Council to hold trailer meeting

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For months, Bobbi Hodge has been on a tireless, one-woman crusade, repeatedly appearing before the City Council to urge it to look at a more stringent mobile-home ordinance.

When she gathered an army of supporters to pack into Olympian Hall on Monday night during the adoption hearing of the community area plan, Hodge felt the council finally was ready to listen.

The next day, the City Council agreed it should schedule a meeting to discuss what protection legally is available for mobile-home owners.

"It's about time," Hodge said. "It seems like every time big crowds of people come, stuff happens."

Councilman Loui Antonucci suggested holding a meeting where the city's legal council could discuss what legally can be done to protect mobile-home owners. Mobile-home residents and mobile-home-park owners should be invited, Antonucci said.

"There is a lot of fear out there," Antonucci said. "We, as a City Council, need to educate the community."

Hodge encouraged mobile-home owners to come to Monday's meeting through distributing fliers, knocking on doors and putting an ad in the paper. It worked.

Of the crowd that packed into Olympian Hall, half the people were there to support more protection for mobile-home owners. More than half a dozen residents spoke in front of the council, county commissioners and the city and county planning commissions.

Dream Island mobile-home owner Jeanette Eastman told the boards that mobile-home owners need help in their crusade to buy Dream Island.

"We're nurses. We're sectaries. We're construction workers. We're the core of Steamboat," she said.

At Monday's meeting, Councilwoman Kathy Connell suggested strengthening language in the plan protecting mobile-home owners from "consider, should, wish" to "should."

The next night, Connell said that mobile-home owners left the meeting feeling disenfranchised.

Antonucci said the homeowners came before the boards expecting action that couldn't be made during the adoption of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan Update, which took two years to develop and encompassed much more than the mobile-home issue. The plan is a road map, Antonucci said, for developing regulations and ordinances in the future.

"There was a lack of understanding in what we were doing (Monday) night," Antonucci said. "They expected us to do something that, even if we wanted to, we wouldn't have been able to."

Hodge said the boards were "wishy washy" Monday but that she saw progress and was happy with the decision to hold a meeting.

She would like to see mobile-home owners have the right of first refusal when park owners decide to sell their land. Others would like to see compensation for the equity they put in their homes if the park sells and the homes cannot be moved.

The city put a mobile-home ordinance in place after 11 residents had to leave Trailer Haven, a small park on Third and Oak streets, in 2002 to make room for expansion of the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center.

The ordinance requires owners of mobile-home parks to present a conversion impact report to the city if they intend to redevelop the land. The owners also need to get a conditional use permit to alter the use from a mobile-home park, which requires the city's permission.

At the time, the council decided not to require park owners to find or pay for new land for the displaced residents. Instead, the ordinance asks developers to make their "best efforts" when mobile-home owners are being displaced. Developers are asked to give mobile-home owners a list of the available mobile sites within a 50-mile radius.

"We would like an ordinance to protect us a little bit so our land won't get redeveloped," Hodge said.

Staff writer Susan Bacon contributed to this story.

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