CITY OF FULLERTON, CA MAY CONSIDER A MORATORIUM ON RENT HIKES FOR MOBILE HOME PARK – ON THEIR SIDE OF THE BORDER
There is a “border crisis” in Southern California — No, not “that border!”
According to a report by the Orange County Register, the Rancho La Paz Mobile Home Park was purchased in February for $85 million. Shortly after, residents were notified of $200 to $400 increases to their monthly rents to cover the resulting $800,000 jump in the annual property tax bill for the park and maintenance. Residents started flooding council meetings in Anaheim and Fullerton – the 390 senior home park straddles the border – pleading for city leaders from both cities to step in.
Rent hikes announced at the Rancho La Paz mobile home park sparked council member’s discussion of ways to staunch increases.
Fullerton officials are continuing to look at a moratorium on rent increases for mobile home parks as a possible way to protect hundreds of facing steep hikes this fall from being priced out of their community.
Meanwhile, Anaheim ended up rejecting a similar proposal for a moratorium, but officials did push the park’s new owner to hold off on the increases and an agreement was mediated that caps annual rent increases to 19% the next two years and eases increases down 7% in later years. The owner is also offering a subsidy program for some residents.
FULLERTON COUNCILWOMAN TO NEW PARK OWNER “TIME TO GET REALISTIC ABOUT THE TIMELINE FOR THE RETURN ON HIS INVESTMENT”
But with several of the renters telling Fullerton renters the increases are still too steep and they might have to leave, council members asked this week that city staffers put together a possible ordinance for a city-wide moratorium. The council could consider the ordinance as early as its August 6th meeting, though council members still seem hesitant to step in.
A moratorium could give the park owners, John Saunders of Saunders Property Company, time “to get realistic about the timeline for the return on his investment,” Councilwoman Jan Flory said at the July 16 council meeting.
Peter Whittingham, the spokesman for the park’s owner said the mediated increases already mean Saunders will have to operate in the red for another four years. And, he said Saunders has extended the lower rent increases to newer residents.
And the owner points out even as increased, rents at the mobile home park are “significantly below market for comparable parks in the area.”
Several owners of mobile home parks in other parts of Fullerton told council members at the meeting they’ve made smaller more gradual increases to rent.
FULLERTON COUNCIL MEMBERS WORRY HOW A MORATORIUM COULD AFFECT THE ANAHEIM HALF OF RANCHO LA PAZ MOBILE HOME PARK
“I don’t want our council to impose a solution that has unintended consequences far beyond this specific issue,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald, who opposed the moratorium idea. “You only institute a six-month moratorium if you intend to implement a rent control measure permanently.”
Council members further worried how a moratorium could affect the Anaheim half of Rancho La Paz.
The council also wants an ad-hoc committee created with mobile home park residents, owners and other parties, and wants the city staff to provide more information for a tenant-based rental assistance program.
Photo: Jeff Gritchen – Orange County Register