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Residents Cleared Out, City Efforts at Cross-Purposes

Adam R.'s picture

Posted August 27, 2007

One of the novel suggestions out there for empowering mobile home park residents is to give them some protection against the costs of a park closure. Some municipalities and states have even provided residents with access to funds in the event of a closure. One such city is Gainesville, Florida, where park residents can get $3,000 to help defray the costs of a mass eviction.

That is an idea that probably helps a lot of people get through what would otherwise be an absolute crisis.

Imagine having your entire neighborhood cleared. I read a novel where that happened, but it was set in Mumbai during a period known as "The Emergency." Not in regular times, and not in Gainesville, Florida, or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter. It goes against most of the assumptions that I know as a homeowner.  Yet, it is a reality for a lot of Americans.
Buck Bay Mobile Home Park in Gainesville, Florida has 144 lots. A developer has purchased the park and plans to build single family homes on the site. The park will be redeveloped within a year, and residents are already scrambling to find new lots.

If you look closely, this is really an example of where the best intentions of one department worked against the efforts another city agency (Planning and Zoning).

Although Gainesville has the program set up to offer each displaced homeowner funds for

moving, none of the residents have been able to take advantage of the opportunity. Why? Because they must also move into a park in the same city. No one, according to an article in today's Gainesville Sun, has been able to find such a spot.

The park will be cleared by Sept. 2008. Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan is miffed.  The sale follows on a rezoning of the Buck Bay Park to also qualify for single-family housing.

The property owner at the time promised that site-built homes would only go on lots that were currently empty.  However, the park owner subsequently sold the park to a new owner who sought to use the full extent of his development rights as written into the zoning rules.

To that end, some residents report feeling that the City is partially responsible for putting them in to the scenario that now threatens to destabilize their lives.