City passes MOU between Hidden Acres and RT Enterprises
City Attorney Peter Talia said he was urging the council to pass the MOU with a heavy heart.
“I’m advising the council to pass this with a lump in my throat,” Talia said.
Many of the residents told Talia at the meeting that they were very appreciative of his efforts on their behalf. Others said they were disappointed with the way things have turned out with the residents’ strained relationship with RT Enterprises.
It was a sentiment that was echoed by councilmember Doug Sayers, who cast the only vote against the MOU.
“This is a guy who doesn’t need to be doing business in Susanville,” Sayers said in reference to the owner of RT Enterprises Randy Thomas.
Local realtor Odette Swift openly said the council was not doing its job in representing the people of the city, referencing how rent increases around other parks in the city were not going through the same kind of turmoil Hidden Acres has been through.
Talia made the comment that the rent moratorium affected all of the mobile home parks within the city, halting their owners from raising their rates. Talia said a few times during the meeting that the city couldn’t do much more without putting it self into position for a lawsuit.
He said holding off on the MOU and instituting a rent study would cost the city at least $10,000. He also said that the way the laws are written in the state makes it so that property owners are entitled to pursue at least a 10 percent rate of return on their properties.
Swift asked the council to wait a little longer so that they could investigate more into the business practices of Thomas. She was concerned about when Talia had started to negotiate the MOU with Thomas and his legal counsel, Joe Carroll. Talia had said they had originally negotiated the rent to be $268 a month, to go up by $20 a year for the next five years.
Talia said RT Enterprises eventually pulled out of the deal and flatly refused the rate, then came back with a base rate of $295. Talia said that based on the amount of money the company had initially invested in the park, it would probably be at least a year before the company saw any sort of income from the park.
Everyone on the council said they had individually felt bad about how this situation turned out. Councilmember Joe Franco said he felt that Thomas was an unethical businessman, and that this was little more than taking advantage of people on fixed incomes.
One issue that Carroll addressed was the lack of communication between the residents and the owner, which he said was currently being worked on. Residents brought up the issue at the special meeting extending the moratorium on Tuesday, July 29. Residents complained that they felt the owner wasn’t even making an effort to hear their concerns.
“Steps are being taken to improve communication,” Carroll said. “We are definitely going to try and make it better.”
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