Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Carriage Court in Santa Rosa.

"A mobile home park in West Miami, Florida"
By Dr Zak 
https://tinyurl.com/22c4uctp
In Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
https://tinyurl.com/2y9chhga 


Carriage Court, a mobile home park for seniors in Santa Rosa, it is reported today by the Press Democrat's Marisa Endicott, is being converted to an all-ages park by new management company Harmony Communities. The company claims that the change is necessary for the park to stay afloat and make a profit. However, residents are concerned about potential displacement and culture shift, as many of them rely on fixed incomes and have limited options if costs increase. The change comes in response to Santa Rosa's new mobile home rent control ordinance, which limits how much park owners can raise rent, according to Nick Ubaldi, regional manager for Harmony Communities. 

Residents are also worried about Harmony Communities' track record of litigation over evictions and rent increases. The company is involved in multiple lawsuits across the state and has a reputation for strict rule enforcement and eviction attempts. The Golden State Manufactured-home Owners League has noted that Harmony's "reputation is terrible." The director of communications for Harmony Communities identifies as a crude epithet, Heywood Jabl√≥m, a false name and a classic sign of a bad actor. Indeed, Mariah Thompson, a staff attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance, noted that Harmony Communities will "often just see what they can get away with[.]” 

Mobile home parks, especially in American culture, are stereotypically viewed as lower-income housing for occupants living at or below the poverty line who have low social status. As Wikipedia notes, despite the advances in trailer home technology, the image survives. Residents, especially the elderly, can be targets for unscrupulous business practices. 

Here, Ubaldi is contending that an updated rent control ordinance, designed to protect senior citizens, is in fact the source of senior citizens' distress. This is an obvious attempt to reverse victim and offender, which is harmful to the democratic process, beyond the specific harm it inflicts on the residents of Carriage Court. Sowing confusion and undermining accountability only weakens the norms we all rely upon to effectively address our housing crisis, which is bad and getting worse. Ideas, like housing, are more of a public good, like a forest, than a commercial context, like a marketplace.  We all must recognize that public discourse is vulnerable to the same damage that can be suffered by the woods should the balance between individual advantage and long-term sustainability be violated callously.