What GSMOL is Proud of in 2020!
by Carol Brinkman, GSMOL State Secretary
2020 will forever be defined as the year of the pandemic! Looking back, it gave us the opportunity to evaluate and innovate GSMOL procedures, meetings and strategies to comply with the pandemic prohibition on meeting face-to-face and the mandate to maintain social distancing. GSMOL turned a challenge into an opportunity and reinvented many of its activities. We held chapter meetings, outside, in parking lots sitting on lawn chairs. We learned Zoom. We expanded our use of teleconferencing to adapt to stay-at-home mandates. In-person Regional Conferences were replaced by interactive Townhall meetings. In spite of the many challenges, much was accomplished in 2020.
Biennial Election Results
After a Covid-19 delay in counting the ballots, all nominees to the Board of Directors were voted into office: Linda Nye, President; Carol Brinkman, Secretary; Shelly Parker, Treasurer; John Bertaut, Zone A VP and Mary Jo Baretich, Zone C VP. All proposed bylaws passed. In November, Martha Vazquez was appointed Ethnic Consultant and advisor to the GSMOL Board of Directors to educate the board and be a voice for Hispanic issues.
Statewide Member Outreach and Activism
- The MRL Protection Program (MRLPP) opened to receive MRL complaints on July 1, 2020. It was created as the result of the passage of AB 3066 by GSMOL way back in 2018 but for the last year and a half the program had to collect funding to finance itself. In the initial five months that the program has been active, HCD has received over 600 complaints of violations of the MRL. HCD triaged and directed these complaints to appropriate agencies (health, safety, criminal) or to non-profit legal entities for action at no cost to the mobilehome resident. The top 10 complaints (and the number of complaints) involved are: 1) Rental agreements (107); 2) Evictions (84); 3) Notice of amendments to Rules & Regulations (69); 4) Utility service billing and rate schedule (49); 5) Authorized fees and charges (45); 6) Trees & Driveways (42); 7) Notice of rent increase (41); 8) Application of Rules & Regulations to park owners & employees (38); 9) Utilities billed separately, reduced from rent (37), and 10) Fees & Charges for unlisted services without notice (34)
- Regional Conferences: Only one Conference was held in 2020 before the pandemic shut down in-person meetings. In March, Zone A-1 Vice President Dick Heine held a successful Sonoma Regional Conference for 80 attendees.
- Townhall teleconference Meetings, produced by the Ed Fund, replaced Regional Conferences. Although we lost the ability to interact with audience members in person, we had the benefit of being able to include attendees from all over the state in these virtual events – over 179 people from 104 MH parks in 70 different cities attended Telephone Townhalls in 2020.
- May: Bruce Stanton discussed MH issues related to Covid-19.
- June: Roger Johnson: discussed the MRL Protection Program.
- August: Matthew Weiss from HCD answered questions related to the HCD Park Inspection Program and MRL Protection Program.
- September: Bruce Stanton spoke on the impact of the new 2020 legislation
- September: GSMOL promoted a Townhall meeting held by Senator Connie Leyva and State Auditor Elaine Howle with the subject being the state’s audit on the Mobilehome Inspection Program by HCD.
- October: GSMOL promoted Senator Umberg’s Townhall with Bruce Stanton as guest speaker to understand Stone/Umberg’s bill, AB 2782.
- David Loop’s Zoom Presentation: David Loop, VP of Resident Owned Parks, presented several interactive Zoom presentations on the pocket-book issue of, “Your rights, and your heirs rights when selling your mobilehome” at the invitation of individual parks.
- State Audit of HCD: GSMOL is actively overseeing the results of the independent Audit of the HCD Park Inspection Program that Senator Connie Leyva requested and GSMOL supported. Auditor Elaine Howle identified 28 deficiencies including HCD’s lax record keeping, possible bias and conflict of interest by some inspectors, erratic inspections and inconsistent follow up. The audit presented a timeline for HCD to address the issues. MH residents’ annual fees pay for the inspection program, so we have reason to be concerned that our money is spent appropriately. GSMOL continues oversight to ensure corrective actions are taken.
- SoCal PUC MHP Conversion Program: GSMOL is representing MH interests and supporting a ten-year Mobilehome Park Utility Conversion (PUC) Program by SoCal Gas to upgrade sub-metered parks to direct service by the local utility company at no cost to MH residents. SoCal Gas will upgrade up to half of approximately 132,000 MH sites in its service territory through 2030.
- Fee & Tax Waiver Program: by HCD and sponsored by GSMOL allowed many MH residents to gain clear title to their homes and waive outstanding fees incurred by prior owners. Per HCD, the largest write-off was $40,000 in back taxes for one MH owner. This program ended December 31, 2020.
- Amendment to the Brown Act: GSMOL supports an amendment that would allow disabled and immune-compromised people to attend and participate in meetings virtually, in lieu of in-person, after Covid-19 ends.
- Facebook: Our new Facebook page belongs to members and you are invited to post news, information and events: facebook.com/GoldenStateGSMOL
- Members Area on the GSMOL Website: After a malware-attack delay, the Members Area of the GSMOL website went live. Members with an account on the website may explore the archives of The Californian, our magazine, going back to 2008 as well as the Board minutes and other archived documents.
- “Your Rights Bytes” was restored on the Ed Fund Academy website when GSMOL Corporate Counsel, Bruce Stanton, stepped up to author a monthly article of interest to MH residents. This website, run by our partner non-profit GSMOEF (Golden State Manufactured Home Owners Education Fund), can be found at www.mobilehomeresidentadvocate.blogspot.com.
- Amazon Smile: GSMOEF initiated “Amazon Smile”. When GSMOL members sign up, proceeds from every purchase they make on Amazon goes to support the work of the Ed Fund – with no effort and no cost to you! The Ed Fund also has a rewards program with Ralph’s. See the ads elsewhere in this magazine.
- Online Application & Membership Renewal: You can now join and renew your GSMOL membership online at gsmol.org.
- Donate Button: We added a Donate button on our website, gsmol.org, to allow members to donate via PayPal, credit card or debit card.
- Political activism on the local level by GSMOL residents in San Jose helped elect a city councilman who is friendly to MH issues, tilting the balance of the previously conservative big business/developer friendly council to a pro MH friendly council.
- With time running out, multiple GSMOL leaders worked with a coalition of HCD (Housing & Community Development), the Governor’s office, Sacramento councilmember Martha Guerrero, the Mayor, Habitat for Humanity, CalWORKs and 2 non-profit legal entities to interrupt and cure 59 eviction notices sent to residents of Westwinds MHP after a HCD inspection. Our combined efforts were successful in rescinding many of the evictions. The incident demonstrated the communication problems between HCD, park owners and park residents over MH park inspections (and validated the necessity for the state audit).
- HCD Roadshow in Santa Cruz was sponsored by GSMOL for the MH Title & Fee Waiver program. It helped 35 mobile home owners clear up title problems with their mobile homes. Highlight was one homeowner who received help in gaining title to her home after trying on her own since 1992!
- Failure to Maintain lawsuit: GSMOL is supporting residents of Cascade MHP in Sonora in their lawsuit against the park owners for health and safety violations and their failure to maintain their park.
- SAC Conclave: The Sacramento Coalition of MH owners representing 55 parks and led by Roger Johnson, meets monthly for lunch to share and discuss common MH issues and solutions and to listen to a guest speaker.
- Zone A: John Bertaut VP: A Space Rent Stabilization Ordinance project continues in El Dorado county and shows more promise with the recent positive interest expressed by a county supervisor. Several parks in Zone A were pressured to sign long-term (25-year) leases. Zone leadership attended meetings and helped guide homeowners by providing advice and viable options for dealing with the pressures imposed by park management. GSMOL leaders were part of a coalition to assist 59 home owners in Westwind MHP who received eviction notices related to a HCD park inspection. GSMOL also provided guidance to parks interested in forming their own HOA with an interest in purchasing their park.
- Zone A-1: Dick Heine VP: Region Manager Martha O’Connell spearheaded efforts in San Jose which resulted in an 11-0 vote by the San Jose City Council to apply new mobilehome designation to all MH parks in the city. Bob Fleak continues to coordinate a monthly Mobilehome Owners luncheon in Petaluma with great guest speakers.
- Zone B: Ron Hulsey, Zone VP, saved a chapter president from unlawful eviction in retaliation for his GSMOL activism and started a Failure to Maintain lawsuit in Cascade MHP in Sonora. Joe Nye, Region Manager, installed a new chapter in Bel Aire MHP in Stockton, reactivated The Pines MH Estates, and with Ron Hulsey established the Westfork Estates Chapter in Turlock. Ron and Joe were able, through creative thinking, to activate a chapter in Orangewood Mobile Manor in Lindsay. They met residents outdoors, wore masks, kept their distance, used loud voices and managed to find out what residents wanted and gave them a personal touch during the pandemic.
- Zone B-1: Anne Anderson, Zone VP, reactivated Chapter 231 in Santa Paula after their park manager tried to illegally pass through a $2 million dollar gas and electric upgrade. GSMOL Attorney, Bruce Stanton was working with the residents on the case when proceedings were halted due to the pandemic. In Santa Maria, a project funded by the GSMOEF grant got under way to get a rent stabilization ordinance adopted. The North Santa Barbara coalition NSBMHT is partnering with GSMOL on this project. Bruce Stanton and Anne Anderson assisted Chapter 1102 at Flamingo MHP in SB to get a moratorium issued by the city to prevent conversion of MH parks from 55-and-older status to all-age: the residents now have the opportunity to work toward a Senior MHP Overlay. The moratorium also restores Vacancy Control to the rent stabilization ordinance.
- Zone C: Mary Jo Baretich, Zone C VP: reactivated 4 Chapters: Belmont Shores Mobile Estates in Long Beach in February; San Dimas Royale Estates in San Dimas in August; Tahitian Terrace Mobilehome Park in Pacific Palisades in October, BerryDale Trailer Village in Garden Grove in October.
- Zone D: Tim Sheahan, Zone VP: In Escondido, the local MH owner advocacy group, EMPAC, lobbied their City Council to place a Vacancy Control measure on the ballot, but had to settle for a compromise which allowed vacancy rent increases to $950 for new residents. Chapter 708 in Oceanside continued to hold GSMOL and HOA Zoom meetings, send out E-Blasts daily, and monthly publish their Bell Ringer Magazine to keep everyone informed of management antics in their battle against a new park owner and his attempted rent increase in a rent-controlled community. Rancho San Luis Rey is a poster child for what enthusiastic membership, collective park activism and unity can accomplish. The November election brought mixed results; Escondido saw a weakening of MH owner support, while a shift on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors should provide opportunities to create better protections for MH owners in the unincorporated county. Congratulations to Associate Manager Victor Roy, who was re-elected as Oceanside City Treasurer.
- Appointment of Ethnic Consultant Martha Vazquez: To expand our outreach to Hispanic communities, Martha was appointed ‘Ethnic Consultant’ and Advisor to the GSMOL Board of Directors to educate the Board and be a bilingual voice for Hispanic issues.
- Translations: Multiple Forms and resource material continue to be revised and translated into Spanish and Vietnamese.
- Governor Newsom signed into law 2 GSMOL-sponsored bills in a turbulent and truncated legislative session trying to adapt to the demands of Covid-19.
- AB 2782 (Stone, Umberg, Limon, Voepel) provides 2 significant MH protections! It protects the equity in your home if your park is sold and repurposed and you are kicked out. It provides compensation of in-place, market-value for your home as determined by a state-certified appraiser if you cannot relocate your home to another park (which is seldom even possible). The second protection defends the continued affordability of home ownership in a MHP by eliminating a state loophole that denies MH home owners, who have signed long-term leases, the protection of any rent stabilization ordinance in their jurisdiction.
- SB 1117 (Monning): This bill closes the loophole in electrical utility overcharges and ensures that park residents are not being denied energy savings at their submeters, which some devious park owners had been pocketing.
- Opposition to bills detrimental to MH residents: GSMOL opposed AB 2895 (Quirk-Silva). Equally important as passing a bill is opposing a bill that is detrimental to the best interests of MH residents. This bill would have legitimized mobilehome mobilehome rent increases state wide and undermined rent control across the state! It proposed the same “rent cap” be applied to MH residents as apartment renters which would be prohibitively high for MH residents who only “rent a piece of dirt” and not an entire residence.
- The LC (Legislative Contact) team adapted our advocacy to the demands of the pandemic to expand our effectiveness under difficult circumstances. When we couldn’t go to them, we invited legislators to come to us. We invited Senators Leyva, Umberg, Monning and Assemblyman Stone to call into our LC meetings. We were inspired listening to their comments, which fueled our advocacy efforts during the turbulent 2020 session when most bills did not make it.
GSMOEF, the Ed Fund, was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). The grant will benefit both GSMOL and GSMOEF who will work together to form GSMOL Chapters, HOAs and coalitions, develop and train leaders, and create institutional change in low-income communities within the Los Angeles Diocese (LA, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties). If we are successful with this first phase of the grant program, we hope to obtain additional funding to continue the program in other Dioceses.
Reduction of Costs to Print and Mail The Californian
After receiving a complimentary copy of The Californian by email, 400 GSMOL members discovered they preferred the online version to the print version, in part, because they could increase the size of font making it easier to read. For those who prefer a printed copy, we continue to offer the print version. The benefits to GSMOL are significant reductions in postage & printing costs.
New Leaders Identified and Appointed
- Tamara Janies, Associate Manager, Region 11 (by John Bertaut, VP Zone A)
- Bob Van Cleef, Associate Manager, Region 14 (by John Bertaut, VP Zone A)
- Bill Seaton, Associate Manager, Region 9 (by Tim Sheahan, VP Zone D)
- John Hoskin, Associate Manger, Santee area (by Tim Sheahan, VP Zone D)
- Lorraine Diaz is the voice on the phone and new face in the office who answers your calls and assists members. She replaced Judy Dockrell who moved.
- Martha Vazquez was appointed Ethnic Consultant and Advisor to educate the board and be a voice for Hispanic issues.
- In the year of Covid-19 and its unprecedented financial hardship on so many mobilehome residents, our membership fell by 65 members. A surge of renewals due to our membership discounts mitigated our loss.
- GSMOL offered a successful “pandemic discount” that reduced membership fees to $20 (from $25), with many members taking advantage of the savings to join, renew, extend and sign up for multi-year memberships. We extended the discount until June 30, 2021 because Covid-19 is still with us!
- The Membership Action Team (MAT) chaired by Anne Anderson was established to build and retain GSMOL members. MAT includes Chapter presidents, Membership Chairs (MCs), Zone and Region leaders and interested members so that many opinions are heard about ways to create value to grow and retain membership.
Scanning of Documents
In a spring-cleaning of the office, documents & minutes were scanned and archived to protect our records, reduce clutter and make us more efficient.
From serious debt in 2017, this year saw GSMOL move into the black! During 2020, we continued to pay our bills, stay on budget and incur no debt due to our belt tightening and stringent cost-cutting strategies. Revenue exceeded expenses by $3,620, a narrow margin, but enough to pull us out of red ink. We will continue to respect our members’ dues by spending wisely and still getting the work done – even in a time of Covid-19. The complete 2020 financial report is posted in the Members Area at www.gsmol.org.
Looking Forward to 2021
GSMOL will continue our work to enact rent stabilization ordinances, enact zone overlays, guide residents on how to file their MRL complaint/s under the new MRLPP, provide guidance to parks in crises and continue to enact protective legislation in Sacramento. We will continue to be fiscally responsible with your dues and donations. We will continue to be your resource and go-to organization across the state to protect our MH lifestyle.
Your support of GSMOL via your membership means the work we do can continue! YOU are our most important asset. And if you are able to donate an additional amount, your generosity will be humbly appreciated and make a difference in our ability to continue our advocacy for you! We thank you!