The topic is a major issue to mobile home dwellers in Carson, where landowner James Goldstein is attempting to convert two parks to resident-ownership. City officials have vowed to fight to protect rent control at both parks, but as the law currently stands, cities have little say in the matter. Residents of both parks, Colony Cove Mobile Estates and Carson Harbor Village, fear that their rents will rise dramatically if they opt not to buy their spaces. The bill, AB 1542 by Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, would allay those fears by extending local rent control to moderate-income residents. State law already protects low-income residents. The bill passed the Senate 21-16 on Tuesday afternoon, winning the bare minimum needed for approval. On Friday, the bill had failed with only 19 votes. It has previously passed the Assembly. “It’s good news,” said Carson City Attorney Bill Wynder. “We’ve now got to persuade the governor to sign the bill.” Evans, D-Santa Rosa, wrote the legislation after experiencing frustration with the issue in her hometown. She said Tuesday that two senators, Ron Calderon and Dean Florez, were persuaded to change their minds after Friday’s tally, giving the bill enough votes to pass. “Local folks explained to them how important it is for their own constituents to preserve low- and moderate-income housing,” Evans said. “It’s a great bill, and it’s a real victory for seniors and working families.” The bill was opposed by the California Association of Realtors and the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association. Sheila Dey, the executive director of WMA, said the legislation would impede condo-conversions and make it harder for low-income renters to own their mobile home spaces. “It absolutely makes no sense to me why the government would not want people to own their own homes and property,” Dey said. “Having residents be able to own their own property in expensive areas of Southern California is a good thing for residents and not a bad thing.” Dey said Assembly Speaker Fabian N ez and union leaders had gotten involved in twisting arms to make sure the bill would pass. “We worked as hard as we could,” she said. “We already killed it once, but they don’t let anything die over there.” “They never thought we would get this through,” Evans said. Wynder said that the city’s lobbyist tried to persuade hesitant lawmakers that the issue is not as simple as it first appeared. “I think there was a feeling this was somehow an attack on property rights,” Wynder said. “When we had a chance to sit down and explain that there are two kinds of property rights here – the guy who owns the (park) and the guy who owns the mobile home coach – that put it in a whole different perspective.” Bill Smalley, a resident who chairs a committee to fight the conversion at Colony Cove, said he was pleased that the bill had passed. Residents there pay $400 per month in space rent, thanks to Carson’s strict rent control law. Some feared their rent could float to as high as $1,000 per month once the conversion goes through and rent control is eliminated. “It’s a fantastic thing,” Smalley said. “It would protect us at Colony Cove, but it’s too late for Carson Harbor Village.” Indeed, the bill will have no bearing on the situation at Carson Harbor Village. Last week, the Carson City Council rejected Goldstein’s proposal to convert the park. Goldstein is certain to sue to overturn the denial, and legal precedent is on his side. He has previously waged a similar battle in Palm Springs and won. While steeling themselves for that legal fight, Carson officials are also preparing to lobby Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the Evans legislation. “We haven’t heard any preconceived notion out of the Governor’s Office that he’s for or against the bill,” Wynder said. “That indicates he’s willing to listen.” [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CARSON: Some mobile home residents gain a weapon in fight against park conversion. By Gene Maddaus STAFF WRITER It took a couple of tries, but in the end the state Senate approved a bill Tuesday to preserve rent control when a mobile home park is subdivided.