Mobile home park protections sought in Spokane Valley

As the deadline for Comprehensive Plan amendments approaches, Spokane Valley staffers proposed several amendments during Tuesday’s council meeting. Some were warmly received while one or two drew the ire of council members.

Councilman Dean Grafos said he didn’t like the suggestion to consider adding policies and goals to support Auto Row. “We kneecapped that whole district down there and now we’re talking about sub area plans,” said Grafos, referring to the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan that the council killed in 2011.

Grafos also said he didn’t want to consider revising the local access street map to include connections along Appleway Boulevard, saying it’s too similar to the pre-located streets called for in SARP.

Community Development Director John Hohman said it wasn’t the staff’s intention to bring back any portion of SARP. “We’re not advocating going ahead with any zoning changes,” he said.

“We don’t have the staff for, and we haven’t been tasked for any sub area plans,” said senior planner Mike Basinger.

The council was more receptive to other suggestions, including adding policy language to support the construction of sidewalks in low-income neighborhoods and to support pavement preservation.

The council also spent considerable time discussing whether to include an amendment that would protect residents of mobile home parks. A group of mobile home park residents have been attending recent council meetings asking for such an amendment. State law specifies that mobile home park residents can be evicted with 12 months’ notice if the property owner decides to sell the land.

Most of the discussion focused on whether the city should act now or wait for an expected Washington State Supreme Court decision on a lawsuit filed against the city of Tumwater after it enacted additional protections for mobile home park residents.

Councilman Arne Woodard suggested putting a place holder item on the comprehensive plan amendment list that could be removed if no court opinion is quickly forthcoming. “I don’t know that it commits us to anything,” he said.

Mayor Tom Towey said he hasn’t heard anything from the property owners involved. “I don’t think we have enough information to put it on the docket,” he said.

The mobile home residents haven’t been specific about what sort of protections they want, said Councilman Chuck Hafner. “What are they looking for from this council?”

Grafos said the city should put it on the list “if nothing else out of respect for the 1,100 homeowners,” he said. “I don’t see any downside.”

Councilwoman Brenda Grassel said the council could discuss the issue without putting it on the docket. “To me, the critical thing is to have the discussion,” she said. “It’s time consuming for the staff to put it on the docket.”

A majority of the council, with Woodard and Grafos dissenting, agreed to leave the issue off the docket and wait for the court decision before discussing manufactured housing.

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