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Political storm clouds gather over mobile homes

Two of California’s most enduring, contentious political issues–rent control and mobile home owners’ rights–are on a collision course in the Capitol. A squeeze play is afoot–but who is getting squeezed?

“Mobile home park owners across the state are converting their properties into condos” to get around rent-control restrictions, says Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa. “This is driving out seniors and working families from low-income rentals.”

It’s also driving out park owners.

Some 700,000 people live in mobile homes across the state, most of them on spaces owned by the park in which they reside. But those parks are dwindling. More than 1,000 have closed down since the 1990s–perhaps 4,800 remain. The reason for the loss is apparent, park owners say: Restrictions on offering the spaces at market value threaten the parks’ profitability, pinch off funds for maintenance and improvements, and discourage investment. More than 100 communities, including the state’s major cities, have some form of rent control affecting mobile-home parks, but it is a patchwork of locally imposed rules. The upshot, they say, cripples the park’s economics.

Those rules have “created disincentives for owners to remain in the business of owning and managing parks and


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