Council approves rate increase on mobile home park

ESCONDIDO — One rent increase for a mobile home park was approved, while the other was continued last week by the City Council.

They passed the raised rates for Valley Parkway Mobile Home Park, 1721 E. Valley Pkwy., but opted to continue the application from Green Tree Mobile Home Estates, 1301 S. Hale Ave, until May 11.

Karen Youel of the city’s housing division reported to the council updates of each park including protests.

At Valley Parkway, there are 144 total spaces, 142 of which are subject to rent control with two vacant units, with 11 residents in protest.

At Green Tree, there are 84 units subject to rent control with 56 in protest at last week’s council meeting.

Green Tree asked for a $15.39 average increase, Youel said, with an average space rent is $545.26. Increase range from $9.48 to $20.46.

A park meeting March 8 was held with more than a dozen residents in attendance plus park and city officials.

“After the meeting … the residents were dissatisfied with the last increase,” Youel said. “The residents were hesitant to go into that process again.”

Kenneth Weiner, who represents the park’s owners, said many of the issues before the council has been addressed. He said the last increase was in August 2012 and before that in 2003.

“We easily passed the code enforcement,” Weiner added. “The park is well maintained. We have other plans of other types of improvements.”

An independent meeting, he said, discussed several problems with the residents including locking the clubhouse to discourage vandalism. However, he did note he was concerned about the amount of protests, but said his company took over the property after the 2012 rate increase.

Sharon Fisher, who represents the residents and lived at the estates for more than 16 years, was outraged by the lack of action and response to residents’ request.

“They have denied fulfillment of contracts,” she added. “We pay for everything. We are good citizens and carry our own weight and are not given anything.”

However, those aspects carried by Fisher are a private agreement, thus not actionable by the council, according to City Attorney Jeff Epp.

The continuance was chosen to give the residents and park management time to resolve their differences before a rent increase will be considered.

At Valley Parkway, the last rent increase for $11.17 per space per month approved in August 2014. The average space rent is $479.65 with average increase request is $13.54 and range from $8.96 to $17.64.

A resident meeting was held on Feb. 29 with 12 in attendance plus park and city officials, Youel said.

She said theft is a continuing problem in the park, especially with bikes. Also, lighting is an issue, speeding, a lack of children’s areas and pet waste.

Eight general safety and health and four lighting violations from two inspections were discovered in March, with all but two corrected, Yore said.

Park anticipates repairing potholes and later this year a slurry coating.

Clint Lau, owner of Les Frame Management, has managed the park for 27 years.

Councilman Ed Gallo asked about whether the park could join the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program, which could alleviate some of the issues plaguing the residents. Lau said he would like to be the first park to join the program.

Councilwoman Olga Diaz asked if a play space could be added, although the supervision of the children is the responsibility of the parents. Lau said there is an area formerly used for shuffleboard by the clubhouse, which could make for a dedicated area for kids.

The kids area, though, is not enforceable by the city, but rather a recommendation to ease concerns of the residents.

Iris Sandra Schott, a longtime resident, said the kids play area may not be viable and others are “free spirits,” who may not use it. She said internal problems stem from rules instituted in 2003 no longer apply and must be updated.

Schott also objected to the rent increase saying she lives on a fixed income and many of the residents there are seniors. She said outdated appliances, old furniture and the lack of viability of the clubhouse is a deterrent to residents.

“Social security doesn’t give increases anymore,” Schott added. “These increases do hurt. There are problems in the park.”

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