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Publication Date: Friday, November 22, 2002

:It's good for me that the city council has given me the opportunity to build credibility. My greatest concern is my reputation."

Landlord John Vidovich

Council, mobile home landlord agree to rent freeze and mediation Council, mobile home landlord agree to rent freeze and mediation (November 22, 2002)

At her final council meeting, mayor gets some, but not all relief for park residents

By Candice Shih

Mobile home park residents, the city council and landlord John Vidovich finally reached a compromise of sorts at Tuesday night's council meeting.

Despite pleas by some residents of Santiago Villa and Sahara Village Mobile Home Parks to do more, the council approved several recommendations which place new burdens on Vidovich, whose management practices at the two parks have been the subjected of resident complaints over the last two years.

Vidovich will pay for a public interest law firm to assist resident committees and for the city resources required to coordinate an information and resources fair for residents. Furthermore, he was instructed by the council to give residents the choice of a five-year freeze on their rent or to roll rent on mobile home spaces back to $795 per month.

The council also voted to have the city host a neighborhood meeting for residents.

A recommendation to conduct an audit analysis of park operations and management practices, which would have cost the city $30,000-$70,000, was not approved.

Vidovich has been accused by residents of employing abusive managers and unfairly increasing rents. Because park residents own their homes but rent the land where the homes sit, increases in rent can negatively impact a home's resale value.

Most of the approximately three-dozen park residents in attendance were encouraged but not entirely satisfied with the progress made.

"For those of us not making six figures a year, this is a big step for us," said Diana Neas, a resident at Santiago Villa. "I think the proposals Mr. Vidovich made are a step in the right direction," agreed Sahara Village resident Tony Ban. "(But) the recommendations tonight will not end this process."

Mayor Sally Lieber, sitting at her final council meeting before joining the state Assembly next month, first initiated the city's investigation of Vidovich's practices. She also felt that the changes were significant but not enough.

"It doesn't do what needs to be done," she said through tears. "I think about you (park residents) every day. I will never abandon you."

Lieber has been the only council member vocal in her support of mobile home rent control or rent stabilization.

Vidovich identified Lieber as part of the reason why so much attention has been given to his parks. "Sally Lieber made it a major issue for herself and her (state Assembly) campaign," he said.

Nonetheless, he accepted the council's recommendations with no argument. "It's good for me that the city council has given me the opportunity to build credibility," Vidovich said. "My greatest concern is my reputation."

Abusive management practices continued to be an issue in addition to rent structure. In fact, because the city has invested its resources in Vidovich's parks, Council member Rosemary Stasek suggested Vidovich replace the source of many residents' complaints: manager George Whitteker.

"There are too many emotional roadblocks in the tenure of Mr. Whitteker," she said. "Bring in professional mobile home park management."

Whitteker ignored a request for an interview and Vidovich would not comment on his employment status.

Nora Mittelstadt, a Santiago Villa resident who claims to have been consistently harassed and bullied by Whitteker, said issues at the park would not improve unless he is let go.

"Who is managing management here?" she asked.
E-mail Candice Shih at


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