Steamboat Springs A proposal designed to protect the assets and stabilize the lives of mobile home park residents is coming back to the City Council tonight, but city staff plans to recommend changes to the proposal.
The ordinance will not be voted on tonight but may be reviewed in an amended form for adoption sometime later this summer.
The ordinance would make owners of mobile home park properties in Steamboat Springs present a "conversion impact report" to the city before changing the use of such properties. Also, the ordinance would require all property with mobile homes on it to be zoned as Mobile Home.
The ordinance was drafted by local attorneys Bob Weiss and Ron Smith, each of whom is representing a group of residents of the Trailer Haven trailer park. The Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association has announced plans to build tennis courts on the site of that trailer park after buying the property last May.
The nine Trailer Haven households still on the land say they have attempted without luck to find new plots of land for their trailers. Their situation is further complicated by the fact that seven of the nine cannot physically move their trailers.
While the ordinance was drafted by attorneys for the group, Trailer Haven residents say their efforts are not simply self-serving, as evidenced by the dozens of residents from other trailer parks who show up for meetings on the issue.
The proposal is an attempt to make the experience of living in a mobile home in Steamboat Springs more secure. The residents of trailer parks in the city, many of whom are on 30-day leases with their landlords, have little certainty that the land under their trailers won't be sold.
"I wish that they wouldn't be able to sell it out from underneath you," said Gary Foeller, a 15-year resident of Dream Island trailer park off U.S. 40. Foeller says he sees trailer parks as one of the few affordable-housing options left in the city.
Eddie Jones, also from Dream Island, said he would like to have the option to buy the land under his home, because he doubts he would be able to move the trailer if he had to relocate.
Owners of mobile home parks say the owners of the homes knew they were getting into an unstable situation from the beginning. They also say the property owners should not be the sole individuals responsible for maintaining affordable housing in the city.
Bob Enever, the owner of Fish Creek trailer park, said the parks are an important aspect of affordable housing in the city, but he does not agree that the city should step in and ask owners to maintain them as such.
"Does the community want to freeze that land to keep it for mobile home parks forever?" Enever asked.
Enever said he thinks the community might be better off purchasing land specifically where people can move their mobile homes if they are displaced, rather than putting an unfair burden on the park owners. Those owners have maintained low rents on the parks for years, he added.
County Assessor Amy Williams said there are 467 mobile homes within the Steamboat Springs city limits.
After looking over the proposed ordinance, City Attorney Tony Lettunich and Planning Director Wendie Schulenberg found that the city might be able to require the impact report but would not likely be able to rezone land at this point.
The zoning proposal is an attempt to force owners of mobile home parks to undergo public hearings before rezoning their properties. Currently, many mobile home parks are not zoned as such.
Schulenberg, who is presiding over a new Community Development Code that institutes some zoning changes, said zoning changes should not be made for isolated pieces of land. The zoning changes in the new code are part of broader-based amendments in which the city has changed zoning for the property owners on entire streets or in larger geographical areas, Schulenberg said.
She added that state mobile home statutes may conflict with some of the proposed requirements in the ordinance.
The conversion impact report would cause landowners to find land where residents could move the homes and figure out how to relocate people's trailers. They would have to present the city with a plan of how they will mitigate the impacts before getting permission to change the use of the land.
The third main section in the proposed ordinance asks the city to waive certain requirements, such as minimum lot area and residential density, for mobile home parks that are being sold directly to the residents.