News Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe

Vacancy decontrol gets thumbs up from council

OCEANSIDE — A discussion on vacancy decontrol spurred shouting from city council members, brought audience members to their feet, and concluded with a 3-2 yes vote to introduce the ordinance on May 18. Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted no.
“What we’re doing has been done in a lot of other places and the sky hasn’t fallen,” Councilman Gary Felien said.
The change will allow park owners to increase park space rents for a captive community of homeowners when they move or sell their mobile homes. Many fear this change will decrease the value of the mobile homes.
“Mobile homes are not a free market,” Don Greene, of the Coalition of Escondido Mobile Manufactured Home Voters, said. “Park owners have the advantage over mobile home owners.”
Seniors and veterans who own mobile homes made up the bulk of speakers who opposed vacancy decontrol. They said their plans for a secure retirement are now shaken.
“We want to keep our homes,” Joyce Harestad, of Cavalier Mobile Estates, said. “We want to be able to pass them onto our families.”
“We’re not trailer trash,” a resident said.
Roughly 2,500 mobile home owners will be affected by the decision.
Park owners said misinformation and scare tactics have been used to motivate people to oppose vacancy decontrol.
Councilman Gary Felien met with residents and park owners to facilitate what some called a “one sided” discussion before the May 18 meeting.
“Anybody who thinks the current ordinance can stay as is is not living in a realistic world,” Felien said. “(Park) owners have the choice to quit the business. That’s exactly the threat here.”
Sanchez said residents told her that the facilitated discussion had been fruitless.
“Not one resident supports vacancy decontrol,” Sanchez said. “Shame on you for doing that to our seniors.”
Sanchez encouraged residents to go forward with a referendum if the ordinance is adopted. “It’s going to be on these council members who are refusing to listen to the residents,” Sanchez said. “We need to be united as a community against these tactics.”
The ordinance will be brought back to council for adoption on May 25.