I looked into Measure F to learn how it would affect a St. Helena homeowner or landlord. I found there really is no reason to be afraid of voting yes to keep the ordinance.
1) This type of ordinance is not uncommon. Several California cities and towns have one like it and no one seems to have been hurt by it.
2) This ordinance only affects Vineyard Valley property. It will not apply to any mobile/manufactured home put on a St. Helena parcel outside of Vineyard Valley.
3) The ordinance does not apply to a home or apartment rental in St. Helena either. It applies only to space rentals in an established mobile home park.
4) This ordinance will not affect the park owner’s ability to sell his property. Parks in high-value property areas like St. Helena are attractive to buyers because owners earn higher rents here than anywhere else even without a cap. Rents here still exceed most if not all rents in the Napa Valley because of St. Helena’s already high-property value location. Higher rents equal higher profits, especially when you’re the only park in town and the park is well-established. It’s logical that when rents start off high, a 3 percent or Fair Market Value increase will be high also.
5) The ordinance imitates annual rent increase caps already used in office and commercial lease contracts. Building owners typically include rent-increase language in their contracts because it protects them as well as their tenants. I had an office lease with very similar language.
6) Courts across the nation and California have ruled over and over again for decades that this kind of ordinance is legal, fair and Constitutional. The park owner likely put this on the ballot because his lawyers would have advised him he could not win a court lawsuit and that he’d have a better chance to overturn it by ballot initiative.
In short, I don’t think there’s any reason to be afraid of the ordinance. I’m one of the people who signed the ballot petition. I wanted to support our elected representatives who likely studied this issue from all angles and thought most voters would feel the same way. I’m also aware of the park’s litigious history. I knew if it was paying for canvassers like the one who showed up on my doorstep, he’d likely pay to sue. A local ballot initiative was going to be cheaper than wasting up to $1 million in attorneys’ fees for a court to likely uphold the ordinance. I’d rather see the city pave Grayson Avenue with that money!
Kathleen Herdell, attorney