When the law takes effect January 1, owners of Rancho La Paz, which is on the border between Fullerton and Anaheim, will be limited to annual increases of no more than 3% for up to 10 years.
“Straddles” is a key phrase, which is why more mobile home residents aren’t seeing help from the law with their rentals.
Written by 65 District Councilwoman Sharon Quirk Silva and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the law applies only to mobile home parks that span two cities.
Rancho La Paz is the only mobile home park in the state that fits the criteria.
Joseph Holber, its director of communications, said Quirk Silva tried to introduce a bill to protect all mobile home residents in the state from steep rent hikes, but it had almost no support.
Holber said a new bill had to be drafted to address the residents of Rancho La Paz.
“We don’t have any legislation in the pipeline right now, but we are open to suggestions moving forward into the 2022 legislative session,” Holber said.
Residents Lupe Ramirez, who helps lead residents in protesting increases for their elected leaders, said in 2019, mobile home park residents were notified of a $200 rent increase after the neighborhood was purchased by new owners, and has seen additional increases since now. In response, the two city councils discussed rent control measures, but ended up offering residents assistance programs.
When Ramirez moved to Rancho La Paz six years ago, rents were $650 on the Anaheim side and $750 on the Fullerton side.
“Right now, rents are as high as $1,575 for some,” Ramirez said. “When you’re a Social Security employee and you get $698…we have quite a few people in their 90s and that’s what we live by.”
At one point, Ramirez said, residents set up a food bank for neighbors who couldn’t buy groceries.
Representatives of Saunders Property Company, which bought Rancho La Paz in 2019 for $85 million, declined to comment for this story.
At the time the company purchased the park, representatives said rents were well below average for the area and increases were needed to mitigate the $800,000 rise in annual property tax and to make up for needed maintenance.
As of January 1, any rent increases made since the bill is signed must return again.
Cheryl Moy, a long-time resident of Rancho La Paz and vice president of HOA, recently sold her home and moved with her husband to Henderson, Nevada.
Moi said they moved in part because of pressure related to the fight against rent increases.
“I was making a lot of people try to get me to help them with things that I couldn’t help,” Moy said. “We were fine. We could have paid the increases, but we just decided that our age and all, we didn’t need the extra feelings.”