LOS ANGELES MOBILE HOME PARK TASK FORCE by Frank Wodley

I attended the recent MHPTF meeting held in Van Nuys on January 31, 2007.  It was clear that the park owner representatives were doing their job as they invited several individuals to come and speak before the Task Force, including Peter Underhill of Equity Life Styles (Sam Zell’s group), and an attorney for Palisades Bowl in Pacific Palisades.

Task Force members can introduce agenda items prior to a meeting.  I introduced a list of seven items, two of which are as follows:

  1. One issue in mobile home parks, that I’ve suggested for an agenda item, has been continually passed over.  That issue is the parks interference at time of sale.  This has several forms.  The park may not accept a qualified buyer.  The park may ask a resident to move an older mobile home.  The park may ask the resident to upgrade his mobile home before sale.  The park may allow the resident to sell his mobile home, but require the buyer to move it.  There are more.
  2. Valle Verde Courtyard in Chatsworth recently was notified of a request by the park owner of a pass through.  The owner has one year to submit and prepare his claim.  Residents have only 10 days to organize, research and provide LAHD with a “rebuttal.”  When Valle Verde residents asked LAHD for         information, such as details on any of the items claimed (invoices, areas of the roads asphalted, etc), they were told nothing could be given out until after LAHD had made a decision.  The park already is charging residents the full amount of the pass through – about $20.00 – before any decision was made!  The only recourse then is a hearing after a decision has been made. Let’s discuss this process.

Unfortunately the issue of “interference of sales” was not really discussed, again.  The WMA representatives and park owners were not about to discuss something like this, let alone admit that it does happen.  Those “representing” mobile home owners simply said these are “civil matters” to be litigated in court.  So much for what their own GUIDE says “the MHPTF is established to provide a forum which allows full discussion of issues in mobilehome parks.”

The MHPTF did NOT know an important point about pass throughs.  When the $55 cap is exceeded, the Guide states “then the surcharge period of six years may be extended until the allowable capital improvement expenses are recovered.”  We have printed this before in THE VOICE:   in the case of Indian Hills, Chatsworth, Star Management has been talking with residents about the pending utility upgrade.  If the cost for this project were $2 million, the residents of Indian Hills could be paying $55 a month for  about 11 years plus one to two years for the “surcharge!”

We have been concerned about another issue.  Namely, a park forcing a long term lease onto a prospective purchaser.  This is another tactic by parks to circumvent rent control. We now learn this issue HAS been addressed in the RSO of several cities which allows a “prospective purchaser to refuse an exempt lease.”  Those cities, located in northern California, were American Canyon, Calistoga, Concord, Contra Costa County, Cotati, Fremont, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, San Mateo Co., (Continued on Page 17, bottom)                          (MHPTF, Continued from Page 16) Sebastopol, Sonoma County, Union City and Watsonville.  The source of this information was “Space Number Information from HCD.”  (continued on Page 17 MHPTF)        (continued from Page 16, MHPTF) CoMO-CAL will research this issue with southern California cities.

I feel you need to understand how the MHPTF really works, especially if you are a resident in the City of Los Angeles.  They keep NO RECORDS, and NO MINUTES.  In my estimation, those sitting as your representatives only lend a legitimacy to this essentially DO NOTHING group.    Although their Guide states that your reps are “subject matter experts,” this is NOT THE CASE.  On the other hand, the three representatives from the WMA ARE subject matter experts.  They probably are very highly paid to represent park owners.  Do you think this is fair?  Let CoMO-CAL know how you feel about the MHPTF!   I am torn between staying and leaving.   We need to change the MHPTF, but such an effort takes a group of people.  Get on board, let’s see what we can do!