Mobile home park preservation talks continue in Kenmore

A moratorium, which has temporarily restricted mobile home park redevelopment, expires May 11.

Community development planner Debbie Bent and senior planner Lauri Anderson provided an update on mobile home park preservation during the Kenmore City Council meeting on Jan. 16.

Mobile and manufactured home owners are anxious about the upcoming expiration of a moratorium currently in place. The moratorium, which has temporarily restricted mobile home park redevelopment, will last until May 11. This has prompted worries about potential eviction and the availability of affordable housing in general.

Shortly into the meeting, Bent said that she and Anderson intended to provide an update on what the Planning Commission has discussed.

During the community comments section of the meeting, two mobile home owners voiced some of their concerns.

Lakewood Villa resident Stacey Valenzuele brought up the fact that several mobile home residents are seniors, veterans and low-income families. She also indicated interest in hearing more details about possible redevelopment and protection in the future.

Inglewood East Mobile Home Park resident John Krumwiede additionally talked about seeing the devastating effects of displacement firsthand.

“I hope you can keep that moratorium in place,” he said.

Mayor David Baker added, “We’re all very, very concerned,” saying that he also has lived in a mobile home community in the past.

While addressing council members, Anderson said the city began looking at the issue in October. After speaking with mobile home owner representatives, she said the commission had started discussing possible scenarios developed to protect residents that would be affected by the moratorium’s expiration.

Anderson said the department is looking into maintaining affordable housing and addressing concerns about density in parks. She brought up two potential land-use scenarios and one direct assistance scenario that would aid home owners impacted by the expiration of the moratorium.

In the first scenario, Anderson said redevelopment would be controlled by rezoning, and that mobile home parks would be designated as a type of permitted land use while other land uses would be limited.

Development rights would also be allowed to be transferred from one property to another location by exchanging preserved, existing housing. A property owner would be able to sell “lost” density to an individual who might wish to build something larger at a different site.

The commission is interested in looking into a development rights agreement with other cities to bolster opportunities for these sorts of transactions to occur.

“I wouldn’t anticipate a one-size-fits-all for all six parks,” Anderson said.

In the second scenario, certain mobile home parks would be rezoned for greater density. This would also require new development to ensure some units be as affordable for residents living on an income comparable to the housing costs that residents are currently paying.

The objective of the second scenario is for redevelopment to include a similar number of affordable units as the amount of mobile home parks that would be redeveloped. For residents who do not wish to relocate, assistance funds would help facilitate a move.

The third scenario involves direct assistance on the part of Kenmore. The commission was recently informed that there is a state agency that specializes in the assistance of mobile home park residents who desire to sell and the commission is hoping the agency becomes central to this particular scenario.

The agency, however, has certain financial requirements that can make it difficult for residents to borrow sufficient amounts of money to offer a fair purchase price. The commission hopes to explore ways in which the city can help mobile and manufactured home owners effectively utilize this opportunity.

Similar to the second scenario, the third scenario would establish direct financial assistance.

Anderson clarified that these scenarios are still in their preliminary stages and will be refined and modified in the next few months based on public input.

The scenarios will be further considered during two public meetings later this month. On Jan. 23, mobile and manufactured home owners were given the opportunity to provide feedback through a round-table discussion. On Tuesday, the planning commission will meet with residents from the parks.

It is anticipated that the latter meeting will have a large public turnout. Baker encouraged those attending the meeting to try to connect with him or other council members in person about the issue due to the spread of information online.

Other highlights of the Jan. 16 council meeting included the reelection of Baker as mayor and the swearing in of recently elected council members Nigel Herbig, Debra Srebnik and Joe Marshall.

Blake Peterson is journalism student at the University of Washington and an intern for the Bothell/Kenmore and Kirkland Reporter newspapers.

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