LOS BANOS, Calif. (KGPE) – A community of people who are unhoused is causing mobile home park tenants to feel unsafe after dozens of fires.
The tenants said they often wake up to fires in the vacant city lot on the back of their property. Tenants said they have called police and city officials hundreds of times but the problems continue.
“At night it is like living in a war zone,” said Rancho Mobile Home Park Assistant Manager Chandra Lewis.
During the day, the mobile home park just a block off of Pacheco Boulevard is a community of around a hundred trailers. But at night, tenants see red hot orange flames erupt from the land behind the park as smoke fills the sky.
“I see fibers flying with fire,” said tenant Claudia Nunez. “If those things land on one of the mobile homes and if it lands on us, it’s going up and we are going up with it.”
Nunez lives in the back row of the mobile home park. She is close enough to see the fires as she stands on her front porch. The smoke was so thick, several times she ended up in the hospital struggling to breathe.
“Please help us,” Nunez begged. “We have already gone to City Hall, they don’t want to listen to us. We have gone to the police. Sometimes, they don’t even show up when I call 911. We need help desperately or somebody is not going to finish until somebody ends up dead.
Kasey Miller operates the park, which she said housed around 50% of seniors. She said despite the complaints to the city, little has been done. Miller said the community popped up on the empty city lot on the south side of the park in 2020 and it’s been a headache ever since.
“We have been begging the city to help us,” said Miller. “It is like a third-world country back there, they are absolutely terrorizing our tenants.”
Miller documented over 30 pages of complaints about the lot since 2020, including thousands of dollars in damage to the park’s fence.
“Human indecency, human feces, drugs, our tenants are scared,” said Miller. “I have a lot of tenants that are disabled and elderly.”
In May 2021, a tenant called the police after she said a man who lives on the lot tried to kick in her door. In 2022, Miller reported several fires including an explosion, and several times over the years surveillance video has caught people trespassing at night.
“It is every single day,” said Miller. “It is a nightmare.”
Jesus Lopez has lived in the park for 7 years. Ring video shows a man stealing his lawnmower in the middle of the night. He reported it to the police but never got it back.
“Ever since they put that camp back there, we get people in here that are looking to steal stuff,” said Lopez.
CBS47 investigated and found at least 7 theft reports with the police department and over 70 incidents reported to the fire department since 2020.
“In law enforcement, we are forced to solve these types of issues even though we didn’t cause the issue,” Los Banos Commander Ray Reyna.
Reyna said because the encampment is on public property, the city cannot make the people who live there move. The tenants and manager are fed up and feel like they are paying the price, with their health and safety at risk.
“We are afraid, and I have health issues,” Lewis. “Their fires are killing me. Their fires are absolutely killing me.”
Stay with CBS47 for parts two and three of this series later this week.