The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors acted today to require relocation assistance to help any displaced tenants of the seven mobile home parks in the unincorporated area resettle if, and when, those parks are closed or converted.

The Board unanimously approved an ordinance implementing and expanding state law governing mobile home park changes of use. Specifically, under the proposed ordinance a park owner must obtain a change of use permit from the Planning Commission prior to converting or closing a park.

Other key features of the ordinance include:

· Use of a relocation counselor to help residents find alternative housing;

· Payment of moving costs for personal belongs and first and last month’s rent plus security deposit at the alternative housing for all eligible residents;

· Payment of costs to move the mobile home unit to a new park if feasible or payment of in-place value if the unit cannot be moved;

· Payment for temporary lodging up to 30 days if necessary;

· Nine-month notice required prior to applying for Change of Use Permit; additional six-month notice required post-permit before residents are required to vacate;

· Right of first refusal for displaced residents to purchase or rent new homes to be constructed on the park site, if applicable.

The ordinance also allows park owners to request an exemption from the relocation requirements where payments would exceed the reasonable costs of relocation, would eliminate substantially all reasonable economic value of the property or in cases of bankruptcy.

The ordinance requires a second reading at the Sept. 26 Board meeting and becomes effective 30 days later.

The seven existing mobile home communities in the unincorporated county provide more than 750 spaces for units, providing affordable housing for low-income families and seniors. Amid the ongoing housing crisis in the Bay Area, the Board of Supervisors is concerned that the market conditions that led a number of other park closures or conversion near San Mateo County might also cause similar efforts locally.

When parks are converted to another land use or closed, displaced residents are often not able to move their unit to another park due to its condition or if a park only accepts new mobile homes Facilities that accept other types of mobile shelter also have long waiting lists for long-term residents.

At the Sept. 12, 2017 meeting, the Board also approved an ordinance amending its 2003 mobile home rent control ordinance to widen the definition of “mobile home” to include all structures used for habitation located on a space within such a park, such as motor homes and travel trailers. That ordinance also requires a second reading.

The Board did consider concerns that RVs are shorter term modes of shelter but ultimately decided their inclusion was warranted.

“If rent control in mobile home parks only applies to manufactured units and not to RVs, owners may be encouraged to convert spaces to specifically house RVs so that they can charge market rates,” Board President Don Horsley said. “As a result, I would anticipate that low-income individuals using RVs as their living space would end up instead parking on city and county streets."

Under the 2003 ordinance, rent increases are allowed no more than once a year in an amount not exceeding 75 percent of the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area or 5 percent of the existing rent, whichever is less.