No. 4: Sale of property leads to standoff with residents

12/28/2013

Editor's Note: This is the seventh in a series of stories featuring The Telegram's top 10 news stories for 2013.

Editor's Note: This is the seventh in a series of stories featuring The Telegram's top 10 news stories for 2013.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

The sale of property located at 1706 E. Spruce St. to Garden City Community College, gained local and state attention as tenants residing in mobile homes on the property initially refused to budge.

But after a nearly four-month standoff with GCCC, residents of a mobile home park that sits on land acquired by the college in December of 2012 were either forced to vacate the property or left voluntarily.

The standoff is the No. 4 local news story of 2013, as voted on by The Telegram staff.

The college purchased the property from Bob Kreutzer, who notified tenants on Dec. 4, 2012, and again on Feb. 6, that they would be required to vacate the property on or before March 15. That deadline was later extended to March 31.

In February, residents and representative Sam Hermocillo, a spokesman for the group, talked to the GCCC Board of Trustees about the mobile home park issue, asking if college officials were aware that there were people living on the property when the land was purchased. He also said the community college lacks transparency.

"It may be legally right, but it's morally wrong," Hermocillo said at the time.

Legally, Kruetzer was required to give 30 days notice and despite the extended deadline, many tenants didn't budge, in part because of a city ordinance that states that only mobile homes built in 1986 or later can be moved in the city and mobile homes built between 1975 and 1985 can be moved within the county, if the owner gets a conditional-use permit. Models built before 1975 cannot be relocated. The mobile homes located on the property were manufactured between 1970 and 1980.

Many of the tenants remained on the property beyond the March 31 deadline, saying they should be compensated for the mobile homes they would have to leave behind. At that time, Kreutzer said that tenants collectively were $12,000 behind on rent.

GCCC President Herbert Swender maintained throughout the standoff that Kruetzer gave tenants due notice to vacate and that the college, through advice given by its attorney, Randy Grisell, had also abided by the law throughout the process.

On May 8, Grisell said the college served notice to the tenants that they needed to vacate the premises, but when many of them didn't, a lawsuit was filed on May 22.

There were originally 10 mobile homes located on the property. One burned down several years ago. The other mobile homes were either rented or owned by the following occupants: Silvia Valdiviezo, Freddy Morales, Clemencia Zermeno, Rolando Rios, Victor Gamez, Nora Hernandez, Evaristo Elizalde, Harold Orosco and Humberto Zamudio.

Since that time, the tenants have either voluntarily left, or confessed or defaulted judgment to the college. Three units remained on the property as of last week, but at the college's Dec. 10 meeting of the board of trustees, a bid of $24,450 from Lee Construction was approved for the clearing of the land. As of Friday, none of the units remained on the property.

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