Riverdale mobile home park residents get notice they’ll have to leave
RIVERDALE — If not for the camper at Lesley’s Mobile Home Park, Brandon Brown suspects he’d be homeless.
As such, he questions the wisdom of clearing the 4.62-acre plot where it sits off Riverdale Road in Riverdale to make way for a residential development. Lesley’s contains 55 lots in all, some with campers, some with recreational vehicles, some with mobile homes in varying states of repair. “Why tear down a place where people are living?” he said.
Whatever the case, the wheels are in motion to force Brown and the other Lesley’s residents out. Last Friday, Jason Williams — an outspoken Lesley’s resident who’s clamored loudly against the plans — said he received formal notice from the Lesley’s legal team advising him that he has to leave by May 31 next year.
“The property upon which you are renting and/or upon which your mobile home is located will undergo a ‘change of use’ in compliance with the provisions of Utah Code Annotated §57-16-18 on or after May 31, 2023. You are therefore required to vacate the lot you currently reside upon on or before May 31, 2023,” reads the form letter, apparently sent to all Lesley’s residents.
The letter — required by state law when a mobile home site is to be developed into something else — wasn’t unexpected. The future of the Lesley’s location has been a focus of public debate since at least the spring of 2021, and late last June, the Riverdale City Council approved a zoning change that would allow development of apartments, townhomes and patio homes on the land.
Even so, the letter set off alarm bells for some, and for the first time, residents know how much longer they may stay — nine more months, until May 31, 2023. Minerva Gallegos lives in a mobile home with her three children and doesn’t know where she’ll go.
“I’m a single mom. I’m just living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “I don’t have nobody to help me out. I have my kids and they depend on me.”
Williams, who lives a few lots down from Gallegos, noted the limited options for mobile home park residents, drawn by the relatively low rent for lots, $825, which is up from $350 before a hike implemented last year. Lesley’s sits at 671 W. 4400 South.
“The thing is, where does she go?” Williams said, noting rents of $1,700 a month for some two-bedroom apartments. “There’s not any affordable housing in Riverdale.”
Brown said a friend owns the camper where he’s now living. Instead of putting apartments or other such housing on the land, he thinks the planned investment to be pumped into the property ought to be used to gussy up and modernize Lesley’s instead, to upgrade the sort of mobile homes at the location.
“Make it to where it’s got a lot of double-wides,” he said.
Alternatively, he thinks when May 31, 2023, rolls around, there will be lot of people with nowhere to go.
“When those nine months are up, they’re going to be homeless,” he said. “I’ve been homeless a couple times. It’s not fun.”
Riverdale Mayor Braden Mitchell said the notion of somehow helping tenants came up at one of the meetings between city officials and reps from H&H 39th Street, the developer, though no specific plans emerged. But he doesn’t think the city will be able to provide any assistance as the city isn’t a direct party involved in the matter.
However, H&H 39th Street seems open to earmarking some of the units of its planned development for moderate-income Utahns, he went on, which he sees as a favorable development.
Williams’ worry over the situation has morphed into anger and frustration. As he sees it, the Lesley’s managers let conditions at the mobile home park slide so it would be an easier decision for the Riverdale City Council to rezone the land and allow it to be redeveloped.
“It’s planned degradation,” Williams said. There are squatters in some units, he maintains, and at least one extension cord is used to bring power from a connected lot to a disconnected lot.
A rep from H&H 39th Street didn’t immediately respond to a query Tuesday seeking comment, but Mitchell disputed Williams’ characterization. He’s enlisted the support of the Weber-Morgan Health Department in addressing some of the issues at Lesley’s and said Riverdale code enforcement officials have visited on numerous occasions to investigate suspected violations.
“It kind of falls on the residents to address the issues to some degree,” he said.
Moreover, even if code enforcement officials advise Lesley’s managers of violations, there are other factors at play that make fixing issues problematic. Even if Lesley’s managers fine tenants to force change, the residents don’t always heed the calls. Moreover, evictions are particularly difficult due to rules implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect tenants, he noted.
“I think everyone’s just hoping we can get something a little nicer in there that’s safer and sanitary for residents,” Mitchell said.