At its Jan. 30 meeting, City Council members voted to write a strongly worded letter to the Rental Housing Committee, reminding members that it was their job to decide on the controversial issue of extending rent control to mobile homes.
This comes after the rental committee voted 3-2 last week to punt the decision to the City Council. Members on the appointed committee said they were uncomfortable with the huge ramifications of taking such a decision.
Hanging over the issue is the looming threat of a lawsuit. Both mobile home park owners and tenant groups have warned that they could take legal action if the city goes forward with a decision that runs counter to their interests. The rental committee's own attorneys have sided with tenants, opining that under the language of the voter-approved Measure V, mobile homes should be covered by the rent control law.
Attorney Karen Tiedemann pointed out to the committee members that none of the exemptions listed in the rent control law applied to mobile homes.
"When we looked at the entirety of the measure, we couldn't find a way to say that mobile homes weren't covered," she told the committee last week.
Measure V also explicitly bans the City Council from taking policy actions on rent control.
At the Jan. 30 meeting, City Council members avoided wading into the specific details of the issue, except to suggest that the Rental Housing Committee needed to make a decision.
"We need an answer and they need to take charge," said Councilman Ken Rosenberg. "They're offering no clarity or decisiveness on this particular issue, and it's causing problems in the community."
The council voted 5-2 to direct staff to write a letter to the rental committee, specifying that they needed to make a decision on the mobile home issue. Council members Lisa Matichak and John McAlister voted in opposition, saying they wanted to first see the letter before approving it.
Mayor Lenny Siegel also suggested scheduling a future council discussion on the Rental Housing Committee's actions to date. But that idea didn't gain support among his colleagues, who said they felt sending the letter would be sufficient.