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Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park residents claim mistreatment, devaluing of homes
Brooke Mathers printed out flyers about holding a meeting for Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park and walked to each one of her neighbors’ homes to invite them.
“Many people here are suffering from the poor treatment by management and are afraid to talk about it,” Mathers said. “But I’m not. The owners are sick and tired of me, but I’m not going to sit around and do nothing.”
Mathers and many Lazy Wheels residents say their manager is not addressing complaints and neglecting the park.
Because of Mathers’ efforts, on Dec. 19, more than 90 tenants from five mobile home communities came together at the Bothell Library Community Room. Attendees were from mobile homes around the state, including Lazy Wheels, Canyon Park, Northwest Mobile Estates, Country Club and Lago de Plato in Everett. The majority of those in attendance reside in Legislative District 1.
“I wanted to bring in not only residents from Lazy Wheels, but people from all over that felt they were being mistreated or not properly taken care of by owners of their mobile park homes,” Mathers said.
Leadership from the Dispute Resolution Program of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office addressed the home owners on the laws in place governing landlords and tenants. Present at the meeting were representatives from Manufactured/Mobile Home Owners of America (MHOA), Legislative Action Team Chair Judith White, serving the Manufactured/Mobile Home Community on Legislative Issues, and Dan Young, attorney.
“When I took a personal tour of the Community of Lazy Wheels, I nearly freaked out at the egress from the park at the east end directly onto Woodinville Drive,” White said. “It is together that we can make a difference in our communities for those who are facing challenging conditions in their communities such as consistent uniform practices, harassment/intimidation and landlords who are not following the Laws of the State of Washington. It is a two-way street and communication/cooperation and having a listening ear can go a long way to building a strong relationship in our communities.”
A few residents at Lazy Wheels came to the Reporter to voice their concerns and troubles occurring at the park and with the park manager but expressed a desire to remain anonymous because they were concerned for their safety.
Mathers said park management “doesn’t take our complaints seriously.”
The Reporter contacted the manager but she declined to comment.
A friend of many residents and a coach to children at Lazy Wheels, Diana Ng, said she has seen the same issues in the park.
“Many are not aware of their basic rights,” Ng said. “Not just immigrant families, fairly new to the community, also long time residents. Many Manufactured housing communities have a long history of being a place of oppression due to mismanagement, neglect and abuse. Brooke is doing everyone a favor by persevering and bringing the problems she and other residents of Lazy Wheels to the attention of the public.”
Ng said Mathers and others have tried many different ways to reach out for help.
“We all have contacted the proper authorities; some who have helped and many who have not,” Ng said. “Brooke and the other residents have suffered enough. Now it’s time for that park to get cleaned up and for management to help unite residents, allow for community meetings and gatherings without manager interference or fear of punishment or retaliation. It’s time to get things right.”
One of the Lazy Wheels’ owners, Linda Garcia, stood by her park manager, saying she is passionate about taking care of her residents.
“[She] is extremely diligent,” Garcia said. “The trailer park is her life and she loves to help people. She bends over backwards to help anyone who needs it and we feel so lucky to have her.”
Mathers stated that rents are not consistent within the park and some residents are charged more than others for the same accommodations.
Garcia said the discrepancy in some peoples’ rent is due to a recent state law raising rent each month and rent fees are decided upon how long a resident has been living in the park.
“Many of our homes are filled with Hispanic families and we are happy to have them,” she said. “I feel many residents that are upset are upset because the park is simply different from what it use to be. Back in the 60’s there were senior citizens mainly living here and now there are families, so the atmosphere is a bit different and it is not the way they remember it.”
Mathers believes the owners have put the park up for sale and have not informed their residents of this decision.
“I searched for ‘mobile home parks for sale’ with our zip code and state, it showed Lazy Wheels for sale on that page,” Mathers said. “I told tenants in our park about what I’d seen and two days later the Lazy Wheels listing was gone.”
Garcia said the park is not for sale.
“That is a rumor,” she said. “We enjoy our community of residents and work hard every day to keep our park looking great.”
A few tenants complained about the state of vacant trailer homes in the park at the meeting.
“Owners are not following the same rules and regulations tenants follow that owners put in the lease, owners are leaving evicted trailers filthy. Lots are in need of attention causing health and safety issues and are not up to regulation standards,” Mathers said. “Our potential mobile home buyers see these dirty or evicted derelict trailers and then are not interested in our homes, so owners are blocking trailer sales of tenants here. I believe the owners are devaluing this park on purpose to create lower taxes.”
Mathers said she and other residents have contacted the city of Bothell about the situation in Lazy Wheels park many times.
“We are aware of situations going on in Lazy Wheels and I have already contacted the property manager to work on the issue of the vacant homes,” said Debbie Blessington, code enforcement officer at the city of Bothell. “These things take time to fix. I know if you are living somewhere and a home next to you is ugly, it can’t be fixed fast enough, but it is more complex than just telling them to make it look better. Conditions have to be pretty extreme for the government to step in, with a specific condition causing a safety hazard or nuisance in a broader sense.”
Blessington mentioned Mathers’ other complaints about management is a legal issue, not a city issue.
“Most of the issues mentioned by Brooke are civil issues that are a legal matter,” Blessington said.
Blessington said there are many code violations occurring at the park.
“Most have to do with the fact that residents have done construction and additions to their homes without permits,” she said. “Lazy Wheels is one of three mobile parks in the city we are hoping to address in a more global way instead of unit by unit.”
Garcia said she has been looking into fixing up the vacant homes in the park.
“It takes time,” she said. “We have to decide if we will demolish a vacant home or bring someone in to fix problems with the home.”
Garcia stated she has not received any maintenance requests from any residents in a while.
“When we do receive any written complaints, we drop anything to solve it,” she said. “Although I must point out that each resident is responsible for the care of their own homes, while we are responsible for the upkeep of the surrounding area of the property.”
Mathers plans on having more meetings in the future.
“We must get together and talk about what’s going on,” she said. “The only support we have is each other.”