A bill by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to prevent lawsuits and give mobile home owners more of a say when their mobile home park is being subdivided and sold passed out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on Tuesday. The vote was 7-3.

Existing law allows mobile home park owners to subdivide and sell the individual lots on which homes are placed. This is commonly referred to as a “condo conversion.” But without clarity in current law, condo conversions have commonly left mobile home park residents without a say in the process and cities confused about how to proceed.

Senate Bill 510 would allow — but would not require — a local government to disapprove of the conversion of a mobile home park if a majority of parks residents do not support it.

“This makes the process of ‘condo conversion’ more fair, by giving residents and local governments a way to have a voice in the process, if they so choose,” Jackson said. “Mobile homes are a source of affordable home ownership. We should be as respectful of these homeowners’ rights as we are of any others. At the same time, it’s vital that we prevent costly litigation to local governments that drains limited resources.”

Current law on the issue has been unclear, and the uncertainty has led to dozens of lawsuits. The City of Goleta has spent more than $500,000 just on litigation expenses related to the conversion of the Rancho Mobilehome Park.

California has nearly 5,000 mobile home parks. Typically, residents own their mobile homes but rent the spaces in which their homes are placed.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor. It has the support of a number of groups, including the City of Ventura, the County of Santa Barbara, the County of Ventura, the Goleta Manufactured-Home Owners Coalition and the Ventura Manufactured-Home Residents Council.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.