Cathy Davis has spent the last two years since she moved into Arrowhead Village Mobile Home Park working to make her house feel like home by adding landscaping, plants, installing new floors and remodeling the bathroom.
“I wanted to make our home a cute little home,” Davis said.
However, all the time and money she spent trying to improve the trailer, which she bought in March 2015, may soon be for nothing. On Wednesday, she and the other residents of Arrowhead Village off Blackbird Roost received a notice that the property had been sold and they had six months to have their trailers moved or abandon the buildings they have called home.
“I am totally disabled,” Davis said. “This is my home, how am I supposed to move it?”
Davis lives with her daughter, Rachael Watkins, in the single-wide mobile home, which is one of very few that is in sturdy enough condition to be moved away from the park. Davis estimates six trailers in the park of more than 50 are fit to be moved.
In the letter sent to residents, titled “Notice of change of use from mobile home park to commercial use,” residents are told they have until May 7 to either move or abandon their mobile homes. The letter says the new owner, Kings House Inc., is changing the use of the property.
“Once the change has gone into effect no one will be allowed to live on the property,” the letter states.
However, the property’s zoning does not allow commercial uses unless the owner receives a conditional use permit from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission or a rezoning from the City Council. The parcel is zoned “manufactured home,” which allows for residential use in manufactured homes as a primary use. The zone also permits conventionally framed or constructed single-family homes that are related or incidental to the primary use.
The letter, which directs residents to contact Keith Hammond, the attorney for the owner, tells residents that owners of a single-wide trailer may be compensated up to $7,500 and owners of a double-wide trailer could receive $12,500 through the state’s Mobile Home Relocation Fund if they choose to have their trailers relocated to another mobile home park within 50 miles. Owners of mobile homes who choose to abandon their homes can receive up to $1,850 for a single-wide trailer and $3,125 for a double-wide trailer, according to the letter.
Susan Ontiveros, a neighbor of Davis and Watkins, has lived in the mobile home park for 31 years and remembers the last time residents were told the park would be sold in 2013, which, like this time, was announced right before the holiday season.
“I’m really upset at these people,” Ontiveros said of the property’s new owners. “They think they can do something just because they have money.”
In 2013, Landmark Properties, the developer of The Standard, wanted to buy the park in order to build the apartment complex on it. The developer eventually decided not to include the parcel in the plans for the apartment complex, which is now under construction on West Route 66.
Ontiveros’ trailer, which was made in 1978, is not in good enough shape to be moved, due to a flood that caused the trailer to sink into the ground.
“I wouldn’t move it anyway, it would fall apart if I tried,” she said.
Davis and her daughter have started looking around for spaces available in the Flagstaff area, and she said the best case scenario would be finding a piece of land she could park her trailer on and lease to own.
Davis said the former owner of the mobile home park has offered her a space in one of his other parks, including places in Peoria and Apache Junction.
“I don’t want to go to the Valley, I don’t do well with the heat,” Davis said. “My family is here, and with the income I’m on, I’ll never see them unless they come down.”
Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans, who was involved in advocating for the park’s residents in 2013 and 2014, said the notice, which leads the reader to believe the property already allows commercial uses, is misleading.
If the parcel does come up for rezoning before the council, Evans said she will give weight to how the occupants were treated when they were asked to relocate when making her decision on whether to allow the zoning change.
“This is a disaster,” Evans said. “We already have an affordable housing problem in Flagstaff, and these are people who own their homes and are definitely low-income who are losing their homes.”
Evans said the relocation of the occupants needs to be done in a humane way, and the process will be scrutinized if the new owner asks to rezone the parcel.
“The entire city is watching,” Evans said. “In my opinion, a rezoning is a community right, and if that is their intention, how the people there are treated would weigh in to how the community would grant that right.”
Residents of the park plan to attend the Flagstaff City Council meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. to talk to the council about the notice.