Some residents of Ponderosa Mobile Home Park in the Phoenix Lake area say they’re worried about being displaced after a state agency recently suspended the park’s permit to operate over several longstanding code violations.
Alicia Murillo, a spokeswoman for the California Housing and Community Development Department, said they are not closing the park and will not be evicting anyone. She said the permit was suspended to get the park’s management company to fix the problems.
“(The park’s permit) has been suspended based on a longstanding, open complaint regarding erosion, tree damage and unstable cement walkways,” she said.
It’s illegal for the owners to collect rent while the permit is suspended, Murillo said.
Jerry Jacobson, who owns the park through his company Ponderosa Summit Limited, said on Monday that the eight violations cited by state inspectors in written notices have all been fixed and need to be re-inspected before the suspension can be lifted.
“The inspector got upset with us because we weren’t moving fast enough, that’s all,” Jacobson said. “We talked to him today, and he said if you’ve got it all done, you’re fine.”
Murillo was asked to verify whether Jacobson had informed the department that the problems were corrected and said she would have to check with field staff and likely would not have an answer until Tuesday morning.
The notices stated that some of the violations dated back to July, while others were in October.
Jacobson, a property investor and manager, didn’t know when a reinspection would occur as of Monday. He said he lives in Orange County, but declined to name a specific area. Public documents list his company’s address in Dana Point, a beach community in Orange County.
Officials from the Housing and Community Development Department posted sheets of paper throughout the park on Feb. 26 that notified residents about the park’s permit to operate being suspended indefinitely, with instructions not to remove the notices.
Specific violations the state cited in notices issued on Jan. 14 and Feb. 26 included two spaces that had tripping hazards from cracked and uneven concrete, a sewer line that needed to be repaired, erosion behind a home causing a guardrail and concrete walkway to be unstable, electrical wires that were exposed at the base of a streetlight and sewage station, and $196 in unpaid reinspection fees.
Public records showed that Jacobson and Arno Chauvel purchased the park with their wives in 1990 for about $1.1 million, which he said they looked at as a long-term investment. The property was then transferred to their company.
Chauvel died from bone cancer in 2011 at age 60, Jacobson confirmed.
Chauvel’s obituary in the Laguna Beach Independent stated that Chauvel worked in medicine for 15 years before he and a partner founded a development and investment firm called Summit Communities.
Jacobson answered some questions about the notices and what he was doing to get the suspension lifted, but he ended the interview shortly after being asked about complaints from some residents regarding the maintenance of the park over the past 10 years.
“We maintain our property, it’s a beautiful property,” he said. “We are taking care of it, and it’s very nice.”
Quincy Yaley, assistant director of the county Community Resources Agency, explained that the state regulates the operations of mobile home parks, but the county handles the land use and zoning before they’re established.
Yaley said the county would only step in if the management company was unable to pay for maintaining the utilities, at which point local building officials could flag the homes as substandard.
“There isn’t a problem on the property that has entered the county’s jurisdiction yet, but there could be if there’s a failure to provide utilities,” she said. “That’s why we’re monitoring it, so we could be prepared to act in case there’s any failure by the management company.”
There are 61 spaces at the park that are intended to be only for people 55 and older, according to its website.
About a dozen residents who gathered at the park on Monday said that some people own their homes and others rent, but they were all concerned about the problems cited by the state and what the suspension could mean for the future.
“We’re all in limbo,” said park resident Kassie Kemper.
Betty Egan said her home at the park was built in May, but the plumbing wasn’t connected correctly and sewage would drain under her next door neighbor’s home. A plumbing contractor was working underneath her neighbor’s home on Monday.
Phyllis Kuesthardt, who lives across a park from Egan, said the smell from sewage made it difficult for her to go out her front door sometimes last summer. Others said they felt there was a lack of enough tree maintenance.
“There’s widowmakers everywhere,” said park resident Boyd Bowcutt, an Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War.
Bowcutt’s daughter, Joanie Long, said some people have advised them to get lawyers, but they can’t because most of the residents are senior citizens on a fixed income.
“Every one of us doesn’t want to move,” she said. “My dad wants to stay here, but he also wants to feel safe.”
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4530.