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About Government Forcing Manufactured Home Communities to Pay for Amenities

October 18th, 2016 No comments

I received your email on the article that highlighted the amenities package on which the counsel person in Austin was planning to introduce legislation. It was an interesting concept and one that may be a little misplaced.

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Editor’s note: the image collage above is by MHProNews, and was not part of the guest writer’s article or commentary. This is provided for those who are not familiar with this operation, and thus enhances the understanding of the guest writer’s commentary.

My comments on the article would be as follows:

1)      For new communities (developments):

  1. It seems to me that the amount of amenities depends largely on the clientele of the park. Nicer (4 and 5 star) communities likely already will have these amenities, so it’s a non-issue. However, lower quality (and therefore cost) communities are likely to, as you mentioned in your email, have to increase the pricing on their rent in order to accommodate the loss of rentable area and the development of the amenities.
  2. Notably, there was no talk of providing anything in the way of property tax or other tax incentives as are often done for other multifamily property types. If affordable housing is in such dire need and the council members would like them to be of higher quality (with more amenities and such), then why hasn’t the city council put their money where their mouth is and provided some incentives to bring the housing into the market?
  3. At the end of the day, this probably will have the same effect that it has had in other cities where they make the zoning and development more difficult. New developments will move out of the city and into the county where the laws are less restrictive and it allows them to provide an amenities package that is more consistent with the pricing of the product.
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Image collage and headline are by MHProNews. The link at the top of this article is a download to the topic which drew this thoughtful commentary.

2)      For existing communities:

  1. The advent of a “community garden” is probably fine with most owners as it is a smaller space and requires little to no capital investment.
  2. However, there are a number of communities in which adding that space would require taking away a home site. I would suggest that the city, again, put its money where its mouth is and purchase the lots which they would like to see a community garden or play area for 125% of appraised value since this would be, in effect, eminent domain.
  3. In purchasing the sites for play space and a garden, cities could make the argument that they are helping to keep and improve quality affordable housing while not devaluing the property for the community owners.

Those are my basic thoughts. It was an interesting article and I don’t wholly disagree with the sentiment that it would be nice to have higher quality MHCs out there. However, someone has to pay for it and considering that low income housing is in low enough supply as it is, city councils may want to be a little careful how much they burden those trying to bring the product to the market.

Thanks,

MJ

mirkomjvokovichbellwetherenterprise-manufacturedhomecommunityindustryvoicesguestblogmanufacturedhousingindustrydailybusinessnewsmhpronews

 

MJ Vukovich
Vice President
Bellwether Enterprise
225 South 6th Street    |    Suite 4100    |
Minneapolis, MN 55402

 

(Editor’s Note: MJ Vukovich’s commentary is on the same topic as the comments from TMHA’s DJ Pendleton, which are linked here.  Thoughtful, original commentary on issues that impact manufactured housing professionals or our customers are welcome.)

DJ Pendleton Reacts – City Councilman’s Plan, Forcing Manufactured Home Communities to Provide Amenities

October 14th, 2016 No comments

First, I’m all for community owners investing in upgrades and tenant amenities to improve their communities as they see fit.  Improving and upkeep takes financial resources, which are inevitably passed on to the residents.

So there is always a balancing of desired improvements to affordability.  And these decisions should be made individually and in a manner that makes the most sense for a community.

The draft I have seen is lacking logistical details.  Namely:

  • how large does the vegetable garden space have to be?
  • Where can it be located in a community?
  • Who is responsible for the gardening?
  • What happens when like many Austin communities that are 100% occupied without existing space to spare? Meaning is some tenant going to be told their lease will not be renewed, not because they didn’t pay their rent or follow the rules and not because the land owner doesn’t want them to stay, but rather because the city is demanding a vegetable garden be placed where their home currently sits.
  • And even if there is vacant space, for some communities and prospective residents, the better use of available space could be to put another home there and allow another family a place to live rather than a garden.

I don’t know much about gardening, but from what I understand, it is a labor intensive and an expensive endeavor engaged by those with a passion for it. It is not a means of providing low cost, locally sourced fruit and vegetables.  So what happens if they build it and no one comes?  What if no one wants to garden in the community?  For some communities I can see this turning into a neglected part of the community.

I’m confused by the Council Member Renteria’s quote of, “There’s huge mobile home parks now being built all along the Eastern Crescent, on the border of the city.” “This is a little urgent now because there are so many in the pipeline.”

I know Scott Roberts got a rezoning approval for the construction of a new community, but the quote gives the implication there are tons of parks under development.  I’d of course love it if that were actually the case, but other than Robert’s Resorts, I’m not aware of any.

In fact, the city just turned down a request to allow for a new community to be developed after neighbors showed up to oppose it.

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Links and headline were added by MHProNews. Graphic credit, MHProNews.

This just seems like yet another city overreach with an idea that has not yet been thoroughly thought out as to its practical impact.  And it is once again, the singling out of manufactured home communities compared to other housing options.

Notice there is no proposal to mandate vegetable gardens in multi-family housing, or even in other single-family neighborhoods in Austin.

And as for the playground or recreation facility requirement this would impose on new construction, I again think these amenities work for some communities – but others for reasons of cost, maintenance, and liability – it doesn’t.

I might add that the City of Austin has closed in the past some city parks and pools because they city did not want to spend the money to maintain them. But somehow the idea of forcing this onto a community with the idea that they can mandate such things and they will be magically provided for free is either an attempt at political pandering or a lack of understanding of logistics and costs. ##

dj-pendleton-mhpronews-com-executive-director-texas-manufactured-housing-association-DJ Pendleton
Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA)

(Editor’s Note – Pendleton’s reaction to another zoning/MHC case, is linked here.)