How to Make 2017 the Best Year Ever

As we welcome the new year, many of us wish to make it the best year ever. But how can we have a great year without putting some effort into it? There is one thing that we all can do — that many of us haven’t done in a long while — that will improve the quality of your life and the life of others around you.

It’s volunteering.

Let’s be honest. Volunteering sounds like a lot of work, especially for those who have full-time job.  But for those who are retired, it turns into a tremendous blessing. With any lifestyle you may have, consider the following benefits and values of volunteering:

  • The feeling of accomplishment: Giving up your time to do something for others can make you feel wonderful. Knowing that you chose to help others instead of sleeping in on the weekends will make you feel accomplished and productive. Helping kids with their homework at the local libraries or in your mobile home park club house instead of spending time watching television shows will make you feel like you make a difference.
  • Meet new people, make new connections: In any place that you volunteer, you will definitely meet new people. Depending on the type of the organization, you can even make new friends and new connections. Volunteering in your mobile home community will help expend your friendships. Talk with your park manager about starting a home work club and tutoring for children in your park, or ask about residents who are unable to get out much. Stopping by for a visit would mean a lot to them.
  • Learn something new: A great thing about volunteering with non-profit community organizations is that you can choose an organization that interests you, or you can choose one that is completely different and challenge yourself to something new. And through volunteering you can acquire new skills, new ideas, new hobby, or even a new perspective.
  • Get a new perspective: As long as you keep an open mind while volunteering, you will definitely gain some new perspectives. You will be humbled by your experiences of helping others. Perhaps you will realize how much you have rather than how much you don’t have.
  • Help save a life: There are many places that you can volunteer to help save a life other than hospitals. You can volunteer at a youth center or local Boys and Girls clubs to inspire young minds to stay above the influence and to stay in school. You can also volunteer at your local animal shelter to help improve the quality of life of the animals until they are adopted.

These are only some of the values and benefits of volunteering. But you can make your 2017 the best year ever if you can spare some time to volunteer. Many organizations are very flexible and will coordinate with your schedule so that you can make a difference. You can search for volunteer opportunities by reading your local newspaper or visiting your city website.  If you are a senior, contact your local Office on Aging.

If you live in Orange, Riverside, or San Bernardino Counties, you can use the links below to your county’s Office on Aging website.

Orange County: http://officeonaging.ocgov.com/opportunities/volunteer

Riverside County: http://www.rcaging.org/programs_services#vol

San Bernardino County: https://hss.sbcounty.gov/daas/ 

New Year New Tax Rate

Are you up-to-date with the new California tax rate? Sales tax rates have been decreased by 0.25%. Use the link below to find the new sales tax rate by city.

http://www.boe.ca.gov/app/rates.aspx

Keep in mind that if you are returning an item that you purchased before January 1st, the store must provide you the refund of the old tax rate. However, if you purchased something before January 1st but you receive it after the New Year, you are still charged the rate used at the time of purchase.

An article published by the Golden State News states the following:

“A retailer who continues to charge and collect the higher statewide sales and use tax after January 1, 2017, must either refund the excess tax collected to their customer or pay the excess tax to the Board of Equalization (BOE). If the excess tax collected has been paid to the BOE, the retailer may request a refund on behalf of their customer by completing form BOE-101, Claim for Refund or Credit.”

Remember that sales tax rates differ by cities and counties, so make sure you look up your area using the California State Board of Equalization website!

Resources:

http://www.boe.ca.gov/app/rates.aspx

https://goldenstatenews.com/2017/01/03/a-tax-in-california-has-actually-been-lowered/

Welcome in a Healthy 2017!

What could be a worse way to start the New Year than to be sick? Flu viruses seem to make their way into millions of people starting as early as October, and they can ruin our most precious holiday seasons. Regardless of your immunity, there are 4 simple steps to follow to stay flu-free during the start of the new year.

  1. Get the flu shot. Flu vaccines are a sure way to protect you from catching the seasonal virus. What’s convenient about getting flu shots is that you don’t have to have health insurance or visit your physician’s office to get one. You can stop by at your local pharmacy, or you can even get one for free! There are a lot of cities that provide free flu shot events, and even college campuses provide them for their students. Make sure you do some research to see where you can get a flu shot for free!
  1. Dry your hands. We all know that it is crucial to wash your hands, especially after touching millions of germs outside. But what you may not know yet is that it is equally important to dry your hands after washing them. Even though you wash your hands thoroughly with soap, damp hands can easily spread germs to and from the surfaces you touch.
  1. Don’t touch your face. When you touch a surface that many other people touch, such as shopping carts, doorknobs and ATMs, then touch your eyes, nose and mouth, you are creating an easy route for the virus and germs to enter into your body. And, take advantage of stores that provide disinfectant towels to wipe down shopping carts.
  1. Stay away from sick people. Those who are infected by the flu virus are contagious for up to one week. If you are unfortunately sick this New Year, take a sick day from work! The last thing you want to do is be the spreader of virus. If someone at work or school is suffering from flu-like symptoms, keep your distance and be sure to have bottles of hand sanitizers around!  It would not hurt to drop subtle (or not so subtle!) hints to let them know that they’re infected because the rest of the office doesn’t want to get sick, too!  And if you’re meeting any sick family members, kindly give them an air-hug and blow them a kiss. Avoid touching someone who is sick.

There are many other things that you can do to avoid getting sick — and you should do them. Because why would you risk getting sick for the start of the New Year?

Reference: Boost Your Flu IQ: Need-to-Know Info That Will Keep You Protected This Season by Catherine Winters

http://parade.com/508234/catherinewinters/boost-your-flu-iq-need-to-know-info-that-will-keep-you-protected-this-season/

Mobile Home Resident Law 2017

The new 2017 “Civil Codes” or the MRL, as the codes are often referred to, will go into effect January 1, 2017.  Copies will be distributed to park residents by the park management by February 1, 2017.  To get a digital copy of 2017 Mobilehome Residency Law please visit:
http://mobilehomes.senate.ca.gov/publications.

There were not too many changes this year, but it is always good to be familiar with the State laws that govern the community in which you live.

Questions about the Mobilehome Residency Law may be asked of the California Mobilehome Ombudsman at (800) 952-5275.

Home for the Holidays

happyholidaysAs we embark upon another busy holiday season anticipating spending special times with family and friends it is also a time to reflect upon our many blessings.  Living in a close- knit manufactured housing community with neighbors and friends next door is one of life’s best blessings.  The mobile home park lifestyle is a wonderful choice for seniors and families alike.  Homes on smaller lots require less time to upkeep and allow more time for travel, hobbies, and time to spend with children and grandchildren.  Perhaps you will host family members in your home this holiday or perhaps you will travel to spend time with loved ones.  Maybe your community is having special holiday celebrations in the clubhouse.  Whatever your plans, you are wished a most joyful season.

Thinking About Making A New Year’s Resolution?

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or kindness. The self-improvement resolutions – like losing weight, drinking fewer glasses of wine, or exercising more seem to be the easiest to break and are quickly forgotten. Perhaps making a resolution to keep your resolutions like this poem suggests.

New Year’s Resolution
Resolve to renew all your old resolves,
And add a few that are new.
Resolve to keep them as long as you can,
What more can a poor man do.

A bit more ambitious is the following Resolution for Every Morning of the New
Year that appeared on a calendar by Bishop John H. Vincent in the early 20th century. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone made and kept this resolution!?

“I will this day try to live a simple, sincere, and
serene life – repelling promptly every thought of
discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity and
self-seeking – cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity,
charity, and the habit of holy silence – exercising
economy in expenditure, carefulness in conversation,
diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust
and a child-like trust in God.”

Perhaps a resolution even easier to keep is a simple, “I resolve to treat others the way I would like them to treat me.” Sometimes that is all that one needs to be remembered in the daily challenges of getting along with your neighbors and others.

Mobile Home Resident FAQ’s

Q: Is the park required to provide a lease agreement in the language of the resident if the resident is non-English speaking?
A. Not in most cases.  Civil Code Sec. 1632 provides that a person engaged in a trade or business, who negotiates a contract or lease — including a rental agreement covering a dwelling, apartment or mobilehome — in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, shall provide the other party, if he or she requests it, with a written copy of the contract or agreement in that language prior to execution of the document.  However, this provision does not apply to contracts or agreements negotiated with the use of an interpreter, or to month-to-month rental agreements.  Additionally, most mobilehome parks do not “negotiate” their leases with homeowners or prospective homeowners, but rather offer the lease on a “take it or leave it” basis.

Q: Do the protections of the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) apply to all residents in mobilehome parks, or do they only apply to homeowners?
A. Many of the most important provisions of the MRL expressly apply to homeowners only, such as the terms and receipt of written leases (Civil Code §§798.15 and 798.18-798.19.5), amendment procedures for rules and regulations (Civil Code §798.25), fees and charges (Civil Code §§798.30-798.39.5), evictions (Civil Code §§798.55-798.56), and rental qualifications and procedures.  On the other hand, issues dealing with a “community” of persons often include “residents”, such as management entry into mobilehomes or park spaces (Civil Code §798.26), vehicle removal (Civil Code §798.26.5), communications and right to assemble (Civil Code §§798.50-798.52), and abatement of park nuisances, and injunctions for violating park rules (Civil Code §§798.87-798.88).

Q: I am a manager in a mobilehome park where an elderly resident is putting herself in danger.  When I call her family, they are unresponsive.  What do I do to make sure she and the other residents are safe from harm?
A. Contact your county’s Adult Protective Services program.  APS is a state-mandated program (Welfare & Institutions Code Sec. 15610.10) that provides evaluation and assistance for seniors (age 65 and older) and dependent adults (age 18-64 and physically or mentally impaired) who are reported to be unable to meet their own needs.  APS agencies investigate reports of alleged victims endangered by physical, sexual or financial abuse, isolation, neglect, or self-neglect.

Thinking of Selling Your Home?

There are some very important things to do before you sell your home – whether you sell by owner or real estate agent.  First, review your Park’s rules and regulations, rental or lease agreements for important information regarding selling your home and signs that may be posted regarding the sale.

Prior to purchasing a manufactured home located in a rental park, the prospective buyer must be approved for tenancy in the park by the owner of the park.  The sale of a mobile home located in a mobile home park is a three-party, not two-party transaction. The buyer and seller must not only agree to terms on the sale of the home, but the buyer must also be approved for residency in the park by the park owner/management.

Park management can withhold approval on the basis of:
1) the buyer’s inability to pay the rent and charges of the park and 2) the buyer’s inability to comply with park rules and regulations as indicated by prior tenancies.

Although guidelines used by other landlords or public agencies for rental housing may be more lenient, many park owners impose higher income requirements to assure buyers will be able to afford future rent increases without causing the park problems, such as evictions.

The seller of a manufactured home must provide the buyer with certain disclosures, electrical equipment and appliances.

The History of Thanksgiving

thanksgiving_the-first-thanksgiving_cph-3g04961-eIn 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. But, it wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers.  After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore.  The local Indians taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days.  Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.
Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.

Abraham Lincoln in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

Although the American concept of Thanksgiving developed in the colonies of New England, its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Separatists who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays—days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty.

As an annual celebration of the harvest and its bounty, moreover, Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that spans cultures, continents and millennia. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Finally, historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores.

Source: History of Thanksgiving   http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving

Resolving Disputes: Common Sense Problem Solving

Neighborhood disputes and disagreements are common in all communities including mobile home parks and manufactured housing communities. Many single family detached housing developments have home owners associations that manage the maintenance of the common areas of the development, approve additions and remodeling of homes, and also enforce the communities guidelines, which may include requiring all cars to be parked in garages, no basketball hoops in front of the house, etc. Mobile home park communities are not much different.

Mobile home parks have common areas and homes that need to be maintained and also have community rules and regulations and policies that provide guidelines to the residents. As an example, it is not uncommon to have restrictions on the number and size of pets, number of people in a household, the number of cars and where they may be parked, use of the facilities like the clubhouse, pool, spa, work out rooms, etc. The goal of community rules is to provide guidelines that everyone is expected to follow so that all may enjoy the community.

Sometimes residents in the community to do not follow the rules and, as a result, become an annoyance to their neighbors. Complaints might range from feeding stray cats to playing loud music late at night. In a mobile home community, as in other communities, the first thing to do to resolve neighborhood disputes is to approach the neighbor in a friendly way to ask them to address the problem or issue. If this doesn’t work, the next step is to advise the park manager about the problem. In some parks there are complaint or suggestion forms that you may be asked to fill out. Once a complaint is received, the manager will communicate with the person who is not following the community rules. Generally, a manager will make several attempts to gain compliance including providing a notice to stop the rule breaking within a set period of time. If this fails, then the option may be to begin an eviction of the tenant based on the breaking of a rule.

Other complaints or disputes arise in mobile home communities that deal with management policies such as utility billing questions, as an example. Always request an explanation of the billing from the park manager. If there are still questions, then there are a couple of other avenues to follow to obtain information on your utility billing or other issue. First, you may contact the owner of the park whose contact information should be provided to you by the manager and also be posted at the park. You may also contact the California Department of Housing and Urban Development (HCD) Mobilehome Ombudsman at (800) 952-5275; get a copy of the Ombudsman Poster clicking here. Other hotlines provided, such as the Southern California Mobile Home hotline (855) 438-6438.

In some cases the conclusion from this outreach will be that the issue is a “civil” matter that would require consultation with legal counsel.