The mobile home has become a major category of housing in the United States. Born as vacation housing and later popular as retirement housing, the mobile home now is permanent housing for millions of Americans. In California, with its mild climate, the percentage of mobile homes among single-family dwellings always has been large.

Unfortunately, earthquake is as permanent a part of California life as sunshine, and mobile homes are particularly vulnerable in a temblor. A classic trailer, ready to roll down the road behind an automobile, may just bounce on its tires in a quake. Ironically, the larger, stationary, “double-wide” mobile homes are considered more vulnerable. Their floors are supported by I-beams that rest on simple tripods. In an earthquake, those beams can hop off the tripods, causing tens of thousands of dollars’ damage.

Technical fixes for this problem are available both at the manufacturing stage and, for the mobile home owner, at the retrofit stage. Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan was right when he said during a visit to a quake-damaged mobile home park, “Most of this could have been avoided with some common-sense measures.”


The cost of the available measures is modest when amortized over the life of a mobile home.

We urge the Golden State Mobile Home Owners League, the manufactured-housing industry and the state Department of Housing and Community Development to formulate and implement a common set of remedies for this eminently solvable problem.