San Leandro to finalize new regulations on mobile home rents, short-term AirBNBs

Former San Leandro mobile home owners John Busch outside the city council chambers during a meeting last February. Busch's eviction last year from the Bayshore Commons mobile home park was widely covered in the local press.

A pair of consequential ordinances bringing new housing protections to San Leandro will be finalized Monday night. Both navigated a lengthy vetting process to get to this point and each was approved by the San Leandro City Council on May 20. A second and final reading is scheduled for this Monday, June 3.

EBC AGENDA slate

The council approved protections for San Leandro mobile home owners, often residents who are seniors, and with limited financial means. Following the sale of a number of mobile home parks in San Leandro, the city noticed an uptick in large rent increases for mobile home owners. Although they own their dwellings, owners pay rent to park owners for the space.

The ordinance seeks to stabilize rents by limiting base rents to not to exceed the 90th percentile of all rents in a specific mobile home park. It also sets a cap for annual rent increases at the lesser of the Consumer Price Index for San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward or 4 percent, and codifies state just-cause protections that prohibit landlords for evicting tenants without a specific causes, such as non-payment and criminal activity, among other reasons.


SAN LEANDRO
>>Regular council meeting, Monday, June 3, 7 p.m.
READ ENTIRE AGENDA HERE
>>Next meeting: June 17.

Councilmember Victor Aguilar, Jr. said the council must act quickly to avoid displacement of San Leandro residents. “We needed rent stabilization yesterday. We needed it last week. We needed it last year. We need it now.”

Landlords seeking to pass along some costs of capital improvement projects at mobile home parks will be required to receive permission from a simple majority of mobile home owners, under the ordinance. The clause in the ordinance angered at least one park owner.

“You’re going to get people to approve their own rent increase? It’s not happening,” said Matt Davies, a representative for Bayshore Commons, a mobile home park in San Leandro. “You guys just nixed capital expenditures and created long-term degradation of communities.” Davies’ mobile home park, in many ways, was the catalyst for mobile home owners to organize in support of new protections.

Former Bayshore Commons tenant John Busch, and his plight following exorbitant rent increases, resulted in numerous negative local print and television stories. Busch, 82, was later arrested after refusing to leave his space after being served a notice of eviction by Bayshore Commons.

After months of tweaking, the ordinance was approved, 4-1, with Councilmember Ed Hernandez voting no, and Councilmember Benny Lee abstaining. Councilmember Deborah Cox was absent.

In voting against the ordinance, Hernandez said he believes the community had previously registered opposition against rent control. He also express concern that mobile home park owners will sue the city over the new regulations. “This appears to be a unilateral policy decision. There seems like there’s more opportunity do something here that brings us together.”

Hernandez also opposed an ordinance the same night to regulate short-term rentals, also referred to as AirBNBs. The council voted, 4-2, to limit hosted short-term rentals in San Leandro to 120 days a year, but added a four-month window to review the ordinance.

But Hernandez advocated for no restrictions altogether. Non-hosted short-term rental are prohibited in San Leandro. Councilmember Pete Ballew also voted against the hosted short-term rental restrictions.

Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter said the four-month review period will provide the council with data that will eventually justify removing the restrictions on the number of rental days. “I think that we’re going to find in four months that there is not going to be any problems and we’re going to make it unlimited,” she said, but also cognizant of past concerns lodged by neighbors earlier this year.

Like the rash of high mobile home rent increases and evictions, the impetus for San Leandro regulating short-term rental stemmed from misconduct by some owners of large homes who rented out their properties for what often became raucous, late night parties in typically quiet leafy neighborhoods.

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