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.