By Jesse Marx | Source |
A dispute in South Bay over mobile homes and recreational vehicles is moving to Sacramento.
Assemblyman David Alvarez introduced a bill that would create new protections for residents living in recreational vehicles at mobile home parks in Imperial Beach and National City.
Both cities approved mobile home and RV park protections last year over the objections of park owners. Imperial Beach’s ordinance was tied to the city’s Covid-19 emergency order. National City’s ordinance came with a longer timeline, but sunsets in 2024.
Imperial Beach’s ordinance also included an eviction moratorium, but Alvarez’s bill doesn’t go that far. Instead, it would take existing rent caps in state law for mobile home owners and extend them to RV owners. If AB 1472 is approved, park owners would be prevented from raising rents annually by more than 5 percent through 2030.
Advocates and local officials consider changes to state law necessary because California treats mobile homes and RVs differently than other types of housing, with separate regulations.
But because the parks are relatively cheap to run they’ve become appealing to investment groups. The parks tend to have higher rates of return than apartments, allow for greater tax write-offs, and increase in demand during recessions. Tenants, as one wealth manager put it, are effectively “locked-in.”
When passing the local ordinances last year, officials in Imperial Beach and National City expressed concern that rising rents were eroding one of the last truly affordable housing options in their communities and putting more people at risk of homelessness.
Alvarez made the same point in a press release Wednesday. “Many living in recreational vehicles are low or fixed income, are elderly, or have a language barrier and are heavily impacted by surges in rents,” he said.
In Imperial Beach, the mayor and members of the City Council said they were particularly disturbed by one park’s requirement that residents move out every six months and sign new leases — or face eviction.
One of the Miramar Imperial Beach Mobile Home and RV Park owners said the policy was needed to make improvements on site, but acknowledged that it was timed in such a way that the tenants wouldn’t be afforded rights under state law. The tenants also complained that those improvements were slow going, if at all.
They rallied in opposition to park conditions over the summer, and the city’s effort to intervene became a point of contention in the mayor’s race in November. One of the park’s owners donated nearly $10,000 to Shirley Nakawatase, who lost to Paloma Aguirre. Aguirre cheered on the state legislation this week.
“We need to do everything in our power to keep them housed, and this is the first step in securing a roof over their head,” she said in a statement.
A San Diego County representative for the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association who lobbied against the local ordinances did not return a request for comment Wednesday.
It’s not immediately clear what effect Alvarez’s bill would have on six month move-out policies because the bill defines a “resident” as someone who’s occupied a lot in a park for at least nine months in a 12-month period.
Though Imperial Beach officials voted to terminate their Covid emergency order this week, the city’s mobile home and RV park evictions moratorium remains in place for another 60 days, so the six month move-out policy can be addressed. “Legal counsel representing the residents and the park owner are currently negotiating a resolution,” Aguirre said.
No votes have been taken on Alvarez’s bill yet. The first committee hearing is tentatively scheduled for March 20.[ED. NOTE – GSMOL Legislative Action Team Committee is tracking this bill. ]