A New California County Ordinance

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New county ordinance establishes process for closing mobile-home parks
By Brian Bullock/Staff Writer bbullock@santamariatimes.com | Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 12:15 am
Depending on your point of view, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors either protected a substantial portion of its affordable housing or made it nearly impossible for mobile-home park owners to close their parks for any reason.
The supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to amend the County Land Use and Development Code and Coastal Zoning Ordinance by establishing a procedure for the closure of mobile-home parks. The decision ended an effort that stretched back over some 18 months and brought a sigh of relief to mobile home owners in parks throughout the county.
The ordinance created a permit process which requires a closure impact report, relocation assistance for displaced owners, and a review by the county Planning Commission.
The process can be initiated by a request from the park owner or a 25-percent vacancy rate.
Mobile-home owners and park residents, including San Luis Obispo County resident Ron Faas, who worked with the county Planning Department to craft the ordinance, lined up to support measure.
Faas compared ordinances in San Luis Obispo, Ventura and Santa Cruz counties, Seal Beach, Oxnard and Huntington Beach to the proposal in Santa Barbara County.
Relocation assistance and determining the cost to replace mobile homes upon closure was a point of contention between home and park owners.
The ordinance offers two options.
If a mobile home can be moved, it requires the park owner to pay for relocation costs, up to 30 nights of housing, and one year’s worth of rent differential, all of which could cost as much as $22,900 per home.
If the homes can’t be moved, the land owner must pay for 12 months of rent and purchase the unit at in-place market value. The median price in the county is $147,000.
Board chair and 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr said the county needs to consider rehabilitation and conservation of its affordable housing, and that the ordinance would protect a large portion of that housing.
While supervisors unanimously approved the ordinance and applauded the effort to create it, others said it would make it impossible to repurpose land and could create mobile home slums.
David Evans, of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, said 93 percent of California’s cities leave such procedures up to state law. He also said mobile home parks are not “cash cows,” and many are rent controlled “stagnant” businesses.
“If they were cash cows investors would be building them,” Evans said. “Owners will not be able to shut them down unless they are billionaires.”

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