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Friday — May 21, 2004

Our View

Eviction notices are harvest of county neglect

Thirty local families are reaping what Blaine County Commissioners have sown.

They are reaping eviction notices.

The families who live in the J&C Mobile Home Park south of Ketchum were notified last week that they must pack up and leave by Sept. 10. The notices they received are a result of poor leadership and neglect.

A succession of Blaine County Commissioners failed to zone existing mobile home parks in the county for mobile homes. Unlike areas that are zoned to protect single-family homes, areas that contained mobile homes were left hanging.

Instead of encouraging or protecting them, commissioners created a campaign calculated to make them disappear. They prohibited single-wide mobile homes anywhere in the county, except within commercial parks.

So, it’s a Catch 22. While single-wide mobile homes are allowed, soon no place will exist to put them.

Year after year, the most affordable entry-level housing around got lip service, but no protection from the county.

It’s not as though the commissioners couldn’t see the evictions coming. They watched as Ketchum zoned out mobile homes years ago. They watched when residents of the county’s largest mobile home park, Mountain Meadows, were threatened with eviction and saved only when owners relented.

The commissioners were content to wear blinders and leave mobile home park residents to the brutal mercies of a soulless marketplace.

The marketplace does not concern itself with the needs of ordinary people working for ordinary wages—especially in high-value resort real estate markets.

The market does the opposite: It awards property to the highest bidder. When young and working families are pitted against wealthy bidders from all over the world, they don’t have chance.

Zoning would not have provided foolproof protection. However, when property owners wanted to change the use, the change would have been subject to public debate. This could have opened the door to solutions that could have benefited both owner and tenants.

Instead, the residents of the J&C have been left with no choice but to pack up and leave. Perhaps they’ll be comforted to know that their counterparts in other parks will likely meet the same fate someday.

If today’s commissioners had any class, they would find a way to buy the property and let the tenants remain.

The question now is whether the Blaine County Commissioners will do anything to protect remaining parks other than wring their hands and offer condolences to the displaced.

It’s a pretty good bet that the best they will do is offer tenants a hankie to dry their tears as they go off in search of a place they can afford to live.

J&C is not the last mobile home park in Blaine County. The question now is whether the Blaine County Commissioners will do anything more than wring their hands and offer their condolences to the displaced.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.