News


Judge rejects rent control for mobile homes

RHC decision to exclude mobile homes will stand

A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge this week rejected arguments by Mountain View mobile home tenants that they should also be covered under the city’s rent control program.

In his decision, Judge Mark Pierce upheld a February vote by the city’s Rental Housing Committee to not protect mobile homes under the city’s Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA).

“The Court agrees with (the Rental Housing Committee) that whether the CSFRA applies to mobile homes and mobile home lots is, based on the text of the act, at best ambiguous,” Pierce wrote. “It is therefore within the Rental Housing Committee’s discretion to determine whether or not the CSFRA so applied, and to establish rules or regulations where applicable.”

The decision comes as a setback for a coalition of mobile home tenants, centralized at Santiago Villa, who have been clamoring for limits on their rising space rents. Many mobile home residents pinned their hopes on the CSFRA after getting assurances from advocates that the rent control law was written so it could also encompass mobile homes. Voters passed the measure in 2016, but city officials implemented rent control only for apartments.

The case for including mobile homes wasn't so clear-cut. City attorneys pointed out that the CSFRA language never once mentions mobile homes, and it contains numerous conflicts with state laws specifically tailored for mobile homes.

Despite those shortcomings, city legal staff advised the rental committee that a stronger case could be made that mobile homes should be included. Because none of the explicit exemptions in the CSFRA applied to mobile homes, the committee’s legal team said it was reasonable to cover them under the law.

Despite that legal advice, a majority of the committee indicated they were uncomfortable with restricting rents on about 1,100 more homes in one fell swoop. Committee members Vanessa Honey, Tom Means and Matthew Grunewald voted 3-2 against covering mobile homes. Mobile home residents later filed a lawsuit with Fenwick & West attorneys, who provided pro-bono representation.

In rejecting the lawsuit this week, Pierce said it wasn’t enough for mobile home tenants to show that the CSFRA could be construed to include mobile homes. In order to overturn the decision, tenants would need to show that the rental committee’s decision was “fundamentally flawed,” he wrote. This suit did not pass that bar, he indicated.

The Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance, a tenants group that includes the plaintiffs in the case, said in an emailed statement that they were disappointed by the judge's ruling but they would continue pursuing the matter.

"We are considering the next steps we might take, both legal and legislative, to protect the residents of the last affordable housing in Mountain View," Mobile Home Alliance spokesman John Waters said.

Mobile home tenants could appeal the case, or they may seek a political solution by pushing for future rental committee members who are sympathetic to their issue. Earlier this week, committee member Tom Means announced his resignation, leaving a tie-breaking seat up in the air.

But even if the committee decided to cover mobile homes in the future, it would hardly settle the issue, said Anthony Rodriguez, an attorney who represented mobile home park owners in the lawsuit. His clients would have a strong case that the CSFRA was never intended to cover mobile homes, he said.

“If a rental board was to come along in the future and impose this on park owners, there’s no doubt that they would challenge it in court,” Rodriguez said. “There’s a big difference here. This is a rent control ordinance, not a mobile home ordinance.”

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Comments

10 people like this
Posted by Mobile Home Senior
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2018 at 7:09 pm

I have been to an RHC meeting and it is obvious that three three of them mentioned in this article hate renters and are trying to undermine the law. Why does the City Council let them do this?

It is disgrace.


6 people like this
Posted by Mobile home senior too
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 31, 2018 at 7:44 pm

I can't believe this judge. He must be in collusion with the RHC. How else could you explain his adopting the same argument as the RHC members? He totally ignored the vague wording of the ordinance?


79 people like this
Posted by ex-Hooli person
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 31, 2018 at 8:31 pm

I'm pleasantly surprised to see a neutral account of the matter from this publication. I'm more accustomed to seeing a strong editorial bias in articles touching on the subject of rent control.


1 person likes this
Posted by MV owner
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2018 at 9:52 am

As a single-family homeowner, not currently a landlord, I have no skin in this battle. (I will for Prop 10, which I may support). It seems clear from a previous Voice article, on Prop 10 / CSFRA interactions, that the lawyers crafting the ballot measure for the tenant's coalition made some political/wording decisions that have resulted in a situation that is legally, "at best ambiguous" (The JUDGE).

So - after Prop 10 (passes or not) it is clear that a revised CSFRA should go back on the Ballot. The CAA (California Apartment Association?) has their idea, I think most of the rest of MV/Council has their idea(s).

The curent wording of our CSFRA seems an obvious "compromise to get it passed". It will be interesting to see how the law at the state and city level evolves!

Thanks again reporter Noack!


126 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2018 at 10:15 am

Rent control in Mountain View has already nuked those old rickety apartment houses with inadequate lower floors to the highest and best use. Rent controllers have shot themselves through the head. There is an investors' strike now underway. Invest in Seattle, Portland anywhere but California with an insatiable demand for subsidies on the part of the Hamlet like democratic socialist.
George Drysdale a social studies teacher


6 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 1, 2018 at 11:07 am

Gary is a registered user.

The article explains that the issue decided by the judge was whether the Rental Housing Committee had and exercised discretion (aka decicion-making authority) given by Measure V to interpret the reach of the measure and apply that interpretation through the Committee's rule-making authority. The issue decided was NOT strictly whether the measure applies to mobile home park rents. The judge's ruling is linked to the article and shows that the reporting is accurate. The measure reportedly (I have not checked its language myself) left the interpretation to the 5-member Committee. As such, the Committee could (with its new member) change its rules to include mobile home park rents. Then, the park owners or operators would surely sue and the new interpretation could be rejected as plainly wrong or upheld by the same or another judge. .


12 people like this
Posted by Another Mobile Home Senior
a resident of North Bayshore
on Sep 1, 2018 at 2:47 pm

We hear from folks like the social studies teacher above who implies rent control imposes an undue burden on landlords who were making ends meet just fine before the bonanza triggered by Google's expansion. Absent documentation that costs for renovation, maintenance, appliances, etc have skyrocketed I see little here but "it's a gold rush and I've gotta get mine too".


20 people like this
Posted by @Mark Noack
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2018 at 9:11 pm

@Mark Noack,
Did the judge order Fenwick & West attorneys, and the plaintiff to pay the legal cost for the city's legal fees-expenses? I am assuming no since it was not mentioned in the story.


What this shows is the law firm retained by the city to give legal advice to the rental housing committee should be fired and legal representation should be sought from a competent law firm who would only offer legal advise based on the law, and not the tenant rights activist law firm which the current committee has retained who only gives a one sided opinion that is always on the tenants side.


7 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 1, 2018 at 11:14 pm

Gary is a registered user.

Fine to consider and reconsider which attorneys to use. But the judge's decision linked to the article reveals that the matter of whether Measure V applies to mobile home park spaces is unclear was NOT DETERMINED by the court. It was determined by the Rental Housing Committee and may be reconsidered by that Committee. Read my earlier post. Or wallow if you prefer.


202 people like this
Posted by mike rose
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2018 at 8:31 am

mike rose is a registered user.

Some people do not understand the essence of investing in the free market:
"..I see little here but "it's a gold rush and I've gotta get mine too...".
Investors who invest in a rental residential market take a RISK with their investment.
This is an essence of capitalism, the only system that works.
No one, no government, no tenants will step up to the plate and help limit investors losses when they occur.
But they are all eager to curtail the profits to zero once the market turns for better.
It would be insane to invest in such a enviroment, and passing of the prop 10 virtually insures this.


12 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 2, 2018 at 10:18 am

mike, you can't even define what a "free market" is, so let's just say you're not a great authority on what is "the essence of investing in the free market."


63 people like this
Posted by @LOL
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 2, 2018 at 11:02 am

Please share your success story, oh guru of economics. It will add some weight to your otherwise troll-like posts.


4 people like this
Posted by @@LOL
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2018 at 11:12 am

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] You know you have no actual argument to make in favor of usury-like rent hikes, so you throw garbage instead.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


129 people like this
Posted by mike rose
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2018 at 12:22 pm

mike rose is a registered user.

What exactly is "garbage" in the leftists world?
Working hard, saving money, buying property, providing housing to others, charging market rent?
I think feeling somehow entitled to free handouts, stealing equity from someone else's property is a real "garbage".


21 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 2, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Trying to get rich off people's basic needs through no effort of your own sounds pretty bad to me. Gouging is not "providing." You're a grocer marking up all their food and water during a natural disaster and have the audacity to consider that "providing."

The disdain you have for your tenants is fascinating, which I why I like your posting so much. You make it so easy for tenants to organize politically because you post over and over again how much you don't care about them or their struggles. You're an absentee, out-of-town landlord who looks at our community as a way to get rich, not as people with needs who deserve respect.


179 people like this
Posted by Mike Rose
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2018 at 3:25 pm

" no effort of your own"
This just shows me how clueless you are.
How do you know how much effort did take one to acquire a property?
In your utopian commie world- none,
All you can show for is that you pretend to "care".
Of course God forbid if your own money and work were involved.
But someone else's? Free for all.


21 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 2, 2018 at 3:40 pm

The skyrocketing rent increases have nothing to do with any labor performed by you. In fact, it's exclusively through the hard work of others, performing the actual labor that has made our community so economically vibrant. If you disagree, what effort of yours justified raising rents during the crisis?

You're an absentee, out-of-town landlord who looks at our community something to squeeze every last penny from, not as people with needs who deserve respect.


2 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2018 at 3:48 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

Just an observation:

The mobile homes are regulated under state laws completely differently to apartments because it is a very much more complicated issue. It is called the 2017 CALIFORNIA MOBILEHOME RESIDENCY LAW.

Unfortunately what needs to be done is for mobile homes is the same action regarding Proposition 10 the repeal of Costa Hawkins.

The people of California should mobilize and put a measure on the ballot to eliminate the distinction of Mobile Homes and rental properties. Why?

Because even though you may OWN your mobile home, the net result is that someone else can interfere with your ownership and a mobile home park owner.

Mike rose, this IS in fact theft because “mobile” homes are owned by their mortgage. But the extreme cost of removing them puts the mobile park owner in the position of in effect taking that property away where the only services being provided is a Power, Gas, Sewage, and Water hookup, and maybe some other amenities like a common pool, park, roads etc..

My suggestion is to first get rid of Costa Hawkins, then work on reforming the Mobile Home laws to make them identical to apartments.

That’s all.


103 people like this
Posted by Mike Rose
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Just to make it clear, and you may believe it or not,
I have been very conservative with rent increases for my tenants throughout years.
Before rent control average increase was less than $50 every 3 years. After the rent control was imposed, I decided to sell. My tenants asked me to reconsider and offered more rent money under the table. I refused.
I respect them and they do the same.
But this my choice, I own my properties free and clear and I can afford this.
So don't stick it personally to me.
However what the tenants activist are doing with private property owners, depriving them of most rights, extorting huge sums for "relocation payments" is discussing to me, maybe because I spent decades under communist rule.


128 people like this
Posted by Bored M
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 2, 2018 at 11:01 pm

I hope the owners of Santiago Villa and other mobile home parks are paying attention... sell! Some developer will pay decently to turn your property into townhomes for sale. I know many of my friends would like the opportunity to own a place. Who wants to be a long term renter anyways?

You’d have to be insane right now to invest in rental properties in California, much less Mountain View. So much risk.


14 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 3, 2018 at 12:39 am

mike, it's amazing that you spent so many years under Communist rule and ended up incapable of understanding what Communism is. Hint: rent control isn't Communism. Then again, you can't even define what a "free market" is, so...


64 people like this
Posted by Mike Rose
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2018 at 8:09 am

LOL,
You know better, watch more fake news, maybe brain washing will be complete one day.


14 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 3, 2018 at 8:44 am

See, incapable of even using reason, you just fall back to quoting Dear Leader. What went so wrong with you, mike?


51 people like this
Posted by @LOL
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 3, 2018 at 9:31 am

Please share the source of your knowledge about communism, oh guru of social studies. It will add some weight to your otherwise troll-like posts


9 people like this
Posted by @@LOL
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2018 at 10:15 am

Hey trollbot, unless you have something to actually add to this discussion, you would be better off cleaning your room and taking out the garbage, like your mother told you a million times already...


4 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 3, 2018 at 11:42 am

Let's all listen to the clear-headed, rational actor that is mike rose. All of their rent increases, as they stated, were unaffected by Measure V, but once it passed they emotionally and impulsively sold the property. Nothing in their business changed, except for their fear of "Communism". It'd be funny that they hurt themselves for no reason other than they watch too much Fox News, if they weren't also hurting their former tenants in the process.


7 people like this
Posted by Mark Noack
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 3, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Mark Noack is a registered user.

I don't believe legal fees have come up yet, although the defendants could certainly seek to get those repaid.


121 people like this
Posted by Mike Rose
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2018 at 1:50 pm

LOL,
Could you elaborate how did I hurt my tenants?
Be specific, and why did you incorrectly assume that I sold my property when I said only that I decided to sell.
You write a lot of BS that is simply not true.


Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2018 at 2:13 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to mike rose you said:

“Could you elaborate how did I hurt my tenants?

Be specific, and why did you incorrectly assume that I sold my property when I said only that I decided to sell.”

Granted you did say:

“Before rent control average increase was less than $50 every 3 years. After the rent control was imposed, I decided to sell. My tenants asked me to reconsider and offered more rent money under the table. I refused.”

To me this is an attempt to do what you criticized me regarding being at least not very clear regarding your discussion. You know that was an intentional to give a false impression regarding your words.

The language “I decided to sell” in a grammatical sense does imply that you had in fact sold because the term “decided” means the following term was completed. If you said instead “I put my property on the market”, that would mean that you have not sold anything. Especially when you followed it up with the following sentence:

“My tenants asked me to reconsider and offered more rent money under the table. I refused.”

Perhaps you may want to be more accurate regarding your use of grammar. It would be reasonable to make the conclusion that was made. You purposely made it so vague that it was a reasonable interpretation. So you cannot claim the following:

“You write a lot of BS that is simply not true.”

Given the nature of your strategy to be ambiguous, you cannot make such a claim. Because you are responsible for the grammar you used and the interpretation of others.


9 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 3, 2018 at 8:36 pm

Gary is a registered user.

The "defendant" is actually called a "respondent" in a writ proceeding. Here the respondent is a public entity: the Rental Housing Committee. The public entity cannot recovery attorney fees from the other side - unless the case were frivolous (which it is not). In contrast, the petitioner MIGHT have been awarded attorney fees incurred if petitioner had prevailed (or yet prevails after an appeal).There is a danger that the petitioner's attorney(s) will urge an appeal in hope of ultimately winning the case and recovering fees. My impression is that the judge may have gotten it right. But I have only read the decision linked to the article. Judges are usually right. Appeals are usually unsuccessful.


8 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 3, 2018 at 8:45 pm

Gary is a registered user.

I should add that technically the City was also named as a respondent and that the court allowed a mobile home park owner to intervene. It is possible for a private intervenor to seek and receive an award of attorney fees under a special statute designed to encourage the public to litigate importamt issues; however, I doubt the statute could be used in this case where the intervenor was just protecting its own substantial financial stake in the matter.


60 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 4, 2018 at 3:03 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Was it the intent of those who proposed and drafted the legislation to include mobile homes? In an ambiguous situation like this, intent is extremely important. "City attorneys pointed out that the CSFRA language never once mentions mobile homes". If mobile homes were not mentioned or discussed, then how can one prove intent?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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