A burned mobile home
A burned mobile home provides a frame for the foothills in the background at the Rancho Monserate Country Club near Bonsall. Photo by Chris Stone

By Marie Waldron

Last December’s Lilac Fire that devastated 4,100 acres in parts of my district destroyed over 157 structures, including 75 homes in Rancho Monserate Country Club, a 55+ resident-owned community near Fallbrook.

When the fire struck at Dulin Road along Old Highway 395, the close-knit community had about 400 residents living in 232 manufactured homes. Though the fire spread quickly, residents were evacuated in record time, many with just their pets and the clothes they were wearing.

A vibrant, thriving community, Rancho Monserate residents enjoy regular outings, line dancing and Tuesday poker games. For years, services have been held in the adobe chapel dating back to Rancho Monserate’s early land grant days.

Even before the last embers were doused, Rancho Monserate homeowners told me about archaic state laws and the problems they would soon face when applying for rebuilding loans. It all involved issuing building permits that don’t recognize common-interest ownership as “real property.”

Without the “real property” designation, many lenders won’t issue conventional loans. And even if you can get a loan, it’s often at a higher rate. Rebuilding after a disaster is always an emotional roller coaster; government should help, not complicate the process because of outdated laws. That’s why I introduced Assembly Bill 1943.

The bill changes state law to recognize that real property includes common-interest ownership in manufactured, modular and mobile home communities. This allows local jurisdictions to issue 433A permits, which will make residents of these communities eligible for conventional loans.

With support from the Loftin Law Firm, County of San Diego, Bonsall Chamber of Commerce, Champagne Village Property Owners Association, Sequoia Home Funding and many others, AB 1943 passed with overwhelming support and was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 5. It goes into effect immediately.

Minority Floor Leader Marie Waldron represents the 75th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.