Why is organizing so important? The answer is simple. Individuals have little or no power. Usually they don’t know or understand the laws that protect them, nor do they care to learn. Individuals usually believe they have only four options when trouble arises: a) Ignore it, b) Try to handle it themselves, c) Hire an attorney or d) Ask an advocate organization for help. We believe (d) could provide the best option, provided advocates started working together and communicating.
There are many local organizations, in such cities as Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Oceanside, Hayward, Santee, San Marcos, Yucaipa, etc. It is difficult to know which ones really help those they serve. One glaring issue – usually these groups do not communicate with anyone else. They are little “independent kingdoms.”
What little communication usually comes from the state-wide group; however who wants to be told what to do by someone 500 miles away that doesn’t know your community?
Putting All Our Eggs in One Basket Isn’t Working
Let’s face it, advocacy organizations are not created equal. Of course, there is the state-wide organization (GSMOL); however GSMOL focuses the majority its resources on Sacramento and simply can’t do it all. It is not equipped to handle many park level problems. Our suggestion: Give POWER BACK TO THE PEOPLE! Let local organizations be the “go to guy” for local problems. Let GSMOL continue to focus its efforts in Sacramento where it has the experience and expertise.
In our opinion, the “putting all our eggs in one basket” approach hasn’t and isn’t working. Giving a few people all the power has it’s obvious pitfalls.
Do you feel you, today, are less protected and more vulnerable than ever before? We do and why is that? Partly because of the continuing chaos with advocacy. Residents looking for help are often discouraged when they find there is no one they can turn to. And residents feel they have no say. This leads to apathy and resentment. Advocates can do better and MH owners deserve no less. Let’s give the People the Power! The people know where their problems exist. Let’s help them brainstorm solutions.
And remember, we are MH owners first and foremost. Sure, some of us belong to an organization or two. But helping protect MH owners should be our absolute #1 goal. No one should lose track of that. We should not focus just on our organization or our title. If we are successful helping our friends and neighbors, our organization will be successful. Our organization should be a means to an end, not an end in itself! That’s where many advocates go wrong.
Another issue is most residents are really in the dark. If there were a census made today of 1,000 random MH owners across the state, most might even say they are happy, without any problems. Experienced advocates know better, especially if they live under rent stabilization, i.e. the real problems may not surface until one ties to sells his or her home.
This New Approach Promotes Working Together – Power to the People!
So how can we get everyone working together? Well, it won’t be easy, especially with those egos wanting power and control. But if everyone keeps an eye on the prize, i.e. helping MH owners protect themselves, we think we can get the ball rolling and make positive progress.
Today, most organizations are oblivious to the others. For instance, there are at least five local organizations (Oceanside, San Marcos, Santee, Escondido and Chula Vista) in the greater San Diego area and neither knows what the others is doing. The area did have a “regional organization” named COMPAC, but COMPAC closed it’s doors sometime ago.
This lack of communication has a fix. Create a “Regional Organization” in which all local organizations participate. Let them share ideas that work, let them eliminate those ideas that don’t. After all the park owners are organized. Western Manufactured Communities Association (WMA) does a good job providing all it’s member owners with information and support. MH owners need the same!
The Nuts & Bolts
Regional Organizations (R-Orgs) would be the glue that holds an area together. And MH Life would be the means for everyone to communicate. Local groups could use MH Life to publish what’s happening in their local area, what they are doing and their accomplishments. This way everyone learns. And the Region really becomes a Community!
So what are the nuts and bolts:
a. Every R-Org would be incorporated as a 501(c)3 and would apply for a tax exempt status with the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board.
b. The R-Org would recommend every park be organized. Each local group (like SMOAC in Santee or the SRMHOA in Santa Rosa) would have a representative in R-Org. Those residents and/or parks not represented by a local group would be assigned a “representative at large,” so they too will be represented in the R-Org. This way, everyone will have a say and everyone will be connected. Details would be worked out as groups are formed. However, much of this structure is already in place. See next page for Organizational Chart.
c. All organizations in a region, whether local groups, HOA’s or just recreational groups would promote membership in the R-Org.
d. In turn, the R-Org would fund the park groups, local groups, MH Life, a legal fund, and a lobbyist in Sacramento based on the number of members in the R-Org.
e. Finally all R-Orgs across the state would be represented in one state-wide group. That group would act as an advisor, and would receive minimal funding, thus R-Orgs would be the “go to group” for their specific areas.
The chart at the right is a simplified view of the proposed organization. The BOD for the State-Wide group would come from the BOD of all Regional Groups, like Orange County or North Bay.
The chart shows the San Diego Regional Group’s board would include a member from the Oceanside, San Marcos, etc.
It also shows the Chula Vista group would include members from each of the parks in Chula Vista. The Santee group would consist of members from Santee parks. Everyone is represented.
You get the idea. In fact many of these local groups already exist and have been serving their residents for years. However they do not work with other local groups in the area, for the most part. This new approach gets everyone working together.
Here are some advantages of this type of organization:
a. Every resident in every park will be represented.
b. Every group, whether a park group or local group, is represented and gets funded. There will also be a legal fund, and funding for a lobbyist in Sacramento.
c. All groups and individual residents will use MH Life to keep the Community informed. All parks and all residents will receive a monthly MH Life magazine.
d. There will be more uniformity. Every group will abide by the same Code of Ethics. There will be less division among groups. This arrangement promotes everyone working together – talking, brainstorming, finding solutions to problems…
e. Organization leaders can use Skype or ooVoo to video conference from the comfort of their homes, getting more done in less time.
f. This arrangement puts resources where the problems are, not in some far off place that doesn’t even know you exist. Local residents’ membership and donations fund local groups which in turn solve local problems.
g. Since there will be a eight or so Regional Organizations around the state, there will be a balance of power.
h. There will be checks and balances. Residents in a region will have the power to have their leaders replaced if they are not doing a good job.
i. Many more residents will receive MH Life; thus they will be educated and informed. They will have someone to turn to in case of trouble – in fact they will have the park group, the local group, and the regional group all working for them!
j. The state-wide group, as an advisor, will identify state-wide problems and suggest resources be used on solutions, whether it be legislation or something else.
Making It Happen
Sure, it will take some work to make it happen. Initially we have broken the state down into 8 regions: 1. North Bay/Sacramento, 2. Bay Area, South Bay and East Bay, 3. High Desert/Los Angeles/South Los Angeles, 4. Orange County, 5. San Gabriel Valley /Riverside/San Bernardino, 6. Hemet/Yucaipa/Palm Springs, 7. Greater San Diego and 8. Central Coast – San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. Of course there are other regions, but this is a start. Who is getting the word out? Manufactured-Home Life will get the word out and work with advocates around the state to form R-Orgs.
Code of Ethics
We suggest anyone in a leadership position sign a Code of Ethics. MH Life and others will work on such a Code over the next 30 days and will publish the Code in the December MH Life magazine. No more politics. No more bad-mouthing. Everyone working together! MH owners deserve no less.