TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Several Sierra Vista residents are on the brink of losing their homes over a zoning violation. Renters and property owners were given 30 days to remove their recreational vehicles from a residential neighborhood.
“I’ve lived here since 1997,” said Amanda Root.
Root calls her property a “little piece of heaven on earth.” It’s fittingly located at Cloud 9 Mobile Home Park.
“Four years ago, on Aug. 1, 2016, I had a fire which totally destroyed my double-wide mobile home,” said Root. “A year after that, a friend bought me [an] RV.”
Even though she is disabled, Root poured countless hours of physical labor into her RV and garden, making it feel like a home again.
“Then, I got a letter two days before the anniversary of the fire and it totally devastated me,” Root said.
She received the following letter from the City of Sierra Vista.
Root was not the only one given a deadline to comply.
In a statement to KOLD News 13, Matt McLachlan, the community development director for Sierra Vista, said Cloud 9 Mobile Home Park has had a “manufactured home residential” zoning designation in place since 1986.
“City of Sierra Vista code enforcement recently responded to a resident complaint concerning properties at Cloud 9 Ranch Estates. Code enforcement found that seven RVs were being used as primary living units on private lots, which is not allowed under existing zoning for that manufactured home subdivision. City code limits the use of RVs for living purposes to no more than 14 consecutive days in residential zoning districts,” McLachlan said.
“I’m one of the tenants that’s being evicted off private property,” said Georgia Montgomery. “We have lived there for almost 6 years.”
Georgia and her husband, Granville Montgomery, own an RV but rent the lot it sits on. They say the location is perfect for Granville who is on an oxygen tank and likes to be near a hospital.
“We are completely happy [here],” said Granville. “We keep our yard up and pay our rent on time.”
Wednesday night, neighbors came together to protest the city’s enforcement.
“If Sierra Vista does not do the right thing and allow our people to stay where they have always lived, we are going to have to sue them for violating our client’s constitutional rights,” said Paul Avelar, an Attorney with the Arizona Institute of Justice. “Both the U.S. and Arizona constitutions protect people’s property rights; the right to live where they live, the right not to be kicked off their own property. The problem with zoning is it controls pretty much everything. It’s important that people understand the threat that zoning laws can have to people’s property rights. These people have lived here, they are not a threat to anyone, they should have the right to stay as long as they own the property. Sierra Vista didn’t even tell our clients, ‘Hey, you have the right to appeal this’ … they just said, ‘You have 30 days, get out.’ That kind of procedure is itself a violation of the constitution as well.”
“The City is always open to working with property owners as they move toward compliance and that is especially true in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficult situation many residents may find themselves in,” said McLachlan. “We encourage the property owners to get in touch with City Community Development staff and work together with the City on a timeline that is feasible for them and their tenants.”
“It would essentially mean that I was homeless,” said Root. “I don’t have the finances to buy another mobile home.”