Sun, Jul 24 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampite
Last week four members of the Chula Vista City Council voted for a change in the city’s rent review ordinance to implement a temporary vacancy decontrol.
This gave mobile home and trailer park owners the opportunity to set rent for their land at whatever price they choose when a resident sells their property.
Some claimed it was a victory for property rights and others said it makes residents more vulnerable to abuse by park owners.
Tuesday, the City Council approved the ordinance upon a second reading and adoption.
Councilwoman Patricia Aguilar said she voted for the temporary vacancy decontrol because she said it would help protect the residents from park closures.
“I came to the conclusion that this was the right thing to do for residents for mobile home parks and the city as a whole,” she said.
“This is a temporary one-time adjustment, after which it returns to rent control...”
Public speaker Dennis Chaffee wanted to know why the city council was going against the poor people in Chula Vista.
“If vacancy decontrol is taken away it will be gone forever,” he said. “The poor people of Chula Vista are looking to you for help. I urge you and beg you don’t do that to these people. Vote this ordinance down tonight.”
Penny Vaughn is the president of the Chula Vista Mobile Home Residents Association.
“I disagree with your decision last week,” she said. “They have removed all of our rights to petition in case we see an abuse. It takes away our right to go to the commission.”
Vaughn said voting in favor of the ordinance means giving away the right to mediate a mobile home resale price.
A modified form of rent control has been in place since 1982.
Residents who own their homes and rent the land can still appeal rent increases to the city’s Rent Review Commission.
The Mobilehome Rent Review Commission provided referrals in October 2010 and January 2011 to staff regarding various administrative issues with the current version of the city’s code.
City Councilman Steve Castaneda asked for a referral including looking at the city of San Diego as an example to include a working group of owners and residents with a possible third independent party to have discussions relative to upkeep, rent increases and potential zoning violations.
“One thing we’ve seen over the years is that there still is a big divergence between being able to work together with residents and owners,” he said.
“The rent review commission is not the venue to take care of these issues,” Castaneda said.
“We could look at a way to resolve some of the thorny issues in the future.”
Castaneda said this kind of referral would help ensure residents and owners work together to make sure that no one is being abused.
The city currently has 31 mobile home parks.
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