TIME IS RUNNING OUT – EDITORIAL
Our parks used to be nice places to live. They were communities where residents were happy, outgoing, and living together in harmony. Managers respected us and we called them our friends. Some even promoted “resident advocacy organizations.”
What has happened?
Today many residents relate their lives in mobilehome parks to life in Nazi Germany. In fact we’ve heard several managers referred to as “Hitler.” Our lives today have NO RESEMBLANCE to life here 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. Managers intimidate, make up their own rules, and alienate residents. They use the “E” word – “I’ll evict you…” Parks are pressuring residents to move their older homes. They are passing through expenses for maintenance (Northridge is a good example).
Who is protecting us?
NO ONE! Housing and Community Development (HCD) only enforces health and safety issues. They DO NOT enforce the Civil Code. And usually local government won’t get involved. We are essentially on our own. When push comes to shove, residents usually move. If we decide to fight, we have to hire an attorney and you know the cost can be many thousands of dollars.
What about GSMOL?
GSMOL has tried uniting residents across the state. In the early 1990’s they had almost 100,000 members and a budget around $1.5 million dollars. They have worked hard to get new laws on the books to protect us. In fact I was a GSMOL Chapter President, Associate Manager and Delegate at two conventions. Those who know me know I’ve fought for more enforcement, a ELF fund that is activated and helping mobilehome owners, and a way to turn around membership loss. I’ve gone to conventions and listened as many have said we have more laws to protect us here in California than any other state. My hope is GSMOL will now team-up with CoMO-CAL in order to REALLY ENFORCE the laws we have today.
Then why is this happening to us?
Simply greed and power. And very few are challenging park owners and management. Managers feel powerful, sometimes for the first time in their life. They strut around with a smile on their face. They know the owner will support them, as will the park attorney, no matter what they do to residents. The park owners know they can get away with most anything they try because residents are not organized and lack funds and the willpower to fight back.
Will this trend reverse itself?
NO WAY. Many park owners are networked together. They are advised how to make the most profit, and how to take advantage us for their own gains. What do they have to lose? Why not try to get someone’s home? Why not try to evict them? Why not try to get them to move their home out of the park? After all, the park can always back down and try the scheme on a more vulnerable resident. They have seen their profits increase using many tactics. They have become more powerful and rich. At our expense.
What are park owners doing today?
Reading just one issue of the VOICE should alert you that park owners across the state are working hard to eliminate any protections we have today, and further curtail our rights. Step by calculated step, we are losing. With every new set of Rules and Regulations, with every lawsuit to eliminate rent control, with every long term lease, with every out-of-control manager. WE ARE LOSING. Our friends and neighbors are moving, they have had it with life here. But that’s just what park owners want us to do! Give in and not fight. Just look how hard they work to keep us divided. Look how hard they work so we won’t communicate with each other! That’s how they keep us in line.
Why won’t residents get involved?
Most mobilehome owners have NO IDEA what’s happening around the state. They don’t know how hard WMA is working. They don’t know they’re part of a “grand plan.” Of course they only want to live in harmony with their neighbors, following the rules of the park and paying their rent. Unfortunately this is not enough today. Park owners want more! Yet, residents don’t want to be involved and feel someone else is working hard to protect their interests. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. If you live in a park where you rent your space, you are vulnerable to the whims of the land owner. YOU ARE INVOLVED.
What can you do?
Join an advocacy organization and take an active interest in it. Make sure it is addressing your needs as a mobilehome owner. Make sure you are informed. You may not feel a need today because your life is relatively pleasant, but this could change overnight! Be prepared.
If every mobilehome owner joined an organization and contributed just $5.00 and an hour of their time, we would have several million dollars and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours—just think what we could accomplish! We would have enforcement of our laws. We would immediately deal with a problem. Soon the park owners would get the message “Don’t tread on Us! We’re United! We’re Strong.”
Get involved. Call or email us. Let us know what’s happening in your park. Volunteer an hour a month. We need your active participation. We need more members like Charles H, Denise, Betty L., Leslie L., Gail, Ben, Jerry, Sandy, Dwight, Tom, Doris and others.
We can and will support you. But we can’t do it for you. We can advise, assist, educate, refer… We want to enable you to protect yourself. We want to educate you as to your rights.
Remember, we are all responsible for our situation today. Our only hope is to unite and for all to participate. Don’t just read THE VOICE, do something. Pass flyers in your park, talk to your friends and neighbors, send in a donation, volunteer your time… If we don’t get our act together today, there may be no tomorrow. We’re running out of time. We may have no choice but to pack our bags and leave town. But to where? (We welcome your comments: Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org)