Tighter rent control secured for Santa Rosa mobile home residents

At its Tuesday night meeting, the city council voted 6-0-1 to approve an update to its mobile home rent ordinance further restricting rent increases.|

Santa Rosa mobile home residents will enjoy the strongest rent control protections in Sonoma County starting next year.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the City Council voted 6-0-1 to approve an update to its mobile home rent ordinance further restricting rent increases. Vice Mayor Eddie Alvarez was absent.

Originally, council members voted 5-2 when the amendments to the law were first proposed last week.

The Press Democrat has previously reported on the months of advocacy by mobile home residents and stalled negotiations with park owners facilitated by city staff leading up to the vote.

Like many other jurisdictions, Santa Rosa’s mobile home rent control has long been tied to a percentage of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the measure of prices for goods and services paid by consumers in an area.

Since the last change to the law in 2004, in the 16 of Santa’s Rosa’s 19 mobile home parks with rent control, rent increases were set using 100% of the San Francisco area CPI with a 6% cap. Now, they will be limited to 70% of the CPI with a 4% cap.

The new ordinance will also allow park owners to increase space rent by 10% when a mobile home is sold to a new buyer.

Several park owners testified Tuesday night before the final vote, urging City Council members to postpone a decision. They warned that the new ordinance is unfair to park owners and would lead to an increase in arbitrations to determine if owners’ right to a fair rate of return under the law is violated.

Park owners previously proposed tying rent increases to 75% of CPI with a 6% cap along with the creation of a $100,000 annual subsidy program to help residents most in need.

The City Council ultimately rejected park owners’ proposition and went one step further even than the city staff’s recommendation in an effort to prevent vulnerable mobile home residents from being pushed to the financial brink or ending up on the street. Those who rely on a fixed income have been particularly vulnerable to record inflation this year.

Mobile homes represent one of the few remaining affordable housing options, especially for older adults, who occupy the majority of Santa Rosa mobile home parks and also account for the fastest growing share of California’s homeless population.

The new ordinance will go into effect 30 days after Tuesday’s vote which is January 6.

“In Your Corner” is a new column that puts watchdog reporting to work for the community. If you have a concern, a tip, or a hunch, you can reach “In Your Corner” Columnist Marisa Endicott at 707-521-5470 or marisa.endicott@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @InYourCornerTPD and Facebook @InYourCornerTPD.

Marisa Endicott

“In Your Corner” Columnist, The Press Democrat

Born and raised in Northern California, I'm dedicated to getting to know all its facets and helping track down the answers to tough questions. I want to use my experience as a journalist and an investigator to shine a light on local systems, policies and practices so residents have the information they need to advocate for the changes they want to see. I’m passionate about centering the many voices in the communities I cover, and I want readers to guide my work.

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