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emergency city council meeting was odd and sad

basically the owners of clearview court mobile home park want to raise the rent and sqeeze the low income people rom the park (if they can't raise the rent they want part of the money from the eventual sale of the the trailers). they are talking about a 15% yearly raise in rent for 34 years. then ????
some renters payments will go from four hundred and eighty odd dollars to over one thousand dollars. many people were afraid they would become homeless.

an owners' rep got up and lied his ass off about how concerned the owners were about the people who live there.

mayor kennedy seemed to have a hard time listening (playing with some electronic device and eating while people talked) until some distraught people came to the podium and painfully asked for the council's help. that seemed to get his attention. he nodded a few times for this.

cynthia mathews was not there, and mike rotkin asked one resident if they deserved to have low rents since they were so close to the ocean.

there was a moan of disbelief from the crowd.

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explain the math

what does this mean, "they are talking about a 15% yearly raise in rent for 34 years."

does that mean every year the rent will go up 15%?

or, does this mean the the rent will be 15% higher than it is now, for the next 34 years?

thanks for the reporting smurf

by the way, i've noticed some of the council members tend to daze off during open communications.

More Background on Clearview Court

The following information was forwarded to me by Anita Webb, Vice President of the Clearview Residents Association. She declined to be interviewed for Free Radio Santa Cruz after the
Council meeting (though their attorney Dwight Herr and a spokesperson for the property owners did).

What's missing from the appeal below is any attempt to retain real rent control
(independent of the lease) as is currently guaranteed by law and should be guaranteed by law. It seems that they are all so exhausted and/or intimidated by the fight that they don't want to make this demand and/or prepare to take it to the voters with an Initiative.

The Council session resumes on Tuesday April 27th at 5 PM--or that was the latest word from Mayor Scott Kennedy so they can meet in closed session over the weekend. In the last week, however Kennedy broke two commitments to put items on the agenda. One was to schedule an endorsement of the Bring America Home law. Another was to discuss a weak resolution from the City Council's Public Safety Committee opposing the Patriot Act. Kennedy's word may not be worth much.

The Clear View residents, through their attorney, asked for more time to consider the latest behind-closed-doors changes made by City Council. Ed Porter, who, sadly, is
apparently their strongest ally on the Council, was telling them they had to make their points in closed door conversations to individual Councilmembers to have any impact.

The destruction of low-income housing is an important issue for my group--Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom--as well as the gutting of rent control. So far Clear View Court residents seem to have resigned themselves to losing rent control, and getting a long-term lease which destroys their ability to sell their coach or transfer it or borrow money on it.

We all need to fight for the retention and extension of rent control (to the mobile homes not covered by it in the court--poor, Latino families mostly, I'm told),

Fair rents city-wide, not just for mobile home owners, is a principle that could unite Clear View Court people with other tenants in the city looking for rent control (those outside trailer parks). As well as with those demanding that City Council keep its promises fully and not sell out tenants at the whim of Barisone and Wilson (City Attorney and City Manager respectively).

Anita Webb <ajwebb (at)>, Vice President of the Clear View Court Residents Association (or whatever it's called), wrote the following in an e-mail:

"We still need all your support, letters, phonecalls, and your attendance ...if possible. IF we must be without Mobilehome Rent Control, which the City desires, then the City is moving in the right direction by including non-rent controlled residents in their proposal. That's an important step.

"However, we must convince the City to reduce their high SPACE rent amounts they are proposing in this emergency ordinance (from $536 to $1186
depending on what size category you fall into), justify their departure from HUD formulas and skewing their formula to come out at such high rent amounts (which are not far off of park owners pending increases), and provide data with how they arrived at the 4 size categories they did which puts most residents in the higher rent categories. It is critical that the City base their calculations on established federal formulas and objective criteria, not arbitrary figures that force a certain result.

"As it stands, should this ordinance be adopted as is, it WILL impact the 66 low- to moderate-income families, the elderly, and the disabled living at Clearview, causing up to 200% rent increases for some. Even this amount phased in at 18-20% per year as is now proposed for non-rent controlled residents, will cause immediate impact as their take-home pay will not increase at those rates. That will impact their ability to pay these high rents which in turn impacts their ability to stay or pay their mortgages,
and will impact ALL resident's ability to sell their homes as all buyers would be subject to the full high rent amounts (no phase in). Who would take on a mortgage on top of these rents when you can just rent at these rates, or buy real estate with that combined amount - there would be no buyers, except perhaps the park owners snapping up the homes at distressed
prices and renting out the units for the same or similar price as their space rents as is happening in other parks where high rents are suddenly imposed. Residents do not even have the option of relocating their homes as other parks do not accept used homes, only brand new replacements.

And in light of the possibility that Clearview Court may be in the middle of a 3-year heavy construction zone with the dirt, noise, etc that brings, with Park Owners luxury townhouse developement planned for one acre of current Clearview Court mobilehome park land, and the hotel razing and reconstruction at triple capacity across the street, and the 45-ft 5-level
parking structure and conference center to be constructed around the border of MOST of the park resulting in increased traffic, noise & air polution, and solar access to homes, loss of privacy...whose going to BUY in here?

"Who would even rent here? Quality of life living at Clearview will deteriorate, and no one wants to live in the middle of a long-term
construction zone, nor in the shadows of a parking tower. As you can see, serious issues remain to be addressed, and the residents of Clearview would greatly appreciate the public's ongoing support.

In an earlier e-mail, Webb writes:

"As you may be aware, the City of Santa Cruz is moving forward with the elimination of Mobilehome Rent Control as we knew it, with the goal of protecting their General Fund from litigation exposure. By further amending the Mobilehome Rent Control ordinance, they want to implement their version of space rents for among other factors, the low- to moderate-income nature
of Clearview Court Mobilehome tenants in a 34-year (rent control phase-out) Lease.

"Clearview Court is an all-age Manufactured Home Park, converted 5+ years ago from a travel trailer park, and therefore has very small, substandard size spaces, with the majority of homes ranging from 250 to 600 sq. ft. and no park amenities other than a small laundryroom. The Park owner WCLA (developers Cliff Swenson, Corbett Wright and Steve Carmichael) wants to charge maximum space rents possible as evidenced in their recent pending rent increase notices from the office of Barry Swenson Builders (Park
Manager and pending builder on Clearview property). WCLA's rent increase notices, triggered last year by the City's actions to phase-out rent control, reflected up to 350%+ increases (up to $1600, or possibly more
under their recently proposed methodology).

"Clearview Homeowners want reasonable space rents, that do not rob them of equity or the ability to sell their homes, and one 34-year lease for all residents.

"The City prepared a proposed Emergency Amendment to what remains of the Mobilehome Rent Control Ordinance last week intended to address Clearview Court. The most critical component of the Amendment is to establish Market Space Rents, which is a good step. This Amendment proposal is in light of the opposite positions of Homeowners and Park Owners following two
negotiations meetings of all three parties (including the City).

The Clearview Homeowner Association Board submitted two sources of independent studies that shows market space rents for Clearview Court
should be in the $400-$550 range. The City created a formula starting with Federal Register rents for “dwellings� (not space rents) and plugged in numbers on their own formula that resulted in Space Rents up to $1186. The Homeowner Association Board feels there are inaccuracies in the formula, and the resulting rent amounts unacceptable. The City’s proposed space rents would result in an immediate 200% increase for some residents, and with annual updates and increases would raise the rent figures all residents would eventually be subject to, as well as impact the ability for
all residents to sell their homes. These space rents are IN ADDITION to other payments residents make for home mortgages, all utilities (sewer, trash, water, electricity, gas), homeowners insurance, home repairs and maintenance, and property taxes. Also, the City had quoted in the Sentinel newspaper last week that according to this proposed ordinance, rents would "only" increase up to 30% - a major contradiction to the actual ordinance.

"Further, even if residents could raise the money to move their home, they do not have that option as there are no vacant spaces in other parks, and it was learned that other parks will NOT accept "used" homes onto their lots - only brand new from the manufacturer when an old home is bought-out and removed, further causing the effect of being held "prisoner" and forced to pay high rents, or sell at huge discount or abandon their homes.

"It is also known there is a moratorium on home loans at Clearview Court by a large local lender, AND some local manufactured home dealer/realty companies are advising clients "DO NOT BUY" AT CLEARVIEW COURT OR DeANZA Mobilehome Parks, due to the City eliminating Rent Control! This could be changed if reasonable rents are established and maintained, as they were until last year.

"A City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, ...when this matter will be heard."
This will possibly be our final meeting on this emergency ordinance, therefore it is CRITICAL that you and everyone you can gather attend this meeting as a show of support, and speak, write letters, make phonecalls, or email to the City
council on this matter...

The goal is to ask the City Council to arrive at REASONABLE space rents for Clearview Court. Reasonable amounts would be current rents (the
majority of which range from $400 to $525) increased annually at % of CPI (inflation) that historically has been done with all residents in this Park. Another approach would be to base amounts on comparable Mobilehome Park space rents and the benchmarks already established in the Federal Register for Manufactured Home Space Rent adjusted annually and increased at a % of CPI. Market Rents up to $1186 (that would be updated and increased annually) the City is currently proposing while a little less than WCLA's rent increases, would still have the impact of displacing residents subject to immediate rent increases of 200%, further cause the inability to sell homes or recover home equity, and cause potential foreclosures and financial ruin of many residents.

"Failure to recognize all these facts and the supporting data submitted to the City in setting REASONABLE rents is unjust, and sells out our most vulnerable citizens - low- to moderate-income workers with families, seniors, and disabled persons that live in this Park.

"Residents would greatly appreciate your support by sending your comments to City Council members ... and attending this important City Council meeting. THANK YOU and blessings to us all.

City Contact Info:

To: Honorable Mayor and City Councilmembers

Email: citycouncil (at)
Copy Email to City Clerk to insure your email gets on public record: cityclerk (at) Phone: 831-420-5030, FAX: 831-420-5031 Address: 809 Center St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

NOTE FROM NORSE: The next City Council meeting is Tuesday April 27th with the Clear View Court item added, I understand, to the afternoon agenda. Supposedly at the 5 PM time certain. Call 420-5020 to confirm.

Support Real Rent Control at Clear View Court!


Support Real Rent Control Not Sell-Out Leases at Clear View Court !

Last September Santa Cruz City Council betrayed the seniors at De Anza Mobile Home Park. Council, under the guidance of City Attorney John Barisone and CityManager Dick Wilson, simply dropped their “irrevocable� commitment to rent control “in perpetuity�. The Council passed its shabby sell-out after months of shadowy negotiations with the predatory MHC corporation to avoid further lawsuit involvement.

De Anza residents and the broader community responded bravely with 8500 signatures to put the matter to a public vote. The De Anza Board of Directors let itself be intimidated and in turn intimidated its residents into accepting this destruction of affordable housing, betrayal of seniors, and harbinger of further betrayals.

Clear View Court was next. They bought some time with threats of a lawsuit and negotiations with the City Council frontmen for Barisone and Wilson. The political cost of
Council’s turning out poor Hispanic women and children out on the street in a second surrender
of affordable housing to predatory speculators was a little too much for Council to swallow
several months ago.

Now they’re back with more “emergency legislation� that guts rent control and offers instead a lease that destroys the equity in people’s homes. In addition tenants face the prospect of the Council’s authorizing expanded hotel development across the street from Clear View into which its dumping tens of millions of dollars of public money. A four-story parking garage, after all, is more profitable than low-income struggling residents of a trailer park, right?

Council is consciously ignoring real alternatives: Capitola has rent-control for its many trailer parks. Why isn’t City Council simply rewriting the shoddy ordinance that Kennedy and Barisone cooked up in the 90’s? Why not do it right this time? It can be done. It may need to be defended in court. That was the promise made to Clear View tenants a decade ago. All the tenants can be included this time--including those that former owner Al Vierra misled, or that the City charged with overseeing the arrangement, did not assist.

No doubt, we’ll hear more about the budget crisis, about threats of closing Louden Nelson Center--even as Council throws its money at developers. And the Kennedy-Rotkin Council, with its developer majority intact, will no doubt take its own way.

But the Community has a real choice here--whether to support the last rent-controlled
mobile home park in Santa Cruz, or let it be sacrificed to the Barisone-Wilson financial agenda.

It takes thousands of registered City votes to turn back another bad decision by this City Council. But De Anza tenants did it last fall. And with the community’s help, Clear View residents can do it again.

If we do not stand together when the poorest are threatened, they will slice us off one by one.

Tune in Sunday morning 9:30 AM to 1 PM for more discussion of this issue on
Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides on Free Radio Santa Cruz at 96.3 FM, 101.1 FM, and

Email City Council at: citycouncil (at)

Lucrative Sell-Out at City Council

Santa Cruz, Ca. --- In an unusual Thursday City Council meeting--held in the afternoon maximizing the inability of residents to attend the meeting, the City unveiled its deal of 34 year leases for the current residents of Clear View Court. These leases will replace the "irrevocable" leases "in perpetuity" that the City signed with residents guaranteeing rent control and then abandoned when the rapacious Manufactured Home Communities sued the City for unfair practices.

MHC claimed it was unfairly prevented from maximizing profits. Last September, the City settled out of court in a deal which deprived virtually all DeAnza residents of their equity.

Immediately, as the ink was still wet on the contracts, Clear View Court owners Corbett Wright and Barry Swenson contacted the attorneys for MHC in order to retain them. They wanted the same lucrative deal the out of town park owners wanted.

In December, residents of Clear View Court were shocked to get notices of rent increases that doubled or tripled their existing rents with no increase in services. They were simply renting the same patch of bare ground the owners had operated at a profit for years. The City stepped in hoping to help negotiate a fair deal for both park owners and coach owners, and owners offered to forego the rent increases until May 1st if the residents agreed not to sue the City or the Park owners before April 26th, 2004.

At today's City Council meeting, Jim Major spoke on behalf of Park Owners Swenson, Corbett, Cliff Swenson, and Steve Carmichael saying the owners only want "an estimation of the true market value." He cited a number of gracious overtures the owners had made to the tenants and concluded that "these are not the actions of those who are out to screw the little guy." He reminded the residents that if they sign the new leases, "they will have 34 years of rental security."

Anita Webb, a member of the board of directors of the Clear View Court Homeowners Association, questioned how the City came up with its baseline market values. Unlike the highly paid professional Redevelopment Agency staff and the City Attorney's office, Webb is an ordinary person with a day job and who owns a coach at Clear View Court. She checked the HUD website for information on fair market rent guidelines. She found that the City had used the baseline for fair market rent on a 2 bedroom unit as their baseline for a zero bedroom unit for Clear View Court residents.

Rents rose from there increasing as bedrooms were added on. Webb also said that HUD fair market rates include utilities and Clear View Court residents pay them separately.

"In all its an 82% increase from the HUD's fair market value baselines."

Vice-mayor Mike Rotkin said "But those are rent-controlled units."

"They are the fair market value,"she responded.

"And these rents are twice as high as the rental space for any other park in the the County of Santa Cruz," she told the council. "The equity we have in our units is already shot," she said. "I tried to get a $20,000 loan on my unit, which is worth much more than that, and no bank would touch it."

Major argued that the residents of Clear View Court don't need special help paying higher rents. "I know of at least one man that is subletting his unit," said Major. " Another has a second home and another one has some income producing property somewhere else."

No one asked if The Swensons, Corbett, or Steve Carmichael had other income properties or had a real financial need to increase the rents for a park that had been operated for a profit even with rent control in place.

The Council discussion continued on into the evening with a lengthy recess. In the course of that discussion, Mayor Kennedy advised the public that nothing he had heard from the tenants dissuaded him from supporting the staff-proposed plan opposed by Clear View Court residents. Emily Reilly gushed that she was on the edge of tears over the tenant's situation, but raised no objections to the proposed "settlement".

The final Council decision was postponed until Tuesday April 27th at 5 PM. There will be a closed session Saturday morning in the City Council Support Room (right next to Council chambers) at 11 AM. Though most of the session is closed, there will be an open interval at 11 AM for public comment.


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