The city of San Jose is closely monitoring mobile home evictions after complaints came from residents saying they are getting pushed out for minor infractions.
Last summer, Karen Carpenter got an eviction notice from the Winchester Ranch mobile home park where she has lived for six years. The reason?
“Minor clutter, some old paint cans and some weeds,” she said.
Carpenter admits that she was sick last summer and couldn’t get outside to work during her first seven day notice.
But the infractions were not out front where everyone can see them. They were way out in the back behind a small shed, hardly visible to anyone.
“I just can’t believe that I’m going to be possibly evicted over some weeds and old paint cans,” said Carpenter.
Park managers were not available for comment. But Winchester Ranch is in the process of redeveloping into a large apartment complex with nearly 700 units.
To Carpenter, her eviction for a relatively minor infraction is not just a coincidence.
“They are going to be developing the park, and the first phase is right where I am sitting. That’s my only guess as to why they are singling me out,” she said.
Carpenter has hired an attorney and is fighting her eviction and the issue is getting attention at City Hall. Last month, the Housing Commission wrote a memo to the mayor Sam Liccardo and City Council, warning of possible preemptive evictions for minor infractions at mobile home parks in San Jose.
The memo says there could be attempts to skirt the city’s mobile home conversion ordinance, which guarantees mobile home residents extra time, monetary compensation and other benefits if a park converts to another use.
The memo also notes that the land beneath San Jose mobile home parks has become so valuable that it creates an incentive for park owners to convert the property into other more profitable uses.
“We are going to monitor any housing issue that is brought to our attention,” said Rachel VanderVeen, Deputy Director of the San Jose Housing Department. Housing officials say they don’t have any active cases of abuse of the mobile home conversion ordinance at this time.
Meantime, Carpenter will have her day in court.
“If I lose, I will have to move out within 5 days,” said Carpenter.
She doesn’t have firm plans on where to go if that happens and she is afraid of becoming homeless.