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By Christian Balderas | Source |

CAPITOLA, Calif. — A 12-year-long lease, which includes affordability caps, is coming to an end for residents at a Capitola mobile home park. Now, the landlord plans to increase rent by 56%.

In March, Cabrillo Mobile Home Estates Park, owned by Vierra Enterprises Inc., notified people it would increase rent from $641 to $1,000.

Many residents, who are older and on fixed incomes, tell Action News that it’s unaffordable.

A person who’s lived in the park since the 1970s says they receive $1,030 a month in social security and now needs help from her daughter to pay her rent. She asked to remain anonymous.

“At the end of the day, these are 68 residents of Capitola that are really important members of our community. It’s really disappointing to hear the park owner is talking about a 50 percent rent increase for people that frankly may not be able to afford it,” City Manager Jamie Goldstein said.

The steep increase prompted city council to consider an urgent ordinance that would cap rent increases at 5 percent plus the local average CPI or up to 10 percent of the base rent, depending on which is lower.

In many mobile home parks, people rent a plot of land and pay a mortgage for the house.

If the ordinance is not passed and residents are unable to come up with the money, they’ll have to sell their home — and could possibly sell it to the landlord — or move it to another park.

This is not the first time city council has taken up affordability caps for mobile homes.

Prior to 2011, the city had a similar regulation to prevent steep rent increases for mobile homes, but later found itself embattled in lawsuits with multiple parks.

“It wasn’t one lawsuit. I think that’s what everyone needs to understand,” Goldstein said. “We were being challenged by one park owner trying to raise the rent and the city had denied it. We were being challenged by another park who submitted an application to just close their park and the city had denied it. We were being sued on public records act requests.”

Ultimately, the city was able to help buy out a privately owned mobile home park, putting it in the hands of a nonprofit group and ended the affordability ordinance to prevent future legal action.

Goldstein says the city explored the possibility of buying Cabrillo with the help of a nonprofit but so far has been unsuccessful.

City council will vote on the ordinance Thursday, May 25.

[ED. NOTE: GSMOL Chapter 51 and Homeowners Association at Cabrillo Mobile Estates initiated this effort to get an urgency Rent Stabilization Ordinance on the agenda for the City Council, assisted by GSMOL Corporate Counsel Bruce Stanton, GSMOL Zone B-1 VP Anne Anderson, GSMOL VP at Large Henry Cleveland, and GSMOL Region 10 Manager Rick Halterman.]

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