Parks complying with rent limits

Modesto's nine mobile home parks are complying with a rent control ordinance designed to protect seniors living on fixed incomes, city officials said this week.

"We're certainly ready and able to enforce the ordinance, but we're happy there's not a need to," said Barbara Kauss, manager of Modesto's Housing and Urban Development programs.

Coralwood Mobile Home Community is the only park subject to the full restrictions of the ordinance, which the City Council approved in August.

The other eight parks reached agreements with the city exempting them from the ordinance but limiting their ability to raise rents.

Coralwood must keep its rent increases under 6 percent a year. Sharp rent increases there over the past three years set the stage for the ordinance, with residents complaining of successive hikes that brought their rent to about $775 a month.

Coralwood resident Ray Newman, who worked with the City Council to pass the measure, said his landlords have abided by a clause in the ordinance requiring them to roll back his rent to what it was in April. He said that saves him about $100 a month.

Chicago's Equity LifeStyle Properties owns Coralwood. The company has a history of fighting rent control measures in court. It sent Modesto letters protesting the ordinance before the council approved it.

Peter Underhill, Equity LifeStyle's regional vice president, couldn't be reached.

Newman said he remains skeptical about the company's plans for the park.

"It's going to be a mess until we figure out what they're doing," he said.

The other eight parks have more flexible terms in their agreements with the city. They can increase rents 7 percent each year. They also can increase rent on a space by 15 percent when someone moves instead of the 10 percent allowed by the city ordinance.

Kauss oversees two other facets of the rent control program. One gives mobile home residents subsidies to help them cover bills; the other provides help to residents moving their homes to new parks if they can demonstrate that it would save them money over time.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at aashton@modbee.com or 578-2366.