The Imperial Beach City Council pressed ahead Wednesday with rental protections intended to help the residents of Miramar Imperial Beach Mobile Home and RV Park who’ve been complaining about living conditions and a policy requiring they move out every six months.
The ordinance, approved unanimously with one member absent, includes an eviction moratorium and no more than 5 percent annual rent increase. Though mobile home and RV park regulations typically fall under state jurisdiction, elected officials said they were motivated by a sense of urgency, so that many of the residents don’t end up on the streets.
Several speakers at the meeting who were sympathetic to the park owners warned that the ordinance would trigger legal action, arguing that officials were overstepping their authority.
“We don’t want to evict anyone,” said Victor Martinez, the property manager and part-owner. “We don’t want to make anyone unhoused or homeless, but we do have to operate a business.”
After a representative from the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association argued that the city hadn’t provided evidence of rising rents and evictions, one of the residents, Connie Villapando, showed off a copy of her five-day notice to leave. Other residents spoke of an open sewer that had been repaired with tape and a trash bag.
Alysson Snow, an attorney who’s representing several tenants pro-bono, also told the City Council that the park was engaging in unfair business practices by shuffling around people who weren’t causing a disturbance. Their real offense, she said, was standing up for their rights.
The harshest words came from outgoing Mayor Serge Dedina, who said the city’s job was ensuring that its residents weren’t treated like garbage. He called the move-out policy “absolutely insane.”
Last week, one of the park owners donated nearly $10,000 to mayoral candidate Shirley Nakawatase’s campaign. She’s running against Councilwoman Paloma Aguirre, who proposed the ordinance, and Councilman Jack Fisher.
“If I upset an Oregon hippie slumlord with $10,000 in cash to buy off political candidates, no problem,” Dedina said to applause.