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Refusing to leave

4/2/2013

Mobile home park residents want to be compensated.

Mobile home park residents want to be compensated.

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

Residents of a mobile home park who had until the end of March to vacate the property that recently was purchased by Garden City Community College are hunkering down, refusing to leave and saying they should be compensated for their mobile homes.

Bob Kreutzer owned the property at 1706 E. Spruce St. previously, and originally gave tenants until March 15 to vacate the premises. The land changed hands in December. Kreutzer and college officials agreed to give tenants until the end of March to find other living arrangements.

Now, tenants are refusing to leave and saying they should be compensated for the mobile homes most of them are having to leave behind.

According to Roberto Becerril, city planner, mobile homes have to be built in 1986 or later to be moved in the city. Mobile homes built between 1975 and 1985 can be moved within the county if the owners get a conditional use permit. But models built before 1975 cannot be relocated. One tenant in the park has moved a mobile home.

Electricity was scheduled to be turned off Sunday, but tenants who gathered with their spokesman, Sam Hermocillo, on Monday afternoon said they still had heat and electricity at that time.

Hermocillo said the residents would leave on one condition --¬ that they are compensated for their personal property.

"As of this afternoon, these people here are considered squatters," he said, referring to men who sat inside Hermocillo's truck.

Hermocillo said the residents have been treated unfairly.

"They've been intimidated, and in some case threatened. We feel like we're not American enough to be heard. We're struggling right now to find the right answer — what we believe is a basic right," Hermocillo said.

Herbert Swender, Garden City Community College president, said he isn't sure what the tenants are after or what the next step should be.

He said the college and Kreutzer gave tenants due notice to vacate. Kreutzer said previously that the rental agreement stated he only needed to give 30 days' notice if he was going to sell.

"I was led to believe that if they just had two more weeks to stay there, everything would get worked out," Swender said, adding he thought the tenants would make other living arrangements.

Swender said the aim of the tenants' fight has been a moving target.

"Before it was about time, but it seems to be about money now," he said.

He said the situation is unfortunate.

"But unfortunately, this is someone trying to pit the college against the tenants. If it was any other buyer, this wouldn't be an issue," he said.

GCCC's campus was closed Monday for the Easter holiday. Today, Swender plans to talk to Randy Grisell, the college's attorney, about how to proceed.

Kreutzer previously said the tenants collectively were $12,000 behind on rent. He clarified on Monday that the figure includes a past resident who has since vacated the property.

He said if he had foreclosed and forced someone to move, he would never yield any money out of it because other mobile homes couldn't be added to the acreage.

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