ordinance approved to protect residents of city mobile homes and RV parks | New

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An emergency ordinance enacting a moratorium on evictions, rent increases greater than three percent and protection from harassment for RV park and mobile park tenants was approved by council at the meeting of October 5. Council directed staff to write this emergency ordinance at the last council meeting due to the situation at Miramar Mobile Home and RV Park. Residents told council about the many issues they have faced since the change in ownership, including a sewer repaired with garbage bags and duct tape, a six-month mandatory move, rent increases, evictions and harassment . The council discussed the issues at several meetings and, fearing residents were becoming homeless, took action.

The order is based on: the county, city, and state being under a state of emergency due to COVID-19 and about to enter flu and cold season; the county declaring a public health crisis for homelessness on September 27; and the city not being able to afford the vulnerable population to become homeless or suffer financial hardship. The order includes protection from harassment and mediation. This order took effect immediately. During the public comments, 25 people spoke. One of the owners of Miramar Mobile Home and RV Park, Victor Martinez, spoke to council and said the owners plan to improve the property. He said that although there is a six-month move-out policy, residents can return without a rent increase. Martinez also assured the council that the sewer problem had been resolved and said that if people are being evicted it is because they are not following the rules. Park residents think otherwise. One, who has lived in the park for 24 years, spoke of the many problems, including the smell of the sewer that has not been fixed and how the owner donated $9,800 to a candidate for mayor instead of fixing the sewer. Another spoke of overflowing bins because there isn’t enough for everyone. A resident recalls going in and out of the park four times in two years due to the six-month policy. As a single father with three children, he said moving out and back was more expensive than paying monthly rent. A resident who lives next to the sewer said the problem was fixed with a trash bag and duct tape and the smell was still there. Two residents spoke out against the ordinance.

Alysson Snow, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law who runs the Housing Rights Project providing free legal services to her students, represents many tenants of Miramar Mobile Home and RV Park. She said some residents are evicted because they can’t move out every six months, which is an expensive process in itself. The six-month reshuffle, as she called it, is done to prevent residents from getting permanent residency. But this practice can lead to homelessness. “They’re not bad tenants, they’re good tenants, they know their rights and comply with everything they have to do, but because of an unfair business practice, they end up on the streets…residents are terrified,” she said. Councilor Paloma Aguirre, who proposed the drafting of the ordinance at the last meeting, insisted on moving forward. “I’ve seen the sewer issue, it’s two of them, they’re held together with duct tape and a prayer. No one should live in these conditions. It’s about preventing homelessness. It it’s about keeping people housed, it’s about preventing harassment and enabling our residents to have a high quality of life… I urge my colleagues to support this ordinance because ultimately it’s our task… to protect the well-being and safety of our residents.”

Mayor Pro Tem Jack Fisher agreed. “I firmly believe that our residents benefit from fair and equitable treatment. This is a temporary order and hopefully things will settle amicably or we will move towards a permanent order,” he said. “It took a long time to come. I’m shocked at the conditions…with mobile home parks and RV parks it’s like the Grapes of Wrath…I’m so sorry you had to go through this…it’s basically a matter of justice, fairness and equality,” said Mayor Serge Dedina. He also spoke directly to Martinez and said that if he had resolved the issues with the residents, it wouldn’t have come to this. He called the owner an Oregon hippie slumber landlord throwing money at a candidate to buy them out. “Our job is to represent the people of our community, not throw them out on the streets and treat them like trash…that’s the most egregious thing I’ve ever heard happen at Imperial Beach,” a- he declared. Council member Ed Spriggs said the six-month move must stop and should be included in the order. “Since we can’t fix it tonight, we can do it at the next meeting or a special meeting, so this practice stops as soon as possible,” he said. A motion passed unanimously, council member Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez was absent.

In other cases:

Sweetwater Union High School District provided an update on the pool at Mar Vista High School (MVHS) which is nearing completion. The city and school district worked together to secure $2 million in funding to build the 50-meter pool. An arrangement has been made which is currently tentative for community use of the pool. 1.5 hour use weekday mornings from 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., three hours Saturday use from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., flexible Sunday use of a minimum of four hours, and additional city use time during weekdays may be requested if available. The new pool has 21 swimming lanes plus three shallow lanes for swimming lessons, a new pool deck that can accommodate two CIF water polo matches at a time, four floating water polo goals, a timing system , an LED dashboard, bleachers for 400 seats, shade structures, family toilets, outdoor showers, two 1 meter diving boards and new pool deck utilities and drainage components. Completion of the pool is scheduled for mid-November. A number of public speakers supported the pool and made some suggestions, including the creation of a water aerobics class. Former council member Bobby Patton, who was instrumental in obtaining funds for the pool, suggested creating a liaison between the school district and the city. He would also like to bring back swimming lessons for children in primary school, he remembers from his youth to provide the opportunity to learn to swim. A motion to support a joint memorandum of understanding for community use of the MVHS pool passed unanimously. Leyba-Gonzalez was absent.

The board received an update from Karin Burns, CEO of San Diego Community Power.

Alberto Velasquez, Director of Government Affairs of Cox Communications, gave a presentation on Wifi/Internet access for economically disadvantaged residents. He explained that since 2012, 866,000 people have received low-cost internet access and the company has committed $400 million over the next three years to expand service to underserved communities. There are three plans that are part of Cox’s Affordable Connectivity Program that range from $9.95 to $50 per month.

The consent schedule has been approved. Leyba-Gonzalez was absent.

The purchase of a Pierce Arrow XT Multi Purpose Fire-Rescue Department response vehicle has been approved. Fire Chief John French explained that the current primary response vehicle is a 2014 Pierce with 67,000 miles. The department uses two vehicles to respond to calls that are not limited to Imperial Beach but to nearby towns of San Ysidro, Chula Vista and Coronado as well as throughout the state. The other spare engine used by the department is a 2004 Pierce ROXT with 130,000 miles. Funding of $500,000 for a new engine has been budgeted for fiscal year 2021-2022 and the finance department is working on requests for CDBG funds which could cover the remainder of the estimated cost of $1,214,808.83 . French also pointed out that the deadline for receipt of a new engine is mid-2025 and that costs are expected to increase by 6% in November with further increases next year. This point was approved by three votes. Dedina and Leyba-Gonzalez were absent.

The California Code of Regulations has been updated and some changes have been made. Every three years, the California Building Standards Commission adopts a new version of the California building standards code to keep up with advances in fire protection methods and building standards. A new edition comes out on January 1, 2023, and the city has the option to make changes to the building standards code. Administrative changes and modifications have been proposed for emergency housing and tiny houses.

A resolution was approved revising the agreements between the City and the on-call engineering firms for a maximum period of five years. Dedina and Leyba-Gonzalez were absent.

The allocation of $300,000 from the operating reserves of the Sewer Enterprise Fund for the emergency repair of Pump Station Eight has been approved. Dedina and Leyba-Gonzalez were absent.

The next meeting of the municipal council will be held on November 2 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at 825 Imperial Beach Boulevard. For more information or view the online log of the meeting at www.imperialbeachca.gov

Flight. 38, n° 41 – Thursday 13 October 2022

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