A property developer’s plans to close a California trailer park were dealt a blow on Nov. 16 when the Fresno City Council voted unanimously to reject its proposal. The developer claims that the park must close because it is unprofitable. A nonprofit group that provides legal representation to the park’s tenants claims that the developer is deliberately losing money. The council members were not swayed by either of these arguments. They voted to stop the park’s closure because the developer submitted paperwork with inaccurate property appraisal figures.
Tenant impact report
That paperwork was needed because Fresno requires property developers to submit reports that detail how closing a mobile home park would impact the community and explain how property owners will be compensated. The developer submitted a tenant impact report in June and appraisal information in September. When city counselors studied the appraisal data, they discovered that the same five comparable sales had been used to determine the value of every trailer in the park. They also noticed that three of these sales had the same buyer.
The property developer started to evict tenants long before it submitted the required paperwork. In April, tenants received letters stating that they were considered squatters and had five days to vacate their units. In the ensuing months, more than half of the park’s tenants either chose to leave or were evicted. The property developer still wants to close the park, but those plans could change because a nonprofit group is said to be interested in purchasing the property. After voting to reject the developer’s tenant compensation plan, some city councilors suggested using the eminent domain process to acquire the mobile home park.
Media stories about eminent domain often focus on property owners who are forced out of their homes to make way for needed infrastructure. If city councilors turn to eminent domain to acquire this mobile home park, the process will be used to keep people in their homes instead of ousting them.