Mobile Home Owners, Unite!

And now for something completely different. Let me climb up on my soapbox… Could you please give me a hand up? Whew, that’s quite a step. Oh, I can see your house from here. There’s your mom, working in the garden, and your sister running up the driveway! What’s that in her hand? Anyway, here we go:

Ladies and Gentleman,  I am a mobile home owner. Yes, I live in what some of you refer to (erroneously & slanderously)  as a “trailer park.”  We call ours Oasis Mobile Estates, thank you very much.

Wipe that smirk off your face, it makes you ugly. Don’t think you’re all that much better sitting in your tract home, that shoebox dominated by a big ol’ garage door out front. Or that fancy prison cell you call a “luxury” apartment in some rabbit warren of an apartment complex next to the freeway.

Princess Ann Louise Bananas

Princess Ann Louise Bananas

Who are you to smirk? I see your underwear on the floor over there. No dirty underwear on the floor here. If there were, Princess would chew holes in them. Disgusting little shelty.

I worry what the doctors and nurses in the emergency room will think when they wheel me in and cut my pants off and there are my holey boxer shorts and I’m unconscious and can’t tell them it isn’t extreme, explosive flatulence that caused those holes but my little pure-bred prim, proper, pretty shit-eating shelty Princess.

But I digress. It’s that face you made at the mention of “mobile home” and “trailer park” that caused me to get off track and all defensive.

But in a way that’s the subject of this post: You see, my state senator makes the same face about mobile home parks and the people who live in them. A face like you’d make if you saw holes in the seat of someone’s boxer shorts. And what are you doing where you get to see someone’s soiled boxer shorts?

I have to educate state Senator Bob Dutton so that he’ll vote the right way on a bill that comes to the floor of the state senate up there in Sacramento any day now. Affordable housing for thousands of Californians depends on his vote.

Oasis Mobile Estates in Upland is a family park, so we have people of all ages here, from babies to seasoned citizens. We are south of Foothill (you know it as the famous Route 66), so we are on the wrong side of the tracks, in south Upland with the Section 8 apartment dwellers, as well as being residents of a “trailer park.”

Oasis Mobile Estates has about 80 or so units. We own our homes, but we pay space rent plus utilities to the park management. That is, we don’t own the dirt under our homes like you regular homeowners do.

Upland is a rent-control city for mobile home parks. Several cities in California have rent-control for mobile home parks. One day I will get off my lazy butt and actually research the number of cities that, through rent control, help make living in a mobile home the most affordable unsubsidized housing in California.

That’s real important when you are a senior citizen on a fixed income or a family that wants something better than an apartment but can’t afford to rent a house.

What’s happening is that park owners in rent control cities feel they’re getting screwed. They compare what they’re getting in return on investment to what apartment complex owners are getting. There is an apartment complex right across the street from the Oasis Mobile Home Estates.

I’m sure the owners of this apartment complex get much more return on their investment than the Oasis owners. There is no rent control for apartments in Upland.

On the other hand, the maintenance cost has to be a lot less at the mobile home park. We, the mobile home owners, are responsible for the upkeep and repair to our homes. No landlord to call when the toilet overflows… that’s your problem.

What’s happening more and more in California is that park owners are doing condo conversions, where the owner subdivides the park and sells spaces to the residents. You get to own the space your home sits on, that tiny little lot of very expensive dirt. Isn’t that great?

Non-purchasing residents lose rent control protection upon the conversion and will see their rents increased.

For example, if one parcel in a mobile home park is sold under current law, a four year phase-out of rent control begins. This means that a parcel that is rented for $600 today may be rented for $1000 to $1500 in four short years.

So, say you have this mobile home and you own it and you’re just getting by on a fixed income (after working and paying taxes all your damn life). Can you come up with $125,000 to buy the land your home sits on? Can you afford tens of thousands of dollars to move your home to another park? (Mobile homes are actually not very mobile. None of the homes at Oasis have any wheels on them or ever had any wheels. Many are twenty or thirty years old and I’m sure they’d fall apart if you tried to move them.)

The current law is so unfair: If just one resident goes for the conversion and buys the land, then rent control is over for all residents.

The surge in applications filed by park owners who want to convert their parks from “rental mobile homes” into “residential ownership” is often being done over the protests of local governments and residents of the parks, who have no recourse to stop the conversion.

A bill that is now before the state senate, AB566, will give mobile home park residents and local governments a say in these condo conversions of parks.

The stakes are so high, shouldn’t we homeowners have at least a say?

Condo conversion of mobile home parks threatens the equity residents have in their homes. You try selling a home where the space rent may double or triple for the new owners.  And, for low income residents, condo conversion may mean they are priced out and may have to walk away from their home. To where? Where do you go when you’re 76 years old and just lost your home?

And I just thought of something: right now my property taxes are less than a $100 a year. But if I owned the land, my property taxes would soar out of sight.

AB566 will give mobile home park residents a voice and empower local government to protect the community’s most vulnerable residents.

I wrote a letter to my state senator, Bob Dutton, urging him to pass AB566. Please take a look at it and, if you agree and live in California, write your legislator to pass this bill and protect affordable housing for hundreds of thousands of Californians.

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Home Sweet Home for Lizzie, Steve, and Princess. Comfortable, affordable, good neighbors... and we'd like to keep it that way.

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4 thoughts on “Mobile Home Owners, Unite!

  1. sblazak says:

    Check this site for latest news on condo conversions in California mobile home parks:
    http://sonocondo.blogspot.com/ Sonoma No Condo Conversion
    “…a group of residents in mobilehome parks in Sonoma County working to protect the rights of mobilehome residents and opposing conversion of their parks to condominiums.”

  2. sblazak says:

    AB566 was defeated today, Sept. 9, in the Senate by a vote of 19 YES, 19 NO. It takes 21 YES to pass.

  3. sblazak says:

    Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! AB566 was “reconsidered” in Senate Sept. 10, approved with 21 votes, went to Assembly on Friday, Sept. 11, and PASSED!

    A big surprise to me, I didn’t see this coming…. I HAD LOST HOPE!

    Shows to go you.

    AB566 is now on the governor’s desk. Which is where you, my fellow Californians, come in: Urge Arnold to sign AB566 and sign it so the new law comes into effect Jan. 1, 2010:

    “Please sign Assembly Bill 566 and allow it to take effect this January. Over 25,000 mobile home owners need the protection of the bill very soon, in order to keep their homes.”

    Governor’s Office:
    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    State Capitol Building
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Phone: 916-445-2841
    Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )

    TO E-MAIL THE GOVERNOR, USE THIS LINK:
    http://gov.ca.gov/interact#contact

  4. sblazak says:

    bad news!
    Dear CoMO-CAL E-mail Network Member:

    This just in from GSMOL: Governor Vetoes AB 566

    We have just learned the unfortunate news that the Governor has vetoed AB 566. Of course, we are all greatly disappointed. Those living in parks where conversions are pending or the threat of conversion is looming desperately need the protections that this bill would provide.

    While earlier today the Govenor backed off his threat to veto all or most of the bills pending before him, AB 566 did not win a reprieve. The Governor’s veto message reads:

    “I am returning Assembly Bill 566 without my signature.

    While the intent of this bill is to preserve low-income housing, the fact that a majority of mobilehome park residents do not support a conversion is not an appropriate means for determining the legitimacy of a conversion. The law is not intended to allow park residents to block a request to subdivide.

    For this reason I am unable to sign this bill. “

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