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Zone change would pave the way for owner to transform use of Illinois Street land

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN
 - The Newberg City Council will consider an application to change the zoning for a mobile home park on Illinois Street at its Aug. 20 meeting.
A mobile home park on Illinois Street in Newberg may be razed in a few years to make way for an apartment building if the city approves a zone change for the land.

Newberg Mobile Home Park (501 and 507 E. Illinois St.) owner Doug Peterson recently requested the zone change from medium density to high density. The Newberg Planning Commission considered the zone change at its July 12 meeting and approved recommending the zone change to the Newberg City Council, who will consider it at its Aug. 20 meeting. A second reading would follow Sept. 4.

The park sits on 2.87 acres and hosts 27 mobile homes (an additional six spaces are vacant). The zone change will allow for a 58-unit apartment complex. Peterson has not set a date for removal of the mobile homes and for construction to commence, saying only that it will occur in three to five years.

"We are trying to be good citizens and people in the community," Peterson said. "We are not going for anything other than a zone change; there are no plans in the works. No architects have been hired, nothing."

The park was built in the 1960s, but the mobile homes are older and the sidewalks are in disrepair. Many of its residents live on fixed incomes, are elderly or disabled. If the zone changed is approved, it will set the stage for changes on the land and for the residents who live there.

"At some point we are going to need to re-develop this or take out the old units and put in new units," Peterson said. "All but two of them are single wide and we found that it wasn't feasible. That was leading us down the path as to what the next phase is for this park."

The property sits amid commercial, light industrial, low-, medium- and high-density residential parcels.

The city distributed notices to residents that live within 500 feet of the property and has conducted several meetings with area residents to discuss the possible impact of the project.

Studies show that mobile homes are an important source of low-income housing. However, homeownership can be difficult for people who live in mobile home parks because they don't own the land the homes sit on and they must move if the park closes.

"Some people moved out and I bought the mobile homes and put them up as rentals, month-to-month," Peterson said. "There is a two-year wait for affordable housing; we're working with some of the residents to get on the list now. …We have one resident that is applying for a Habitat for Humanity house and we gave her a good review. I'm not sure where that stands. There are a couple of veterans in the park and YCAP works with the veterans."

More mobile home parks being closed

Redevelopment of mobile parks has been on the rise because land prices are escalating quickly and investors see more lucrative ways to use the land. According to the Oregon Housing and Community Services department, between 1997 and 2008, 65 manufactured home parks were closed in Oregon.

In 2007, the Legislature provided a number of protections for mobile home owners in case a park is to be redeveloped. Landlords are now required to provide tenants with a 365-day notice and pay $6,000 to $10,000 for relocation, depending on the size of their homes. Mobile home owners are also eligible for a $5,000 tax credit for that year.

The Oregon Manufactured Communities Resource Center works closely with parks that are closing, providing counseling and service referrals to meet the relocation needs of displaced homeowners.

There was a lull in closures after 2008 because of the recession and changes in the law. However, with prices increasing, along with the demand for housing, mobile home redevelopment is once again on the rise.

In Newberg, it is projected that over the next 15 years the city will need an additional 3,211 dwellings to house the city's growing population.

Those wishing to address the council about this issue, may do so in person at the Aug. 20 meeting or submit written testimony. For more information, call city recorder Sue Ryan at 503-537-1283 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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