Rural rent control?

Southern California ownership group reportedly the latest to jack rents up on fixed-incomers

Voters in the city of Sacramento might not be the only ones casting a ballot for rent stabilization in 2020. The same fight’s also starting to brew in rural, Republican-red El Dorado County.

On October 16, Kathy Kniffen of the Diamond Springs Mobile Home Park Homeowners Coalition, informed county supervisors that her group is hoping to get a rent control ordinance on the ballot by the next presidential election. The reason, she said, is that seniors in the community have recently been targeted by predatory property ownership groups from out of town.

Kniffen started her presentation by referencing what has happened at the Diamond Springs Mobile Home Park, where she says a Southern California company that purchased it in May is now drastically raising rents for the lots, as well as leveling new utility fees. Mobile home owners generally own their structures but pay rent for the lots they sit on.

“These are people who are in their 70s, 80s—some are a hundred—and they’re terrified,” Kniffen told supervisors during public comment.

She added that a similar story is playing out at Greenstone Estates Mobile Home Park, which was also recently purchased by new ownership. Kniffen said renters in Greenstone have told her its new owner immediately raised the rents from $550 to $850 a month.

“The word is out,” Kniffen said of these ownership groups arriving in El Dorado. “We’re a captive audience. … We cannot move our homes.”

In August, Los Angeles County supervisors passed a temporary rent control measure for mobile homes in their jurisdiction after rents began skyrocketing and owners protested. In Mountain View, mobile home owners have been demanding to be included in the groundbreaking rent control measures that were recently passed in that city.

Kniffen told supervisors that mobile homeowners across El Dorado County would be organizing at the county’s veteran’s hall on October 25.

“I don’t know where these people are going to go,” she said of the seniors on the verge of displacement. “Where are the elderly going to go?”