An Assembly committee (in Sacramento)  recently approved a proposed state law (AB1309) that would nullify local rent-control ordinances and allow unlimited rent increases for new tenants whenever mobilehomes (notice the word “coaches” in place of mobilehome in the article) are sold.   This proposed law is authored by Western Manufactured Communities Association, the WMA.  (Please note: It has not become law, only passed in committee).  AB1309 was listed  on Page 7 of the April issue of THE VOICE,          essentially overlooked and without consequence.  But now we ARE  AWARE!

We feel if this does become law, it will have a devastating effect on all owners of mobilehomes.  For example, we have a Rent Stabilization Ordinance here in Los Angeles which allows parks to increase rents upon sale by 10%.  This means if your rent is $500 and you sell, your buyer’s rent increases $50 to $550.  A $50 rent increase translates into an equity loss (your home is worth less) of about $5,000.  If AB1309 were to become law, there would be NO CAP for new tenants.  Their rent could easily DOUBLE.  Based on our example, their space rent could jump to $1000, a $500 rent increase!      So what happens to your equity and your sale?  YOUR HOME IS WORTH $50,000 LESS!    Not the $5,000 under the present law.  YOU LOSE $45,000 more!  Of course this is an estimate of the effect of AB1309, but let’s not wait to find out when it becomes law.

Remember this applies to areas presently having rent control, with an ordinance that caps rent     increases upon sale.  In all other cases, park owners can already increase your rent to any level.  You are already at their mercy.  Milt Burdick has a column on Page 5 – What can we do to stop AB1309?  Take a look and do what you can to help STOP this truly dangerous new proposed law.

And also remember, this is just one of several challenges to rent control today.  The new “Proposition 90” is discussed on Page 11.  Jerry Brown’s office has given it a Title and Summary.  Watch for the petitions.  Whatever you do, DO NOT SIGN THEM!  We need to stop this before it gets to the ballot in 2008.

 

Political storm clouds gather over mobile homes (AB 1309, AB 1542 & SB900)

By John Howard (published May 3rd, 2007)

Two of California’s most enduring, contentious political issues–rent control and mobile home owners’ rights–are on a collision course in the Capitol. A squeeze play is afoot–but who is getting squeezed?

“Mobile home park owners across the state are converting their properties into condos” to get around rent-control restrictions, says Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa. “This is driving out seniors and working families from low-income rentals.”  It’s also driving out park owners.

Some 700,000 people live in mobile homes across the state, most of them on spaces owned by the park in which they reside. But those parks are dwindling. More than 1,000 have closed down since the 1990s–perhaps 4,800 remain. The reason for the loss is apparent, park owners say: Restrictions on offering the spaces at market value threaten the parks’ profitability, pinch off funds for maintenance and improvements, and discourage investment. More than 100 communities, including the state’s major cities, have some form of rent control affecting mobile-home parks, but it is a patchwork of locally imposed rules. The upshot, they say, cripples the park’s economics.

Those rules have “created disincentives for owners to remain in the business of owning and managing parks and … will continue in an ever accelerating erosion of mobile home park housing stock,” said the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association. The group, known as WMA, represents perhaps 40 percent of California’s mobile home park owners.

They also have created oddities. In affluent communities where spaces are rent-controlled, prices on those mobile homes have gone through the roofs, literally. Home may be ever so humble, but if it’s a mobile home in a desirable location, the home may carry a $1 million price tag, or more, such as at Malibu’s ocean-view Point Dume. The park land may be rent controlled, but the homes themselves are priced beyond the reach of all but the affluent. Even so, they cost less than the multimillion-dollar homes nearby.

But most mobile-home owners don’t live in parks with ocean views–only a handful are perched on seaside bluffs–and nine out of 10 live on land that is owned by someone else. By one estimate, about 200,000 people live in rent-control zones, and many are elderly, retirees or working families of low or modest incomes–the very groups that rent control was intended to protect.

As housing costs in California skyrocketed, the value of the once-modest mobile-home spaces soared, putting further pressure on mobile home park owners to raise prices–and similar pressure on moderate- and low-income residents to fight the increases. Twenty years ago, about 70 percent of mobile home park residents were senior citizens. Today, about half are.

Like the park owners, the mobile-home owners also have aggressive representation in the Capitol, by the Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League. The result is a classic political showdown, the latest round in a political battle that has gone on for years. On one side are park residents being squeezed by steadily increasing rents and conversions. On the other are the park owners.

Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Montebello, wants to allow the space rental to be set by competitive market values when the mobile home is sold. Rents on the other spaces in the park would remain at their existing levels. The bill, which applies “vacancy decontrol” to mobile-home parks only in communities that already have some form of rent control, would provide a “simple, minimally intrusive and stabilizing guideline,” according to WMA. “It is fundamentally unfair to impose the burden of providing affordable housing on the owners of mobile-home parks … condoned and encouraged by the Legislature.”

The group notes that forms of “vacancy decontrol” already exist in some local rent-control ordinances that apply to apartments, and have proven successful. They argue: Why not apply them to apartments? “It’s a balanced approach,” said Steve Carlson, a lobbyist for the WMA.

But GSMOL is not persuaded, and sees Calderon’s bill, AB 1309, as an attempt to head off rival proposals by Evans and Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, which are aimed at blocking park owners’ efforts to subdivide and then sell their lots without being subjected to rent-control laws in a sort of “condo-conversion” for mobile homes. The bills deal with different, but related, subjects, although the driver of all the bills are the limits imposed by rent control.

“[Calderon’s bill] would allow parks an unrestricted ability to raise space rents, which would adversely impact a low-income seller from selling their mobile home. Few mobile-home owners selling their homes would be able to receive a reasonable price if park ownership is subjecting their prospective purchaser to large and unrestricted space rent increases,” GSMOL wrote the Assembly Housing Committee. “[It] would spell disaster for affordable housing in California.”

The Evans bill, AB1542, and Corbett’s SB900 are designed to close what they describe as a loophole in a state law governing subdivision maps. The sale of one space in a mobile home park–typically a resident by the space on which he or she has been living–means the remaining spaces are then exempted from rent-control restrictions. That, in turn, means that the park owner can raise those rents. The bills would keep the restrictions.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP

AB1309?

Have a CoMo-Cal member in each RSO park sign up with the County Register of Voters office as a solicitor of Absentee Voters Ballot request (handout applications to each space)

Picket sights that are collecting signatures (hand out a fl yer about voiding rent control)

Letters to the Editor

Hold meetings in the clubhouse and invite speakers who have knowledge about RSOs and AB 1309, AB 1542,  SB 900 and AB 1111.

Call friends, family and neighbors and encourage them not to be mislead into signing the initiative.

Most of these would apply after the initiative qualifies for the ballot

Start an Internet blog on this issue.

Enter the discussion on “You Tube” and others

Send out TXT messages by use of cell phones (I do not know how to do this)

Call radio talk shows

Get your churches to talk about how this will hurt low income and seniors

Contact “Move-On. Org

Request that your City pass a resolution to oppose this bill AB 1309., especially RSO cities and Counties.

Request other Mobilehome advocacy groups and HOAs to pitch in and help

 

BY MILT BURDICK