LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance Tuesday to temporarily cap rents at mobile home parks in unincorporated areas, including Quartz Hill, Littlerock and Lake Los Angeles.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger voted against the ordinance — which will take effect Oct. 4 — and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas abstained from the vote.
Supervisor Janice Hahn championed the plan for a 180-day moratorium on rent increases in excess of 3 percent for mobile home spaces leased for a period of 12 months or less.
Hahn said residents in the parks are in a tough spot because they own their home but only rent the land it sits on.
“The term `mobile home’ is misleading,” Hahn said when the board first voted on the matter. “Mobile homes are often placed permanently in a park and moving them is difficult and expensive. This gives mobile home park owners a virtual monopoly and gives residents few options if they cannot afford rent hikes or fees.”
Sometimes the owners are forced to sell their homes to their landlords for below market value because moving the home is cost-prohibitive, she added.
In February, spurred by complaints from residents at Rowland Heights Mobile Estates, Hahn asked the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority to look at a permanent rent control ordinance. That work is still underway and Hahn worried that, in the meantime, owners might try to jack up rents in anticipation of a cap.
A representative of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association told the board that there’s no evidence of a widespread problem with rent increases at mobile home parks or of a connection to homelessness.
“The county seems in a hurry to create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist,” Jarryd Gonzales told the board. “Mobile homes are not contributing to the county’s homelessness crisis. Mobile homes are part of the solution.”
Individual supervisors did not comment before the vote. However, at a meeting last month when the ordinance was introduced, Barger said the high rate of mortgage interest on mobile homes — which she pegged at 9 or 10 percent — was a bigger factor in affordability than rent paid to landlords for space in the park.
Barger proposed that the county invest aggressively in opening more mobile home parks on county land, because the cost of housing people there would be a fraction of what it costs to build conventional affordable housing, and called on the CDC to provide a more complete set of information.
Some park owners turned out to oppose the motion.
Dan Fischer, who owns a park with his wife and said he plans to pass it on to their daughter when the couple dies, said he raises rents in line with the Consumer Price Index, but also offers a 10 percent discount on rents for low-income residents.
Lee Ouye, another longtime park owner, said he offers college scholarships to kids who live there.
But a residents’ association representative said a permanent cap on rent was necessary to adequately protect seniors and other residents who live in more than 8,500 units in 86 mobile home parks in unincorporated areas of the county.
And one tenants’ advocate urged the board to go further and cap rents at a broad range of rental properties. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl has drafted at least one motion calling for such an ordinance, but it has so far failed to make it to a vote.