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Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance
Finally, after six years of hard work, we have rent control! How did the Mountain View Mobile Home Rent Stabilization Ordinance get created? Here's the story.
In December 2017, SVNA President Trey Bornmann created the Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance (MVMHA), so that residents of all six of the City's mobile and manufactured home communities could speak with a single voice to the members of the City Council and the Rental Housing Committee (RHC). Because the SVNA is now defined as a "social organization" and a nonprofit, the MVMHA has become the political voice of Mountain View's mobile home owners and renters. See the MVMHA website for details.
The MVMHA includes all six mobile home communities in Mountain View:
Sahara Mobile Village
New Frontier Mobile Home Park
Sunset Estates Mobile Home Park
Moorpark Mobile Home Park
Moffett Mobile Home Park
In 2016, Mountain View voters passed ballot Measure V, thereby amending the City Charter to add the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA). Among other things, the CSFRA imposes limitations on a landlord's abilities to terminate a tenancy and to increase rent. The RHC was formed to implement and enforce the CSFRA. A pro-landlord majority of the original RHC decided that the CSFRA did not include mobile homes. They made this decision against the advice of their attorneys and in the face of an outcry from the public.
One Mountain View mobile homeowner mounted a legal challenge to that decision as a test case, arguing that the RHC did not have the power to make it. Despite the pro bono assistance of the law firm of Fenwick and West with the initial case, mediation, and an appeal--a process that lasted three years--the courts determined that, because of some ambiguity in the language of the CSFRA, the RHC could decide to exclude mobile homes from protection under the Act.
But that decision cleared the way for the new RHC to reconsider covering mobile homes under the CSFRA, and it allowed the City Council to take up the issue of mobile home rent stabilization, which mobile home activists had been pursuing relentlessly since 2015, and which some current council members had been involved with since 2001. Many council members had explicitly said they were only waiting to act until the legal challenge was resolved.
In March 2021, the City Council committed, finally, to drafting a mobile home rent stabilization ordinance, and the MVMHA provided the City Attorney with a history and examples of more than 100 California ordinances that covered mobile homes, plus information about specific protections the MVMHA supports as critical for the ordinance to succeed in protecting tenants.
On September 14, 2021, City Attorney Krishan Chopra presented a draft of a proposed ordinance to the City Council, and on September 15, the Mountain View City Council voted 6-1 to enact rent control for mobile homes. After fighting for many years, mobile home residents now have protections against rent hikes and protection from other predatory practices by park owners. Our space rents were rolled back to March 16, 2021, and the annual increases were only allowed to resume on September 1, 2022.
But that's not the end of the story. One of the park owners fought back with an ill-conceived alternative that City Council finally voted down on June 22, 2022.
Now we're fighting for a lower ceiling to rent increases (it's now 5%), and then we're going to fight to own the land under our homes by learning how we might convert our parks to resident-owned communities. That's going to be another significant, long-term struggle - but it will be worth it if we can find funding from a community land trust to help our residents own their spaces as well as their homes!
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