Bayview developer Bob Holland pulled out all the stops in the House State Affairs Committee this morning, with both his development manager and his attorney arguing forcefully against SB 1433a, the bill to allow binding arbitration in float-home rent disputes. Nevertheless, the bill, which already has passed the Senate, cleared the committee on a voice vote. Dennis Scott, development manager for Waterford Park Homes in Bayview, told the panel, “You’ve been told that the reason for rent control is that marina owners are gouging them. … The state has created a very special class of citizens that doesn’t even require residency.” Scott noted that many float home owners are from out of state and said they’re “second or third homes. “Our lakes in Idaho … have been discovered by many people from out of state, especially California,” Scott told the committee.
Holland’s attorney, Erika Grubbs, told the committee that the bill targets “an illegitimate and fabricated need,” and said of float-home owners, “They no longer need to be coddled. It’s time they paid their own way in the world just like the rest of us.” She accused sponsors of the bill of proposing an emergency clause just to beat a big rent increase Holland wants to impose on float homes on June 1. Questioned by the committee, Scott said that increase is from $490 to $690 a month for some, and from $490 to $990 for others. Grubbs told the committee she has a sailboat at a Hagadone-owned marina on Lake Coeur d’Alene that’s due to be renovated, and she’s expecting a rent increase after the upgrades. “I no more expect this Legislature to protect me from that rent increase than I expect those leprechauns that are out there today to give me a pot of gold to pay for it,” she said. Instead, she said, she’ll “suck it up.”
Committee Vice Chairman Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, who was sitting in for Chairman Tom Loertscher in presiding over the meeting, told Grubbs, “You ply your trade well. You represent your clients well.” Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, said, “I think this is a unique kind of home – it sounds like a wonderful way to live, it sounds like fun.” She said Holland’s proposed rent increase doesn’t sound “reasonable,” which the law requires for float-home rents. Four committee members asked to be recorded as voting against the bill, GOP Reps. Russ Mathews of Idaho Falls, Ken Andrus of Lava Hot Springs, Brent Crane of Nampa and Loertscher. Afterward, Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, said, “I had owned one at Hudson Bay at one time, absolutely adored it.” At the time, she said, she paid $85 a month in rent, and “I thought that was a lot of money” for a home floating on state-owned waters. “I think they should have the right to arbitration when it’s such a massive increase,” Shepherd said. Holland, after the meeting, said, “It’s probably just something that’ll come out in litigation,” and said he expects the issue to land in court.