Trailer owners voice concern

Proposed ordinance may bring stability to residents

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— In response to recent examples of the instability of living in a trailer park, some trailer park residents are standing behind a proposal they think would make their lives a little more secure.

City Council reviewed a proposed ordinance Tuesday night that would make owners of mobile home parks responsible for what happens to the residents of the parks if they choose to change the use of the land. After listening to public comment, council asked city staff to see if other communities in Colorado have similar ordinances, among other things. City staff plans to bring back the information for a June 12 meeting.

The mobile home park ordinance would make the owners of trailer parks outline their plans for the park and the options for people who live in it before changing them. That responsibility would include ensuring that the owners of the trailers themselves would have a place to live if they were evicted from the park.

County Assessor Amy Williams said there are 467 mobile homes within the Steamboat Springs city limits.

Many mobile home owners in Steamboat do not own the land under their homes and are on short-term leases, usually for 30 days at a time. When a mobile home park owner wants to sell the property, the residents may have little say about what happens to them or their trailers, some of which are virtually impossible to move. In the case of Hilltop Trailer Park, the residents were able to buy the park before it got sold out from under them. But when Trailer Haven, a small trailer park on Oak Street above the post office, was sold last May, the residents were told they had to move.

One of those residents, Nancy Preston, spoke to City Council about the proposed ordinance.

"We have been living in limbo for more than a year, searching for a solution to this problem," Preston said. "Passage of this ordinance gives owners and residents a chance to maintain their security."

Stuart Handloff, the president of the board of the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association, which owns the land underneath Trailer Haven, said he did not agree with the ordinance because it puts the burden entirely on the owners of trailer parks. Handloff said he thinks the entire community needs to be involved in solving the affordable housing problem.

Although the discussion continually returned to Trailer Haven, some audience members represented other trailer parks.

"All I would like is more than a month-to-month lease," said Kenny Porteous, a resident of Westland Trailer Park.

The ordinance, called the "No net loss of mobile home housing ordinance," was originally presented by Attorney Bob Weiss and subsequently amended by Ron Smith, an attorney working for the Trailer Haven residents on this project. It is broken into three main parts.

The first section demands that mobile home parks be zoned under the classification "Mobile Home" so as to make landowners go through a public process before changing the zoning. Currently, a number of mobile home parks are not zoned as such.

Another section tackles the landowner's responsibility to find out the impacts created by the closing of a mobile home park and mitigate them. That section would cause landowners to find out how to relocate people's trailers and present the city with a plan of how they will do so before getting permission to change the use of the land.

The third main section 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.

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