Mobile home owners ask Santa Maria to fix rental rates

Judith Chumlia Cohan is 86 years old and has been living at Rancho Buena Vista Mobile Estates in Santa Maria since 2003.

“It’s a constant concern on behalf of those who live on the edge of the abyss,” Chumlea-Cohan explained. “My Social Security was raised by $40, and my space rent was raised by $40. It’s a wash and then what are we left with?”

She is one of the many seniors living in this motorhome park who are asking the city to take action.

“The [rent] The increases are 3, 4, 5% each year,” Andrea Mayfield, resident of Rancho Buena Vista Mobile Estates and member of the North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Home Team, added.

They own their mobile home but don’t own the land, Mayfield said, making it difficult to keep up with rising land rent prices.

She added that it is even more difficult for new mobile home owners.

“Another increase we hope to change for mobile home parks is when a mobile home sells or transfers ownership in a mobile home park, most parks have an arrangement where they can increase the rent by 10% for the next new owner,” Mayfield said.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, residents from various mobile home parks across Santa Maria spoke during a public comment about the difficult economic situation low-income families face across the city.

“In 2019, the city council created a model lease that park owners can use,” Mayfield said. However, a typical lease is not enforceable. All of this is voluntary.”

The city council did not raise the matter at this week’s meeting because it was not on the agenda.

The North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Home Team has legal representation to support mobile home affordability and to ensure that future agreements include residents’ votes.

“Adjust the lease form to address the problem of rent control in Santa Maria, enter into a memorandum of agreement with a memorandum of understanding with park owners that limits rent increases for residents, or create a mobile home park ordinance that stabilizes rents,” Mayfield said.

KSBY News was unable to contact property owners at Rancho Buena Vista Mobile Estates because the head office was closed on Friday, but the issue will be discussed by City Council on June 7, 2022.

Advocates invite community members to attend to share their personal experiences and express their concerns. Attendees are asked to wear blue in solidarity with them.

“It will take a lot of discussion, open hearts, and open listening on both sides,” Chumlya-Cohan said.

The Factory Home team in North Santa Barbara County said they hope to adopt and enforce a new uniform law across all mobile home parks in Santa Maria.

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