Governor Signs Legislation Preventing Excessive Rent Increases for Bay Area Floating Homes

Governor Signs Legislation Preventing Excessive Rent Increases for Bay Area Floating Homes

California Governor Gavin Newsom approved a law on Wednesday, Sept. 28, that will protect 477 floating homeowners from sharp increases in the rents they pay for legal berths in the Bay Area. According to the bill, its two main provisions will limit annual berth rent increases in floating home marinas to 3% plus the cost of living, or 5%, whichever is lower, and prohibit marina owners from increasing berth rents for floating homes that are sold. These provisions apply to Bay Area floating home marinas in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin counties.

The bill was drafted and introduced by Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-AD18 Oakland). Assemblymember Marc Levine (D- AD10 Marin-Sonoma). State Senators Mike McGuire (D-SD2- Marin, Sonoma and North Coast) and Nancy Skinner (D-SD9-Oakland) joined as co-authors. The Marin County Board of Supervisors, Alameda County Supervisor Dave Brown, Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Sausalito Mayor Janelle Kellman urged the Legislature to extend, by law, the same rent protections now in place for mobile homeowners in 86 communities in California to floating homeowners on the Bay.

Private owners of mobile homes and floating homes are required by law to keep their homes in permitted parks and marinas, where those homes are served by public utilities maintained by park and marina owners. Mobile homeowners are protected by law against steep increases in space rents. Floating homeowners historically were not, but the number of available floating home berths has been capped by a state agency, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

“These homeowners can easily lose the ability to afford their housing in the face of steeply rising berth rents in the Bay Area, and the resale value of their home could fall significantly if the berth rent becomes unaffordable,” wrote Supervisor Katie Rice, President of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, on behalf of the five-member board on July 12 in a letter to Bonta.

Bonta introduced AB 252 on June 16, saying: “Currently there are no state-level protections from excessive rent increases, and there is no place to move a floating home; when rents become unaffordable, floating homeowners are especially vulnerable. If this is not remedied, residents on low or fixed incomes will be displaced.”

Bonta’s legislative initiative was sparked by berth rent increases at Barnhill Marina & Boatyard, located at 2394 Mariner Square Dr., earlier this year by as much as 178% (“City Council Halts Rent Increases at Floating Home Community,” May 2). At its April 28 special meeting, the Alameda City Council voted 5-0 to adopt an urgency ordinance that extended the protections of the city’s Rent Control Ordinance to maritime residences or floating homes. The rent increases were demanded by the new Barnhill Marina owners, Valley Investments — Redwoods LLC, a Sacramento-based company.

“If floating home residents are not provided with the same protection as other tenants in the city, there will be an immediate and unacceptable disruption to the peace, health, and safety of the city, as vulnerable floating home residents could be immediately and permanently displaced,” wrote city staff in the meeting memorandum.

“The Alameda City Council voted unanimously to protect floating homeowners from rent hikes that averaged 76%. But floating home communities in Sausalito and Richmond were still vulnerable, so we formed the Bay Area Floating Homes Association and asked state legislators for help,” said Larry Clinton, Executive Committee Member, Floating Homes Association.

“We want to thank Governor Newsom, Assemblywoman Mia Bonta, Alameda Mayor Ezzy Ashcraft and all the Bay Area legislators for their efforts to protect seniors and other vulnerable residents and allowing us to remain in our homes,” said Liz Williams, founding member of the Bay Area Floating Homes Association, after the bill was signed.

The bill was endorsed by the ACLU, Housing California, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), and East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO), among others.

AB 252 becomes effective Jan. 1, 2023.