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Measure V – Battle Lines Drawn

October 10th, 2016 Comments off
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Collage and text credit by MHProNews. Click to see full sized image.

As the moms and pops that built our mobile home parks age out, predatory, out-of-town corporate investors have been taking over. – Measure V proponents

Once rent control is adopted, politicians will – by the tenants’ votes – be giving the landlord’s property to the tenants. It happens all the time.Sam Landy, CEO UMH Properties

These are just two of the many published perspectives over controversial Measure V – a Humboldt County, California ballot measure that proposes significant changes to the relationship between manufactured home community owners and their residents.

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Humboldt County, CA (in red.) Credit: Wikipedia

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Joe Dyton.

As Daily Business News’ Joe Dyton covered recently, Measure V proposes that:

  • Manufactured home community owners would be permitted to raise site rents once annually, and the increase would be tied to inflation via the Consumer Price Index;
  • When a home is sold or transferred, new resident site fees could only increase five percent higher than what the previous residents paid;
  • A community owner could raise rents to pay for improvements, but would first require written approval from more than 50 percent (a simple majority) of the homeowners/residents.

This has spurred a furious debate, including letters to the editor and opinion columns from both sides of the issue.

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Millionaires, such as actress Betsy Russell, are living in manufactured homes. To see a photo spread of her manufactured home which listed for 2 million dollars, click here.

Court Ruling, Views Dueling

Credit: Facebook.

Credit: Facebook.

In May, a federal jury unanimously found that the city of Carson and its rent control board violated the constitutional rights of the owner of Colony Cove — a mobile home park in Southern California,” said Doug Johnson, who is a member of Citizens Against Rent Control — NO on Measure V, in his letter to the Times-Standard.

The jury concluded that the board’s rejection of lawfully filed rent increase applications in 2007 and 2008 constituted a regulatory taking without just compensation,” Johnson wrote.  “Such government actions are barred by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Johnson’s comments are, in part, a response to those of Hilary Mosher. Mosher is chair of the Humboldt Mobile Home Coalition, who was quoted in an Op-Ed in the Mad River Union, seeking to make her case for Measure V.

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Credit: HumboldtMobileHome.org

Park owners are being merciless, and in some cases, outside the law in their rush to gouge park residents in raising fees and lot rents prior to the Nov. 8 election,” Mosher alleged.

This provides us with a perfect example of why Measure V is necessary – park owners are not required to be fair with their increases and we park residents are captive and have no say about whatever they want to do to us,” Mosher continued. “One park owner in McKinleyville, who failed to give tenants adequate notice, has even gone so far as to tell them in a letter that if Measure V does not pass, he may not raise the rent! We view this as voter manipulation and intimidation.

Johnson sees the Measure V issue as a danger to taxpayers that they may not be aware of, referring to the Colony Cove case in Carson, CA.

The jury went on to award the park owner more than $3.3 million in damages. In addition to this already staggering judgment — which the taxpayers of Carson will have to pay — the court ordered that the city pay an additional $4,128,662 in prejudgment interest and attorneys’ fees. Taxpayers are now on the hook for a whopping $7,464,718 — from just one bad Rent Control Board decision,” Johnson said.

One McKinleyville resident disagrees with Johnson’s take.

In his letter, Doug Johnson made a lot of untrue statements. He gave his address as McKinleyville — he does not live in Humboldt County,” claims Roxann Souter of McKinleyville in her Times-Standard letter-to-the-editor.

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Image credits are as shown.

Administration of Measure V is paid for through fees to mobile home owners. If park owners decide to go to court they potentially are costing taxpayers money— not Measure V. He [Johnson] said Carson taxpayers will have to pay millions— not necessarily true,” Souter continued.

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Video Interview with HUD expert includes: behind-the-scenes look at construction, community and home tours – click above.

That case is being appealed and research shows that these park owner cases most often lose in the higher court, with park owners liable for fees. Johnson claims that Measure V will impact public services — he has no crystal ball to know that,” Souter said.

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Carrie Peyton Dahlberg. Credit: Mad River Union.

In her opinion piece to the Mad River Union, semi-retired journalist, landlord and volunteer for “Yes on Measure V,” Carrie Peyton Dahlberg shared a similar perspective.

For mobile home residents, the ‘free market’ is a myth. People who own mobile homes can’t pick up and leave if the park owner decides to create new fees or impose repeated rent increases. They are trapped. The only way out is to sell their home, the one asset many of them own,” said Peyton Dahlberg.

That is why, even though I’m a landlord, I collected hundreds of signatures this spring to help put Measure V on Humboldt County’s ballot. Many landlords I talked with signed the petitions,” Peyton Dahlberg wrote.

They know the difference between a tenant who is free to leave and one who is a captive renter, in a captive market. When they learned the details of Measure V, they realized it was fair to the park owners, as well as to the mobile homes owners.

A Landlord…?

The Daily Business News reached out to Peyton Dahlberg with questions related to her experience as a landlord, including whether or not she owned a manufactured home community or had friends or releatives who lived in manufactured home communities.

I will be glad to answer those questions in 2017,” she replied.

Dahlberg would not respond to a follow up.

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Credit: HumboldtMobileHome.org

Park owners in Humboldt County have been addressing the issue of alleged “excessive” rent for well over a year,” attorney C. William Dahlin told MHProNews.

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C. William “Bill” Dahlin.

However, the reality is that rents in Humboldt County are not excessive. Indeed, rents in Humboldt County mobilehome parks are exceptionally low. Do the research,” Dahlin said.

Most Park owners offer long-term leases that address and stabilize any legitimate concern about rent increases,” Dahlin explained. “A rent increase that reflects an increase in property taxes simply reflects the costs of doing business. Not one penny of such increases go to the park owner. Rather, such funds go the county for roads as well as police and fire services.”

Sheila Dey, Executive Director of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association told MHProNews that Doug Johnson’s statement reflected their association’s view. In addition, Dey also wrote this article on the harmful impact of Rent Control on affordable housing in California.

A Larger Problem…

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Paul Bradley. Credit: Fosters.com

I think rent control is a symptom of a larger problem.  To my eye, these stories are always about both sides doubling down politically and legally,Paul Bradley, president of Resident Owned Communities (ROCUSA) told MHProNews.

I would like to think there are alternatives that don’t rely on third-party boards and local ordinances.  I approach things with a win/win mindset, and from what I’ve seen; courts and boards seem to satisfy neither party in most cases.  A fundamentally different value proposition and mindset is required to stem the tide of rent control,” said Bradley.

UMH Properties’ president and Sam Landy sees it similarly.

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Sam Landy, UMH President and CEO.

The fact is, if we [as community owners] raise our rents too high, we will have no sales and no occupancy,said Landy. No reasonable landlord would do such a thing. Our rents have to make economic sense or we have no business. Therefore, in the long term, there is never a need for rent control.

The Daily Business News will monitor this controversial ballot measure. ##

(Editor’s Note: for a similar, related story featured in a Fox News video, please click here.  Update – WMA’s video and talking points, are linked here.)

(Image credits are as shown above.)

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Resident Councilman leads charge for new law that Manufactured Home Community Owners, Industry Professionals say Harms All

August 29th, 2016 2 comments
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Dover councilman Fred Neil stands in his front yard in north Dover. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

It started last fall when we issued a permit to allow a manufactured home on a regular single-family lot,” said Ann Marie Townshend, director of Dover’s Planning and Community Development. “It got some people upset so we fixed the definition of single-family dwellings so that couldn’t happen again,” reported Mike Finney for the DelawareStateNews.

The “…story out of Dover, DE is yet another example of a blatant agenda and discrimination against our industry,” manufactured home veteran Brad Nelms told MHProNews. “More importantly, this is discrimination against affordable housing and the individuals who live in manufactured or pre-fabricated homes.”

Finney states the city of Dover reportedly recognized that their mobile and manufactured home ordinance was outdated in terminology and in other ways, so an updated 20-page revision of standards and verbiage known as Ordinance #2026-16 was enacted for Dover.

Townshend said the process began in Nov. 2015 and was passed unanimously by the members of city

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Ann Marie Townshend.

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Marty Lavin, JD.

council at their Aug. 8, 2016 meeting. Attorney and award-winning manufactured housing professional Marty Lavin pointed to Dover’s ordinance as an example of how “the HUD Code has become a deadly “discrimination code,” especially as it applies to manufactured home financing. But it doesn’t end there.”

As most MH industry professionals know, “the HUD Code” are the strict, federally preemptive standards that govern manufactured housing’s construction and safety standards; the trailer house era and mobile home days are decades in the rear-view mirror.

Dover Councilman Fred Neil, a resident of Wild Meadows, active adult manufactured home community near the Dover International Speedway, described the ordinance this way, “It’s a licensing law, and while it’s only $25 per home on a lot, the fact is if [the community owners] don’t do what they have to do, you can lift their license and put them out of business.”

Finney said Neil believes the now-required annual licensing of manufactured and mobile homes will improve things for residents.

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This street view of Wild Meadows reflects what many modern manufactured homes look like, with not a single mobile home visible in this picture; image credit, Google Maps.

New Regulation – helpful or harmful in the long run?

A Daily Business News brief in April, 2015 reported that the location’s operator, December Corporation, was denied a site fee increase under the rent justification law, which the company said was necessary to do more than ordinary improvements and maintenance at Wild Meadows.

The experience of rent control in California may provide clues to what’s coming in Dover.

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Doug Johnson, credit, Western Manufactured Home Communities.

Doug Johnson, of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association – which represents manufactured home communities and mobile home park owners in various issues and legal disputes – opposes rent control. “It’s very complicated and it pits the owners against the residents,” Johnson said. “We don’t believe rent control works — it raises mobile home prices and is expensive for the taxpayer.”

Government imposed regulations and fees are leading contributors to why California is the most expensive place to live in

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Sheila Dey, Executive Director, Western Manufactured Home Communities, photo credit, PublicCEO.

the U.S., placing homeownership out of reach for many middle-class Californians,” said Sheila Dey, Executive Director of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association (WMHCA), speaking about a similar scenario, linked here.

 

MHProNews previously reported a case out of Canada, where CBC TV provided a look at an actual example of rent control’s long term impact on manufactured home residents and owners alike.  That video is below.

Meanwhile, for some residents, it’s the fear of the impact of rapid-rent hikes that spark the concerns and calls for rent control.

Insider Report from Delaware

This Fred Neil has been a thorn in our side for 14 years now,” an informed source in Delaware told MHProNews. “He is now a City of Dover councilman and he has also been active on the state-wide tenant association for years.”

The source stated in confidence that there are a handful of communities in the City of Dover, which are in the early stages of planning a legal challenge to the city’s new

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Brad Nelms, MH Industry veteran, photo credit, MHProNews.

ordinance. The tension, it seems, won’t be resolved for either side of the struggle over the new ordinance.

I believe more than anything that these injustices should be motivation for us as an industry to do everything we can to elevate our brand identity,” Nelms, as part of a longer statement on this and a related issue linked here, stated. “If we continue to be complacent, history will continue to repeat itself and we will see more and more zoning laws that harm and hinder our much needed American manufactured home industry.” ##

(Image credits are as shown.)

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L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach is the publisher of MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com.

(Editor’s Note: Matthew Silver is taking some much needed and well-earned time off, and L. A. “Tony” Kovach will be helping fill the Daily Business News role in the interim).

Article submitted by L. A. “Tony” Kovach, to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Arcata, CA Residents Concerned about Rents in MH Community

June 22nd, 2016 Comments off

Calif_humboldt_county__the_times_dash_standard__shaun_walker__rent_controlFollowing concerns expressed by manufactured home community (MHC) residents in Arcata, California regarding rising site rents, the Arcata City Council directed the Community Development Department to take a demographic survey of MHC residents as well as the history of rents.

As times-standard tells MHProNews, Community Development Department specialist Mohamad Alnakhlawi said the results will be presented to the council in the fall. “We’re looking at the full spectrum of solution strategies. Rent control is just one tool,” Arcata City Councilman Mark Wheetley said.

The MHC was sold to Follett USA in 2013, and CFO Casey Kelly said the majority of the increases at Lazy J’s Mobile Home Park have been to cover property taxes, while in the third year there was a stabilized real rent increase of $9 per month.

Carman Gentile, a nine-year resident of Lazy J, said he hopes for an alternative to rent control since that has been controversial in many cities. “This is a big task for the Arcata City Council to embark on,” he said. “I would prefer a more congenial relationship with the park owners and more transparency about their long-term plans.”

Doug Johnson, of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, which represents mobile home park owners in various issues and legal disputes, opposes rent control. “It’s very complicated and it pits the owners against the residents,” Johnson said. “We don’t believe rent control works — it raises mobile home prices and is expensive for the taxpayer.

Alnakhlawi says preliminary results indicate site rents in Arcata average $300-500 a month. Golden State Manufactured Home Owners League representative Karilee Shames, while noting the risks residents face without regulation, said site rents in Sonoma where she lives runs around $1,300 a month. Arcata is far north on the coast, while Sonoma is just north of the Bay Area.

Johnson said space rents in Arcata are already affordable, and that is without government involvement. ##

(Photo credit: times-standard/Shaun Walker–Humboldt County, Calif.)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Rent Control termed a Form of Price Fixing

March 4th, 2016 Comments off

Calif_humboldt_county__the_times_dash_standard__shaun_walker__rent_controlAs part of the city’s overall affordable housing strategy, the Arcata (Calif.) City Council has approved a mid-year appropriation of $35,000 to develop a plan to balance the needs of manufactured home community (MHC) residents against those of the MHC owners, and avoid rent control/rent stabilization measures for the city.

Community Development Director David Loya said a memorandum of understanding might avoid the costs of rent stabilization efforts, as times-standard informs MHProNews.. Doug Johnson of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association (WMHCA) suggested the $35,000 could be more effective helping the residents directly, although he noted, “We support this effort as long as it is fair, thorough and fact-based.”

The city may pass ordinances that control the frequency and amount of rent increases, including when home sites become vacant. 

Meanwhile, a group of manufactured home owners are trying to obtain enough signatures to put a rent stabilization ordinance on the Nov. ballot for Humboldt County. The ordinance would apply only to communities with ten or more homes in unincorporated areas of the county.

Community owners call such ordinances a form of price-fixing that can interfere with repairs and maintenance of the communities. ##

(Photo credit: times-standard/Shaun Walker–Humboldt County, Calif.)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Manufactured Home Community Residents seek Rent Control in Northern CA

February 18th, 2016 Comments off

Calif_humboldt_county__the_times_dash_standard__shaun_walker__rent_controlThe Humboldt Mobilehome Owners Coalition is seeking a ballot initiative to put rent control in manufactured home communities (MHC) to the voters in Humboldt County, in far Northern California, according to times-standard. The group has to obtain 3,000 signatures to be on the Nov. ballot.

The Mobile Home Park Space Rent Stabilization Ordinance would only apply to unincorporated areas of the county, regulating site rents for communities of over ten homes.

The coalition’s Patti Rose said the ordinance would tie increases to cost-of-living increases because so many of the MHC residents are on fixed incomes.

Community owners say the measure is a form of price fixing, and limiting increases could affect the extent of maintenance and repairs communities require.

The Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association’s Doug Johnson said rent control is an unfair, expensive and useless government regulation that the McKinley Municipal Advisory Committee has already rejected.

The ordinance says, “The mobile home park owner may implement the increase each year by legally required notice, or bank the increase to be added to the rent at a future date, and provide a notice to mobile home owner tenants of the park owner’s election to defer the allowable annual increase.”

While this initiative would only apply to MHCs in unincorporated areas of Humboldt County, the coalition sees this as a jumping off point to eventually have the cities adopt rent control ordinances. ##

(Photo credit: The Times-Standard/Shaun Walker–Thunderbird MHC in Humboldt County)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily business News-MHProNews.

Rent Control Initiatives Challenged by Land Lease Community Owners

February 5th, 2014 Comments off

Following a story MHProNews.com first posted Aug. 23, 2013, both the Lake County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors and the Lakeport City Council have rent control initiatives regarding manufactured housing communities on separate ballots sponsored by a “Save our Seniors” group. While the county ballot is set for June, and the city initiative will be tied in with municipal November elections, both would roll back rents to Jan. 1, 2012 and base increases on Social Security raises. The county ballot requires 80 percent of the households have at least one person 65 or older living in a home, while the city initiative says 80 percent of the homes have at least one person over 55. The Lake County Mobilehome Park Owners Association has sued to determine if rent control is legal.

Attorney Charles Bell, Jr., representing the community owners, noting the focus is on constitutional issues of violation of due process and an illegal taking, says “The initiative is really poorly crafted and doesn’t provide any mechanisms that are required by numerous court cases to assure that there’s opportunity for a process to ensure a fair return on investment.” He says his law firm has successfully challenged similar initiatives.

Doug Johnson, of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association (WMHCA), while not a party to the suit, said a lot of WMHCA members supported the suit, and that he had notified both the city and the county last year to expect litigation over the measures. Lake County Counsel Amy Grant and interim Lakeport City Attorney David Ruderman both said the initiatives may not withstand judicial scrutiny, according to lakeconews.com. Johnson said that, statewide, there are 110 manufactured home community rent control ordinances currently in force. Of those, only 15 were enacted by initiative, with the rest passed by local councils or boards. He said 381 of 481 cities and 48 of 58 counties don’t have rent control ordinances.

(Image credit: CNNMoney.com)

Rent Control Initiative on Calif. Ballot

December 5th, 2013 Comments off

A manufactured housing community (MHC) senior rent control initiative may become law when it goes on the ballot for voters to decide in Lakeport, California on the June 2014 referendum. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to put the measure to the people after the group, “Save our Seniors,” collected 2,500 signatures. The proposal rolls rents back to Jan. 1, 2012 and requires increases to be based upon Social Security increases, and applies to any MHC where at least 80 percent of the homes have one person over age 55. A social services director says it will stabilize rents for long-term tenants, especially seniors who are already on fixed incomes. According to lakeconews.com, Doug Johnson of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association (WMHCA) sent board members a letter asking them not to approve placing the initiative on the ballot. He wrote, “Any law that proposes – as the rent control initiative currently before your Board does – to strip almost all the economic value of a property in perpetuity, without just compensation and a rational process of appeal, is a gross violation of the Takings Clause and the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” County Counsel Anita Grant, telling the board they could order her office to determine if the proposal is lawful before the ballot, says they should not make it an ordinance because she questions whether it would survive judicial scrutiny. Richard Filipowicz, owner of Kelsey Creek Mobile Home Park in Kelseyville, who will not be affected by the initiative, states he opposes it, and says the county will have the cost of enforcing it and any litigation that may arise. Counselor Grant said there are two approaches: An appellate court has ruled that because of the cost of placing an item on the ballot, there is cause to examine the proposal before hand; but a CA Supreme Court ruling says the democratic process should move forward and legal review should occur afterward. As MHProNews understands, the costs of operating a community could outstrip SS increases. The board voted 5-0 to put it on the June ballot.

(Photo credit: santeepatch.com–MHC, Santee, Calif.)

City seeks balance on Rent control issue?

August 23rd, 2013 Comments off

lakeport-1-ca-image-google-maps-posted-manufactured-home-professional-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com-The Lakeport, CA City Council voted to wait for a report from an agency before proceeding on a proposed rent control initiative that has enough petitioners to achieve ballot status. Save our Seniors (SOS) members derided the decision. SOS leader, Nelson Strasser. said: “When the park owners have to bring in a senior Sacramento lobbyist to defend their case against a pensioner in the council meeting, it has to be pretty weak.” The RecordBee told MHProNews that SOS Chairman Bill Eaton pointed to an alleged internal document from one community owner who stated his intention was to raise the rents as much and as often possible, “because residents were mostly ignorant and could do nothing about it.” Local community owners have brought in Doug Johnson, a Sacramento lobbyist, to lead the opposition to the measure. As most MHProNews readers know, advocates for rent control often don’t realize such measures tend to harm affordable housing options, limiting over time the very quality of life community residents seek and want to protect. Land-lease community owners typically know they must balance the interests of residents with rising costs, regulatory impacts and the natural desire for a reasonable return on their investment. The council’s move to consider MHC owners rights thus make sense. Lakeport is about a 126 mile drive from Sacramento, a desirable locale. ##

(Image credit: Google Maps)