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Council lowers rent in response to residents

December 3, 2012

One month after raising rental rates at Sunrise Mobile Home Park in Bishop, the City Council last week voted to reduce the rental rates for residents in the park who own their own homes by $25. City Administrator Keith Caldwell said the rate decrease was possible because of a property tax mix-up the occurred when the rates were raised in October. Photo by Mike Gervaisv

About one month after raising rates on tenants at the city-owned Sunrise Mobile Home Park in Bishop, elected officials voted last week to lower rates for some residents in the park.
Last Monday, the Bishop City Council unanimously voted (with Councilmember Jeff Griffiths absent) to lower rent by $25, from $250 to $225 a month, for Sunrise residents who own their own mobile homes.
October’s council-approved rent increase brought rent for those in the park who own their own homes (rather than renting them from the city) from $110 to $250. At the time, City Administrator Keith Caldwell said that rent had not been increased in the park for about 30 years, and even with the increase, rent at Sunrise was still about $400 less a month than other mobile home parks in the city.
With the approved increase “came a little feedback from residents,” Caldwell told the City Council Nov. 26. “We worked with them (the residents) and city staff to look at cost-cutting measures.”
Caldwell said his initial study on the rate increase misidentified the trailer park’s property tax category as an open spaces area, similar to the city park. Once the property tax issue was corrected, Caldwell said, city staff realized they could bring rent down by $25 without impacting services.
Caldwell said that the new rate decrease will not cost the city money.
“We just want to break even,” Caldwell said. “That’s what we want to do as a city running this park.”
Caldwell said maintenance will remain “as good or better” than it was before the rate increase earlier this year. He added that the city maintains a reserve account for maintenance at the park. That account currently has $20,000 available for any maintenance that may be needed.
“I appreciate your effort to do everything we can to lower these rates,” said Mayor Laura Smith. “The residents in the park love it. I’m very proud of the city.”
Caldwell said he and other city staff members recognize that “many of these residents fall into a very low income level,” and the city is dedicated to ensuring Sunrise remains a viable option for local senior citizen housing.
He added that Sunrise is a very desirable independent living community that has a waiting list of residents hoping to move in when units become available.
There are seven residents who rent units from the city who will not be impacted by the increase or decrease. Those residents, Caldwell said, pay a little more than the homeowners in the park.
At the Dec. 10 City Council meeting, Caldwell said city staff will discuss selling those units in the future, which will mean that every resident in the park will be paying the same rates, which include trash pick-up, cable, water and sewer.
The city is adjusting rates at Sunrise because it lost $60,000 of state money earmarked for the park this year. That money was scheduled to expire and city officials had been expecting an increase in rates to cover the loss of that money.

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