San Jose officials seek to calm mobile home park residents

San Jose leaders on Thursday promised expanded protections to
hundreds of Westwinds Mobile Park residents caught in a property
dispute and threatened with eviction.

Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmember Lan Diep announced a new
citywide proposal that would give greater leverage to mobile home
owners whose parks are facing redevelopment.

The new proposal creates a “mobile home park” designation,
and would require much higher review standards for redevelopment of
the communities. Any new projects would also require city council
approval.

SAN
JOSE, CA – JANUARY 9: Westwinds Mobile Home Park resident Rob
Leeper speaks with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, from left, outside
Leeper’s home following a news conference announcing the city’s
recommendation to accelerate protections for mobile home park
residents held at the mobile home park in San Jose, Calif., on
Thursday, Jan 9, 2019. Leeper is a 30 year long resident of the
mobile home park. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

“We are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to
protect our residents,” Liccardo said at a briefing at Westwinds.
The council is expected to act on the measure within weeks, he
said.

The Bay Area’s highest-in-the-nation housing costs and short
supply of homes has brought tremendous pressure to bring lucrative
redevelopment to mobile home parks. Several large Bay Area
communities, some built nearly 50 years ago, have been threatened
or closed in recent years.

This week, Rep. Ro Khanna, D- Fremont, introduced legislation to
allow the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help
preserve affordable housing and support the acquisition and
preservation of manufactured and mobile home communities.

More than 1,600 residents of Westwinds in North San Jose
received notice last week that a dispute between property managers
MHC Operating and property owner Nicholson Family Partnership could
displace them by August 2022, when an agreement between the two
parties expires.

Both sides insist they do not want to displace residents. MHC
sued the Nicholson Family Partnership last week in Santa Clara
County Superior Court, claiming the owners asked MHC to evict
residents before the contract expires. The partnership denied the
charge and said it seeks to protect affordable housing.

No redevelopment plans for the property — the largest mobile
home park in San Jose and fourth largest in the state — have been
submitted to the city. Liccardo said the property owners have
discussed plans for the park with city officials, and assured
officials they do not want to evict residents.

“Whatever the intentions are of the private parties, they are
not totally transparent at this point,” Liccardo said.
“You’ve got a legal fight brewing right now, and it’s obvious
that someone decided to drop a nuclear bomb. The result has been a
lot of sleepless night by 723 families. I’m not terribly happy
with that.”

Councilmember Diep, who represents residents in the park, said
new protections would allay residents fears. “I don’t want them
to spend another night worrying about what’s going to happen to
them in 2022,” he said.

But Huy Tran, who is challenging Diep for his District 4 council
seat, said at a rally in the park later on Thursday that the
council should have acted on the proposal two years ago, and
advocated for another moratorium on park closures. Tran said the
council has not paid enough attention to mobile home park
residents.

SAN
JOSE, CA – JANUARY 09: A San Jose City Council District 4
candidate Huy Tran speaks during a press conference at the
Westwinds Mobile Home Park on Jan. 9, 2020, in San Jose, Calif.
(Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

For many middle-class workers trying to buy a home, he said,
“mobile home parks are the last opportunities.”

Diep has supported a moratorium on mobile home closure, and said
he has consistently supported residents.

San Jose offers protections beyond state requirements for mobile
home owners facing redevelopment and displacement, said Nadia Aziz,
senior attorney for the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.

The city requires reimbursement for the fair market value of a
home. Displaced residents qualify for moving assistance and up to
24 months of rent subsidies. They can also form an association and
bid to purchase the property and preserve the community, she
said.

“San Jose has done a lot of things to help protect mobile
homes,” said Aziz, who helped negotiate a settlement for
residents affected by the planned redevelopment of Winchester Ranch
Mobile Home Park in the city.

Despite assurances from more than a dozen elected leaders, city
and state officials and housing advocates visiting the park
Thursday, residents remain concerned. Many are angry and confused
about the dispute and long-term prospects for the community. Some
have lived in the park for decades, and say they can’t find
affordable housing outside the park.

Sarah and Alex Young, both 31, purchased a mobile home five
years ago with their parents and another family member. The couple
decided it was a safe, stable and affordable place for Sarah’s
parents to retire.

SAN
JOSE, CA – JANUARY 09: Westwinds Mobile Home Park residents
including Sarah Ree, center, and her husband, Alex Young, listen to
a speaker during a press conference at the mobile home park on Jan.
9, 2020, in San Jose, Calif. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

The family splits the bills and pays roughly $1,200 a month in
rent. The Youngs want to stay in the park, support Sarah’s
parents and sister, and save for their own home. The uncertainty
about the park’s future has complicated those plans.

“We can’t make any decisions,” Alex Young said, “until
we absolutely know what’s next.”

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
San Jose officials seek to calm mobile home park residents