Senior residents of Rancho La Paz mobile homes now have state law to protect them from rent spikes throughout the park – which straddles Anaheim and Fullerton – after more than two years of activism on the issue.
Park resident Lupe Ramirez led the fight, which began in early 2019, to get Anaheim and Fullerton city councils to pass a rent control ordinance. She and other Rancho La Paz seniors have become regulars at city council meetings in Anaheim and Fullerton for most of 2019 and into early 2020 – until the pandemic strikes.
[Read: Anaheim and Fullerton Consider Options for Potential Rent Caps at Mobile Home Parks]
While the political will for rent control was not there, the respective members of the city council adopted rent subsidies for residents.
Ramirez and other park residents then fought through the legislative chain with MP Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) who drafted a rent control bill, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in the end of last month.
“We have worked closely with Lupe Ramirez and their lawyers,” Quirk-Silva said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Ramirez said she and the rest of the park residents felt relieved when Newsom signed the bill.
“It was like a ton of bricks had been lifted from my shoulders,” Ramirez said in a telephone interview Thursday.
She said the stress of rent spikes – coupled with worries during the pandemic – had taken its toll on mobile home residents.
“We see people dying from giving up,” Ramirez said. “During the pandemic, there were around 24 people who died. And 19 of them, we know, started to get worse from stress. ”
The law states that “management shall not, during a 12 month period, increase the gross rental rate of a rental in a qualified mobile home park by more than 3% plus the percentage change in cost. life, or 5%, whichever is lower, of the lowest gross rental rate charged for a rental at any time during the 12 months prior to the effective date of the increase.
Quirk-Silva said very few cities were willing to issue rent control orders.
“We have often heard that local courts can work on these orders – they have the power to do so. The truth is, they don’t choose to do it – as we’ve seen with Fullerton and Anaheim. At any time, Anaheim or Fullerton could have taken a prescription for these residents, ”Quirk-Silva said.
The MP also said she tried to get statewide rent protection for all mobile home residents but had to make some concessions due to opposition from homeowner groups. mobile home parks.
“This bill, as drafted, really applies at this point in Rancho La Paz, because what it specifies are mobile homes that fall under two jurisdictions,” Quirk-Silva said. “We had to make these amendments to push back the opposition.”
Since the bill was enacted, Ramirez has said she has been receiving calls from residents of other mobile home parks who seek to mirror the efforts of the elderly in Rancho La Paz.
“It’s been a lot of trial and error on how we did it. I thought when we started talking to city councils I thought they were going to be nice – boy, not Anaheim, ”Ramirez said.
Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu tabled a proposed rent control ordinance – cutting off any discussion on the issue – at a city council meeting in October 2019.
[Read: Anaheim City Council Shelves Mobile Home Rent Control Ordinance, Rent Increases for Seniors Start Today]
Rents went up throughout Rancho La Paz the next day.
Ramirez said many residents depend on Social Security income and mobile home parks have “some of the most vulnerable people.” It is generally the seniors, the poor and the disabled who live in mobile homes. ”
Quirk-Silva said mobile homes are also part of the solution to the worsening affordable housing crisis in California and she is looking at ways to get statewide protections for the rest of the parks. .
“I definitely want to do what we did for Rancho La Paz for others,” she said. “Parks are one of the best ways to fight homelessness. ”