The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously adopted an interim urgency ordinance prohibiting the conversion of senior mobile home parks and excessive vacancy rent increases in its regular meeting Tuesday.
This move comes after numerous mobile home park residents spoke up about recent notices from the Flamingo Mobile Home Park ownership announcing a rule change to convert the park from its current senior-only occupancy to an all-age park. Residents expressed fear that the loss of senior-only occupancy would destabilize them socially and economically.
The ordinance prohibits the conversion and enacts an interim vacancy rent control cap of 10% to prevent excessive space rent increases from being imposed upon transfer of ownership of a mobile home.
“Nationwide, there is a move to raise the rent on the underlying ground that devalues the mobile home that the residents own, so what happens is that those residents are not able to either sell their home, or when rent comes up, it devalues them and puts them in even more of a financial predicament,” Council member Eric Friedman said. “It is paramount that we understand this issue, that we have an interim ordinance today to allow us time to put a pause on everything and work through a process where we can protect our seniors in housing that they have.”
The ordinance is effective immediately and will expire in 45 days, unless extended by the council. After notice, public hearing and a four-fifths vote, the council could extend the ordinance for an additional 22 months and 15 days.
Council member Mike Jordan said he would likely not be inclined to extend it for the duration.
“I would be inclined to put some pressure on staff and the property owners of Flamingo to clear up some of the disconnect we’ve heard today… and provide those answers in a shorter period of time than two years,” he said. “Senior housing is definitely an at-risk and very needed housing component that we’re trying to protect.”
The council also unanimously approved the proposed amendments to the Municipal Code pertaining to permits and regulations for special events, including parades, athletic events and other special events in parks or requiring the closure of streets and other public rights of way.
The new process will clarify special event permit requirements, designate a city special events coordinator, enhance customer service for event organizers and streamline the permit review and approval process to achieve efficiencies.
“One of the biggest benefits from this is a complaint I’ve heard in the past that a customer has to go to multiple locations to get a permit,” Mr. Jordan said. “This solves that problem by putting the ownership of the process in one place and I think that will take such a burden off the public of having to walk around or visit multiple places and try to get the attention of multiple people. It becomes a one stop shop.”
In other business, the council received an update on the supply planning analyses and recommendations for the Enhanced Urban Water Management Plan and provided policy direction focused on reusing and recycling water as much as possible.
In addition, the council received a presentation on a proposed transition from a shared Black Gold Catalog to a Standalone Santa Barbara Public Library Catalog.
The council refrained to approve the transition before conversing with regional partners.