Just weeks after it was reported that an East Long Beach mobile home park was receiving dramatic rental increases, the City Council voted to move forward with options for a citywide rent stabilization ordinance for mobile home residents.
Earlier this year the City Council approved an ordinance that requires landlords to pay for tenant relocation in instances where they were displaced by rent increases of more than 10% annually. That law went into effect at the start of August.
However, that law and the more recently adopted statewide rent control law do not apply to mobile homes because residents own the home but not the land underneath it. So while the largest chunk of renters in the city have had some sort of protections, mobile home residents do not.
Those living in the Belmont Shores Mobile Estates received notices in September that the price they pay for the land under their mobile homes would be increasing substantially by the end of the year, with some reporting spikes as high as 35%. The community, which is south of Cal State Long Beach, is reserved for residents over 55, and has a number of residents who are retired and on fixed incomes.
They had until the middle of November to accept new lease terms with the property management company or potentially move out. Residents mobilized, showing up to last week’s City Council.
The park has recently undergone a massive renovation project, with investment in the property totaling about $30 million. Those renovations were given as a reason for the announced rental increases to residents of Belmont Shores. However, some owners felt like the increases were too steep to be justified by the improvements.
“It is not the pipes under the street that has increased the value of our park. It is the beautification of each resident, and the investment they have made in the home that makes it an appealing place for others to come and live in,” said Wynn Sulc.
Residents of Belmont Shores Mobile Estates seeing rent hikes as high as 35%
Councilwoman Suzie Price, who represents the area where Belmont Shores is located, said she’s been working with the property management company over the past few days and was promised that alternate offers would be extended to residents.
However, because the City Council doesn’t know the details of those offers she cautioned against creating policy Tuesday night, instead pushing it to a meeting next month where city staff could return to the council with options for a rent stabilization ordinance.
“The tenant relocation program that we passed really doesn’t apply to a lot of the issues that the mobile home owners have,” Price said. “My goal was to help them with the rent increases. If we have an ordinance that we pass in the future that protects them from rent increases, I think it’s only fair when the city is protecting other tenants from rent increases and the state is now protecting tenants from rent increases.”
Price’s original item called for mobile home owners to be added to the existing tenant relocation ordinance but she quickly learned that it could not apply to mobile home parks. The city will instead pursue options for a stand alone policy for mobile home parks in Long Beach much like other cities in the state have done for their mobile home residents.
It’s unclear if it will be modeled after the Long Beach tenant relocation policy which essentially caps rental rate increases at 10% annually without triggering relocation assistance payments to tenants, or if it will be shaped after the state’s rent control law that was recently signed by the governor.
The state law, which sunsets in 2030, caps rental increases at 5% plus inflation with a 10% maximum increase. Whichever option the city ends up pursuing when it potentially votes to craft an ordinance next month it would apply to all mobile home parks in the city.
Julie Paule, a representative from the Western Manufactured Community Housing Association, an organization that represents mobile home park owners, said they were opposed to rent control and asked the council to allow the dispute to be worked out without the intervention of city government.
“The best solution here is a private solution,” Paule said. “In fact, many times these can be resolved between the park owner and the residents for an outcome that works for both. But when you start with the stated outcome of an ordinance, it doesn’t give that process much to grow.”