Tra-Tel Trailer Park is under contract to be sold and redeveloped, according to Michael Cooper, one of the owners of the mobile home park at 3765 Castro Valley Boulevard.
“We’ve owned it since 1973,” said Cooper, who owns it along with his wife Sheila and Paul Dresmick. “It’s just time to sell.”
Michelle Starratt, Deputy Housing and Community Development Director for Alameda County, confirmed that current owners of the park had “have approached the Planning Department with the possibility of a development proposal, but have not formally submitted anything.”
Starratt identified David Langon as a potential buyer of the site. Langon said that he was “gathering information and exploring options at the site.” Cooper said he believed that the project would include residential development and possibly some commercial space. He believes the sale will be “good for Castro Valley,” and that the current park is “not a part of the vision of where Castro Valley wants to be.”
Cooper does not believe that the park will be closed this year, but more likely in early 2018.
The park is bounded by the library to the west, Norbridge to the south, and Castro Valley Boulevard to the north. The 2012 Castro Valley General Plan contemplates “High Density Mixed Use” development for the two parcels that lie within the “Library District” of Castro Valley’s “Central Business District.” According to the General Plan, “the goal for the area surrounding the Castro Valley Library is to create a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented district with housing, retail, office space, and the Castro Valley Creek Park. The pedestrian and bicycle access to and from the library should be improved.”
Longtime residents to be dislocated
Carol Carlson-Riendeau is one three current residents I spoke with at the park. She has lived at Tra-Tel for 31 years. While there are mostly RVs parked at Tra-Tel, there are a few mobile homes at the park as well.
Carlson-Riendeau bought her mobile home with a small inheritance, and her current rent is $572 a month. Her pension from Safeway, Social Security, and part-time work gives her about $2,000 of income a month.
“Where can I find rent for $600 a month?” she asked. She said that when she bought her mobile home and moved to the park, she thought she would be there until she died. “I never planned on moving,” she said.
Another resident, who did not want to be identified, said that the owners “have been good to us.” He too was a long-term resident. “We want to stay close. Everything that is dear to us is here.”
According to the three residents I spoke with, local parks are full and spaces are at a premium.
“No one is losing their homes tomorrow,” Starratt said. She noted that “very specific legal steps that have to be taken” before Tra-Tel is redeveloped, including a relocation plan for residents. Starratt expects that relocation plan in the next month.
The relocation plan would include incentives for residents to move and find alternative housing. Starratt noted that residents of the former Forest Avenue Mobile Home Park, which was redeveloped into town homes in 2010, were provided with one year of free rent and their coaches were purchased at market rate.
Mobile home parks in Castro Valley
There are seven mobile home parks and one recreational vehicle (RV) park with spaces for up to 310 mobile homes and 15 RVs in Castro Valley all along Castro Valley Boulevard, according to the mobile home search tool maintained by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
According to a report by Alameda County staff, rents for a Castro Valley mobile home park ranges from $380 to $848. Most parks do not include utilities in their rent. Additionally, RV or mobile home owners may be renting or paying a mortgage for their homes. In a February 2015 letter to the Board of Supervisors, Chris Bazar, Director of the Community Development Agency, noted:
Residents of mobile home parks own their own coaches, and rent the land on which their coaches sit. They are not generally able to move their coaches to other parks, as these units are generally older and would not stand up to the rigors of travel and may not even be accepted by another park.
The Zillow Rent Index currently values the median rent in Castro Valley at $3,049 per month, based on data through February 28, 2017. Zillow estimates rent for a two-bedroom at $2,592 per month.
According to the Golden State Manufactured-home Owners League, “a nonprofit homeowner advocacy organization, dedicated to protecting the rights and quality of life of manufactured home owners,” since the 1970s, “very few new manufactured home parks were constructed in California.”
Alameda County considers new mobile home park ordinance this week
The likely redevelopment of Tra-Tel is taking place as the Alameda County Board of Supervisors considers the adoption of a revised “Mobile Home Space Rent Stabilization” ordinance on Tuesday.
Renters in mobile home parks are the only residents in unincorporated Alameda County with rent control. Residents who rent an apartment or home are not covered by rent control, but are are covered by a 2014 rent mediation services ordinance.
The revised ordinance would permit annual increases for spaces at mobile home parks to no more than four percent annually; park owners, however, could petition Alameda County to authorize “non-standard” rent increases – the draft ordinance suggests that such increases could be for capital improvements.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors meets on Tuesday, March 28 at 9:30 a.m. at the County Administration Building at 1221 Oak Street in Oakland and will discuss the proposed mobile home park ordinance.