Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Interesting evening...

Last night’s City Council Meeting was rather an eye opener. The fate of our Mobile Home Park was on the agenda, with an alternate proposition as to relocation of tenants. As I mentioned earlier, the Redevelopment Agency members decided to check out the feasibility of placing manufactured homes on the site, allowing present tenants to rent or purchase them. The Agency has been in contact with manufacturers of the modular homes, checking on prices when purchasing a few hundred of these homes.

A few slides were shown, and some information was given to the public, although many details would have to be ironed out. The Mayor stated that he favors this plan. He has told us personally that he was not all that happy with the idea of relocating us to the apartment site next to the railroad tracks, in the industrial section of the city.

The homes would be a decided improvement over what we now have, and they would be fairly good size, with up to 2800 square feet, and garages. I have checked the websites of the three manufacturers mentioned, and the homes are very attractive.

The interesting note of the evening was that the owner of this Park decided to show up. When the City Manager mentioned that the owner was almost impossible to deal with and the City would probably have to take the property by eminent domain (or whatever), the owner rushed to the podium. He stated to the Council, “I have never been offered a price for my property. I have never heard from you.” I know that the purchase of this Park by the City has been in the works for a few years, and I have had discussions with the former Park Manager along these lines. The Manager told me that his boss was not interested at that time because the city was not willing to pay enough.

The owner continued, “I want fair market value for my property, which is the same that anyone else would want.” It was like he was pleading with everyone, trying to make the audience feel sorry for him. There were a few rumblings in the rows behind me, as people responded under their breath. The residents know what type of landlord he is.

After more exchanges took place, the Park owner told the Mayor, “I want to discuss all of this with the City Council.” The Mayor replied, “You can discuss any time you want to, right in these meetings in front of the public.” The Mayor is an elderly gentleman, but has been in politics for many years and can be a tough guy to confront. He impresses me. The City has been on the Owner’s case for years regarding many code violations, and abysmal conditions. The man is a slum lord – there is no doubt about that. He is a multi-millionaire and an attorney. He certainly doesn’t sound like an attorney. I was not impressed and was chuckling to myself as I was falling asleep last night that he was rather laughable.

I did have the chance to corner him outside as he was leaving the meeting, and asked him why our rent had just gone up, when it has not been a year since the last time it was raised. It was raised last June. He told me he made a mistake, and I should ignore the notice, discuss it with the manager, and wait until June to pay the higher rent.

The City Manager stated that if the manufactured home deal is accepted, those of us who choose to live in them will pay the same rent that we were paying on the date of the meeting, Mar 7. The subject of selling them to those who desire to buy, at a very reduced purchase price, was touched on. There are too many variables at this point to state the price.

If the deal goes through, I might be very tempted to stay here in San Pablo. I have become used to living here, and have many friends and acquaintances that I run into in the stores and on the streets. The climate is great, Spring has sprung (in February and March), and the location of this site is central to everything.

The first modular homes would be placed on the old lumber company site between the two mobile home parks, so that residents could start moving into them, then the two parks would be prepared for the remainder of the homes. I believe the plan calls for 300 homes, in a subdivision setting. Being able to remain here at an affordable price is a big deal. Of course, those who choose to live in the homes would forfeit a settlement, but that is OK. It is the quality of living that counts.


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