Santa Paula: Oaks Mobilestates Residents Meet Over Proposed Rent Increase

By Sheryl Hamlin

About 60 or more residents of the Oaks Mobilestates met on Wednesday night at 5:30 pm to review the status of the proposed rent increase. Read the previous article on the increase here.

There were ten tables of 6 with people adding chairs at the sides and standing in the rear. Jill McDonald, volunteer with GSMOL (Golden State Manufactured Home Owners League), led the meeting. There were no representatives from the City, but the Park manager, who works for the owner and is also a resident, was present.

Jill McDonald, GSMOL volunteer speaking as room fills

The meeting was held in the Club House of the Park and was organized by Barry Cooper, jazz guitarist, who informed the attendees that the cost to rent the room was $175.00.

Application for Appeal

At issue is the $5000 fee the City of Santa Paula wants with the request for appealing the 159 page rent increase application submitted by the Park owner to the city. The City has been working with this application since June, said Jill McDonald, but the residents have had it for only 24 hours to make a response. Ms. McDonald enlisted the help of the attorney Bruce Stanton, corporate counsel on retainer for GSMOL, who drafted a very readable, succinct four page document explaining the case law associated with the illegal charges the Park owner has applied to pass on to the residents. She indicated that staff has made a spread sheet of costs for this project which must be reviewed for consistency with the law.

To read the request for appeal submitted by Mr. Stanton, click here: GSMOL.Santa Paula Notice of Appeal.final[11015].

The primary charge in the 159 page Park owner application is the $1.25 million upgrade for the electricity in order to facilitate the sub-metering wherein the Park owner buys electricity wholesale and then re-sells it retail to the residents. According to the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission), built-in to the fee structure is the ability for a park owner to recoup costs without charging the residents. Attorney Stanton provided case law. Ms. McDonald suggests the City’s Mobile Home Rent Review Committee read the case law.

Asked if the $5000 can be waived, Ms. McDonald said that the City does not have such a process. Note that the City did not have a form for appeal, which Director Mason also had to create.

The residents wanted to know when the increases would start. Ms. McDonald told them that by filing the application on the 11th of December, there is a “pause” in the process. The application “stays the process”, she said. The law says residents must have a minimum of 90 days, so one resident speculated that they are aiming for the May 1st bill when the annual increases are usually added.

Asked about the fees for Mr. Stanton, Jill McDonald said that Senator Jackson’s office is temporarily funding, but the residents would at some point be responsible for the legal fees. At $175 an hour, she felt Mr. Stanton’s fees were on the low side.

Both Assembly Representative Limon and State Senator Jackson worked on the MRL (Mobile Home Residency Law) and in fact had they known there was such a large, engaged group, they would have come, added Ms. McDonald. Clearly, this is a large constituency who votes, she added.

Ms. McDonald also stressed the importance of forming a local chapter of GSMOL as well as joining the state chapter. She had forms. Membership is $25.00 for a single and $30 for a household.

The City’s Mobile Home Ordinance can be read here. Scroll down to Chapter 152: Mobile Home Parks

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Mobile Home Parks have been a popular investment for the last several decades, because of their relatively consistent cash flow. Warren Buffet owns a company who builds the homes as well as makes loans to owners. This article describes the pitfalls of such owership as well as some of the misconceptions about owners of mobile homes.

To find out when the Mobile Home Rent Review Committee will meet click here. This meeting should be open to the public.

To read about the author, click here: sherylhamlin dot com


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