Huntington council kills ballot measure on mobile-home rent control


The Huntington Beach City Council decided during a special meeting Monday to remove a ballot measure that would have asked residents whether the city should amend its charter to allow rent control in mobile-home parks.

City officials had approved the measure July 28, but since then, two council members said they talked with one of the mobile home park owners who agreed to work out leases with tenants.

Councilman Jim Katapodis, who brought forward the proposal to kill the measure, thanked John Saunders, owner of Pacific Mobile Home Park and Huntington Shorecliffs Mobile Home Park, for “stepping up to the plate” and working with his residents at both parks on a five-year lease.

Councilman Joe Carchio, who co-authored the resolution to pull the measure off the ballot, highlighted some components of the lease deal. He said rent increases would not exceed 4% annually for residents paying at least 40% of their income toward rent.

Many residents from both parks have told council members about rent increases they have faced this year, some as high as 62% in a month.

Katapodis said he believes Saunders will follow through with the agreements he has proposed to his residents.

Saunders could not be reached for comment.

“I have also come to realize at this point that other mobile home park owners have been fair on their dealings with their resident owners, raising space rental rates [that are] acceptable to their residents, and I highly commend them for that,” Katapodis said.

“I think they really hammered out a good deal,” Carchio said. “If Mr. [Randy] Wells, the president of the [Pacific Mobile Home Park] HOA [who] represents both of those [parks] agreed to it with Mr. Saunders, then they are working in the right direction.”

Carchio said rent control doesn’t work, citing Detroit and Camden, N.J., as examples.

While Saunders has agreed to work with residents at his two parks, council members are still concerned about the owner of Rancho Huntington Mobile Park, a senior-only park where residents fear rents may increase if they do not sign a long-term lease.

Amber Monte, who represents Rancho Huntington owner Sierra Management, said 60% of the residents have signed a lease.

However, resident Patricia Taylor, 76, said Rancho Huntington’s homeowners association has tried to work out a better deal with management and has yet to settle on an agreement.

“If we can come to some kind of a compromise as a result of having [the ballot measure pulled], it would serve a good purpose,” Taylor said.

The proposal by Katapodis and Carchio passed on a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Joe Shaw and council members Connie Boardman and Dave Sullivan dissenting.

Councilwoman Jill Hardy surprised many people in the council chambers by voting in favor.

She had supported stabilizing rents at mobile-home parks since Sullivan brought the issue forward at the council’s July 21 meeting. However, she voted to pull the ballot measure because she was concerned about making the situation worse between residents and park owners.

Hardy vowed to bring the issue back during the 2016 elections, should it be needed.

“I can guarantee that if this isn’t on the ballot this time and some of the bad practices that have been going on continue or become worse, that there will be a strong organization, a lot of time to prepare and a lot of money raised to do it right in 2016,” Hardy said.