The Arizona Department of Housing investigated the removal of residents from the Star Valley and C-Bar Diamond mobile home parks and concluded the new owners were not changing the use of the property and therefore weren’t covered by laws that would give residents more time to find a new place to live and perhaps receive relocation funds from the department.
In an email to the Roundup, Janelle Johnsen, communications officer for the ADH, said the department on Feb. 4 reviewed the termination of lease notices issued by McDiamond RV Resort and found the law regarding a “change of use” did not apply.
“The departments review of present circumstances at McDiamond RV Resort do not appear to invoke the provisions of A.R.S. 1476.01 relating to a change in use/redevelopment.”
The letter from the department supports the new owners’ assertion that they weren’t changing the use of the park, which would require giving residents more time to move and perhaps qualify for thousands of dollars in relocation money from the government — depending on the circumstances.
McDiamond LLC representatives did not respond in time to a request for an interview for this story.
The letter from ADH did not address other concerns of residents about the time they were given to clear out, the payments the company offered for homes that couldn’t be moved or which residents were targeted for the termination of their leases. The letter focused on the single issue of the “change of use” provisions — not whether the park gave residents enough time to move out.
The Roundup first reported the removal of residents from the Star Valley and C-Bar Diamond mobile home parks in a Jan. 12 story about videos posted by C-Bar Diamond mobile home resident Tim Hanrahan. He recorded an exchange with a woman who identified herself as Linda LaBlanc, the incoming manager of the park. She said the new owner wanted the 50 families living in the parks to move within 30 or 40 days or face eviction. In response, Hanrahan pleaded for more time because of the pandemic.
The residents said they were told they were being evicted, or facing nonrenewal of their leases, because they lived in older units and the new owners wanted to upgrade the appearance of the park. Eviction is a legal process triggered by a resident’s refusal to move out after having been served with a notice of nonrenewal of a lease.
The state had adopted a federal moratorium on evictions for people who have fallen behind on their rent as a result of the impact of the pandemic. The people facing nonrenewal of their leases in the mobile home parks were generally not behind on their rent, and the notices to leave the park were not related to the pandemic — so the residents apparently don’t get the protection of the existing eviction moratorium.
The state housing department has concluded they also don’t qualify for protection under the existing “change of use” rules.
“A change in use means a change in the use of land from the rental of mobile home spaces in a mobile home park to some other use or the redevelopment of the mobile home park, which means the spaces being redeveloped shall remain vacant for at least 180 days after the effective date of all change in use notices that are given to tenants,” said Johnsen in the letter to the Roundup.
Tenants say the new owners are upgrading the park to cater to more upscale RVs and mobile homes, as well as putting in new roads and making other changes. However, the housing department concluded that the plans don’t represent a change of use or redevelopment of the park.
“Redevelopment has a specific meaning under the Act. Tenants may apply for assistance through the Arizona Department of Housing should a change in use/redevelopment notification be issued by the mobile home park management or ownership,” said the housing department.
But in this case, the owners didn’t issue such a notice. And after review, the housing department said the park didn’t need to do so.