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State pulling plug on Sleepy Hollow housing
Sleepy Hollow resident Betty Tankersley, 74, was alerted to a State of California notice on Friday that effectively shut down the Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park shes called home for 42 years. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park was issued a notice of suspension from the State of California just one day after tenants say they were informed of a $63 hike in their rent.

The conflicting notices have left this impoverished community – rife with what residents say are squatters, bonfires and allegations of drug use, alcoholism and prostitution – with a very uncertain future.

“I think it’s awful because of how long (the park) has been mismanaged,” said 43-year-old resident Donald Fuentes, “and I’ve paid my rent on time for seven years.”

Fuentes won’t have to pay another dime to property owner Mahesh Gogri, according to a notice taped to the door of the community washroom at the center of the park.

The Department of Housing and Community Development suspended the annual permit to operate the 21-home site near the corner of Sherman Avenue and Moffat Boulevard on Friday, citing various California Health and Safety Codes violations.

The notice states that Sleepy Hollow “is no longer a legitimate mobile home park … It is not legal for the owner/operator of this property to charge or accept rent for lots in the park, or for rental mobile homes or recreational vehicles he/she may own that are in the park.”

The notice was effective as of Thursday, Feb. 7.

Sleepy Hollow is in violation of health and safety code Nos. 18500 and 18214, which prohibits a park from accommodating recreational vehicles.

Code No. 18500 prohibits: the construction of a park, additional buildings and lots;  the alteration of buildings and lots; and/or operating, occupying, renting, leasing or subleasing a lot that has been constructed, reconstructed or altered without a permit.

Messages left with the Department of Housing and Community Development and Gogri weren’t returned as of press time on Friday.

Gogri is listed as the owner of Haria & Gogri Corporation, a Fremont-based company that operates mostly in the restaurant industry.

Gogri’s assistant, a woman who identified herself only as “Sarah,” said Gogri was without a phone and wouldn’t be available for comment until Wednesday because of a family emergency.

“Sarah” also said that Gogri last visited Sleepy Hollow on Wednesday morning and had no knowledge of the state’s notice of suspension.

Meanwhile, confusion has once again enveloped the lives of Sleepy Hollow’s paying tenants.

The mobile park is home to an untold number of squatters, many of whom stopped paying rent months ago after the gas lines were turned off.

While Betty Tankersley did not agree with Gogri’s rent increase, the former Sleepy Hollow manager was on her way to the bank Friday to get a money order when she spotted the notice of suspension.

Tankersley, 74, says she has dutifully paid her rent – $465 – for more than four decades.

The $63 increase was to cover trash and sewer fees, she said, and those that didn’t pay their rent within six days would be assessed a $35 charge

 “I was ready to mail my money order to the owner,” she said. “(But) the notice on the washroom door says we are not to pay the owner any rent.”

This is only the latest chapter in Sleepy Hollow’s sad saga.

Last month, the state issued a five-day notice to Gogri and residents, citing less-than-acceptable living conditions. While many, like Tankersley, took the notice as an eviction notice, others believed it was an attempt to bring the park up to code.

“The five-day notice was to get us all to clean up and to get (Gogri) to do what he needs to do,” resident Nancy Bertram told The Bulletin on Thursday, Jan. 17. “We had somebody from the state drive through here this morning and they came out earlier this week to talk to us.

“I’ve been looking to move out of here for a while, but I’m going to ride it out as long as I can.”