Tuesday, February 13, 2001
Steamboat Springs With the shortage of affordable housing in Steamboat Springs these days, one crowd member at a City Council meeting Tuesday night suggested the center of Centennial Hall be offered up as a potential shelter.
Amidst discussion of a linkage program that would make new development create housing for the employees it generates, about 40 trailer park residents pushed the council to adopt a plan to deal with residents of trailer parks who may be displaced.
Led by local attorney Bob Weiss and Trailer Haven trailer park resident Doug Lockwood, the trailer park residents confronted the council with their stories and as they packed Centennial Hall and spilled out into the hallway their sheer numbers. And although they represented a relatively small fraction of the hundreds of people who live in trailers in Steamboat, the crowd was a vocal one.
Weiss presented the council with a proposal that he said he thinks could help ensure the viability of mobile homes as a long-term affordable housing option in Steamboat in the future. With many mobile home owners on short-term leases with their landlords, some audience members said the prospect of being evicted looms large in their minds.
"I'm scared to death one day I'm living in my home and all of a sudden I'm thrown out into nothing," said Ann Evanoff, a five-year resident of Dream Island trailer park.
That fear was one of the buttons Lockwood and a small group of activists pushed when they pasted fake eviction notices to the doors of each of the residents of trailer parks in Steamboat Springs. If the residents were home they handed them the notices, explaining the importance of showing solidarity at the council meeting.
Lockwood himself lives in one of nine trailers on the Trailer Haven property that recently had real eviction notices sent to them. While the case of the Trailer Haven trailer park has become something of a cause celebre amongst affordable housing activists in recent months, Lockwood said his goal is more far-reaching than the land under his bed.
"We're doing this for all of the trailers in town and not just for our cause," he said.
Other trailer park residents noted the importance of maintaining mobile homes as a source of affordable housing.
"The hardest part is losing my best employees to the lack of housing," said Dave Tegtmeyer, a resident of Fish Creek trailer park, who said his business employs 40 people. "I'm a professional myself, I make good money, and it's all I can afford to live in right now."
Weiss' proposal includes changing the new zoning map to zone mobile home parks as such. Some current mobile home parks would be zoned under different classifications in draft four of the city's Community Development Code, even though those classifications do not fit their current uses.
Weiss further asked council to consider making any mobile home park owners who wish to redevelop the land present the city with a list of names and addresses of all those displaced by redevelopment as well as listing possible sites for relocation.
City Council directed staff to try to address their concerns by looking into the legal ramifications of such a plan.