Mobile Home Rent Program

Keeping Rents Affordable 

Petaluma is one of the more than 100 California jurisdictions that has adopted mobile home rent stabilization regulations, located in Chapter 6.50 of the Petaluma Municipal Code. Petaluma’s mobile home rent regulations provide a number of protections for mobile home park residents. The protections include: 

  • A limit on how much a park owner can increase a park tenant’s space rent each year.  
  • A requirement that park owners give park residents notice of proposed annual rent increases.   
  • A requirement that park owners petition the City for a rent arbitration if they wish to raise rent beyond the limit set by the City. 
  • A prohibition against rent increases above the annual maximum increase set by the City, unless the increase is necessary for a park owner to receive a reasonable rate of return (as determined by an independent arbitrator).    

New Senior Overlay District

To preserve affordable, mobilehome housing options for our seniors, the City of Petaluma established a district requiring at least 80% of units in a designated mobilehome park to be occupied by at least one person 55+. This “Senior Mobilehome Overlay District” would not displace any residents and would not result in physical changes to existing mobilehome parks.

On October 16th 2023, the City Council adopted a Senior Mobilehome Overlay Zone.  When the City Council adopted the Senior Mobilehome Overlay Zone, the following five mobilehome parks were subject to park rules designating them as senior parks:

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The Senior Mobilehome Overlay Zone applies to these five parks and makes them subject to senior park requirements in the City’s zoning code.  The Senior Mobilehome Overlay Zone requires that these five parks must:

  1. Have at least 80 percent of the occupied units in the park occupied by at least one person who is 55 years of age or older;
  2. Publish and adhere to policies and procedures that demonstrate the intent to remain a senior park; and
  3. Submit documentation to the Petaluma Housing Manager every two years to certify the park’s compliance with the Senior Mobilehome Overlay Zone regulations.

Any attempt by a mobilehome park within the Senior Overlay Zone to amend the park rules to change from a senior park to an all-age park would violate the City’s Senior Mobile Home Overlay zoning.  Such an attempted land use change would not be a permitted land use and be subject to remedies in the City’s zoning regulations and Municipal Code and other law.

New Protections for Renters 

On July 17, 2023, the Petaluma City Council adopted amendments to Chapter 6.50 of the Petaluma Municipal Code to strengthen the City’s Mobilehome Rent Stabilization Protections. The amendments lower the annual rent increases that park owners can impose to either 4% of a park resident’s current rent, or 70% of the change in the Bay Area Consumer Price Index or CPI, whichever is less.  

The 2023 change in the Bay Area CPI is 2.9%.  As a result, the maximum allowed annual mobile home space rent increase for mobile home spaces in Petaluma covered by the City’s regulations is 2.03% for the period of August 2023 through July 2024 . This means space rent for mobile homes covered by the City’s regulations can only increase by 2.03% for this period, unless an arbitrator concludes that a higher increase is needed for a park owner to receive a reasonable rate of return.The Petaluma mobile home spaces covered by the City’s regulations are those leases that are 12 months or less, and leases longer than 12 months that are entered after February 13, 2020.

The recent amendments to Petaluma’s mobile home rent regulations took effect August 17, 2023. In addition to the new annual rent increase limits, the City’s amended mobile home regulations include the following protections:  

  •  Park owners who give notice of a space rent increase above the maximum allowed are required to petition the City for an arbitration. Tenants are no longer responsible for seeking an arbitration in response to notices of rent increases above the maximum allowed. 
  • Arbitration hearings are prohibited in December unless a park owner makes a showing of good cause for scheduling an arbitration hearing in December based on exceptional circumstances as determined by the arbitrator. 
  • Park owners must give notice to Petaluma Peoples Services Center (PPSC) if they petition for arbitration. The City has contracted with PPSC for fair housing services for more than 30 years. The required notice helps PPSC provide and coordinate services for tenants involved in a rent arbitration. 
  •  At least 10 days before an arbitration, park owners and tenants are required to meet-and-confer about a proposed rent increase above the maximum allowed. At the meeting, the parties to the arbitration and/or their representatives will discuss the issues in dispute and exchange information they will present in arbitration.  Park owners are required to provide all financial information on which the proposed rent increase is based in the meeting. If an arbitrator finds that a park owner failed to meet and confer in good faith, the arbitrator can deny a proposed rent increase. An arbitrator can also refuse to admit information not provided by a park owner at the meet and confer meeting. 
  •  Arbitrators can only approve space rent increases above the maximum amount allowed if they find, based on the information submitted in the arbitration, that such an increase is necessary for the park owner to receive a reasonable rate of return. 
  • Arbitrators are generally limited to considering only a park owner’s debt costs that directly benefit park residents in determining whether a park owner is receiving a reasonable rate of return. 
  • The maximum allowed annual rent increase for each year will be posted on the City’s website and at City Hall. Park owners are also required to post the maximum allowed increase prominently in the park or to make the information  otherwise available to the park residents. 

 

Where to Get Answers or Assistance 

If you have questions about Petaluma’s Mobilehome Rent Stabilization regulations, or if you are a Petaluma mobile home resident with questions about a notice from your park owner or your rights under the City’s regulations, please see the newly drafted Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about City of Petaluma Mobile Home Regulations, April 11, 2024 which is can be found under Key Documents on the right.

 

Additional resources for Petaluma mobile home park residents may be available from the following service providers: 

Petaluma People Services Center
1500A Petaluma Blvd South, Petaluma, CA 94952
(707) 765-8488  

Legal Aid of Sonoma County
144 South E. Street, Suite 100, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 542-1290  

California Rural Legal Assistance
1160 North Dutton Ave. Suite 105, Santa Rosa, CA
(707) 528-9941  

Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League
Region 2 (Sonoma County)
Region Manager – Hilary Mosher: [email protected]
(707) 839-5079

 

For more info, contact the Housing Division at [email protected] or 707-778-4563.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development Mobile Home Assistance Center can also answer any questions you might have regarding your rights as a mobile home park resident.  The Mobile Home Residency Law (MRL) is enforced by the courts and can be found HERE.

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