Anaheim and Fullerton Consider Options for Potential Rent Caps at Mobile Home Parks

JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

The Rancho La Paz senior mobile home park on the border of Anaheim and Fullerton.

Mobile home park residents in Anaheim and Fullerton may see any planned rent increases capped soon as council members consider rent increase relief options after seniors petitioned both city councils in March.

Seniors living in the Ranch La Paz mobile home park, which straddles Anaheim and Fullerton, packed the two cities’ council chambers March 19 after learning their rents would increase June 1 anywhere from $300 to $400 because of an ownership change and the resulting increase in property tax.

Following the Rancho La Paz residents turnout at the council meetings, Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu, along with Councilmen Trevor O’Neil and Stephen Faessel were able to delay the rent increase to Sept. 1 after meeting with the owner, John Saunders.

Anaheim council members will consider two different ordinances Tuesday aimed at freezing the rent increases after Councilman Jose Moreno scheduled them on the agendas at the last meeting.

One proposal is an urgency ordinance, which requires a supermajority vote — at least six of the seven council members — and it would immediately take effect and would remain for 45 days, but could be extended for a period of over 10 months.

The other ordinance Anaheim will consider is an interim ordinance. It would have to go through the regular process of two votes by the City Council and wouldn’t take effect until 30 days after the second vote. It would last for roughly six months and needs a simple majority to pass — four of the seven council members.

Under both ordinances, a park owner in one of the Anaheim’s 27 mobile home parks may petition the city for a exemption to the rent cap if the owner “believes the annual cap on mobile home space rent increases … will prevent the owner from receiving a fair and reasonable return on his or her property,” according to the staff report. City Manager Chris Zapata, or someone he delegates the responsibility to, will decide to grant the exemption or not.

Both ordinances would allow for some small rent increases up to three percent, or increases tied to the consumer price index — whichever is greater.

Anaheim officials believe the city has the legal standing to freeze or cap rent increases because it is a charter city. Charter cities typically have more freedom in the types of ordinances that can be passed or how it contracts with businesses.

(Click here for a PDF from the California League of Cities that shows some differences between the two types of cities)  

However, Fullerton officials are reviewing the legality of similar measures because it’s a general law city.

“There is some question also whether a general law city may adopt an urgency ordinance, which requires a four-fifths vote of the City Council, to impose a moratorium on rental increases,” reads Fullerton’s staff report.

While there’s no ordinance scheduled for a vote at the Fullerton meeting Tuesday, council members will discuss the potential of crafting an ordinance and possibly give direction to staff in an effort to help cap mobile home rents in the city.

Meanwhile, in a letter written to Fullerton Mayor Jesus Silva attached to the agenda, Saunders pledged no longtime resident will be forced out of Rancho La Paz mobile home park due to rents.

“We also understand that certain of the residents truly cannot afford the increased rent and pledge that, as long as we are treated fairly, no existing long-time tenant will be forced from the park due to an inability to pay all or any portion of the rent increase,” Saunders wrote.  

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at scustodio@voiceofoc.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio.