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Citizen: asks why trailer park hasn’t been abated
Lazy Wheels 2022
The Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park as photographed in 2014. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park was supposed to be erased from the Ceres landscape by now and Ceres resident John Warren asked the Ceres Planning Commission why it hasn’t.

The Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park, which sits east of Highway 99 and can be seen across the expansive field in front of Ceres High School considered a community eyesore by the city for decades, is still not gone despite the city ordering its removal no later than 2018.

Warren had a copy of the minutes of the Aug. 5, 2013 the Ceres Planning Commission agenda in which it approved an action to file a Notice of Nonconformance which limited the park’s use to no more than five years – meaning it had to be gone by 2018. The city determined that the park, which has been around for 74 years, is no longer a non-conforming use for its zoning and had to be abated by 2018.

“The city attorney at that time, Mr. Lyions, explained that if this is adopted and the time limit is set for five years, the new owner will have to acquire it with the knowledge that the use as a mobile home park will be ending and must end within five years,” said Warren. “It passed. The establishment is still there … when the new owner took possession it was only 16 months remaining until the end of the five-year period.”

Warren finished addressing the commission saying “we’re nine years out and the problem is still there” and asking the commission to “take some action.”

Commission Chairwoman Laurie Smith responded by saying staff will investigate and report back at the next meeting.

The history of the project involves the state’s purchase of a chunk of land across from Ceres High School north of Whitmore Avenue to change the footprint of the Whitmore interchange as well as the link to local surface streets. The state found it simpler to buy the entire property rather than pieces of what was needed for right-of-way. Some of that land included Lazy Wheels. The state has since sold the land to Sugarman Asset Group which invested in it to either sell or develop the freeway commercial sites.

The owner of the property was holding through the process of evictions as dictated by the state Housing and Community Development Department, then COVID-19 hit.

Part of the delay in abolishing the park resulted from the COVID pandemic and the governor freezing all tenant evictions. That freeze has since been lifted.

This was not the first time the state aggravated city’s attempts to have the trailer park abandoned. In 2011 city officials discussed using redevelopment funds to buy the site and remove the coaches – until Gov. Jerry Brown robbed cites of such funds and the city could not afford the purchase for economic development purposes.

The new owners of Lazy Wheels will be required to follow the specific requirements of the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) for the closure of mobile home parks. That process will take at least a year or longer, and all residents will be provided with notice as prescribed by HCD. It also requires the owner to make the arrangements for any relocation of residents.

The state’s purchase of the park is what triggered the city’s move to declare it is non-conforming to zoning so that a new owner would know that the mobile home park use was not what the city intended to be long-term, even though the park has been around for seven decades.

Some of the units at the park were purchased and moved off by the state, which never had an intention to own the park for long.