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Mobile home park owner has 30 days to address problems after infant's death

30 days to fix many violations

Thursday, May 31, 2012 4:06 PM
Last updated Friday, June 1, 2012 11:53 AM
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The owner of a Gordon Highway mobile home park where an infant was found dead last month has been given 30 days to address immediate dangers and submit a plan to bring his property up to minimum standards, according to documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

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An uninhabited trailer at Pine View mobile home park has been converted into a storage building. Code enforcement and police say the park has had a growing number of code violations and reports of crime since 2006.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
An uninhabited trailer at Pine View mobile home park has been converted into a storage building. Code enforcement and police say the park has had a growing number of code violations and reports of crime since 2006.

Augusta code enforcement inspectors have cited Pine View mobile home park for an array of violations from faulty wiring and shoddy maintenance to rodent infestations and open sewage lines.

Several of the trailers have been condemned as unfit for habitation until the owner makes repairs, said Shawn Hargis Rhodes, the code enforcement inspector.

More than 30 letters citing more than 130 individual code violations were sent to the owner, Florence S. Waterman Trust, of Los Angeles. In addition, one local owner was cited and ordered to vacate her trailer until repairs could be made, Rhodes said.

Rhodes said Waterman might be the name on the documents, but the actual owner of Pine View is Wolf Baschung, the president of another California company, M.W. Real Estate Group, which manages the property. A message left for Baschung was not returned Thursday.

The violations stem from a sweep made by code enforcement, sheriff’s deputies and health officials in May after an infant was found dead in a trailer in April. Police said the 5-month-old’s body was covered in insect and rodent bites.

Until recently, officials said the owner has been unresponsive to their requests to address problems. Rhodes said the local property manager is working to address the most pressing maintenance problems.

“It’s lack of management,” said Rhodes. “They don’t know what is going on with their trailers.”

Violet Sizemore, a former manager at Pine View and a resident there for 28 years, said Baschung has paid little attention to the park since he took over in 2006. She said the park grounds and trailers have continued to deteriorate to its current state of rows of broken windows, collapsing porches and knee-high weeds.

“Wolf isn’t a good manager,” Sizemore said. “He doesn’t want to spend any money.”

Sizemore said that a large number of trailers located in a low-lying area across Wylds Road, known in the park as “the bottom,” are all vacant. She said that few of the trailers around her home display a current sticker indicating the owner has paid taxes for the current year. She said it is just another symptom of neglect.

“I own my trailer and I paid my taxes,” she said.

On most trailers in Pine View, the most recent property tax sticker was from 2009. The park owner owes more than $19,000 in back property and real estate taxes, according to the Richmond County Tax Commissioner’s Office.

Code enforcement and police say the park has had a growing number of code violations and reports of crime since 2006.

The sheriff’s office has been dispatched to the property at least 20 times this year and 50 times in 2011. On one occasion, sheriff’s investigators found a home with an active methamphetamine lab. That trailer was condemned, Rhodes said.

Although code enforcement and police respond to individual complaints, trailers aren’t usually inspected unless one is being moved, she said. Tenants do have the right to request an inspection, however, but most are unaware of that.

“When you are dealing with the least fortunate, they don’t know that we can do an inspection on their property,” she said.

Code enforcement officials met with an attorney representing Baschung last week to go over the problems at Pine View. The owner was given 30 days to come up with a plan to bring the property up to minimum standards. Issues that present an immediate hazard to public health will have to be corrected within that 30-day period, Rhodes said. Other maintenance issues will be addressed according to a plan that must be approved by code enforcement officials, the inspector said.

Failure to meet the standards or to comply with the plan will mean the trailers will be shuttered, Rhodes said.

“We don’t want 120 trailers sitting vacant,” Rhodes said. “But it has to meet minimum standards and it has to meet safety requirements.”

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OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 06/01/12 - 07:18 am
5
0
To Augusta / Richmond County

To Augusta / Richmond County Code Enforcement Staff:

Thank you for putting your foot down.

I would encourage any tenant of any Mobile Home Park or Apartment Complex in Augusta Richmond County to call Code Enforcement when their landlords will not make health, environmental and safety repairs in a reasonable amount of time.

When you consider that many apartment complexes and Mobile Home Parks were built in the 60's or 70's. That makes many of them 40 to 50 years old. The cost of building the apartments or purchasing the 2nd hand trailers has long since been repaid, now it is only staff and upkeep that interfere with the profit margins. The vintage tin covered shacks called Mobile Homes are much worse for upkeep and maintenance.

Maybe mandatory annual inspections of any multi-unit complex built before 1980 to get a Health and Safety Occupancy permit might be a good start?

iLove
626
Points
iLove 06/01/12 - 08:46 am
0
0
May the Lord be with the
Unpublished

May the Lord be with the young girls family and friends.

Casting_Fool
1134
Points
Casting_Fool 06/01/12 - 09:03 am
2
0
"The vintage tin covered

"The vintage tin covered shacks called Mobile Homes are much worse for upkeep and maintenance. "

Man, what is it with biased and derogatory comments about manufactured housing (ie. "mobile homes")?

The only difference between a brick home and a manufactured house is that the MH has wheels on the bottom. The maintenance issues are the same for both homes.

I've been in MH maintenance for 30 years, and own and live in one. I've lived in brick homes, and there is no difference in maintaining either.

I also lived in the same community for that time, and the owner literally spends thousands each month keeping this place nice. We have three groundsmen who are continually working on the landscaping, cutting grass, etc., a full-time maintenance man, and the owner is involved in the community on a daily basis.

If there's any issue with upkeep, the owner is on it immediately and spends whatever it takes to fix the issue.

Just because there are a few places where the owner doesn't take care of the homes, doesn't mean that all manufactured housing communities are dumps filled with "vintage tin covered shacks".

The same things that kill a brick community will kill a MH community. Crime, drugs, alcohol, unkempt yards, carousing, loud music, and unfortunately as it turns out, welfare. Ask any landlord how well welfare families pay their rent, and if the rent doesn't get paid, there isn't any money to maintain the facilities.

And before anyone jumps on my back about the welfare comment, my wife's illness (and subsequent death) forced us on welfare for a number of years. I know what I'm talking about.

I was raised to believe that the first thing you pay for is the rent, then utilities, then gas for the car, and then food. A number of welfare families seem to think that you can skip the rent in order to pay for everything else, but they never seems to realize that if you don't pay the rent, the landlord can't pay for the upkeep on the community. For every rent-paying welfare recipient, there's probably nine who think that the rent comes second, third or last in their list of priorities.

If you don't believe that, then go visit some brick home communities where welfare is the major "employer". It doesn't take "vintage tin covered shacks" to drag a community down into disrepair and ruin.

Not withstanding, the owners of Pine View MHP have completely dropped the ball on this one and have given the MH communities in our area a serious black eye.

For what it's worth, I am proud of the MH community that I live in; and the time, work, and money that goes into making it a nice place to live.

It's all in how the owner perceives his responsibility to the community, and transmits that sense of responsibility to his underlings who do the actual work. The old adage that "It takes money to make money." holds true for both brick home and MH communities.

The only difference are the wheels...

itsanotherday1
43317
Points
itsanotherday1 06/01/12 - 10:18 am
1
0
Casting Fool, you make some

Casting Fool, you make some excellent points, but there are a couple of things I disagree with. Brick does not equal tin. While there are very nice and comfortable manufactured housing units, the construction necessary to make them "mobile" also make them flimsier and easier to get deteriorated. Not to mention, they are firetraps.
Otherwise, I think you are spot on with your comments.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/01/12 - 10:58 am
0
0
casting_foot, i agree. mobile

casting_foot, i agree. mobile homes can be nicer than stick built or brick homes. i've got a relative in edgefield who has a very nice place next to a pond w/ a screened in deck and fig trees surrounding it. on a bricked up foundation even, w/ a two car carport attached. i do believe that mobile homes on owner occupied land instead of in parks or camps tend to be maintained better though.

Jake
32577
Points
Jake 06/01/12 - 11:52 am
3
0
Crying Wolf

I think Wolf Baschung should be forced to live in one of the sorry mobile homes for a month then maybe he would blow the dust off of his wallet and fix the place up.

batya
280
Points
batya 06/01/12 - 01:39 pm
1
0
Casting fool.....I have lived

Casting fool.....I have lived in both as well, and I can tell you the many differences I saw and felt. If a bad storm is brewing, which would you rather be in.... MH or brick? I'm running to the brick! Now to the article.....I agree with the idea of annual inspections in multi-home properties such as this. It could keep crime and abuse down, but as always the question....who pays for it? Us taxpayers are burdened enough.

Casting_Fool
1134
Points
Casting_Fool 06/03/12 - 11:39 pm
2
0
"If a bad storm is brewing,

"If a bad storm is brewing, which would you rather be in.... MH or brick?"

Neither. I've seen what a tornado does to "brick" homes, and what it can do to a manufactured house. Recreational vehicles are even worse. Brick, MH, RV, none of them survive. If possible, it's a storm shelter for me.

"Brick does not equal tin... the construction necessary to make them "mobile" also make them flimsier and easier to get deteriorated. Not to mention, they are firetraps."

Much older units, yes. Newer units, no. Many newer units are vinyl sided just like "brick" homes. Others are sided with wood and other "brick" home materials. Older manufactured homes can burn to the ground in less than 10 minutes. Newer ones can take 15 to 25. How long would it take for your brick home to burn to the ground? Smoke alarms, anyone?

Interesting that the advice to anyone in a burning home is the same, 1. GET OUT, 2. Call for help from a neighbor's or some other safe position. 3. Wait for the fire department.

... and while we're on the topic, how many "brick" homes are actually covered in brick? A "brick" home isn't better than a manufactured home, it's just not mobile and it's more expensive. It's not any safer, it's not any easier to maintain, and it's still just a place to live.

There are way too many biased and negative views on manufactured housing. Some of us can't afford to buy a "brick" (vinyl-sided, wood-sided, stucco, shingles, log, or whatever siding) home. We recognize the advantages and the disadvantages of living in a manufactured home and choose to do so.

We have the same maintenance issues that a "brick" home owner does. We pay taxes on the home, just like a "brick" home owner does. We live, play and die in our homes just like a "brick" home owner does.

Building a MH and making sure that it can be moved doesn't compromise it's construction. If they move someone's brick home, would it survive the move, or would they need to take special steps to ensure that it didn't fall apart on the trip?

Most of these negative comments are referring to much older manufactured homes, before adequate standards were in place to ensure that they are constructed properly.

We're not "trailer trash", we're not living in "rickety tin boxes on wheels", and we're not a branch of substandard humanity just because we don't have a "brick" to toss at YOUR homes.

Please get lives, people. We live, work, and play, just like you do. We just choose to live in manufactured homes rather than "brick" homes.

Oh, and for what it's worth, you wouldn't believe the number of "brick" home owners looking for places to park their RV's because the economy is tanking and they're losing their "brick" homes to the banks.

My manufactured home is paid for. The economy can go to hell in a basket and I will still have a place to live. How many brick home owners can say the same?

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