CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) --The Arabian Villa park is located on Villa between Shaw and Barstow. There are 218 units for senior citizens. The park's owner, Rutherford Investments of Los Gatos, said residents aren't paying enough and is asking for a substantial hike in rent. An increase, Laura Calderwood, the president of the residents association said they can't pay. "Our residents can't afford $125, $100, or a $110. Those are the three offers that the owners and they just can't afford it."
The park owner filed a request for a rent increase with the city, saying the average rent of $400 a month was below the market rate of $525. But The city's rent stabilization ordinance only allows annual increases tied to the consumer price index, which this year only allow hikes of about $4 a month. Calderwood said market value should not be a factor. "Just to say we are not up to market value, nothing has changed, we didn't get an increase in our social security so why do they feel they need an increase?"
In fact, the city ordinance does not specifically allow market rate increases but Assistant City Manager John Holt said the park owners can request a hearing before the city for any increases. "The ordinance is written so that we can facilitate a process to bring the two parties together and bring an independent third party make a decision on it."
That could mean a court-like hearing before a retired judge. However, to get that hearing, Calderwood notes residents have to get half the parks residents to sign a petition and pay for half the cost of the rent review hearing. "We have to collect $5,000 just to collect the signatures to get a rent review."
Holt said the city will try to bring the two sides together, informally first, to avoid the expense, but residents believe the ordinance should already protect them from anything more than an increase of few dollars a month. "If they follow the letter of the law of the ordinance I don't think this will go through," Calderwood said.
Residents of the Arabian Villa and other parks were set to go before the Clovis City Council on Tuesday night to express their concerns. However, the council can take no action and the decision on whether to allow a rent increase will have to be decided either by informal mediation or a formal negotiating session.
Officials of the park owner, Rutherford Investments, were not available for comment.