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Polynesian residents facing steep rent increase

Potential $200 per month hike will cover imposed cost of flood

Posted: October 10, 2009 8:42 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Hadassah Foster and her husband only recently paid off their home at the Polynesian Mobile Home Park in Newhall, where they’ve lived since 1993.

But they’re not out of the financial woods yet. Foster and every other resident at the park is bracing for a potential $200-a-month rent increase starting in January.

On Sept. 29, a notice was mailed to residents of the 144-space park advising them of the planned increase, due to take effect next year.

Either a 20-year-long, $199.41-per-month rent increase, or a permanent $135.12-per-month increase, will go into effect Jan. 1 to cover the cost of repairs after the park was flooded in 2005, according to a notice from David Lloyd, listed as a managing member of Polynesian Mobile Home Park, LLC, which owns the park.

The rent increase is based on the costs and return of the repair project — totaling $6.8 million over 20 years.

Neither Lloyd nor his lawyers could be reached Friday. Representatives from L.D. Flickinger, which manages the park, could not be reached over the course of the week.

While residents own or are making payments on their homes, they rent their spaces from the park. Residents pay approximately $430 to $640 per month in rent, according to the information packet for the increase.

Rent increases are typically calculated through either the Consumer Price Index — usually resulting in a 3 percent to 5 percent annual increase — or a pass-through method, which is what Polynesian residents face.

“It’s definitely a dire effect,” Foster said. “A lot of people are trying to find out what to do.

“Everybody needs to get together. There’s a unanimity that’s kind of astounding.”

Foster would see a 34.2 percent jump in her monthly space rent if the increase goes through.

Cristell Pichhardo’s family has lived in the park for several years and would see a 49.7 percent spike in their monthly rent.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” she said of the planned increase.

Particularly given the state of the economy, she said, dealing with such a large increase will not be easy.

Located near the corner of Newhall Avenue and Sierra Highway, the Polynesian park was built in the early 1960s. Many of its residents are low-income families or seniors on a fixed income, and many have been there for decades.

In early 2005, after a “100-year” storm slammed the Santa Clarita Valley, flood waters tore through the park. In the wake of the storm, a number of homes were left damaged, and the park owners were responsible for rebuilding the bridge that crosses a drainage channel into the property. They also had to erect a concrete-block retaining wall.

The park owners covered the costs of the repair work, Santa Clarita Public Works Director Robert Newman said.

“As far as I know there was no public money put into that,” he said.

Erin Moore-Lay, the city’s housing program administrator, said her office has fielded a number of calls from Polynesian residents.

“There’s a lot of concern,” she said.

The residents have until Nov. 14 to file a petition — requiring signatures from 50 percent plus one additional resident of the park — to appeal the rent increase.

Once the petition is verified, it will go before the city’s five-member Manufactured Home Rental Adjustment Panel, Moore-Lay said.

She said local mobile home park residents have been successful in the past in appealing rent increases.

On Wednesday City Manager Ken Pulskamp sent a memorandum to the City Council members, advising them of the potential increase.

In addition to calls received at City Hall, he wrote: “Residents may also be expected to appear to speak at the (Tuesday) City Council meeting.”

One man who spoke with The Signal on Thursday said he and his family moved into their home two months ago. The mobile home was in shambles and they are slowly renovating it.

When asked about the rent increase, he said he was unaware of it and had received no paperwork.

“It’s an abuse. It’s too much,” he said. “We’re not people with lots of money. That’s why we’re here.”


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