Bob Richards: "My buyer decided to walk away."
  • Bob Richards: "My buyer decided to walk away."
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Even though mobile homes remain the largest form of affordable housing in California, a state of California/Stanford University report said that because mobile home park property is worth five to six times more if it is instead used for high density development, the homesteads long known as trailer parks are “vanishing.” There have been no new mobile home parks built in California since the 1980s.

What will happen to the residents of Mission View West when their land lease expires August 31?

What will happen to the residents of Mission View West when their land lease expires August 31?

Oceanside is thought to be a haven for mobile home park ownership because of a 1982 rent-control ordinance. Yet some warn the future is looking bleak for some of Oceanside’s 2,500 mobile home tenants.

For decades there were 17 Oceanside mobile home parks, most built in the 60s or 70s. But in 2017 the owner of the 21-space La Playa Vista park flat out ignored the city’s ordinance that mandated a mobile home park owner advise the city and then get approval of its closure. Condos are being planned for the La Playa property on Tremont Street west of Coast Highway.

Why did the owner of Terrace Gardens try to install double-wide homes in single-wide spaces without getting city permits?

Why did the owner of Terrace Gardens try to install double-wide homes in single-wide spaces without getting city permits?

There are now 16 Oceanside mobile home parks. And by the end of the year there may be 15.

Consider the Mission View West park near the intersection of Douglas Drive and Mission Avenue. A 65-year land lease that allows Mission View to exist expires at the end of August. On Tuesday Steve Epsten of San Diego who owns Mission View Mobile, Inc. was asked what might happen to his park with 108 spaces.

“I do not comment on private business matters,” Epsten said by phone. Epsten declined to say if his Oceanside park may succumb to a high-rise residential redevelopment which would displace the Mission View West mobile home residents.

Bob Richards lives in the 433-space Rancho San Luis Rey Mobile Home Park. He says that when he tried to sell his home the sale was thwarted because park management harassed him by demanding, among other things, that he tear down the six-foot wall surrounding his home even though there are other six-foot-high walls in his park and Oceanside city codes specifically say fences up to six feet tall are legal.

“I had a buyer from Palm Springs who was approved,” says Richards. “They came after me,” he says of Star Management which runs Rancho San Luis Rey. He says Star would not relent on its demands to tear down the fence which halted the sale. “They are completely predatory. They don’t want it to look like too many people are leaving because it will look bad to their investors. My buyer decided to walk away because he saw what [Star Management] did to me.”

A request to Star Management at its Santa Ana headquarters for comment was not returned.

“This is an absolute mess,” says Richards, “I will fight back. But most of these people are in their 70s and 80s and they don’t want to rock the boat. They are older people who are afraid of retaliation.”

Linda Walshaw was honored last month as the Oceanside Senior of the Year due to her efforts with her fellow mobile home residents and area attorneys. She says seniors and veterans are getting coerced into signing away their rent control. "I try to educate homeowners not to sign away their right to rent control and seek legal help and resources as soon as possible. Oceanside has lost over 600 rent-controlled spaces."

“There are a lot of people who are afraid to speak up,” says Vicki Tillman, who lives in the 92-space Westwinds Mobile Lodge. “They tell people who want to move here that we don’t have rent control. Let’s say your lease is up in October. They’ll tell you that you have to sign this new lease [without rent control] or your rent will go up by $150. We have proof, and that’s illegal.”

Tillman says that fear drives these home-owners into submission. “These people don’t have money to fight it on their own. We tried to get a class-action lawsuit together. Wes sent out these surveys and people were afraid to turn them in. One lady said they threatened to report her to the border patrol.”

Tillman says some parks are worse than others. “Every park has its own manager. They make up their own rules. This is supposed to be your home. You shouldn’t have to be afraid to laugh too loud or play music.

Daren Douglas is a realtor who says he knows first hand of Star Management killing sales by making demands on would-be sellers that sometimes are impossible to fulfill.

“They wanted one seller to replace the skirting with the same stuff that was there before,” says Douglas about the material that wraps around the bottom of each home. “They said it had to be aluminum just like the old one. But they don’t make aluminum siding like that anymore. The seller was happy to replace with vinyl but they demanded it be aluminum, which does not exist. The law clearly states vinyl is ok.” He says the furor held up the sale. “And who is there to stop these park owners from doing this?

“They like being bullies,” says Douglas. “There was one guy trying to sell his coach. It was spotless. They picked the guy to death about things like stains on his driveway when state law says the property owner is responsible for repair and maintenance of driveways. There was a little old lady who was selling. The buyer had all cash. It took them three weeks to come out and sign off on the inspection. Because it took so long, the buyers backed off.”

Walshaw says some of the parks are buying up the homes within the park, allowing the owner to collect market rate rent ($2,000 to $2,500) versus rent-controlled space rent which is usually around $500. That, plus the effort to convince mobile home owners to sign away their rent control with new leases, has drastically taken down the amount of Oceanside residents still on rent control.

Angie Hanifin, housing administrator with the city of Oceanside, says there is nothing to prevent park owners from purchasing mobile homes and turning them into park-owned rentals.

Although La Playa Vista owners did not notify the city when it ceased operations as a mobile home park, Hanifin says it is still the law that the city council must approve all park closures or conversions.

Residents of Terrace Gardens on Oceanside Boulevard claim their new park owner tried to install 11 double-wide homes in single-wide spaces. Residents of the Mira Mar Mobile Community overlooking the harbor tore out a clubhouse and wash room without getting city permits.

Walshaw says city data show that Pacific Trailer Park on Oceanside Boulevard has only one or two of its 62 spaces still under rent control. She says the Mobilehome Advisory Committee is one of the few resources available to Oceanside mobile home owners.

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Comments

Socks3742 Jan. 3, 2020 @ 12:20 p.m.

I've never lived in a mobile home park, but I wouldn't buy a mobile home unless I could buy the land too. Paying $500-$1,000 a month (or more) space rent plus all the other expenses isn't affordable to those who need to live more affordably.

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AlexClarke Jan. 4, 2020 @ 7:35 a.m.

There are a few, very few, mobile home parks where the land is owned by the residents. The reason that no mobile home parks have been built is because the Golden State Mobile Home Association has made it impossible for a landowner to build a mobile home park. The Association was formed in 1962 to protect the rights of mobile home owners and the have done such a great job that the park owner has no rights. Also "back-in-the-day" property was cheap and the cost of a mobile home was much less than a stick built home.

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Visduh Jan. 4, 2020 @ 8:02 a.m.

Owning the land is a very good idea, but those who ended up living in these parks seldom had the resources to do that. What they needed was something that was cheap, and mobile homes were definitely that. But now they are stuck. Thirty years ago a few mobile home parks were purchased by the residents, and that took care of the immediate problem, but then they had to deal with the usual HOA bickering.

What I wonder is where the O'side city attorney is in all this. If all this illegal activity is rampant, there should be a response from the city. Just what Angie Hanifin does as part of her duties and responsibilities doesn't seem to include enforcing that ordinance.

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Socks3742 Jan. 4, 2020 @ 8:09 a.m.

Do they lack the resources to own the land or was owning the land not an option? I would think owning the land would be more affordable than the amount of space rent some of these places charge.

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Visduh Jan. 4, 2020 @ 9:10 a.m.

Well, that may be the situation today. But when those parks started up, the cost of a space lease was reasonable, and the overall package was about as cheap anything you could "own," Land prices are now out of sight in urban San Diego County, and anywhere else along the California coast. To own the land under a mobile home today means going rural, as in the back country, far from urban services.

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GetofmyLawn Jan. 3, 2020 @ 7:25 p.m.

I think the faster these park owners can push these retired veterans and home makers onto the street the better.

I hope the city staff and council members will stay ignoring this. To Oceanside city council ignoring the problem will make it go away on its own! Councilman Jack agrees, trailer park people are nothing more than trailer trash. Oh yeah, and vote for Jack again, he is running for something.

Let them live out of cars, maybe they can go back to Nebraska or Oregon. They don't belong here in Oceanside. To hell with the poor old people and tell them to take the food stamps with them.

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retiredguy Jan. 6, 2020 @ 2:15 a.m.

This article reminds me of a Denny's place mat. The one where you have to find the key, fish, cow, star, etc., hidden in a drawing of Mount Rushmore. How many can you find?

I couldn't keep track of the misleading claims, the mischaracterizations, statements of fact that are demonstrably false, embellishments, spurious accusations of ongoing criminal conduct, ergo, accusations of the relevant authorities ignoring/condoning such conduct.

However, seeing who the writer used as his heavily-quoted principle source, nobody should be surprised.

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AlexClarke Jan. 13, 2020 @ 6:45 a.m.

I thought you were talking about Trump.

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Ken Leighton Jan. 6, 2020 @ 9:11 a.m.

Hey "retired guy"......this wouldn't be the guy with the card table who tries to shake down seniors while they are paying their rent at Rancho San Luis Rey for money so they be part of a group that does absolutely nothing for Oceanside mobile park homeowners would it? I ran out of space or else I would have gone into the whole GSMOL scam. Tell us what exactly these people are paying dues for again! I am told and believe to be true GSMOL has never helped a single Oceanside mobile home renter. There is so much going on with so many Oceanside mobile park owners and GSMOL is and has been nowhere to be seen. Please put on your big boy pants and identify yourself. Oh, and while you're at it, please share what in the article is false. Keep in mind, what you do in the dark will eventually come out in the light. This is the third Oceanside mobile home park story I have done in three years and think they have helped to illuminate what a tragic scene it is for many seniors in Oceanside. Oh, and by the way, my "heavily-quoted source" has never tried to shake down threatened seniors for money like others who seem to scavenge them like prey.

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Lindaslegal Jan. 6, 2020 @ 10:36 a.m.

Attorneys warn us against "plants" in our own communities who misdirect residents away from legal help, cause divisiveness and keep residents "dumbed down" about their rights. There's nothing in this article that cannot be corroborated by City data, area attorneys specializing in mobile home law, Oceanside MAC's reps (most are HOA officers in their own parks and 3 are City Commissioners) and the 100's of Oceanside residents we continue to help. These are not "mom and pop" parks anymore; these are large parcels of land located along major transportation corridors being targeted by investors.

As for what the City can do, these are mostly matters of civil law, requiring the assistance of attorneys who specialize in this field, which overlaps with real property, estate laws, probate laws, health & safety codes, City ordinances, etc. Through Oceanside MAC we help keep legal costs down under the supervision of area attorneys specializing in this complex area of law.

And for those who're calling seniors, veterans, blind and disabled persons "trailer trash," these homeowners aren't living on anyone else's dime. Their homes aren't "mobile" (drive through Rancho San Luis Rey or Laguna Vista and see for yourself). These homeowners bought and paid for the home they can afford, pay all maintenance, utilities, taxes and extra fees that pay for administration of the City ordinance. Last time we counted, there were over 750 veterans living in these communities, some who fought in 3 wars who deserve your thanks and respect.

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HenriPezerat Jan. 6, 2020 @ 12:52 p.m.

Public records show that on 5/15/19 the City of Oceanside placed a Stop Work Order at Terrace Gardens Mobilehome Park for bringing a mobilehome into the park and placing them on lots without required permits.

At that time, all work on five unpermitted homes brought into the Park was halted until Owner applied for permits. Mobilehome permits were issued from July through December of 2019.

A large double-wide unpermitted mobilehome was brought in among the first five homes. It stands unpermitted since May 2019. It continues to sprawl across a designated single-wide lot space and across the Common Area. The Common Area was designated for recreation in the park's original use plan. Children played there for years, riding bicycles, chalk-painting and playing ball.

So, the Common Area has been re-purposed without required notice to residents as per California Civil Code. The City of Oceanside cannot authorize repurposing of park lots, facilities and recreation areas. The mobilehome must be moved elsewhere.

The City will do wise to limit time unpermitted home may stand. A mobilehome park is not a parking lot to store mobilehomes.

Additionally, 8/12/2019 Oceanside City issued another Stop Work Order at Terrace Gardens. The order halted work on a retaining wall at the swimming pool that was dramatically rough-graded months ago. Oceanside City's Geotechnical Department has required a soil report be contained in the permit application.

Pounding winter rains have eroded great swaths through recreation areas and former access walkways at Terrace Gardens.

Timely and professionally-conducted projects do beautify Oceanside's mobilehome parks to mutual benefit. However, ill-planned, slip-shod projects risk devaluation of homes and property and present other risks.

We have seen Oceanside's mobilehome owners are robust defenders of their rights. Our 16B Rent Control mobilizations have born out victoriously.

The City does well to support all efforts to maintain mobilehome owner's rights. Oceanside purports itself as visionary and respectful of its neighborhoods' character, High-density, ill-planned projects detract from appearance, lifestyle and infrastructure.

We all have a stake in this.

Thank you for your well-written article, Mr. Leighton.

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Leszek Tomczyk Jan. 10, 2020 @ 5:12 a.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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pinkyr Jan. 10, 2020 @ 9:22 p.m.

Great work, Mr. Leighton! I read a previous article of yours explaining the harassment and illegal activities the park owners are perpetrating on the residents whose property they want to obtain. The tolerated illegal activity of these people is yet another reason to get rid of all the men on the City Council. It isn't a gender issue; it's a cabal and greed issue. The constant 4 to 1 votes against what the public shows up to Council meetings to ask for is disgusting and has gone on way too long. This is one corrupt little town, and I sincerely hope that none of the men currently on the Council will be there after 2020! Please, Folks, vote against those always voting with the 4!

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