I write this article to provide CoMO-LAC members, especially those you are also GSMOL members, an insight into GSMOL. I feel I am qualified to write this article as I have spent much time going to GSMOL Board of Directors’ meetings, I personally formed and chaired a committee of eight GSMOL managers to write a “Recommendations Report” that was submitted to the leadership of GSMOL in July 2004, made countless suggestions to improve GSMOL, have attended the 2002 and 2004 GSMOL Conventions, was 0159 Chapter President for two years, Associate Manager of the San Fernando Valley, and have talked with and sent countless emails to GSMOL members, managers and Board members over the last four years.
If you read THE VOICE, you know I attended the Golden State Manufactured—Home Owners League (GSMOL) 2006 Convention in Costa Mesa on January 20th through 22nd. About 75 delegates from around the State of California came, along with perhaps another 75 observers. This year was almost a carbon copy of the 2004 Convention. I had suggested for this Convention GSMOL allow delegates and others have time to network among themselves —- what better time since we are all together. I also suggested that GSMOL have a “round table discussion” between board members and attendees to frankly discuss issues and get feedback from the GSMOL leadership. Neither suggestion was implemented, i.e. NO networking, NO roundtable two-way discussion of issues.
I have continued to speak to the board and other active members and managers about such issues as GSMOL’s Enforcement Legal Fund (ELF), GSMOL membership and financial problems. I have taken this position because my friends, my neighbors, and I have counted on GSMOL to lead the fight for our rights. After all, as written in the GSMOL Bylaws, the purpose of GSMOL is “to promote the general welfare of mobilehome owners in the State of California.” Today we face more serious issues in our parks than ever before. We need a strong GSMOL to lead in the enforcement the laws that protect our rights where we live, in our parks and communities. What better way to promote our welfare. Even GSMOL President Steve Gullage has written “The Mobilehome Residency Law is just paper without enforcement.” And we have written to GSMOL explaining that CoMO-LAC will work with GSMOL towards this goal
My concerns with GSMOL are not unfounded. A case in point: GSMOL has often had lengthy articles promoting the benefits of ELF to its membership. ELF funds collected from GSMOL members were to help members with legal fees. ELF seemingly is the silver bullet to enforce the Mobilehome Residency Law; however, I believe it was introduced to bolster a declining membership. The main issue with ELF, as I see it, is WHO will be covered and who is eligible to get funds. The February 2002 Californian published the criteria to fund ELF: “For homeowners in a single park to qualify for legal representation from the fund, they must have an active GSMOL Chapter, and a membership of at least 75 percent of the residents contributing to the fund.” And No funds would be disbursed until the fund reached $250,000.”
Between 2003 and 2005 I was the President of my GSMOL Chapter. My family and I worked hard and reached 50% membership in our chapter; however I quickly realized it impossible to have 75% membership, especially with a group that was pro-management in my park. Why has GSMOL spent over 4 years promoting ELF when it was destined to fail – members couldn’t meet eligibility requirements and the cap was too high. Thankfully GSMOL has now changed the cap to a more reasonable $100,000. And the fund can now be activated because the cap has been met. But leadership continues to refuse to discuss the issue: “who is actually eligible to get funds?” And new criteria to fund ELF have not been published. Yet GSMOL continues to ask members to donate to ELF. And worst of all, ELF has not helped one single mobilehome owner in its 50 month existence! Not one! After over 4 years!
Enforcement of our MRL and other laws that protect us is critical. Why hasn’t GSMOL been enforcing the laws all along? GSMOL could have used a portion of members dues, couldn’t they? Or the Legal Fund which has been available all this time. Shouldn’t we expect more of GSMOL. I think so!
Of course GSMOL has a wonderful volunteer network—I too was a member as the San Fernando Valley Associate Manager for GSMOL. This team goes out to help mobilehome owners and continues to do a good job. It’s too bad that GSMOL leadership does not give them more tools.
I’ve often heard, take a more active role in your community, vote, make a contribution. Well I now see that more clearly. Mobilehome owners must take an active role in their defense. Belong to an organization you know something about. Belong to an organization you believe in. Learn about the organization—keep an open mind. Don’t join just because it accomplished something 10 years ago or because someone tells you to—get the facts yourself. Get other’s knowledgeable opinions about it. Examine what it does and how it will address your needs. If your need is more legislation, then join GSMOL—that’s what they’re doing and where they spend their money. If you need help in your local park or community, perhaps you should think about joining CoMO-LAC. We are dedicated to helping you where you live. We want to give you the tools so you know either the answer to a problem or where to turn for an answer. We want to educate you as to what is happening in other parks. Perhaps the articles on Rent Control in this issue will strike a nerve – you might be facing a similar problem. Call CoMO-LAC and we will give you the information to get in contact with others who have had a similar problem. We are not interested in lobbying in Sacramento to get more laws, we strongly feel we need enforcement of the laws we already have. And actually there are many upper echelon GSMOL managers who agree.
It is my hope that GSMOL and other groups will see the value in working with, not against CoMO-LAC. So far I must report GSMOL is very upset about CoMO-LAC going statewide and feels threatened that CoMO-LAC will take members away from GSMOL. But let’s look at the facts. There are about 5,000 mobilehome parks in the State of California, with about 650,000 spaces. If one considers two adults per space, that means there are 1,300,000 owners statewide. GSMOL has a membership of about 1.5% or 20,000 members. CoMO-LAC is not targeting GSMOL members, we are targeting all mobilehome owners, especially those who need our help, in parks who know nothing of any organization helping them.
As President of CoMO-LAC, my agenda is simple. I want to see CoMo-LAC make a difference. I want to assist mobilehome owners stand up for their rights by giving them the tools THEY can use to defend their rights. I’ve supported and worked hard for GSMOL. Why? Because we all need a strong GSMOL. We all need effective laws that DO protect our rights. That is obvious. But I’ve seen the hardships mobilehome owners face in their parks. It seems as if many mobilehome parks are not apart of our great country. It seems many of us live in a foreign place, where the landowner can have his way with us. He often intimidates, harasses, and violates our rights. This IS NOT the American Way. And I feel it will continue unless YOU and I stand together. One person or one group CAN NOT do it alone. If you are a GSMOLmember, write Tim Sheahan, our new GSMOL President. Suggest that GSMOL identify and network with all groups helping mobilehome owners. And ask Mr. Sheahan to help spread the word we’re here to help. Doesn’t it make sense all advocacy groups promoted each other? PROMOTE CoMO-LAC!