Residents and city officials at R.V. Park of San Rafael are resisting a series of rent increases by the management.
Residents claim that Harmony Communities of Stockton is asking for steep increases in the neighborhood at 742 Francisco Boulevard. West, according to a report.
The company recently sent a letter to residents stating that the rent will rise to $650 per month. According to the company, the closest comparable neighborhood in eastern Larkspur charges approximately $2,000 for similar accommodations.
The letter is signed unsigned. “I think you all will agree that a property must make a reasonable profit in order to remain in business.” We don’t want to force anyone to leave the property with this rent hike. Instead, we just want the owner to make a profit and provide affordable housing for everyone.
It all depends on the type of home. Harmony claims they are recreational vehicles, and therefore exempted from any city rent control ordinance that covers manufactured or mobile homes.
Both the city and its residents disagree.
Harmony Communities has received a letter from the city.
Robert Epstein, City Attorney, wrote that “We are aware that you claim that the space in the park is occupied by recreational vehicles (RVs), rather than mobile homes and that the park is exempted from San Rafael’s Mobile Home Rent Stabilization ordinance.”
Epstein stated that the ordinance covers the neighborhood and that the proposed rent increase “violates the provisions” of the ordinance.
Epstein pointed to previous litigation that involved the property and the municipality. Epstein stated that the case proved that the park was a mobile home park and therefore subject to the ordinance.
He wrote, “It’s not a recreational vehicle park. Subject to a different statute scheme.”
The appeal against the ordinance that applied to the park and the rent increases on its units was settled in 2005 by the owner who agreed to dismiss the appeal.
Epstein’s letter reminded Epstein that the park is subject to judgment. Although the management has increased the rent for 2021 already, Epstein’s letter reminded the landlord that any further rent increases must still be approved by the San Rafael Municipal Code hearing process.
Beverly Mason, who has lived in the area for 20 years, believes the owners are trying to skirt the ordinance and raise the rents privately. She claimed that the management also increased prices for other services such as renting parking spaces near the park’s boundary.
Mason stated that other tenants are less likely to speak up than she because they fear retaliation and even higher rent increases. It is “awful” to see instability in existing affordable housing, such as mobile homes.
Mason stated, “It’s insane, this idea of being able to increase the rent — just absurd in my opinion.”
Mason stated that if the developer ignores the warning, Mason worries that they can do what they want.
The company was also involved in a controversial 2018 RV park rent hike in San Leandro, which does not have rent control. And in a Fresno County case last year, residents at the Shady Lakes Mobile Home Park filed a lawsuit alleging the company unfairly hiked rents and harassed tenants.
Both cases were denied by company representatives. The company continues to buy affordable housing communities in low-income areas in cities such as Gilroy.