Letter to the Editor
You have made a stupendous blunder with the article on abuse in Mobile/Manufactured-Home Parks. This article is about HOAs in condominium associations or resident owned parks. While there is some truth in respect to those HOAs, it is way off the mark for HOAs in leased/rental parks. Not until the very end of the article is it mentioned that life in the HOAs as described are in “communities” which are run by an HOA.
We need every leased/rental park to have an HOA, which function totally opposite of those described, and this Nevada piece will confuse and frighten homeowners. This piece is a huge disservice to California leased/rental park homeowners and has no place in your publication without explicit explanations as to the differences.
Lloyd Rochambeau, President, Lakeview Mobile Estates HOA
Letter to the Editor
While I’ve enjoyed many of the articles in Mobilehome Magazine, I was appalled that you chose to run “Psychological Abuse in Mobile/Manufactured-Home Parks” in your June 2014 issue. Not only is the situation described by Gary Solomon irrelevant to owners in non-resident owned parks, his characterization of HOA boards as “predators” who volunteer to be on the board to “gain power and an inflated sense of self” is insulting to anyone who works on a homeowners’ association. I’m afraid your caveats that Dr. Solomon doesn’t live in a mobile home park aren’t nearly enough to mitigate the damage done by reprinting this article. In fact, at the very end you write that “the HOA is like a park manager” when in a non-resident owned park the HOA is nothing like a park manager. The park manager has been hired by the park’s owner, not the park residents, so the HOA has absolutely no control over the manager’s actions. The HOA can communicate with the manager, and in some cases, even the park owner, about abuses of the MRL, Title 25, and the park’s rules and regulations (we don’t have “CC&Rs”) by residents and the owner. The HOA can keep residents informed about issues in the park, advocate for residents in their dealings with managers and owners, and in some cases lead the legal charges that have unfortunately become the only way to get park owners’ attention. But the HOA of a non-resident owned park has no power to enforce anything. The only way the HOA can pressure managers and owners to follow the rules is through participation of a large portion of residents in the HOA. I’m afraid that your publishing of this article will damage the already-difficult process of encouraging residents to participate at all, let alone create new HOAs in parks that don’t have them.
Sincerely, Anna Alessi, HOA secretary & newsletter editor Lakeview Mobile Estates, San Marcos
From the Editor
Thank you Lloyd and Anna for your emails regarding last months article about abuse in mobilehome parks. We appreciate your passion to protect the image of resident HOAs.
The HOA Syndrome article was first published in COMO-CAL’s THE VOICE in November 2010 and yes it is about HOA’s in stick-built communities, not about HOA’s in mobile/manufactured home parks. We thought it obvious and our readers would equate Gary Solomon’s HOA Syndrome with the conduct of some park managers. We never thought anyone would think we were actually condeming resident Home Owner Associations (HOA) in rental parks. We were not!
Actually we began the article with an Editor’s Note talking about abuses by managers in mobilehome parks. Abuses such as inconsequential notices, making threats, yelling, and saying “if you don’t like it here, then move.” We also stated that Dr. Solomon didn’t live in a mobilehome park, but in a stick built community. At the end of the article we wrote: The HOA is like a park manager.” In hindsight, we could have been clearer by writing: The HOA (in HOA Syndrome) in a stick built community is like some managers in mobilehome parks. We are sure Lloyd and Anna’s HOA at Lakeview Mobile Estates is nothing like the HOA’s Dr. Solomon is talking about.
Why Publish Solomon’s Article?
So why publish this article in the first place? The answer is simple. Because we feel Solomon’s HOA Syndrome applies extremely well to some mobile/manufactured home park managers. We also wanted to point out that HOA’s in stick built communities are being sued for HOA Syndrome and perhaps mobilehome owners could sue their park manager as well for “HOA Syndrome” abuse. After all, we believe such abuse actually shortens residents lives!
We welcome feedback. In fact feedback often leads to a better understanding. We are sure our readers are open enough to accept a hick-up now and then and we are sorry if some misinterpreted the article, we can see how it could happen. Next time we will take extra care to make sure our readers understand our intent. This has been an opportunity to better explain our position, so everyone comes out a winner.
Not All HOA’s Are Created Equal
Now, on the other hand, just because your park has an HOA is no guarantee that the HOA is acting in your best interest. In fact some HOA’s are created to serve the park owner or management. Some are led by folks only interested in themselves. Some HOAs believe they can censor information. For example, several HOA’s won’t distribute MHMag. We feel they do a disservice to their residents and are no better than many managers who also censor information.
We suggest you take an active role in your HOA and in your state-wide organization. Do not follow blindly. Research to find the facts. Be open to others who might know the truth. Don’t be scammed into thinking someone is looking out for your best interests, when in fact they are not.
A Long History Promoting HOA’s
Please keep in mind that we have a long history of providing accurate, honest information to mhos. We welcome any chance to make our position clear.
In fact we have always promoted the formation of HOA’s in parks. Anyone who regularily reads MHMag and THE VOICE knows we promote resident HOAs. For example just this year:
January 2014, page 8: The Senator Karen Mayne talks about the importance of having a resident organization with good leaders.
February 2014, page 11: (When dealing with park problems) residents need to form homeowners’ organizations or affiliate with mobilehome groups that advocate for mobilehome owners interests and work as a group in dealing with the park management.
March 2014, page 9: (When park owners violate the law,) a solution is to form an HOA, network with other parks in your area and be active.
April 2014, page 11: form an HOA
April 2014, page 14 (SFV issue): We believe that a group of residents are much more effective combatting many issues in a park than just one or two. There is Strength in Numbers. To that end, we feel every park should have a Home Owners Association (HOA) that advocates for residents rights. Mobilehome Magazine can guide your efforts to form your own HOA. It only takes 3-4 residents who want to make a change.
In fact we published Lloyd Rochambeau’s Article “Time to Get Proactive” in December 2013, page 8: First off, I contend that every park should have a homeowners association. If there is a city wide group such as we have in San Marcos, that can be more effective than trying to go it alone.
In the same December 2013, page 9, we offer Tips & Suggestions to form an HOA: Mobilehome Magazine recommends you form a Home Owners Association (HOA) in your park. Here are some suggestions:
a. You need a core leadership group, made up of 3-4 park residents. Volunteers should have a basic understanding of the MRL, should be open and willing to learn, and should be motivated by service rather than ego. Egos have NO place in advocacy.
b. The group need not be formal, i.e. incorporated with the California Secretary of State. We believe simple is better and you can focus on issues rather than protocol.
c. Include all park residents in your meetings and information distribution. You can distribute Mobilehome Magazine once a month with an insert about HOA developments.
d. If you live in a large park, it is helpful to have “block captains” so any flier/magazine distribution work is a team effort.
e. Be an open group. Welcome suggestions and comments.
f. If you have a manager that is an issue, you can have the first series of meetings in a residents home, rather than in the clubhouse.
g. Order an instructional manual from Mobilehome Magazine. We have “how to” guides from two different statewide organizations – Utah and Minnesota.
h. Always have an agenda for meetings.
i. Keep control of meetings. No one likes a meeting where residents are shouting at one another. One way of keeping control is the use of question cards, written by residents, and submitted to the front table.
j. Have specific goals.
k. Use Mobilehome Magazine. We will help.
Update on Gary Solomon
Shortly after we published the HOA Syndrome article (The Voice November/December 2010), we followed up with an article by Harvey Kahn, a Yucaipa Reporter who interviewed Dr. Solomon:
“Most seniors move into mobile home parks thinking everything will be just fine. They don’t bother reading the residency requirements,” says psychiatrist Gary Solomon, who spoke on the phone from the College of Southern Nevada, where he is conducting research on Homeowner’s Association Syndrome (HOA). “People are being abused in parks and communities, to the point where they are being frightened away from their homes. Some seniors are so afraid of management that they hide inside their homes. They unknowingly moved into an urbanized ghetto and often are harassed to the point of illness.”
Solomon said that mobile home parks and private communities (HOA’s) differ only due to “legal arguments.” Residents of both have given up most of their individual rights, says Solomon. “Management knows the profile of each resident, especially seniors who are easy prey.”
Editor’s Final Note
We feel the subject of abuse in mobilehome parks is very important, so we will publish the balance of this interview with Dr. Solomon and much more in the August issue of Mobilehome Magazine. Watch for it.