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.

1 comment:

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