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"The City should work with public and private partners to develop a rental assistance program to aid those in greatest need."
- Draft Mobilehome Affordability Strategies Study, Oct 5, 2016 (p.7)
On October 5th, 2016 the City of Arcata Community Development Department released the "Arcata Mobilehome Affordability Strategies Study."
The study, prepared by city staff with assistance from PlanWest Partners, Inc., cost taxpayers $35,000.
Staff held several public and private meetings with park owners and managers, mobilehome owners and renters, and other stakeholders to engage them in a variety of ways to ensure everyone had access to staff and the Council. (p1, Executive Study)
The study's findings reflect why and how rent control is the least desirable and least effective option for the City of Arcata and Humboldt County.
"Rent stabilization ordinances are not “means‐tested”, meaning that all Mobilehome owners benefit regardless of economic need. Folks living closest to the margins of our local economic index cannot afford the slight increases tied to CPI which rent stabilization ordinances allow. Very‐low and extremely low income individuals would benefit more from a rental assistance program, long‐term lease, MOU, or government rental subsidy which aims to support those who are paying more than 30% of their monthly income on housing costs."
"The data collected from residents show that the market is historically and currently at or below the rent levels that would be implemented under a City regulatory agreement. In practical terms, this means that most tenants would see a rent increase if the City made a loan to the park for improvements, as it did with the Sandpiper and Arcata Mobilehome Parks. The private market has maintained rents consistent with or below inflation. Rent increases have also on average lagged behind HOME rent increases (Figure 5)."
“In such scenarios, park owners have difficulty keeping up with costs associated with park maintenance and capital project improvements. These circumstances may lead to litigation over fair return on investment. A legal victory for park owners in fair return adjudication manifest in skyrocketing rent increases for mobilehome owners. Where park owners are unsuccessful in litigation, local governments resources are drained fighting costly court battles over fair return and hardship rent increase claims. Seeking to avoid these encumbrances while still achieving the goal of stabilized rents, many California jurisdictions have begun looking into model leases as a cooperative alternative to rent stabilization /stabilization. Because model leases are crafted with respect to the input of all stakeholders, they have the potential to be fair, stable, and long‐lasting.”
“These disputes arise from rent stabilization ordinance’s limitations on space rent increases. Park owners who feel these limitations have prohibited them from earning a just and fair return on their investment have typically filed suit against the jurisdictions that have adopted such ordinances. For cities that do not have “in‐house counsel,” such as Arcata, the cost of litigation has been tremendous. However, some of these same jurisdictions have been successful in reaching compromises with resident and park owner groups through formal mediation resulting in favorable terms for all parties. Although these processes may be time consuming and costly, they have succeeded in providing a path to home ownership for low income residents in these jurisdictions.”
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