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Escondido City Council approved a rent increase for Town and Country Club Mobile Home Park on March 6. Photo by Samantha Nelson
Escondido City Council approved a rent increase for Town and Country Club Mobile Home Park on March 6. Photo by Samantha Nelson
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Escondido OKs rent hike for Town and Country mobile home park

ESCONDIDO — For the second time in a month, the City Council has approved a rent increase for a seniors-only mobile home park. Elderly Town and Country Club Mobile Home Park residents will soon see a 10.49% increase in their rents, ranging from $26.92 to $79.86 monthly.

On March 6, the council unanimously approved the long-form rent increase application for the 155-space mobile home park at 2280 E. Valley Pkwy. Only 154 of the 155 spaces will see a rent increase, as the park’s managers live in the remaining unit and do not pay rent.

In February, the City Council approved a short-form rent increase for Casa Grande Mobile Estates, another senior mobile home park. Last November, the city adopted a long-form rent increase for Eastwood Meadows.

Mobile home park owners must submit an application to the city requesting a rent increase under Proposition K, a mobile home rent control measure that voters approved in 1988. 

Owners can either submit a short-form application, a more straightforward process that increases rent based solely on the change in the San Diego Metropolitan Area’s Consumer Price Index, or a long-form application, a more tedious and less frequently used process for park owners that do not qualify to apply for short-form.

By short-form rules, the increase cannot exceed 90% of the CPI increase since the last rent increase application was granted, or 8% of the current rent, whichever is less, and is subject to a two-year limit. 

Under the long-form guidelines, several factors are considered: CPI change, comparable rents to other mobile home parks, the length of time since the last rent increase, the cost of capital improvements, changes in property taxes, changes in rent paid by the park owner for the land, changes in utility charges, changes in operating and maintenance expenses, the need for repairs other than wear and tear, the amount and quality of amenities for tenants and any lawful existing lease.

The park’s owner, Kleege Enterprises, initially attempted to request a rent increase based on 90% of the CPI increase, a change in property tax expenses, and capital improvement expenditures between 2016 and 2023.

According to Dominique Clark of RSG, Inc., the city’s hired consultant for long-form applications, the City Council can only consider up to 60% of the CPI increase. Clark said the applicant did not provide enough documentation to back up the claims for property tax expenses and capital improvements, noting that many improvements were made using grants, which cannot be considered for rent increases.

“It’s likely that between 2016 and 2021 it only became more expensive to operate the park, so it’s likely that if they had been able to provide the backup documentation, it would have resulted in a higher rent increase, but we can’t say that conclusively because we just don’t have the numbers,” Clark said.

In the end, Kleege Enterprises requested a 19.22% rent increase based on the years between 2016 and 2023, which accounts for 60% of the CPI increase. 

Staff said Kleege’s application was originally submitted two years ago after it purchased the park from its previous owners. Since then, it has been reworked several times until city staff accepted the most recent revision in January.

In the end, the City Council approved a 10.49% rent increase based on the original long-form application’s submission period of 2016 to 2021. 

Several council members said they struggled with the rent increase application stretching back to 2016 and compromised with the 2021 numbers instead of 2023. 

“I don’t think it’s reasonable or fair to request a significant increase going back so far when the previous owner wasn’t anticipating a rent increase,” said Mayor Dane White.

Councilmember Consuelo Martinez said she would not support a rent increase as high as 19.22%, which would have cost residents between $49.33 and $146.33.

Several residents spoke out against the rent increase, some suggesting that a 6% increase would be more reasonable and fair.

“This will cause a severe hardship to a large number of residents,” said Susan Romero, park representative for residents. “Many will have to cut their budgets, leaving out much-needed items such as food or medications, just to make ends meet.”

The park is restricted to seniors, many of whom have low or fixed incomes. 

Several newer residents also felt that a rent increase would be more unfair to them because they already pay higher rent than older residents. 

Bruce Kleege, president of Kleege Enterprises, suggested he was doing residents a favor by requesting 19.22% now because he could return later and ask for more.

“You’re playing with fire,” Kleege said, frustrated by the council’s decision.

Kleege could come back next year and apply for a short-form application, which would be based on a 90% CPI change. Clark said that while inflation is high, a rent increase from a short-form application next year would likely be capped at around 8%. 

With the newly approved rent increase, Town and Country Club Mobile Home Park is Escondido’s fifth-most expensive mobile home park.

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