And the City still tried to swoop in every few years and take the mobile home park back. Like Huns on a hill, it would declare itself Supreme Ruler of Everything and that it operated under no law. Forgetting that the State originally mandated that this park be left alone until 2003, also conveniently ignoring the Mobile Home Residency Law, the City would charge down with writs and ordinances and mandates and, most of all, the pointy spear of contracts that waive the residents’ rights. Oh my, but the City was always trying to get these poor old people to sign a contract that waived their rights. All the while, if you looked the city manager in the eye you could see the gleam of a blinking “Hotel” sign. Can you imagine? Waiving your own citizens’ rights and handing public land to funnel money to a private business like a hotel? I’d love to take all the little red plastic hotels from a Monopoly game and scatter them in front of City Hall to watch the bureaucrats burst forth from inside and start fighting over the tiny game pieces like starving people fight over nachos. But, I’m digressing. Sorry. Back to the story.
Fast-forward to 2003, the 50-year lease on the mobile home park was up and the Kapiloff Bill was sun-setting and the City had to move those people, so under the provisions of the Mobile Home Residency Law, the City of San Diego gave the residents of the park all the assistance they required to move their homes, or if the homes were too dilapidated, the City paid the residents to have them razed and found them other suitable accommodations. Everything was wonderful, a real spirit of cooperation; bluebirds sang and tied ribbons into the residents’ hair. Of course, none of that is true.
The City came down on the residents of De Anza mobile home park like an ax murderer descending upon a sorority house. Instead of following the Mobile Home Residency Law and having impact reports drawn up and assessments on people’s homes done and all that, they marched armed policemen in and told the residents to sign legal documents waiving their rights to relocation assistance in exchange for $4000 to $8000.
The City fired the old park manager and brought in (I’m not making this up) a company known for its mobile-home-park busting. (Isn’t that an odd niche?) The company, Hawkeye Asset Management, had already busted up a mobile home park in Orange County and was in court for it. So San Diego gave the company a one-source contract (no competing bids) for $300,000 to “manage” the park in the manner that they had managed the Orange County park.
In 2003, Hawkeye, in what seems like a caricature of evil, demolished laundry rooms, cut down trees, shut off utilities like electricity and water to some trailers, erected barbed-wire fences, set up a guard shack, and hired a security company whose armed guards patrol the grounds. Residents who complained were brought into the management office and told that if they didn’t sign the waiver of their rights and take the four to eight grand pittance for their homes, that they weren’t going to get anything — or, worse, the residents would have to pay for the removal and relocation out of their own pockets.
In one incident with the security guard company, a 61-year-old attorney, Dion Dyer, came to the park to meet with his client. The guard interrogated Mr. Dyer as to the nature of his business and asked for his driver’s license. Mr. Dyer told the guard that neither of those things were any of his business and the guard refused to give Mr. Dyer a parking pass. Mr. Dyer, in clear violation of this security guard’s imaginary authority (!), then drove to his client’s mobile home, where he parked off the street in a carport next to the mobile. While inside, Mr. Dyer heard the rumble of a tow truck and went outside to see what was going on. Security guards were waving the tow truck in to hook up Mr. Dyer’s vehicle. Mr. Dyer protested, and the guard threw the 61-year-old attorney to the ground, facedown on the asphalt, and put a knee in his back. The security guard called the police, and when they arrived, they instructed the guard to let Mr. Dyer up. The police never arrested the guard for anything. The tow truck left without its daily catch. Mr. Dyer went back into the mobile to finish out his business meeting with scuffed palms, a crumpled filthy shirt, and bent glasses. While he was sitting there, he began to have chest pains. He thought he was having a heart attack so he went to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with two broken ribs.
At least the police didn’t arrest Mr. Dyer! In a separate case, the police weren’t so evenhanded. As people checked into the mobile home park, personal information was demanded and recorded. The security company then handed that information over to the police as tips to catch criminals. One day, half a dozen sheriff’s deputies burst into a trailer. A woman and her three-year-old daughter sat shaking and terrified as the deputies told her that her husband was under arrest. When the husband got home, the deputies told him that he, David Wesley Rose, was under arrest, and he promptly told them that he was not David Wesley Rose but, rather, David William Rose. What happened next is murky, but I’m assuming the deputies gave out a big “Oops!” and popped off a quick wave as they got back into their squad cars. No one knows if they stopped at the guard shack to retrieve more personal information with which to abuse residents, but I dare say it’s not out of the question. After hearing this story, of course, the residents became leery of giving information to the security company. What other ways would they use that information?