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House speaker wants to avert more mobile home park closures

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, wants to see stepped-up efforts to preserve mobile home parks, given the hot real estate market that is making more parks vulnerable to redevelopment.

Kotek, whose district includes a large mobile home park in Hayden Island and several smaller ones in the Cully neighborhood, recently convened a meeting at Portland City Hall to discuss what steps to take. Their goal is to preserve what they view as an important source of affordable housing.

“I think mobile home parks provide a level of community and support that’s really important,” Kotek said.

“I think we’re going to see a lot more parks put up for sale,” she added, suggesting that Portland-area local governments and nonprofits need to collaborate more so they be ready if a park is on the chopping block.

Kotek huddled with local government and nonprofit leaders after one local manufactured home park, Lostinda Woods in East Portland, closed, and another, the Oak Leaf mobile home park in Cully, threatened to close displacing its low-income residents. The Oak Leaf owner subsequently agreed to sell the park to a nonprofit, which hopes to arrange a sale to a cooperative made up of park residents.

In both cases, park owners failed to follow a 2014 state law requiring them to notify the state, and park residents, as soon as they decide to put their properties up for sale or get an unsolicited purchase offer, as reported by the Portland Tribune in a two-part series on June 14 and 16. Lostinda Woods residents said they would have tried to buy the land under their homes if they had been given proper notice as required by law.

Currently, state law does not include any enforcement of that provision, or any penalties for park owners that violate the law.

“We have to follow the rules that we have,” Kotek said. “And there should be consequences if we don’t.”

So far, there are no specific proposals for bills to take to the next Legislature that convenes early next year, she said, but those may be forthcoming.

“I don’t think we have a year to figure it out,” she said, given the heated real estate market, particularly in the Portland area.

After the June 8 meeting she convened, Kotek said the various groups agreed to keep meeting and discuss possible local initiatives.

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