Back in April of 2017, when the Sterling Apartments discussion occurred, council grew concerned that residents of Rancho Yolo were vulnerable to development projects that could serve “as a catalyst for potential land use conversion.”
Staff notes: “Specifically, Council worried about how the construction of the Sterling apartment complex and the Chiles Ranch subdivision as well as the submittal of the Lincoln40 proposal would impact existing housing and redevelopment.”
At the same time, the council as well as members of the Board of Supervisors in the city-county two-by-two expressed concerns about “the inherent vulnerability of most mobile home residents, who, despite owning their mobile homes, reside on plots of land they do not own.”
Mobile homes were viewed by many as “affordable by design” and therefore they play “an integral role in the community’s overall housing stock.”
In an effect to address these concerns, “Council directed staff to research options for regulating mobile home park closures, cessations, and conversions.”
In July 2017, the staff presented findings to council and council asked staff to:
- Establish procedures and standards to govern the closure, cessation, or conversion of an existing mobile home park to another land use;
- Mitigate the impact of such closures, cessations, or conversions on displaced residents who may be required to relocate; and
- Encourage the preservation of affordable housing.
Staff emphasizes that no one is aware of any park owners who have the intention to close, cease or convert an existing mobile home park.
Staff notes that the proposed ordinance would only apply to parks within the incorporated city limits, however there was some discussion about the potential annexation of Davis Creek Mobile Home Park.
Staff warns, “As with any law, however, there are legal limits to such regulation. The City cannot wholly prohibit a park owner from closing or converting a park, or otherwise limiting the use of the property to such a degree that the regulation deprives the owners of the utility or value of the property.”
Staff has thus worked carefully to consider potential options and protections for mobile home park residents, while at the same time attempting to balance the interests of existing park owners.
The Social Services Commission reviewed the plan in May and voted 6-0 to support the following recommendations: name the commission as a second advisory body; route the ordinance through the Senior Citizen Commission; inform residents of ensuing relocation impact earlier in the process; clarify what will happen if the City Council finds the relocation impact report to be incomplete or finds the relocation assistance to be insufficient; utilize a percentage rather than a number to determine representatives on a Residents’ Advisory Committee; define reasonable relocation assistance, taking into account individualized financial circumstances; explore the legality of a right of first refusal for residents to purchase units of a new development, explore zoning change as leverage and explore the legality of rezoning the three parks on Olive Drive to include a mobile home designation.”
The staff will bring forward the following items for the council to consider in late summer or early fall when this item returns.
First is the idea of zoning protections. Staff writes that “of the four mobile home parks within City limits, only Rancho Yolo possesses an R-2-MH designation. Requiring park owners to seek approval for a zoning amendment prior to land use conversion if the planned use is not permitted or conditionally permitted, the designation provides an added layer of protection from closure or conversion.”
Second, stay in business incentives. Staff writes that “using a concept that originated in the City of San Jose, staff could explore instituting an “opt-in/stay-in-business” model. Staff learned of this proposed model while researching other jurisdictions’ mobile home conversion ordinances. The model offers park owners financial and/or streamlining incentives to make needed capital improvements in return for keeping the parks operating for a defined period of time.”
Third is limitations or other controls on future rent for park residents. Staff writes that “another option is developing an ordinance to impose limitations or other controls on future rent for park residents. Many cities have instituted mobile home rent control ordinances to protect residents from unreasonable rent increases, particularly when mobile home parks are repeatedly purchased and sold to new owners.”
Finally, seek the possibility of additional restrictions to protect existing levels of housing affordability and density. Staff writes that “given that the City’s existing affordable housing requirements and zoning controls would apply, this option involves a complex legal analysis examining the intersection of state mobile home law and affordable housing law.”
You can read the draft report here:Mobile Homes Draft Ordinance
—David M. Greenwald reporting