Mobile-home owners will get a chance to find out how they are affected by the county’s revised mobile-home rent-control ordinance at a know-your-rights forum on Thursday, November 30 at Centro del Popular, 18346 Sonoma Highway in Boyes Hot Springs.
Conducted in English and Spanish, the rights training will be presented from 6-8pm by California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) and the Golden State Mobile-Home Owners League (GSMOL). Other sponsors include the Sonoma County Mobile-home Owners Association (SCMOA), Sonoma Valley Housing Group (SVHG), and Centro del Poder Popular itself.
“Too often people who own mobile-homes in the Springs stay silent because they don’t know what their rights are, and they can be taken advantage of,” said Mario Castillo, chair of SVHG. “We hope they will come to the forum and carry the information back to their neighbors.”
Strongly encouraged by local chapters of mobile-home owners groups and by Legal Aid of Sonoma County, the Board of Supervisors voted October 23 to limit annual rent hikes in mobile-home parks (MHPs) to 70% of the Consumer Price Index or 4% of the existing rent, whichever is less. Previously rents had been capped at 6%.
There are four parks in the Springs area: Rancho Vista, Meadowbrook Mobile Estates (pictured), Lazzarotto’s MHP, Brookside Mobile Manor, and Acacia Grove MHP.
The County’s action brought MHP rent increases in the unincorporated county into line with those in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Windsor. The county had not updated its ordinance since 1992.
With more than 2,250 units, the 68 mobile-home parks in the unincorporated areas account for 40% of Sonoma County’s parks,
“It is often said that mobile homes are the last naturally existing affordable housing within Sonoma County,” the coalition supporting the downward revision wrote the supervisors. “It is also well understood that many residents are low- to extremely low-income households facing additional factors that increase their housing vulnerability.” Those factors include being senior, disabled, or Spanish-speaking.
“With back-to-back years of the highest rent increases in decades, the damage to seniors and working families living within the margins may be lasting,” stated the coalition’s letter. Among its signers were SVHG chair Castillo and Seven Flags resident Mark Abel.
“People in Seven Flags are represented by GSMOL, and generally they know what their rights are” says Abel. “But mobile-home folks in the Springs don’t know where to turn if they have questions or concerns.”
Besides lowering the rent cap, the board of supervisors also capped rent increases at 5% when a unit is sold, and supervisors directed staff to research a county registry of mobile-home spaces. Without such a registry, the county and others have had a hard time collecting data and reaching out to mobile-home owners.