Editor’s Note: The following article was written to show what could happen if our membership continues to be inactive. It is not yet reality. But it points out the fact that YOU MUST BE ACTIVE – we are not in the business of entertainment. The problems we write about are real and affect the majority of mobilehome owners in the State of California. We need you to step up and volunteer—to distribute information in your park, to be a park representative for CoMO-CAL and/or to help organize your park. We need donations. We can not and will not continue as a one or two man operation!! If CoMO-CAL were to shut down, you might as well kiss goodbye any chance to resolve any problems in your park (unless you have a strong, dedicated HOA). So what is it worth to you to keep CoMO-CAL running – it is worth a few dollars or a few hours of your time—you be the judge. Don’t think that anyone else is doing it!! They are NOT. We are the best chance you have to resolve some problems in your park and across the state of California. Please don’t just read this—support us!!
WE WON’T SHUT DOWN
We are proud to say CoMO-CAL represents an opportunity for all mobilehome owners in California. An opportunity to have a voice, to stand up to unscrupulous park owners, and to finally have hope that positive changes can be achieved in mobilehome parks.
My article last month about CoMO-CAL shutting down was written to let you and others know that CoMO-CAL is not a given, that we require more than your $15 annual membership fee if we are to really accomplishment our goals. We need your support, we need your eyes and ears, and your feedback. And if you can afford it and believe in us, your donations.
We thank each one of you who have called or written showing your concern that CoMO-CAL may close its doors. Let me be very clear, CoMO-CAL WILL NEVER SHUT DOWN as long as we have members to serve.
What is the alternative? Going it alone? Picking an attorney out of the yellow pages when you get a notice? Calling the HCD Ombudsman? Asking another advocacy group for help? Actually none of these are real options for you. I’ve been there myself with NO WHERE TO TURN.
The bottom line: volunteer to help us in your park. We also need regional volunteers. Take on a task like rent control. We have many ideas, and need your help implementing them. We are considering raising the yearly dues to $20. This would almost double monies available for everything we do. And we would continue to allow those on fixed incomes to pay what they can afford.
WIN $200 AND HELP US GROW
Last month’s VOICE mentioned that Bob Hites and Frank Wodley are contributing $300 for a contest to see who can get the most new members for CoMO-CAL between August 1st and September 31st. In order to give everyone a fair chance, we have extended the cut off date to Dec. 31, 2008.
For every new $15 member you sponsor, you get one point, two points for a $40 member. Winners will be announced in the February 2009 VOICE.
Points will be totaled on January 1, 2009. The sponsor with the most points wins. First place receives $200 cash. 2nd place $50, 3rd place $25, 4th place $15 and 5th place $10. So this is your chance to make a few dollars and help us grow our membership.
Note: a sponsor need not be a single CoMO-CAL member. It can be an HOA or a group of members. In that case, the prize would go to the HOA or collectively to the people doing the work.
Why are new members important?
- More members = more eyes and ears = more information = more knowledge = more power = more can be accomplished =more members, etc.
- More know they can call CoMO-CAL to get help i.e. less are alone
So have you printed your name on “Sponsored by”, and made copies? You can copy our article – 10 Reasons to Join CoMO-CAL (Page 18) and include it with an appliction.
This is your opportunity to grow your organization.
As of January 2009, CoMO-CAL will be history. We will discontinue all operations, including the VOICE, THE WHISPER, the 800 number, the message board, and the ALERTS. We will no longer be available 7 days a week to chat with you. CoMO-CAL lasted only four years. Our few assets will be donated to another charity. This grand experiment proved to be a failure.
Why has CoMO-CAL reached the end of its road? Have all the problems and issues in mobilehome parks been solved? Are most mobilehome owners finally happy living in mobilehome parks? Are managers treating residents with respect and courtesy? Or has another advocacy group, or government agency finally taken on the burden of really helping residents?
The simple answer to all these questions is NO. Few problems have been solved. Many residents are not happy living in mobilehome parks – they are still being intimidated and harassed. Many managers do not treat residents with respect and courtesy. And no one is helping residents. No one!
So has CoMO-CAL failed the people it was dedicated to serve? Has CoMO-CAL leadership/management failed? Why was CoMO-CAL not successful? What happened? Certainly there is a need for an advocacy group that is honest and can be trusted. There is a need for communication and education. There is a need for someone residents can call and get advice from.
In our estimation, CoMO-CAL did not fail the people it was dedicated to serve. The people failed CoMO-CAL. The very people CoMO-CAL was dedicated to help, these are the people who did not and would not support CoMO-CAL. There are about 1.5 million people living in mobilehomes in the state of California. Less than 0.1% of the people became members of CoMO-CAL. That’s less than one out of a thousand residents. And less than 10% of those really supported CoMO-CAL. About 100 donated money to the cause, and about 25 contributed in other ways, like distributing THE VOICE and THE WHISPER or writing an article.
Did CoMO-CAL reach out to mobilehome owners who were not members? Yes CoMO-CAL mailed fliers, the Whisper, information on Proposition 98 to member and non-member alike. Thousands! Tens of thousands. So what was the response? In fact there was little response, perhaps only a couple percent responded or joined CoMO-CAL.
So what was the biggest hurdle CoMO-CAL faced? Was it the WMA – the park owners group? Was it the managers or the park owners, or other employees? Or was it other advocacy groups?
No actually the biggest hurdle was mobilehome owners. The vast majority did not want to join CoMO-CAL. And they had a variety of reasons. They couldn’t afford the $15 a year, or they didn’t trust CoMO-CAL to keep their information confidential, or they belonged to another advocacy group. They didn’t want to get involved with such a “group” or their park manager might retaliate against them if they did. They didn’t join because “what do advocacy groups do anyway?” Nothing. Or they didn’t join because they had their own attorney or were capable of handling any problems on their own. Or they didn’t have any immediate problems. Or they decided to get out of their park and never buy another mobilehome. The reasons go on and on.
So who wins? Certainly the park owners win – especially those who abuse residents and break the law. There is no one watching them now. And many continue breaking the law on a daily basis. Other advocacy groups will cheer the demise of CoMO-CAL also. Why? Because they knew CoMO-CAL provided services that they could not. THE VOICE was published monthly and no other advocate publication contained so much useful information. When members and non-members called or emailed us, someone was there. So they will be cheering.
So who loses? Mobilehome owners are the big losers. Those people who did not want to get involved. Those people who did not have the time to bother reading information sent to them. People who did not have four cents a day to join. Now they are really on their own. When they run into a problem or issue, they will have no one to call for advice. They will have no list of attorneys to consult. They will have to take their chances and randomly pick an attorney out of the yellow pages…
On a Personal Note
It breaks my heart to think CoMO-CAL will shut down. In fact I feel sick at the possibility. I’m not a quitter. My first involvement helping mobilehome owners came in March 2003 when I became GSMOL Chapter President in my park. Why have I been involved? One only has to look around to see all the abuses mobilehome owners face. This happens everywhere, not just here in California. Many park residents live on fixed incomes, many are seniors, the vast majority do not know the laws or know they have rights and have no place to turn should they have an issue – like an eviction notice. Many residents can’t fight for themselves! I wanted to help them.
CoMO-CAL represented a real opportunity to make a real difference. As of this date, CoMO-CAL has collected $67,000 over a 43 month period. In that time we have published about 40 issues of the voice for our members, and have sent out tens of thousands of fliers to non members. We have answered countless questions over the phone and by email. We have a voice in Sacramento. And we have united active mobilehome owners across the state. We have a statewide network and communicate today as never before.
What about Proposition 98. We have been writing about 98 for 17 months! More than any other group. And we were the first to alert folks to Prop 90. CoMO-CAL sent out about 10,000 fliers telling residents to vote against 98 and for 99. We were part of a large coalition of organizations, and we played a role. If Proposition 98 had passed, it would have cost me $50,000! That’s a fact.
So did CoMO-CAL do any good? Or accomplish anything? You be the judge.
So What’s the Problem?
So you say “Terrific Job CoMO-CAL. What’s the problem?” The problems are simple.
- A) CoMO-CAL doesn’t have office staff.
One person (Frank) does everything, from printing the newsletter, to logging in members, sending out renewals, writing the newsletter, writing THE WHISPER, studying the law, answering the phone, keeping the financial records, paying the bills, etc. ONE PERSON!
- B) You don’t respond to our requests
How many times have you read we need someone to pass out fliers, or we need a “contact” person in a park, or we need an area representative? How many times have we asked “How angry are you about what’s happening to you?” How many times have we had a survey in THE VOICE? We have asked you for your email address—just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re not already on our Alert Network. Have you responded?
We have scheduled many meetings in the San Fernando Valley at the Chamber of Commerce office. Have you attended?
How many times have we asked you to tell others about CoMO-CAL? I’m sure you are sick of all these requests. But you are several thousand, I’m but one! I can’t do it all on my own. I need you.
(By the way, Bob Hites (and before him Kathy Mattes) has been a terrific help. He is also frustrated that so few care enough to help us help them. He has driven countless miles around Northern California meeting with resident groups and individual home owners. He spends much of his time counseling residents with problems. And those who have responded by donating money or distributing material—thanks so much!)
- We can’t do everything on $15
We can’t do everything we need to do on $15/year. Our biggest expense is printing. Others include costs for our website, our Alert network, membership to the Chamber of Commerce, to CARA, postage, attorney costs, etc.
You may ask “why not increase membership dues?” Well we don’t want to increase membership dues because we want membership to be affordable for everyone. And we have a policy that those on fixed incomes who can not afford $15 per year, may send in what they can afford. We have members that have paid nothing – we want everyone to receive our information.
- Mobilehome owners don’t care
I am serious! I am very frustrated that most people just do not seem to care about their own welfare. Do they think we are making up these issues – like 98 or the new rent increase. The list of issues is endless if you live in a mobilehome park.
We have sent countless informational fliers into parks, and also mailed letters asking residents to join and support us. How many have responded? Less than 3%.
If people will not help themselves, I’ll be damned if I will devote my life to this work. I can retire, go fishing and enjoy myself. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed these 6 years. I consider you my family and I am grateful for all the friendships I’ve made along the way.
Is CoMO-CAL Worth Saving?
Don’t think that CoMO-CAL is just about THE VOICE or THE WHISPER, because it isn’t. Behind the scenes we are really accomplishing things. We are networking across the state of California like never before. We are putting members with issues in touch with members with answers and solutions. We are working on rent control, condo conversions, management problems, utility problems and other issues. Of course you never see this, but together we are making a difference. All this without much support from the general membership. Just think what we could do if everyone contributed!! We could accomplish amazing things.
We have written time and time again, CoMO-CAL could do wonders if just 10% of mobilehome owners joined us. Just 10%! I guarantee results!
The bottom line is simple! Join us, support us, and be active. The alternative is NO CoMO-CAL and NO HOPE! We firmly believe that.
CoMO-CAL is Different
Yes, CoMO-CAL is different from any other advocacy group. Others want your membership fee and would rather not hear from you for another year. We are different! We not only want to hear from you, we NEED to hear from you. You are our eyes and ears. Only you can alert us to problems in your park. That’s part of being ACTIVE.
We answer our phone 7 days a week from 8am to 9pm. Everyday! So call us, say hello. Don’t be a stranger.
What Is It Worth?
What is it worth to you to have CoMO-CAL working for you? We have just saved residents in the San Fernando Valley about $75,000. We did our share to defeat Propositions 90 and 98, which would have meant many of us would have been homeless. What is this worth to you? Is it worth $15? Obviously some members don’t think so because many do not renew. On the other hand, some feel just the fact that we have a list of attorneys is priceless. There are serious problems in our parks. Please support our efforts! Thank You.
Can CoMO-CAL Be Saved?
That’s up to you – not anyone else. If you want CoMO-CAL to continue past January 2009, you need to become more active.
What do we need to survive? Please Help Us Help YOU
- A “Contact Person” with email for each park
We have members in over 500 parks today. We need you to step up and we our “contact person.” We may ask you to distribute THE WHISPER or other material. You will tell us about your park and issues you face. In other words, you will be the “liaison” between CoMO-CAL and your park.
- Area Representatives
CoMO-CAL needs representatives around the state. It doesn’t have to take much of your time. We need representatives for San Diego, Riverside, Santa Maria, Hemet, the Palm Springs area, Santa Cruz, the Bay area, etc. Only then can we begin organizing those areas and getting information out to many more mobilehome owners. It is not enough to have a few members here and there.
As our representative you will be the link between CoMO-CAL and all parks in your area. Of course we will support you, giving you names and addresses of all parks in your area. We will help you reach-out to those parks with and without CoMO-CAL members.
- Volunteers to help with office work in the San Fernando Valley
I need help folding and stapling newsletters, keeping records, inputting data into the computer, etc.
- Donations of money and time
If we are to continue, you need to make a small donation – of money/or time. If you have long distance, volunteer. If you have a computer, volunteer. Certainly most of you can afford to donate at least $5. Show us you want CoMO-CAL to continue. Call us, email us. Tell us you need us and will support us.
Of course many of you live on fixed incomes. We understand. Don’t give it another thought if you can’t make a donation of money. But you can donate in other ways. You can promote CoMO-CAL to your friends and neighbors. You can volunteer some of your time to distribute information in your park. You can be an advocate for us. We don’t ask this for us. Remember, you have a voice if we grow our membership—don’t do it for us, do it for you, your friends and neighbors.
On the other hand, many of you live in mobilehomes worth several hundred thousand dollars. You may also have money in savings. Unfortunately it is up to you to help save CoMO-CAL and those less fortunate. Come on – donate for yourself, donate for those who are on fixed incomes, donate for all mobilehome owners in the state of California. You can afford it, many others can’t. One CoMO-CAL member has donated $4000! Of course we don’t expect you to donate that much, but would you really miss $100 or $500? Where else can you donate money and have it all go to helping someone?
- More communication from you to us—about your needs, about your issues, etc.
We appreciate any communication from you. We take many phone calls and emails. Don’t depend on CoMO-CAL calling you.
- Your help in getting more membership
IT IS WORTH 4 CENTS A DAY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE!
We can’t fight a war without an army. More members mean we get information out to many more homeowners. And remember SIN: Strength In Numbers.
If you have a suggestion, if you have a comment, please I’m open to anything. I really would hate to see CoMO-CAL shut down, and don’t think it can’t happen. The next six months will be the test – you can keep us going, or say goodbye. It’s up to you. This must be a TEAM effort.
So has it been worth your $15/year? If you live in the City of L.A., we have saved you about $72/year on this one rent increase alone. You be the judge.