On Feb. 16, the Mobile Home Rent Review Board convened at Ventura City Hall to hear a proposed Capitalization Plan presented by the Rent Administrator, for Buena Ventura Estates, with information supplied by La Cumbre Management and its attorneys.
The problem is, the city said it gave the usual three-day notice online, yet residents couldn’t find it as the notice was included in the financial report. Strange place for it, and how many 80- or 90-year-olds have a computer or could have been able to figure it out?
One-hundred-plus residents filled the Council room, though most couldn’t hear the discussion due to an unbelievably bad sound system, nor could they see the screen. It didn’t matter anyway, as when seniors asked questions, they were told to “sit down and shut up or the board would ‘pass the agenda then’ ” without listening to the speakers. They still voted YES on the agenda without listening to the concerns of the residents.
Please, think very carefully about his: How can a panel of volunteers, without any knowledge of mobile home parks or senior issues, dictate how residents should spend, or rob them, their pensions/savings/Social Security without their permission? That’s not democracy, that’s piracy!
Shouldn’t children and seniors in a civilized society be afforded some sort of protection from predators? Or are there no rules anymore, just greed?
The new (July 1) and existing capitalization improvements (of many years) amount to well over $1 million, plus interest, to be amortized over 10 to 40 years. Here are some of the items the park is billing us for, all of which it considers capital improvements, most of which we consider to be maintenance: Replace electric golf cart $4,491; laundry room faucets/valves $3,051; Eight spa room light bulbs $2,226; pool heater $4,488; leak in RV area years old $2,787; paint shuffle board structure $10,704; painting clubhouse $23,128.
Keep in mind: Capitalization means items that are new or additional items to the park, or new construction (like pool, spa). Why are the above maintenance items being charged off as capitalization? They are repairs or replacement items
You get the idea; it’s called creative bookkeeping. We had 20 days to appeal, which many of us did, to no avail. Not one response from the city, and the increases go into effect July 1.
Our question: Why are we paying rent (for a piece of dirt) if it doesn’t include maintenance? The city or any judge always tell you that the owner has a right for a reasonable return on his investment. OK. So we did the math on that: $4 million investment in 1970 has earned the owner over $80 million. The owner currently takes in $140,000 monthly ($1.8 million yearly) but can’t seem to live on that amount of money/profit. Outlay is: one part-time office manager; one full-time maintenance man and one part-time?
The residents have a collective $28 million invested in their properties. What about our return on our investment? What about our rights? We are customers, not white trash living in a trailer park. Nor are we second-class citizens.
We have invested most of our life savings to live in an affordable housing community in retirement, investing in the owner’s business. We live on small pensions in our older age, many of us still working to keep bills paid as Social Security doesn’t always go far enough. Some are living on $10 a day, especially with health-care issues. Many are getting help from children to put food on the table. This isn’t what retirement should be about.
What happens when we need to make repairs to our own property? In our case, we have at least $10,000 of “maintenance repairs” to do on our home. Shouldn’t the park help us with our maintenance, if they expect us to pay theirs?
Seventy-five percent of our residents are ladies, so keep in mind that this is not only senior abuse, but it could be your grandmother, mother, sister or wife who is being held prisoner, as it’s way too expensive to move our units from here. And then where would we move them to?
Per Cheryl Heitmann, one-third of the Ventura residents are seniors. Life isn’t all about business. It’s about fair play and the right of your elders/seniors to live what remains of their lives without fear of predators or financial abuse. Surely, you’re in the wrong business if you’re trying to exploit seniors for your own financial gain. Better yet, sell the park to the seniors!
This is a unique business, mobile home parks, where you pay rents and the maintenance. Then through the Capitalization Plan, you pay maintenance and repairs all over again.
To the Ventura City Council: You seem like very nice, decent human beings. Please repeal this “pass through” which goes into effect July 1, and at least give us the opportunity (better known as semocracy) for everyone to be heard. Fair play is all we ask for.
Leo Lewis is a resident of Ventura.