This just isn’t working. I’m talking about the life of mobilehome owners in parks where we rent our space. In fact we are in a very unique situation. The fact that we own our mobilehomes, rent the space under them, and are “protected” by the current laws sets us apart. In fact I believe we are very vulnerable and you don’t have to look far to see our park owners working hard to “maximize” their investment at our expense. Where else in America must people just walk away from their homes, without any compensation? And many of these people have no place to go and are without funds.
A few years ago, the issue of condo conversions didn’t exist. Now it should concern every mobilehome owner living under rent control. The issues continue to multiply and the solutions are few and far between. Surely there MUST be something better than band aid fixes.
Presently our system is LOSE/LOSE. The land in mobilehome parks is more valuable if it were undeveloped, i.e. if there were no mobilehomes on it. This is a LOSE situation for the park owner. On the other side, mobilehome owners are in a LOSE situation on a daily basis—rent increases, loss of equity, out of control managers, threats, harassment, intimidation, condo conversions, etc.
If you spent the $10 to read Donald DeVore’s book “Mobilehome Wars” you would realize perhaps the laws that have been put in place to protect us simply are not based on the right foundation. Donald believes that the law should be based on land lease.
I’ve been trying to think “outside the box” about this dilemma and have talked with several people. For starters, this simply is not working. And unless there is some radically new idea, nothing much will change. In fact mobilehomes as we know them today will probably disappear.
Our cities are also “under the gun.” Many are facing lawsuits by the landowners. One example is Equity Life Style and Mr. Sam Zell in Santa Cruz.
Resident groups are also “under the gun” fighting for the lifestyle many of us enjoy. I applaud those groups that have helped their friends and neighbors, some by getting a rent control ordinance.
And now a question. Did you really read THE VOICE this month? I was very surprised that someone had an idea similar to mine. If you missed it, please reread the Letter to the Editor by Ray Newman of Modesto. Ray has been helping the ladies of the Advocates group there.
Ray’s idea: have cities use Eminent Domain to “take” mobilehome parks to maintain affordable housing. Of course park owners would be compensated. The city would “run” the park and residents would continue to rent their space. (This however requires a city sensitive to the needs of its tenants—this is certainly not the case with the City of Palmdale!).
What if cities used eminent domain only in situations where the park owner is abusing his “social responsibility?” What about the city selling the park back to the residents? Ultimately residents should own the both land and the structure; otherwise the issues continue unabated.
It is my understanding that the State of Hawaii used a similar method with all mobilehome parks there. I must do my homework and research this.
Please contact me if you have an “out of the box” idea. And I am always open to hearing what you think. We MUST work hard to turn things around.