Home / Manufactured Home Article / Misguided in Austin, Texas Manufactured Home Community Proposal, say Leaders
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Councilman Sabino Renteria, at right. Photo credits are as shown above, home shown is by Sunshine Homes, Red Bay, AL.

Misguided in Austin, Texas Manufactured Home Community Proposal, say Leaders

Sabino “Pio” Renteria has lived in District 3 all his life, says Austin’s MyStatesman. Renteria’s visit to a local manufactured home community has turned into a proposed ordinance that could seriously affect communities, their owners and residents throughout the city.

According to KUT, Renteria was shocked by what he saw.

When I went down there I said, ‘my goodness, there’s no rec centers,‘” Renteria told KUT. “There’s nothing there for the kids. They’re just running around, and when I inquired with one of my policy aides, she said, ‘yeah the laundry room is the recreational center.’

Renteria has penned an ordinance that would require all new manufactured home communities to include a playground and at least one other recreational space. The proposed ordinance would also require space for a community garden in both new and existing communities.

Commenting on the proposed ordinance, Renteria said time was of the essence.

There’s huge mobile home parks [sic] now being built all along the Eastern Crescent, on the border of the city,” he said. “This is a little urgent now because there are so many in the pipeline.

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While Renteria may be well intentioned with his proposal, manufactured housing industry professionals see his move as misguided.

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MJ Vukovich, long associated with Ascentia communities.

I don’t wholly disagree with the sentiment that it would be nice to have higher quality MHCs out there,” said MJ Vukovich, Vice President of Bellwether Enterprise, a Minneapolis based commercial and multifamily mortgage bank.

However, someone has to pay for it, and considering that low income housing is in low enough supply as it is, city councils may want to be a

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D.J. Pendleton, JD, Executive Director of the Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA). Photo credit – MHProNews.com.

little careful how much they burden those trying to bring the [affordable housing] product to the market.”

DJ Pendleton, Executive Director of the Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA) echoed a similar sentiment.

This just seems like yet another city overreach with an idea that has not yet been thoroughly thought out as to its practical impact,” said Pendleton.

And it is once again, the singling out of manufactured home communities compared to other housing options.”

Notice there is no proposal to mandate vegetable gardens in multi-family housing, or even in other single-family neighborhoods in Austin,” said Pendleton.

The effect of singling out manufactured homes and communities compared to other housing options continues to be felt in what’s become known as NIMBY-ism (Not-In-My-Back-Yard.)

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In addition to being misguided, Renteria’s proposal is also confusing to Pendleton.

I’m confused by the Council Member Renteria’s quote of,There’s huge mobile home parks now being built all along the Eastern Crescent, on the border of the city.’ ‘This is a little urgent now because there are so many in the pipeline.’”

Pendleton said, “I know Scott Roberts got a rezoning approval for the construction of a new community, but the quote gives the implication there are tons of parks under development.  I’d of course love it if that were actually the case, but other than Robert’s Resorts, I’m not aware of any.”

“In fact, the city just turned down a request to allow for a new community to be developed after neighbors showed up to oppose it.”

Pendleton also included feedback on the lack of logistical details in Renteria’s proposal.

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Just as there are a range of apartment or single family housing options in conventional housing, there are also a range of options for manufactured homes and manufactured home communities too.

The draft I have seen is lacking logistical details,” said Pendleton. “Namely:

  • How large does the vegetable garden space have to be?
  • Where can it be located in a community?
  • Who is responsible for the gardening?

Pendleton’s full take on the issue is covered here.

Vukovich, who has years of experience in manufactured home communities, broke out his perspective on the issue into two classes: new communities and existing communities.

It seems to me that the amount of amenities depends largely on the clientele of the park,” said Vukovich, about newer communities.

Nicer (4 and 5 star) communities likely already will have these amenities, so it’s a non-issue. However, lower quality (and therefore cost) communities are likely to, as you mentioned in your email, have to increase the pricing on their rent in order to accommodate the loss of rentable area and the development of the amenities.”

The advent of a ‘community garden’ is probably fine with most owners as it is a smaller space and requires little to no capital investment,” Vukovich said referencing existing communities.

However, there are a number of communities in which adding that space would require taking away a home site. I would suggest that the city, again, put its money where its mouth is and purchase the lots which they would like to see a community garden or play area for 125% of appraised value since this would be, in effect, eminent domain,” he said.

The full commentary from Vukovich can be found here.

TANSTAFL and Other Views

Most of us get a different and unique education,” says MHLivingNews publisher L. A. “Tony” Kovach. “When I was in junior high, we were taught TANSTAFL – ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch.’  Someone always has to pay.”

Paraphrasing what UMH President Sam Landy told MHProNews on different but somewhat related subject, Landy said that politicians are using voters to essentially force or take the rights of property owners away,” Kovach says. “Most people have common sense – they pick the best option for their own needs and their own budgets. What millions don’t understand is the unintended consequences of interfering in a free marketplace, often causes more harm than good.”

What if someone proposed an ordinance that forced Councilman Renteria to give away the use of one of the bedrooms in his house?

There has to be a common sense and fundamental understanding of private property,” says Kovach, “and what is right and wrong. MJ Vukovich, DJ Pendleton, Lisa Tyler and Sam Landy all make a lot of sense on such issues.”

The top photo is found near Martin Luther King Jr Blvd in Austin, and area identified in a local paper as one of the lowest cost conventional housing areas. Commenting on events in his day, the civil rights leader once said:

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Austin City Council took up the proposed ordinance late last week. A vote on the matter was delayed. ##

(Image credits as shown above.)

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RC Williams.

Submitted by RC Williams to ManufacturedHomeLivingNews (MHLivingNews.com).

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