Santa Maria Mayor and City Manager Agree to Discuss Mobile Home Rent Stabilization | Government and politics
The issue of mobile home rent stabilization will be discussed at a future Santa Maria City Council meeting after Councilman Carlos Escobedo became the second member to publicly support a planned dialogue after years of public outcry.
At a city council meeting on Tuesday, Escobedo, whose 2020 election campaign has largely focused on affordable housing, called for a discussion after meeting with several voters from Rancho Buena Vista Mobile Home Estates at the Beginning of the month.
More than 20 mobile home owners attended Tuesday’s meeting to show their support for rent stabilization. For them, the problem revolves around the fact that they are buying units on land which they then have to lease to the owners of the park. Unlike cities such as Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, where rent stabilizations are in place, rent for Santa Maria mobile home owners is dictated by the terms of rental agreements.
“On April 11, I received an invitation from the Rancho Buena Vista Homeowners Association. As a council member, I accepted their invitation and [heard] their thoughts and what they want. During this meeting, I agreed to take their demands to [the] City Council to discuss,” Escobedo said.
Escobedo joined Councilwoman Gloria Soto in expressing her support for the discussion, as council members cannot organize such a dialogue themselves.
“One thing I would like to ask at this time is to schedule the discussion on stabilizing rents for mobile homes,” Soto said Tuesday. “Now that I know there is more than one person interested in having this item on the agenda, I would really like to move forward.”
The municipal code of Santa Maria states that only the mayor and city manager can add items to the agenda of council meetings.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Alice Patino and City Manager Jason Stilwell discussed the matter and decided to add it to the agenda for an upcoming meeting, the city spokesperson said Wednesday. city, Mark van de Kamp.
Gary Hall, a Santa Maria mobile home owner and member of the North Santa Barbara Manufactured Home Owners Team, has attended more than 25 consecutive council meetings, calling for rent stabilization. He and other mobile home residents have been campaigning for city council to pass the ordinance since 2019, including submitting a 450-person petition in 2021.
“I’m happy, I’m surprised and I can’t wait to see it on the schedule,” Hall said of the upcoming discussion.
The last time council discussed mobile home affordability was in November 2019, when a model lease was adopted as a guideline for parks to prevent rent from rising too quickly .
“I believe this model lease provides the necessary predictability of rental prices for residents of the mobile home park, while recognizing the needs of park owners,” Patino said after adopting the model lease. “This policy is the result of nearly a year and a half of numerous meetings between our municipal staff with the residents of the mobile home park through various representatives and owners of the park. and park owners made concessions during the negotiation process.”
Councilor Mike Cordero, along with Soto, dissented during the vote on the model lease, which passed with the support of Patino, Councilor Etta Waterfield and then-Councillor Dr. Michael Moats. Cordero and Soto at the time said the lease would not do enough due to its lack of enforceability.
Mobile home owners continue to say the lease model doesn’t go as far as rent stabilization and is just a guideline for park owners, not a requirement.
“I live in a senior park, and you see the unaffordability every day,” Armijo said Tuesday. “Our landlords have opted out of the Affordable Rental Program – the Model Lease – it’s not enforceable and our rent keeps going up.”
Hall and others call the May 17 council meeting a “day of action,” where mobile home owners from across the city will show up at the meeting to seek public input, and several nonprofits in the region will be asked to show their support for the rent stabilization order.
The Santa Maria City Council will meet on May 3.