EL MONTE — The fate of a rent-arbitration ordinance covering the city's larger mobile home parks will be decided in a special election Tuesday forced by opponents of the measure.
The referendum could void a city ordinance that would provide a two-step system of arbitration in rent and service disputes between mobile home park owners and residents in parks of 60 or more spaces.
The ordinance, which was passed by the City Council in December but did not go into effect because of the referendum, would create a rent review commission that would have final say if park owners and residents could not agree on a rent increase. The five-member commission would consist of two park residents, two park owners and an outside mediator to be appointed by the city if the other commissioners could not agree on the last member.
Supporters of the ordinance say it is needed to provide protection to park residents, primarily retired people on fixed incomes, from excessive rent increases. Opponents have labeled the ordinance as rent control and said property taxes will decrease if it is passed.
Affects 5 Parks
Although the ordinance would affect four other parks in the city, the battle has been waged primarily between the owners and residents of Brookside Mobile Home Country Club, a 421-space park along the San Gabriel River. Both sides have hired political consultants.
The El Monte Park Owners Committee, a group organized by Brookside owners Jeffrey Kaplan and Tom Tatum to defeat the ordinance, has spent $57,780, according to campaign disclosure statements. Homeowners for Yes on (Ordinance) 2216 has listed $12,840 in spending.
Almost all of the money for the opposition has come from Kaplan and Tatum, who contributed $57,000 of the $62,000 raised.
The largest contribution for supporters of the ordinance came from the Brookside Mobile Home Owners Assn., a residents group, which contributed $5,000 of the $20,024 raised. Individual contributors of $100 or more included George Nolin, a Brookside resident who contributed $1,268; Roy F. Kiser, co-chairman of Homeowners for Yes on 2216, who contributed $650, and Rep. Matthew G. Martinez (D-Monterey Park), who contributed $500.
The owners committee has hired veteran political consultant Harvey Englander, whose Newport Beach-based firm, Campaign Management Inc., has campaigned for Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo, Orange County Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder and the statewide insurance initiative sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles).
The residents have hired Jill Barad, whose Sherman Oaks firm is running the pro-ordinance campaign.
At the urging of the homeowners group, the Los Angeles district attorney's office has begun investigating the petition process that placed the proposition on the ballot. The homeowners have charged that three of the eight people who gathered signatures on referendum petitions lied when they said they were registered to vote in El Monte, a violation of the Election Code. Working for Englander, the petition circulators gathered signatures from more than 10% of the city's 21,147 registered voters to put the measure on the ballot.
Officials in the district attorney's office have said the investigation will not be completed before the election.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Ed Feldman said the investigation could lead to criminal charges against petitioners if they gave fraudulent information but will not void the outcome of the election.