California Cities and Counties OK Mobile Home Zoning to Save Affordable Housing Communities from Conversion

As property evaluations in or near metropolitan areas continue to rise, existing manufactured/mobile home communities occupying those properties have been under siege from developers who see an opportunity to convert those properties to other more profitable uses such as higher density housing developments and/or commercial development.

Mobile home park conversions across the country have been personally catastrophic for many mobile home residents who own the home but rent the property upon where the home is sited. Usually, the developer will offer to pay a portion of the homeowners’ cost of relocating their home elsewhere. However, in most situations there are no relocatable locations available and/or the older mobile homes are not relocatable, resulting in abandonment of home and sometimes homelessness.

Often city and county planners have been complicit in these conversions, influenced by the tax revenues realized by these changes in property use. In the state of California, there are some positive indications that conversions can be and are often not in the best interest of retaining affordable housing in their cities and counties.


Proposal Would Protect 25 Mobile Home and  Manufactured Home Communities in Ventura County

According to the VC Star, a proposal that is expected to be passed would establish special zoning to prevent the conversion of mobile home parks in unincorporated Ventura County into higher-priced housing.

The proposal goes beyond the current rules that require permits to close parks, evidence that the closures won’t cause substantial harm and measures to soften the effect on displaced residents. It essentially bans any other type of housing on property occupied by the 25 parks because the new zone would not allow it.

A county report shows five other California areas have enacted the mobile home zones, namely the cities of Riverside, Newport Beach and Hermosa Beach plus Santa Cruz and Trinity Counties.

Tricia Maier, long-range manager for the county, said she was unaware of any conversions other than a small one in the Oak View area in 2005.


Primary Intent Is To Preserve Mobile Home Parks As Affordable Housing For The Future

The primary intent of the measure is not to address any current proposal, but rather to preserve mobile homes as affordable housing for the future, she said.

Maier said she understands the conversions become more likely as land and housing costs increase, pointing to examples in the Bay Area and Orange County. It’s reasonable to assume the same thing could happen in Ventura County, she said.

The Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, which represents park owners and operators in California opposed the measure.

County attorneys said their research shows the measure is legal. The zone is not a “taking” of private property because it keeps the current use in place, Jeff Barnes said.

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