Divided We’ll All Be Conquered—A Co-MO-CAL Bulletin
We Are Our Brothers’ Keepers
By Ralph Weber, President Antelope Valley CoMO-CAL
Well, folks, we mobile home owners once again kept the wolf from the door…we played a part in the defeat of Proposition 90. We side-stepped another sneaky effort to eliminate rent control. Although “rent control” was not specifically mentioned the verbiage In the Proposition would have certainly opened the legalese flood gates for unlimited rent increases for California mobile home owners paying rent on plots of dirt. However, Proposition 90 played to the public an initiative that would allow us taxpayers to pay unscrupulous prices when cities seized properties by eminent domain for profit-making motives.
This fight to defeat Prop 90, however, does show how vulnerable mobilhome owners are without a strong state-wide organization We need to continue to build an organization to a point where the Park Owners and Park Managers fear us. We need to become big and powerful enough to allow us to intimidate them. We need to put some sting in our bite; we need to hang together in one loud voice to oppose violations of the MRL, intimidation, and personal abuses by owners and management.
I spent more than 16 years working as a GSMOL volunteer. I formed many, many GSMOL Chapters and brought in hundreds of new members. I am a mobile home owner. I think that what happens to other mobile home owners could ultimately happen to me. . I feel I belong to the whole mobile home community in California.
As a GSMOL Associate Manager and the Los Angeles County Regional Manager, I would always be called upon only when residents were having conflicts with Owners or Management. And, when I answered a trouble call, most of the time the troubled park residents were not organized; they had no Home Owner Association or a GSMOL Chapter. My job then was to get the residents organized into an enthusiastic group willing to stand up and defend their rights. This was not always easy because of several obstacles:
(1) For the most part there were always just handful residents in the Park who were willing to get an organization started, and there were usually some residents that did not want to fight for their rights for fear of being intimidated or threatened by Park Management. To answer this, I would remind them that in any organization, there will always be a few volunteers willing to do all the work for the benefit of everyone!
(2) In most cases some of the residents would have personal conflicts with other residents and were not willing to work with others. To answer this, I would advise them that personal petty spats had to be set aside for the sake of complete resident unity.
There were usually some residents who did not feel their rights were being threatened, that an organized group was not necessary because the problems were not happening in their back yard (NIMBY). To rebut this I would stress that that the problem has a direct bearing on all mobile home owners!
In many cases the Park’s residents would be divided with many residents siding with Park Management.
This is a roadblock that is difficult to overcome because when there is such division, organizing a homeowners association sets off a rift in the Park that most Park Management and Owners relish.
Management knows that if the residents are divided and arguing among themselves, management will win. Its an age old Machiavellian game of divide and conquer. To combat this we must be aware of problems in other parks throughout the state. An in our own immediate area we must step in and join the protest.
As an example of this point let’s look at the case of Floyd Gilbert a resident of a Quartz Hill mobile home park for more than 20 years:
Floyd has had a very active part in civic affairs in his park. He lived in the Park back when there were no resident/management problems. At one point he was on very good terms with Management. But somewhere along the way, Floyd complained that the Mobile Home Residency Law was being violated by management and somehow strong words between Floyd and the Manager were exchanged. The friction between them accelerated and many of the park residents, not wanting to be part of the squabble, stood idly by and did nothing….even though they had to be aware that Management was not complying with the Residency Law! Floyd sought legal help at his own expense to combat the violations management was imposing on the Quartz Hill Park’s residents. He received no help from GSMOL; they rarely responded to his written or e-mail pleas. He joined Co-MO-CAL and is acting as a arbitrator for Co-MO-CAL giving advice to other Parks. He put his problems out to all of us by way of the Internet on the Mobile Home Open Forum. He has received lots of advice from a lot of us, but the voices giving him aid are not loud enough. We sympathized with Floyd, but sympathy is not enough.
We must find a way to join him in his fight. The Quartz Hill Park residents must join him, regardless of how they personally feel about Floyd. He’s not a trouble-maker, as some in his Park seem to think. He needs support in that Park from every resident, because he is right and Park Management is wrong.
We must find a way to support every Park in Antelope Valley, even statewide, when they are fighting management abuses or violations of the Mobile Home Residency Law. If we can somehow unite everywhere in California and protest en masse with any mobile home park seeking justice then we will have real power to put fear into greedy, unscrupulous Park Owners and Park Management. Let’s work on this in the Antelope Valley. I welcome your suggestions. Ralph