AROUND THE STATE

Torrance: Torrance tried to help park residents

Mike Mauno, before he left the City Council, saw the need of seniors in Knolls Lodge and started negotiations to reduce our rent before leaving office. Our new Mayor Frank Scotto successfully negotiated a rent reduction of $63, fulfilling a campaign promise. Did Kort and Scott and Sierra Corporate Management reduce the rent by that amount? No. they gave us a credit off our total rent statement (including electric, gas, sewer, trash) which leaves the base rent the same for next year’s 3 percent increase come June 1.

Not all residents received the $63 reduction as they should have. If a resident had signed a lease, corporate gave them a reduction of $36 to $53. But so far, no resident has received any reduction going back to June 1 which was agreed upon.

In retaliation the park managers (imported from Arizona, as though no one local needs a job) are now hammering all residents with 14 cleanup notices; issuing mass “rules” violations from parked bicycles, skirting and weeds; rescinding the 10 percent senior discount; demanding building permits going back to 1968 and taking away reserved parking spaces (which were assigned on the purchase of the home) and now charging us $70 extra. Yet it’s perfectly OK for Kort and Scott to neglect their own mobile homes given to them by seniors they have economically evicted by failure to maintain weeds, trash or sand piles, or providing paper towels, toilet-seat covers, soap and toilet paper in the public restrooms.

One resident has the main sewer running underneath her bedroom and for six years has complained of backed-up toilets and gas odors. The new managers now insist she close up the skirting the previous manager insisted be left open to keep the ground dry. The resident now sleeps on the living room couch to avoid the odors.

Phil Shuman on KTTV Channel 11 covered three California parks having the same problems. Sept. 12, Sid Garcia on KABC Channel 7 covered a senior Tustin park where the rents have doubled and the Catholic Church is bringing in food daily to keep the seniors alive. All these parks are owned by Kort and Scott, Sierra Management. Never in my life did I foresee getting caught up in this quagmire.

What do we learn from this? Power and greed are as addictive as crack cocaine and it’s disgusting that the richest, the most powerful and God-giving country in the world offers no protection for these seniors. It’s shameful!

We the residents in these parks don’t fear Islamic terrorists. We fear far more corporations like Kort and Scott and Sierra Management, which thrive on the destruction of human beings!

Thank you, Mayor Scotto. You really tried to help us, but Kort and Scott are so ruthless, they will stop at nothing less than owning Torrance and the whole of California. You know, just like Enron!

— LEO LEWIS, Resident of  Knolls Lodge, Torrance

Owners taking advantage of seniors

Regarding the September. 24 letter to the editor by Leo Lewis I wish to comment on the management company of Knolls lodge mobile home park in Torrance.

Someone failed to teach Kort & Scott financial group to have respect for the elderly. What else would motivate Kort & Scott to purposely hurt senior citizens by raising their rents to a degree of unaffordability, especially for those who are living on fixed incomes? Not only are the rents raised to ridiculous amount, but the park kept in shambles with no change seen in the foreseeable future.

Kort & Scott has just about told the city of Torrance to take a long walk on short pier after mayor frank Scott asked them to give park resents some  relief.  Then continue it pressure knolls lodge residents for more money and continue to provide the residents with less service and worse living conditions.  These guys need to hang their heads in shame, for they just don’t get it.  This is American, not a Third World country.  It is a very sad commentary when the American people are forced to enact laws just to protect us from people like Kort and Scott.

Why doesn’t the City of Torrance hire a lobbyist to go to Sacramento in January to lobby the Senate and Assembly for new laws to prevent developers and the like from taking advantage of this country’s senior citizens, or at least California’s seniors?  That would be a service to all, as all of us will be seniors some day.  Article by William Smalley, Carson Harbor Village, Carson.

Huntington Beach:  Huntington Beach will go to court over park owners’ opposition (to conversion ordinance).

Negotiations have crumbled in a lawsuit challenging a city ordinance that could force mobile-home park owners to pay residents millions of dollars to shut down their parks. Mayor Dave Sullivan on Monday night told a crowd of mobile-home residents that the city would defend the law in court.

Owners of three mobile-home parks are among a group that sued the city in June – less than two years after the law was adopted to protect the city’s nearly 6,000 mobile-home residents and preserve the 17 mobile-home parks as low-cost housing.

The law requires park owners who want to shut down the communities to relocate residents to a comparable park within a 20-mile radius or pay residents the market value of their homes.

Park owners claim the law violates a state law that requires relocation costs to be reasonable and imposes “an extreme and undue hardship,” according to court documents. One of their attorneys, Mike Liefer, likened the law to eminent domain. “It’s a taking,” Liefer said. “The city is improperly … trying to take value from a property owner to implement what amounts to be a public use.”

Now, cities across the state with similar laws on the books will be looking to Huntington Beach to see how their ordinances will stand up in court. A court conference is set for Oct. 30.

Huntington Beach is the just the latest in a string of Orange County cities to consider the threat of mobile-home park closures. Most recently, in March, the owner of Seacliffe Mobile Home Park in Newport Beach decided to close the park, affecting 103 mobile homes, and city officials required the owners to pay relocation costs.

Excerpt from article by JENNIFER MUIR and DAVID LETTIS.  THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

GOLETA: UNDER ONE ROOF .      By Indy Staff, Sept.14, 2006

Santa Barbara tenants who lose their digs due to demolition or condo conversion could soon be eligible for up to three months of free rent or $4,000, courtesy of their landlords, if a proposed ordinance wending its way through the City Councils Ordinance Committee is approved by the whole council. The Ordinance Committee rejected arguments from the Santa Barbara Rental Property Owners, which urged a less generous allowance and exemptions for demolitions involving fewer than five units. (If the ordinance with the five-unit exemption had been in effect, the measure would have provided protection in only three of the 96 teardowns and conversions of the past five years.) Councilmember Grant House sought to include conversions of modest apartments to luxury apartments in the measure, but failed to convince Council members Brian Barnwell and Iya Falcone.

In a major legal victory for the more than 500 trailer dwellers in Goleta, U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper upheld Goletas mobile home rent control ordinance. Rancho Mobile Home Park owner Daniel Guggenheim sued Goleta in 2002, claiming that park residents who own the trailers but rent the land they sit on fetch high prices for trailers located in rent-controlled parks, thereby taking profits that are rightfully his. Judge Cooper sided with Guggenheim in 2004, but reversed her ruling last week in light of two recent Supreme Court decisions Lingle v. Chevron and Cashman v. Cotati that rendered the citys ordinance a legitimate land-use regulation, according to Goleta attorney Bruce Gridley.

Santa Monica: 

Residents in Village Trailer Park are fighting to keep their park open.  The owner issued a notice giving residents 12 months to vacate.  Santa Monica City attorney,      , has come to their rescue.   One elderly resident committed suicide and  left a suicide note explaining he was upset with what was happening with the park, among other things.

Santa Barbara: 

Ron Castillo just wanted to upgrade his mobile home in Santa Barbara, so   he purchased an Advantage home, and it was “down hill” from there.  Full story will appear in next months THE VOICE.Ron Castillo is now renting a $2000/month home and has essentially lost everything battling Advantage Homes.

Pacific Palisades:   Residents of Palisades Bowl have formed a group to fight their Park Owner who has started the process of a condo conversion.  The group is working hard and already have had their cause televised at least twice.  They want all mobile home owners in the City of Los Angeles to support their efforts to get a moratorium on condo conversions.  We support their efforts.

BanningResidents of Mountain Springs have been receiving large rent increases and have formed a home owners association to pressure the City of Banning to adopt a rent stabilization ordinance.  However the City is moving slowly.  If Proposition 90 passes on November 7th, ANY NEW ORDINANCE would be unconstitutional.

Editor’s Note:  Mobile home owners around the state are having to fight to maintain their way of life.  Our only hope is to unite!  Tell your friends and neighbors to join CoMO-CAL and be informed!

NO ON  90