Editorial by Frank Wodley, CoMO-CAL President
Please think about this. Without a strong military and a people willing to make a sacrifice (NO PAIN, NO GAIN) you and I would have been under foreign rule long ago, perhaps speaking Japaneese or German today. In fact, this is the very reason why mobile home owners are under “foreign rule” today. As mobile home owners, we do not have a strong military, in fact we have NO military. We have scattered groups of “active residents (militia)” around the state doing the best they can, but there is NO ORGANIZED, STATEWIDE ADVOCACY GROUP working to help us wage the fight in our parks.
MOBILE HOME WARS
If you have been reading THE VOICE, you will understand that we, the owners of mobile homes in rental parks, are at WAR with our park owners and their advocacy groups. A WAR that none of us wants or bargained for, but a WAR none-the-less. And a WAR that park owners and their managers often wage secretly, pushing the envelope, making us want to move out of these “concentration camps.” Why should they be afraid to cross the legal line, after all, they have a long list of attorneys who will defend their actions. And they have well run, and well funded groups to advise them. One such group is the Western Manufactured Communities Association (WMA). Here in Los Angeles the WMA has David Evans, Clint Lau and Bill Schwinworth sitting on the Mobile Home Park Task Force, working for the interests of park owners – they work as a team.
WHERE ARE WE TODAY
Let’s face reality. Life in our parks today has never been so problematic. Mobile home owners continue to suffer, faced with many more challenges than in years past. Problems such as out of control managers, unavailable common facilities, new rules and regulations that continue to take away our rights, ever increasing rents, interference by parks when we sell, condo-conversions, long term leases, pass-throughs, challenges to rent control and challenges to other protections, etc. And these issues often times are not challenged. After all, one must take a chunk of money to retain an attorney to fight.
What about the dozens of small groups across the state like SCMOA (Sonoma County), CAMOA (Carpinteria), COMPAC (San Diego Group), the Goleta Group, MHOC (Ojai), EMPAC and the dozens of others? What about the HOA’s or residents groups in parks not affiliated with any statewide group? I’m sure many groups are making a positive contribution. But most are operating in a vacuum – essentially an island unto themselves. Perhaps they do not want “outside” interference or are happy might writing their monthly article for the local paper, having their occasional meeting, chatting with a local politician, etc. Often they are content to “do what they can” and leave it at that. They are happy with the “status quo.” But the park owners continue to challenge us, and are not happy with the “status quo.” To me, that means we MUST work hard, and be determined to make a difference.
I’ve talked with many leaders, especially here in Southern California. In fact, many have joined CoMO-CAL. They have read THE VOICE and most praise it. They know CoMO-CAL could supplement what they offer. Above all, they know our #1 priority is to UNITE all groups, all mobile home owners! No other group is actively working to that end. And nothing could be more critical to our collective future than UNITY.
This should be a “slam dunk!” For a measly $15.00 a year we have a real chance to make a difference! Just $15. Yet, even these leaders, who “say” they have the interest of their members at heart, do not promote us. What a shame! An opportunity lost, while mobile home owners continue to suffer all across the state.
Number One: If you live in a park without a residents organization, please work to form one. Donald DeVore writes “Every community should have a Home Owners Association. This way you can deal with issues pertaining to you and your community. Historically most have disbanded (because) it seems that the homeowners are more intent on fighting with each other rather than the real opponent, the landlords.” LET’S STOP FIGHTING AMONG OURSELVES AND FIGHT THE REAL ENEMY—OUR PARK OWNERS.
Number Two: If you live in a park with a HOA, or belong to a city or county wide group, suggest to your leaders that they join the CoMO-CAL family and promote CoMO-CAL to their members. Tell them (Merle, Dennis, Hank, Mel, Homer, Tony, and others) that every mobile home owner (not just their group) can benefit from their work and they must share their expertise. Tell them CoMO-CAL is the only state-wide advocacy group working to get this information to all mobile home owners across the state to assist owners with the growing number of issues in their parks (and not just focusing on new legislation). And each time another group joins us, our “military” is so much stronger! Let’s share our expertise. THAT’S WERE WE NEED TO BE HEADED!
Number Three: Why continue to reinvent the wheel? Let’s draw upon the experiences of any resident, or any group that has successfully dealt with an issue. There is a wealth of talent out there, a wealth of information. Other groups must set aside our egos and share with ALL mobile home owners. CoMO-CAL will continue to promote teamwork among all mobile home owners and all groups. We will continue to desiminate this information to as many mobile home owners as possible, across the State of California.
Number Four: If you belong to a group now, be active enough to understand how that group is benefiting you. If you feel we need the enforcement of laws, rather than focus on getting new laws, let your leaders know. If you belong to CoMO-CAL, know that Today you have an organization that values its membership and listens to them. That organization is CoMO-CAL.
CoMO-CAL is our best chance to really accomplish something. We are young, energetic and dedicated. We are not hindered by “do nothing” boards who want to maintain their status. We respond quickly—as we did with Proposition 90. We have worked hard for every member and we will continue to work hard. We have established the basis of a terrific organization and we have lots of potential. And we are not afraid to challenge the WMA and the park owners. We are here for you. We welcome your participation and suggestions. You can always call us and get help. If we can’t help, we will refer you to someone who will. We are the only statewide advocacy group in the state of California that is 501(c)3. That means we can get grants; resources that will be focused helping our membership. We will work with anyone, whether individual or group to improve the lives of mobile home owners. Let’s draw a line in the sand—together.
HOW ARE WE MAKING A DIFFERENCE?
ONE: We have already identified about 80 leaders around the state, who are active in their local areas, but working essentially on their own. Let’s organize them into a team! In fact I’ve just sent them an email – it doesn’t make a difference what organization they belong to, we welcome everyone. Let’s work together. Let’s brainstorm issues and make our recommendations available to all who really participate. Of course all members of CoMO-CAL will receive this information. Ultimately they are the ones who must put it to use. Everyone must pull our own weight, no slackers. Mobile home owners should expect no less than their Home Owners Group, or Chapter get involved, promote membership in CoMO-CAL, contribute to the solution of the problem.
TWO: We will continue our mailings around the State of California. We will alert mobile home owners to Proposition 90 and introduce them to CoMO-CAL. We can not afford to continue this campaign and it has been successful.
THREE: We will continue writing and distributing fliers on important issues as “Removal of your older mobile home,” Sellers Guide by Clay Harrison, “Can the park require upgrades at time of sale,” etc.
FOUR: Our members continue to support us by donations, volunteering, sending in newspaper articles, telling others about our organization, etc.
FIVE: We will continue to expose the illegal practices of park owners and managers and we will continue our efforts to find ways to counter them.
SIX: We will continue to help mobile home owners like Pam, Marco, Barbara, Mary Lou and others. We are just a phone call away and are happy to chat with you about your situation.
DOING YOUR PART
Finally, each or you, each individual mobile home owner, must make a decision. Either get motivated and excited about being part of CoMO-CAL, get “mad as hell and say I won’t take it anymore” or sit back let the park owners continue to run over you. Together we have a voice and together we will make a difference. You can be part of the solution, or part of the problem. I remember when Milt Burdick installed me as Chapter 0159 President over 4 years ago. He ask all attending the meeting to stand and pledge support for the Chapter 0159 Board of Directors. What a terrific idea – all CoMO-CAL members standing, pledging support to CoMO-CAL.
Please pledge your support for CoMO-CAL. Give me a call at 1-800-929-6061 (yes, DO IT) and tell me:
“I’m mad as hell and won’t take it anymore. I am motivated and excited about being a CoMO-CAL member. I will keep my eyes and ears open and will let CoMO-CAL know what’s happening in my park. And when I can, I will volunteer my time or donate. If I’m in a park with a HOA—I’ll insist that the board and all members of our HOA join CoMO-CAL. If I belong to another statewide organization, I’ll take more interest in it and make sure they are doing a good job, one that helps me in my park. I will be an active member and do what I can. Let’s beat the park owners—together.”
One of my good friends, a GSMOL manager in Riverside, suggested “The only thing I hear is that you may be TOO aggressive and maybe moving TOO fast.” Another wrote: “Normally we shut down for the summer (meaning no residents meetings).” Let’s put it to a vote. What do you think?
- Is CoMO-CAL moving too fast? 2. Is CoMO-CAL too aggressive? 3. Should we shut down for the summer? 4. Do you get your money’s worth? 5. Are we doing enough? If not, what would you like to see us do? 6. Do you have suggestions to improve our service to you?
We welcome your feedback. Please call 1-800-929-6061 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.