NOLANVILLE — Expressing their frustration in a desperate plea for help, more than a dozen residents — and a former employee — of the Cimarron Park Estates mobile home park in Nolanville thronged City Hall on Thursday to urge the city council in action.
“Half of these trailers that people live in are uninhabitable,” resident Dave Kegley said. “Everyone here is at their wit’s end, all the lawyers don’t even want to talk to us.”
Among the complaints upheld on Thursday night were harassment charges, targeted fines, habitability issues and retaliation.
“Since the article appeared, everyone who has spoken has been threatened with eviction,” Kegley said, referring to an August 28 article published by the Herald in which several residents of Cimarron Park Estates were cited, claiming to have been mistreated by their owners. “We told them it’s retaliation, but they said that because we’re tenants with an option to buy, the retaliatory laws don’t apply to them.”
Residents also accused the park of deliberately misleading residents into buying homes older than their listing. Several residents claimed that the serial number required by law to be displayed on their mobile home was missing. One resident in particular claimed that his home was sold as a manufactured home in 2007, but was actually built in 1998.
Fines were another hot topic, as Hope Ibarra, who said she owns her trailer, told city council that despite being released from the city for code-enforcement fines, the park continued to l ‘charge.
“I can say that as an owner I get fined for no reason,” she said.
Nolanville Police Chief Michael Hatton said Thursday that the resident was released from fines by the city, but remains charged by the property.
“She came in, spoke to us, we removed the fine; the problem is that we removed (the fine), but not the management,” he said.
Other residents told the city council that several homes and properties were damaged due to falling branches, which they say can only be taken care of by the park, in accordance with their tenancy agreement.
A resident, who asked not to be identified for several reasons including fear of reprisal, told city council that the condition of his trailer resulted in exorbitant repair expenses, as well as a medical incident, due to ‘a burning summer.
Air conditioning, a staple in Texas’ triple-digit heat battle, is something many residents have learned to do without — some for more than five months. The problem, according to residents, is that many units are in poor condition – some residents said they had to buy their own units, a temporary and often unsuccessful solution, while others paid through their noses to do so. repair their current unit. , only to break it again. AC units, even the smallest ones, have a high power draw, and many residents told city council that they couldn’t even use the units they bought because they tripped the electrical circuit breakers, shutting off everything. household food.
“So how do you – what’s the process for submitting a work order?” asked Councilman James Bilberry.
The answer was to fill out an online form and wait. For most residents who spoke Thursday, however, they never stopped waiting.
“So you’ll be there, fixing that bill and halfway through it, and they’re like ‘oh, that’s good enough? ‘” Councilman Butch Reiss asked former Cimarron Park Estates employee Jesse Anders.
“Yes, sometimes,” he said.
Another resident claimed that she was forced to sign a blank piece of paper as part of her rental agreement and that the park refused to allow them to take copies of these rental agreements out of the office.
“I was like, isn’t that illegal, and she said ‘no it’s not,'” she said. “But I had already paid the deposit at my house, so I had no choice, and (the manager) said she wasn’t going to pay it back.”
One resident even boldly claimed that a new family had been moved in less than 24 hours after a decomposing body was removed from that same trailer.
The majority of residents who spoke Thursday said park management was maliciously uncommunicative.
“We called from the time they open until the time they close, and they don’t answer,” Ibarra said.
Residents told city council on Thursday that park management can only be seen making rounds in the early morning to find things at the fine and cannot be reached at the park office. Additionally, residents have accused park management of trying to cover their tracks.
“The day after the article was published, they started pulling boxes and trash bags out of the office,” Kegley told the Herald in a taped interview as the city council convened in executive session.
During that same interview, another resident accused park management of brandishing weapons as residents approached.
Vandara Spencer, a resident whose caravan burned down more than a month ago, told the council that she was asked to remove her belongings and spray the mobile home for pests.
“My caravan was burned down and I had to move,” she said. “Firefighters told me the trailer was uninhabitable. So why am I being fined for cleaning costs?”
Spencer also accused the park of accepting her rental check, as well as another public rental assistance check for the same month.
‘If that’s true, that’s defrauding the state,’ adviser David Williams said.
For the majority of residents, however, they have no choice but to pay the fines.
“We have nowhere to go,” said resident Jessica Bourgess. “We don’t have the money to find another place.”
Judy Garrett told City Council, “I stood up to them, I stood up to them. But I am on a fixed income.
“What are you going to do?”
After nearly an hour and a half of testimonies and more than a dozen speakers, only one burning question arose: What will the town hall do?
The question is problematic. At the city council meeting that preceded the workshop, the city approved two ordinances aimed indirectly at preventing residents from being abused. The first ordinance requires businesses to obtain a license before engaging in commercial activity, while the second requires mobile home parks to obtain a certificate of occupancy before renting the unit.
“We have received numerous complaints about health and safety issues from residents of Cimmeron Park,” City Manager Kara Escajeda said in an official statement on Saturday. “Residents claimed they were forced to rent to own contracts or else they would have to move. These provisions make residents responsible for repairs. The purpose of the ordinances passed is to prevent mobile home parks from taking advantage of low-income families by requiring inspections before moving in with new tenants. It also requires an annual health, safety and fire inspection with the renewal of their business license.
The problem is that while these orders may help future residents, they do nothing for current residents who say they are being abused.
Escajeda explained Thursday that the city cannot target businesses through ordinances or take city-specific action, and told residents it cannot pass ordinances that would retroactively make something worse. illegal.
“Everyone here on council, staff, we wouldn’t be here at 9:43 p.m. if we didn’t care,” Mayor Andy Williams told assembled residents. When it’s something beyond an area that we can handle, that’s where we’re going to target.
Bilberry, clearly worn from the hour and a half of testimony, told residents he was “fed up” with what they were going through.
“We heard you and we’re going to work as hard as we can to find something we can do. Thank you for bravely coming here and talking to us,” he said.
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