In some ways, the Carriage Club Estates mobile-home park is an urban village. It's a pedestrian-friendly oasis of about 250 homes shielded...
In some ways, the Carriage Club Estates mobile-home park is an urban village.
It’s a pedestrian-friendly oasis of about 250 homes shielded from Highway 99 by a stand of trees.
“We’ve got everything we need here,” Cheri Walker, who has lived there for 33 years, said of the commercial area next door to the South Everett-area park.
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“We’ve got a nice grocery store; we’ve got a beauty shop; we’ve got a pizza parlor; we’ve got a Bartell’s drugstore.”
The park even has a favorite watering hole: the back deck of one of the homes, where neighbors gather to drink cocktails and swap rumors each evening.
The latest happy-hour topic is a county proposal to convert the park property into a county-sanctioned “urban village,” an upscale, mixed-use development like the new Mill Creek Town Center off the Bothell-Everett Highway.
The county is considering the zoning change as part of a state-mandated update to its comprehensive plan, which lays out plans for growth over 20 years. Town centers are designed to create a sense of community and provide a design for dense housing and commercial development.
County planning director Craig Ladiser said the park already has development potential because of its commercial zoning and valuable location. When planning for the next 20 years, county officials don’t think specifically about the land’s current use, he said.
The proposed zoning change makes Carriage Club Estates the latest mobile-home park in Snohomish County to be threatened by development. If the rezone is approved, the park’s land will become more valuable as development begins to surround it.
Though the park’s business manager said the owner isn’t interested in selling now, mobile-home parks all over the region have succumbed to rising taxes and offers to buy their land.
As developable land grows more scarce and more expensive, mobile-home parks are at risk. Some County Council members are considering ways to protect the parks and have suggested designating places for mobile-home parks. Currently, groups of mobile homes can be set up on land zoned for high-density residential or commercial use.
Councilman John Koster, R-Arlington, said a mobile-home-park zone could be a way to protect parks from market pressures.
“The problem we have is we don’t have enough [mobile] home sites in Snohomish County to satisfy affordable housing,” said Gary Nelson, R-Edmonds, the chairman of the County Council.
Councilman Dave Gossett, D-Mountlake Terrace, agreed.
“Some version of that is the only way we’re going to take the pressure off of them,” he said.
Ishbel Dickens, a mobile-home advocate who works with the nonprofit Columbia Legal Services, said that would help.
“The county needs to act quickly if they want to preserve affordable homeownership in Snohomish County,” she said.
Mill Creek Town Center forced out a mobile-home park in 1998. Pleasant Acres Mobile Home Park, which sat on land that is now occupied by a Central Market grocery, had 11 residents when it was sold.
Another mobile-home park has survived surrounding development, so far. Halo Mobile Home Park’s 25 single-wides have remained wedged between Mill Creek Town Center’s new, upscale development.
Five concrete pads mark spaces that used to have homes. They were moved when the Bothell- Everett Highway was widened to accommodate development.
“It’s kind of just a matter of supply and demand,” said Bill Trimm, Mill Creek’s director of community development. “That’s going to be a valuable piece of property.”
For the residents there, it’s a fact of life that the park will likely be replaced someday.
“When it happens, it happens,” said Carolyn Lewis, who lives there.
Residents of the Eagle Point Mobile Home Park in Marysville learned this spring that they have until next year to move out before the property is redeveloped into condominiums.
The change will likely drive some residents into homelessness, resident Dwain Rawley said.
Most of the residents pay around $600 a month for their space rentals and own their manufactured homes. They might not be able to find an apartment that’s as cheap. In most cases, they can’t afford to move their homes, or their homes are too old to be moved. Even if their homes can be moved, older mobile homes, especially single-wides, sometimes aren’t accepted at newer parks.
“I feel like this is not right,” said Delores Wayman, who lives on her $579-a-month disability payments and food stamps. She owns her mobile home, and her monthly payment for her space is $530. “There’s no morality in this situation.”
Barclays North, the developer that bought the land this spring for $11.4 million, is giving the residents a year to move, as required by state law. The company also has hired a liaison to help the residents figure out what to do.
Rawley and his wife, Kathy, said they will demolish their mobile home and move to Eastern Washington.
“We simply can’t afford to live in Snohomish County,” he said. “We can’t afford to buy a house here.”
Barclays North spokesman David Toyer said that’s the lesson the county should take away from the situation at Eagle Point.
“I think that affordable housing right now in Snohomish County is something that seriously needs to be looked at,” he said. “Whether it be a mobile-home-park zone or whether it be some other strategy, we need to have a dialogue.”
Emily Heffter: 425-783-0624 or firstname.lastname@example.org