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Rent control was never the answer
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I don't always agree with the actions of the City Council but boy did they call it right on Monday. They flat out rejected any notion that they should enact rent control measures for mobilehome parks.

You may not know it since theirs is a non-partisan office but all five members of the Ceres City Council are all Republicans. They generally take the conservative approach to governmental powers. I was not surprised that they did not rush to grant the request for rent control. Members generally agree that government has too much power already over people's lives and should not always intervene in a situation where hardship exists. The very people who asked for rent control would not have appreciated a city hall dictating them what they can and cannot do with their property. Hence, an irony at play.

Nobody on that council delights with what residents in Colony Park Estates face: Excessive rents that have created financial hardships and even harder feelings. Residents who walk from their units are threatening to thrash them. It reminds me of the final episode of "Little House on the Prairie" where the townsfolk took turns blowing up their homes with TNT rather than leave it to the greedy man who suddenly proved that he owned all of the land on which the town was built. There are folks in Colony Park who are determined to not leave anything of value for Colony Park owner Sam Zell.

Having said that, don't interpret the council's unwillingness to enact controls as being insensitive. They spent years working with Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc., over a solution, including Mayor Cannella, and two other council members. The council, I think, had the big picture. It was the common sense thing to do.

First of all, the council could not enact a rent control on just one park. It would have had to enact citywide controls, which would have effected the other parks in Ceres. An unwanted and unintended consequences would have resulted in rents being increased in all eight parks. It would have effected rents, for example, on the 149 spaces at Voyager's Cove as well as the 177 units at Las Casitas. There are no squawks coming from those parks about rent.

Rent control ordinances, by law, have to adhere to restrictive formulas. In other words, a council cannot dictate that a property owner, for example, rent all spaces for $1 a month. It doesn't work that way.

Fortunately this City Council has its conservative leanings and doesn't believe government has a right to take an action it could take. I, too, think that government has too much control, such as when it tells a fast-food restaurant that it must pay its worker a "minimum wage" when perhaps the market calls for less pay for a certain job. Our system is based on free enterprise and the law of supply and demand, which does a great job in supplying goods and services at rates that people are willing to pay.

The council also was rightfully concerned about subjecting all Ceres residents to costs of defending a lawsuit should ELS' big legal guns come into town and sue the city for adopting questionable rent controls.

Government really has no responsibility, in my opinion, to rescue people because they made less than wise decisions in their life. That goes for people who made unwise home purchases and lost them to foreclosures. We have to take responsibility for our actions.

When my wife and I first started out in life, our first home was a 12' x 60' single wide mobilehome in a park. The rents then were $100 to $125 per month. It bothered me that I had to pay whatever the landowner charged me. He'd jack up the rent and I would complain. But I did something about it. We sold the coach to a woman who was looking for an inexpensive way to live out the rest of her remaining days. We purchased a house in 1986 for $46,500 and made additions and improvements and are still there today. I never considered a mobilehome to be a great choice - they don't hold their value, they become dated in no time and they tend to fall apart over the years. Plus they're extremely unsafe in fires. To me, however, it was not being able to control my rent.

I am not putting down those who live in mobilehomes. They work for many and who knows, perhaps I will be in one as I slide toward the end of life. But the bottom line is, if you don't like your living situation, you do something about it. And don't first go running to the government for assistance.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know by emailing him at