CA’s Trailer-Parks War: Owners vs. Renters


Inquiring minds are looking upon The (Formerly) Golden State in places like Goleta, Palm Springs and San Jose that have used rent-control ordinances for decades:

For the past 28 years in Goleta, Calif., manufacturing engineer Kenneth Tatro has lived in Rancho Mobile Home Estates, where he could afford to raise his four children in a beachside community in which home prices are typically out of reach for the middle class. He retired a few years ago to enjoy peaceful walks with his wife and his dog Kayla, but today Tatro — who is 71 years old and the president of his park’s home-owners association — finds himself on the front lines of a war over California’s nearly 5,000 mobile-home parks, where as many as 1 million people live under roofs they own but on top of land they rent.

“They are going after the weakest and most vulnerable prey: our demographic, with our captive housing and financial position,” explains Tatro of the battle, which pits low-income and middle-class people like him against wealthier opponents, the owners of the park land. “However, we are coming back at them straight up.

Yes, poor Tatro. He has lived for decades next to the beach at a fraction of the monthly cost the free market says his home is worth:

Supporting Tatro in his fight are the more than 100 California jurisdictions such as Goleta, Palm Springs and San Jose that have used rent-control ordinances for decades to protect the parks as bastions of affordable housing. They’re up against park owners, like Rancho’s Daniel Guggenheim, who claim that those ordinances have locked parks into an unfair financial stagnation while every other piece of Golden State land has enjoyed explosive upticks in value. So far the park owners’ fight against rent control hasn’t paid off. They suffered a major defeat just before Christmas when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Goleta’s rent-control ordinance was constitutional and does not amount to a diminution of Guggenheim’s property rights. “The people who really do have investment-backed expectations that might be upset by changes in the rent control system are tenants who bought their mobile homes after rent control went into effect,” wrote Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld. “Ending rent control would be a windfall to the Guggenheims, and a disaster for tenants who bought their mobile homes after rent control was imposed in the ’70s and ’80s.”

Don’t you love that last part? These deadbeats have lived off the wealth of the landowners for 20-30 years and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals still says that it’s not enough!

No wonder this country’s economy is doing so well.

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