Residents of the Star Valley Motel and RV Park are struggling to avoid eviction in 30 days amidst a pandemic.
Videos of confrontations between park residents and the supposed new park manager suggest many families could lose their homes with little notice.
However, interviews with a spokesperson for the park’s new corporate owner suggested only the owners of older RVs face possible immediate eviction, with owners of older, fixed mobile homes facing longer deadlines and possible offers to buy out their homes.
Park resident Timothy Hanrahan pleaded for time to find a new place in videos he posted on his YouTube Channel Metanaut1. The videos captured his confrontation with a woman who identified herself as Linda LaBlanc, the incoming manger of the park. On the video, she says she represents the new park owner who wants the 50 families living there to move within 30 to 40 days or face eviction, so the owners can create a luxury RV park.
“So, you’re throwing people out in a time of COVID — when people have like, no jobs and people are suffering, you’re going to throw people out with nowhere to go. That’s what you’re saying?” said Hanrahan on the video.
“I’m giving you a heads-up as to what’s going to happen in the park. Now it may be 30 days, it may be 60 days before we get up here. But we are coming up here,” replied LaBlanc.
She indicated the new owners have offered to buy mobile homes, but not recreation vehicles such as Hanrahan’s two fifth wheels. In a second video, the park manager refuses his cash payment of rent.
In another video, a father who moved in six months ago, confirms the new owners asked him to leave, offering to buy his trailer for an undisclosed amount.
The Gila County Assessor’s office confirms the Star Valley Motel and RV park located at 3758 E. Hwy. 260 sold in November to McDiamond, LLC located in Casa Grande.
A Facebook post from Mobile Home Park Specialist agent Michael Escobedo announced the Star Valley and C-Bar Diamond Mobile Home Parks sold for $2 million.
Melissa Parham, a lawyer representing McDiamond LLC, responded to questions from the Roundup regarding the video and its accusations.
She confirmed McDiamond purchased the park with the intent “of improving the appearance and quality of the community.”
She also wrote regarding the ongoing pandemic, “residents are certainly free to speak with community management regarding any concerns or requests for additional time to vacate.”
Parham explained different laws on evictions and rent apply to fixed mobile homes and RV homes on wheels. The park currently houses both types of housing and offers one of the limited affordable housing options in Rim Country. The occupants include many non-English-speaking residents and families.
Those who have mobile homes fall under A.R.S. 33-1406. Under that law, if a new owner buys a mobile home park intending to change the purpose of the business, they must provide residents with written notice and 180 days to vacate. Those residents could also apply for thousands of dollars of reimbursement for their homes.
However, that law doesn’t apply since McDiamond has no plans to change or shut down the park, Parham said.
Instead, the company has negotiated with residents in mobile homes to purchase these homes, said Parham.
“Most of those homes were manufactured before June 15, 1976, and therefore were not built to HUD safety standards,” she wrote.
Hanrahan indicates in videos that fellow neighbors received offers of $1,000 for their mobile homes. Parham did not say how much McDiamond offered residents.
For residents who live in a recreational vehicle, Parham confirmed the company has issued non-renewal of rent notices, especially if the RV’s are in poor condition or occupy multiple spaces, as does Hanrahan’s.
“McDiamond is well within its rights to do that,” wrote Parham. “It will provide any tenants who will be required to vacate with proper written notice to do so.”
She said McDiamond would accept Hanrahan’s cash rent payment, even though the company normally doesn’t accept rent paid in cash.
In a later video, Hanrahan explains this park has many families with children.
“During the pandemic, we had school buses showing up to give kids a hot lunch,” he said.
He has concerns these families will not find another park to move to because, “many are 55 and older” while others won’t take RV’s that “aren’t up to par.”
He laments the trend toward gentrification, but he’s seen that “all my life.”
“They are destroying this country and the hard-working people in this park are going to lose the last little bit of hope they have,” he said.