As if the city and citizens of Westminster didn’t have enough on their plates what with recall efforts to remove all five council members from office, an angry split on the council and several lawsuits, there’s another big issue that could fill the council chambers.
Rent control – also known as rent stabilization – is becoming an urgent concern in Westminster. Many residents – a lot of them senior citizens – are being hit by big rent increases at the mobile home park at which they reside.
The All American city has 17 mobile home parks, more than most cities its size. The subject of imposing some rent-price controls will be discussed at the Aug. 14 meeting of the city council, and supporters of that idea are asking those affected to wear blue and “flood the chambers with blue shirts.” Calling or e-mailing council members is also urged.
But controlling rents isn’t the only issue facing residents of such parks. With undeveloped land scarce and getting scarcer in most of Orange County, developers are eyeing mobile home facilities as good candidates for new housing tracts.
For example, Walsh Properties wants to close the Green Lantern mobile home park located on Beach Boulevard (south of Westminster Boulevard) and turn the 12.5-acre parcel into what would probably be a condominium development. Currently, the park has 125 spaces.
The fate of mobile homes and their residents could be the next big chapter in the housing crisis in Westminster and all of Orange County.
The big fire switch is coming in August
At 8 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 16, the 93-year-old Garden Grove Fire Department will wink out of existence … technically, anyway.
At that moment the Orange County Fire Authority will take over fire and paramedic services for the Big Strawberry. The transition should be mostly invisible as the same equipment, personnel and facilities will still be in place at 8:01 a.m.
What Garden Grove will get – reportedly – is improved response time for medical aid calls, which is most of the work that firefighters do today. What the employees will get is better pay and job opportunities at the agency that now serves most of the county.
Still unresolved is how much this change will cost local taxpayers. Estimates run from about $300,000 annually to over $1 million. Considering that the new sales tax approved by voters is estimated to bring in $19 million or more annually, that sounds pretty manageable, right?
Well … the bigger issue may be the other shoe about to fall. In June the city council was told that because of sharp increases in unfunded pension liabilities – especially for police and fire personnel – and the costs associated with increases in the state minimum wage, that lovely surplus could disappear and implode as soon as 2023.
Garden Grove isn’t the only city in this fix and the folks at City Hall at trying to determine how to get the red line from crossing the black one without cutbacks.
What to do? Don’t know, but it’s a cinch we can’t go back to a volunteer fire department, which was the origin of the soon-to-be extinct GGFD.
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