Mobile-Home owners Mobilize
Seaside trailer park residents allege unfair property management.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Residents of Seaside Mobile Estates, complaining of “double standards and alleged double dealings” by their landlords, are hoping the city will back a rent-control ordinance similar to the one Marina adopted last month.
Rhonda Somerton, who lives in the Birch Avenue park with her 74-year-old mother, Dorothy, says landlords are charging owners of older, less expensive mobile units up to $650 per month while offering a $350-per-month introductory rent on spaces occupied by new units. Residents own the homes but rent the land.
Somerton describes the park as critical housing for seniors on fixed income, who can’t afford the new double-wides selling for around $100,000. “People with older mobiles are being driven out,” she says. “In this economy, no poor person can afford to come in.”
Park resident Michelle Nuebert, 69, says her rent has increased from $305 per month in 1999 to $500 today; new tenants are charged even more. “One of the biggest problems is the discrepancy in rents,” she says.
Property manager Marilyn Zuniga counters: “We haven’t had a rent increase for a few years here.” She refers other questions to Modesto-based property owner Glen Watkins, who did not return phone calls.
Mayor Felix Bachofner, who recently met with the concerned residents, says he would place a rent control discussion on a City Council agenda if a large group of constituents asked him to. But he’s skeptical about what it would accomplish.
“Either it forces landlords to consistently raise rent to the maximum allowable amount every year, because there is uncertainty for the future,” he says, “[or] landlords don’t raise their rents and don’t maintain buildings as much as they should.”
Marina’s ordinance, adopted in October, keeps rent flat at five parks.