After dealing with steep hire hikes this previous yr, the tenants of the R.V. Park of San Rafael face a brand new menace: displacement.
Concord Communities, the property administration firm, delivered a discover to tenants July 25 stating the proprietor’s intent to shut the park at 742 Francisco Blvd. West.
The approaching closure, the letter says, is in response to ongoing litigation with town to find out whether or not a rent-control ordinance applies to the property. The swimsuit has resulted in a courtroom order, issued in July, barring the park from persevering with to gather a $100 a month hire improve that started in November.
“Sadly, as a result of measures taken by the Metropolis the park can be pressured to shut,” the letter says.
“The park has been working at a loss for a number of years and has been combating to maintain this park open so no resident should transfer,” the letter continues. “The truth is the land is price way more than working an RV Park for inexpensive housing. The Metropolis of San Rafael has not allowed the park to lift rents quick sufficient to maintain up with inflation which is at an all-time excessive.”
The letter doesn’t point out a closure date, and alleges that town wouldn’t cooperate find a decision.
The positioning has greater than 40 residents. Some put the blame on the property administration and the proprietor.
“They’re creating this frenzy of worry,” stated Beverly Mason, a 20-year resident of the park. “I don’t really feel they’ve any optimistic will. They’re unscrupulous and don’t have any regard for the legislation or anybody on this park.”
The dispute started in August 2021 when tenants got discover of the hire will increase, which Concord stated would carry the common month-to-month hire to $650. Metropolis officers and residents pushed again, stating that the rise was in violation of town’s cellular house hire stabilization ordinance, designed to guard the affordability of the park.
The argument hinges on what sort of houses are there. Concord says they’re leisure autos and thus exempt from a metropolis hire management ordinance protecting cellular or manufactured houses. The town and the residents say in any other case.
In December, town sued Donna Chessen, the property proprietor, and Concord Communities, which is predicated in Stockton.
Metropolis attorneys cited earlier litigation involving the property and San Rafael. That 2004 case established the park as a cellular house park topic to the hire management ordinance.
Marin County Superior Court docket Choose James Chou granted a movement for a preliminary injunction in July, prohibiting the defendants from accumulating hire in extra of town’s cellular house hire stabilization ordinance. The ordinance caps the cellular house park hire will increase at 75% of client value index changes.
In line with courtroom information, Donna Chessen and her husband Erwin Chessen bought the property in 2006. After Erwin Chessen died in 2019, a grant deed was recorded transferring the park to his spouse, trustee of the household belief.
From 2006 to 2020, the park submitted a hire roll that conformed with town’s rent-control ordinance, Chou’s ruling says. The $100 month-to-month improve exceeded what the ordinance permits, and the park did not submit the required hire roll and calculations to town, the order says.
Chessen argues that the property is not a cellular house park, as a result of there are largely leisure autos on the positioning. Underneath state civil code, if an RV is used as a residence for 9 or extra steady months on the similar web site, it’s a cellular house.
Following the ruling, the park introduced it might retract the $100 hire improve, however then submitted a hire roll utility to town for a $15 hire improve as a substitute, stated Genevieve Coyle, assistant metropolis lawyer.
That improve, set to start in November, was permitted, Coyle stated.
The discover of closure was delivered to town lawyer’s workplace final week, Coyle stated.
“The proprietor has not formally contacted town to begin any closure course of,” Coyle stated.
Closing an inexpensive housing cellular house park requires the proprietor to arrange a tenant affect report in addition to take steps to relocate tenants or pay truthful market worth for displacement.
Coyle stated town lawyer’s workplace is constant its litigation concerning the hire improve.
Sue Crabtree, a resident of the park for greater than 30 years, stated the worth of hire is just one concern of a number of.
“There are quite a lot of points,” Crabtree stated. “They’re sending these notices, making rule adjustments, altering rents and now saying they’re closing the park. It’s a method to make us go away. It’s harassment.”
Resident Gilbert Nicholls agreed. Nicholls moved to the park in 2004 after dropping his house in Fairfax.
“That is speculated to be rent-controlled, low-income housing for folks like me,” Nicholls stated. “We’ve received previous folks, disabled folks, households with children. We’re a group. It’s unlucky.”
In an e-mail, Chessen stated she plans to formally start the closure course of inside 10 days. The method is predicted to take a yr, and he or she expects to shut the positioning in 2023.
“That is heartbreaking for our residents,” Chessen wrote. “They’re so scared and confused.”
“The town did this, and I don’t understand how town workers can reside with themselves,” Chessen stated. “We wished to run this as an RV park ceaselessly, however that’s unimaginable if our rents don’t cowl our bills.”
“I simply want town would allow us to cost truthful rents in order that we may maintain this park open,” she stated. “However we’ve already litigated with town in courtroom and so they haven’t budged an inch, so at this level we’ve no selection.”
Concord Communities deferred to Chessen’s feedback.
The corporate was additionally concerned in a controversial 2018 RV park hire hike in San Leandro, which doesn’t have hire management. In a Fresno County case two years in the past, residents on the Shady Lakes Cellular House Park filed a lawsuit alleging the corporate unfairly hiked rents and harassed tenants.
Firm representatives denied the claims in each instances. The corporate continues to purchase inexpensive housing communities in low-income areas in cities resembling Gilroy and extra not too long ago in Golden, Colorado.