Residents ask Taft City Council to intercede
Residents of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park aren't very happy with their landlord.
They said there rent has been rising steadily, while the living conditions are deteriorating.
Tuesday night, about 25 members of the Buena Vista Homeowners Association and a spokeswoman went to ask the Taft City Council for help.
Sandy Popejoy told the council that the streets are in disrepair, the swimming pool has left people with rashes and the entire park suffers from a lack of maintenance.
“It's terrible,” Popejoy said. “It is in awful repair.”
At least one street is in such bad shape, Popejoy said, one resident's granddaughter told her she can't take her grandmother out for exercise.
“She said she can't help her grandmother walk because they have so many pits in the road,” Popejoy told the council.
Popejoy doesn't live in the park, but she owns a trailer there where her mother lives.
The park was constructed in he 1970s and has been sold numerous times, Popejoy said.
The most recent owner is a corporation in Carson City, Nev.
Popejoy said the residents have no communication with the owners except to get steadily increasing rent.
“The owner will not even respond to us,” she said. “We've written letters, we called. They've been told if they don't want to live there you can move.”
Most of the residents, who are in their 60s, 70s and 80s living on fixed income including Social Security.
Recent rent increases have outstripped cost-of-living adjustments from the SSI payments, Popejoy said, and a new city fee structure for sewer and, garbage disposal and street sweeping fees are only making it worse.
Popejoy presented figures to the council that show that space rentals have risen by $124, per moth from $360 in 2008 to $484.18 this year, an increase of 30.7 percent, while the SSI cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) has risen $147 per month, an increase of just 12.1 percent.
The figures Popejoy presented show that more than 80 percent of the COLA to the Social Security recipients has been taken up by rent increases.
The rate hikes wouldn't be so bad, Popejoy said, if there was more work being done to keep the park up.
Popejoy said the mobile home park residents are actually being charged a higher fee by the owner than the city is charging.
Popejoy mentioned that other cities have rent control ordinances, but did not specifically ask the council to consider one.
Instead, she asked for help for the mobile home park residents.
She asked for show of support from the council, possibly a letter to the owner on the residents' behalf.
Mayor Paul Linder asked the residents to put together a packet of information for the city attorney to look through.
Councilman Randy Miller asked the group to send a letter asking the council to get involved, and also requested an item on the next council agenda to consider the issue.