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Riverdale, Layton mobile home park plans spur push to assist residents

By Tim Vandenack - | Oct 29, 2021

By TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner

Lesley's Mobile Home Park in Riverdale is seen Wednesday, April 7, 2021, photographed from the nearby bridge hauling Riverdale Road motorists over the Weber River. Residents worry that a planned rezone of the land could result in their forced removal to make way for other development.

RIVERDALE — If it were up to him, Jason Williams would make mobile home park operators who sell out to developers compensate impacted tenants who own their own mobile homes.

As is, it can be tough, impossible in some cases, to transfer mobile homes from one park to another after a facility closes. Sometimes, mobile home owners abandon their units when forced out.

“What we’re hoping for at minimum — give us fair-market value of our homes if we have to move out,” said Williams, who lives in Lesley’s Mobile Home Park in Riverdale. The owners of Lesley’s have sought a rezone of the land so they can clear it and build apartments on the property.

Nikkole Malan, who lives in the Cedarwood Mobile Home Park in Layton, offered similar sentiments.

Selling out mobile home park land for traditional development can be lucrative for the property owners. “But what are the owners of the structures supposed to do?” she said.

The owners of Cedarwood have set plans in motion to redevelop the land and Malan is one of several tenants who will have to be out by March 1 next year. Eventually, all the Cedarwood residents will have to leave.

Malan, who owns her mobile home and isn’t sure what she’ll do, said there have been improvements over the years in Utah laws to protect the rights of mobile home residents. However, a lot more is needed, she thinks, and, to that end, officials from United Way of Northern Utah are seeking feedback from mobile home park residents on the issue at a meeting next week in Riverdale.

Tim Jackson, chief executive officer of the area United Way group, said the meeting is a preliminary step in gauging whether additional action, including new legislation, might be in order to bolster the rights of people like Williams and Malan. The trick, he said, is balancing the interests of mobile home park tenants and the property rights of landowners.

Next Wednesday’s meeting goes from 7-8:30 p.m. and will be held at the Riverdale Community Center at 4360 S. Parker Drive in Riverdale.

Utah is facing an affordable housing crisis as the value of homes skyrockets, making it impossible for many to get in the market. At the same time, the booming value of land has prompted the owners of mobile home parks to eye more lucrative development possibilities, threatening the future of what has been one of the few affordable housing options for many.

Those dynamics, spurred United Way of Northern Utah’s interest in the topic, as well as the situation at the Riverdale and Layton mobile home parks and the sale of a Centerville mobile home park to make way for development.

At this stage, Jackson can’t say where the United Way initiative will lead. The meeting is one prong in efforts while evaluation of laws in place in other states will probably be another, he said.

Williams, the Riverdale mobile home resident, said aggressive moves of mobile home park operators to force out tenants ought to be a focus of any legislative change. He singled out frequent, dramatic increases in rent implemented by park operators, something he says tenants at Lesley’s have been facing.

“That’s a bully tactic,” Williams said. Even if they own their mobile homes, tenants in parks have to pay rent for the land where their units sit.

Back at Cedarwood, Malan said the landowner has assigned a rep to meet with individual tenants to get a gauge of their particular needs as redevelopment looms. Malan told the rep she’d likely need help with the costs of getting an apartment, if she’s able to find something she can afford.

So far, though, there’s no word from Cedarwood officials on what sort of help, if any, they’ll provide, she said.

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