How would you describe this mobile home community?
Town & Country Mobile Villa is a family-oriented community. Approximately a quarter of our tenants are seniors. The park owns 24 of the homes inside the community and operates them as rentals. The average cost for a home space is $392. We are not low-income housing and receive no benefit from any governmental agency as such. Many of our tenants have lived here a long time, some over 35 years. Overwhelmingly, our tenants tell us this park is a nice place to live.
Our family was part of a group of investors that bought the park in the early ’60s. Over time, the other partners left. The park is now owned solely by our family. At one point the State bought a portion of the park to put in the Highway 299 off ramp. I visit the park quarterly to review operations and work out challenges with the manager and staff.
What distinguishes one mobile home park from another?
One of the biggest differences in parks is the family vs seniors only requirement. Within the constraints of the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) and local ordinances, rules may vary from park to park. Issues like landscaping, the availability and location of parking, and guests, for example are handled differently depending on the park layout and rental agreement terms. Parks may also differ on their available amenities like swimming pools, card rooms, clubhouses, etc,
What changes have you seen with mobile home parks over time?
Two major changes have occurred over time. In the past this park had a lot of seasonal tenants from the fishing and timber industries. We’ve seen a transition from seasonal to project-based workers many of whom are in construction and road work. The other big change is that mobile homes have improved dramatically. They are larger and may include a long list of upscale amenities such as expanded kitchens and bathrooms. They’re not the old tow-along models; they have solid foundations.
In what ways do you support the community?
We spend several hundred thousand dollars a year at local businesses for materials and services. We employ four people. We sponsor local youth athletics, usually four teams a year – two boys and two girls. We have sponsored teams for our tenants and staff’s children. We also sponsor the Humboldt Crabs.
What’s fun and challenging about managing a park?
It’s fun in that you meet a lot of different kinds of people. We have positive relationships with most of our tenants. It’s like any other housing provision business. Most people pay rent and keep their space in good shape and there are others who don’t always hold up their side of the bargain. There’s the guy that just came in and brought Patty [the manager] some soup and then there’s the other guys’ car we have to tow. Any day can come with a wide mix of encounters on both sides of the spectrum.
What is your relationship with the City of Arcata?
We are like a little city here. We have city problems like lights, sewers, and streets only we’re private property so we own them and must keep them up to standard. We find city staff knowledgeable and helpful. We want them to know us. We want them to be able to call before things happen. They interact with the other parks so they can share ideas. Now they are putting in the river walk in Valley West. This is a good thing for us. We used to be the end of the universe, but now the city is developing assets in the area and I think we are getting more attention than ever before.
I’m surprised there aren’t lots more of them being opened because they’re a very reasonable housing option – a brand new home can run from $40,000 to $100,000 or more depending on upgrades. Mobile home parks are a great option for families starting out and for retirees. They also bring the benefits of a tight knit community where neighbors support each other.