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Residents of Laguna Vista Estates Mobile Home Park in Oceanside will experience a more than 9% increase in rent this year. Stock photo
Residents of Laguna Vista Estates Mobile Home Park in Oceanside will experience a more than 9% increase in rent this year. Stock photo
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Oceanside looks to ease cost burdens on mobile home parks

OCEANSIDE — The city is considering waiving registration fees to ease rising cost burdens on mobile home park owners and residents.

While mobile home park owners are required to pay the fee, they can pass on half of that fee to park residents. The collected fees go toward a fund that helps the city pay to administer Chapter 16B of its municipal code, also known as the Manufactured Homes Fair Practices ordinance. 

First formed in the 1980s, the ordinance provides a rent control element that caps rent increases for only mobile home parks in the city and ensures park owners receive a fair profit. Oceanside is one of the few cities in the region with a rent control ordinance for mobile home parks. There are currently 17 mobile home parks in Oceanside that lease spaces to owners of mobile or manufactured homes. 

The city’s Manufactured Homes Fair Practices Commission is the quasi-judicial body that approves rent increases following Chapter 16B rules.

“Our charter is really to keep rents just and reasonable and to make sure the parks are profitable for the owners,” said Commissioner Daniel Dominguez. “It’s a balancing act.”

The registration fees are also used to pay consultants, attorneys and other costs associated with special hearings, like a recent rent increase request for Laguna Vista Estates Mobile Home Park, a senior-restricted park.

Typically, park owners are entitled to an annual permissive adjustment that either increases rent by 8% or increases rent by equal to 75% of the percentage increase in the consumer price index, whichever is smaller. However, if a park owner believes they would not receive a “just and reasonable return” on their investment, they can file for a net operating income adjustment.

Last year, Mike Mohammad A. Ali, who has owned Laguna Vista since 2020, applied for a net operating income adjustment. Ali initially requested a 26.67% rent increase for all 272 spaces at Laguna Vista, where many of the residents own their mobile homes and simply rent a space to park. 

Using registration fee funds, the city hired consultants RSG, Inc., which found Ali did not meet the burden of proof to support his request, determining the owner was entitled to an 8.1% rent adjustment.

Staff’s recommendation later reduced that amount to 4.2% after considering the previous year’s 3.9% annual permissive rent increase the city applied to Laguna Vista residents while the NOI process was underway. 

During the March 16 hearing for the NOI adjustment, the Manufactured Homes Fair Practices Commission knocked the increase down to 3.75%, concluding attorney fees should not be passed down to park residents.

The 3.75% NOI adjustment went into effect immediately for residents of Laguna Vista Estate. On top of that, residents will also have another annual permissive increase of 5.78% taking effect later this year.

That is a little over 9% rent increase this year for Laguna Vista residents,” Dominguez said. “That’s kind of a large increase for residents that are on fixed incomes.”

Linda Walshaw, a volunteer legal assistant who assists seniors in mobile home parks and formerly served as vice chair on the city’s Housing Commission, said the residents of Laguna Vista were frightened by the nearly 27% initial rent increase request. Although that request fell through, mobile home residents in Laguna Vista and other parks remain concerned about increasing rent costs driving them out of their homes.

“You have a lot of seniors, veterans and disabled individuals living in these communities on restricted incomes,” Walshaw said. “These folks bought the only homes they can afford… they can’t have a manufactured home anywhere except in a park in the city, which makes them captive customers.”

Walshaw said seniors and veterans are among the most significant percentages of newly homeless individuals. 

While temporarily waiving the registration fees would bring some relief to both park owners and residents, some residents fear that by not sustaining the fund, more park owners would attempt to request NOI hearings that would further deplete the fund if it is not self-sustained.

Since the most recent NOI adjustment hearing was the first of its kind after several decades, the fund balance has grown to just over $1 million. 

Housing and Neighborhood Services director Leilani Hines told the council that staff would need to consider the financial impact of waiving the registration fees before the next budget workshop.