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.

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