Relief for mobile owners in this Silicon Valley town
Mobile home owners in Sunnyvale have scored a key victory against rising rents as new long-term lease terms are handed to owners this month.
The deal caps rent increases for mobile home owners, limits monthly charges for new residents and could preserve the value of homes in city parks. Park owners believe the deal, approved by Sunnyvale City Council in July, will provide long-term stability to affordable communities.
Landlords have until Dec. 31 to sign the agreement or choose to stick to their original leases, which may allow for higher annual increases. The ordinance is expected to cover around 10,000 residents in 10 parks.
“Sign it. Protect your property, ”said Gail Rubino, resident of El Dorado Mobile Home Park and one of the organizers of the Sunnyvale Mobile Home Residents Stakeholder Group. Volunteers distribute flyers, knock on doors and send postcards to reach owners and encourage them to register.
The Bay Area Mobile Home Parks are a haven for affordable housing in one of the country’s most expensive markets for homes and apartments. But in recent years, mobile home fleets have been taken over by large domestic investors, often driving up rents and lowering home values. For every $ 100 per month increase in rent, the value of mobile homes decreases by about $ 10,000, according to industry estimates.
Many Bay Area counties and towns already have rent stabilization orders limiting space rent increases: Alameda, Contra Costa, and Sonoma counties are covered, as well as Concord, Daly City, East Palo Alto , Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, San Jose and others, according to the allegiance of the owners of Mobile Home Park.
Mobile home owners in Sunnyvale began asking the city to stabilize rents about five years ago, as parks changed hands and rates for new residents began to rise.
Sunnyvale executives rejected a rent stabilization proposal and instead negotiated a 20-year deal with owners of 10 of the city’s 13 parks. The agreement, technically an amendment to existing leases, caps increase on annual renewals to 3% or 75% of the consumer price index, whichever is greater. For example, the CPI rose 5.4% in September from the previous year, so renewal increases would be capped at three-quarters of that percentage, or 4.05%.
Mayor Larry Klein noted the process of several years. “I’m glad we’ve finally come to this point,” he said after voting for the deal.
The city has provided a website with additional information, including examples and different scenarios. Three parks are not included – Aloha, Ranchero and Thunderbird – as they are strictly rental.
Plaza Del Rey resident Fred Kameda said the deal would make a “huge financial difference” for park residents.
Plaza Del Rey, a 95-acre park with 812 units, was sold to private investor Carlyle Group in 2015. Residents say prices have risen rapidly, with new owners seeing increases that have nearly doubled previous rents.
Residents have started protesting the increases and have drawn the attention of U.S. Representative Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara) in an effort to preserve their communities.
Chicago-based Hometown America, a privately held company with mobile home parks in a dozen states, purchased Plaza Del Rey in 2019. The company has since engaged with residents of the city and the park to find a long-term balance between fair rent increases and preserving the values of the home.
COO Ken Kravenas said the deal “gives clarity to all stakeholders and we look forward to operating on mutually agreed terms.”