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Tenants buy some time for relocation

Tenants buy some time for relocation

Residents of Ashland's Lower Pines Mobile Home Park have at least two more weeks before they must leave their homes. A trial date for eviction proceedings is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 28.

Park tenants came together Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court to fight their imminent evictions. showing up for the hearing, they stopped the evictions from going forward without a trial. This gives them a little more time to work on relocation plans, Oregon Action Director Rich Rohde said after the proceedings.

Rohde's Medford-based social justice organization has been working with Lower Pines residents threatened with eviction for nearly two years.

Park owner Greg Adams announced in January he was no longer negotiating with the Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation to sell the trailer park property for construction of a low-income housing development. The plan had been to build a collection of affordable units, make them available to the residents and help pay relocation costs.

While that plan has fallen through, Adams has repeatedly said he intends to help at least some of the residents with relocation costs.

Previous co-owner Chris Galpin, who owned the property with Adams in a company named Web Title LLC, sold his interest to Adams Jan. 29, about a week before Adams started acting to evict the tenants.

After Wednesday's hearing, tenants met one at a time with Adams' attorney to discuss their needs in hope of setting up individual relocation deals. No agreements have yet resulted from those discussions.

At least one tenant, Sandra Burke, has filed suit against Adams, citing repeated problems with sewage leaking in her yard over the years. Burke has requested a jury trial.

In February 2001, PremierWest Bank of Medford considered buying the site across Ashland Street from Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers and building a bank surrounded by a plaza. The issue drew the attention of Oregon Action and Peace House of Ashland. The bank backed out of the deal, partly because of the controversy.

In November 2001, the residents of the park's 10 mobile homes were given &

36;100-a-month rent increases, followed by 365-day notices of eviction a month later, causing an upswelling of protest.

The controversy was apparently settled with plans to sell the land for the affordable housing project. The deal fell through shortly after the initial 365-day eviction notice period ran out.

Myles Murphy is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456.