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Fresno City Council Going to Court to Stop Closure of Mobile Home Park
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By Edward Smith
Published 5 months ago on
December 9, 2023

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The Fresno City Council voted to seek an injunction against the closure of an embattled north Fresno mobile home park on Thursday.

However, the park’s owner said on Friday afternoon it will shutter La Hacienda Mobile Estates by July 1, 20-24.

“It sounds as if the city is grasping at straws,” said Sherrie Johnston, operations manager with Harmony Communities, in an email to GV Wire. “If the city were serious about finding a solution they would come to the table and have a real discussion, as has been offered, instead of filing frivolous lawsuits.

“The park will be closing July 1st and there is little the city can do to avoid this outcome, other than engaging in productive discussions. The door remains open to the city should they actually want to sit down and find a solution.”

The city’s decision to proceed against park owner Harmony Communities came on a 6-0 vote in closed session. La Hacienda Mobile Estates is at 104 E. Sierra Ave, east of Blackstone Avenue.

City Attorney Andrew Janz said that the action could be filed within the “next week or so.”

Harmony Begins Evictions After Taking Over

The park has been troubled for years. Harmony took over against the wishes of many residents in 2022. It did not take long before the company started evicting tenants.

At a rent control hearing earlier this month, Harmony executive Matt Davies said if the company could not significantly raise rents, the park would have to close by next August. The city’s mobile home park rent control board recently granted the legal minimum increase.

Councilmembers Annalisa Perea, Mike Karbassi, Miguel Arias, Tyler Maxwell, Garry Bredefeld, and Nelson Esparza voted yes. Luis Chavez was absent.

The seeking of the injunction comes after attorney Jason Dilday for Harmony said in a city council meeting that the company didn’t need city approval to close the park.

If granted by a judge, the injunction would stop the property owner from selling or closing the park without council approval.

“We are very relieved to see the City is taking action to protect our clients from the park owner’s publicly announced intent to defy the law by shutting down the park without complying with complying with mandatory closure requirements,” said Mariah Thompson, an attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance who represents a group of tenants at La Hacienda.

More Than Half of Park Residents Have Left

The city’s decision to go to court comes after more than half of the residents have either left the park or been evicted.

A December 2022 email from Davies to his attorney filed with the city calls the residents at La Hacienda “terrible.”

“(T)he park sucks, its not fun. The residents are terrible. Give us 6 months and we can hopefully have most of the problems gone by then,” the email states.

In April, Harmony told residents it would close the park. The company filed a necessary appraisal report and plan in September.

The council in November denied a plan by Harmony to close the park. Following that decision, Harmony sought another eviction of a tenant.

Thompson said it remains to be seen what happens to tenants who have been served with eviction notices.

“A lot will come down to whether the city (seeks) an urgent restraining order and the court’s response,” Thompson said.

It was Dilday’s comments at the November council meeting that led city officials to believe that Harmony could take an illegal action.

“To file an injunction we have to have reason to believe the park owners are going to do something that’s unlawful or against state law,” Janz said. “We had no indication of that until they made a presentation before the city council and after they made certain statements to (GV Wire) saying that they have the authority to close the park without having that prior city approval.”

(GV Wire’s David Taub contributed to this story.)

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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