Housing advocates and park residents ask supporters to join them this Tuesday in Council Chambers: “Come support Sawant’s proposed freeze until we find long term measures to save these homes” (sign up to testify begins at 1:30pm)
Thirty years ago, with help from the Seattle Displacement Coalition, residents of the City’s nine remaining manufactured home parks succeeded in getting our City Council to approve a moratorium on redevelopment of those parks. About 650 households – all low income and most elderly called them home. Unfortunately, after two years, the freeze was allowed to expire but without follow-up on the part of the Council. No permanent measures were approved to prevent continued loss of the parks.
Today only about 135 homes remain in two parks, the Bella-B and Halcyon Manufactured Home communities – both near Haller Lake along Aurora in North Seattle. When the longterm owner of Halcyon recently passed away, control of the property moved to a group of trustees dominated by U.S. Bank. They promptly offered its 7.5 acres up for sale for $22 million dollars Given the wave of new development in Seattle and planned upzoning of the site where the park is located, apparently the trustees are optimistic that demand will push the sale price much higher than its current assessed value of $3.5 million.
Residents are asking for time and some financial assistance that might enable them to acquire their own park and convert it into a tenant owned cooperative. They’re nearly all low income retirees whose only asset really is their home which likely will be scrapped because there is nowhere to move them unless the city acts. However, if the City acted quickly, it could make use of eminent domain to acquire the property for the residents (and at a much lower court mediated sale price nearer it’s assessed value). Sawant will ask the City first to use its emergency powers to place a moratorium on redevelopment of the park and she’ll also seek removal of any plan to upzone the site under the HALA-MHA plan.
Park residents, several grassroots groups including the Displacement Coalition, are urging all who can to turn out, testify, and show their support for Sawant’s plan to Save these parks and homes – a critical low income housing asset in our city. Sign-up to testify begins at 130PM.