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Ghost towns slowly grow as mobile home parks close

Meeting set next week focuses on help for tenants of three Beaverton parks
by: Ray Pitz, Martin Dunn, owner of Site Inspection Services, operates a remote crawler as he guides a home down a Reedville Mobile Home Park street Tuesday.

Smoking a cigarette outside his doublewide manufactured home in the Reedville Mobile Home Park Tuesday, Jim Reynolds acknowledges that his days as a tenant are numbered.

The only ones left at the mobile park at 1550 S.W. Cornelius Pass Road are himself and the occupants of two other units. That's a stark contrast to last August, when the park had 78 residents.

'We're supposed to be out by Aug. 21,' said Reynolds. 'I'm still trying to find a place to move it to.'

Today, the Reedville park is reminiscent of an Old West ghost town. Concrete pads lie vacant. Piping and electrical conduit that once provided water and electricity is scattered about. Empty cardboard boxes, a garden hose, a child's plastic boat and an old mattress lay discarded in one vacated pad.

While Reynolds could move his 1998 manufactured home to another park, he's reluctant because of the growing trend throughout the area in shutting down mobile parks in favor of pricey development.

With property values rapidly rising, manufactured and mobile home parks in Washington County are dropping like flies.

From February of 2005 until today, 10 mobile parks containing 888 units have closed or are closing.

Copperleaf, a 75-lot subdivision, has been approved for the Reedville site, developed by Riverside Homes Inc. of Beaverton.

Reynolds, who has lived in the park since 2000, said many of the residents in Reedville park couldn't afford to move or sell their homes.

'Most of them abandoned them,' he said. 'Nobody here that I know of was able to finance.'

Asking for help

Last week, residents of three mobile home parks in Beaverton - Beaverton Mobilodge, Nut Tree Estates and Young's Mobile Estates - were given noticed that they would have to move out by Aug. 4, 2007.

On Thursday, the parks held their first informational meeting regarding those closures.

'There were a lot of attendees,' said Alisa Pyszka of WRG Design Inc., the company handling the park's closure and plans for development on the site. 'We talked to about 30 people.'

Some are taking advantage of an offer made by Sawara Property Group, owners of the property, who have offered a $5,250 early-termination agreement for those who leave the park by Feb. 17.

Pyszka said that by Tuesday about 10 residents signed the agreement.

Meanwhile, the parks continue to host meetings to answer questions about relocation and moving. The next meeting is planned for today from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Beaverton Mobilodge clubhouse.

Pat Schwoch, executive director of Manufactured Home Owners of Oregon Inc., expected more of a public outcry, but things have been relatively quiet.

'It's been rather interesting,' she said. 'Wednesday and Thursday I got a lot of phone calls.'

However, those who attended an informational meeting Thursday seemed to be calm and collected.

'They didn't look in shock,' said Schwoch.

On Monday, the three Beaverton mobile parks will hold a tenant relocation fair, set from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Meadow Park Middle School, 14100 S.W. Downing St.

What Schwoch would like to track is where those leaving Beaverton Mobilodge, Nut Tree and Young's are going, be it another park, moving into apartments or other residences such as assisted living.

'I think we need to know that,' said Schwoch.

Susan Wilson, director of the Washington County Department of Housing Services, said her department has fielded numerous housing questions related to the parks' closure.

'We estimated we've had around 50 people call or actually come in,' said Wilson. 'Whatever resources we have, we certainly want to make available.'

She said the county is letting the mobile park owners know whether they are eligible for federal rental subsidies. In addition, the county owns and manages about 2,000 affordable housing units.

Reedville homes moved

Back at Reedville on Tuesday, Site Inspection Services, a company that moves mobile homes, prepared to relocate a unit.

'We've probably taken 20 out of here,' said Martin Dunn, the company's owner. 'Most of them go to private property. Some go back into parks.'

Dunn said he'll be on hand at Monday's meeting, not quoting exact costs to move residents' trailers but he wants to give them an idea of what to expect.

Meanwhile, Reedville tenant Reynolds is taking some solace that he doesn't have to adhere to park rules anymore.

'The rules in here were so stupid,' he said, noting that he was required to keep his dog on a leash even when the animal was in Reynolds' fenced backyard.

Now she pretty well goes wherever she wants, said Reynolds.

Also, he's built a makeshift race track for his remote control cars in the vacant lot next door.

'All of us in the park have done everything to break all the rules,' he said.