HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Creating a plan to get a rent control ordinance passed within the city of Huntington Beach isn’t what Carol Rohr had in mind for her golden years.
"It’s a rude awakening to myself and every single person that’s living in here. Everybody is living in fear right now," said Rohr, a retired resident living in Huntington Beach.
What You Need To Know
- Residents living in the Skandia Mobile Country Club are expecting to receive a notice detailing a rent increase of $75 per year for the next three years
- Residents say they’ve been told that after the three years, the new ownership could push rents to be at market value
- The residents are looking at the city of Santa Ana as a beacon of hope since its council approved a rent control ordinance and just cause eviction ordinance for tenants last week
- The rent control ordinance prohibits landlords from hiking rent on tenants by more than 3% per year, and those renters get stronger protections against getting evicted from their unit
Rohr bought a mobile home in the Skandia Mobile Country Club nearly three years ago. The longtime owners of this 55-and-older mobile home community recently sold the property to a different company.
Rohr explained that it wasn’t soon after that rents for new homeowners were up by $750, and existing residents like her were told to expect a notice detailing a $75 increase each year for the next three years. She said it’s unclear what’s going to happen after the three years and, so far, hasn’t received any written notice of this information. She was told a written notice could come in November.
“We have what I feel is three years to get rent control or to sell your house and get out of here because none of these people can afford that, none of these people,” Rohr said.
With most of the residents living on fixed incomes, Rohr and her neighbors are mobilizing by creating a homeowner association, T-shirts to wear before Huntington Beach’s City council and picket signs for seniors to hold.
"They have nowhere to go. Some of them don’t have children they can move in with. I don’t have kids I can move in with. This is appropriate for so many of the people that live in this community," Rohr said while holding a sign that reads “Where am I going to live?”
Passing a rent control ordinance in Huntington Beach will be a challenge since the city operates under Measure EE, which prohibits rent control. Despite this, Rohr is looking at the city of Santa Ana as a beacon of hope since its council approved a rent control ordinance and just cause eviction ordinance for tenants last week. Four members of the Santa Ana City Council voted "yes," including Councilmember Thai Viet Phan.
“I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to ask your friend for money to pay for rent and be so ashamed to ask your parents because oftentimes they don’t have money at all,” said Phan, an attorney who studied public policy and law at the University of Southern California and communications at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The rent control ordinance prohibits landlords from hiking rent on tenants by more than 3% per year, and those renters get stronger protections against getting evicted from their unit. Both ordinances are scheduled to take effect on Nov. 19. Even though both ordinances received the majority vote from the council, Phan noted that industry groups and opposers are gathering signatures to appeal the decision. She has received reports of paid signature gatherers approaching Santa Ana residents asking them to sign a petition.
"This was resident driven," Phan said. "This wasn’t something the city council just one day woke up and decided we’re going to do. This is something residents have been calling for. Senior residents, those who only speak Vietnamese or Spanish, have been calling for this since 2008."
While Santa Ana prepares for the ordinances to take effect in November, Carol Rohr explained that she and her neighbors are hoping for their city to hear their cries for help.
“I hope we can get it passed in Huntington Beach. It’s all I can try to do,” she said.
After working for decades and saving up for this mobile home, Rohr is prepared to fight for rent control, which she believes will help her keep what’s hers.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Councilmember Thai Viet Phan studied public policy at UCLA. The article has been updated. (Oct. 25, 2021)