Judith Chumlea-Cohan is 86-years-old and has been living at Rancho Buena Vista Mobile Estates in Santa Maria since 2003.
“It's constant anxiety on behalf of those who are living on the edge,” explained Chumlea-Cohan. “My Social Security was raised 40-something dollars, my space rent was raised 40-something dollars. It’s a wash and then what do we have left over?”
She is one of the many seniors living in this mobile home park who are asking for the city to take action.
“The [rent] increases are 3, 4, 5% every year,” added Andrea Mayfield, who is a resident at Rancho Buena Vista Mobile Estates and a member of the North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Home Team.
Mayfield said they own their mobile homes but not the land, making it hard to keep up with increasing land rent prices.
She added that it's even harder for new mobile home owners.
“The other increase we are hoping to change for mobile home parks is when a mobile home sells, transfers ownership in a mobile home park, most of the parks have an arrangement where they can increase the rent by 10% for the new owner coming in,” said Mayfield.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, residents from different mobile home parks across Santa Maria spoke during public comment about the difficult economic situation low-income families are facing around the city.
“In 2019, the city council established a model lease that could be used by park owners,” said Mayfield. “However, the model lease is not enforceable. It is all voluntary.”
The city council did not address the matter at this week's meeting because it was not on the agenda.
The North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Home Team has legal representation to support mobile home affordability and to make sure future agreements include the voices of residents.
“Amend the model lease to address the rent control issue in Santa Maria or enter into a memorandum of agreement with a memorandum of understanding with the park owners that limit rent increases for the residents or establish a mobile home park ordinance that will stabilize the rents,” said Mayfield.
KSBY News was not able to get in touch with the property owners at Rancho Buena Vista Mobile Estates because the main office was closed Friday, but the issue will be further discussed by the city council on June 7, 2022.
Advocates are inviting community members to attend to share their personal experiences and voice their concerns. Attendees are asked to wear blue in solidarity.
“It’s going to entail a lot of discussion and open hearts and open listening on both sides I would say,” said Chumlea-Cohan.
The North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Home Team said they hope a new standardized ordinance is adopted and enforced at all mobile home parks in Santa Maria.