BRAWLEY – The Brawley city council discussed the evacuation of the Brawley Mobile Home Park (MHP) Tuesday at its regular meeting to a standing room only crowd.
The MHP, located at the corner of Highway 86 and Malan Street, was evacuated August 22 due to an electrical fire, which caused a temporary closure. No one was injured. The owner of the park relocated forty-four families to local hotels.
When Imperial County officials inspected the park after the fire, numerous violations of the building codes were found, causing the closure including electrical hazards, gas hazards, and plumbing hazards.
In Imperial County, mobile home parks are under the countyâ€™s jurisdiction, even those located within city limits.
According to Jim Minnick, Imperial County Planning & Development Services Director, the county does inspections of mobile home parks every seven years.
â€œThe park is in more disrepair since the last inspection,â€ said Minnick.
The MHP has been an issue for years in Brawley because of its run-down appearance. It is one of the first things seen when entering Brawley from the south. The fence is in disrepair and is falling down. Tarps and odd building fixes can be seen from the street.
The owners made clear that the relocation of the residents would be temporary.
According to officials, the park cannot be re-opened until the owners of the park have made repairs. Individuals must repair the building code violations on their homes before they will be able to return.
The residents cannot get assistance until their homes are â€œRed Tagged.â€ The homes will not be â€œRed Taggedâ€ until it is clear that the owners of the property will take care of the parkâ€™s code violations. The owners of the park must submit a plan and time frame for any work to be done.
The county had an emergency meeting September 2 to discuss housing assistance for the residents until a remedy is decided on. The county will provide temporary assistance.
According to Imperial County District Supervisor Ryan Kelley, the county will utilize their HOME program funds to help the residents of the Brawley Mobile Home Park and the Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park in Winterhaven, which had a similar situation. This temporary help could last up to 24 months.
The county indicated that they would partner with the city of Brawley on the mobile home park issue.
The owners of the mobile home park stated at Tuesdayâ€™s meeting that they would make the reinvestment into the park for upgrades, rehabilitation of the park, and landscaping to bring the park up to code and make it look nice. They estimate the work could cost $300,000 to $400,000 to complete.
Brawley city council directed staff to pursue the repurposing of the cityâ€™s existing HOME grant. The State of California Housing and Community Development Department initially awarded this grant for the cityâ€™s Owner Occupied Residential Rehabilitation Program.
Specifically, city staff are to obtain a formal plan from the parkâ€™s owners on how and what time frame they will address conditions for the re-occupancy of the park. Also, staff will prepare documents for future city council action that would provide tenant based rental assistance utilizing HOME funds.
Council members expressed concerns with the ownerâ€™s responsibility to address park and resident needs. The council suggested that they may limit the assistance to six months.
In other business, Masters Construction was awarded a maximum of $167,700 per year for rock products, asphalt cement concrete, and other street products for two years.
Western Avenue Baptist Church received a reduction in impact fees for construction based on the church’s appeal that the fees were based on commercial rates. The church claimed that they were just building the gym to move their outdoor basketball court indoors, with no new addition in population to the church. They are responsible for all fees, except the street fees were reduced by the council. The church also allows Phil Swing School to use their parking lot during school hours, which alleviates parking problems in the area.
The council voted to accept funds to continue with Phase 2 of the Volunteer Park Parking Lot Project. The city will receive $200,000 from the Imperial County Pollution Control District, and must match the funds with $86,817.90.