Chapter 5.36


5.36.010    Findings—Purpose of provisions.

5.36.020    Definitions.

5.36.030    Board—Established—Membership.

5.36.040    Board—Compensation and expenses.

5.36.050    Board—Organization—Powers and duties.

5.36.060    Registration of mobile home parks.

5.36.070    Base rent and maximum rent.

5.36.080    Rent adjustments—Conditions—Hearings.

5.36.090    Rent adjustments—Investigation by board.

5.36.100    Rent adjustments—Criteria for determination.

5.36.110    Rent adjustments—Time for decision.

5.36.120    Rollback of rents—Conditions.

5.36.130    Rent adjustments—Per-year limit.

5.36.140    Decisions in writing—Review and appeal.

5.36.150    Rent charge analysis for tenants.

5.36.160    No reduction in services or amenities.

5.36.170    No increase following sale of mobile home.

5.36.180    No increase following park sale or transfer.

5.36.190    Violation—Misdemeanor.

5.36.010 Findings—Purpose of provisions.

A. The city council finds that there is a shortage of spaces for the location of mobile homes in the city, a condition which tends to prevent normal competition between the owners and operators of mobile home parks, and which leaves mobile home owners dependent upon their landlords, with little or no bargaining position in the negotiation of rentals and terms of occupancy. It is also a fact that mobile home owners have substantial investments in such homes, that many persons residing in mobile home parks are retired and living on fixed incomes, and that the high cost of moving such homes is substantial in relation to the investment, and that to persons with limited income such cost is an undue burden, even if alternate space is available for moving. The council finds that a substantial number of mobile home owners in the city have for a long time asserted a need for rent control, and that efforts of the city council in past responses to bring about mediation and voluntary adjustment of differences between park owners and tenants have been notably unsuccessful.

B. The council finds and declares that it is necessary that the city supervise rental charges in mobile home parks as defined by this chapter, to put to rest the complaints and concerns of citizens and to ensure mobile home occupants and the public generally that mobile home owners are protected against unreasonable rental charges and unreasonable rent increases. At the same time, the city recognizes the need of mobile home park owners to receive a fair return on investment and to have under the auspices of the city an administrative procedure which will operate efficiently and expeditiously to approve such rental increases as are reasonable and necessary to provide for a fair return and for increased costs of operation.

C. 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 codified in this chapter be considered severable, and that if any portion of it is declared unconstitutional or unenforceable, the remaining portions shall remain valid and in effect. (Ord. 410-86 § 1, 1986)

5.36.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

“Board” means the rent review board established in this chapter.

“Commissioners” means the appointed members of the board.

“Mobile home park” means a parcel or contiguous parcels of land on which there are laid out and improved five or more rental spaces or pads for the use of mobile homes, manufactured houses or trailers, on a rental basis.

“Mobile home park owner” or “owner” means the owner, lessor, operator or manager of a mobile home park.

“Mobile home tenant” or “tenant” means any person who occupies a mobile home as a dwelling unit in a mobile home park on a rental or lease arrangement with the owner or operator thereof.

“Rent” means the monetary consideration, including any bonus, premium, gratuity, services rendered, or other consideration which can be measured in terms of money’s worth and which is contracted, demanded or received in return for the use and occupancy of a mobile home space in a mobile home park. “Rent” includes any consideration paid for permission to assign, sublet or otherwise transfer a leasehold or other interest of a tenant in a mobile home park, any charges in addition to rent for services and amenities, and includes security deposits. (Ord. 410-86 § 2, 1986)

5.36.030 Board—Established—Membership.

A. There is established in the city government a mobile home park rent review board, whose members shall be known as commissioners, to administer this chapter.

B. The board shall consist of three members, each appointed by the city council, to serve at the council’s pleasure. No member of the board shall be a mobile home park owner, operator or manager, and no member of the board shall be a mobile home park tenant or lessee. Residence in the city is not a qualification for appointment. The council shall select the membership from applicants-at-large, and shall attempt to obtain members who have training and expertise in financial planning, real estate development or management, past experience in mobile home park operation, accounting, or other fields which provide expertise and qualification for the tasks at hand. (Ord. 410-86 § 3, 1986)

5.36.040 Board—Compensation and expenses.

No commissioner shall receive a wage or salary for services as such, but may be entitled to fees for attendance at official meetings in addition to transportation costs, meals away from home, and other direct expense of attendance at meetings, as may be allowed under rules and criteria established by the city council by resolution from time to time. The council is authorized also to fix by resolution from time to time mobile home park registration fees, and application for hearing fees, the proceeds of which shall be paid into a special fund to be used only to defray the fees and expenses of the board. (Ord. 410-86 § 4, 1986)

5.36.050 Board—Organization—Powers and duties.

A. The city council shall appoint the initial members of the board within thirty days after the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, and if there are any vacancies on the board on the thirtieth day after such effective date, the council, at its next regular or special meeting thereafter, shall appoint one or more of its own members to fill such vacancies.

B. The board shall hold an organizational meeting within fifteen days after the first appointments are made, and may adopt bylaws to regulate the conduct of its business. The board may meet in the council chambers at City Hall, or any other convenient place in the city, and shall observe the requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act. The city manager shall provide to the board such secretarial, mailing and support services as are necessary for its proper operations.

C. Subject to law, the board has the power.

1. To meet upon its own motion, at the request of the city council or city manager, and upon the filing of a petition by an owner or by tenants for rent adjustment;

2. To investigate, hold hearings and pass upon petitions for rent adjustment;

3. To fix and revise base rents as required by law and the objectives of this chapter, 4. To adjust maximum rents upward or downward after petition and hearing;

5. To adopt, amend and repeal administrative rules consistent with law and with this chapter to effectuate the purposes and policies of this chapter,

6. To maintain files and other records in the custody of the city clerk in order that its proceedings, decisions and rulings shall be recorded and preserved;

7. To make written reports, recommendations and requests to the city council within the scope of its functions and duties;

8. To assess, collect and account for any fees and charges which may be authorized by the city council for the administration of this chapter, and

9. To encumber funds budgeted to it for its operations to be paid upon approval by the city council upon proper claim and audit.

D. Board members shall serve terms of four years. Initially, however, the council shall appoint one member to serve a two-year term, so that terms of office will be staggered. The council may appoint also an alternate member who may vote upon any question in the absence of any regular member. (Ord. 410-86 § 7, 1986)

5.36.060 Registration of mobile home parks.

A. Upon the adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter, the city clerk shall mail a copy of it to the owners and operators of all mobile homes within the city and which contain five or more rental spaces, as such ownership or operation may appear from city records.

B. Within ten days after the date of the clerk’s mailing, either the owner or the operator who is given such notice must register the parks which they own or operate with the city clerk by filing with the clerk a letter or other instrument in writing which identifies the park and which furnishes:

1. The current mailing address of owners and operators;

2. The number of spaces in the park;

3. The number of spaces under construction, if any, or planned for construction;

4. The identity of present tenants and lessees, and their mailing addresses;

5. The rental, lease payments and other considerations charged for the use of the space; and

6. A description of the park and the services, amenities and other considerations to the tenants and lessees which the owner or operator may consider as bearing on the question of fair rental amounts.

C. Any owner or operator who is not notified by the city clerk to file such registration shall nevertheless be obligated to register in the same manner within thirty days after the publication date of the ordinance codified herein, or after publication date of an official notice that said ordinance has been adopted. The registration shall be accompanied by payment of a filing fee determined by the number of spaces in the park available for rental at the date of filing, at rates to be prescribed by the city council by resolution. The council resolution fixing rates shall prescribe a penalty charge for late filing in at least double the amount of the overall filing fee, and a separate penalty may be prescribed for each monthly period the registration is delinquent. (Ord. 410-86 § 5, 1986)

5.36.070 Base rent and maximum rent.

A. For purposes of this chapter, there shall be assigned to each space in a mobile home park a base rent. The base rent is initially fixed for each space at the rent which was in effect on January 1, 1986, or, if the space was not leased or rented, the latest rent previously in effect. The initial base rate of a space which has never been rented or leased shall be established by the board.

B. The maximum rent which may be charged for any mobile home space from and after January 1, 1986, is the initial base rate, until such base rate is adjusted upward or downward by the board in the exercise of its powers under this chapter. (Ord. 410-86 § 6, 1986)

5.36.080 Rent adjustments—Conditions—Hearings.

The board may make rent adjustments to apply to an entire mobile home park, or may make individual rent adjustments applying to one or more spaces within a park, after receipt of a petition from the party who seeks adjustment. A petition for adjustment of rents may be made only by the owner or operator or by tenants holding fifty percent or more of the spaces within the park. Petitions must be filed with the city clerk who, within seven days after receipt thereof, will notify the petitioner by mail addressed to the petitioner’s address, as given in the petition, of a date, place and time for hearing of the petition by the board, a hearing to be conducted not less than thirty nor more than forty-five days after the date of mailing. The clerk shall simultaneously mail notice of the hearing to the owner, the operator also if different from the owner, and all owners and occupants of spaces within the park, according to the registration of the park on file with the city clerk and in accord also with any special request for notice previously filed with the clerk by any person having an interest in the subject matter. The clerk shall publish notice of the hearing also by publication at least one time in legal notices carried by a newspaper which generally circulates within the city. (Ord. 410-86 § 8, 1986)

5.36.090 Rent adjustments—Investigation by board.

The board may conduct independent investigation upon any petition. At the hearing, which shall be open in public, the board shall receive all evidence and argument tendered to it by interested parties. All petitions, correspondence, papers and documentary exhibits presented to the board in connection with the hearing, either in advance of the hearing or during the hearing, shall be identified in the minutes of the board as having been received, and shall be placed in an evidence file. The board, upon proper grounds, may reject from consideration any communication or documentary evidence presented to it, and if it does so, it must note the fact or rejection on its official minutes. The board shall record all oral proceedings and hearing by tape recorder or by the services of a certified shorthand reporter, as it may order. Any person who desires to give testimony or other evidence at the hearing may do so in person, by agent, or by legal counsel. The board may proceed to hear and determine any matter, notwithstanding default of appearance by a petitioner. (Ord. 410-86 § 9, 1986)

5.36.100 Rent adjustments—Criteria for determination.

A. The ultimate objective of the board in its determinations on hearing shall be the establishment of rents which are fair, just and equitable in light of the owner’s or operator’s right to receive a fair economic return upon investments reasonably made for the purpose, and in light of tenants’ needs for space at rentals which are reasonably commensurate with open market rentals for comparable space, and proportionate to the reasonable values of the services and amenities received.

B. In reaching its determinations, the board shall consider, among other things, the following guides:

1. Changes in the Consumer Price Index which best applies to the Cloverdale area;

2. Any voluntary pay or price standards promulgated by federal, state or local authority;

3. The elapsed time since the last rental adjustment for the space or spaces in question;

4. The addition of any capital improvements or rehabilitation work related to such spaces, and the costs thereof, including cost of labor, materials, financing charges and interest, permit fees, and other items allowed by standard accounting practice;

5. Rental and lease payments lawfully charged for comparable mobile home spaces in Sonoma County;

6. Increase or decrease of property taxes, assessments or other taxes or government fees or charges relating to the park;

7. Changes in utility charges paid by the park, including the amounts, if any, of reimbursement made by tenants;

8. Need and cost of repairs caused by other than ordinary wear and tear,

9. The need of the owner or operator for reasonable operating and maintenance expenses;

10. The quantity and quality of services provided by the park;

11. The terms of any existing leases which are lawful and which affect the spaces in question;

12. The question in relation to any claim by an owner or operator for consideration of financing or refinancing charges incurred since the last rent adjustment, whether such charges were necessary and economically justified by reasons or causes beyond the control of the owner or operator, and the question whether such charges were incurred for the convenience of the operator or the enhancement of financial position without regard to necessity;

13. Such other criteria as the board may adopt from time to time by rule or regulation, not inconsistent with law or with the objectives or directions contained in this chapter. (Ord. 410-86 § 10, 1986)

5.36.110 Rent adjustments—Time for decision.

A. The board shall act promptly to decide upon all petitions presented, but in the exercise of reasonable discretion may continue a hearing from time to time, and at the close of any hearing may take under submission for determination at a later meeting any issue presented to it for decision. In no event, however, shall the board defer decision for more than forty days after the date of initial hearing. The board may adjust any rent or rent schedule retroactive to the date upon which the application was first filed with the city clerk.

B. Any moneys due a tenant as a result of retroactive adjustment shall be refunded in cash within thirty days after decision, or applied to ensuing rent payment or payments, at the option of the tenant.

C. Any moneys due the owner or operator after retroactive adjustment shall be paid in three equal monthly installments commencing thirty days after the date of the decision, or sooner at the option of the tenant. (Ord. 410-86 § 11, 1986)

5.36.120 Rollback of rents—Conditions.

A. The monthly rental rate or the lease payment monthly rate, together with any service or other charges applicable thereto, charged or offered on any space in a mobile home park as of January 1, 1986, is fixed as the base rent for such space. As to any space never rented or occupied or offered at a specified rental on or before January 1, 1986, the base rate is fixed at the average rate calculated on all spaces within the same mobile home park.

B. If any owner or operator has increased a rental or lease payment after January 1, 1986, and before the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, the owner or operator may do either of the following:

1. Reduce the rental or lease payment, effective on the first rent paying date following the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, to the rate which was charged on January 1, 1986. If this is done, the owner or operator shall not be obligated to refund the interim increases, and any tenant in default of rent payment shall be obligated for the full amount of the rent as charged in the interim;

2. Continue to charge and collect payments at the increased rate, and immediately notify the city council in writing, by notice filed with the city clerk, of the intention to do so. In such event, the city council shall cause the question of justification for the increase to be set for hearing by the rent control board at the earliest practicable date, and the owner or operator shall be notified to appear before the board to establish by credible and sufficient evidence any justification claimed for such increase. If the board finds, upon conclusion of its hearing, that the rental rate in effect on January 1, 1986, was sufficient to provide a fair return on investment and that the increase or increases made after that date were not justified in light of the criteria set forth in this chapter for rental adjustments, the board may order a decrease in rent, in whole or in part, of the interim increase or increases, retroactive to any date not prior to January 1, 1986, and the owner or operator shall be obligated to refund to each tenant the total amount of rentals paid which have been found by the board to be unjustified. (Ord. 410-86 § 12, 1986)

5.36.130 Rent adjustments—Per-year limit.

No rental adjustment shall be made under this chapter, either increase or decrease, more than once in any consecutive twelve calendar months. (Ord. 410-86 § 13, 1986)

5.36.140 Decisions in writing—Review and appeal.

A. All decisions made by the board must be reduced to writing and attested by at least one board member and by the city clerk or a deputy city clerk. A majority of the members of the board in office constitutes a quorum for meetings and hearings, and a majority of a quorum present may take any action appropriate to the board, except final decision on a rent adjustment. A rental adjustment requires the approval of a majority of the members of the board in office at the time.

B. No party to a hearing or other person may appeal a decision of the board to the city council, but the city council may, on its own motion made within thirty days after the date any board decision is filed with the city clerk, take the decision under review, and after hearing upon notice given in like manner as required for a hearing before the board, may affirm, reverse or modify the board’s decision. The unmodified decision of the board, or the decision of the city council following review, is subject to any judicial review provided by law. (Ord. 410-86 § 21, 1986)

5.36.150 Rent charge analysis for tenants.

Within ninety days after the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter, all owners and operators of mobile home parks in the city shall deliver to each of their tenants and lessees a written analysis, line by line, of the calculations utilized by the owner or operator in having fixed the current rental charge, with respect to all factors, investments, operations, maintenance and other charges and expenses of owning and operating the park, upon which the rental charge is postulated. (Ord. 410-86 § 19, 1986)

5.36.160 No reduction in services or amenities.

No owner or operator of a mobile home park shall reduce, in quantity or quality, services customarily rendered at the date any rental charge takes effect, nor later withdraw, suspend or diminish the amenities of the park in existence at the time a rental is fixed, without the consent of the board. Any withdrawal, decrease, suspension of services, and any reduction in amenities, may constitute grounds for reduction of rents, and the burden of proof before the board is on the owner or operator. No owner or operator shall attempt by any such reduction or withdrawal, suspension, alteration or other adjustment of services and amenities to obtain indirectly an increase in rate of return on investment. (Ord. 410-86 § 17, 1986)

5.36.170 No increase following sale of mobile home.

The sale of a mobile home by a tenant shall not justify an increase in rental for the affected space, whether or not the mobile home is to remain in or be removed from that space. The owner or operator may, however, make a one-time service charge not in excess of ten percent of the current monthly rent, payable by the purchaser or successor tenant. (Ord. 410-86 § 18, 1986)

5.36.180 No increase following park sale or transfer.

The transfer of title or ownership of a mobile home park, whether by sale or otherwise, does not in itself justify an increase in space rentals, and any application for increase made on such ground alone may be summarily denied by the board without hearing. (Ord. 410-86 § 14, 1986)

5.36.190 Violation—Misdemeanor.

Any person, firm or corporation, whether owner, operator, landlord, tenant, lessee or other, who or which violates any provision of this chapter, or who or which fails to perform any mandatory duty imposed by this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable as such by fine or imprisonment, or both, according to the general law of the state. (Ord. 410-86 § 20, 1986)