THE SONOMA COUNTY Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to look into capping rent increases for mobile home spaces in unincorporated areas at 4 percent in the future, voting unanimously to pause any increases until the board can discuss the matter in more depth.
Supervisors agreed to a moratorium on rent increases until Feb. 29, or until the board can agree on whether to amend the county’s rent stabilization ordinance.
“The pause is a time for dialogue,” said Supervisor Chris Coursey.
The current regulation allows owners to raise the rent by as much as 100 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or 6 percent of the rent, whichever is less.
The CPI measures changes in prices and services over a 12-month period and is issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
County supervisors are considering a proposal to cap the number at the lesser of 70 percent of the CPI or 4 percent.
The CPI for the 12-month period ending in July was 3.2 percent.
The most affected groups
The urgency ordinance was drafted after several residents told the board at its Aug. 15 meeting that the current rates are causing anxiety among park residents who fear the rising cost of living is unsustainable for retirees and others.
Michelle Whitman, executive director of the county’s Community Development Commission, said many residents spend around 30 percent of their income on rent and moving a mobile home can be expensive, leaving residents few options in the face of a rent increase.
“There are a lot of elderly people and low-income families that are already struggling to stay in their homes and unless we are protecting our seniors and lower-income families, we’ll be on the streets.”Vivian Flowers, resident
“A significant majority of residents of mobile home parks in the unincorporated area of the county are older individuals or couples living on fixed incomes,” Whitman said.
One public commenter spoke against the proposal, saying it would be “devastating” to owners of mobile home parks, also called modular home parks.
Ten residents said they supported what would be the first change to rent control in mobile home parks since 1992.
“There are a lot of elderly people and low-income families that are already struggling to stay in their homes and unless we are protecting our seniors and lower-income families, we’ll be on the streets,” said a public commenter named Vivian Flowers, who said she lived in a modular home park in the unincorporated area of the county.