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City halts mobile home conversions

Posted: January 26, 2016 10:42 p.m.
Updated: January 26, 2016 10:42 p.m.

Santa Clarita City Council members voted Tuesday to halt the conversion of senior-only mobile home parks to all-age parks citing the need to protect affordable housing options for older city residents.

Council members unanimously approved an “urgency ordinance” that creates a 45-day moratorium on converting senior  mobile home parks in the city of Santa Clarita.

“We have never had enough senior housing in this valley, and of course it’s important to preserve what we have because it’s a very finite amount,” said Councilwoman Laurene Weste. “I think we should move forward, do what we can to assist and look at this every way possible.”

Four of the city’s 16 mobile home parks operate as senior parks. Combined, those four parks have about 524 spaces — roughly 26 percent of all mobile home spaces in Santa Clarita, according to city documents.

Jarryd Gonzales, representing the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, said the association was opposed to the ordinance.

“We believe a mobile home community owner has a right to determine whether they will operate a 55-and-older community or an all-ages community,” Gonzales said.

“Both types of communities provide affordable housing opportunities for scores of current and prospective homeowners and should not be officially favored one way or another,” he added.

Carol Fish, a resident of the Sierra Park Mobile Home Park in Canyon Country, said ownership of that park has informed residents that they are looking to change it from a senior park to an all-ages park.

“It’s giving us a glimmer of hope that someone is listening to us and taking us seriously,” she said of the council’s vote. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the people, so I appreciate that.”

Fish said many of the residents of Sierra Park moved into a senior mobile home park because it’s quieter and more peaceful, something she’s worried could change should it open for all ages.

She also bemoaned a lack of affordable senior housing in the city.

“Our seniors are going hungry; our seniors are afraid to turn their air conditioning on and their electricity on and their heat on because it costs too much,” she said. “And it’s just shameful.”

Councilman TimBen Boydston also had some choice words on the topic.

“Seniors are a very special class of people that are on fixed incomes, don’t have the ability to run out and get a job to support their families,” he said. “And, if the net result is that park owners take ownership of a park and then raise the rents at such a rapid rate that the seniors cannot afford to live in their homes in Santa Clarita, then I will tell you there is a special place in hell reserved for you.”

The urgency ordinance goes into effect immediately, said City Attorney Joe Montes, and is help to preserve the status quo in the near term while city officials continue to look into the issue.

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