Windsor, Petaluma...a growing number of local jurisdictions are bolstering resident rights.
That's despite a unique landscape for regulating mobile homes, said Sebastopol’s city manager, Larry McLaughlin.
"The people living in their mobile homes are both homeowners who own a significant asset, as well as they are tenants as to the space under their home," McLaughlin said. "They have the vulnerabilities and issues of being a tenant. They also need the protection of a homeowner."
Sebastopol is an early adopter of mobile home protections. The city has now updated rent stabilization rules; capping annual rent increases on mobile home lots to three percent, or 75% of the consumer price index, whichever is less.
Also in the updated rules: vacancy decontrol. Despite strong opposition from the Fircrest mobile home park resident association, council members voted to allow park owners to raise lot rents after a vacancy by up to 10% in Sebastopol.
A compromise position as Sebastopol’s mayor Neysa Hinton described it.
"It's gotta be a balance between the current tenants and the landlord, and that's, I feel very strongly about that."
Much of the discussion in Sebastopol revolves around the 87-space Fircrest Mobile Home Park. That's a seniors park on the city’s south side.
Residents, many on fixed incomes, have clashed with the Musser Family, the park’s owners, and some of their representatives. Residents are alleging years of lackluster upkeep and costs passed on to them
Meanwhile, park owners voice concern over their ability to keep parks financially viable.
Margaret DeMatteo, a housing attorney with Sonoma County Legal Aid, said rent stabilization is about fostering a stable community.
"Anti-displacement is really anti homelessness or homelessness prevention," DeMatteo said.
A second reading of the updated mobile home rent stabilization rules is expected at the September 19th Sebastopol council meeting, with the new rules going into effect 30 days thereafter.