OCEANSIDE — With over 15,000 signatures collected and verified in opposition to the vacancy decontrol ordinance, City Council voted to put the item on the June 5 special election ballot and let voters have the final word. The decision came in a 3-2 vote on Aug. 17, in which Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted no.
Over 30 speakers shared their concerns on the item. The majority of speakers asked for a repeal of the ordinance that will allow mobile home park space rents that currently run between approximately $200 and $500 a month to increase.
“Rent may be increased without limit,” said Lee Kovensky, of Rancho San Luis Rey Trailer Park. “The rent could go to $1,000. In some cases it could go to $5,000 depending on where it is.”
Residents reminded council that mobile home owners are captive renters who invest in property upgrades. Most are seniors and veterans who live on a fixed income.
“It’s the ultimate insult to our community taking the homes of veterans and seniors,” said Dana Corso, president of Alliance of Citizens To Improve Oceanside Neighborhoods (ACTION). “You have not listened to our citizens.”
The rent control ordinance that was active before vacancy decontrol was OK’d on May 25 gave mobile home owners protection from park space rents rising unfairly.
“If the Superior Court upheld this item 22 times since 1984 what is the issue?” asked Carol Gibson, Oceanside resident.
Mobile home park owners and property rights advocates said park owners have rights as well. The 27-year limitation on raising rent rates has been financially limiting for park owners and kept prices on space rentals below the market rate, which many say is a reasonable price.
“We have affordable housing in every neighborhood,” Councilman Jack Feller said. “The sky is the limit of what rent control can do. How is that fair to the other property owners in Oceanside?”
Putting the item on the June 5 special election ballot will cost the city $82,000 to $93,000. The city did not opt to put the item on the Nov. 6 ballot at a reduced cost of $45,500 to $56,000.