Image from the Inspire Communities Nationwide website.

A Humboldt County ballot measure aimed at regulating rent hikes on mobile home tenants has prompted an influx of big-money donations from park owners hoping to defeat the initiative. Seven donors have spent a total of $135,000 to date fighting the measure, though when you look at the men behind the corporate donors there are really just five. Measure V proponents, meanwhile, have cobbled together $5,781, primarily from donations of $100 or less. 

The Humboldt Mobilehome Owner Coalition, a political group formed by residents of local mobile home parks, has been working since last year to develop and promote Measure V. If passed, this measure would prevent the owners of mobile home parks in the unincorporated parts of the county from making large and/or frequent rent increases.

Specifically, park owners would be allowed to raise the rent just once a year, and the amount of that increase would be tied to inflation via the Consumer Price Index. The measure would also mean that when a mobile home is sold or transferred, the new tenant’s rent could only be hiked by five percent above the previous tenant’s rent.

Park owners would be allowed to raise rents to pay for improvements to their parks, but only if they obtain written approval from more than half of the mobile home owners/tenants. And if park owners don’t feel they’re earning a fair return, Measure V provides an appeal process with the county.

Proponents say Measure V would protect vulnerable residents, including many seniors, from exploitation at the hands of corporate park owners. Most people living in mobile home parks subsist on limited incomes, and their equity is tied up in the mobile homes themselves, making them “captive renters.”

In their ballot argument, proponents say, “As the moms and pops who built our mobilehome parks age out, predatory, out-of-town corporate investors have been taking over.” 

Opponents, meanwhile, characterize Measure V as an “unfair” and “unnecessary” rent-control initiative that would harm the community, in part due to the costs of bureaucracy and potential litigation (fighting the measure in court, should it pass) and in part due to decreased property tax revenues. 

The Humboldt Mobilehome Owner Coalition disputes those claims, arguing, for example, that bureaucratic costs will be defrayed by fees paid by renters. But opponents now have a large war chest with which to spread their message. Let’s take a look at some of the big donors.


Greg Evans

As president and general manager of Evans Management Services, Greg Evans oversees a property management company controlling about 40 mobile home parks around the western United States. 

In January Evans was named chairman of the board of the Pacific Legal Foundation, the ultra-conservative law firm known for supporting pro-business causes while fighting against environmental regulationspublic school integration programs and gay marriage.

Also a board member on the Laguna Seca Raceway Fund, Evans is an ardent proponent of private property rights. Twenty years ago he founded the Committee to Save Property Rights, now part of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, or WMA. As its website explains, the WMA is a Sacramento-based trade group created “for the exclusive purpose of promoting and protecting the interests of owners, operators and developers of manufactured home communities in California.” The members of this association “collectively own, operate and control over 175,000 mobilehome spaces in California.”

One of the many parks owned operated by Evans Management Services is Humboldt Bay Mobile Estates, located on Humboldt Hill. Humboldt Bay Mobile Estates, LLC, contributed $35,000 to the “No on Measure V” campaign. Another $35,000 came from the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association Issues Political Action Committee, the political spending arm of Evans’ trade association.


The website of FollettUSA boasts that president and CEO Matthew Follett “has been directly involved in the ownership and management of over 100 [manufactured home] communities with combined assets approaching $1 billion.”

Four years ago, thanks to “a major infusion of capital from a private equity partner,” Follett founded another company, Inspire Communities, with the goal of becoming, “one of the nation’s largest operators of mobile home parks,” according to the Sacramento Business Journal.

In the years since Follett has done just that with the company. Located in the Sacramento suburb of Gold River, Inspire now owns nearly 40 “communities” in 15 states, from California to Texas, Georgia, Michigan and beyond.

One of those communities is McKinleyville’s Ocean West Senior Village, which happened to donate $22,000 to the “No on V” campaign. Another Inspire-owned community is Arcata’s Lazy J Ranch. A $13,000 contribution to the “No on V” campaign came from Mesa Dunes MHC Investors LLC dba [doing business as] Lazy J MHP [mobile home park].


Guntram (not Gunstram) Wolski, from an Aug. 9 appearance on North Coast News.

Wolski, whose home on four acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains is worth about $1.4 million (according to the real estate website Zillow), owns the Thunderbird Mobile Estates in McKinleyville, which donated $20,000 to the anti-Measure V effort. 

Wolski is a principal engineer at Cisco Systems, the largest networking company in the world. Based in San Jose, the multinational tech giant this year landed at number 63 on the Forbes Global 2000 list, with sales of almost $50 billion.

“There is no way I can manage an ordinance like this,” Wolski told the Times-Standard last week. His relative, Armin Wolski, told the Board of Supervisors that Measure V “will punish us for being compassionate, for having our rents so low, for being considerate.”


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A $5,000 donor to the “No on V” measure is Sea View Estates, LLC, which sounds a lot like Sea View Mobile Estates, the senior living mobile home park on Humboldt Hill. But the address on the campaign contribution form is 33105 Santiago Rd. in Acton, a small residential community in northern Los Angeles County. The street address is for the Stallion Meadows residential development.

It’s also the address of a Steven Lester, the registered agent for Sea View Estates, LLC. Lester is also listed, at the same address, as a partner or officer in a number of other California business entities — limited liability companies and limited partnerships.


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Another $5,000 donation came from Valley West Estates Limited Partnership, which, despite the name, has a San Jose address. The registered agent for the company, John Bovone, owns Western Management, LLC, which operates 43 residential communities in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

One tenant of a Bovone-owned property complains online that he “obviously doesn’t care that his managers are renting out properties with severe sewage problems” where, when residents “wake up to find feces and urine everywhere they’re told they can let them out of the lease and return the down payment but NEVER do! It’s been 7 years and our $1592 check has yet to be sent!” Another calls him out by name and complains that her park has “turned into a ghetto … [and] a real hell hole.”

Together these five men — Evans, Follett, Wolski, Lester and Bovone — have, through their corporate entities, outspent Measure V proponents by a factor of more than 20 to one. Election Day, November 8, will reveal whether their investment pays off.