City may pass law to protect trailer owners

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council is poised to pass an ordinance potentially unprecedented in Colorado designed to protect mobile home park residents from some of the consequences of redevelopment of the land under their trailers.

The council will be picking from a menu of options tonight to determine how stringent the rules will be to change the use of a mobile home park.

The ordinance was initially presented to the city by Attorney Bob Weiss and then handed off to Attorney Ron Smith. Both of those lawyers represent the owners of trailers in the Trailer Haven trailer park. Trailer Haven is a mobile home park above the post office that was bought by the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association in May 2000. The owners of the trailers on the site have been asked to vacate the site, a development that has spurred community debate on the plight of trailer owners and the property rights of landowners.

Smith was unavailable for comment Monday.

In its most basic form, the ordinance would require the owner of a mobile home park to present the city with a conversion impact report. That impact report would have to list the names and addresses of all mobile home owners and explain where they might be able to move. That option is meant to determine the effects on trailer owners of changing the use of the park and kicking the trailers off, with trailer owners making their "best efforts" to mitigate the impact of displacing trailer residents.

On top (or instead) of the impact report, however, the city may ask owners of trailer park land to go so far as to find alternative sites for the trailers they are displacing perhaps even buying or otherwise securing land on which to place the trailers.

The language in the "no net loss" option is difficult to decipher and City Attorney Tony Lettunich said it may have to be interpreted as City Council reviews the ordinance on first reading tonight. The ordinance will have to be voted on twice before it is adopted.

City Council will also consider how the owner of land under a trailer park will have to go about changing the use of the land. Among those two options is a potential rezoning of land to "Mobile Home" that is not currently zoned as Mobile Home but is used as a mobile home park.

The zoning proposal is an attempt to make owners of mobile home parks have to come to the city and have a public hearing to rezone their property if they plan to change it. Currently many mobile home parks are not zoned as such.

The zoning issue has come up before in discussions on the new development code, but city staff consistently noted that it was not the city's intent to "spot" zone. Spot zoning entails redesignating singular parcels of land within larger areas that may have a different designation.

The city has also proposed making trailer park owners obtain a conditional use permit to change the use of a mobile home park, which would also be subject to a public hearing. The conditional use permit requirement would replace the rezoning requirement.

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