FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – On Tuesday a Fresno County Judge granted a new owner for a troubled trailer park in north Fresno.
It comes after a year-long investigation into the park including a fatal fire on April 29, 2021, that killed 56-year-old Ronald Richardson.
Our station first broke the story of the park’s suspended operating permit.
“We will not be moved, we will not move,” chanted the tenants against the sale as they walked out of the courtroom.
Around 30 tenants chanted in solidarity just minutes after the Judge’s decision to allow Harmony Communities to buy the park for $1.7 million minus the $300,000 that the company invested in getting the park cleaned up.
“We are still very heartbroken, still very afraid,” said Patsy Rajskup who has lived in the park for 32 years.
Over the last year, the park’s condition has improved quite a bit under the supervision of the court-appointed Receiver Mark Adams who contracted with Harmony Communities to clean up the park.
“I am pleased that this has come to an end and as I said to you yesterday, uncertainty is not the friend of a place as dangerous as the Trails End Park and this is a big step forward,” said Adams.
Still, much work needs to be done with at least one unit without gas. Rajskp and other tenants fear the Stockton Based corporation will push tenants out through rent hikes and strict rules.
“I would rather live with the mess we had than under dictatorship,” said Rajskup.
Caritas is a non-profit corporation that has affordable communities including property in South Fresno. The company did express interest in buying Trails End and was supported by the tenants. However, the judge said the company never brought forward a concrete plan, and therefore she couldn’t consider the offer.
Mariah Thompson represents a fourth of the tenants at Trails End. She said because the city didn’t back the tenants her clients feel abandoned.
“They took a side on this and it wasn’t the side of the residents,” said Thompson. “So, it is a situation where their neutrality was a sign of betrayal in what my clients see.”
The city does have a rent control ordinance.
“Judge Kapetan made the correct decision in allowing the sale of Trails End Mobile Home Park to Harmony Communities. This will be the next step in ensuring the Park continues to be a safe, healthy, and crime-free environment for people and their families to reside, which did not exist until the City assumed control of the park. Harmony Communities has an excellent record in operating mobile home parks and this will now continue with Trails End.”- Councilmember Garry Bredefeld said in a statement.