Featured Stories

Bill offers help for mobile home park tenants

House Bill 2735 is seen as a compromise between groups involved in mobile home park issues
by: Jaime Valdez, JAIME VALDEZ/The Times
FRUSTRATION — La Vista Mobile Court resident Charlie Carter stood in front of his trailer home in October 2006 just days after he and the rest of the residents at the park received notice that it would be closing. Carter is disappointed in the lack of support park residents have in terms of relocating.

The newest proposed legislation that aims to help residents affected by mobile home park closures likely has one more week to get out of committee before it's dead for the rest of the legislative session, said Dawn Phillips, spokeswoman for state Rep. Jerry Krummel, a Wilsonville Republican.

For the last several years, state agency representatives, landlord associations and tenant groups have discussed and argued about the best way to handle mobile home park closures. Since 1990, park closures have meant the loss of 2,500 trailer spaces.

House Bill 2735, said Phillips, is a compromise among all the groups involved in mobile home park issues. The bill consists of four components, each of which is vital to the passing of the bill, Phillips said. If an amendment were to take out any of the four components, the united support for the bill would likely fall apart. The bill is still in the public hearing stage, and it has a lot of holes, according to Phillips.

The bill, if passed, would be retroactive to January 2007. While it would help residents in Wilsonville's Thunderbird Mobile Club, it would give no help to those in La Vista Mobile Court just outside Tualatin.

La Vista resident Charlie Carter, 68, has accepted his fate. On Tuesday, he acknowledged that he and his wife will likely walk away from the trailer that they have called home for the last 12 years. The 31-unit park's residents received notice in October that the park would be closing Oct. 15, 2007. Carter has spent the last six months searching for an area park that would be willing to take his 1971 trailer. So far, Carter has had no luck.

'No one's wanting anything old,' he said. 'I guess we'll walk away from it.'

The trailer is now listed on Craig's List, and Carter is hoping for a buyer. He knows that if he can't move the trailer before the park closes, he'll be responsible for the costs of removing it anyway.

'Oh yeah, it's frustrating,' Carter said. 'They're not giving us nothing.'

But HB 2735 would give something to park residents displaced by closures in the future. It would require park owners who have given notice of a closure to pay up to $9,000 for each resident to relocate.

The bill would also require that the state provide an enhanced $10,000 tax credit to displaced park residents. The tax credit would not be dependent on income, meaning retired residents would qualify for it, or whether or not they moved their trailers.

Today the only support residents get for relocating trailers is a tax credit that's attained only if the resident makes a certain amount of money and actually moves his or her trailer.

But a third component of the bill requires cities to freeze the parks' property values. Phillips noted that the frozen value gives landowners five years to start on plans to redevelop the land before starting to pay property taxes on the improved land.

While Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden said he sees the good in legislation that pays out to displaced park residents, he is leery of a bill that affects when a city can see property value changes.

'Paying people is one thing, there's positives to that,' Ogden said. 'But I can't generally support a bill that puts pre-emptions on local government.'

Ogden also noted that the freeze could limit cities' abilities to make zoning changes. Phillips said zoning and property value issues are two separate issues.

The fourth component of the bill would stop cities from creating their own local laws on park closures.

'We look at this as a statewide solution,' Phillips said.