Affordable housing occupied a significant slice of last week’s City Council meeting.

Council moved forward with the potential sale of the Mountain View Mobile Home Park, modified municipal code relating to tenant protections, and authorized the creation of a new position that will aid renters facing the loss of their homes.

City to seek buyer for mobile home park

Mountain View Mobile Home Park was a privately owned park until 2000 when it was purchased by the City of Santa Monica to preserve the affordable housing units on site. Under city ownership, the infrastructure was improved to include new emergency access roads that required the removal of 36 vacant sites and the reconfiguration of several more.

City Hall also formalized lot lines for the park and the result is eight units encroaching on the newly designated lot borders. Those eight homeowners have done nothing wrong, nor is the encroachment their fault but due to the new map, their homes are within three feet or perhaps over the lot line. Staff asked the council to grandfather those eight homes in their current location that allows those property owners to retain their current homes in their current locations. If those homes were sold, the new owner would be responsible for making the unit conform to the lot designations.

Protecting the eight encroaching homes is necessary to facilitate the sale of the park. The city has been selling off city-owned property managed by the Housing Division since 2012 and Mountain View is one of the last properties still managed by Santa Monica.

“Staff believes that owning and operating rental, residential rental properties is best suited to private housing organizations who can focus on operating affordable housing and which are experienced and equipped to respond to the daily needs of tenants and property management issues,” said housing manager Jim Kemper.

Several current residents spoke in favor of selling the park but all expressed doubt over the staff report’s language regarding the encroachment issue, specifically a concern that would end the exemption if current homeowners made “major alterations” to the home.

Kemper said the intent of the staff recommendation was to protect current homeowners but not to provide an exemption that would transfer to new homeowners. He said owners applying to modify their units would go through the standard regulatory process, and permits for work could be denied if that work increased the encroachment. While a permit could be denied due to encroachment concerns, no permit application or permit process would ever require the existing owners to realign their homes. Only sale of the home would require movement of the unit.

Council eventually accepted the staff recommendation with an amendment that clarified the exemption would end only when current homeowners terminated their residency.

Staff will now prepare a Request for Proposals to solicit potential buyers for the park. A draft of the RFP will be given to residents and taken to the Housing Commission. It will then be issued and the results will come back to the Housing Commission before eventually returning to council.

Code changes

Council made administrative changes to its tenant protection laws and authorized a new full-time staff position to help protect renters last week.

Changes to the municipal code were made to increase education efforts for tenants and landlords regarding existing tenant protections. Council also clarified language regarding temporary and permanent relocation assistance requirements.

The council also authorized the creation of a Temporary Relocation Coordinator position that will aid renters facing unexpected displacement. The position will coordinate efforts among multiple agencies that currently interact with displaced renters, monitor construction projects that have forced tenants to vacate, act as a clearing house of information, assess individual cases, provide educational resources and could aid in prosecution of wrongdoing.