Skip to main content
This section is included in your selections.

A. Mandatory Meet-and-Confer Meeting. Except when a park owner elects rent increases permitted under SMC 9.28.050(A), the tenants and park owners must, within seven working days of the notice of rent increase, meet and confer with each other’s representatives at the offices of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission. Written notice of the time, place and date of the meeting should be arranged within 48 working hours of the notice of rent increase. If the park owners and tenants fail to agree on the time, place and date of the hearing within that 48-hour span and provide due notice to the Clerk, the meeting shall be set at the convenience of the Clerk. At the meeting, representatives of the parties should exchange documentary evidence that the parties in good faith then know will be used to support their respective positions in an arbitration and discuss the issues in dispute. In the case of a park owner, all financial data upon which any proposed increase is claimed shall be supplied to tenant representatives at the time of the meet-and-confer meeting.

1. Sanctions. A park owner’s failure to provide the minimum information required by this chapter set forth under subsection (A)(2) of this section or attend the hearing shall require the Clerk to suspend further proceedings under this chapter. The park owner’s application for a rent increase under such circumstances shall be deemed defective, without force or effect, and deemed withdrawn. Re-noticing of the increase shall be required to reinitiate an application for rent increase.

2. Minimum Meet-and-Confer Information. The park owner has a duty to provide adequate information to the tenants regarding the park’s net operating income sufficient for a reasonably sophisticated inquiry into the financial status of the park owner’s business. This will consist of true and accurate book entries or other competent evidence of gross income including, but not limited to, gross rent interest upon security and cleaning deposits, income from ancillary services (sub-metering of utilities, laundry facilities, etc.) and true and accurate book entries or other competent evidence of operating expenses including, but not limited to, license fees, property taxes, utilities, insurance, management expenses, landlord performed labor, building and grounds maintenance, legal fees, auto and truck expenses, employee benefits, permits, refuse removal, ground lease payments, and similar additional expenses.

B. Petition. If discussions between owner and tenants do not resolve the dispute between them, the tenants or their representative shall file with the Clerk a petition for space rent review and a copy of the notice of rent increase, if available, within 30 days of the date upon which the rent increase notice was received. The Clerk shall not accept a petition for filing unless it has been signed by at least 51 percent of all affected tenants. Upon the filing of a petition, the rent increase is not effective and may not be collected until and to the extent it is awarded by an arbitrator or until the petition is abandoned. As used herein, the term “abandoned” refers to lack of prosecution of the arbitration by the mobile home tenants’ representative(s). An automatic arbitration based upon a 300 percent CPI increase will not require active tenant prosecution, although such prosecution will not be prohibited. The term “prosecution” refers to actively pursuing necessary steps toward preparing the tenants’ case for the arbitration hearing.

C. Contents of Petition.

1. The petition for space rent review shall set forth the total number of affected rented spaces in the mobile home park, shall identify the space occupied by each tenant and shall state the date upon which the notice of the rent increase was received by the tenant(s).

2. After obtaining the required signatures, the tenant(s) shall deliver the petition or mail it by registered or certified mail to the Clerk at the following address: P.O. Box 1776, Sebastopol, California, 95473-1776 (or successor address or agency). No petition shall be accepted unless it is accompanied by the requisite number of signatures and is received in the office of the Clerk within the 21-day period set forth in subsection B of this section. The Clerk shall provide a copy of the completed petition form to both parties and the arbitrator forthwith or within five working days.

D. Information Questionnaire. After the Clerk has accepted a petition for space rent review, the Clerk shall remit to the owner and tenants an information questionnaire in such form as the Clerk may prescribe. The completed information questionnaire must be returned to the Clerk at least five working days prior to the date scheduled for hearing of the petition by the arbitrator. Copies of the completed information questionnaire shall be provided to the arbitrator and the opposing party.

E. Assignment of Arbitrator and Hearing Date. Upon receipt of the petition, or in the event of an automatic arbitration, or upon an affected tenant’s claim of a vacancy control violation where an unauthorized rent increase has been sought, the Clerk shall set a date for the arbitration hearing no sooner than five nor later than 10 working days after the arbitrator is assigned. The owner and affected tenant(s) shall be notified immediately in writing by the Clerk of the date, time and place of the hearing and this notice shall be served either in person or by ordinary mail.

F. Arbitration Hearing.

1. The owner and tenant(s) may appear at the hearing and offer oral and documentary evidence. Both the owner and tenant(s) may designate a representative or representatives to appear for them at the hearing. The arbitrator may grant or order one continuance for not more than five days from the date of the initial hearing. The burden of proving that the amount of rent increase is reasonable shall be on the owner by a preponderance of the evidence. The hearing need not be conducted according to technical rules relating to evidence and witnesses. The rules of evidence and manner of producing evidence shall be those rules set forth in Section 11513 of the California Government Code for the conduct of hearings under the Administrative Procedure Act. These rules may be relaxed at the discretion of the arbitrator in the interests of justice.

2. The arbitrator shall, within 14 days of the hearing, submit by mail a written statement of decision and the reasons for the decision to the Clerk who shall forthwith distribute by mail copies of the decision to the owner and tenant(s). The arbitrator shall determine the amount of rent increase, if any, which is reasonable based upon all the provisions of this chapter.

3. The arbitrator shall not allow more than one rent increase per park per 12-month period.

4. The decision of the arbitrator, rendered in accordance with this section, shall be final and binding upon the owner and all affected tenants. The decision of the arbitrator will be subject to the provision of Code of Civil Procedure Section 1094.5.

5. Any party may have electronic recording equipment or a court reporter present to record and prepare a transcript of the hearing before the arbitrator; however, such equipment or reporter shall be provided at that party’s own expense.

6. The arbitrator is authorized to modify the basic time periods set forth herein at his or her discretion to promote the purposes of this program provided a final decision is rendered within 90 days of the notice of rent increase.

7. Any procedural or jurisdictional dispute regarding the processes set forth herein may be decided by the arbitrator.