With a three to two vote, Santa Maria City Council Members agreed to take a look at the model lease that is in effect until 2030.
“This is not about one park or about one tenant, this is about all parks and all tenants,” said Andrea Mayfield, a member of the North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Home Team.
Several mobile homeowners who rent the land where their house stands have been asking for rent stabilization for years.
“You're captive to what the owner wants to do, you don’t have a choice in the matter, if they want to raise the rent, you’re stuck here and they keep saying well just sell it, well where do you go when you sell it?,” explained Eileen Aramijo, a resident at La Maria Mobile Home Park and member of the North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Home Team.
Especially for seniors and low-income families.
“I watch my budget close that’s a necessity and right now I’m dealing with medical issues,” said Esther Jensen, a resident at La Maria Mobile Home Park and member of the North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Home Team.
The North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Home Team is also seeking a standardized price for new owners.
“Somebody who is a second owner only pays 780 like my husband and I do, but somebody who is a fifth owner pays $930 to $1000,” added Aramijo.
For over two hours, Santa Maria City Council discussed the current model lease for mobile homes.
“It’s not rent control for Santa Maria, not for everybody, just exclusively for mobile homes,” said Santa Maria City councilmember Carlos Escobedo.
According to city officials, the current model lease is being used by six out of 14 mobile home parks, which represent 79% of all units in Santa Maria.
“It is cost-effective for the city, it doesn’t require the overhead of having a robust housing function within the city,” explained Santa Maria Assistant City Manager Andrew Hackleman. “Rent control, rent stabilization ordinance would increase staff time 40 to 100 hours.”
Property owners also chimed in.
“Since 2019, and we did the model lease, in Rancho Buena Vista, home values have increased by 69% and the average time on the market for sale is 13 days,” said Barry Mcgee, the Rancho Buena Vista Mobile Estates’ Owner.
Peter Lau, a representative for a property management company, took the stand during public comment.
“For La Maria, rent increases annually from 2013 to 2021 are as follows: 1.3%, 2%, 1.4%, 1.2%, 2.5%, 3.9%, 3.3% 1.9% and 3.9% and that’s for both parks,” said Lau. “We run a number of parks in rent control areas and to be frank they are not as successful; they don’t end up being as well kept.”
The City council has agreed to take a closer look at the model lease, but they have not set a date and time.
“I do understand that is their business, and I respect that, but also, it is a way of living,” said Escobedo.
Mobile homeowners said they hope to participate in the process along with landowners.
“It will be critical to have residents from all the mobile home parks and from other community organizations because that is their defined community as well to be involved in these discussions,” said Mayfield.
They want to make sure a revised model lease is enforced in all mobile home parks moving forward.