Friday, October 28, 2011

Tools to mitigate mobile home park closure, Santa Maria

Tools to mitigate mobile home park closure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Huntington Beach: Council majority right on mobile homes

October 19, 2011

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

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

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

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

Tim Geddes

Huntington Beach

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Affordable Housing in California-Manufactured Homes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What came out was the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

Capitola ends rent control for Mobile Home Residents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Help the mobile home park residents

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