Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Feb 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Mobile Home Park Residents Revisit Old Wound

mobileQuiet desperation roared at full volume at recent mobile home park rent control symposium

In the almost cartoonish paradise of De Anza Mobile Home Park, with its colorful array of manufactured homes mortared together with flower gardens and draping foliage, birds chirping in the globular trees, and panoramic ocean views one would expect nothing but senior citizens smiling as they take a stroll of the grounds. To the contrary, however, there is a deep despondence that lives within the community.

“I feel like I’ve been robbed,”  Christine Beck, a former resident of De Anza Mobile Home Park, said at a recent symposium. “And the worst part is that it seems like nobody cares.”

The residents of De Anza Mobile Home Park held The Santa Cruz City Former Mobile Home Park Rent Control Symposium this past Saturday, March 9, to address the city’s loss of rent control in 2003, the effect that it has had on the park’s residents, and what others can do to prevent similar scenarios from happening in the future.

In September of 2003, after four years of litigation, the City of Santa Cruz lost its federal case against what was then called Manufactured Home Communities (MHC), now Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS), a corporation based out of Chicago, and run by infamous billionaire Sam Zell.

In the ruling, Federal Judge Jeremy Fogel deemed the city’s rent control ordinance unconstitutional and abolished the protective measure as a result. This allowed ELS to raise the rents on De Anza’s residents to “market prices,” which in many cases was five times the amount they had paid before.

“This one corporation had more money than the City of Santa Cruz,” said former city councilmember Mike Rotkin, who spoke on the symposium’s first panel. “We were as shocked as the residents were when we found out our rent control law was unconstitutional under the judge’s decision.”

The city’s rent control ordinance not only restricted the amount that the mobile home park’s landowner could increase rent each year, but also regulated the amount that residents could charge when selling their home.

Under the law, mobile homes are not considered “real property” so when a homeowner sold his or her unit, they did not have to report the amount they sold it for to the city. Some residents took advantage of this and sold their homes for illegally high amounts, which allowed ELS to litigate the city into submission.

There was a settlement in the case, and the court allowed residents of De Anza to sign into a 34-year lease that kept their rent at previous levels, but the control does not apply once they try to sell. As soon as ownership changes hands, the rent goes up and the value of the home goes down, which means that most people can’t sell without losing all the equity they invested in their homes.

“My home is gone, and the money’s gone,” Beck said to the audience. “That was my retirement.”

The event’s second panel discussed how other communities could prevent this from happening in the future, and apart from zoning changes, there weren’t many options. But Ishbel Dickens, executive director of the National Manufactured Home association, left the panel with some hope.

“How about you start working for rent control at the state level? There are one million individuals living in manufactured housing communities in California. That’s a loud voice to take to the legislature,” Dickens said. “Don’t agonize—organize.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Throwing It All Away

Everybody’s for recycling, right? So why are we all doing it wrong? Our reporter gets down and dirty to uncover 10 secrets that will finally make the recycling process make sense

 

Aquarius Calling, Humanity Rising

Aquarius (11th sign after Aries) is the sign of service—serving one another, building community. Aquarius is fixed air, stabilizing new ideas in the world. When new ideas reach the masses the ideas become ideals within the hearts and minds of humanity. Air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are mental. They think, ponder, study, research, gather and distribute information. For air signs, education and learning, communicating, writing, being social, tending to money, participating in groups and creating sustainable communities are most important. One of the present messages Aquarius is putting forth to the New Group of World Servers is the creation of the New Education (thus thinking) for humanity—one based not on commodities (banking/corporate values) but on virtues. Humanity and Aquarius Aquarius is the sign of humanity itself. We are now at the beginnings of the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Humanity (rising). The “rising” is the Aquarian vision of equality, unity, the distribution and sharing of all resources and of individual (Leo) creative gifts for the purpose of humanity’s (Aquarius) uplifting. This is the message in the Solar Festival of Aquarius (at the full moon) on Tuesday, Feb. 3. We join in these visions by reciting the World Prayer of Direction, the Great Invocation.Tuesday’s solar festival follows Monday’s Groundhog Day, or Imbolc (ancient Celtic fire festival) the halfway mark between winter solstice and spring Equinox). The New Group of World Servers (NGWS) during these two days are preparing for the upcoming Three Spring Solar Festivals: 1. Aries Resurrection/Easter Festival (April); 2. Taurus Buddha/Wesak Festival (May); and 3. Gemini’s Festival of Humanity (June). Aquarius and the new and full moons together are the primary astrological influences behind all of humanity’s endeavors. The NGWS are to teach these things, calling and uplifting humanity. Join us everyone. (301)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Job Insecurity

Woman fights for her job in thoughtful, life-sized ‘Two Days One Night’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Jeffrey’s Restaurant

Why quick and friendly service matters at a local diner.

 

If you didn't live in Santa Cruz, where would you be living?

I would live in Kauai because the water is warmer, and I just love it there. Maureen Niehaus, Santa Cruz, Dental Assistant

 

Clos LaChance Wines

Pinot Noir 2012

 

Striking Gold

A taste of Soquel Vineyards’ five gold medal-winning Pinots