Bothell mobile home residents protest ‘substandard living conditions’

They cite unfair rent increases and rat infestations.

When Karen Ruiz first moved into her home 20 years ago at Canyon Creek Estates in Bothell, it was a decent property, she said. Quiet, and well maintained.

And nothing like what she experiences today.

Ruiz, and about a dozen others who reside at the mobile home park, protested on Nov. 15 over the “substandard living conditions” they said they experience there — a spreading rodent infestation, years of living with flooding and safety concerns they have with strangers wondering about the property.

The rodents were first noticed in late summer. Residents said their property manager refused to address the infestation. Instead they were told they were responsible for keeping the pests away. The property manager has also not yet addressed the street flooding that occurs during every rainfall.

Detente Management, which manages the property, did not return the Reporter’s request for comment by publication deadline.

“The property management is just not hiring people experienced enough to handle this property and the problems we’re having,” Ruiz said. “There’s so much stuff going on and no onsite manager.”

That’s where the real problem comes in, she added. No one is there to monitor the premises, and no one to pay witness to people moving in and out. Some people have graveled over their landscaping, to allow parking for six to seven cars.

On top of this, more than five Latino households at the park reported that their rent was increased three times in a year for the lots they rent. Their white neighbors said they were hit with a single lot rent increase in a year. They often came with no explanation and with a 60-day notice.

Gabriela Arias has lived at the mobile home park since 2006. She’s concerned with the safety of her two children, 8 and 3, because there’s no security to patrol the premises.

“I just want to be safe,” she said.

And there’s little affordable options for tenants to move elsewhere as rent increases have mostly trended upward, putting rental options out of grasp for many.

“A couple thousand a month, I can’t do that,” Ruiz said. “I’m retired. I don’t have that kind of money.”

Backed with support provided by the Washington Community Action Network, a grassroots community organization, the tenants of the park marched to their property manager to resolve these issues. But when they arrived, chanting slogans with signs in tow, there was no one there to answer. Instead they left their letter on the door, one that calls for a remedy to tenant concerns they said have gone unresponded for too long.

“As the property [manager] has repeatedly failed to respond to residents’ concerns, we have good reason not to trust the manager’s empty promises to address these issues,” the letter states. “Why have there been so many rent increases while the park [continues] to degrade?”

In the letter residents asked to meet with the managers, to ensure the issues are resolved in a professional manner. They expected a response in a little more than a week and pledged that regardless, they would be taking steps to fix the problems. A few days later, on Nov. 18, the group of tenants heard back on their letter. It appeared that the property managers were open to meeting.