Mobile homeowners sue TRPA, College
Reno -The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Sierra Nevada College are being sued in federal court because of issues concerning the college’s mobile home park.
The College Park Home Owners Association and two of its members brought the suit Feb. 9 in the Nevada District of the U. S. District Court. The federal court has jurisdiction over the case because of TRPA’s involvement.
The suit was brought principally because of the college’s efforts to close the park, and the loss of low-cost housing allegedly arising from the closure, according to the lawsuit.
Carol King and James Seymour, the two association members, currently live at the park in mobile homes they own.
“It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” King said of the attempted closures. “And they’ve been trying to intimidate us into leaving.”
TRPA General Counsel James Marshall said the agency was served with the suit Monday.
“We will vigorously defend ourselves against it,” he said. “Our date to answer the complaint is late February, and after that the court normally sets a procedure for what is to follow,” he said.
Sierra Nevada College Vice President Bill Stepp said the college’s long-term goal is to sell College Park. Those residents still living in the mobile home park were served with six-month notices to vacate, said Step.
The court action arises out of affordable housing issues. The suit alleges the college is obliged to keep College Park open and operate it until TRPA allows the closure through a review that takes into account the loss of affordable housing in area.
It also alleges Sierra Nevada College, or any subsequent owner of the park, cannot close College Park because the college sidestepped discussion of housing loss when it concealed its desire to sell the park.
According to the suit, had the college revealed its intent to sell, the plaintiffs would have raised affordable housing issues during preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement in 1993-1994, and insisted on mitigating the closure with a one-for-one replacement of the lost housing.
The park had 89 units at one time and now has approximately 50.
The suit also claims the park shouldn’t be closed because it would result in an “irreplaceable” loss of 89 low-cost housing sites in the area, and impose hardships, economic and otherwise, on current residents if they must move.
The suit also claims that a 1999 construction permit from TRPA for a second dormitory doesn’t allow for closure of the mobile home park until an EIS is completed which addressed the college’s revised expansion plans.
Stepp acknowledged this claim, saying the college realizes it must obtain a certified EIS before the closure can be allowed.
Plaintiff Seymour said he is pursuing two other actions against Washoe County and Sierra Nevada College related to a failure to provide a housing element in the county’s master plan, which he claims is required under Nevada law.
Seymour said because such an element was not in place in 1995 and 1999 when the dormitories were built, the permits the county issued in these instances were illegal.
These cases will be heard in U. S. District Court in Reno April 6.
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