More than 300 residents of Villa Park, a mobile home community hit by a recent series of rent increases, vented their frustrations Tuesday before the City Council and vowed to begin pressing for a rent stabilization law for mobile home parks.
Residents at the North Long Beach facility have been hit by increases of more than 40% since June, with their monthly bills of about $200 ballooning to $285.
Leaders of a tenants' group, which represents about 450 of the park's 700 residents, say they will ask the council within two weeks to approve a mobile home rent stabilization law similar to those on the books in more than 50 other California cities.
If the council balks, the group will begin a drive to put a mobile home rent stabilization initiative on the ballot, according to Greg Stefflre, a Long Beach attorney representing the tenants.
Steven Kirby, a Hermosa Beach attorney representing Villa Park operator Louis Simpson, told the council Tuesday that the park operator is willing to sign one- to three-year leases with tenants.
Those leases would tie future increases to inflation, but would allow increases for "extraordinary expenses" incurred by the operator. If more than 80% of the residents signed leases, Simpson would cut rents by $35 a month, Kirby said.
Leaders of the tenants' group, however, have so far indicated they are unwilling to go along with Simpson's lease plan. Instead, the group is pressing forward with a lawsuit filed in Long Beach Superior Court against Simpson. The suit seeks $5 million in damages as well as a court order rolling rents back to previous levels and preventing additional increases.