Vocal residents debate mobile home park politics

City of Santa Clarita City Hall

Opinionated mobile home park residents voiced their concerns with changes to the mobile home park municipal code at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Municipal Code 6.02, originally implemented in 1990, serves to ensure residents are not overpaying rent and owners are not being underpaid.

Changes to the Manufactured Home Park Rent Adjustment Procedures would do away with the current system of internal governing to settle appeals made by residents concerning rent increases. If approved, decisions concerning appeals will be made by a subcontracted administrative hearing officer.

These appeal decisions are currently made by a five-person panel, comprised of two residents, two owners and an impartial fifth member, which would be replaced by the hearing officer.

Additionally, changes and clarifications were made to the language in the municipal code.

Hadassah Foster, Polynesian Mobile Home Park resident and one of the current panel members, said she does not necessarily oppose getting a hearing officer, but did have an issue with the language of the code.

“If decisions still don’t have to be made for 90 days, it’s what’s happening now and it’s not making anyone happy,” she said.

Kevin Eliason, a resident of Greenbrier Estates, said he spoke at a community meeting about his concern with the changes to the code.

“Nothing I said seems to have come to fruition,” Eliason said.

Doug Fraser, a mobile home park advocate, said having city staff select the hearing officer would be “suspicious.” He also said he did not think the current definition of a “resident” should be removed.

“There needs to be more dialogue,” Fraser said.

Councilman Bob Kellar said he thinks it would be a good idea to let the panel have input on who becomes the hearing officer.

Rudy Pavini, another mobile home resident, said it is difficult for seniors to pay for increased rents.

“I’m 82 years old, I can’t go get a job,” he said.

Greenbrier Home Owner’s Association President Bruce Velie said if the residents do not feel heard by the council, they will come back to address them next year with the same concerns.

Councilman Bill Miranda said he refuses to do anything that would not be beneficial to seniors and said it upset him that people had so many concerns.

“It sickens me to hear what I’ve heard tonight,” Miranda said. “Can we do whatever it takes to make sure our seniors are heard and protected? Sorry, if that means we start from scratch, then we do that.”

Councilwoman Laurene Weste said she wants to go to the state legislature about pass throughs for mobile home parks, which allow the owners to charge residents fees in addition to rent increases.

This code impacts 17 mobile home parks that collectively house about 2,000 Santa Clarita Valley residents.

Mobile home park residents received several notices by mail concerning the code updates and were invited to two meetings to voice opinions, though only about 60 people attended combined. City staff and council members have also had independent conversations with residents who reached out to them.

The ordinance concerning the municipal code will be read on June 13 and again on July 11.

Also on the agenda, council members talked ground water and allowed community members to give input. Two people chose to speak.

To form the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Agency Board, the city approved a memorandum of understanding to say they’d do their part in the agency. The job of the agency is to monitor ground water in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Additionally, the council will choose a member to represent the city as part of the agency at their first meeting in June. Councilwoman Marsha McLean volunteered to fill the role, but Councilman Bob Kellar recommended waiting until a later meeting to decide.

“I’d like to put my hat in the ring since I’ve been involved with these things for some time,” McLean said.

Council members also approved the Annual Storm Water Prevention Fee for $24.51 per parcel after a public hearing. The fee started in 1995 and is used to meet the requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972.

All parcels are compared to an average single family house on a 7,000 square foot lot in terms of water runoff, and charges are made according to property size and amount of water runoff.

This fee is a result of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit and is used for state-mandated programs including pollution education and prevention, street sweeping, water quality monitoring and storm drain cleaning.

The matter was open for public hearing but no one chose to speak.

One resident addressed the council about the “nuisance” of fireworks and said this was his second time bringing this to the council’s attention. He proposed there be a distinction between types of fireworks in the city ordinance, the fine for fireworks should be increased and there should be a larger police presence to monitor fireworks the week of the Fourth of July.

“He’s right, fireworks are a problem every year,” City Manager Ken Striplin said. “If there are ways to look at the city ordinance and strengthen it, we’ll certainly do that.”

Two citizens told the council they would like a BMX racing track in the valley.

Councilwoman Weste said she wanted to ensure billboards are set up safely so plastic pieces do not fly off when it is windy.


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