Seattle City Council adopts emergency moratorium on redevelopment of mobile-home parks

The vote was 8-0. Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien sponsored the legislation after residents of the Halcyon Mobile Home Park sought help.

Daniel Beekman

The Seattle City Council on Monday adopted an emergency, one-year moratorium on the redevelopment of mobile-home parks and will work in the coming months on long-term protections for mobile-home dwellers.

The vote was 8-0, with Councilmember M. Lorena González absent. Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien sponsored the legislation after residents of the Halcyon Mobile Home Park sought help.

A real-estate developer in December had submitted a preliminary plan with the city to replace the 76-home site near Haller Lake with about 200 new townhouses, terrifying residents who worried they would be displaced. The property had been listed for sale for $22 million in July.

Halcyon for decades has catered to seniors with modest incomes, and the residents said its closure would push them out of a city where rents and home prices have soared in recent years, or render them homeless on the street.

Many mobile-home parks have closed in Seattle over time, and only two remain: Halcyon and the smaller Bella-B Mobile Home Park next door.

Before Monday’s vote, Halcyon resident Bob Holley asked the council to “preserve an island of affordable housing in a sea of gentrification.”

The developer recently walked away, with an architect citing environmental-remediation costs at the property, and the bank that controls the park may instead sell to a mobile-home park operator.

But the residents remain anxious about preserving what they describe as a caring community, where neighbors help each other out. Even a sale to a new operator could pose problems, such as higher rents. The park has been part of a trust set up by its original owner, who died in 1979.

“Wow. I’m so excited,” resident Eloise Micklesen said after the vote. “There’s a ways to go, but now that people know us, it won’t be so hard.”

Besides enacting the 1-year moratorium, Monday’s legislation also directs the city’s planning and construction departments to work on permanent regulations. Other cities, including Portland and Lynnwood, have created special zones to shield mobile-home parks from redevelopment. The council also may look at whether the Halcyon residents may be able, with help, to purchase the land rather than continue to rent their slabs.

Councilmember Rob Johnson will oversee that work.

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