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December 22nd, 2004 Elizabeth Schuster | News Stories
 

Upwardly Immobile

A suburban development threatens a trailer park.

     
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At least 100,000 Oregon residents live in mobile-home parks.
Last Wednesday, Randy Lovre was cast in the role of Scrooge, telling a group of suburban senior citizens that they'll essentially have to move as land values in their area explode.

Lovre is co-president of Oregon Pacific Investment and Development Company. He hopes to put up commercial buildings on property that's currently home to more than 100 residents in LeRose and 4-U in Tualatin, two trailer parks just blocks away from Bridgeport Village, a brand-new shopping center.

Oregon Pacific is one of many firms capitalizing on the boom in southwest Tualatin. If the company, owned by the family of City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, gets the rezoning it needs from the City of Tualatin, it could break ground as early as next fall.

Roughly 100 trailer parks are scattered throughout the metro area, filled mostly with retirees and low-income families. For many, it's the only way they can afford to own their abodes in a market where the average single-family home costs $223,000 (see "Single-Wide Pride," WW, Aug. 11, 2004).

Despite their name, mobile homes aren't that mobile. The cost of moving can run $10,000 for a double-wide, and some units are so old that the owners of trailer courts won't allow them to be brought in.

That's why when a park is threatened with closure, it usually generates an emotional response.

Pat Schwoch, executive director of Manufactured Home Owners of Oregon, says Oregon Pacific's handling of the situation is "probably as good as you can expect. They're doing more than the law requires of them, but it's not enough."

Julie Leuvrey, Oregon Pacific's other co-president, helped put together a package for last week's meeting that lists residents' options for relocating. "We genuinely sympathize with the people in this situation, and it's hard to see people losing what is more than a home," she says. "But we're one of several developers in the area looking for sites in the adjacent residential area. I don't know how to say this without being flip, but if it wasn't us, someone else would be buying the land."

John Sloan, 65, moved to LeRose 10 years ago after being forced out of a park in Beaverton to make way for light rail. He talks nervously about his options. "It's pretty spendy to move these things. A lot of nickel-and-dime stuff. These old trailers, there just aren't any places to move them."

While Sloan maintains he's not trying to cause problems, he is a little frustrated with the situation he finds himself in. "Good grief, the developers, they're doing really good. And to kick us out on the curb with nothing sounds like a Charles Dickens story."

 
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