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A. For several years, mobilehome tenants have requested that the city of Petaluma enact a mobilehome park space rent stabilization ordinance. Various meetings have been held with mobilehome park owners and mobilehome park tenants to address concerns raised by both groups regarding rental increases, vacancy control, and other issues.

B. In March 1993, the city council was presented with a request for consideration of a fair mobilehome rent ordinance. In April 1993, the city council appointed to the existing mobilehome rent review committee which consisted of councilmembers, three mobilehome park owner representatives, and three mobilehome park tenants. After several meetings, it was reported to the city council in July 1993 that it did not appear that an agreement could be reached and that further discussions would not be fruitful.

C. Subsequent city council meetings were held in which various issues were discussed and from which input was received from both mobilehome park owners and mobilehome park tenants and their representatives.

D. Because of the inability of the park owners and park tenants to reach a resolution of their differences, the city council retained the services of Connerly Associates, Inc., an experienced consultant, to conduct a mobilehome park survey. The purpose of the survey was to collect relevant information on mobilehome park resident characteristics, space rents, and the mobilehome parks in Petaluma.

E. On November 15, 1993, Connerly & Associates, Inc. submitted to the city council a written report detailing their findings, which included the following:

1. Nearly sixty percent of the survey respondents were single adults, while virtually all the remaining respondents comprised two-person households. There were only four respondents who reported having three household members.

2. Most of the respondents, nearly eighty percent, reported being age sixty-two or more.

3. The majority of respondents at all the mobilehome parks reported being "low income," meaning they earned less than twenty-three thousand eight hundred fifty dollars per year for a single person, or twenty-nine thousand five hundred dollars per year for a two-person household. For all the parks, nearly ninety percent of the survey respondents are low income.

4. Over fifty percent of the residents in all but one mobilehome park reported their income as being within the "very low income" range, sixteen thousand one hundred fifty dollars for a single person or eighteen thousand seven hundred dollars for a two-person household. About sixty percent of the survey respondents in all the parks reported their income as being at the "very low income" level or less.

5. Just over half the respondents in all the mobilehome parks reported they pay more than thirty percent of their income for housing expenses (space rents; mortgage, if any; utilities; property taxes or registration fees; and homeowner’s insurance). About forty percent of the residents reported paying more than thirty-five percent of their income for housing expenses.

6. The average rents in the parks, as reported by residents responding to the surveys, range from a low of one hundred ninety-eight dollars per month to three hundred seventy-five dollars per month. The average monthly rental reported by respondents for all the parks was two hundred eight-four dollars per month. By comparison, the average space rent reported by respondents for all the parks was two hundred two dollars in 1986. The average space rent reported by residents were within five dollars to ten dollars per month of those reported by the park owners.

7. The average rental space rent increase was five percent per year between 1986 and 1993.

8. None of the park owners responding to the survey reported vacant mobilehome spaces.

F. The city council has discussed and reviewed the above findings and conclusions, and has received information through public hearings and concludes, based on said information and the findings herein, that it is necessary and in the public interest to establish a mechanism to assist in the resolution of disputes that may arise from time to time between residents and park owners regarding the rates charged for rental or lease of space as well as instances where there is a sale or transfer of the mobilehomes by the mobilehome residents. In addition, the city recognizes the right of the park owners to obtain a fair and reasonable rate of return and for their property to generate income to cover costs of operation and servicing of reasonable financing and to have under the auspices of the city an administrative procedure which will operate effectively and expeditiously to approve rent increases as are reasonable to meet said ends. At the same time there is a need to establish a means which if followed can provide protection to tenants from unreasonable rent increases resulting in loss of value to their property.

G. A significant majority of the residents of mobilehome parks in the city of Petaluma are older individuals or couples living on fixed incomes. These residents qualify as "low" and "very low" income households and typically expend more than thirty percent of their income on housing related expenses.

H. Nearly all mobilehome park residents own and occupy their mobilehome and have made a substantial monetary investment to live in a mobilehome park.

I. Residents of a mobilehome park have very limited mobility due to the difficulty and expense of relocating a mobilehome.

J. There is a limited amount of alternative housing affordable to and suitable for the typical mobilehome park resident and mobilehome parks are a valuable resource of affordable housing for low and very low income individuals and families.

K. The city of Petaluma is committed to assisting in the preservation of decent, safe and sanitary housing affordable to all economic segments of the community, especially mobilehome lots affordable to low and very low income individuals and families.

L. The city council finds there is a shortage of spaces for the location of mobilehomes in the city, a condition which results in low vacancy rates and tends to prevent normal competition between the owners and tenants of mobilehome parks. Rents have been for several years and are presently rising at rates in some instances greater than increases in the CPI, which has caused concern to a substantial number of mobilehome owners. The city council finds that a substantial number of mobilehome owners in the city have for a long time asserted a need for rent control and that efforts of the city council in the past to mediate differences between park owners and their tenants have been notably unsuccessful.

M. Due to their limited incomes, the large investment in their mobilehomes, the immobility of mobilehomes, and the shortage of spaces for mobilehomes, mobilehome owners generally have very limited economic bargaining power concerning rents charged for mobilehome lots.

N. The city council intends that this chapter be interpreted and enforced fairly and equitably, in a nondiscriminatory manner, and in accordance with constitutional requirements. For these reasons it is intended that the respective provisions of the ordinance be liberally construed and be considered severable, and that if any portion of it is declared unconstitutional or unenforceable, the remaining portions shall remain valid and in effect.

O. The purpose of this chapter is to:

1. Prevent the imposition of exploitive, excessive and unreasonable mobilehome space rent increases;

2. Assist in alleviating the unequal bargaining power which exists between mobilehome park residents and mobilehome park owners;

3. Provide mobilehome park owners with a guaranteed rate of annual space rent increase which accurately reflects the rate of inflation;

4. Provide an efficient and speedy process to ensure mobilehome park owners receive a fair, just and reasonable rate of return in cases where the guaranteed annual space rent increases provided by this chapter prove insufficient;

5. In the absence of a lawful vacancy, prevent excessive or exploitive rent increases upon the transfer of a mobilehome-on-site (i.e., on the mobilehome pad) to a new mobile-home owner while at the same time providing a process whereby mobile-home park owners are assured of receiving a fair and reasonable return. (Ord. 1949 NCS §1 (part), 1994.)