Who doesn’t “Support Senior Housing” — raise your hand! If St. Helena really wants to help low-income seniors, then another Woodbridge Village must be built. The beautiful 50-unit apartment complex at 727 Hunt Ave. is HUD-subsidized, income-qualified housing for seniors and disabled people. I know it well because my daughter lives there. There is so much demand for these units, applicants can’t even get on the waiting list.
But St. Helena City Council wants to build housing for workers — not seniors. So it has co-opted Vineyard Valley Mobile Home Park to be able to check the box on providing housing for low-income seniors, while not spending a dime.
The Star wrote it again in the May 9 issue: “The June 4 ballot measure would give Vineyard Valley residents the choice between a long-term lease subject to the park’s usual rent increases or a short-term lease subject to rent stabilization. Maximum rent increases for rent stabilized leases would be tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).” This superficial summary of the rent control Measure F provisions comes nowhere close to describing how this 25-page ordinance would change the fortunes of Vineyard Valley Mobile Home Park forever. (The council voted to review how the ordinance is working in two years, but according to the city attorney it can only be changed or rescinded by another ballot measure.)
1. While VV residents on rent control may have a choice, Vineyard Valley will not have a choice. Their operation will be micro-managed by city government.
2. Long-term leases are not “subject to the park’s usual rent increases.” Leases provide for 3 percent increases — as stated in writing and signed by new lessees. Leases are now 15 years. No rent control needed. No city managed park.
3. Maximum rent increases may be tied to the CPI — except when the park owner completes an onerous and invasive process for larger rent increases.
An example of what Measure F requires follows:
Page 10 Clause B7
“The Mobile Home Park Owner shall, at the same time, file with the Administrator two copies of the notice and summary of expenses required in Section 9.24.080 (B)(1), along with two copies of all relevant financial records, bills or documents which substantiate the level of increase proposed. This financial information shall be verified in writing by an auditor or certified public accountant or certified in writing as true and correct under penalty of perjury by the Mobile Home Park Owner. This information will be made available at City Hall for inspection and copying by the Affected Homeowners.”
In other words the business will have to make private financial records public. What if Steves Hardware had to do that? Gott’s Roadside? Merryvale? All other residential landlords? They could be next.
In “Get the Real Facts about Measure F” Susan Kenward writes, “Without the RSO there are no limits on annual rent increases.” This is fake news. Vineyard Valley has been operating without an RSO for 44 years. During that time all leases allowed up to 3 percent annual rent increases, which will again be the case if Measure F is defeated.