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Chico City Council decides internal affairs committee needs to discuss senior mobile home rent hikes

Residents of Pleasant Valley Mobile Estates hold signs in support of rent stabilization at a Jan. 16, 2024 city council meeting in Chico, Calif.
Erik Adams
/
NSPR
Residents of Pleasant Valley Mobile Estates hold signs in support of rent stabilization at a Jan. 16, 2024 city council meeting in Chico, Calif.

Rent stabilization for senior mobile home parks was discussed at this week’s city council meeting in Chico.

Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds made the request for the discussion. This comes after residents of Pleasant Valley Mobile Estates were met with 30% rent increase notices last year – later lowered to 10% – from the park’s owner, Legacy Communities.

Several Pleasant Valley residents attended the meeting to support rent stabilization.

Kathy Vlach, a resident of the park, has helped lead her community to attend city council meetings to address the topic.

“I think the meeting went well tonight,” Vlach said. “The city council does need to do a little more deep diving and look into more of the rent stabilizations that are already in place. There’s over 90 of them just in California.”

One public speaker, Saul Londono, heralded mobile home park owners in Chico as “excellent stewards of their communities,” and opposed the concerns of Pleasant Valley residents.

“Rent stabilization is just a fancy word for rent control,” Londono said. “It’s exactly what has been tried in every extreme radical municipality in the world and has failed miserably.”

Londono said he works with the Western Manufactured Housing Communities, whose website says its main purpose is “promoting and protecting the interests of owners, operators and developers of manufactured home communities in California.”

Councilmember Addison Winslow showed his support for the rent stabilization idea.

"The difference between rent control and rent stabilization is that rent control will set caps for rent so they cannot exceed," Winslow said. "Rent stabilization prevents the increases from happening all at once. It requires that they happen gradually over time."

During public comment, Londono told the council that he was able to get Legacy Properties owners on the phone within a single day. But Pleasant Valley residents, like Vlach, haven’t experienced such ease with communication.

“Well, yeah,” Vlach said. “He represents the mobile home park owner. Of course they're going to call him back because of everything that's happening here.”

Other speakers, like Janet Olsen, addressed the council in support of rent stabilization. Olsen lives in a different senior mobile home park but spoke on behalf of many seniors who can’t afford big rent hikes.

“They’re on a fixed income and their fixed income does not go up,” Olsen said. “These people can’t do it. I think that for the city to consider a stabilization for mobile home parks would be a good thing.”

Dave Donnan lives at Pleasant Valley and, along with Vlach, has helped residents show up to council meetings. He spoke to the council during public comment.

“You gotta give some of these people the credit,” he said. “They stayed through this whole thing.”

“Half of them are asleep," Donnan said jokingly, "and it's past their bedtime. But they think it's that important to sit through the council meeting."

After much discussion among council members, they ultimately voted to send the question to the council’s internal affairs committee, which next meets on Feb. 5. After possible further discussion there, it could come back to the full council for a vote.

Erik began his role as NSPR's Butte County government reporter in September of 2023 as part of UC Berkeley's California Local News Fellowship. He received his bachelor's degree in Journalism from Cal State LA earlier that year.