Development

Mobile

That photo is by Dean J. Koepfler of The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash. Their caption for it reads:

With his son Steve at his side, Doug Donery breaks down following a Pierce County Council meeting about the impending closure of his mobile home park.

Doug Donery, 60, is disabled. His wife Pattie “is recovering from two heart attacks and has a brain tumor.” They have one year to move, Scott Fontaine reports:

Their manufactured home is likely unmovable, and they don’t have enough money to start over again.

The residents of Country Aire, a quiet, leafy plot on Meridian Avenue across from Pierce County Airport, are scrambling to adjust after receiving the eviction notice. For many, the closure leads to financial nightmares, leaving the neighborhood they’ve long considered home and uprooting a tight-knit community.

The land on which Country Aire sits and two adjacent lots will be developed into a shopping center, said Michael Luis, a consultant hired by the developers to assist residents with relocation. The Home Depot will be the anchor store — four miles south of another one of the big-box hardware store’s locations near South Hill Mall.

Country Aire is the latest in a string of mobile-home parks to close statewide. More than 52 parks have closed or are scheduled to close since the beginning of 2006 — a loss of more than 2,000 spots, according to the State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development’s Office of Manufactured Housing.

This is happening everywhere. People like the Donerys own their own home, but not the land it sits on. When the landowners have the opportunity to make a bigger profit from some other use of that land, the Donerys and the hundreds of thousands of others like them, are forced to move. Their houses, in most cases, either cannot be moved or cannot be moved for a price they can afford.

About 22 million Americans live in nearly 10 million manufactured homes. That’s a huge portion of the low-income housing in this country. I haven’t tracked down the figures on this, but a large proportion of those 22 million residents seem to be in the same situation as the soon-to-be-former residents of Country Aire — they own the home, but not the land beneath it.

The economics of these arrangements are straightforward. If you own both the home and the land it sits on (or if the land is part of a land trust) it tends to appreciate in value just like other homes. If you own the home, but not the land, then it depreciates — like a vehicle.

Resident-owned communities, therefore, not only shield manufactured-home owners like the Donerys from potentially devastating dislocation and from runaway rent increases, they are also a way of helping low-income families build equity.

New Hampshire-based ROC USA is an excellent resource for lawmakers in Washington, Delaware, California, Arizona, Florida … wherever, looking for ways to protect and support manufactured-home owners by helping make resident-ownership of the land more legally and financially viable. They’ve got some kind of major, national expansion planned for their efforts in May and I’m eager to see what that will mean.

Until then, that link — www.rocusa.org — is a fine thing to pass along to members of your state legislature.

I realize this is kind of an oddball hobby horse of mine. No, I don’t live in a manufactured-home community. Nor does anyone close to me. But this issue drives scores of letters to the editor at the paper where I work. Those letters come from real people who, like Doug Donery, are powerless and at the end of their rope.

See that photo? Hence the hobby horse.

  • purpleshoes

    I grew up in Appalachia. I don’t think it’s odd. (And I think the degree to which other members of the community are often actively willing to sell out trailer park residents – just because it’s a trailer park – is disgusting).

  • http://jesurgislac.wordpress.com Jesurgislac

    It makes me so angry that people will destroy other people’s lives for profit – whether that’s selling trailer park land for “development”, making people who live there homeless, or working illegal immigrants in hazardous environments because the employers know the illegals won’t challenge their working conditions.
    It’s a shining, flashy-eyed hobby horse you ride, Fred, with a glowing mane and tail. Ride it well.

  • Lee Ratner

    People will use other people for profit as long as we have people who sing the praises of free market capitalism. Behavior like this will not stop until people stop thinking that they have the right to do anything they want with their property even if it hurts others. I believe in private property, its an important guarantee of civil liberties, but its not a good in itself and people should not be allowed to use their private property to make the lives of others miserable. Actions have consequences and the most ethical action causes the least amount of harm. Before acting, people probably should consider the effects of their actions in the entirety.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    You take my house when you do take the prop / That doth sustain my house…

  • A Texan in Bavaria

    It’s a problem that looks like it has a solution that is a once-per-individual thing that can make a life-long difference and helps people be more independent – makes for a compelling hobby horse.

  • Armando

    Fred-
    I don’t comment often, though I do read your blog regularly. When I do comment, it’s because I simply must. Don’t get off this hobby horse. I don’t live in a manufactured home nor have I ever, but I know a thing or two about financial uncertainty. These are the wages of rampant, unregulated capitalism and it’s awefully convenient that, simply because the people affected are poor, those with the power can be blind to their suffering and we, in turn, are complicit with them. I wonder how much we’d be hearing about this issue in the mainstream media if the communities being shut down were high end mcmansions or Central Park West. If that were the case we’d have a public outcry about how the government tramples on the rights of “the little guy.”
    God bless ‘merica!

  • spencer

    Fred, you don’t have to have a personal connection to this (or any other) issue to feel strongly about it.
    The way I see it, any society can be judged by the ways it allows its most vulnerable members to be treated. Certainly, many of the people you’ve written about in these posts are highly vulnerable, economically speaking. They definitely need people to speak up for them – so much the better if those people doing the speaking are not economically vulnerable, since lawmakers tend to listen to them a bit more closely than they do to people who live in trailer parks.
    It’s in our interest as a society to prevent things like this from happening. It’s exploitative, disruptive, and just plain wrong.
    Keep riding this hobby horse.

  • Ursula L

    There is another aspect to this issue, that I think is worth considering. In the US, there is something approaching a fetish on the concept of “home ownership.” There are decent individual economic reasons to own your own home (with the land), and there are huge tax advantages that may lead people to buy a home when they’d be as happy, and more environmentally responsible, in an apartment.
    But I suspect that because home ownership is such an obsession, it is easy for someone to (mistakenly) think that they are making a wise investment in buying this type of housing. It puts them in the category of people who “own their own home”, with the associated social status.
    A second issue is taxes.
    I’m not sure what the tax status is for these homes – if it brings similar benefits to owning a home with the land. That would be a problem, in that the policy would encourage people to buy this type of housing when they can’t afford a house with land, to get the tax benefit, rather than staying with the less vulnerable option of renting. I’d hate to take a tax break away from someone who is in this situation of poverty, but equalizing the field so that there is no tax benefit to ownership over renting might help.

  • PurpleGirl

    Fred, I agree with Spencer. Keep riding your hobby horses. (And egads, does that area really need another Home Depot & shopping center…)

  • damnedyankee

    Well, I do in fact live in a manufactured home. It’s a nice little development I’m in, with paved streets, lawns, and everything. What Fred is posting about is something that haunts the back of my mind every day, the anxiety that some day I’m going to get a phone call at work from my wife telling me that developers have just bought the land the complex sits on, and we have thirty days to move.
    That’s the big anxiety, of course. Then you have the death of a thousand cuts from local utilities and businesses. Despite the fact that most of our residents are elderly and we’re a quiet, crime-free community situated near a national park, some pizza places won’t deliver here because we’re a trailer park. I’ve had local utilities (bottled gas, heating oil) not give us the break (change a billing date, usually, in order to better coincide with my paycheck) they might give other customers because I was one of “you people” in the trailer park.
    It seems like at every turn, in big ways or small, somebody is standing by somewhere to remind me that I’m a subhuman because of where I live. So all I can say is keep riding that crazy hobby horse, Fred.

  • Joolya

    This really drives home for me how the gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing in this country. There’s a whole swath of “have-a-littles” whose tenuous security is being kicked out from underneath them by forces that just don’t care about their well-being. So what? Developers build a big box store for the other have-a-littles, who either have just a little more than a little or have been lucky enough to not be in the path of the Vogons – yet. And so they shrug and go back to “supporting the economy” at Home Depot or Target, smug or relieved that it wasn’t them who were evicted, or not really caring at all because of course, they have their own problems and it’s nice to have a choice of Home Depots in town …
    I don’t think we have-a-little and have-a-little-more-than-a-littles realize, objectively, just how precarious our situations are. If we did we’d be petrified. But maybe we’d be a little less complacent. These guys are the bellweathers, the early symptoms of the failure of the system. I’m really nervous about the future of this country.

  • http://accidental-historian.blogspot.com/ Geds

    And so they shrug and go back to “supporting the economy” at Home Depot or Target, smug or relieved that it wasn’t them who were evicted, or not really caring at all because of course, they have their own problems and it’s nice to have a choice of Home Depots in town …
    And, ironically, that Home Depot is making things even worse for them in the process.
    My brother in law is an engineer and he’s worked with consumer goods that end up in Wal-Mart and Home Depot. He refuses to shop in either of those places due to their practices. And it’s not even an employment practice issue.
    That whole price rollback thing Wal-Mart advertises all the time is also something Home Depot also does. The companies bascially say to a manufacturer, “We paid you $100/unit for this last year. We’ll pay you $90/unit this year.” Next year it will be $80. But they also want it better this year than last year.
    This goes completely and totally against any sensible economic practice. However, Wal-Mart and Home Depot have enough clout that if they aren’t carrying your product, you could end up going out of business. So every year the manufacturer has to figure out how to make a new product better and cheaper. That means cutting corners or laying people off. Does Home Depot care? Of course not. They get to advertise lower prices.

  • http://xanga.com/ihavenothingprofoundtosay Robb

    Please, continue to ride this horse!
    As I look around at my housing options (first time buyer), I’m constantly running into these homes as what’s in my price range, but there is just about no financial help available, because lenders all know how messed up these land situations can be.
    The Puget Sound area is especially bad about this: housing development hasn’t slowed nearly as much as the national average, and between rural/wilderness zones being eaten up and these parks being torn asunder for suburban “renewal”, it’s becoming a less wonderful place to be a lower income homebuyer, or indeed, a low income human.

  • ajesquire

    I know lots of people from Philadelphia and the surrounding counties who plan on retiring to a “modular” or “pre-fab” home in Delaware. I doubt many of them have considered the distinction over who owns the land, of if they have, the likelihood that the land would ever get sold out from under them.

  • Cathy W

    Ursula -
    I live in a mobile home park in Michigan – I can’t speak for the situation in any other state.
    My mobile home is taxed by the state at a flat rate of $36/year, because it’s considered a vehicle. If it were affixed to a permanent foundation on my own land, it would be treated the same as a site-built house, and assessed and taxed normally.
    About five years ago, a law was passed allowing localities to collect property taxes on any other improvements on a lot where a mobile home is parked – so I’m taxed on my shed, to the tune of about another $25/year. This was done because there were a few counties where a lot of new development was coming in the form of mobile home parks rather than trendy upscale McMansions, and the schools were getting a lot of new children without a lot of new property tax revenue to come along with them. The tax on the improvements was a compromise – the counties had initially asked to be allowed to tax mobile homes as though they were site-built homes.
    The property owner also pays commercial property taxes on the park; I’m not sure what the valuation or the rate are, but I am pretty sure it’s passed along in my lot rent!
    So a mobile home owner in a park probably doesn’t pay an awful lot of property tax, compared to the same home on a separate piece of land.
    I miss out on two income tax deductions:
    - The interest on my mortgage is not enough for it to be worthwhile to itemize federal deductions and claim it. (My interest rate is not that great, because it counted as a vehicle loan, but the principal is low.)
    - I do not get to claim property taxes as a state income tax deduction, because even factoring in what’s passed along by my landlord (the state tells you to assume a percentage of your rent), it doesn’t exceed the threshold fraction of my income. It’s close enough that if I were paying my entire housing bill as rent, it probably would be over, but the deduction would be pretty small.
    Right now I definitely come out ahead on the tax situation. But especially after the Kelo decision from the Supreme Court, the fear that the land will be sold out from underneath me to someone who wants a McMansion subdivision instead of a mobile home park kind of lurks in the back of my mind, and one of my medium-term financial goals is to have my house moved to my own land while it’s still in good enough shape to do so.

  • Tukla in Iowa

    The Home Depot will be the anchor store
    This seems like a sick, sad irony.
    It puts them in the category of people who “own their own home”, with the associated social status.
    Not really. “Double wide” is virtually synonymous with “redneck” in American culture.
    I’m not sure what the tax status is for these homes
    They’re generally taxed as vehicles. Sometimes it’s a flat rate, and sometimes depending on a value assessment (like a regular home). The mobile home owner doesn’t pay property tax directly for their land, but of course they pay it as part of their rent, so it’s actually an invisible tax. In addition, while you may own the house, you have to agree to all the landlord’s restrictions on what you can do with the house and the land, just like you would renting an apartment. Unlike an apartment dweller, you’re responsible for all maintenance fees. And you’re never going to be able to sell the house for more than you paid for it, just like with a car.
    The main advantages to a mobile home over an apartment is a greater degree of privacy and not having to worry about the idiot next door burning down your home with his scented candles. It’s also nice being able to have your own washer and dryer, which I miss a lot. On the other hand, I don’t have to shovel snow or mow the grass at the apartment where I live now, and it costs much less.

  • Tukla in Iowa

    Mrrf. It looked fine in the preview.

  • pepperjackcandy

    One of the funders of ROC USA is the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
    The Annie E. Casey Foundation is one of the charities that you can select to donate your 1¢ per search to if you use GoodSearch.
    I made a cursory search for most of the other funders, partners, and collaborators at ROC USA (I didn’t bother looking for stuff like FannieMae and the Merrill Lynch one), but didn’t see any of them listed.
    FWIW, I’ve been giving my 1¢ per search to The Animal Defense League of Texas, which is where we got two of our cats and our dog.

  • Alan

    I just had a client leave my office who I’m probably going to represent in bankruptcy proceedings pro bono. Unlike the people discussed in this post, she owns the land her trailer sits upon. But unfortunately, she’s terribly uneducated and was persuaded more than twelve years ago to put the land up as partial collateral for a loan at 30% APR to pay for the trailer she put onto it. She had no idea how compound interest works nor what a security interest was until I explained them to her. Including interest, she is effectively paying over $90,000 on a trailer that’s completely falling apart.
    What can you do in this country when the entire capitalist infrastructure makes it legal to financially rape people like that?

  • Lauren

    As I look around at my housing options (first time buyer), I’m constantly running into these homes as what’s in my price range, but there is just about no financial help available, because lenders all know how messed up these land situations can be.
    The Puget Sound area is especially bad about this: housing development hasn’t slowed nearly as much as the national average, and between rural/wilderness zones being eaten up and these parks being torn asunder for suburban “renewal”, it’s becoming a less wonderful place to be a lower income homebuyer, or indeed, a low income human.
    -Robb
    You’re looking for a house in the Puget Sound area??? I thought I had to be the only Slacktivista who lived out here.
    BTW, if you are in Wahsington State, you are supposed to be blaming the Growth Management Act for the lack of affordable housing. Everybody knows it’s all the nasty yuppie environmentalists’ fault. /sarcasm

  • mds

    The way I see it, any society can be judged by the ways it allows its most vulnerable members to be treated.
    Indeed. If only there were some similar sentiment in the Bible that so many claim to revere, so that we might see a little more concerted action on the subject.

  • libbyblue

    If only there were some similar sentiment in the Bible that so many claim to revere
    “Whatever you do unto the least of these…?”
    Doesn’t seem to be helping much.

  • John

    Anyone read the article? It says
    County Councilman Roger Bush, whose district includes Country Aire, believes the state’s Growth Management Act has hastened park closures.
    The act, which became law in 1990, requires state and local governments to designate urban areas and implement growth plans. The aim of the law is to protect the environment and build sustainable economic development.
    Instead, critics believe the corresponding increase in real estate value has squeezed out the lower class.
    “When they drew the differences between urban and rural, this park fell in an urban setting,” Bush said. “The pressure on raising the value is accelerated compared to people farther south (in a rural zone). The state requires us to increase density. And to increase density, certain kinds of parks or residential developments have to alter.

    So, a problem here is government proactively changing the zoning and development pattern, requiring increased density (leading, unsurprisingly and undoubtedly to increased tax revenue). Interestingly enough, the developers are paying the displaced residents the government relocation assistance now, out of their own pockets, rather than forcing them to wait the year or two that the government will take to pay. This doesn’t sound completely heartless, except for the government part.

  • http://xanga.com/ihavenothingprofoundtosay Robb

    You’re looking for a house in the Puget Sound area??? I thought I had to be the only Slacktivista who lived out here.
    No, there’s a few – ninjanun is somewhere in Seattle, and there was someone else in the Seattle region that I can’t recall. I’m up in the strange ‘burg Snohomish, an odd blend of suburbia, rural/agricultural land, and unspoiled quasi forest.
    The GMA does make things more complicated, but I blame developer greed & market speculators for the prices. If I had a bit more money, I would probably refer to myself as a “yuppy environmentalist”, rather than the “low income guy who likes the planet” than I am.

  • Anguish

    In general houses depreciate anyway, it’s very simply and specifically the land, and the associated legal permission to build a residence on it, which appreciates in value. Actually that’s probably only guaranteed in the long view for urban and suburban areas. My grandparents’ house is without doubt worth less (in real terms) today than it was when they bought it, brand new, in a fit of optimism after the war, but the property overall will be worth much more. Rare exceptions to the general rule would be very old houses, which like classic cars can sometimes become more valuable because you can’t buy a new one “just like it” at any price.
    If houses themselves appreciated that would be a magical trick, and would have saved many of England’s stately homes. What tends to happen (like my grandparents’ house but on a grander scale) is that the upkeep costs to ensure that depreciation is even manageable eventually exceed the wealth of the owners, and they must sell the surrounding land to pay for it. After a while there’s no land left except that on which the building itself stands and they must sell, typically to developers who want to put many smaller homes on the site, or convert it to offices and meeting rooms.
    As to why they depreciate, it’s our good friend progress. Slowly, almost imperceptibly we’ve got better at building and fitting out houses. Who’d live in a house with no running water? Or without electricity ? Yet eventually these modern innovations became essential features of any dwelling. Retro-fitting such amenities is terribly expensive, but designing them into new homes was not. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere without the convenience of circuit breakers for the electrical system and a system-wide RCD, but a house built thirty years ago won’t have them unless its owners paid for an expensive refit, so I have to include the cost of a refit in working out what it’s worth. Similarly, a twenty year old bathroom, even if kept in excellent condition, is full of petty annoyances. Like toilet overflows – who wants the outside of the house stained just because some tiny valve broke ?
    Now, having said all that, many people in England live contentedly in houses without owning the land on which they’re built. Sometimes the land is bought by developers, and eventually the houses are torn down whether their owners like it or not (and this is real demolition, because these aren’t “trailers”, they’re houses built of brick and stone). But somehow this doesn’t cause the anxiety that we’re seeing here from Fred. I don’t think it’s because of the specifics of English law (e.g you get first refusal when someone sells the land you live on). What Fred’s actually angry about here is that these people are poor. Everything else is a distraction. Being poor in America sucks, no matter where you live. What’s really sad is that even America’s poor seem to have been convinced to vote against policies that would help the poor.

  • Lauren

    I’ll add “international real estate” to the list of topics I know absolutely about. Do those “people in England liv[ing] contentedly in houses without owning the land on which they’re built” own the houses, or are they renters?
    @John: See what I’m saying? The GMA is the region’s trendiest scape-goat. The idea that they had to build a Home Depot to increase density is about the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. The county and city governments would much rather have a big shiny store than a bunch of poor people, because big shiny stores pay taxes and poor people don’t. So they kick out the poor people and say, “Don’t be mad, it wasn’t us! The GMA made us do it!”

  • http://dharmaplease.blogspot.com Narya

    That photograph made me cry.
    That isn’t how we’re supposed to treat each other. And I wonder how the people who are doing can sleep at night.

  • http://jesurgislac.wordpress.com Jesurgislac

    Lauren: Do those “people in England liv[ing] contentedly in houses without owning the land on which they’re built” own the houses, or are they renters?
    You own the house, and you pay ground rent to the owner of the land it’s built on. Or you may have a “leasehold” – which is just what it sounds like: you do not own the property outright, you have the right to occupy the house – or the land the house sits on – for a period of decades: 99 years is customary.
    I own my own home: I do not own the land it sits on: I don’t actually know who does, because as the owner hasn’t ever demanded ground rent from the previous owner of the house, she/he/it isn’t legally entitled to demand ground rent from me. As noted above, if the owner of the land wanted to sell, they’d have to give me (and my downstairs neighbor) first refusal of the parcel of land our house sits on, which would make the house correspondingly more valuable. Houses don’t last until infinity: the owner of the land probably regards it as a no-maintenance no-upkeep long-term investment, as when the houses eventually do come down, the next builder will need to pay the owner of the land. These are good houses, though they were built a century ago: I don’t expect this to happen in my lifetime.

  • Drak Pope

    because as the owner hasn’t ever demanded ground rent from the previous owner of the house
    l, they’d have to give me (and my downstairs neighbor) first refusal of the parcel of land our house sits on, which would make the house correspondingly more valuable.
    Dude, what kind of country do you live in? Kuwait?!? Denmark!?!?! U.A.E.?!

  • mike timonin

    Yeah, my dad told me about the whole leasehold thing – he and my mom were living in New Castle when I was born, and owned their house but not the land.
    How often do houses in England get demolished by the people who actually own the land? Is it as frequent an occurrence as the removal of mobile homes here in the States?

  • John

    @Lauren, I’m confused. I thought from the article that the GMA was a product of the government. Are you saying it just appeared full blown from the brow of Zeus, like Athena? If the government passed the GMA, the government can get rid of the GMA. But you are correct that the government wants a big, shiny, tax paying store on that site, so the money can be used to provide social services and jobs, not to mention the jobs HD and the other stores will create.
    Maybe, just maybe, the government that created the GMA, and stands to benefit so handsomely from the increased density brought on by the GMA, ought to actually do right by the humans being displaced by the GMA. At least the developer is paying the people now, today, instead of letting them wait for the damn “progressive” Washington government to get around to it a year or more from now.

  • http://www.shebloggedbynight.com Stacia

    Tukla, I think Ursula was saying that people buy mobile homes because they believe it will be the same as owning a non-mobile home and the accompanying land, even though it’s not true. Owning a home is a big deal to a lot of people in America. I know a family who purchased a mobile home because they were embarrassed to still be renting; around here (Manhattan, Kansas) people look down on renters with great disdain. You’re considered low class if you rent. When I lived in a trailer park, I was treated differently — better — than when I rented apartments.
    I would bet you very few people care one bit about Mr. Donery. He’s old, he’s poor, he lives in a trailer park. The U.S. culture teaches us not to care about people like him. Haven’t you ever seen a sitcom? Old people are feeble and funny. People in trailer parks are trashy idiots who deserve whatever bad luck befalls them. Poor people are invisible.
    The few of us who do care don’t know what to do about it. How many of us would it take to fight Home Depot? Even if we tried, wouldn’t the enormous apathy and ignorance of our culture crush any attempt we make?
    Oh, by the way: I’m cynical.

  • http://slumberland.org/ litlnemo

    “No, there’s a few – ninjanun is somewhere in Seattle, and there was someone else in the Seattle region that I can’t recall. I’m up in the strange ‘burg Snohomish, an odd blend of suburbia, rural/agricultural land, and unspoiled quasi forest.”
    Well, I post here on occasion, though not often enough. I’m in Seattle, on Beacon Hill.
    My mom lives not all that far from the site of that trailer park. And I can tell you that development on Meridian has gotten completely out of hand. It’s turning into miles and miles of Wal-Mart/strip mall/Home Depot/fast food/Wal-Mart again/strip mall/Home Depot again/fast food/strip mall/Lowe’s… ad nauseam. Are they building any decent infrastructure to handle it? Of course not. No decent transit. You need a car to go anywhere. Sidewalks? What are those? And it can take 45 minutes to drive a few miles down Meridian during rush hour now. That part of Pierce County is becoming exhibit A of the worst excesses of modern American development.
    And don’t get me started on the development a little further over, in Orting, where they have that little 2-lane highway in and out of the area, and tons of new development. And it’s both a flood zone and a lahar-risk zone. God help them if there’s ever a need to evacuate the place.

  • http://slumberland.org/ litlnemo

    Oh, and the GMA may or may not have increased housing values in the area, but I can tell you that the South Hill/Graham area is nowhere near dense. It’s classic suburban sprawl, and those big box stores are going in where there were woods or farmlands. Last time I looked at Google Maps’ satellite view of that area it was heartbreaking, because the sat pictures were old, so they showed all this greenery that is now gone, just within the last 5 years or so. (I don’t know if the sat pics are still old; haven’t checked lately. The ones of my neighborhood up in Seattle are still way old, though.)

  • Caravelle

    lahar ?

  • lonespark

    Lahars = volcanic mudslides.

  • Lauren

    @john: I’m sure you were not actually trying to be serious there, but in case you weren’t, the point is that the GMA is a state law, which mandates that the local and county governments impliment policies to control growth. Even if the GMA is supported by a bare majority of the state, it can still be, and is, very unpopular in the localities that have to enforce it. So, rather than create policies to manage their growth in a comprehensive way that minimizes the harm caused to the weakest among them, the local governments green-light as much developement as they can and damn the consequences.
    @Caravelle: Lahars are a particular hazard of those areas that have volcanoes covered in glaciers. When an entire glacier melts instantaneously, the superheated water mixes with ash and flows downhill, picking up debris as it goes, for miles.

  • inge

    mike timonin: How often do houses in England get demolished by the people who actually own the land? Is it as frequent an occurrence as the removal of mobile homes here in the States?
    Can’t speak for England, but there are a number of 99 year leases on the ground some house sits on floating around in Germany. Usually they are granted by the city on communal ground, with the intent of making houses more affordable for middle-income people. Occasionally the churches make use of their land this way.
    As the law came in effect only in 1919, many of the leases are probably still running. I never heard of a house being demolished because the lease ran out.

  • http://jesurgislac.wordpress.com Jesurgislac

    drak pope: Dude, what kind of country do you live in? Kuwait?!? Denmark!?!?! U.A.E.?
    The United Kingdom. I live in a house built by a bunch of idealistic 19th-century socialists who wanted working-class people (most of them were working class people themselves!) to have decent housing.
    mike: How often do houses in England get demolished by the people who actually own the land?
    Not often. They can’t be demolished so long as someone is legally resident in them. Forty years ago in my own city, the local council deliberately refrained from upkeep on a block of tenement flats in order to render them unfit for human habitation, because the land they were on was going to be much more valuable for sale to developers to build a shopping centre. I’m not old enough to remember it, but my dad says that he recalls the rotten, dropping building that were eventually demolished, and the 1960s shopping centre that was built is an ugly blemish in the city. It was a public scandal, but it made a bunch of local councillors very rich and a lot of local low-income people lost their homes – though most of them would have been transferred to council housing elsewhere.
    It does happen. But it doesn’t happen often, and it’s usually fairly clear where the money is going, even if it can’t be stopped: councillors have ended up being prosecuted over particularly blatant frauds/dispossessions.

  • http://www.ecotrans.com.au Trisha

    I do agree Jesurgislac. These counsilars do sell the mobile homes just for the sake of bunch of $$$. It doesnt matter how much the home matter to the man.

  • Ursula L

    Tukla, I think Ursula was saying that people buy mobile homes because they believe it will be the same as owning a non-mobile home and the accompanying land, even though it’s not true.
    Yes, that is what I was saying, and thank you for explaining.
    For some communities, owning your trailer-home is a social step up, either from renting an apartment, or renting a trailer. Not as good as owning a real house on land you own, of course, but the feeling can be that at least you own something.
    While the financial benefits of owning a home come primarily from owning the land (which will hopefully appreciate in value) rather than the building (which tends to depreciate), it gets generally discussed as “home” ownership, rather than “land” ownership. An inaccuracy which can confuse people into poor decisions, particularly if they aren’t too well educated in financial matters.


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