On Friday July 8, 2005 Frank Wodley, MHPTF Member, sent the following email to Anna Ortega, Assistant Director, Rent Stabilization Program, Department of Housing, Los Angeles regarding suggestions for the July 20, 2005 MHPTF meeting. One agenda item, as per Anna Ortega on June…, was a review of the new Rent Stabilization Guide.
May I make the following suggestions:
- There are at least three individuals, one from Sylmar Mobile Manor (Cliff Kenny), one from Oakridge MHP (Herbert Jensen), and one from Chatsworth Imperial (Richard Ramirez) who want to be on the MHPTF. And there will be others. I suggest time be given when making the final revision to the Guide to include these and perhaps others to want to join the MHPTF.
- That contact information (email, physical address, and phone number) for those individuals who make up the MHPTF be included in the Guide. Also it would be very helpful if the title (park owner representative, park owner, mobilehome owner, or mobile home owner representative) be included. You note I’ve included the category mobilehome owner representative. This designation is not now included in the Guide and I feel to preserve fairness, representatives of mobile home owners need to be included on the MHPTF.
- All mobilehome owners (see note at end of atricle) on the MHPTF would like to see Mr. David Evans replaced as “ombudsman” for the MHPTF. Since 5 of the 7 mobilehome owners are members of CoMO-LAC (Coalition of Mobilehome Owners, Los Angeles County), it is our desire to have CoMO-LAC as the “ombudsman.”
- The Guide should be focused primarily on mobilehome owners rather than park owners. There are 6622 mobilehome owners and only 62 park owners. Park owners, I’m sure, already know the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) very well and know about WMA. This is part of their business. This Guide should focus on assisting mobilehome owners only because they are the ones who usually do not know or understand the RSO.
Also I would suppose the great majority of individuals referring to the Guide are mobilehome owners. It is my desire to distribute the new Guide to many residents in the City of Los Angeles. These individuals should be assisted by tenant’s rights organizations. CoMO-LAC should now be listed before GSMOL and CMRAA as its focus in on LA, not the entire state of California or the San Francisco area. I will provide the MHPTF, at their request, a short paragraph about CoMO-LAC and its goals.
Further I would ask that an agenda be given to task force members in a timely manner and that task force members have more input regarding agenda items. Apparently the agenda for this next meeting is the revision of the Guide. Is this correct?
As a consequence of this email, Anna Ortega replied as follows on Monday July 11th:
Dear Mr. Wodley: The process for individuals who are interested in serving on the mobile home park task force is that the person interested in serving should send a written letter to the Rent Adjustment Commission advising of their interest in being appointed and the qualifications for serving, preferably with a copy of their resume. The letter can be sent to my attention. Anyone who would like to serve should do this with sufficient information to inform the Commission as to why they would be a contributing member of the task force & should be appointed to serve. I cannot emphasize enough that one of the primary requirements for appointment is that potential members must be able and willing to work collaboratively with all sides to discuss relevant issues and propose solutions in a constructive manner. The task force cannot take sides in personal issues or organizational politics. Thus membership in any organization is not a requirement or relevant to participation on the Mobile Home Park Task Force.
The reference guide was in fact largely written by mobile home park residents and is intended to provide general information for anyone interested in mobile home related issues, with regard to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. I do not believe it is slanted towards any particular interest; it is just meant to provide information. The guide is available to anyone who requests it. If you or any member have a topic you believe should be included, or a revision to recommend, please forward the specific item or bring this up at our next meeting.
David Evans volunteered to serve as the ombudsman when no one else was knowledgeable or interested in serving in this role and has done an admirable job for several years on an entirely volunteer basis, assisting many mobile home owners with their issues with park management. He has provided an invaluable service to all parties, including the City of Los Angeles. The role of the ombudsperson has been to assist in the frequent kinds of issues which come up which are not covered by the RSO and over which the City has no real jurisdiction. It has been very valuable to have the services of an intermediary who is knowledgeable and can talk to other parties or can address issues covered under state law. This role is not voted upon by the task force members and the Housing Department is not recommending any change in this role at this time. Again, membership in your organization or GSMOL or any organization is not a relevant factor here. Below is a draft of the proposed agenda for the next meeting. Review of the Reference Guide is one of the items on the draft agenda. If you have any suggestions, please advise ASAP. Thank you. Anna Ortega Assistant Director, Rent Stabilization Division
So, what does this exchange of e-mails mean to you?
- The LAHD wants to keep the “status quo.” The park owners are well represented by WMA officials, who, we presume, are highly paid. It is their business to protect the interests of park owners. We find the following statement in the Rent Stabilization Ordinance Guide “The Western Manuractured Housing Communities Association (WMA) is a nonprofit organization created in 1945 for the exclusive purpose of promoting and protecting the interests of (park) owners, operators and developers of manufactured home communities.”
- “Difficult mobilehome park issues” are referred to David Evans, WMA. This means that an employee of park owners is “helping” mobilehome owners, rather than an advocate for mobilehome owners like CoMO-LAC. Does this make sense to you?
- None of the suggestions in Frank Wodley’s email were addressed at the July 20th meeting!
- And nothing was discussed about accepting recent mobilehome owner applications to become MHPTF members. Is this how you want your LAHD to work? Do you believe it works for your best interest?
Note: Don Brown and Marion Steveson, MHPTF members, have since sent me an emails counter to my statement. I’m sorry and stand corrected—I leaped before I looked. But this too points out a very serious problem with the MHPTF. Your representatives, I feel, should meet and plan strategy outside the formal MHPTF meetings. We should present a unified front, as your representatives. And all mobilehome owners in the City of LA should know who we are and have our contact information. I’ve sent emails to all MHPTF members who represent mobilehome owners. I’ve suggested unity, outside meetings, and communication. This is not happening, as yet. But I feel it must. What do you think? Let us know. (By Frank Wodley, MHPTF Member, CoMO-LAC President