Cape Gazette
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SB 33 will level the playing field

By Dixie Boucher | May 26, 2013

The following is an open letter to members of the Delaware Legislature.

I want to talk to you about SB 33. I know you think you have heard the arguments before, that you don't want to hear anymore, but I want to reach out and give you a new reason to listen. Many of you have lived long enough to remember how times were 20, 30 or even 40 years ago in this great country. So much has changed; people have changed, ideals have changed, morals have changed and not always for the best reasons or with the best results. Parades down a small town main street were filled with American flags waving gloriously in the air, now we have to pass laws to allow a veteran to fly the flag in his own yard because his flag pole is too tall. Maniacs take weapons onto our streets and into our schools to kill innocents, so now every gun owner must fight to keep his guns because of the misuse and abuse of this absolute right to bear arms for the average man.

And, in the "good old days" a man's handshake was his word. Now we have corporations, conglomerates, lawyers and worst of all, contracts, that are made to be broken. Nobody keeps their word, nobody keeps their promises and nobody cares. If you have the money, you can change the rules of the game while the game is being played. I belong to another time, and I cannot accept what is happening because of this. So, this is my argument for the passage of SB 33:

When I was looking for a new home in Maryland, I checked out condos, apartments and townhouses. They all had drawbacks that I did not see ending my life with. Condo fees, a board that was made up of tenants who would be making decisions (and maybe big mistakes) about my "home," and small apartments with paper thin walls, no choice of neighbors, stairs to put me on the higher floors for safety, but cause problems as I aged. Townhouses had similar problems and drawbacks. Where could I find a home, on one floor with three bedrooms, living room, family room with a fireplace, kitchen, dining room and two bathrooms for what a one bedroom condo or apartment would cost? I found it in a "manufactured" home, but land was unreasonable and unrealistic. I found a great community where I could rent a lot for half of what an apartment would rent for. I did not make a bad decision. For 10 years, I lived comfortably with a decent and honorable community owner. But that was in Maryland.

There were no groups of owners combining their money and legal help to prevent the passage of laws which were intended to protect residents. Residents, who put their trust in a handshake, who put their trust in many years of a history of sustainable and acceptable lot rent increases, who put their trust in "the unspoken bond between the landowner and the homeowner." We did not break the trust, we did not break the bond, we understand about profits and losses, and we have accepted our responsibilities, and we have paid our rents and accepted the 80 percent profit margin without complaint until the landowners changed the rules in the middle of the game. The "bad economy" is the excuse that will be used; "property rights" is the term they do use to justify the increases, but they are both fallacies.

SB 33 is leveling the playing field and establishing some rules of the game that are of benefit to both sides. Both sides need each other to survive, both sides have property rights, while I must argue that it is more than just "property" to us, our properties are our homes, our shelter and our single most major investments. We want the trust back, the unspoken bond, but because of the way the world has changed, without the passage of SB 33, it may all fall apart. SB 33 can save this profitable and affordable living arrangement to the benefit of both. Please, I ask you all to really see the necessity of this law. Go back to honesty, trust, fairness and give us the chance to continue living in our homes and continue paying fair and reasonable lot rents. Affordable Living and Delaware will be the real winners when you pass SB 33.

Dixie Boucher
Lewes

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