Double-Wide Exodus

by Cathy Murillo

After calling the Deluxe Trailer Park on the lower Eastside home for the last 21 years, Sylvia Parker, 65, will move out at the end of the month, along with many other residents. Santa Barbara city staff and the state’s housing department have identified numerous health, safety, and building code violations throughout the complex, including makeshift plumbing and electrical wiring. Unpermitted additions are by far the most common problem; many residents — who own the units — have built small add-on rooms and enclosed porches to create more living space, a trend that all parties agree is caused by the South Coast’s housing crunch.

Alex Lambrous of Legal Aid Foundation — which received $50,000 from the city to protect the residents’ rights — said owners of the units in violation were given the option of fixing the violations or receiving relocation money in exchange for their trailers. Some people have done neither and have been served with eviction notices. About half a dozen families have moved out, with some receiving at least $15,000 for their units. Terry Bartlett — the attorney for the park’s owners — said her clients don’t want to evict anyone and that she has not filed the lawsuits that would begin formal eviction proceedings.

Parker has begun to pack her belongings in the small unit where she and husband, who died in 2002, lived together for 17 years. Parker — who will likely move into her son’s Oxnard home — defends her neighbors who are reluctant to tear down their add-ons. “The residents are all working people,” she said, “and they’re invested in the trailer park — financially and emotionally.” Parker also does not want to leave. “Santa Barbara is my home. This is where I want to be,” she said.

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