City or a 501-c-3, stay tuned and we will get something started right away.

We've just heard that the IRS would look favorably on a sale transaction that would be equal to nothing more than paying off the Principal of the Bond. In other words, since the Resident Home Owners were the ones paying, the increased value or equity belongs to them -- not the City, not the 501-c-3.

In closing --- some other interesting information ---the State is investigating the workings of a Redevelopment/City Mobile Home Park purchase using Bonds!

A doomsday scenario for mobile home owners: Rent DeControl

A scenario for January 2013: The other day, I was evicted from my mobile home because rent control was eliminated and my rent space was raised without limit. Decontrol was implemented, so no one would buy my home because of the high rent.

So last night, I stayed with friends whose home was in foreclosure. The home next door was burned down. We don't know the cause of the fire, because the one Fire Department we have was on another call. Two people were badly burned and the privatized ambulance service that was to respond was not familiar with our location in Oceanside. We tried to call the staff of only eight sheriffs we have to patrol our city, and they were elsewhere.

So this morning, I went to the only library we have and I was told I had to buy a cup of coffee from the concession stand to be able to read a book. But since I live in the city of "Kern" (formerly known as the city of Oceanside in California), I have to believe that Jerry Kern, Jack Feller and Gary Felien had my best interests at heart.

Your true believer and homeless advocate.

DeeDee Dana


The VERY BEST way to help Manufactured Home Park Owners/Mobilehome Park Residents

Although the economic times are indeed tough, they bring solutions. In the case of MHP’s, the Residents have a need, but, so do the City and the Park owners. All are centered on Financing. Interestingly, the Cities benefit from the Residents buying, thus, a win-win-win. Here is how it works – along with some supporting law

[Financing = Cornerstone of Happiness]

(1) Until 2003, Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae would buy loans on homes on leased ground [Ex. # 1]. Since then, VA, FHA, HUD, and banks are looking at a lease situation as a – No Deal.

(2) #1 above means that without land, Resident Homeowners are forced to deal in the ‘Predatory Loan Market’, i.e., own the land = 4 ½% interest+ vs. leased = up to 15% interest+.

(3) For comparison:

(a) own the land - loan payments on a $60,000 loan, 4 ½% - 30 yrs. = $305.00/mo.

(b) leased land – loan payments on a $60,000 loan, 15% - 12 yrs. = $923.00/mo.

[Ground rent/Rent control/Housing Cost]

(1) There is a built-in cost conflict with Home ownership divided between Home and Land.

(2) U.S. Supreme Court decisions support “Preserving Affordable Housing”.

(3) #2 above is well covered by a Legislative Counsel Opinion. [Ex. #2]

(4) Using #1-3 above, the waste and uselessness of voters’ money for any legal action is clear --- Buy the Land. Please note the many examples where millions have been spent on attorney fees in a ‘battle’, when the battle and the war have already been won – see0 #2 & 3 above.

[How to Buy the Land under your Home – History]

(1) [Note]: Before we go any further, it is understood that there are several ways for Resident Homeowners to acquire ownership of the land under their homes. For lending purposes, control is not the same as ownership, i.e., co-op, condo, etc.

(2) The age, size, layout, location, condition of utilities, and amenities all have a substantial influence on what is the best path to take to ownership.

(3) An extreme example of one end of #2 above would be a 1960 20-unit trailer park owned collectively as a co-op. The other end would be a 1976 350-unit 5 star park – see (D) following.

(4) Even though a true trailer park had small, pull-behind units with wheels still attached and the tow hitch still in place, and might have been considered “Affordable Housing”, it is certainly not what today's manufactured homes are...definitely NOT mobile!

(5) There is no question that in the beginning of this industry it was understood by landowner and trailer owner – the give and take of the marketplace. In fact, it was a useful, co-beneficial situation.

(6) When things slowly morphed into a problem situation was when enhancement of the pull-behind trailer to the ‘single-wide’, which in turn went on up to the double and triple wide units. By the nature of this improvement, the installation became permanent and the die was cast – Rent Control was a substitute for mobility.

(7) The above bit of history is helpful in keeping a ‘Big Picture’ aspect in lining up the ‘Intent of the Legislature” that will show a consistency from bill to bill as the State gets more and more involved. Also Opinion of AG. [Ex. #3].

(8) The ‘Intent of the Legislature’ and State Agencies was, and is, to comply with Federal Law, the betterment, support, and protection of ‘Affordable Housing’. This is further represented by HCD and State construction guidelines that came out in 1971. Interestingly, the HUD construction guidelines that came out in 1976 were a copy-cat of the 1971 California Law.

(9) One last observation regarding Home and Land. Regardless of its beauty to the eye of one and not to another; regardless of the fact it long ago lost the ‘Mobile Home’ aspect, it is still considered “Affordable Housing”. The law of the land, starting at the U.S. Supreme Court level (“Preserve Affordable Housing”) is recognized in statement, or, implied in all the California bills dealing with this area. A few examples:

(a) B&P Code 11010.8 (b) Revenue &Tax Code 62.2 (c) Health & Safety Codes 18555, 50780, 33449 regarding holding. [Ex. #4 to #8]

(D Soooo – [How to buy the Land to “Preserve Affordable Housing”]

[Note]: Based upon the History above, the following will outline a Park Purchase:

(1) Using the code sections in C (9) above, the Resident Homeowners can subdivide, finance, and close escrow in 90-120 days.

Note: These code sections all have common purposes:

(a) To Preserve Affordable Housing.

(b) To be fast, proficient, and less costly.

(c) To qualify for the best financing.

(2) One of the largest parks in the State, “The Groves” with 535 spaces in Irvine – closed escrow in 90 days, all cash, in the manner described above.


The practice of a City floating a Bond issue to cover:

(1) Overpaying the value of the park,

(2) Funding substantial accounts not necessary in normal ownership,

(3) Imposing annual increases in the ground rent.

(4) Withholding ownership of the lot under their home, forcing a Predatory Lending situation on the Residents.

(5) Increasing the monthly housing cost immediately to cover the 150% to 190% Loan to Value of the Bond.

(6) Add insult to injury – the Residents are solely responsible for the Bond payments and operation funds for the park.


Every item in 1-6 Summation above is an established fact.

Any one of those items would be totally out of step with helping Resident Homeowners. But there are 6, strongly impacted by # 3 & 4. Being held captive in a City or 501-c-3 situation is not the American Way, not the “intent of the Legislature”, and, as well-stated by an Appellate Judge (Craig vs. City of Poway, “33334.2 Legislative history – ‘improve’ means to make available less expensive or make already inexpensive less expensive.” [Ex. #9]

There are thousands of MHP Resident Homeowners in this situation (City or 501-c3). This is so easy. There are no “Investors/Landowners, i.e., WMA. The City must support, and thus earn Resident Voter approval. The City will be in compliance with the State mandated plan.

The City or 501-c-3 entity will be carrying out their duties in compliance with IRS and State rules, confirmed with IRS.

The Residents will enjoy for the first time an elimination of the ever-increasing housing cost of ground rent. The Residents will now be able to sell and buy their homes in the normal finance market.

The State will enjoy Cities and Counties complying with the rules --- no cost to anyone!!!

This is a joyous win-win-win-win situation for all…comments on (C) (9) a, b, c are welcome.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tools to mitigate mobile home park closure, Santa Maria


Tools to mitigate mobile home park closure

Ron Faas/Looking Forward | Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 12:00 am | (0) Comments

Further delay in the county’s release of the draft mobile home park closure conversion ordinance provides an opportunity to review the history of such ordinances, and to highlight relocation assistance as a mitigation measure.

First, a closure conversion to another land use is different from a condo/subdivision conversion changing ownership of individual spaces. State law treats each differently in what standards local jurisdictions are allowed to adopt.

The county can only require a proposed condo/subdivision conversion conform to state law, and cannot apply more stringent local standards. On the other hand, the applicable state requirements for closure conversions allow for additional regulation at the local level.

With inadequate protection from current state law, several jurisdictions worked with the Golden State Manufactured-home Owners League (GSMOL) during 2000-04 to more adequately protect mobile home residents from park closure by adopting clear, specific requirements for mitigating negative impacts on displaced residents.

In trying to create a model closure conversion ordinance that was air tight and defensible in court, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach faced the most scrutiny. Several years of extensive research in the development of the ordinance adopted by San Luis Obispo County in 2008 found key components common in these and other ordinances.

These components are grouped under two major categories — conversion impact report, and relocation assistance.

Relocation assistance components include a relocation plan, relocation specialist, comparable replacement housing, notice period to move, pay relocation costs, cover higher space rent in new park and buy in-place market value. Each of these key components is in ordinances adopted by Huntington Beach (GSMOL model ordinance), Seal Beach, San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Obispo, as well as San Luis Obispo County.

San Juan Capistrano has been going through a closure conversion for which a relocation impact report required by the ordinance was professionally prepared in 2008, and updated this past May. The mitigation measures proposed in the report illustrate the kind of relocation assistance required by these ordinances.

These include payment of the cost of physically moving the mobile home and movable improvements; payment of first and last months’ rent and security deposit at the new mobile home park; and payment of a rental differential to compensate for the difference in rent, if any, at the old and new mobile home parks during the first year of tenancy.

Also, payment of all reasonable moving expenses incurred in moving to a new location up to 50 miles; and for homeowners who are unable to reasonably relocate their mobile homes, payment of fair market value for their mobile home.

During this closure conversion process, the city of San Juan Capistrano apparently felt sufficiently confident to add more stringent requirements in amending its ordinance in 2010, as did Seal Beach. It is significant that while amending and strengthening their ordinances, both cities kept the in-place market values component.

It is important to note there have been almost no closures in jurisdictions that have adopted closure conversion ordinances with the key components found in the SLO County ordinance presented to Santa Barbara County as a model.

One exception is Monterey Park, which, under a redevelopment plan, completed a full impact report, closed a mobile home park, following to the letter the state code, and moved residents, in stages, into wonderful new affordable housing units, equivalent or better than the mobile homes they were living in before.

Ron Faas is legislative action team coordinator for the Northern Santa Barbara County Manufactured Homeowners Team, and a resident of Sunnyhills Mobile Home Park. He can be reached at faas@verizon.net. Looking Forward runs every Friday, providing a progressive viewpoint on local issues.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Huntington Beach: Council majority right on mobile homes

October 19, 2011

Despite the blustering of Mayor Joe Carchio and council members Don Hansen and Matthew Harper, the City Council voted to preserve the current configuration of the Mobile Home Advisory Board (MHAB) at the Oct. 3 council meeting ("Council maintains board," Oct. 6). Perhaps it was the presence of Julie Paule from the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Assn. (WMA), a front group for mobile home park owners, that inspired such political theater.

The WMA and Manufactured Housing Educational Trust (MHET), another park owner front group, have plied campaign contributions and support upon the opponents of the MHAB (especially Harper) for some time, so maybe these council members were giving their political benefactors their money's worth. Paule brazenly called for the dissolution of the MHAB in public comments. Overall, it was an embarrassing display of special-interest pressure to deny civic communication and representation to thousands of citizens in the city's 18 mobile home parks.

Kudos to council members Devin Dwyer and Keith Bohr for joining mobile home resident supporters Connie Boardman and Joe Shaw in saving the MHAB. It must have been doubly embarrassing to Dwyer and Bohr to see their erstwhile council majority colleagues go off the deep end like this. This, after the same council minority (Carchio, Hansen, Harper) lost a vote to prevent an environmental impact report from going forward to do something about the single-use plastic bag pollution problem.

The MHAB vote clearly showed which council members supported community interests and which ones remain totally beholden to their outside special-interest contributors. It is hoped that future meetings shaping the role and future of the MHAB will be more constructive in their deliberations.

Tim Geddes

Huntington Beach

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Affordable Housing in California-Manufactured Homes?

It’s clear that more education is needed for an understanding of the term Affordable Housing.
The term “Affordable Housing”, what is it and what does it mean to us?

Can Warren Buffet be wrong? He purchased ‘Clayton Homes’ Manufacturing.
Manufactured housing, or so-called mobile homes, are less expensive by far in the past, now, and probably long into the future, per the construction and appraisal experts. Here is a sample of manufactured housing building costs compared to stick-built homes, 2 bdrm./2bath:

Manufactured Homes ----approximately $25-$45 per square foot to build.
Stick-built Homes --------approximately $75-$200 per square foot to build.

Housing Cost Comparison
Manufactured: Approximately $300/mo. to $1200/mo. space rent
Apartment: Approximately $900/mo. to $2200/mo.+
Condo: Approximately $900/mo. to $2200/mo. - plus HOA fees
Residential: Approximately $1200/mo. to $3000/mo.+

Value in Marketplace
Manufactured: Approximately $50,000 to $100,000
Apartment: Approximately $90,000 to $220,000
Condo: Approximately $100,000 to $300,000
Residential: Approximately $150,000 to $400,000

These numbers will vary from City to City, Park to Park, etc. The next area is where “who you work for” provides a different viewpoint, depending on who is asked. According to HCD people in Sacramento, when asked the question “Is an existing manufactured home counted as affordable housing as part of the 5-yr. housing plan?” Answer, “Yes, but.......” (Don’t you just hate “Yes, but” answers!)

What came out was the following:

a) Cities have probably more than one plan, i.e., State, City, County, Re-development.

b) Whichever plan(s) is/are spoken of, there is the referral to ‘Law’ that only new homes to be built are counted toward the purposes of meeting increased demand for affordable housing.

c) The law, contained in more than one publication, is very clear. “Affordable Housing cost is 30% of income.”

d) The law, also has a number of formulas that start with the ‘median income’ of the area. This is where the homeowner, retired, living on Social Security, home paid for, and ‘in-place’ for the duration, could not come within a country mile of that formula -- even the 50% of income, etc. Do the math yourself.

(e) The intrusion of government is seen again here. Although counted as “Affordable Housing” now and in the past, the government views our existing homes as needing re-hab, etc., so that the need for New Affordable Housing can be increased --- justifying construction of higher cost, higher density, higher tax revenue, higher City Re-development activity.

By any measure, our manufactured homes are the epitome of AFFORDABLE HOUSING. Our homes are counted, now, in the past, and for the foreseeable future as Affordable Housing. The use of taxpayers’ money to ‘subsidize’ the over-built government waste called ‘new affordable housing’ is not necessary. In a short time, the subsidy could buy and/or re-hab many of our manufactured homes.

Better yet, build more Parks! Ones where the home and land are one. We all know there is a HUGE STORM coming with Baby Boomers retiring. I just don’t get why the Cities, Counties, and State entities don’t get it. They know we are here!! They don’t seem to even count existing seniors and Veterans. What’s up with that??

Friday, October 14, 2011

Capitola ends rent control for Mobile Home Residents


CAPITOLA — After 32 years on the books, rent control for mobile home parks met its demise Thurs­day night as the City Council voted 3-2 to repeal the ordinance.

Mayor Dennis Norton and Coun­cilmen Kirby Nicol and Sam Storey voted for repeal, while Councilman Mike Termini and Councilwoman Stephanie Harlan voted against.

The council must vote twice to repeal, and the first vote came in August. The repeal will take effect in 30 days.

The repeal was the culmination of a process that started in March, when the City Council first voted to amend the ordinance to settle two lawsuits.

“The city has been bullied, we’ve been litigated and beaten down,” Sto­rey said. “I’d like to point out that the council and staff have an obligation to the entire city and have to look­out for the well-being of the entire city. When faced with a half-million dollars in legal expenses year after year, you are forced to look for solu­tions.”

Residents pleaded with the coun­cil to wait until the next meeting in two weeks to make a decision so the residents would have more time to secure leases before the repeal took effect.

Harlan was in favor of a delay, while Termini said he would not vote for repeal because, while he thought it might be the best thing for the city, his principles would not allow it.

With Capitola’s other mobile home parks either city, nonprofit or resident-owned, Surf and Sand residents felt the most vulnerable.
are moving too quickly,” said Margaret Dixon, who owns a home in Surf and Sand Mobile Home Park. “We can’t get a good number on who has leases. [Surf and Sand owner] Ron Reed does not respond to our calls. Please wait a couple of weeks and see how things shake out.”

In March, the city amended its ordinance with the purpose of reaching a settlement agreement with Reed, who had two active lawsuits against the city.

Under the settlement, lower income residents were offered 34-year leases with a monthly rent of $475 after an income-verification process. Higher income full-time residents were offered leases that increased rents to market rate during eight years. Rents for part-time residents, and residents who own other residential property, could immediately rise to market rate.

Three lawsuits resulted from the amendments. One lawsuit against the city challenging a provision that exempted those with any other residential property from rent control was rejected by a county court judge Aug. 30. Another lawsuit was filed by several residents against Reed, challenging various terms of the lease. That case was settled earlier this week, and under the agreement the residents would be offered 34-year leases as long as the city repeals rent control and the residents involved in the lawsuit do not attempt to stop the repeal. If there had been no repeal, Reed could have changed the lease term to 13 months.

Surf and Sand resident Bill Newman, 86, who was part of the settlement, said he agreed because he trusted his lawyer, Phil Crawford, and simply wants to lock in a rent he can afford in the park he has lived in for 23 years.

“I gave up my freedom of speech because I had to trust someone,” he said earlier Thursday.

A third, active lawsuit challenges Reed’s determination of fair market rent for those residents who did not qualify for low-income leases.

Some of those who have not qualified for low-income status have seen rents escalate from as little as $285 per month to as high as $2,800 per month, a figure residents argue is higher than market rate.

Most of the residents own their home, but rent the land. If the rent is too high, they fear they will never be able to sell.

Thecityhasspentcloseto$1.5 million during the past decade defending its rent control ordinance from legal challenges, with approximately a third of that money coming from a legal-defense fee to which park residents contribute.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Help the mobile home park residents


Gold is discovered in Calistoga, California.
Our first claim for this gold is by a Mr. Wang and his company on the backs of seniors of Chateau Calistoga Mobile Home Park. Our next claim for this gold is by Mr. Moser and his company on the backs of seniors of Rancho de Calistoga.
The gold I am talking about is the unbelievable rent increase recently made on the residents of these mobile home parks. Mind you, this is only for a dirt lot. Not an apartment building, not a house, not any sort of real property. All that some of these seniors own are the mobile homes they live in. They have always paid a basic rent of, say, $450 per month for their lot with annually adjusted rent increase. They have lived for years under a rent ordinance, which was drafted to be fair to both parties. The formula was based on the Consumer Price Index for the San Francisco Bay Area. And that formula dictated regular rent increases which were manageable for the residents and provided reasonable profit increases for the owners. Now, using fear as a tactic, the owners have levied these exorbitant rent increases.
The people affected are seniors who have paid their debt to society and who should be able to enjoy the years they have left without fear of losing what little they own. They thought the rent stabilization ordinance was sufficient to protect them, but it is not so.
We presently have two cases of dispute: 1) the so-called mediation case, and 2) the so-called arbitration case. In both cases, the park owners told these seniors they wanted over $100 a month in rent increases. Fear gripped these seniors, many of whom live solely on fixed incomes, and they felt they had to accede to the owners’ demands or lose their homes.
So one group originally went for an approximately $27-a-month increase. Now the owner of this park (Chateau Calistoga) wants them to sign an eight-year agreement increasing their rent $27 a month for the next eight years, telling them how lucky they are that the increase is so modest. However, if you go back eight years, there is no way this comes close to what the Consumer Price Index increases would have been. What a sham. There is no mention in the rent ordinance of any so-called eight-year agreement. So does this negate the rent ordinance protection?
Let us now talk about the other mobile home park, which is Rancho de Calistoga. Rancho owners have received a “gift” of a judicial arbitration of a $60-a-month increase, which added to a base of, say, $450, raises the monthly base rent to $510. This is bad enough, but the owners also want $540 in retroactive rent increase fees. With their so-called “compassion” for seniors, they will let some of them pay $54 a month to make up the $540 they owe. In November, there will be $16 more tacked on to the monthly rent: the Consumer Price Index–allowed increase. What we have here is a monthly increase of $76 to the base rent. Now we’re up to $526, and when you add in the $540 payback amount, we’re talking about $580 monthly rent for 10 months. Talk about greed! There is no compassion here at all. These owners have no respect for our seniors, and by seniors I mean our mothers, fathers, grandparents, the veterans of three wars, and the widows of those veterans.
The park owners have come out with a rent credit program. But in order to be eligible for this credit, the owners are asking to see the monthly incomes of those seniors requesting the credit. This is the information they are requiring: Wages, salaries, tips; interest; dividends; alimony received; business income; capital gains; other gains; IRA distributions; pensions and annuities; rental real estate; partnerships and corporations; trusts’ unemployment compensation; Social Security benefits; government benefits, Section 8; any other income; any other property.
This, mind you, for a break to pay off your rent increases. What a disgrace for these seniors and what an invasion of their privacy. I thought only the IRS could ask these questions. Surely this is overkill for seniors who only rent.
People ask what can be done about this abuse of our seniors. I believe the fight will start in this small town and spread throughout the country. First the politicians have to stop telling seniors how they love and care for them when they don’t fight to protect them. I call upon these politicians to appoint a government agency to make an in-depth audit of these park owners and require them to produce the same detailed financial information they are requiring of their renters. Let the public know just how much of a profit they are making on their investment.
This article is being written to make you, the public, aware of what is going on in this little town of Calistoga. This is only the beginning of this fight. There will be more, believe me.
Before I close, there are park owners who have discovered that people come first and how they should be treated. The new park owner of Calistoga Springs told the residents that for their first two years of ownership, all the rent money was being put back into the park to make it a place we could be proud to call home and to make it a desirable and pleasant place to live. What a lesson for the other two park owners.
Editor’s note: Bill Daly lives in Calistoga Springs Mobile Home Park.

Friday, September 30, 2011

HELP! Mobile & Manufactured Home Owners need ANSWERS!

Why my deep concern about manufactured/mobile home living environments? Keep reading. I will bring to mind the idea that MANY of our country’s citizens are headed toward retirement. How are we going to house them?

As a BabyBoomer, I know that living on a lowered income because my retirement portfolio took a dive is inevitable; social security is not enough to keep this countries retired population going, and affordable housing is in such high demand that we cannot possibly keep up with it. Even the statistics of extremely low, low, and moderate income households cannot possibly have been gathered quickly enough to keep up with current reality.

In my youth, we talked about the benefits of living in communes. Many people in the 1960’s did so. Now, in 2011 and beyond, I think we MUST consider revising these ideas but maintaining the central concept...community living. I live in a senior Mobile Home Community. As you all may know, my home is NOT mobile. It cannot be moved without destroying it. It’s a senior park with many veterans. I am VERY fortunate to be living in one of the very few parks left in the state where the park owners still live here...the owner is 97 years old and we are all extended family to her. I wish I could say the same for other parks in the state and our nation.

Mobile home owners are seeing very alarming things happen. First, mobile home parks were purchased by large corporations throughout the last 10-15 years. They want the highest returns possible on their investments to continue as it did before our economic collapse. With absolutely NO regulation except weak rent control ordinances in some areas of the state, most of which are being legally challenged, especially in our coastal areas, seniors and veterans are being economically evicted from their homes right now. Where are they to go? What part of our society is responsible for them...soon to be us?

Mobile home owner groups have sought to understand the mandates for affordable housing in our state. Of course, nothing is ever as simple as we want it to be. But we are all in agreement that resident ownership of the land under our homes is the only real solution to the “monopoly” we live under. Our research has uncovered some very interesting facts that I am compelled to share.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling on the use of eminent domain by local governments to take private property for public use. Although the ruling was made in 1984, last year, 2010, the State of California’s Legislative Counsel upheld the ruling in a letter to a legislator stating, “..we are of the opinion that the acquisition of a mobile home park through the use of eminent domain is a permissible for the purposes of increasing the supply of low and moderate income housing would constitute a permissible public use for purposes of the California Constitution and The Eminent Domain Law.”

We are struggling as to how we can implement this Supreme Court ruling to save ourselves. Who can we turn to? When I asked for help from our statewide MHOwner groups, they don’t know what to do either. Can anyone from HCD, HUD, or any other agency or private party help us by answering the questions we have about saving ourselves, our seniors, our veterans...and even low income families who can still afford a mobile or manufactured home as long as their payments are affordable? Where can we turn to enforce this Supreme Court ruling?

ANY and ALL assistance that can be provided will be greatly appreciated and shared with mobile home owners throughout the state. We are organizing. We are a grassroots movement. We need the help of people who are in positions to serve the public at large and not special interests. We need solid information and direction. Thank you to anyone willing to provide same.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mobile Home Parks in California: Economically Evicting Seniors & Veterans from their Homes

I live in a mobile home park in California. We are fighting many battles with park owners who are economically evicting seniors, Veterans, low income families alike. They seem to want to redevelop their land to some other use, especially at ocean side locations.

We have several statewide mobile home owner groups and the question regarding what the Federal mandates regarding "Affordable Housing" in the cities of California seem to come up frequently. Would you please tell me how to access what those statistics are? We hear the term "Affordable Housing" tossed around by park owners and city officials, too, but the real facts and numbers remain a mystery to us.

MANY mobile/manufactured home parks & communities have been purchased by big corporations (like ELS, Sam Zell, on the "big board" stock market) and continue to legally challenge the areas of our state that passed rent control laws in the past. These legal challenges are costing the Cities so much money in legal fees that they are beginning to cave in and rescind their rent stabilization laws...referring to this as de-control. What can we do in California, and nationwide, to preserve mobile/manufactured home living?

Our homes are definitely NOT mobile. That is a term out of the past. With Baby Boomer retiring, and will continue to do so, aren't mobile/manufactured home communities a great place to provide affordable housing? How can we get MORE of this kind of community built and avoid the predatory owners who are economically evicting us??

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Coastal Mobile & Manufactured Home Parks at Risk...

According to a recent phone conference Manufactured Home Owners Forum members participated in, there are over 700,000 Manufactured homeowners in California. Our central question is always, "What is BEST for Mobile Home Residents?" The answers to that question are what guide us. We have no ulterior motives since we are all in the same boat!

Our MHOF group has been discussing coastal MHParks for some time, including the situation at Oceanside. The recent comments from the staff from the City of Oceanside, must be taken very seriously by all of us. The following are facts that need to be laid before all mobile home owners in Oceanside, especially in Laguna Vista, as well as MHResidents throughout the state. Supporting facts and documents are available on request.

1) The U.S. Supreme Court issued some decisions that support Cities using their ‘taking powers’, when necessary, to move the ground beneath mobile homes into the ownership of the homeowners/Residents.

2) The State of California Legislative Counsel issued an Opinion in Feb-2010: “…we are of the opinion that acquisition of a mobile home park through the use of eminent domain for the purpose of increasing (preserving) the supply of low-end and moderate-income housing would constitute a permissible public use…”

3) Various State Codes support mobile home parks going into Resident Ownership, i.e., Government Code 65583 – Housing element (7) (c) (4): “…shall…” “Conserve the existing affordable housing stock.

Based on our research, here are some of our determinations:

(A) The State mandates preserving affordable housing.
(B) With the land purchased by residents, housing costs before and after will remain nearly the same.
(C) The City does not have a choice as to the above, per the Supreme Court Ruling referred to above
(D) The voters must go to the elected Council members, and the press, not to city employees such as the City Attorney or City Manager. Educate Council members as to what the homeowners now know and demand the City follow the law.
(E) Members of MHOF are aware of various laws that allow homeowners to pay all cash to the Seller (no Bonds), enjoy no re-assessment of the real estate taxes, offer the owner of the ground tax benefits only that Residents can provide.
(F) Benefits go to all parties:
(i) Eliminate ‘cost of living’ of housing cost.
(ii) Eliminate Predatory Financing, i.e., 5% v. 15%.
(iii) Enjoy Peace of Mind – no threat of owner eviction by subdivision or de-control.
(i) Get out of the controversial/litigious Rent Control situation.
(ii) Comply with the mandated ‘preserve affordable housing’.
(iii) Use, if they wish, the 20% set-aside funds for affordable housing without an exposure to a long-term subsidy situation.
(i) Receive a ‘fair price’ for their property. Certainly equal to or probably better than an investor would pay.
(ii) Enjoy a tax benefit.
(iii) Move into an investment that is without controversy/litigation.
(i)Compliance with State Law.
(ii)Eliminate the expense to the taxpayer to subsidize low-cost housing.
(i) Compliance with Federal Law.
(ii) (same as (ii) above.)

We view this situation as a war. We want Residents to win the war! The “win” is our ownership of the land. Anything else is a divergent activity, or just a ‘battle’. We don’t need to waste our time, money, and energy on battles when we can win the war. It appears to us that you folks at Oceanside can win a battle (at Laguna Vista) and help Oceanside and others in the State Win this War!