Fresno City Council postpones hearing over mobile home park.
La Hacienda Mobile Estates residents were stressed before Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting.
The Fresno mobile home park residents expected to receive a ruling from the city on whether the land they call home was to be authorized for sale and whether they’d be forced out of their homes.
They’ll have to wait a little longer for a verdict, though.
The Fresno City Council formally announced that the hearing over park owner Harmony Communities’ proposed closure of the mobile home park would be pushed back to Nov. 16. The delay came last minute, with tenants only learning late Wednesday that the long-awaited hearing was stalled. The hearing was initially scheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m.
Senior Litigator for California Legal Assistance Mariah Thompson, who represents some of the remaining tenants at the park, was told that the hearing had to be rescheduled due to Harmony’s document submission not having all the required information.
City Attorney Andrew Janz and Supervising Deputy City Attorney Christina Roberson did not respond to requests for comment on the decision to postpone the hearing.
Thompson shared the news of the delay with park resident Patricia “Trish” Shawn over the phone Wednesday afternoon. Shawn was then tasked with sharing the news with the rest of the park.
Thompson told Shawn that park residents were still encouraged to come and attend the public comment portion of the council meeting, but that was scheduled in the morning around 10 a.m. The schedule change was too sudden for many to accommodate the new plan.
Most of the families at La Hacienda planned to attend Thursday’s hearing. The tenants said they find it hard to get time off work either because the job won’t allow them to or because they can’t afford to miss a day’s wages.
However, the park residents, understanding the significance of the council meeting, made a concerted effort to attend the hearing. Some even made concessions to employers to be scheduled for a work shift in the morning so that they would be free to participate in the hearing in the afternoon.
Fresno mobile home park residents ask for help from council
After getting the news on Wednesday evening that the schedule had changed, many park residents had to drop out of attending the following day’s council meeting.
Only three of La Hacienda’s tenants could attend Thursday morning’s public comment portion of the council meeting. The tenants that came were Shawn, David Willis, and Willis’s niece, Kim Sands.
Shawn dedicated her time for public comment to request the city council provide an eviction moratorium for the park residents until the hearing.
“We really need it,” Shawn said. “We’re only down to 26 [residents]. We could really use some more help. I know we ask for a lot, but if you could help us out with some eviction protections, that would be great.”
Multiple tenants have received eviction notices from Harmony Communities since the company took over ownership of the park. The tenants and Thompson have argued that some of the eviction notices are illegal.
Sands dedicated her time to bringing attention to Harmony Communities’ website’s “About Us” section. The page provides positive staff bios and company mission statements that Sands believes run counter to Harmony’s practices as a company.
“‘Every person who wants to be a homeowner should have the opportunity to own a home. At Harmony Communities, we’re providing people with that opportunity.’…lies, B.S,” Sands said.
“I hope we get to stay, and I hope you guys vote the right way,” Sands told the council. “These guys have no ethics, no morals, no compassion. You’re dealing with elderly people, people that can’t make it out there. They shouldn’t be homeless at 70 years or older. I’m 55, I’ve been homeless, but I shouldn’t have to be homeless either.”
Willis added during his time for comment that he hopes city council members will take the side of the tenants, many of whom will become homeless if the city approves the proposed evictions.
“Harmony causes homelessness,” Willis said. “I don’t want to say Fresno City causes homelessness.”
The postponed hearing is another hurdle the tenants of La Hacienda Mobile Estates face in the effort to save their homes.
Still, Shawn maintained a positive attitude while walking around the park Wednesday to share the news of the schedule change. In spite of the stress she and the residents feel over the legal battle to save their homes, she says they find comfort within their community as they all prepare for the challenges ahead.
“They do this thinking that it will break us, that it’ll break us apart,” Shawn said. “But really, it just helps bring us closer.”