Greedy predators are methodically chipping away at our ability to survive as mobilehome residents. Consider the tenacious assaults in the courts and the incredible sums spent to influence state legislators in a well organized and heavily funded effort to attack our way of life.
Park owners, many of whom today are moguls and major corporations, have their hired guns going after even the most fundamental protections we have, from local rent stabilization ordinances, to forced condo conversions, to the current attempt to have the state declare non-HUD approved mobile homes “unsafe and unfit for in-place sale.” This includes all mobile homes manufactured prior to 1976 could not be sold on their lot.
That chilling proposal sent a reminder of the dark days of yesteryear when community owners were allowed to block sales of homes older than 17 years of age. The Golden State Mobilehome Owners’ League (GSMOL) fought to get protective laws passed in the early 1980s and as a result, homeowners in California continue to enjoy the right to sell their homes in place, so long as those homes meet the health and safety codes. But the threats continue.
Individual residents and their local organizations have little chance of defending their lifestyle against the threats. Local governments sometimes take up the battle, but not necessarily for the rights of park residents. Although, there may be some common interest at stake, bottom line, cities and counties are fighting for their special interests and we may be just friendly observers along for the ride. If it gets down to a negotiation between local government and the park owner’s team of experts, our interests will not be fully represented at the table, unless we have hired legal counsel, and most local resident groups do not have the resources to hire competent representation on a continuing basis.
What support do we have? CoMO-CAL and GSMOL are expressly committed to the protection of mobilehome residents.
They have limited paid help and are funded exclusively by membership dues and donations. As can be expected, it is rather expensive to provide capable and consistent legislative and legal counsel to combat the huge resources of the opposition. Without a healthy membership, our main source of resident support is placed at serious risk.
Unfortunately, all mobilehome park issues involve abstruse legal issues that are difficult for most residents to comprehend. They are at a loss to interpret how their lives might be affected by the threats.
Even if a resident family includes a son or daughter who is a successful attorney, they still need specialized expert representation in matters affecting their mobilehome lifestyle.
Be aware, well-meaning activists and hacks, like me, cannot fill the gap and replace reliable legal analysis and counsel. In fact, we can actually cause harm when residents rely on unprofessional and amateurish interpretations of complex legal issues and government codes.
The only way we can successfully fight the predators that are lavishly funded by park owners and deep-pocket investors, is to help the groups that rely on us exclusively for financial support and grass-roots involvement to protect our lifestyle and financial well-being. Residents should think about the savings in rental outlays and the many thousands of dollars at stake in preserving the equity in their homes. They should consider the stakes when asked to contribute a little time and effort and a few dollars to fight the battles – almost always for their personal benefit.
For years, many of us have taken their protection for granted, but now it is crunch time and we need to step up to the plate. The old stories do not hold up: “residents just cannot pay more,” “there’s too much apathy and complacency,” “folks don’t want to get involved,” and some fear intimidation and retaliation from park managers, and so on. In reality, there are few that can’t afford memberships and to give a $5 bill for the legislative and legal funds and find a couple of additional members. And there may be more who can afford $50 or $100, or more, to help preserve their lifestyle.
Here at Palm Springs View Estates, where we do not have a hired gun, we particularly need the legal expertise to protect our interests. We need to think professional partnership . . . partners we cannot afford to lose.
Renew your memberships, or join up now. Get your neighbors to understand how critical it is to keep our support groups alive and active.
— Bob Slagle, Resident of Palm Springs View Estates (currently the subject of an appellate court case regarding a forced conversion).
Please refer to the PSVE Website at: http://www.deserthomefront.com/