Confusion Reigns as MESA DUNES Park Owners attempt a
“FORCED CONDO CONVERSION”
—Sharon McMahan, HOA President, Mesa Dunes Mobilehome Park
Mesa Dunes is a 304-space family park located in the unincorporated area of San Luis Obispo County about 2 miles from the city of Arroyo Grande. We have two sections: 186 spaces that opened in 1974 and 118 spaces in the newer section that opened in 2000. Ours is one of the most attractive and well maintained parks in the county; some homes have gorgeous ocean views and our residents really care about our community. Back in the 1980’s, there was a homeowners’ association, but it slowly went out of existence after Measure A (Rent Stabilization Ordinance) was passed by the citizens of SLO County and stopped years of unregulated rent increases and limited park owners to one rent raise per year. Our new HOA was formed in September, 2000, when we sought legal help and fought against a Hardship Rent Increase of $50.33 per month which was reduced by the County to a $4.55 increase as most of the charges were related to deferred maintenance. Since then our HOA became more of a social club, but we still worked on many issues involving the Park.
Residents add new park benches
Many of the amenities of the Park we all enjoy are here because we fought for them: re-alignment of the front entrance, including the addition of turn lanes (there had been many accidents there and we pushed Cal Trans to put in turn lanes); we worked to get emergency access with a break-away gate near the north-east corner of the Park; we succeeded in obtaining a major renovation of the Upper Clubhouse plus the addition of a water storage tank to provide water in an outage. During the expansion of the Park (1993-2000) we worked with Management to fix street lights in the old section, publish a park directory, and address numerous other park problems. Most importantly: we were able to persuade Management to eliminate 6 proposed home spaces which would have taken away most of the beautiful park area in the center of our development except for the children’s play area.
In 2007-9, we worked with the County on the MH Park Conversion Ordinance and other county regulations. We are involved continuously with GSMOL & SLOMAP on items of county-wide and state-wide interests to mobile home residents. We distribute flyers and postcards for members to mail when there is a law or regulation we believe would benefit all our residents. Five years ago, we joined with other neighbors here on the Mesa to protest the closing of the Halcyon Extension and we attended many meetings when the County was considering traffic circles down at the junction of Hwy 1 and Halcyon Road; we also circulated petitions to prevent a Card Room from opening more recently.
The current HOA continues to provide activities and functions for all to enjoy. Along with our monthly pancake breakfasts, we also have Bunco games, Neighborhood Watch Programs, potlucks and other dinners. We provide Medicare Seminars and CPR classes for residents, and have used HOA monies to purchase and install park benches at the dog walk and the walking trails. For the last 11 years we have donated food and toys to local drives as well as donated money to the SLO Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Senior Nutrition Programs, the Battered Women’s Shelter, the Cancer Fund, and other local charities. Our volunteers have given hundreds of hours to this community and helped to make it the beautiful place we all enjoy today. I am very proud of all of our volunteers and the things we have accomplished. All our activities have always been open to any resident whether they are HOA members or not.
Sadly, all of that changed in June, 2013, when we received letters from an attorney firm telling us that the park owners were going to subdivide the park, thus creating a forced condo-conversion of our park. In the blink of an eye, we were rushed through residents meetings, a 24 hour notice of an HOA Board meeting and compelled to respond to a confusing Resident Survey, all before our HOA Board could agree to hire an attorney. It was manipulation at its best, leading to fear, mistrust and overwhelming emotions. Do NOT try to fight a forced condo-conversion by yourselves!! That’s the first thing you need to know: DO NOT DO ANYTHING UNTIL YOU CALL GSMOL and HIRE A SPECIALIST ATTORNEY. They know all the things you need to know! We learned the hard way and now we’re embroiled in a nightmare. Although fewer than 10% of our residents wish to purchase their spaces, many are already putting their homes up for sale, afraid to wait for fear that they won’t be able to sell them later. Long-term friendships have ended; rumors, mudslinging and insults abound – and we’re helpless as most of us are on fixed incomes and will not be able to afford the high cost of the spaces and we’ll have lost any equity we have in our homes. One good thing is that SB 510 passed this summer and was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. It is effective January 1, 2014, after which SLO County has the authority to consider the results of the Residents Survey when they make their decision to either accept or reject the subdivision map application for Mesa Dunes. I just hope that no other parks have to find out the terrible consequences of forced subdivision/condo-conversion like we have. Our little community has been shattered!
SLOMAP (San Luis Obispo County Mobilehome Residents Assistance Panel) is requesting donations to the Mesa Dunes Legal Fund for help with attorney’s fees. The HOA has hired Will Constantine to represent their park in this condo-conversion attempt but because SB 510 is not going into effect until Jan. 1, 2014, it is difficult to know how much will have to be invested in their struggle. Please mail your contributions to:
Mesa Dunes HOA
PO Box 7233
Halcyon, CA 93421
Mesa Dunes Mobilehome Park