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Marysville Planning Commission recommends protection for 5 out of 13 mobile home parks

Ishbel Dickens represented the Association of Manufactured Home Owners at the city of Marysville
Ishbel Dickens represented the Association of Manufactured Home Owners at the city of Marysville's June 22 Planning Commission public hearing on mobile home park zoning.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The city of Marysville Planning Commission voted 5-1 June 22 to recommend protection for five of the 13 mobile home parks within the city limits.

Michael Stevens was the lone "nay" vote for a plan that would, if approved by the Marysville City Council, assign manufactured home park zoning to Glenwood Mobile Estates at 5900 64th Ave. NE, Emerald Hills Estates at 14727 43rd Ave. NE, Crystal Tree Village at 16600 25th Ave. NE, La Tierra at 4401 80th St. NE, and Cedar Lane at 6118 67th Ave. NE. Another park, Kellogg Village at 5711 100th St. NE, is already zoned as a manufactured home park.

According to city of Marysville Chief Administrative Office Gloria Hirashima, the five parks recommended by city staff to the Planning Commission are located in stable residential areas. Planning Commission Chair Steve Muller and fellow Commissioner Steve Leifer expressed concerns that such special zoning could curtail the rights of mobile home park owners, but they both voted in favor of the plan recommended by city staff to "open debate" on the issue. Stevens shared Muller and Leifer's concerns and cast his dissenting vote because he had "not heard a compelling argument" in favor of voting for the plan.

The majority of testimony at the public hearing not only favored assigning manufactured home park zoning to the five parks named, but also extending it to all 13 mobile home parks within the city limits.

Dueling lawyers marked the early part of testimony, with Walt Olsen speaking on behalf of Glenwood Mobile Estates and the Manufactured Housing Communities of Washington, while Ishbel Dickens represented the Association of Manufactured Home Owners.

Olsen asserted that a pending 9th Circuit Court decision regarding a similar case in Tumwater could open the city of Marysville up to the threat of similar expensive litigation, and suggested than any zoning action regarding Marysville's mobile home parks should be tabled for another year.

"It's unfair to the landowners and unnecessary when we're still working through housing lots," Olsen said.

Dickens argued that the city of Tumwater had complied with state laws and codes, and noted that similar actions by Bothell have stood unchallenged since the 1960s.

"Expanding this zoning to all the manufactured home communities in the city would comply with the city's Comprehensive Plan," Dickens said. "It's easier to preserve affordable homes than to provide new ones."

Bothell's Mary Tarabochia and Lynnwood's Jo Parkening testified on behalf of their fellow mobile home park residents in Marysville, citing the community spirit they see on a daily basis in their own parks. Tarabochia bought a mobile home for her mother because she knew that other park residents would help look after her, and Parkening recalled raising her own daughters in a mobile home park.

"The senior housing base has increased but the housing inventory for them has not kept up," said Parkening, president of AMHO. "We need to preserve our existing inventory."

"Can you imagine people in their 80s or 90s having to move?" asked Marlene Pence, a resident of Midway Gardens at 3715 152nd St. NE, one of the mobile home parks not protected by the city's recommended plan. "I'm 73 years old and I can't move."

Glenwood residents Linda and Jerry Johnson admitted that, when they moved into their mobile home 10 years ago, they were sure they'd move within the next couple of years.

"We had such a good time with our new lifestyle, though," Linda Johnson said. "People know who you are, you have your own yard, you can paint your house or add a deck, and the neighbors care about one another. I'd like to retire in this community."

"In this economy, why mess with the residents that you have?" asked Jerry Johnson, who emphasized that he and his wife have had "a very good working relationship" with the owners and managers of Glenwood.

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