This article is written by David Shackle and dedicated to Kathy Mattes of CoMO-LAC.
My name is David Shackle and I live in Las Encinas Mobile Home Park just outside the city limits of Ventura. I brought my brand new, fresh off the assembly line, Golden West mobile home in April of 1981. I have lived here since that time and have taken superior care of my quality built 14×54 mobile home. To this day it is like new, interior and exterior. Until 2005, most residents and owner/manager never heard from me or saw me. I’m a busy man with higher priorities than to deal with slumlords and un- trained managers.
On January 8th, 9th and 10th of 2005 there was a major flood here in Southern California. The flood channel, which runs directly behind this mobile home park, was built illegally, and with inferior products by the previous owners of this park. How it passed county inspection, only the “under the table” people know. The park side of the channel is legally owned by the owner of this park. During the 2005 flood this inferior wall washed out for 120 feet and undermined the back of my mobile home.
On Monday January 10th, myself, 2 kind neighbors and the manager built a makeshift wall to save my home from falling into this channel, and saved the owners real estate. It was very hard, back breaking work. The owner never said thanks, just complained that he had to pay the manager overtime and buy supplies to build this eye sore, makeshift wall. It took management 30 days after that to put up any type of barrier fence so a child would not fall 14 feet down in this channel, and that was at my request.
On January 21st the owner came to the park to examine the damage. I approached his office with hopes of helping this older man begin this project. I was nervous, I had never met this man in the 15 years he was the owner. As I asked to enter his office, the 1st words out of his mouth were, quit fucking bugging me. Then I showed him how to use the yellow pages to find a cement contractor. I documented the whole conversation. Over the next 3 months I tried to deal with the manager on this issue. He was misinformed and only a puppet for the owner’s excuses for nothing being done. On April 17th I called the owner. He said he was having problems with the cement contractor. When I asked for a reduction in my space rent, his reply was ,what is the big deal, you are only missing 2 feet back there. Yea, 2 feet under my home and 14 feet down into a channel. His final comment was that if I told anyone about the channel damage, he would evict me from his park. I documented the entire conversation. At that time I realized that this man had no intention to repair this channel and repair my space.
So I began going through the maze of governmental agencies that enforce channel/flood creek rules, and mobile home park laws. What a maze and what confusion and finger pointing and lazy government employees. I then sought help from senator Thomas McClintock and his staff.
They helped me go up the ladder at Housing and Community Development, the ONLY California agency that has any power in California mobile home parks. They had an inspector come to this park. He was amazed at the damage! He cited the owner, giving him a timetable to repair the nuisance. The owner still moved very slowly on the project. Then through chance, I met Kathy Mattes of CoMO-LAC. She visited the site and explained CoMO-LAC to me. I joined and she began to help me. I would feed her my research information and she would make phone calls and personal appearances to apply pressure on the owner and government agencies to fix this safety factor. Kathy taught us how to organize, and we have formed a resident association here to hold the owner and manager accountable and to improve our quality of life.
After 11 months of stress, intimidation, government run around, sleepless nights, fear that my home would slide and knowing the fact that my home was worthless, the channel wall has been built. With the help of Kathy and Allison Bromberg at Senator McClintock’s office, enough pressure was applied to convince these people to live up to their legal obligations. In a nut shell, for all mobile home park residents, please follow this advise when you have a similar problem. Remain calm and don’t say anything you will regret in the future. Document all information, be organized and aggressive as a successful attorney would do. Never quit. and most of all understand that at the present time, there is really no private or government agency that is totally in charge in a California mobile home park. Write your local politician, have a good lawyer ready and organize a rights group within your park. Happy Holidays.