Residents of Belmont Shores Mobile Estates seeing rent hikes as high as 35%

Residents of an East Long Beach mobile home park received notices late last month that the rental price for their land would be going up after a nearly $30 million improvement project was completed by the property management company, leaving some angered and wondering if they can afford to stay.

The Belmont Shores Mobile Estates located on Loynes Drive just north of Pacific Coast Highway is a senior living community for people 55 years and older.

The gated community has been undergoing a capital improvement program over the past few years which included improvements to water and sewer lines, street lights, storm drains, roadways and the electrical infrastructure of the community.

A letter sent to residents in late September from Newport Pacific Capital Company Inc., the group that manages the park, noted these improvements and that rents had not been raised on existing residents since January 2017 and that the increases, some of which are as high as 35%, were needed to account for the improvements and the current market.

“An adjustment is necessary to take into account many factors including the financial commitment from the owners, the time passed since the last adjustment and the work and the improvements to the park,” the letter said. “Further, we analyzed local housing market conditions and comparable mobile home park rents which reflect the current rents at Belmont Shores Mobile Estates are significantly under-market.”

Officials at Newport Pacific Capital Company Inc. were not immediately available for comment.

The letter, first reported in the Press-Telegram, stated that residents had until Nov. 15 to make a decision on if they wanted to continue with a new lease under the new payment structure.

Former Long Beach City Councilman Mike Donelon has called the estates home for the last eight years and loves it. He said that even if he had $1 billion he wouldn’t move, and doesn’t plan to leave even with the rent increases that pushed his payment from $1,070 per month to $1,425 per month.

However, some of his neighbors have already expressed that they wont be able to make the same decision.

“Most people here including me are on fixed incomes,” Donelon said. “Many will have to move.”

Donelon, like other residents, has been offered a two-year rent credit that could help offset the charges that will go into effect at the beginning of next year. His credit structure would provide him with $200 per month for 2020 and then $100 per month in 2021. After that, the credits run out and residents will be on the hook for the entirety of their individual increases.

“It’s their dirt they improved,” Donelon said. “If they came in an improved my trailer then it would be fine.”

Trailer owners pay rent for the land that it sits on. Some trailers are paid off, while others have been financed, so there is a spectrum of financial situations that exist in the park. He said that the letters have been the talk of the neighborhood and everyone was shocked at the increases.

He said he hasn’t bothered to reach out to the City Council to step in because as a former council member he knows there is little that can be done. He noted that the City Council dealt with a similar issue with the Windward Village mobile home park in West Long Beach while he was still on the council and he quickly found that the council’s hands were tied.

“The only thing they can do is listen to everyone vent and then respectfully say ‘I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do,’” Donelon said. “And people don’t want to hear that.”

However, not everyone agrees that the increases were surprising.

One resident, who wished not to be identified because of the highly emotional response the letters have created and possible fallout with neighbors for speaking counter to the outrage surrounding the increases, said that the property management group told residents that rental rates would increase to about $1,500 per month after the capital improvement program concluded.

“They told us it was coming,” she said. “And they’ve done a really good job of giving us a very nice place to live.”

The resident said that if she had the same size home with the same proximity to the beach, she’d easily be paying double the cost to live in the Belmont Shores estates.

Recently the City Council adopted a tenant relocation ordinance aimed at reigning in excessive rental increases with landlords required to pay as much as $4,500 per unit in relocation assistance to displaced renters as of Aug. 1.

State legislators separately approved a statewide rental cap increase in September and the governor has signaled he will sign it into law next week. The law would cap rental increases to 5% annually, plus inflation. The law would go into effect in January.

Neither, however, applies to mobile home parks.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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