TAYLORSVILLE Taylorsville residents have mixed feelings about a new law passed by the Legislature that gives more protection to mobile-home owners.
Once it is signed into law, HB48 will require owners of mobile-home parks to give their residents nine months of notice if they decide to sell their property for some other use. Giving mobile-home residents more time and more protection from losing their homes is an issue Taylorsville's City Council was on the verge of tackling just before the start of the legislative session, but now the subject is moot.
While the bill calls for a longer notice period, it also forbids cities from creating ordinances concerning mobile home park closures. That provision annihilates Taylorsville's plans to create a separate ordinance that would have helped to fund the moving costs of residents if they were forced from their homes.
"They did that because they don't want 250 different mobile home park closure permit ordinances," Taylorsville Mayor Russ Wall said. "We still have some work to do to resolve this. There are still some other issues that deal with how do you relocate folks when the land is sold out from underneath their home. That's a big issue."
Taylorsville's Ordinance Review Committee had been working on crafting an ordinance that called on whoever purchased the property to help pay for residents' relocation. The ordinance would have come with an appeal process for developers to make a case to the City Council if they felt relocation costs were unreasonable.
In return for paying the costs, the city could have compensated the developer with higher density allowances, said committee chairman Ted Jensen. The property owner wouldn't have been responsible for any of the costs, Jensen said.
"We weren't out to take advantage of anybody," Jensen said. "We were just trying to help some people that are in a tough spot."
Now Wall says the city's only option to help residents with moving costs is to work with the Legislature and encourage a bill next year that would address the issue.
"We're going to try to keep working on the problem until we find a solution that gives some security to the people that live in the parks," Wall said. "It's a terrible thing when, every day, you wake up and have the prospect of the land being sold out from under your home."
Taylorsville has three mobile home parks Majestic Meadows, Majestic Oaks and Monte Vista in one area of the city. One senior resident in Majestic Meadows said she thinks the Legislature "did a little bit, but not enough" to address the parks' vulnerability.
Jeannine Stewart, another resident in the senior community, said nine months is helpful, but "even longer would be better."
Mobile homes built before 1976 cannot be moved to a new park, which means some residents could have nowhere to go if forced to leave. Many mobile-home residents are on a fixed income, living on disability or Social Security payments, and they can't afford to move, said Joanne Benfatti, a board member of the Utah Mobile Homeowners Action Group.
Benfatti said the action group, which spoke out in favor of Taylorsville's efforts, is glad for the extended notice granted by HB48, but they plan to lobby for more protection for mobile-home residents next year. Benfatti was evicted from her mobile home in Cottonwood Heights before moving to a different mobile home park in Salt Lake City."This is a major problem," Benfatti said. "There are 75,000 people in mobile homes and they keep throwing them out, left and right. ... For me, it was either go buy a mobile home, or go to a homeless shelter. Those were my two choices, and I think a lot of people are in the same situation."
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