Op/Ed: Mobile Home Owners Need Help
A Santa Cruz County Mobile Home/Manufactured Commissioner advocates for homeowner protections.
By William Neighbors
Mobile/manufactured homeowner disputes and mobile home park issues are on the rise in Santa Cruz County.
I have had several phone calls from mobile home residents in Watsonville regarding Capitola’s rent control. Watsonville's Mobile Home Rent Control was enacted by the voters, not like Capitola where it was an ordinance and the city council had unilateral control to repeal rent control. Watsonville mobile home residents pay a very small amount for rent control, about $1 per month. This is not a lot of money for legal fees.
The city of Watsonville and the residents have to fight park owners who want
higher profits, so they repeatedly challenge rent control laws. Capitola spent over $2 million in legal fees on rent control.
So, what do we need to do? First we need to build a legal fund so when something happens to us we are ready to take it on. Park owners are challenging rent control laws in three mobile home parks right now that are creating legal fees for the city. I have spoken to two attorneys who represent park residents and they say the same thing: we must build a legal fund.
The county is proposing raising the yearly fee to help with their legal expenses defending rent control. It will be implemented in January 2012 for county residents, only not homes in the city limits.
I think we need to pass a city ordinance to collect a small amount from each mobile home owner per month to build this legal fund. I know these are hard times and people don't like fees or taxes, but we are facing litigation in two parks challenging rent control where park owners are proposing to dramatically double
monthly rents in addition to eliminating existing services in Watsonville.
We need to stop this from continuing throughout Watsonville and believe me it will continue just like it has in Capitola.
Owners of mobile homes and manufactured homes have a lot invested in their homes. Let’s all work together and solve these problems that are occurring. It is up to us, the homeowners, to protect our investments. Everyone should get together at their park association meetings and talk about it. I would be happy to attend your meeting.
William Neighbors is a mobile home owner in Watsonville and a commissioner on the Santa Cruz County Mobile Home/Manufactured Commission.
NOTE: A discussion of rent control and tenant rights will be held at Capitola City Hall on Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. It is open to all mobile home owners.