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‘We aren’t going away’: Seniors angry after Anaheim City Council denies rent control

Rancho La Paz mobile home park in Anaheim
Lupe Ramirez, head of the Rancho La Paz Mobile Home Park residents’ association, has been lobbying for a rent control ordinance ever since a new developer took over the property in February.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Anaheim City Council voted during a contentious meeting Tuesday to table a rent control ordinance, despite pleas from senior citizens who say their mobile home rents are skyrocketing.

Rancho La Paz Mobile Home Park tenants began lobbying the city, county and state to introduce rent controls when the property changed hands in February.

Lupe Ramirez, head of the residents’ association, said the local rent control ordinance made sense since mobile home parks were left out of the state rent control law enacted last month.

This was the second time Anaheim’s ordinance failed to move forward.
The council voted 4-3 Tuesday to table the item, with members Jose Moreno, Jordan Brandman and Denise Barnes dissenting.

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“Everybody knows our story, and everybody has heard it before,” Ramirez said, “but to be honest, nobody gives a damn.”

Mayor Harry Sidhu proposed setting aside the idea proposed by Moreno, a decision with which Moreno took umbrage.

“I would request consideration to at least allow debate on whether to table this item,” Moreno said. “For people in the public, what the mayor is doing is he is saying he doesn’t want these issues to be discussed, let alone voted on this evening.”

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Moreno said that the mayor had already set “extreme barriers” by requiring three council members to agendize items.

“I have met that threshold,” he said. “Now the mayor is choosing to nullify this threshold to exercise the power he has in a tyrannical way to not allow the public a hearing of issues we know are impacting them right now.”

Sidhu interrupted Moreno and Barnes several times to tell them they may only discuss their vote, not the proposal‘s content.

While Barnes commented on the need to help the seniors, Sidhu interrupted and she said, “Just let me talk!”

Moreno’s motion failed.

Rancho La Paz mobile home park in Anaheim
Lupe Ramirez, president of the Rancho La Paz residents’ association, said that at the rate their monthly rent is increasing, most of the seniors won’t be able to pay by year three.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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John Saunders, who purchased the park in February, said monthly rent increased an average of $132 per plot last month. A 10-year plan calls for rent increases of 19% for next year, several years of 9% spikes and then 7%.

Ramirez said most of the seniors won’t be able to pay by year three.

“This isn’t a family park; the majority in here are seniors on a fixed income,” said resident Patricia Somers. “This has consumed us.”

Saunders called the increases reasonable and credited the council with making what he deemed the right decision.

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“We have a very generous subsidy program,” he said. “I think the city recognizes that we do that. Rent control is a policy that may have short-term benefits but is bad for things in the long-term.”

Ramirez vowed that residents would keep pushing for rent control.

“We are not through fighting by any means,” she said. “If our next action is to recall Sidhu, then that will be our next project. We aren’t going away.”

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