Tap water problems continue at the Arbor Glen Mobile Home Park in Klamath, where tenants’ faucets went dry late last week as many of them received 60-day eviction notices.
The park’s owner, Fred Stockett, has moved some of the mobile homes to another trailer park he owns in Klamath, but more than 20 units remain, although their ability to flush their toilets does not since the water was shut off.
Many Arbor Glen tenants expressed fears of what would happen if the eviction notices are enforced.
“When these 60 days are up, we are going to end up homeless, on the street,” said Dusty Davidson, who lives with and takes care of his elderly mother in the mobile home park.
State officials said the eviction notices are not valid, however, because Stockett did not follow the protocol for evicting a large number of tenants.
“We have not done anything to deserve to be treated like this,” said Darrelen Romero, the pastor of All Tribes Foursquare Church on Parkway Drive, who has lived in Arbor Glen for more than 20 years. “It feels like I’m in prison. I’m already homebound. It feels like the walls are closing in.”
Evicting every tenant remaining would essentially end the operation of the park, a change that would need to happen through a process with the local planning department, according to Colin Parent, spokesman for the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
“He will need to go through that process before he goes through an eviction notice for park residents,” Parent said.
Although tenants have been fulfilling their potable water needs with an on-site potable water truck provided by the Yurok Tribe, the tap water still served a crucial function for sewage at the least, and state officials say it must be turned back on.
“We are going to be issuing an order later (Monday) and posted in park (Tuesday) ordering him to turn back on the water for sanitation purposes and maintain all other utilities,” Parent said. “That is consistent with his obligations as a park owner.”
Stockett, has been under pressure from the state after he switched the park’s water source from Redwood Park Community Service District, which the park had used for decades, to an on-site well without state permits or approval.
After several tenants said they became sick and the new water source tested positive for total coliform (a bacteria indicating contamination), some tenants filed a lawsuit against Stockett in Small Claims Court. Others have withheld their rent payments until a solution is reached.
The California Department of Public Health issued a cease and desist order Aug. 6 that said Stockett needed to immediately shut off the public water system he created, but recognizing that this would eliminate the ability to use toilets, Public Health agreed to allow the water to stay on until the end of the “final compliance order” issued by HCD. That order requires Stockett to come up with a permanent solution by Sept. 1.
Stockett said he was not informed that he no longer needed to follow the cease and desist order until after he shut off the water.
If a permanent solution to provide potable water through a tap system is not reached by Sept. 1, the state housing department will file a criminal complaint with the county for a willful violation to comply with the order, Parent said.
The Del Norte County District Attorney’s office is not waiting for the state’s prompt to get involved.
“I made three trips this weekend to check on the welfare of the people in Arbor Glen to make sure that there was potable water in the water buffalo (water truck), which there was, and we are very grateful to the Yurok Tribe for helping out fellow citizens outside of the reservation,” said District Attorney Jon Alexander.
“The DA’s Office is now investigating possible charges of fraud against Star Properties and Mr. Stockett.”
Alexander said the charges would be based on the collection of rent without providing utilities.