2012-06-28 / Front Page
Mobile home park residents take legal action against city
In July 2011, the City Council adopted a 10-year agreement crafted by T.O. mobile home park owners and tenants in the city’s eight mobile home parks, including Ranch, to guide future rent increases. At the time, the deal was considered a major milestone for the city, which has controlled mobile home rents since 1982.
Ranch and Lakestone were the only mobile home parks that did not participate in discussions about the deal during three months of meetings between representatives for park tenants and park owners.
According to the complaint filed June 22 by Karen Montana, the daughter of former Ranch resident Leo Rampersad, who died in February, and Senior Alliance For Empowerment, a nonprofit created by the park’s residents, the city illegally applied its amended rent stabilization ordinance to Ranch residents who were not previously subject to the law.
The new ordinance, the city decided, takes precedence over a 1984 City Council resolution that Ranch residents and their attorneys say has governed rent increases at the park on Los Feliz Drive.
“The goal here is to have the city restore the original arrangement under which the tenants purchased their units at the Ranch,” said Les Brown of Perkins Coie in Los Angeles, one of the pro bono attorneys representing Montana and SAFE. “The problem is that, in putting the Ranch in with other mobile parks, which was never done before, it lost all its protections, (which) runs against the concept of a rent stabilization ordinance.”
More than 50 low-income seniors who live at the park could lose their homes because they can’t afford to pay the rent increase allowed under the deal, Brown said.
“We’re filing the lawsuit now because the change in the status that was undertaken by the city last year has put our clients in jeopardy of being unable to afford to live in units they purchased,” Brown said. “We believe the city’s action was inappropriate and illegal.”
Increased rent has made it difficult for the park’s elderly residents, many of whom are disabled, to pay for food and medicine, Brown said.
The city denies the allegations, said City Attorney Tracy Noonan.
“Based on the information conveyed to me . . . the ordinance applies to the Ranch,” Noonan said.
Noonan said she received a call from an attorney representing the Ranch last week before the city was served with the lawsuit. The city, which has 30 days to respond, can file a response or the attorneys may negotiate a resolution.