Mobilehomes are often a source of naturally affordable housing. Mobilehome park residents often own their home, renting the land beneath it from the park operator. Mobilehome owners are uniquely vulnerable to displacement if there are large increases in space rent because of their limited ability to relocate. The number of mobilehome parks is decreasing, limiting the opportunities to relocate, and it is prohibitively expensive to move a mobilehome. Space rent spikes also decrease the value of the home, because they make it less attractive to future buyers. As a result, mobilehome owners can lose a significant portion of their home equity when they are displaced as a result of a space rent increase.
Because of the unique vulnerability of mobilehome residents, mobilehome and RV parks are licensed and monitored by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
Mobilehome Park Preservation
It has been several decades since any new mobilehome parks have been developed. In the ensuing years, many mobilehome parks that were originally developed in low-density areas, or in more industrial areas, are now surrounded by higher-density uses and the underlying land has increased in value. This has resulted in demand to convert mobilehome parks to other uses.
In response, most cities have adopted ordinances to limit the ability to convert parks to other uses. In cases where conversions are being considered, local ordinances typically include stringent requirements for notifying the residents about hearings on proposed conversions and the preparation of relocation plans and proposed financial-benefit packages for residents who would be displaced by conversion.
In Santa Clara County, there are 17,115 spaces in mobilehome parks spread across nine cities. Six of those cities (Los Gatos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Palo Alto, San Jose, and Sunnyvale), with a total of 16,210 mobilehomes, have ordinances limiting the ability to convert parks from rental to ownership or to close the park and convert the property to an entirely new land use.
Mountain View, with a total of 1,129 mobilehomes, does not have such an ordinance; however, to convert a mobilehome park, a rezoning would be necessary, and the City has tenant protection regulations that would apply to tenants displaced from mobilehome parks as well as other rental housing. Two cities (Campbell and Gilroy) do not have regulations that govern mobilehome park conversions.
Mobilehome Renter Protections
The cities of Gilroy, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, and San Jose have rent stabilization ordinances in place for mobilehome parks. Rent stabilization decreases displacement risk to vulnerable tenants and allows landlords to cover operating costs and still receive a return.
There are six cities in Santa Clara with rent stabilization ordinances for mobile home parks: Gilroy, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, and San Jose. Palo Alto and Sunnyvale do not have rent stabilization ordinances for mobile home parks. In place of rent stabilizations, Sunnyvale adopted a “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)” which is a contract between the mobile home residents and park owners to limit rent increases, but is not recognized as a city ordinance. Palo Alto’s only mobile home park is owned by a non-profit developer that is committed to keeping rents stable and affordable. In cities with ordinances, annual increases are capped and are tied to the Consumer Price Index (or a percentage of CPI) to provide a reasonable rate of return to landlords and to cover regular maintenance costs.
Existing Mobilehome Rent Stabilization Ordinances in Santa Clara County
|City||Allowed Annual Space Rent Increase||Maximum Increase (Cap)|
|Gilroy||80% of CPI||5%|
|Los Gatos||100% of CPI or 3%, whichever is greater||5%|
|Mountain View||100% of CPI or 2%, whichever is greater||5%|
|Milpitas||50% of CPI||5%|
|Morgan Hill||75% of CPI||8%|
|San Jose||75% of CPI or 3%, whichever is greater||7%|
|Sunnyvale (MOU)||75% of CPI or 3% whichever is greater||No maximum|
- Updated Inventory, 2018
- County of Santa Clara: Mobilehome Park Inventory
- County of Santa Clara: RV Park Inventory
- State Housing and Community Development: Laws and Regulations
Photo by LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group