Mobile Home Battleground

California mobile home owners are indebted to Matt Kettmann for a very fair report on this case. [“Goleta’s Mobile Home Battle Goes to Court, 8/21/10.] Its outcome will affect over 16,000 of us in Santa Barbara County alone.

The City of Goleta had already spent $536,000 defending the rent protection ordinance, according to Goleta City’s financial records. Had the park owner continued his lawsuit to claim $20,000,000 from the city, he would have bankrupted the city, even if the park owner did not collect any money. The city therefore had to approve the park owner’s request, no matter what legal rights the mobile home owners had.

Why are mobile home owners so concerned? Conversion of the Rancho Goleta park to condo status removes most space-rent protections within four years. Unfortunately, no present residents in Rancho Goleta can afford the conversion cost, so most must rent at a much higher rate or abandon their homes. They cannot even sell their homes, because very few buyers would be willing to pay the conversion cost. Buyers can get a much better deal down the street in the mobile home park that is owned by the residents.

Nor can the mobile home owners move their homes, because the homes have to be separated from their porches and carports and further taken apart for transport. Only a few of the parts could be sold, so the value is reduced to almost nothing. Moreover, there would be no place to move the mobile home in California, which has no new mobile home parks.—James Richard, Rancho Santa Barbara

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