Threatened with the possibility of a strict rent-control ordinance, the owners of Dana Point's two mobile home parks agreed this week to limit rent increases for trailer space to 5% a year for the next eight years.
No rent rollbacks were included in the agreement, however. For tenants in the Beachwood Mobile Home Park, that means tenants will have to come up with a 21% rent increase levied last August and another 6% increase tacked on earlier this summer.
City Councilman Bill Bamattre, who spearheaded the task force that worked out the agreement, called it fair for the tenants. He said he hope that it will end a nearly three-year debate between the park owners and tenants that had launched the city on the path toward a rent-control ordinance.
"Frankly, I was surprised to get as good an agreement as we got," Bamattre said.
Left unanswered are other lingering concerns such as maintenance, cable television and electrical problems experienced by some tenants, particularly those in the 169-unit Beachwood park in Capistrano Beach. Some tenants there remain unhappy despite the new agreement.
"I'm still not pleased," Beachwood tenant Lillian Seaman, 70, said Friday. "Nothing has happened, as far as we can tell. The agreement sounds good, but we have nothing in writing. I got my bill today with another $54 on it."
Bamattre said increases exist because there are no rent rollbacks. But tenants can rest assured that there will be no market rate adjustments or a 15% hike that had been slated five years from now, he said.
"We were not able to get anything retroactive," Bamattre said. "But I think the tenants did better than under rent control, which would have limited the increases to 6%. The tenants are free to sign this agreement or accept other lease terms with the owners. It's their choice."
For the past several months it appeared that the city was headed toward adopting a rent-control ordinance. Problems between owners and tenants at Beachwood and the city's other park, 92-unit Dana Point Marina Mobile Home Estates, have plagued the city over the past three years, and supporters of a rent-control ordinance had a 3-2 council majority.
But Bamattre and other council members believe that the task force may have found the answer. While the tenants won the security of knowing what their rent increases will be, the owners were granted vacancy control, meaning they can adjust rents to "market level" when a space is vacated.