Mobile owners mobilize

Residents of the Kariotis Mobile Home Community didn’t accomplish their goals during their three-week demonstration last summer, so the housing advocates have taken to the road to tell their story to lawmakers.

The Kariotis Mobile Home Owners Association (MHOA) chartered a bus and headed to Olympia on Monday, Jan. 21, to urge elected officials to enact measures enforcing mobile home regulations.

“I want to contact as many legislators as possible and draw attention to the fact state laws aren’t protecting us. Park owners are running roughshod over us,” said Burke Waldron, who carried a sign that read “We are mobile home owners, enforce our rights under law.”

MHOA members printed flyers urging lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 6362, which outlines a system of investigations, citations and penalties for violations of the mobile home landlord-tenant act, and Senate Bill 6364, which would streamline code enforcement and improve permit processing for mobile home owners. Similar laws already are on the books, said Kariotis MHOA Treasurer Marge Kelley, but enforcement is virtually non-existent.

“We are going right into the committee hearings,” Kelley said.

Park maintenance has deteriorated since MHOA members organized the July protests, according to Kariotis resident Laura Parshall. Four managers have been assigned to the park since March 2001, but Kelly said none has improved the fire hazards, water drainage and dangerous trees which fueled the demonstrations.

Kariotis MHOA members have filed a lawsuit against the park owner, West Coast Management, Inc., of Saratoga, Calif. The lawsuit alleges the park owner failed to maintain common areas, collect yard waste and make the Kariotis Club House handicapped accessibe, among other charges.

“(Access) is my main concern. My husband has to use a scooter and can’t get into the clubhouse,” said Parshall, a four-year resident.

Park residents, 20 percent of whom are disabled and 80 percent of whom are senior citizens, also have complained of intimidation by managers, Kelley said.

“At what point does this become elder abuse? They are taking advantage of retirees, widows and veterans. There are a lot of veterans in the park,” said Doyle Detroit.

Other mobile home owners cited rent increases and unsanitary living conditions and dangerous trees in the community.

“I’ve had a contractor over doing $7,000 worth of repairs, and during a check under the trailer they found dead rats and mice,” said Melinda Reeder.

Reeder bought her mobile home last summer from former park managers, but she soon discovered the floor was rotten and the plumbing was sub-standard. She has depleted her life savings fixing up the home.

The Kariotis group also picked up mobile home owners from Gig Harbor to join the effort. A total of 40 representatives went to Olympia.

West Coast Management, Inc. is the third group to own Kariotis, located at 3060 McWilliams Road, in five years. The firm also owns the Steele Creek Community on Old Military Road.

For more information, call Millie Salmon, 613-9828 or Marge Kelley 613-5641.

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