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50 people being forced to move
State shutting down Moffat trailer park
State housing agents fill out violation forms at the Sleepy Hollow Trailer Court. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Twenty-one mobile homes and about 50 occupants have five days to move out of the Sleepy Hollow Trailer Court on Moffat Boulevard.

 Agents of the state’s Housing and Community Development task force on Friday prohibited further occupancy of the homes. The agency cited Health and Safety Code 1850 violations for less than acceptable living conditions and for vehicles that had not been registered with the state.

Mahesh Gogri of Fremont, who has owned the 1.5-acre facility at South Lincoln Avenue and Moffat for the last 10 years, said residents have been given five days to move out.  If they haven’t moved by the deadline their mobile homes will be towed.

Authorities said that many of the occupants of the park had apparently established squatters’ rights after living in the park for more than an initial 72 hours.  Many were known not to have paid rent over the past year.  One agent said allowing the substandard living conditions and vehicles to remain on the property created a liability for the owner of the property.

Officials remarked that the mobile homes probably wouldn’t be welcome in other parks due to their age.  The plan is to bring in dumpsters once the people have left the site and install hidden surveillance cameras to maintain security.

The move against the mobile home owners riled the residents, one of whom ripped the posting off of her door saying she didn’t own the unit.

Chris and Sara Hill have live in the park for just over a year after he lost his job as a tow driver following an accident and injury to his knee and undergoing three surgeries.  The family had once lived in a traditional home in Manteca. 

Hill said he purchased a 1975 Dodge motor home with his last $500.  It is backed in near the entrance of the park just off of South Lincoln Avenue.  Their two teenage sons, 15 and 18, live with them in the cramped vehicle. Hill added that without the motor home they might have been living under a tree somewhere.

Hill said he had some valuable tools stored at the park, noting that most of them have been stolen while they have lived there.  He explained that they moved into the park space after another trailer had burned down at that location.

“The whole utility center was burned out – water, gas, sewer and electric service.  I Gerry-rigged it so we could have utilities,” he said.

 Hill is a U.S. Air Force vet from 1977 through 1980, having served in Germany.

His wife Sara said she knew the eviction was going to happen soon, but she didn’t know when.  They don’t have a car, but they do share a bicycle to get around and go to the store.  Sara said they had two bikes, adding that the other one had been stolen.

“We don’t know where we are going to go,” she said.  “I had just paid the rent.”

Once the manager of Sleepy Hollow, Betty Tankersley has also been given orders to move out as well.  She has lived in the facility for 42 years. Tankersley stressed that she has paid her rent faithfully every month on time – never late.

Tankersley is often seen pushing her grocery cart around town in her search for recyclables that she can turn into extra cash.  She had also been employed by the collections truck in the Mervyn’s Shopping Center on South Main Street.

She said that the renters don’t have rental agreements. They don’t have anything, she added. 

A neighbor of Tankesley exhibited anger at her. She walked around the park, talking to others in an apparent attempt to create a movement against the elderly woman.

“I was manager here for years,” Tankersley said, “but no way could I do (this to) these people.”

Tankersley said she pays a total of $463 a month for rent and utilities that include garbage and water services.

Gogri, owner of the court, said on Monday week four renters had been told to get out.  One left from the northeast corner of the facility adjacent to Sherman Avenue leaving behind a scattering of trash and junk behind.  The others have stayed, he added.