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Long Beach City Council decides against seeking a local law to protect mobile-home residents from rent hikes
The decision brought an end to the months-long debate over whether tenant protections that had been enshrined in local and state laws should be extended to people living in mobile homes.

A local law governing rent hikes in mobile home parks won’t be coming to Long Beach any time soon.

The City Council voted unanimously at its Tuesday, Dec. 10, meeting to receive a report on the concept without directing city staff to create a potential ordinance or prohibition on rent increases in mobile home parks.

The decision brought an end to the months-long debate over whether tenant protections that had been enshrined in local and state laws should be extended to people living in mobile homes.

Laws such as Long Beach’s soon-to-be-repealed tenant relocation ordinance and the statewide rent hike cap that goes into effect Jan. 1 do not apply to mobile home residents because they own the mobile homes themselves while renting the land underneath them.

That loophole became clear in September, when residents in the seniors-only Belmont Shores Mobile Estates received a letter informing them of a 35% rent hike that would go into effect in January.

In most cases, residents renting apartments in Long Beach would have been entitled to two months’ rent from the landlord for such a high increase because of Long Beach’s tenant-relocation ordinance. But Belmont Shores Mobile Estates was not required to make a similar concession to its mobile-home residents.

Early on in the discussions about the Belmont Shores Mobile Estates increase, Councilwoman Suzie Price — who represents the Third District in which the park is located — signaled that she was amenable to extending the tenant-relocation ordinance to include mobile home residents.

But, in the months since, she said Tuesday, she has learned more about state law governing mobile home parks and how much it differs from the law governing other tenants. Instead of trying to intervene with a moratorium or a new ordinance that could impact mobile-home residents citywide, Price said, she felt it was more productive to work with the owners and residents of Belmont Shores Mobile Estates to find a solution for their specific quandary.

“What has been accomplished as a result of the discussion since October — well, I would say it’s been a lot,” Price said, “and I’m very proud of the accomplishments we have made.”

Specifically, the owners of Belmont Shores Mobile Estates agreed to spread out the 35% increase over four years, so residents will pay between 7 and 9% increases each year, rather than the full 35% upfront. Residents facing “true hardship” are also eligible for rent subsidies so they won’t have to be displaced.

That second concession was of particular importance for Price.

“The goal of the council, should it get involved in situations like this, has always been to assure that people are not displaced and do not find themselves homeless. We have accomplished that goal here, absolutely,” Price said. “No resident will be displaced from Belmont Shores Mobile Estates.”

Residents, for their part, seemed to approve of the decision for the council not to act further. Some spoke about the park’s stance, which was included in its most recent letter to the residents, that it would be forced to implement the full 35% increase on Jan. 1 if the council approved a moratorium or ordinance governing rent hikes.

“While I would love to continue to pursue long-term protections through an temporary moratorium and even through (a rent-stabilization ordinance), we cannot do so” because of the rent increase that would follow, resident Karen Angonne said. “We cannot place our residents in jeopardy by continuing working toward protections.”

Price, for her part, acknowledged that “happy is probably not the right word” to describe some of the residents’ feelings on the ultimate outcome. But she said the park’s efforts to work with the residents to prevent anyone from becoming homeless due to the increase show that the worst possible fallout would be avoided.

“If you know of a resident that gets displaced as a result of income” because of this increase, she said, “please let me know. I guarantee you, no resident will get displaced from the mobile home park because of their financial status.”

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