Residents in two neighboring Clovis mobile home parks were glad to see the new owner taking care of longtime potholes and other road problems.
But they were outraged to learn last week they'll be stuck with the $863,000 tab.
Campus Corral and Arabian Villa residents had been told the previous owner had set aside money for repaving, said Don Bronson, 74, but they learned they would bear the cost when notices outlining several repayment options showed up in their mailboxes.
One of the three options would remove city-mandated rent controls.
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Under city ordinance, rent increases for mobile home spaces are limited to 80% of the consumer price index, a measure of average price increases for goods and services. This year, the index was 1.7%, so rent increases were capped at 1.36%, said John Holt, assistant city manager for Clovis.
But if Campus Corral and Arabian Villa residents choose to pay $35 monthly over 15 years, they must sign a new lease waiving their rights to CPI-correlated rent control.
City officials say that under the 15-year lease, rent would rise at least 2.5% yearly but no more than 5%. The $35 monthly charge for repaving costs will be added to the rent and will be included when calculating future increases.
Residents also could choose to make a single payment of $3,414 or pay $66 monthly for five years. Their existing leases, governed by the city's rent-control ordinance, would remain in effect.
The new fees will start in May; residents have until April 15 to choose an option.
The new owner, Rutherford MHC Management of Los Gatos, bought the property in 2007, Holt said. Rutherford officials did not return calls.
City ordinance allows mobile home park owners to be reimbursed by renters for major improvements such as repaving, Holt said.
The situation is similar to one last year in another rent-controlled mobile home park in Clovis, Holt said.
Owners at The Woods Mobile Home Park passed the costs of improvements on to residents, he said.
David Wolfe, Clovis city attorney, said Rutherford is following the city's law.
But that doesn't make it right, said Jim Burr of Visalia, president of the Golden State Manufactured Home Owners League, which is monitoring the Clovis complaints and is considering action on the residents' behalf.
"It sure isn't the ethical or moral thing to do," he said.
Burr said some Arabian Villa and Campus Corral residents agreed that road improvements were needed and that they would be willing to pay a portion of the cost.
But "it has always been our belief that when you pay rent, part of it is to cover wear and tear," he said. "For all of it to be passed through to the residents is unfair."
Resident Larry Ferraro said he thinks the financial burden for residents is too large and that a fair charge would be half the cost.
"I don't see how we will get around it," said Ferraro, who lives in Arabian Villa with his 94-year-old mother, who uses a wheelchair.