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Clock ticking on demise of eyesore mobile home park
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One of the worst eyesores in Ceres Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park has a nearly front stage view by thousands who use the Whitmore Interchange. Action taken last year by the city has placed a five-year moratorium on the use as Caltrans, the new owner of the park, scrambles to sell off the land. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park, perhaps the biggest eyesore of a mobile home park in Ceres, cannot disappear fast enough for city officials who are pushing for Ceres to attract more business.

Located on the northeast side of the Whitmore Avenue / Highway 99 overpass, the park not only is an embarrassment for highway travelers but is occupying ground on which a tax-producing freeway frontage business could produce.

The park's days are numbered, however. On Aug. 5 the Ceres Planning Commission approved an action to file a Notice of Nonconformance which limits the park's use to a window of five years. The park is a non-conforming use for the zoning but has been in existence for 66 years.

"That's not a pretty sight when you're driving down the freeway," Ceres resident George Silvera told the Ceres City Council last week.

"You don't have to remind us," answered Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra. "We're well aware of that."

Caltrans bought the land on which the park is operating and became the landlord because some of the park property was needed to change the footprint of the Whitmore interchange as well as the link to local surface streets. The state found it easier to buy the entire property rather than pieces of what was needed for right of way.
The city tried to buy the land with redevelopment agency funds but the state robbed all cites of such funds and the city could not afford the purchase for economic development purposes.

The state plans to unload the property soon. Tenants in coaches on the property would have to pay rent to the new owner. Any new owner would need to make the arrangements for any relocation of residents at some future point.

The state's purchase of the park is what triggered the city's move to declare it is non-conforming to zoning so that any new owner will 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 six decades.

The process of relocating residents is controlled by the California Housing and Community Development Department.
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.

The situation has occupants of trailers - many who are very-low income residents - both scared and frustrated. About 20 families still pay $400 per month for rent but one resident told the city that Caltrans has not addressed issues in a timely manner. Maribel Diaz, a resident of Space #13, reported that she spent nearly two hours on the phone with Caltrans, and that nobody knew what she was talking with regard to issues with the park and the future of trailers.