A $300,000 proposal to bring Fresno mobile home parks under local control could benefit residents and prevent miscommunications between state and local agencies, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld said.
Bredefeld and Dyer introduced the Mobile home Parks Act on Tuesday, nearly a month after a fire at The Trails End Mobile Home Park — which was operating with a suspended permit — killed one person, injured another and destroyed two homes.
Dyer and Bredefeld said local control of mobile home parks would prevent future tragedies.
“It’s unfortunate that we are standing here today because a man lost his life in our city,” Dyer said. Fresno city officials were unaware of the severe conditions in the mobile home park, located on East Sierra and Blackstone avenues.
“There was a breakdown of communication,” Bredefeld said, referring to HCD suspending the permit to operate at Trails End without notifying the city.
“The city of Fresno hadn’t had any contact with the state in approximately two years, regarding this mobile home park. We just simply weren’t aware of it,” he added.
Trails End, along with all Fresno mobile home parks, is currently under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
“I am hopeful that as a result of what we are doing today, we will prevent any further unnecessary loss of life in our city as a result of incidents such as this,” Dyer said.
Here’s what you need to know about the proposed ordinance means for the city and the future of Trail’s End Mobile Home Park:
Why are mobile home parks currently under HCD control?
Under state law, all California Mobile Home Parks are under the jurisdiction of the HCD, unless a county or city agency has been approved to assume responsibility.
Local code enforcement agencies cannot receive complaints or inspect mobile home parks unless their city or county has gone through the process of assuming control.
What would change for mobile home park residents?
A shift from state to local control would give Fresno mobile home park residents a local resource where they can report habitability issues. It would also allow the city to have a better understanding of the issues at mobile home parks.
According to California Rural Legal Assistance attorney Mariah Thompson, the HCD is supposed to randomly inspect about 5% of all mobile home parks within their jurisdiction annually. Yet, with limited resources, the number is more of a target.
“What could happen is there are many years that go by without a park having had an inspection from the state, which means that many years can go by with uninhabitable conditions that violate health and safety codes without the state finding out about it,” Thompson said.
If the city assumes control, city agents would also randomly inspect 5% of mobile home parks under their jurisdiction annually, according to City Attorney Doug Sloan, who added that with only 26 under their jurisdiction, it would mean at least one to two Fresno mobile home parks would be guaranteed an inspection, which is not the case now.
Thompson also said that many mobile home park residents do not know whom to call or where to turn to when they need help because Fresno City Code Enforcement cannot interfere. This would change with the ordinance.
Dyer said he believes this step is crucial in providing residents with a safe place to live.
“I believe a government that is closest to the people is going to be more responsive, and that’s because people in our city feel more comfortable coming to city hall than they do to any state agency that may be in Sacramento,” Dyer said.
What would this mean in terms of Code Enforcement?
Local Code Enforcement officers would still have to follow state regulations for mobile home parks if the ordinance passes. The ordinance simply means that local agencies, rather than the state, would be in charge of implementing the regulations.
The city would have to follow these regulations if it takes control of mobile home parks:
The city would be required to to proactively inspect at least 5% of mobile home parks annually (That’d be about one to two parks in Fresno)
The city must give written notice to mobile home park owners, occupants and property owners at least 30 days before proactive inspections.
The city will be in charge of handling reactive inspections.
The city must follow a clear timeline to investigate complaints and follow up on any violations.
The city could issue a final notice or notice to abate if a mobile home park property owner or resident fails to comply with health and safety code after a notice of violation has been issued.
The city must provide the right to an informal conference or hearing for any person issued a notice of violation.
The city must collect fees, some of which must be forwarded to HCD.
Sloan said local control would also allow Code Enforcement to dedicate more resources to mobile home parks with severe habitability issues.
How long would a transition from state to local control take?
The city has been in communication with the state for several weeks about what taking over enforcement at mobile home parks would look like. Sloan said that if the City Council approves the ordinance, it would then move forward for state approval, which could take about two to three months.
The ordinance will be introduced to the City Council on Thursday, May 27.
Where else has a transition happened?
According to Sloan, six counties and 28 cities throughout California have already assumed local control.
If Fresno makes this transition, the city would have the second highest number of mobile home parks under local jurisdiction.
How much would local enforcement of mobile home parks cost?
Sloan said Fresno Code Enforcement’s department would need to hire four additional inspectors to take on enforcement at the 26 mobile home parks for an estimated cost of $300,000 per year.
Where would the money come from?
According to Bredefeld, he has spoken with District 23 Assemblymember Jim Patterson, who represents parts of Fresno and Tulare counties, about seeking funding from the state for the local Mobilehome Parks Act.
Dyer said the city will also discuss the potential funding options or reconfigurations to add additional code enforcement officers at the upcoming city budget hearings.
Why is the city considering this change now?
The push for mobile home parks to be brought under local control is a direct response to the fire at the Trails End Mobile Home Park, which destroyed two homes and killed 56-year-old Ronald Richardson on April 29.
Along with the proposed ordinance, city officials discussed the need to fill 12 vacant seats on the Fresno Mobile Home Rent Review Commission which has been inactive for years.
What’s next with the Trails End Mobile Home Park?
According to Sloan, HCD is conducting followup inspections at Trails End Mobile Home Park.
The city cannot move forward with any abatement actions until the state sends a letter that gives them authority to do so. As of May 25, the letter has not been received.