To prevent potential displacement of hundreds of low-income residents, San Jose will consider ramping up protections for mobile home parks.
The updated policy would give the City Council a final say on whether park owners could convert their mobile home community to another use. It would also err on the side of preservation, according to staff reports, while providing for “good-faith” negotiations between park owners and mobile home residents about issues such as relocation compensation. The council will consider the proposal when it meets Tuesday.
San Jose is home to 59 mobile home parks, with nearly 11,000 units that house about 35,000 residents. That’s the highest concentration of mobile homes of any California city. Prefabricated homes are inherently more affordable, making them a valuable resource for low-income and fixed-income residents.
Unlike apartment tenants who don’t have to invest in the property, mobile home park residents often buy their home up front and rent the land beneath it. Because of the up-front investment, state law recognizes that ownership by regulating construction, maintenance and closure of mobile home parks.
Last year, the city put a moratorium on mobile hoe park conversions. The temporary ban stemmed from concerns raised by the residents of Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park, who feared displacement after learning that the park owners planned to sell the land to a developer.
No landowners have developed a San Jose mobile home park into another use since the city adopted its current conversion ordinance some three decades ago. But soaring real estate prices have made park closures a profitable option for landowners. That’s especially true for Winchester Ranch, which lies near Santana Row and within the boundary of planned development.
“While this policy will not outright solve the housing affordability problem or prevent the conversion of mobile home parks, it does give more certainty to residents, owners and the administration as to how the process should unfold when presented with a closure or conversion,” Mayor Sam Liccardo, Vice Mayor Rose Herrera and council members Chappie Jones and Tam Nguyen wrote in a shared memo.
Lee Arioto, whose family has owned the Winchester Ranch mobile home property for 90 years, said he still wants to close the park.
“Our vision for our property includes a new park, a conversion to a commercial component, such as a hotel or office building, new homes and most importantly a new community for our residents,” he wrote in letter to the council. “There will also be walking paths for the surrounding neighbors to provide access to Santana Row.”
His said family wants to build a three-story apartment complex, which the park’s existing residents can move into. The plan, he said, would create jobs and bring in about $2 million in new taxes to the city.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for February 23, 2016:
- An audit directed the city to strengthen its policies governing personnel investigations.
- Habitat for Humanity is developing a property on Delmas Avenue into a low-income single-family home.
- Empowered by a new state law authored specifically for this purpose, the city will finally convert the Communications Hill grand stairways into what's essentially a city park. As a public walkway, the city wasn’t able to set a curfew or otherwise regulate the area, which is surrounded by townhomes. Zoned as a park, however, the city can better curb the crowds who flock to the stairways to exercise.
- The city will consider extending a pilot program that offers discounted parking rates to car-share riders.
- City staff will provide an update on regional efforts to address homelessness and housing affordability.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260