Residents facing eviction from a mobile home park on Sunset Boulevard have been given more time to find housing.
Last week, the owner of Hilltop Mobile Park, Nick Cline, gave his tenants six days to find new homes after he was told the degraded RVs and trailers they lived in violated city code.
Spokane Mayor David Condon said Monday it was “critical” to balance enforcing city law with a “humanistic approach.” He said there were “lessons to be learned” from the situation, which left people facing the loss of their homes after a city code enforcement officer told the landlord to comply with city law or face penalties. After consulting a lawyer, Cline evicted his tenants.
Councilman Jon Snyder, who has visited the property, said Monday “the city’s getting demonized for something that is clearly the property owner’s fault.”
He added that the county’s “lax oversight” led to Spokane “inheriting the problem.” On Jan. 1, 2012, the city annexed a large portion of the West Plains from the county. The mobile home park, built in 1936, was part of that annexation.
Heather Trautman, who leads the city’s Office of Code Enforcement, told the city’s Planning, Community and Economic Development committee Monday morning that the city was simply trying to enforce fire and safety codes.
“It’s never been our intent to have them leave,” she said. “We’re not asking them to relocate at all. … What (Cline) chose to do was give them a one-week notice. That was his decision.”
After hearing about the situation of the residents, many of whom are on disability or government assistance, city officials have tried to find a solution. Jonathan Mallahan, director of the city’s Community and Neighborhood Services, said the city has extended the landlord’s code compliance deadline by a week to next Monday.
“We really want to see some progress over the next week,” Mallahan said. “That does not mean the people living in RVs will need to be moved in a week.”
Representatives from SNAP, formerly called the Spokane Neighborhoods Action Program, have visited the park to see what sort of assistance they can offer. Mallahan said he was monitoring their interaction to ensure “everyone’s individual need is met.”
“Nobody’s being forced to take advantage of these,” he said. “It’s their choice.”
City Council President Ben Stuckart said he was calling local attorneys to see what legal options the residents might have.
“My job as a public servant is to help them,” he said. “I can’t make (the city’s) legal team represent them, but I can help them.”
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