GSMOL Members and Chapters can WIN!!
Three contests – drawings in all zones and regions!
Contests run from February to the end of July!
For more information, see Membership Drive 2017 page!
State Senator Connie Leyva Considering Possible Legislation
By Bruce Stanton, GSMOL Corporate Counsel
On September 16, 2016, the California Senate Select Committee on Manufactured Home Communities convened a public hearing on the topic: “Improving Mobilehome Parks through Education and Licensure of Onsite Property Managers”. Committee Chair, Senator Connie M. Leyva, scheduled the hearing to hear testimony from industry participants on this important issue. Speakers from the two largest park owner trade associations (WMA and CMPA), as well as the Department of Housing (HCD) and GSMOL attended. GSMOL was represented by Corporate Counsel Bruce Stanton, Zone C Vice President Ray Downing and Zone D Vice President Tim Sheahan. Members of the public were also allowed to make comments.
The Committee provided a written Report which included the history of problems caused by untrained park managers, the three decades of limited legislative response and educational outreach re: park manager certification or training, and the types of complaints and problems which the Committee typically receives from residents throughout California re: on-site manager conduct. That list is quite long. The Report “recognizes the obvious need for mobilehome park managers to be trained and licensed”, and concludes that an “education and licensing program would ensure law-abiding park employees, which would result in reduced crime and enhanced safety in mobile and manufactured home parks.” The Report also notes the important role of the legislature in protecting consumers, and concluded that a public hearing should be convened to determine if members of the public and the industry concur with the Committee’s findings.
GSMOL’S testimony focused upon the benefits to be gained by homeowners from requiring licensing and education of managers, as well as the benefits to park owners, and addressed the past arguments which have been made by park owners in opposition to such a program.
Ray Downing read a letter from a local park manager denying the ability of GSMOL to hold a meeting in the clubhouse, and described how in one park the on-site manager intimidates residents by carrying a gun. Tim Sheahan presented several thoughts about how management could be improved and residents better protected.
Comments from park owner representatives talked about the training program that WMA already has in place for its 1,800 park members, and the types of training offered. WMA currently represents about 40% of the 4,500 permitted parks in California. They testified that it would be difficult to require all parks to train and license their managers, and were unsure that “mandatory management education state-wide is the best way to resolve these issues”. WMA wants to see amendments to the Mobilehome Residency Law first which provide park owners with better tools to evict “bad” residents who are substantially annoying their neighbors. CMPA testified that there is much “miscommunication” and “misunderstanding” in parks, and that both homeowners and managers require education. They believe that manager complaints are “the exception rather than the rule”, and that licensing and education will not reduce the number of resident complaints. Senator Leyva disagreed, stating her belief that “violations of law will be reduced even if complaints are not”. One of the park owner presenters admitted that management is a function of “common sense”, and that “selective enforcement” of park rules is a huge problem. He thought that licensing would be a logistical challenge, but that continuing education could be beneficial. His company requires on-site training of all their managers.
When asked whether they would agree to support the concept of manager licensing and education, WMA responded that at this point they “cannot agree to anything”, and that California likely has no funds to apply to such a problem. They view required training as an “overblown” solution to the problem, and want more enforcement of health and safety by HCD instead of management training. Senator Leyva responded that she sees those two concepts as being “linked”.
HCD offered only brief, general comments, and when asked by the Chair whether they thought licensing or education of mangers would be of help, said that HCD has “no position” on the matter. But HCD does see a correlation between the amount of problems which occur in parks where there is knowledgeable management, and the amount which occur in parks where there is none.
Public comments from mobilehome residents were interesting, and included such suggestions as:
- requiring managers’ licenses to be posted in the clubhouse;
- requiring the Dept. of Consumer Affairs to conduct inspections;
- allowing 5 years for managers to complete courses;
- no “grandfathering” of current managers; all must complete education;
- managers enlisting help from resident “volunteers” to carry out their duties should be stopped;
- managers who are not licensed should be fined;
- the “Dispute Resolution Program” in place in Washington State should be adopted by California;
- background checks should be required of managers;
- enforcement of the Mobilehome Residency Law should take priority over training.
At the 2016 Convention, some of the policy resolutions passed at the business meeting emphasized better communication between GSMOL and its members. Toward that end, we are working on the following projects:
We have established a Communications Committee, whose members include the Chairs of other Committees responsible for various means of communication such as The Californian magazine, the website, and the official GSMOL email list. The goal of this Committee will be to ensure that all official communications with our members, legislators, government officials and the news media on behalf of GSMOL will be consistent and authoritative. We will brainstorm on ways to increase the effectiveness of our communications, and we will find more ways to obtain feedback from our members on their concerns. Co-Chairs of the Communications Committee are Mary Jo Baretich and Anne Anderson.
Rebuilding the Email List
In early June an email message was sent to all GSMOL members whose email addresses we have on record, inviting them to subscribe to GSMOL’s official email list if they were not already subscribed. If you have email and you did NOT receive this invitation, we encourage you to SIGN UP FOR GSMOL’s EMAIL LIST HERE. We will be sending out not only the legislative bulletins but announcements about GSMOL events. We are able to target specific GSMOL zones and regions for announcements of events relevant to members in their local areas, such as “Town Hall” meetings, teleconferences, Regional Conferences, and chapter events.
Because the “One Member, One Vote” measure passed at the 2016 Convention, ALL GSMOL members will be able to vote in the 2018 GSMOL State elections. The Elections Committee will determine the procedure for the mail-in ballot system we will use. In order to ensure that we will have well-informed voters, information regarding candidates for office and proposed Bylaws changes will be mailed to members in The Californian, posted on the website, and sent to subscribers on the GSMOL Email list.
Our sister nonprofit, GSMOEF (Golden State Manufactured-home Owners Education Fund) has a website which we call the “Ed Fund Academy”, which features short articles on the MRL, Title 25 (Health & Safety codes), Rent Control and more. The articles are featured both in print and in video clips. There are even exams to test your knowledge!
Check it out at http://mobilehomeresidentadvocate.blogspot.com
The site is developed by Dr. Carl Leivo, noted author of “MHP Living”.
Printable flyer HERE.
Highlights of the Convention
- Eighteen great breakout sessions were held. Reviews of these are coming soon!
- Descriptions of the Breakouts
- At the Awards Banquet, we presented the Legislator of the Year award to Senator Connie Leyva. The Senator was unable to be present so the award was accepted by Stephanie Reid.
- Unfortunately, due to schedule problems, Senator Joe Dunn was not able to be with us as our Keynote Speaker.
- We announced our new Legislative Advocate, Esperanza Ross. More information about her and her plans for working with us will be posted soon under the Legislation tab.
- GSMOL Legacy Awards were presented by Zone Vice Presidents to Norma Bohannon, Betz Storey, Mary Jo Baretich and Robert Markley.
- Diane McPherson was re-elected State Treasurer and Anne Anderson was elected State Secretary.
- Betz Storey was elected Zone A Vice President, Karilee Shames was elected Zone A-1 Vice President, and Ray Downing was re-elected Zone C Vice President.
The One Member, One Vote measure passed, meaning that we will no longer have delegates – every GSMOL member will be able to vote by paper ballot.
A measure proposed by Bob Markley, setting the quorum for a paper ballot election to be no fewer than 5% of total members who are eligible to vote, passed. (It was formerly 50% plus 1.)
Six Policy Resolutions were proposed from the floor and passed:
- An Election Committee shall be created to educate members and establish procedures that ensure that the One Member, One Vote is as inclusive as possible.
- The Corporation shall send balance sheets and financial statements to Presidents of all active Chapters. They will also be published in The Californian and made available in a secured location on the GSMOL website by the end of the current fiscal year (which will be September 30). The financials shall compare actual income and expenses to budgeted income and expenses for the current quarter and the year to date, and also between the current and prior fiscal years.
- The Election Committee shall investigate and establish rules for the policies of campaigning by candidates and members and a membership list protocol and to what extent membership list information will be released or made available during campaigns.
- The Publications Committee shall also include communications with members and third parties.
- The Board of Directors shall establish a committee to draft rules for procedures to set up a Super Chapter, which shall become part of the “standing rules” of the Corporation.
- The Board of Directors shall reactivate the Business Information and Financial Action Team (BIFAT) Committee, to be comprised of members or persons with business or non-profit expertise.
by Brian Augusta
Throughout the year GSMOL and its leaders and members help to protect your investment in your home by fighting for your rights in the courts, the Capitol and our communities. As we near the end of the year and enjoy the holiday season, we would like to ask you to consider supporting GSMOL‘s work with a tax-deductible donation to the GSMOL Education Fund.
The Ed Fund is a newly formed sister organization of GSMOL that helps to support GSMOL‘s educational efforts. Your tax-deductible donation will help support education and outreach to manufactured-homeowners through out California.
Giving is easy: Just go to https://www.gsmol.org/donate/ and click on the button under “501(c)(3) Education Fund.”
Bite-size tidbits you can use
Q: Can park rules or regulations be changed without a meeting with homeowners?
A: No. 798.25 provides that a meeting with residents must first be noticed and actually held. However, there is no requirement that management do anything other than show up, explain the rule and listen. Residents have no veto power to block implementation of rules. All rules can be unilaterally created by the park with the exception that a rule requiring mandatory arbitration, or a rule that is “unreasonable” is not enforceable
GSMOL Helped Advocate for Pilot Program to Transfer Service to Utilities
by Brian Augusta, GSMOL Legislative Advocate
For many years, the presence of sub-metered utility systems in mobilehome parks has created enormous difficulties for homeowners. In a sub-metered park, the serving utility (e.g. Edison or PG&E) only supplies service up to the park master meter at the street. The park owner owns and operates the system within the park, and is responsible for delivering service to the individual spaces, including reading of meters and billing for the service. The residents pay gas and electric to the park owner, and must rely upon the park owner to keep the utility systems maintained.
As these park-owned systems have aged and homes have improved, the park-owned infrastructure has not been upgraded or maintained to keep pace, and few park owners have been willing to incur the expense of needed upgrades. Since they cannot pass on most gas and electric expenses to homeowners, there is no incentive for park owners to invest further dollars in the infrastructure. And so the industry was at an impasse, with health and safety and reliability of service become a bigger problem as time passed.
For more almost three years GSMOL’s corporate counsel Bruce Stanton represented the interests of homeowners in a proceeding at the Public Utilities Commission to address these aging systems and connect homeowners directly to utility service. GSMOL’s goal was to ensure that homeowners did not unfairly bear the burden of paying for the costs of system transfers or improvements. The end result was a voluntary pilot project to convert 10% of the parks to direct service over the next few years, with those having safety issues being first in line. the cost will be borne by all utility customers, both commercial and residential, throughout California.
Last month, the first completed upgraded transfer system went live in Colton, CA! More system upgrades are now underway and will follow soon in other parks, as more than 10% of park owners have filed applications for transfers.
To read more, see this news release from SoCalGas: http://www.prnewswire.com/
GSMOL is pleased to announce a new feature, our Telephone Townhall Meetings! These quarterly “virtual townhall” meetings will feature three key elements:
- A “Know Your Rights” workshop on a variety of topics
- A nuts and bolts presentation aimed at helping homeowners get organized
- A Q&A session
Don’t miss our first Telephone Townhall:
Wednesday December 2, 4pm
“Park Rules and Regulations: What Every Homeowner Needs to Know” (45 Min)
Presented by Bruce Stanton
“GSMOL Chapters: What are they and why should I form one?” (15 Min)
Presented by GSMOL Associate Manager Anne Anderson
“Q&A” (30 min)
Answers from Bruce, Anne and others to pre-submitted questions from you
What is a “Telephone Townhall”? Like a real townhall meeting we will bring together homeowners from all over the state to hear these presentations and answers to questions from homeowners. But you can do it from the comfort of your couch. The Telephone Townhall is essentially a huge conference call where participants can listen in to presentations from GSMOL leaders, attorneys, lobbyists and other experts.
YOU MUST RSVP – SPACE IS LIMITED!!
To RSVP Go to this link:
We have a new Email Newsletter!
As we continue to add content and benefits for manufactured-home owners, we are pleased to announce the debut of GSMOL News. This periodic e-newsletter will help keep you connected to GSMOL and provide timely updates on issues of interest to manufactured-home owners. We will also post the messages on this page. Watch this space for the link to subscribe!
We are Moving!
GSMOL is moving its Home Office to a new location. For the next couple of days as we undertake the process of moving our furniture, phones and equipment you may not be able to reach us easily. If you have an urgent question, please try contacting a regional manager in your area. (Find their contact information HERE.) When we are settled, you’ll find us in our new location at:
La Mirada, CA 90638
All of our other contact information remains the same.
Don’t Forget to Vote!
If you are a GSMOL member, be sure to pay special attention to this month’s Californian, for your opportunity to cast a vote regarding a proposed amendment to the GSMOL Bylaws that would alter the way the GSMOL Board is elected. To read more go HERE.
PLEASE NOTE: The Bylaws Changes text printed in your Californian does not include strikethroughs of text that has been removed. If you would like to see it with strikeouts, go HERE.