Mobile home park rents stay low
In one corner, are the residents of the mobile home park, who have collectively asked for the city’s help in establishing a form of rent control to keep their rent from rising too rapidly. Talia said many of the residents are on a fixed income and have every reason to be concerned with an increase in cost.
In the other corner, has been RT Enterprises, a group owned by entrepreneur Randy Thomas based out of Modesto, Calif. Thomas’s company purchased Hidden Acres in February of 2007 and has since raised the rates of space in the park to its current amount of $310 a month.
Talia, who has been mediating between the owner and tenants for more than three months, said he believes he has made some tremendous headway in the negotiations. As of Thursday, May 1, Talia said he has submitted a Memorandum of Understanding to both groups, which proposes the rates be increased by $20 every year over the next six years. He said both groups have been very responsive to the MOU, and he is currently waiting on signatures from both sides. He said the next step after receiving those signatures is to submit the MOU to the city for approval.
The issue first came before the Susanville City Council at its regular meeting on Wednesday, October 24. Several residents of the park, lead by longtime Lassen County resident Jim Ward, showed up to protest the actions of the new owner. At the meeting, the residents said since Thomas took over ownership during the summer, he had consistently raised the rent for the park.
Ward asked at the meeting if there was anything the council could do in order to keep the rates from rapidly increasing. Susanville Mayor Lino Callegari said he was very concerned about the issue and had City Administrator Rob Hill look into the matter.
The matter has only made a few appearances on the council’s public agenda since then. Concerned residents have been back at the council throughout the year, and council members and staff have discussed looking into a rent-control study in order to find out the effects such a measure might have on both the park and other city residential areas.
“We’ve been working behind the scenes to avoid a study,” Talia said, “because a study can become expensive for all parties involved.”
In a letter from Talia to all the parks residents dated on April 8, he wrote, “The proposed settlement includes a base rent of $268 with the utilities, including water, sewage and refuse, separately broken out as is proper under law.”
Talia broke it down in the letter that while the agreement wouldn’t raise the rates any further this year, it would tentatively go up by $20 on the first of May, 2009. It would then go up another $20 each year afterward for the next five years.
Talia said he has been reporting to the council about the progress he’s made during his mediation, keeping them up to date on the progress of the MOU. He said has been working with RT Enterprises’ lawyer and the tenants, both of which have been very understanding.
Talia held a meeting for the residents of the mobile home park on Wednesday, April 23 at the Susanville Senior Center.
“The tenants have expressed to me that they are very thankful and appreciative of all of the efforts of the city on their behalf,” Talia said. “Right now we’re at the point where we have a tentative agreement, but I still need confirmation from both sides and city approval.”
Talia said if everything goes well and he can get the necessary signatures, he might be able to bring the MOU before the council at its next regular meeting on Wednesday, May 7. Otherwise he will seek approval at a subsequent meeting.
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