OCEANSIDE — Volunteers in opposition to the proposed vacancy decontrol ordinance on the June ballot have taken to neighborhood streets to pass out campaign literature. Other volunteers are calling registered voters, or holding neighborhood teas and coffee meetups to answer questions about the proposed ordinance.“We’re mainly trying to bring attention to the title of the ordinance,” said Dana Corso, president of ACTION (Alliance of Citizens To Improve Oceanside Neighborhoods). “The amendment says (mobile home lot space) rents can be raised to fair market value. The body says without limits. It’s deceitful. To be raised without limits in our opinion is not fair.”In addition to seeking clarification of the wording and intention of the ordinance, opponents are concerned that vacancy decontrol will cause families to lose their nest eggs for their heirs.“The other issue is a child must be living with their parent to have rent control,” Corso said. “If they aren’t living with their parent when they pass they wouldn’t be protected by rent control. We have to come up with something much better. It’s about property rights of land and home.”
Mobile home owners purchase their homes and pay property taxes, a city mobile home fee, and rent the lot spaces the homes sit on.
Vacancy decontrol allows mobile home park owners to raise the space rent to market rate after a homeowner sells or bequests their home.
OHMA (Oceanside Manufactured Home Alliance), members are working with ACTION to share information with voters.
“The majority of volunteers are mobile home owners,” Corso said. “Seniors 80 years old are walking the streets passing out flyers.”
Opponents of vacancy decontrol want mobile home residents, many who are seniors and veterans living on a fixed income, to be able to count on regulated space rent increases that the rent control ordinance previously provided.
“Their homes are at stake,” Corso said. “These people bought in to the mobile home community. This is what they can afford.”
Most of the mobile home communities have gated private streets, a community clubhouse, and are conducive to retirement living.
“They have bingo, luncheons, dances,” Corso said. “It’s a whole neighborhood community for these people. We want to try to maintain this type of living for these adults.”
Presently there is not an active public campaign to support vacancy decontrol.
Councilman Jerry Kern will write the ballot argument to support the vacancy decontrol ordinance. Kern said most California cities have either no rent control ordinance or have adopted vacancy decontrol for mobile home space rents.
Kern added that space rents without control limits would only increase to market rate.
“Unlimited rent, there’s no such thing,” Kern said. “In business you make as much as the market will bear.”
Kern added that the disparity between present space rents (which are about $600) and market rate rents is so wide it’s unfair.
He said he sees vacancy decontrol as a fair way to give park owners a way to run a profitable business, and allow present mobile home owners to maintain the rent rate they signed up to pay.
“It’s fair, it’s reasonable, and it’s equitable,” Kern said. “Rents will be up to market rate in five to 10 years.”
Kern added that vacancy decontrol would put an end to costly lawsuits park owners are filing (and so far losing) against the city when they are denied a requested rent increase beyond the controlled amount.