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 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!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Calimesa City Council revisits Mobile Home Rent Control Stabilization program with capacity crowd

Published: Thursday, September 22, 2011 11:08 PM PDT

In a well-attended public hearing at Calimesa City Hall on Monday, Sept. 19, city council held its regularly scheduled meeting, with two agenda items regarding adoption of an annual rent control fee for mobile home parks and proposed amendments to the Calimesa Municipal Code of mobile home rent stabilization ordinance.

The first item included a public hearing and consideration of adoption of resolution 2011-13, establishing an annual registration fee on regulated mobile home parks to fund the administration and enforcement of the city’s Mobile Home Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Making the total monthly amount from each mobile-home space, $3.59, of which $1.79 would be paid for by the park owner and $1.79 to be paid for by the mobile home owner, as discussed at the meeting on Aug. 15, which was held at Mesa View Middle School.

“The goal of this meeting is to hear from you,” said Mayor Ella Zanowic. “There are some ground rules. Please keep it civil and on point.”

Assistant City Attorney Amy Greyson began by reminding council they directed staff to set a public hearing and to impose an annual registration fee of per mobile-home space. The annual amount of $43.08 per mobile home space was calculated in the recommendation. The fee would be paid for by the park owner who would in turn collect from each individual mobile home resident.

In the background information in the staff report, it indicated there are eight mobile home parks in Calimesa and 1,286 mobile-home spaces — 987 of those spaces may be subject to the ordinance.

Based on 2011 registrations, there were 699 spaces under the ordinance. The remaining 288 spaces are currently ex­empt from rent control provisions because they are on long-term leases.

The council then heard from the public, primarily park owners who were objecting to the ordinance.

In part of his objections, Big Oak Garden MHP owner Den­nis Sullivan said, “Park owners receive no benefits from this ordinance. How are we gonna collect it? Monthly installments instead of one payment at the beginning of the year (would be better).”

Park owner Marilyn Green was also against the ordinance and the payment collection.

“The fee should be paid 100 percent by the residents and directly to the city,” said Green. “Why should the burden be on us to pay your fee?”

Other park owners voiced similar concerns.

“I don’t live in a park but our city is a great place to live,” said Calimesa resident Linda Molina. “A lot of people are affected by the rent control. They really don’t have any ot­her place to go. I’m glad we have the ordinance. We have to consider the number of people who can not afford to live somewhere else.”

One speaker said the registration fees would protect the park residents. City Attorney Kevin Ennis addressed the council, “In our experience registration fees are very common. In terms of collection, that is your decision.”

Also discussed was potential late fees for the mobile home owner.

Councilwoman Joyce McIn­tire said she is whole heartedly against the late fee imposed on a mobile park owner. She referred to the $1.70 fee as buying a loaf of bread, and the residents need that money.

“As Kevin mentioned, the late fee is a policy decision,” said Greyson. “You can direct us to modify the language.”

Ennis added in terms of the one time annual payment to the city, it would streamline the payment.

Council Member Jim Hyatt asked if the parks collected the fees and the city could do monthly installments versus the yearly payment as indicated in the report.

“Because we’re telling a private owner how to collect their fees,” said Hyatt.

Council member Jeff Hyatt said he would agree to monthly installments and “some sort of penalty so it keeps people on time with payment.”

After much discussion about late fees, Mayor Pro Tem Bill Davis made a motion to accept as written with the addition that it is collected on a monthly basis by the park owner, with no additional late fees.

The motion passed unanimously and it will go forward to staff who will amend and bring back the issue at the next meeting.

The final item on the rent stabilization issue was on proposed amendments to the code in which city staff recommended that city council.

Ennis said it was primarily to update the language and to do so resulted in lengthening both ordinances.

Plantation on the Lakes owner Ron Hanson was against the amendments.

“We’ve been here 25 years as one of the premiere living communities. Why is this being done — 56 pages of regulations? I know it’s too complicated for you to understand. I hope that you have the leadership to do the right thing.”

Other upset park owners spoke against the amendments.

City Clerk Darlene Gerdes said, “We held a workshop in February with park owners and residents, also in June. They have been included in this process.”

“The problem is that we have two sides,” said Hewitt. “It’s not as simple as it seems. We can’t pull out any miracles here. We have threats on both sides.”

McIntire motioned to adopt the ordinances with a few changes. It was passed, four to zero, with Hewitt voting No.

The revised ordinance will also come back at the next meeting.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Monterey County: Marina City Wins approval for Rent Control; Awaits final Vote on Oct. 4, 2011l

Some mobile home residents have sought measure since early 1990s
Herald Staff Writer
Updated: 09/22/2011 01:29:43 AM PDT

By a bare majority late Tuesday, the Marina City Council gave a long-sought victory to activists seeking rent control in the city's five mobile home parks.

A majority made up of Mayor Bruce Delgado and Councilmen Frank O'Connell and David Brown voted to give a preliminary OK to the "Mobile Home Rental Stabilization Ordinance" after a two-hour hearing.

Council members Nancy Amadeo and Jim Ford opposed the measure, maintaining the stance they have had since the city began putting together the proposed ordinance this summer.

Some Marina mobile home residents have been asking the city to enact rent control since the early 1990s, but their efforts previously came up short.

"It's been a lot of years," Delgado said immediately after the vote. He said he believed the proposed ordinance would be fair both to mobile home residents and park owners.

But Manuel Vieira, a representative of the Marina mobile home parks, blasted the measure as being "fiscally irresponsible" and "a special interest pet project" pushed by the council majority.

In an email shortly after the vote, Doug Johnson, regional representative of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, said, "It's too bad Marina taxpayers will have to foot the bill for this type of incompetence and fiscal mismanagement."

However, several mobile home residents urged the council to pass the measure, saying it was time for the city to enact protection for mobile home residents.

"Thank you for having the courage to even look at this," said Patty Cramer, one of the leaders in the rent-control campaign.

A final vote to adopt the ordinance is scheduled for Oct. 4, and if it wins approval, it would take effect 30 days later.

Consultant's advice

During Tuesday's hearing, much of the dialogue was between council members and city-hired consultant Kenneth Baar over fine-tuning portions of the 25-page rent-control measure.

At Baar's recommendation, the council agreed to raise the allowable annual rent increase park owners could charge from 80 percent to 100 percent of increases in the Consumer Price Index.

That would make the measure stronger from possible legal challenge, Baar said.

The measure would impose a fee on mobile home residents under rent control to pay costs associated with administering the program, which would put disputes before an arbitrator.

At first, Brown suggested a $10 monthly fee, but several mobile home residents said that would be too high. And since possible costs associated with the program aren't nailed down, the council decided to leave the fee amounts to a follow-up measure.

Baar estimated it would cost about $10,000 a year to administer the rent control program, and an arbitration hearing over contested rental rates would likely cost $10,000. Litigation costs would be far more, but he said most of the 90 California cities and counties with mobile home rent control have faced little litigation.

Testimony from residents

Mobile home residents offered divided testimony in earlier hearings. Many argued that mobile home owners, many of them seniors and others living on fixed incomes, are at the mercy of park owners.

Others contend the measure would only affect about 100 of the 399 spaces in Marina mobile home parks because the majority of residents now have separate leases setting rental rates.

But advocates argued that some of those residents were forced into the rental agreements, and when their leases expire, those residents, too, would be protected against large rent increases.

Fears of increases

Amadeo said she heard from two mobile home residents, deeply afraid of rent increases, who encouraged her to support the measure. She pointed out with the annual allowable CPI-based rent increases and monthly fees, the ordinance wouldn't prevent rents from going up.

Baar said the courts would throw out any measure that simply freezes rents. Park owners are entitled to a fair return, he said.

Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or

Trailer Parks as Models for Affordable Housing

“Trailer” is to “rural” what “McMansion” is to “suburb.” But in Santa Monica, trailers are being transformed into something decidedly urban.

A well-designed trailer park might seem an oxymoron, but the much-maligned building typology has a lot of potential for an appealing alternative to more conventional low income housing. No surprise to see this happening in the particularly enlightened City of Santa Monica—the work it has done with resource conservation should be a model for any resource-challenged city—which purchased the Mountain View Mobile Home Park to preserve it for affordable housing a decade ago. Los Angeles-based Marmol Radziner Prefab won the contract to transform the park’s aging trailers and mobile homes into stylish and sustainable homes.

In collaboration with manufacturer Golden West Homes, Marmol Radziner recently completed half of 20 planned mobile homes in the Santa Monica trailer park. The low-income rental units (available to those who earn 80 percent or less of Los Angeles County’s median income) show how good design and manufacturing can co-exist—and be sustainable, too. Dispelling preconceived notions about trailer homes, these modest yet attractive models are constructed with formaldehyde-free wood products and come equipped with renewable energy sources such as a 2kW solar photovoltaic array that sends energy back to the grid. In April, the first residents moved in to the transformed neighborhood.

Better known for its high-end architectural modernism in Southern California, Marmol Radziner enjoyed the challenge of designing with constraints—of which there are many. Designing a series of homes rather than the one-off typical of most modern prefab helps bring down costs through economies of scale. But that scale brings its own challenges: Land zoned for mobile home parks is typically limited in its capacity to support high density, mixed-use communities, since the parks have designated spaces for units and often do not allow multi-unit or multi-story housing. But there is still hope for the urban trailer park, as firm principal Ron Radziner explains. “The best model for new development is to repurpose existing mobile home parks that may be in good locations, but have low quality, out-of-date homes, and upgrade them to modern, green homes,” he says. The firm is currently exploring new markets and opportunities with its partner Clayton Homes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Contra Costa Coungy OKs emergency waterline to Marsh Creek Road mobile home park

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Contra Costa Times

Updated: 09/20/2011 05:21:23 PM PDT

The owner of a remote mobile home park on Marsh Creek Road outside Clayton cannot be compelled to hook up the homes of a dozen landowners along the route of its emergency water pipeline.

The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously rejected a lower panel's demand that a water district upsize a line to accommodate the residents who live between the end of the existing pipe and the Clayton Regency Mobile Home Park and require park owner, General Electric, to foot the bill.

In 2007, county health inspectors declared a public health emergency at the mobile home park after a series of failures of its water system.

In what was supposed to be a temporary fix, the park began trucking in water daily for its 280 residents.

Contra Costa Public Health Director Wendel Brunner, who ruled four years ago that the use of trucked water leaves open the chance of contamination during transport, warned supervisors that he will be forced to shut the park and evict the residents unless he sees substantial progress toward construction of a permanent source of clean water.

The supervisors' vote clears the path toward the installation of a 4-inch, 3-mile pipeline for the sole use of the mobile home park.

The intervening landowners along Marsh Creek Road who have been denied access to a pipeline that will be constructed in front of their properties expressed frustration and anger.

"We are not rolling over and we are not

going away," said Harry Williamson, a Marsh Creek resident since 1973.

"You have to realize that General Electric ... has very deep pockets," added homeowner Walter Molina. "They can afford to put in a larger pipe. They can afford to put in fire hydrants. They can afford to make peace along that stretch. They can afford it, and I don't understand why you aren't sticking it to them a little bit and making them pay."

Supervisors were sympathetic to the residents' plight but said they could not force General Electric to pay the extra costs associated with a bigger pipeline.

"All of you have the right and ability to pursue (and apply to) the Contra Costa Water District ... to obtain your service," Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho told the residents. "I get that it is expensive. I understand that. But it's not General Electric's responsibility to be Robin Hood."

The board was acting on an appeal of a July decision by the county Planning Commission, whose members ordered the construction, at General Electric's cost, of a pipe large enough for all possible uses, including the intervening landowners and fire hydrants.

County planning and legal staff said the bigger pipe would trigger a costly and lengthy full-scale environmental analysis, attract significant environmental opposition and lead to the delay, or the possible rejection, of the emergency waterline to the park.

Councilwoman angered by conditions, rent prices at El Monte mobile home park, San Gabriel Valley

EL MONTE - Councilwoman Norma Macias is speaking out against what she calls "shameful" conditions at a local mobile-home park.

Macias recently visited Brookside Mobile Country Club, next to Mountain View High School, after receiving complaints from some residents of deplorable conditions and exorbitant rents.

The councilwoman said she intends to do whatever she can, including raising the issue with her council colleagues, to support residents of the park.

"What is taking place here is nothing short of criminal, to take advantage and gouge these people," Macias said. "I, for certain, want to make an issue of what is going on here. We need to do our best to protect our residents."

Officials with Tatum-Kaplan Financial Group, which owns the park through its subsidiary Brookside Investments LTS, declined an interview request for this story. The park's management company, Mobile Community Management Co., a Santa-Ana based group also owned by Kaplan, responded with a fact sheet about the property and company.

Macias, who is considering running for the new 32nd Congressional District, said mobile- home residents are naturally placed in a tough situation when it comes to renting spaces for their homes. Despite the name, mobile homes are often difficult to move because they are damaged or a transfer is too costly. Park owners take advantage, Macias said.

"These people are stuck," she said. "The landlord knows these people are stuck. It really breaks my heart."

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said his family has lived in the community for more than 30 years and has seen their rent skyrocket.

When they first lived there, rent was $100. Now, it is $1,160 a month "just for the dirt," he said.

According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey, the median rent for apartments and homes in El Monte from 2005 to 2009 was $1,003.

The man said he would move from Brookside but doesn't have the money.

"It can cost $10,000 to move one of these," he said. "We live on a fixed income, and (the landlords) know it. It is all for the money."

Some people have moved away. Walking through the more than 400-space mobile home park at 12700 Elliot Ave., it is easy to tell the park has numerous vacancies. Bare, gray cement slabs are scattered throughout as homes have been removed or transferred. Other homes have been left behind, now boarded up to prevent transients from squatting.

"They have an astonishing rate of vacancy," El Monte redevelopment attorney Dave Gondek said.

Roads are cracked and in one area of the park a former retaining wall is broken and buried beneath a hill of sand.

The park's poor appearance also stems from some residents' lack of concern or an inability to perform maintenance, officials said. Some homes are cracked and worn, and others have overgrown brush and weeds.

Police Capt. Santos Hernandez said police and city staff helped an elderly resident by cutting back overgrown shrubs in the back of her property.

Code-enforcement officers said they are reviewing the property, including the retaining wall, but had no determinations on violations.

Rent control

Like the feudal system in medieval England in which a free man owned his cottage and a feudal lord owned the land and charged a fee for using it, most mobile-home residents own their homes but rent the land beneath the property.

Renters at the Brookside property said rent ranges from $1,000 to $1,500.

Officials with other local cities said mobile-home spaces rent for about $800 or less. Glendora has rent control that keeps rents at about $800. Advertisements show rents in Palmdale, Riverside and Pomona for more than 1,000- square-foot lots are about $450. The Whittier East Community rents lots at $593 a month. In Laguna Beach, a 2,400-square- foot lot is advertised at $1,876.

Unlike Glendora, El Monte doesn't have rent control because of a 1990 ballot initiative. That same initiative also prevents the city from even trying to revisit the issue, which was passed with the help from the owners of Brookside, the Tatum-Kaplan Financial Group, Gondek said.

In 1988, in an effort to stymie rapidly increasing rents for mobile-home parks, the City Council adopted a rent-control ordinance, Gondek said.

It established an avenue for rent review between tenant and park owner with mediators overseeing the review.

Park owners challenged the ordinance with a referendum, but narrowly lost.

Two years later in 1990, the Tatum-Kaplan group, led by Jeffrey Kaplan, brought forth an initiative that proposed to abolish the rent-control ordinance, Gondek said. The selling point of the new plan was rental assistance for low-income senior citizens. Those who qualified would receive a 10 percent discount on rent.

Voters passed the ordinance, and it has been the rule of law ever since.

And if the city ever wanted to challenge it, it couldn't, Gondek said. The redevelopment attorney said Kaplan's team was "clever," and within the language of the voter- approved ordinance, the city is forbidden from contributing any staff time or city funds toward efforts to overturn the law or establish rent control.

For the city to get involved, a new ballot initiative must overturn the law to free the city, Gondek said.

"The language of the ordinance pretty much puts the city of El Monte, as a unit of local government, in a straitjacket," he said.

Tatum-Kaplan's history

Anderson said he is familiar with the Tatum-Kaplan Financial Group, the firm that owns numerous mobile-home parks under several business names, including Brookside.

"They have a tendency to look at the bottom line. A lot of them are that way," he said.

Jeffrey Kaplan and Thomas Tatum own Mobile Community Management Company. Although that company runs Brookside, the land at Brookside is owned by First National Finance, another organization run by Kaplan and Tatum, according to company officials and the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office.

Kaplan, a lawyer who heavily invested in the mobile- home business in the 1980s, owns more than a dozen mobile-home parks in Southern California, according to records from the California Secretary of State's office.

He purchased the Brookside park in the 1980s and initially leased the land, including a 2.1-acre parcel from El Monte Union High School District, city officials said. He later bought the property, including a 2004 deal to buy the school district property for $450,000, according to the purchase agreement.

Kaplan also led a failed state initiative in 1996, similar to the El Monte ordinance, to do away with rent control for mobile homes.

Kaplan and his companies have had their share of lawsuits regarding mobile home parks. Kaplan, Tatum or Mobile Community Management are named in 11 civil suits in San Bernardino County dating back to 1998 and another 10 in Orange County from 1989 to 2010, including fraud, unfair business practices and breach of contract.

A lawsuit has also been filed by residents at Brookside, but attorneys representing the group did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Objecting to rent increases, some Brookside residents formed an association in 2008 and threatened a rent strike, according to the fact sheet provided by Mobile Community Management.

In 2009, about one-third of Brookside residents filed a lawsuit against their landlords after meetings with them dissolved, according to the sheet. Park managers deny any wrongdoing, according to the fact sheet.

Residents disagree.

"They are finding the fastest way to get money out of people's pockets," a resident said.

HEMET: Firefighters provide 'invaluable' assistance with alarms to Mobile Home Owners

10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The first mobile home that Hemet fire Capt. Bill Herder entered Tuesday morning had a smoke detector that was 40-something years old, had no battery system and was hard-wired into the home's electrical system.

In a matter of weeks, the Hemet Fire Department will replace that unit, and others, at no cost to residents.

On Tuesday, nearly two dozen members of the department, most off duty, visited the Hemet West Mobile Home Park and inspected 83 homes in the 771-unit park, checking for working smoke detectors. Every resident who signed up for the service got the batteries replaced for free, and those with faulty units will get a new device paid for, and installed, by the department.

The funds will come from the Hemet Firefighters Association's charity account, not from the city.

Tuesday's event was part of what the department hopes will be an ongoing tour through the city's numerous mobile home parks, where many of the residents are seniors and are physically unable to fix the devices.

"I think the citizens see a tremendous value in it and appreciate it," Hemet fire Capt. Steve Sandefer said. "This is part of what we do."

Five mobile homes have caught fire this year, according to department call logs.

Firefighters on Tuesday said mobile homes tend to burn quickly and, because they often are close to one another, fire can spread fast. Since older residents may not be able to flee a structure quickly, every second of notice given by a smoke alarm is important.

"It's a mobile home park; they tend to go 'poof!' and you have less than three minutes per house," said Larry Graves, the Hemet West homeowners association president, who helped organize the event. "And we don't want blue-haired ladies on stepladders trying to change batteries."

The department hopes to tie its tour to the months around the spring and fall daylight-saving time changes, which is when many officials recommend changing smoke alarm batteries.

Hemet West resident Sue Howard said one of her detectors was working, but was too quiet to be heard throughout her home. The department will soon replace it, and she is grateful.

"I think this is wonderful," she said. "This is invaluable."

$2 Million For A Double-Wide Mobile Home? That's Malibu For You

The word is spreading about the $2 million — in cash — paid recently for a double-wide mobile home in Malibu, Calif.

Since AOL Real Estate reported the news last week, the story's been picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle and others. The home, as Malibu Real Estate Blog reports, has a great view from a bluff above the Pacific Ocean, two bedrooms, two baths and a two-car garage.

The rest of the story, so to speak, is that there's something of a trend.

As The Vancouver Sun reported earlier this month:

After some down times for Malibu mobile home sales in 2009, "there has been a rebound at these mobile home parks located in world-famous Malibu, home to numerous celebrities. Sale prices at Paradise Cove [one mobile home development] reached as high as $2.5 million in the past year, and at Point Dume [Club] a sale is pending on a two-bedroom home listed at $1.25 million."

These lines in the Sun's story particularly stand out:

"What is being sold in these gated communities is not so much the luxuriousness of the homes but the views and easy walk to the surf. The price does not even include the land — as is common at mobile home parks, the lot the structure sits on is rented.

" 'You are not buying land, you are buying air,' said Paradise Cove newcomer Gina Carlson, who moved into her 1,500-square-foot, $645,000 home in June."

At Paradise Cove, though, you are buying "access to a private beach, tennis courts, a children's playground and a clubhouse," as the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2008. And at Point Dume Club, there's "a pool, a large spa, saunas, tennis and basketball courts, a clubhouse and proximity to Point Dume State Beach."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Manufactured Home Communities: Affordable Housing for Baby Boomer Retirees?

How is this country going to provide affordable housing for the millions of Baby Boomers getting ready to retire? Many people no longer count on the retirement funds they paid into. The economic melt down changed everything for most of us. But, there are still Federal mandates for affordable housing in every community in every state. How is California going to meet these requirements?

Many California residents in mobile/manufactured home communities are being economically evicted from their homes by predatory park owners, many of which are anonymous LLC Corporations, owned by multiple other corporations, etc., etc. One of the largest companies with the WORST reputation for treating their residents and their communities in the most heinous ways is publicly held with investors earning dividends from seniors and Veterans trying to survive on Social Security and miiltary pensions. Why? Where are they to go? When tracking down motivations one might conclude the underlying basis is greed, plain and simple. How much is enough?

The land many of these parks are located on was purchased in the 1960's and 70's for their serene surroundings for retirement and recreation. Now, ocean side property, mountain property, outlying areas of cities and communities are in high demand by those who want to re-develop the properties for higher revenue projects. Again, where are residents to go? And, how much is enough?

Our mobile and manufactured homes are NOT mobile. Our homes are our investment in our futures, just like stick built homes. Now that more and more people are in need of affordable housing, and those numbers will continue to grow, perhaps our cities will think more seriously about helping mobile home residents purchase the land their homes reside on.

Right now, more and more affordable housing communities are needed to provide safe housing for retirees as well as families. Local cities, counties, and even the State, should be ready to help residents by standing up with us against blatant corporate greed and help us purchase the land under our homes. This is the only REAL solution in sight.

New manufactured home parks and communities need to be developed to meet affordable housing needs. It's time for all of us to wake up to the reality we are already living in. We need affordable housing. Mobile home parks and manufactured home communities seem like such a good answer to California's needs. Let's share our ideas with our state legislators, our County Supervsiors, Mayors, City Councils, our friends, and our neighbors!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

OCEANSIDE Mobile Home Parks: Truth in government

What is truth? Truth, as defined, the true or actual state of a matter, conformity with fact or reality, a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle or the like: These are commonly accepted meanings of the word "truth" with all the values that pertain to it.
With all the political-speak lately, it seems the truth has eluded some and has been thrown away by many in our city government. The elected should be required (by law if necessary) to only present and speak the truth. Not the truths that their sponsors provide, but the truth as to what is really being done. The council majority would probably not recognize the truth, and if it did not serve their interests, their lips would not allow it to come forth.
In the next months, there will be much in the media about the truths of vacancy decontrol, ie. Rent DeControl. Do not accept that Oceanside City Council Members, Jerry Kern, Jack Feller, and Gary Felien speak the truth. They speak for the benefit of a very small minority of folks who live mostly elsewhere.
Bob Ryan

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MURRIETA: City puts age limit on manufactured homes

Thanks to a new Murrieta ordinance, bars and senior citizen communities won't be the only establishments to enforce an age limit.

Members of the City Council unanimously decided earlier this month to ban mobile or manufactured homes 10 years or older from moving into Murrieta.

Per the new ordinance, which was approved during the Sept. 6 council meeting, a mobile home owner wishing to relocate to Murrieta could not bring the home if it is 10 years or older on the moving date. The ordinance, however, won't affect homes that are already in the city.

In her report discussing the issue, City Planner Cynthia Kinser said the new ordinance will ensure that neighborhoods remain appealing and that the homes are safe for residents.

"The city now desires to limit the age of manufactured or mobile homes," Kinser wrote, "to promote and ensure the aesthetic quality of neighborhoods, to minimize the devaluation of communities due to upkeep and repair, and to maintain safe building standards for occupancy of manufactured homes."

City Building and Safety Director Allen Brock said that although the city does not inspect the interior of manufactured homes ---- mobile homes are inspected by the state ---- the building standards typically are not as stringent as the latest standards imposed on conventional homes. He said the more lax standards for manufactured homes could jeopardize safety.

"Do we really want a really old mobile being moved into the city that may present a hazard?" Brock said. "Not just for the occupants, but for the neighbors. If they're moving into the Spring Knolls community where we have a lot of mobile homes that could be disastrous."

Ritch Purcell, former president of the Spring Knolls Homeowners Association, which is the largest mobile home park in the city, said the ordinance would benefit Murrieta mobile homeowners.

"It is a good idea; it really is," Purcell said in a telephone interview Thursday. "The value of a neighborhood is determined, in part, by the average age of the home in the neighborhood. If people were allowed to bring in a home that was over 10 years old, it just reduces the value of the community."

Purcell said this is another move by the City Council that has greatly benefited the homeowners in the three Knolls communities: Spring Knolls, which has 384 homes, Warm Spring Knolls, which has 215 homes, and Golf Knolls, where 512 mobile homes are situated.

In 2009, the City Council approved waiving a $10,000 fee charged to residents who wanted to replace their mobile homes with models even a foot larger than the digs they had outgrown. Now mobile homeowners are allowed to replace their homes with models that are up to 720 square feet larger without being charged the fee.

And earlier this year, Purcell said, a visit from Councilman Rick Gibbs resulted in the city repaving a gnarled street at the west entrance to the three communities that had been tearing up the tire tread of the Knolls residents' tires.

"They came out a couple of months ago and tore the whole thing up and put brand new cement and didn't charge the association anything," the 15-year Knolls resident said. "We get real good response when we get a hold of the City Council."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mobile-Home Residents Make Buy-out Offer, Laguna Beach
s 4 terraces home 1  3668 300x200 Mobile Home Residents Make Buy out Offer

Belt Boyce, right, along with another resident, for years have tried to organize a buyout of the park.

Residents of a 130-unit mobile home park have for the first time made a formal offer of $41 million to buy the property when and if it’s sold.

The potential sale of Laguna Terrace Mobile Home Park at 30802 South Coast Highway has percolated for years, delayed by litigation and contested decisions.

Sean Schlueter, a 10-year resident spearheading the purchase offer, sent park neighbors a copy of the letter of intent, which was agreed upon and signed by Boyce Belt, the park association president. Seventy-three residents supported submitting the letter to the park’s owner, Stephen Esslinger; 18 opposed.

“This is a letter of intent to see if we have a willing seller,” said Schlueter. “The interest rates are as low now as they’re ever going to be. We’ll never know unless we ask. At least our hat’s in the ring.”

The offer is good until Oct. 6, Schlueter said, who added that he and the nearly 400 park residents expect a written response.

Schlueter owns his mobile home on the hill across Coast Highway from Treasure Island beach park and would like to buy the lot beneath its wheels. So do 54 percent of the park’s other residents. Schlueter was a founding member of the park’s association, which he said was established to purchase the mobile home park and convert it to a nonprofit, resident-owned property. Park residents agreed to the idea four years ago. This is the first time a formal offer has been made to Esslinger because earlier ownership was in contention among family members.

Esslinger, whose grandfather developed the park, has proposed subdividing the property for individual purchase, but that plan has been stymied by the California Coastal Commission due to a question over lot lines and natural waterways.

The purchase price is based on a 2007 appraisal of the property, according to documents. Schlueter said all leases will be protected and lot purchase is not required to continue renting at the mobile home park.

Belt said he expects a response from Esslinger or his attorney, Boyd Hill, within the next two weeks. Esslinger and Hill did not return phone calls seeking comment nor did the park’s general manager, James Lawson.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mobile-home rent hike request rouses Santee

Park owner says it’s needed, renters say they can’t afford it

— With 12 mobile home parks providing housing for some of its 55,000 residents, Santee seems to be a welcome place for those looking to live in a manufactured home.

The city has specific rent-control guidelines that it adopted in 1994 to protect residents who own mobile homes and rent the land beneath them and to safeguard owners of the properties as well.

Santee Mayor Randy Voepel, who has long been a champion for people who rent spaces in local mobile-home parks, now finds himself in the unusual position of defending Cameron’s Mobile Estates on North Magnolia Avenue, which wants to raise rents significantly.

“The Cameron family has kept their rents low for many, many years,” Voepel said. “If the rent is too low and the formula allows, they may well be able to raise it.”

Diane Mead, who lives in a manufactured home in Cameron’s, moved to Santee 5½ years ago, “because rents were going out of control” in San Diego.

Mead is president of the homeowners association in Cameron’s and one of many in the 303-home park who are concerned about a letter they recently received from a law firm representing Cameron’s Mobile Estates noting that the owners are seeking a rent increase that would go into effect Jan. 1.

Nearly 100 residents gathered at a scheduled homeowners meeting the night of the blackout in San Diego County to figure out to respond to the letter, which states that the Cameron family is submitting an application to the city of Santee for an adjustment in rent, “to receive a just and reasonable return on the park property and prevent an illegal taking under the state and federal Constitution.”

According to a spreadsheet provided by the city, residents of Cameron’s Mobile Estates pay an average of just more than $357 per month for a space on the property. That is the lowest rate in Santee, according to city figures.

Cameron’s application to the city asks for an average rent increase of $557.64 “to maintain the net operating income earned by the park in the 1989 base year, adjustment.” The net operating income is tabulated to cover utilities, insurance, water and sewer, grounds maintenance and other costs.

“Alternatively,” the application to the city notes, “an increase, on average of $422.19 to bring space rents for all spaces within the park to $750 per month, per space for all spaces of the park.”

In a prepared statement, the mobile park’s chief executive officer, A. James Moxham, said the Cameron family “(is) a long standing Santee family that (has) built their homes, businesses and live here and remain a very private family today. Their desire for privacy has resulted in their unwillingness in the past to seek a rent adjustment, which would allow them a fair return on their investment over time as contemplated by the Santee ordinance.

“The continued deterioration of Cameron’s Mobile Estates (Park) financial position necessitates the request... The family does not seek any repayment of the millions of dollars in lost rent over the last 21 years.”

Tom Romstad, mobile home rent control administrator for the city, said Santee’s ordinance is designed to protect people from unreasonable increases from year to year. He said the city permitted a rent increase of slightly less than 1 percent at Cameron’s earlier this year.

“The ordinance has built into it a safety valve for park owners,” he said. “Its purpose is the city not restrict them in their rents to such a degree that it constitutes a violation of their constitutional rights for property.”

Voepel said the city has spent more than $1.1 million over the last 15 years defending mobile-home residents from rate increases.

Mead says residents, many of them in failing health and most with limited, fixed incomes see just one thing: “a 170 percent increase.”

“Residents here are frightened, they’re angry,” Mead said. “Numerous people would not be able to afford even a $25 or $50 dollar increase. These seniors don’t know what to do or where to turn. I understand this is a business but to have 170 percent more profit affects all the seniors. They’ll lose their homes, or they’ll have to sell their homes. A modest increase is understandable, but not this.”

Rents at other parks in Santee range from an average of $445 at Town & Country Manufactured Housing Estates to $715 at Greenbrier Gardens Mobile Estates.

Art Hallman, who has lived in the Cameron’s park for 12 years, is a part-time real estate agent who said he has sold 10 mobile homes in the park over the last seven months. He noted with disappointment that his most recent near-sale fell through because of the current situation. He said he sees more of the same ahead.

“This is a scenario that totally defeats rent control,” Hallman said. “If we lose this battle, we’ve lost rent control.”

The City Council is expected to take up the matter before the end of the year.

Public turns out for Comments on Rent Increase at Yucaipa City Council meeting

Staff Reporter
Published: Thursday, September 15, 2011 11:08 PM PDT
Two-and-a-half hours of public comment opened the city council meeting on Monday, Sept. 12 with a standing-room-only crowd.

One item of discussion was the recent approval of a rent increase for the property ow­ner of Yucaipa Village Mobile Home Park. Residents expres­sed their displeasure with the decision.

Resident Eric Lasser began, “The owner has received a sizable increase in rent. Please, whatever the rent commission does. Turn it back to them. It’s not the responsibility of the council.” Lasser also said the council has not received good direction from the city attorney stating, “In the last three years the counsel you’ve received has been wrong.”

Cheryl Barnett, of Yucaipa Village MHP said, “After we got notice of the rent increase we got threatening letters from the owner. We have toxic carpet in the clubhouse and nothing has been done to improve the conditions.”

Yucaipa Mobile Residents Association President Len Tyler spoke on the issue, “We had to pay $17,000 to defend our position and we have no money left to challenge the decision. You threw residents to walls when you approved the increase.”

Tyler continued, “The park owner failed to provide proof of improvements and it should have been denied. The park is in below average condition and I don’t know why that wasn’t taken into account.”

Resident Brian Lared spoke on the El Dorado Ranch project. “We are afraid it will open up the area to be a trash pit. The Mexican drug cartel has a marijuana ranch up there and we are concerned. Last week tractors started working on the job.”

Lared added, “All property owners including, Five Winds Ranch, Cherrycroft, Bear’s Den, Oak Glen Estates and Sample’s acres are voting no on the entire project including the bathrooms that just started last week. We are all adjoining ranches and we don’t want to see this project continue.”

Jan Leja also addressed the council on behalf of Betty Burkle. “Our main objection to this project is its proposed use. The agreement to eliminate overnight camping was a good compromise, but encouraged trail use will have undesirable impacts on our property including trespassing, damage to our property, lighting and lack of monitoring the restrooms and trails.”

A third item of discussion was opposition to the Wilson Creek Business Park and Basin Project. “We understand the city of Yucaipa wants manufacturing jobs and we also know there is a desire for the Wilson Creek Business Park. The problem is the city is trying to develop the property there for a private business (Ingen Technologies).”

Greg Harrington reported of internal problems at the business and criminal allegations by the company’s CEO. “It doesn’t make sense for the city to partner with a business with so many red flags,” and ended, “We do not want Wilson Creek development.”

Yucaipa Mayor Dick Riddell addressed the crowd at the conclusion of public comments. “The comments on all the is­sues tonight did not fall on deaf ears.”

In regards to the Wilson Creek Business Park objections, City Manager Ray Casey said, “The Second Street extension has been part of the plans when the county ran the area.” Additionally, the drainage component is necessary to get the Dunlap area out of the flood plain. “We could take another look alternative uses for the Institutional component,” Cas­ey said.

“In view of the concerns ex­pressed here tonight, it would be wise to address alternatives in the environmental study,” Riddell said to the applause from the audience and added, “In regards to the Second Street extension, that’s been part of the General Plan since incorporation, but we will look at alternatives for the Insti­tutional part.”

Riddell closed the public comment section with “Again, thank you for coming and just know your concerns have not fallen on deaf ears.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Ugly Trailer Park Across the Water, San Diego

By Ollie | Published Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011

In order to visit a beach community, one must wear ugly sunglasses, so I snatch my chrome Elvis reproduction shades that I purchased in Las Vegas last summer and hit the door. From the 8 West I take the 5 North and get off at Mission Bay Drive. Just off the ramp is one of San Diego’s great outdoor spaces: De Anza Cove. Lush lawns meet the bay’s beach. Full shade trees cast big shadows for the picnickers dragging baby carriages and barbecues. Down a little path that runs next to the water, joggers in bright shiny shirts and chunky shoes bounce along. Oh, it’s pretty. This treasured outdoor space also offers a scenic view of a dumpy trailer park and its dilapidated mobile homes.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve looked across the water and wondered how in the hell a trailer park is still standing in the middle of a beach community, even more so, right on the bay. It’s 2011, and by now nearly every bit of prime real estate has been built up into a skyscraper condominium complex or a ritzy hotel with polished brass dolphin statues in the courtyard. (Why so many damn dolphin statues, San Diego?) Anytime I see a throwback to good taste like this mobile home park, my eyebrows make a V, my head cocks to the side, and my face registers a decidedly “What in the…?” expression, as if I’d just seen a man riding an ostrich. How could this thing escape redevelopment for so long?
Bill Killman has owned his De Anza Cove mobile home since 2000. It has a sunroom, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, and is air-conditioned. He pays about $800 per month for the use of the lot and utilities.

Driving through the mobile home park, I see touches of a nice community intermingled with signs of complete decay. The bulletin board out front reads “Church Service Sunday 10:30 am Bay Club” and has posted “Lilies for sale” and “Come grow your own vegetables. Plots available.” Just beyond the bulletin board are trailers that appear to have only tattered blue tarps for major sections of roofing, and their foundations seem to be made up of shopping carts and bottles. The mobile home park looks like It’s a Wonderful Life before Clarence the angel shows up.
De Anza Cove mobile homes purchased by the City are first posted with “No Trespassing” signs, awaiting their turns to be removed from the lot.

It probably won’t shock you to know that a trailer park in such a prime location has provoked the ire of its neighbors as well as the greedy eye of the City. I’d like to tell you that the City can’t touch it, that this ugly-ass trailer park, thumbing its nose at the superficial beauty and outlandish expense of Pacific Beach, is a permanent fixture, but that’s not true. There has been a fight for this plot of land for decades, and the City of San Diego has been scheming to develop it into a hotel since at least the 1980s. And the City can do it, too. The land belongs to the City. Sort of. It actually belongs to the State, but the State gave it to the City. But not to put mobile homes on. So the State wants it back, but the City… Hang on. Let’s start at the beginning.

Way back between 1939 and 1945, the State of California gave this marshy land to the City “to be held in trust for the use of all citizens of the state.” Isn’t that nice? Of course it is, and of course the City didn’t do that; it did the exact opposite. In 1953, the City leased the land to a developer (you know, like San Diego does) with the provision that the developer put in a tourist area and a trailer park. The original lease calls for “accompanying facilities, businesses and concessions with the written approval of the City Manager.” That sounds wonderful. You can imagine a wide-open park, a little ice cream stand, a boat rental, and Annette Funicello hopping from beach blanket to beach blanket. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

What happened was the developer put in a “trailer park” as requested. But it wasn’t a “trailer park” like you could motor up in your Studebaker towing an Airstream trailer and camp here for a week. It was a “trailer park,” you know, like a mobile home park that contained around 680 units, and about 80 percent of those were made permanent residences. They took this public land and turned it over to developers to use as a private source of income on these mobile home rents, of which the developer would kick back a percentage to the City. It’s an interesting idea to use land as a mobile home park, especially this plot. All you have to do is suck out the marshy muck (birds and fish, right up the tube!), make a peninsula out of sand, pave it, add utility lines, and you’re done with “developing.” No major buildings to construct; just let people roll their houses in and start collecting rent. The City didn’t mind that this wasn’t exactly a “tourist” area anymore, that they had essentially done the exact opposite of what the State mandated for these parcels, because they were scraping a bit of the rent off the top — starting out at 5 percent of the rent that residents paid to the developer/management company. Money rolls in, and everybody keeps quiet that this isn’t “for the use of all citizens of the state.” (Sacramento’s not going to come down here!)

People moved in, set up their homes, and settled down to a quiet life on the bay. They bought and sold the trailers on the land just as anyone does with regular houses. Laundry rooms, a clubhouse, and a pool were put in, the little roads paved and repaved. The people went to work, paid their rent, and in the evenings sat down in front of large console televisions and sucked Hamm’s beer from cans.

And without much notice, in 1978 a bill was passed in California called the Mobile Home Residency Law. We’ll get to that in a minute. What’s far more interesting is just a little skip ahead two years to 1980.

Yeah! The Go-Go ’80s! The greed-is-good era saw Ronald Reagan hand over the economy to the banking industry and stockbrokers take off their nerdy glasses and those green visors and swap their hand-crank calculating machines for shoulder-padded white suits, hair gel, and cocaine. That’s when people started looking at De Anza Cove and going, “What in the hell are mobile homes doing here?”

In 1980, the State Lands Commission conducted a review of the plot and found that it really wasn’t a tourist area for public use. They were shocked to find a mobile home park on what was supposed to be public land and told the City of San Diego to clear it out and make it into the tourist area as the City was supposed to have done 30-some-odd years earlier.

Well, in the previous 30-some-odd years, the mobile homes had become decidedly less mobile. Permanent structures like sundecks and carports were attached to the exteriors of the trailers. Salt air had rusted the steel and oxidized the aluminum into fixed place. And another thing happened: the residents had gotten old. The occupants were now as elderly, creaky, and rusted into place as their trailers.

Recognizing this, in 1982 the state legislature passed a bill called AB 447, or the “Kapiloff Bill” — so named after its author, Assemblyman Larry Kapiloff. The Kapiloff Bill essentially says, “San Diego, you dumb bastards. We gave you this land to use as a tourist area and you made it into a trailer park with permanent residents. Now, get those mobile homes out of there. But (and this is a big but), we know there are elderly residents there, people who have been there since the damn ’50s, so you have until 2003 to save up the money and transition them to other places. If you don’t like it, we’ll take the park back from you and do it ourselves.” (Paraphrased.)

In light of the “take it or leave it” wording of the bill, San Diego envisioned all that rent money going to the State instead of staying here, so the City “took it.” But, they weren’t happy about it and they certainly weren’t going to do what the State told them to do. (Why would they start now?)

The City of San Diego, always acting like a drag queen who’s just had her wig yanked off, took the Kapiloff Bill to the residents of De Anza Cove and started blaming them for developing the land into a mobile home park, even though most if not all of the residents probably had no hand in building the park. Hell, they probably had no idea how the park even got there and what the State of California had originally intended the land to be used for. I imagine a City official hopping out of a Lincoln Continental with the Kapiloff Bill in hand and screaming, “How could you build a mobile home park here!” at a stunned resident in a robe about to pick up the morning paper.
More and more empty lots appear in De Anza Cove Mobile Home Park as owners sell out to the City.

More and more empty ...

Since San Diego could smell the money of development like sharks smell blood in the water, the City started eyeballing the spot for a swanky new hotel. This is the part where the City transforms from “bumbling and corrupt” to something akin to the villain in a Scooby-Doo episode. The day that the California State Assembly passed the Kapiloff Bill, San Diego laid out a plan to jack up the rent. Remember that 5 percent the City was scraping from the management company? The City renegotiated the terms to take 10 percent, 15 percent, and finally 20 percent of the gross revenue collected — effectively quadrupling the rent that the management company paid the City.

Skyrocketing the rent like this had two intended consequences. The first being obvious: the management company would then pass on the rent hikes to residents. And those who didn’t have the wherewithal to fight City Hall would give up and move out. The second consequence of skyrocketing the rent was, of course, to make money on more development. If everyone moved out, the City could build that brassy hotel they always wanted. This little plan of ratcheting old people’s rent and popping up a hotel was supposed to garner the City between $50 and $60 million over the 20-something years from the 1980s until 2003. (If the hotel didn’t get built, according to the plan, the City stood to make only about $42 million.)

Now, let’s talk about that little thing that hardly anyone noticed in 1978. The Mobile Home Residency Law. Every resident in California has some sort of protection from being tossed out into the alley with the trash cans and stray cats. If you live in an apartment, the police can’t kick your door in and yank you out into the courtyard. If you own a house or condo and someone else (including the City or State) wants your house or condo, they have to pay you for it. Since mobiles don’t have land and since they’re not apartments or condos, here’s this thing for them: the Mobile Home Residency Law. Before the owner of a mobile home park can kick residents off the land and change the park into something different, there’s a long process of filing impact reports, assessing how much each mobile home is worth, acquiring permits for this and permits for that, and filing a cavalcade of paperwork. Oh, it’s a huge deal.

The Mobile Home Residency Law also says that if the owner of the park is a city, the city has to pay to move the people who live there. Now, if you’ll remember, the City of San Diego was poised to make between $42 and $60 million on rent from the De Anza Harbor Resort. Everyone knew the end of the lease was coming up; the original lease was for 50 years, and that was way back in the 1950s, and the new Kapiloff Bill stated that the residents could stay until 2003. So, you’d think, in light of the Mobile Home Residency Law, that the City would keep the $40 or $60 million in revenue and pay a small fraction of that to move the residents come 2003. You might even think that the City would follow the law and file the necessary paperwork. Oh, you’re so silly for thinking that. How silly you are. Because of failed business dealings, that swank hotel was never built. The City still collected its rent checks on the mobile home park, but it sure as hell didn’t want to use the money for relocating residents. If the City didn’t use it to relocate displaced mobile home residents, what did the City spend it on? Candy bars and ink pens, for all we know. The City of San Diego has a special talent for blowing money like an investment banker in a strip club. Either way, they say that money’s gone.

And the City still tried to swoop in every few years and take the mobile home park back. Like Huns on a hill, it would declare itself Supreme Ruler of Everything and that it operated under no law. Forgetting that the State originally mandated that this park be left alone until 2003, also conveniently ignoring the Mobile Home Residency Law, the City would charge down with writs and ordinances and mandates and, most of all, the pointy spear of contracts that waive the residents’ rights. Oh my, but the City was always trying to get these poor old people to sign a contract that waived their rights. All the while, if you looked the city manager in the eye you could see the gleam of a blinking “Hotel” sign. Can you imagine? Waiving your own citizens’ rights and handing public land to funnel money to a private business like a hotel? I’d love to take all the little red plastic hotels from a Monopoly game and scatter them in front of City Hall to watch the bureaucrats burst forth from inside and start fighting over the tiny game pieces like starving people fight over nachos. But, I’m digressing. Sorry. Back to the story.

Fast-forward to 2003, the 50-year lease on the mobile home park was up and the Kapiloff Bill was sun-setting and the City had to move those people, so under the provisions of the Mobile Home Residency Law, the City of San Diego gave the residents of the park all the assistance they required to move their homes, or if the homes were too dilapidated, the City paid the residents to have them razed and found them other suitable accommodations. Everything was wonderful, a real spirit of cooperation; bluebirds sang and tied ribbons into the residents’ hair. Of course, none of that is true.

The City came down on the residents of De Anza mobile home park like an ax murderer descending upon a sorority house. Instead of following the Mobile Home Residency Law and having impact reports drawn up and assessments on people’s homes done and all that, they marched armed policemen in and told the residents to sign legal documents waiving their rights to relocation assistance in exchange for $4000 to $8000.

The City fired the old park manager and brought in (I’m not making this up) a company known for its mobile-home-park busting. (Isn’t that an odd niche?) The company, Hawkeye Asset Management, had already busted up a mobile home park in Orange County and was in court for it. So San Diego gave the company a one-source contract (no competing bids) for $300,000 to “manage” the park in the manner that they had managed the Orange County park.

In 2003, Hawkeye, in what seems like a caricature of evil, demolished laundry rooms, cut down trees, shut off utilities like electricity and water to some trailers, erected barbed-wire fences, set up a guard shack, and hired a security company whose armed guards patrol the grounds. Residents who complained were brought into the management office and told that if they didn’t sign the waiver of their rights and take the four to eight grand pittance for their homes, that they weren’t going to get anything — or, worse, the residents would have to pay for the removal and relocation out of their own pockets.

In one incident with the security guard company, a 61-year-old attorney, Dion Dyer, came to the park to meet with his client. The guard interrogated Mr. Dyer as to the nature of his business and asked for his driver’s license. Mr. Dyer told the guard that neither of those things were any of his business and the guard refused to give Mr. Dyer a parking pass. Mr. Dyer, in clear violation of this security guard’s imaginary authority (!), then drove to his client’s mobile home, where he parked off the street in a carport next to the mobile. While inside, Mr. Dyer heard the rumble of a tow truck and went outside to see what was going on. Security guards were waving the tow truck in to hook up Mr. Dyer’s vehicle. Mr. Dyer protested, and the guard threw the 61-year-old attorney to the ground, facedown on the asphalt, and put a knee in his back. The security guard called the police, and when they arrived, they instructed the guard to let Mr. Dyer up. The police never arrested the guard for anything. The tow truck left without its daily catch. Mr. Dyer went back into the mobile to finish out his business meeting with scuffed palms, a crumpled filthy shirt, and bent glasses. While he was sitting there, he began to have chest pains. He thought he was having a heart attack so he went to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with two broken ribs.

At least the police didn’t arrest Mr. Dyer! In a separate case, the police weren’t so evenhanded. As people checked into the mobile home park, personal information was demanded and recorded. The security company then handed that information over to the police as tips to catch criminals. One day, half a dozen sheriff’s deputies burst into a trailer. A woman and her three-year-old daughter sat shaking and terrified as the deputies told her that her husband was under arrest. When the husband got home, the deputies told him that he, David Wesley Rose, was under arrest, and he promptly told them that he was not David Wesley Rose but, rather, David William Rose. What happened next is murky, but I’m assuming the deputies gave out a big “Oops!” and popped off a quick wave as they got back into their squad cars. No one knows if they stopped at the guard shack to retrieve more personal information with which to abuse residents, but I dare say it’s not out of the question. After hearing this story, of course, the residents became leery of giving information to the security company. What other ways would they use that information?

The court documents concerning De Anza mobile home park also include one case of the guards calling the police because of “terrorist threats” involving a retiree standing in his driveway (“terrorism” cells have apparently infiltrated the slippers-and-Bermuda-shorts crowd) and one case of an armed guard shouting accusations of “plant vandalism” in which a woman was watering a rosebush. (What a charming environment to live in. Wouldn’t you love to have an armed guard yank a revolver on your grandfather while he fished around for a pension check in his mailbox?)

Finally, the residents started filing lawsuits. And in its supreme beneficence toward its own taxpaying citizens, the City realized its error and paid them a handsome sum immediately, accompanied by an apology. Nah, I’m joshing you, that’s not true at all. What really happened was the City hired well-heeled attorneys (at quite a pretty penny to you and me, thankyouverymuch) and kept up the psychological warfare of misinformation and strong-arming by the police and security guards. They jacked up the residents’ rent and utilities bill. When they’d coerced 115 residents to give up and leave with very little money to help them move, a representative of the City reported that it saw its campaign as “very successful” and “moving along as planned.” Which makes me imagine a City honcho yelling out from his plush corner office, “How are we doing with that ‘old people, mobile home’ nuisance thing?”

And a secretary answering back, “Oh, swimmingly,” overlooking a stack of papers. “We’ve demolished their laundry rooms, erected barbed-wire fences, cut the trees. We’ve smacked a couple around, called them ‘terrorists,’ shut off their electricity, and next week we’ll begin ‘Operation Pull the Tennis Balls Off Their Walkers.’”

Thankfully, that operation never got under way. The homeowners filed three lawsuits against the City. Last December, one of those lawsuits ended with a victory for the homeowners of De Anza mobile home park. The courts forced the City to recognize that they were out of line in dealing with the residents and ordered the City to pay them $3.6 million. That settlement is only for the mismanagement and harassment conducted while trying to get the occupants to leave. It has nothing to do with the Mobile Home Residency Law, in which the City should pay to move these people — that lawsuit is still tied up in the courts. And while it is, the residents can stay in their homes, “status quo.” That’s why if you drive down to the bay and look across the water at De Anza Cove, even though it was supposed to have been removed about eight years ago, you’ll still see a dumpy, butt-ugly trailer park.

I hope it stays there forever. I’ll repeat that. It would be my sincerest wish to keep this place a trailer park forever. If by some miracle a law were enacted to leave these poor old farts alone, maybe they would stop letting their trailers deteriorate so. Maybe they’d pull down that tarp and replace it with actual roofing. Maybe they’d spruce up the place, kill the termites, drag the trash out from under their porches, and rebuild the sun-battered and tumbledown decks. If they knew they could stay for a while, and we removed the Sword of Damocles from over their heads, maybe they’d paint their mobiles and replant some bushes.

The State wants to tear this mobile home park out and replace it with a tourist area. The City always has its hairy eyeball on the spot for a spiffy hotel that will prop up the dolphin-statue sector of the local economy for a brief moment during its construction. Neither one of them understands what they have here. If they left this place alone or, heaven forfend, if the City cleaned the place up, replaced broken windows, and replanted the trees they cut down, they could use this park as a publicity piece. They could parade it around in front of us, use it as an example of their benevolence. They could put it in reelection ads and point to it and say, “See! We’re not completely evil!”

Then, when someone asks you where you are from, you could say, “San Diego! Sure, our City is arguably the most corrupt in the country and it’s forever squabbling over money with the State of California, which is itself often assholish, but look! Look at what we do with some of our prime real estate! We leave this big plot of land undeveloped. It’s low-income housing and mostly occupied by senior citizens. We painted it up and put flowers in. Isn’t that neat?” And I think that’s worth a lot more than a new hotel.


I say leave the park there. This city has a long history of giveaways to developers... NTC being the most recent example.

Let them stay!

By randiego2 12:47 p.m., Sep 14, 2011 > Report it

This is just another example of how inept San Diego Government really is. Over and over we see how totally bad all aspects of this city administration are. This property should be sending millions to the general fund but instead we get ZIP!. The residents of this CITY PROPERTY were well aware of the fact they would have to vacate [I think it was 2004] and that there would be no NEW RESIDENTS ALLOWED. Illegal sublets are the norm and as usual the city sits on their collective hands and says: OH NO! What are we going to do? Drive around this place and see PERMANENT "MOBILE" homes and dilapidated dumps. I wonder if the City of San Diego can EVER DO ANYTHING RIGHT!. I am waiting a copy of the new book "PARADISE PLUNDERED" to learn who is really responsible for the decline of all aspects of the San Diego Government. Its time for a few "HEADS TO ROLL" and many indictments to be drawn up and the perpetrators finally brought to light and justice. De Anza is only one of a very long list of malfeasance in San Diego. Does anyone care?

By SUNGAWD 4:37 p.m., Sep 14, 2011 > Report it

"The residents of this CITY PROPERTY were well aware of the fact they would have to vacate ..."

Whether they knew it or not, there are laws that must be followed to shut down a mobile home park.

"[I think it was 2004] ..."

It was 2003, which I mentioned in the article like 7 times.

"... and that there would be no NEW RESIDENTS ALLOWED. Illegal sublets are the norm and as usual the city sits on their collective hands and says: OH NO! What are we going to do? Drive around this place and see PERMANENT 'MOBILE' homes and dilapidated dumps."

I'm not sure what you're goin' on about here. Thanks for ranting. Be well.

By Oxenfree 8:03 p.m., Sep 14, 2011 > Report it

Ollie = "All ye"

Oxenfree = "Outs in free."

Is this an ironic coincidence, or WHAT?

Would you keep your property up if you lived in fear of losing it?


PS: "The goddamed human race!" --Mark Twain

By Twister 10:13 p.m., Sep 14, 2011 > Report it

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rent Control/deControl Controversy in Coastal California Cities Continues

Capitola Council delays decision on rent control repeal, again

CAPITOLA - The saga continues.

On Thursday, for the second time in two weeks, the City Council was scheduled to vote on a repeal of the city's rent control ordinance but chose to remove the item from the agenda and delay action.

Councilman Mike Termini, without offering a reason, moved to delay the second vote on repealing rent control, which would finalize the decision, "indefinitely."

The rest of the council voted to approve the delay except for Councilman Kirby Nicol, who has previously stated his support for the repeal.

Nonetheless, the council chambers were packed to capacity in anticipation of the public hearing. More than a dozen people spoke in favor of keeping the ordinance, even with the amendments added in March that initially sparked a battle between the city, park owners and residents.

"Thank you for the reprieve, however long it will last," said Surf and Sand Mobile Home Park resident Laurie Beamish. "No one is happy with [the amended] ordinance, but repeal would've had mass destructive consequences."

In March, the city offered to amend its rent control ordinance in order to settle two lawsuits with the owner of Surf and Sand, Ron Reed, regarding the mobile home park rent stabilization ordinance.

In return, low-income residents were to be offered long-term leases, but the residents have complained that the terms of the lease are excessively onerous.

Two 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.

City Attorney John Barisone said Thursday that Reed has filed to include the city as a cross-defendant in the case.

Councilman Sam Storey, a lawyer, said that he understands that emotions are running high and offered to sit down with anyone who would like to discuss sensible solutions.

"There are a lot of practical issues we need to deal with, and it would be helpful for me to see practical solutions coming from you," Storey said addressing rent-control advocates. "It takes understanding of the state of the city, its funding, and its burdens A bankrupt city cannot help anyone."

The city has spent about $1.5 million in the last decade to defend the ordinance from litigation, approximately a third of which came from mobile home park residents through a legal-defense fund.

Publicly, the council offered no insight into what led to its decision to indefinitely hold off on the vote.

During a short recess Mayor Dennis Norton said with the ongoing lawsuit the council members wanted more time to evaluate their options and said a decision on whether or not to proceed with the repeal process would be made within the next two months.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Residents fight increase in Camarillo mobile home park rent

According to Lamplighter Mobile Home Park resident Matt Lorimer, many of the other residents are moving out because of the unfair rules established by the management, and the increase in rent.

When Debra Vogel purchased her two-bedroom coach at the Lamplighter Mobile Home Park in 2005, she paid $126,000 and $725 per month in rent.

When the park in Camarillo changed ownership in August last year she said, her rent increased by $31, and on top of previous increases, she now pays a monthly rent of $881.40. The rent hike has placed her in a financial bind, Vogel said.

Vogel also said that since the recession, the value of her home decreased by 30 percent. Problems with management and owners of the park also have caused her property value to drop another 30 percent, Vogel alleged.

Appearing before the Camarillo City Council at a meeting last month, Vogel implored officials to help her and the other residents of the park.

"At the rate the new owners are increasing the rent, it will be $1,000 at the end of the year," Vogel said. "I can't sell, but I also can't stay. I am only one person in a sea of homeowners, and we are living with heavy-handed management that makes everyone hesitant that any day, new rules would be inflicted upon us, threatening our homes and our budget. "

For months, a group of residents of the Camarillo mobile home park have appeared before city officials to speak against what they said was an "unfair" rent increase approved by the city's Rent Review Commission. The group has asked the council to amend a policy to allow an appeals process against approved increases.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the Lamplighter issue at its next meeting Sept. 14.

Some residents have asked city officials to consider purchasing the park with redevelopment agency funds.

Brian Fitterer, who purchased the park in August 2010 under his company Lamplighter Camarillo MHC, LLC, said he provided financial statements to the Rent Review Commission that outlined the various improvements made to the park since his company took over the property.

The park has 227 spaces with rents from $700 to $950 per month, he said.

"We had the ability to put any increase we wanted, but instead we decided to work with the city," Fitterer said in an email. "Residents don't agree and basically want a second bite of the apple after losing at the rent review. We have dealt with the complaints, but you won't hear any good things from the residents. The fact they want the city to subsidize their lives by purchasing the park for them is ridiculous."

Fitterer said he initially asked for a $55 increase, but agreed to the $31 increase recommended by the commission. He said the increase is warranted after more than $100,000 in road improvements in the park, as well as landscaping and other improvements.

Matt Lorimer, president of the Lamplighter Estates Homeowners Association, said the financial statements Fitterer provided to the commission were inaccurate and overestimated several items, including the landscaping work and the $18,000-per-month property tax indicated in the paperwork.

Lorimer has implored city officials to investigate the commission and consider a policy change that would also require an independent accounting firm to check financial statements that are presented to the board.

"We ask for a review and changes to be made to the commission process because it lacks fair rules and regulation," Lorimer said. "The commission must have a process and guidelines to follow."

Residents also have complained about various rule changes and reduction in services at the mobile home park, including cutting hours of access to the park's car-wash area and getting tickets from park management for parking their car on the street overnight.

"They impose these new rules without even alerting residents that rules have changed," Vogel said.

City Councilwoman Charlotte Craven said the city couldn't purchase the park as some residents requested because the property is not located in the redevelopment area.

"Besides, that's not a service we provide as a city," Craven said. "I don't see us buying any piece of rental property. Also, the state is now in the process of taking away our redevelopment money."

While city ordinances do not include an appeal process on rent increases, residents can bring their complaints to civil court, Craven said.

Lorimer said Fitterer refuses to meet with members of the homeowners association to discuss their concerns.

Fitterer said he does not believe Lorimer represents residents.

"I believe the ultimate goal of Mr. Lorimer and his group is to force us to sell the park at a discount to residents," Fitterer said in an email. "The majority do not agree with this, and it is slanderous statements being put forth by Mr. Lorimer."

Lorimer and some residents hope the City Council can step in and address the issues at the park

"If the city does not step in and help, residents will be pushed out," he said. "The city needs to do their part to help the residents. The city needs to address this now."