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Kenai trailer park residents have chance to speak up

Council will consider new rules for mobile home safety

Posted: Monday, November 20, 2006

Controversial proposals including mobile home park standards and a poor grade for the Kenai River are expected to draw a large crowd to the Tuesday night meeting of the Kenai City Council.

The council meeting was postponed from last week to allow several city officials to attend an Alaska Municipal League conference in Juneau.

Council members will consider an amended version of an ordinance introduced Nov. 1 setting standards for mobile homes in mobile home parks in Kenai. At the earlier meeting, a number of Kenai residents who own houses near mobile home parks championed the new rules, but owners of some mobile home parks said the new rules severely impacted their ability to operate profitable businesses.

At the direction of council, the city administration went back to the drawing board to amend the ordinance, which is scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday.

After meeting with mobile home park owners, Kenai City Manager Rick Koch said a number of changes were made including the revision of a requirement that mobile homes meet the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards.

“We found that the standards were from the ’70s and many of the older mobile homes in the parks now could not comply,” Koch said.

“We added language that addresses the condition of the mobile homes more directly,” he said.

The new proposal states: “No wrecked or dilapidated mobile home may be placed in a mobile home park. No mobile home may be placed in a mobile home park until it has been inspected to meet the requirements of this ordinance. Mobile homes must have adequate sanitary facilities; a sanitary water supply; water heating facilities; heating equipment; cooking equipment; smoke detectors; carbon monoxide detectors; windows; ventilation; electrical service and be structurally safe ... .”

Changes in the proposed ordinance also address foundation requirements, sub-lot sizes and standards for supplemental structures built onto mobile homes.

A number of comments received by city hall and by the Peninsula Clarion have indicated mobile home park residents believe the standards ordinance to be an attack on mobile home residents in general.

Koch said, “It’s about there being safe housing that meets minimum standards of quality in the city. It is not about eliminating trailer parks in Kenai.”

The council also is slated to consider a resolution opposing the state Department of Environmental Conservation listing of the Kenai River as an “impaired” body of water.

The DEC categorization is based on its own assessment of water quality showing high levels of hydrocarbons in the river.

“In my opinion, it’s based on very limited scientific data,” Koch said.

While the proposed Kenai resolution opposes the “impaired” listing, it supports efforts to lower total hydrocarbon levels in the lower Kenai River.

Koch said the DEC report is based on too few water samples.

“Seven of 400 samples over two years exceeded the limit (of hydrocarbons present in the water),” Koch said.

“In 2004, two of 284 samples exceeded the limit, encompassing a time of less than six hours,” he said. “Their testing shows the limits are exceeded for hours, not days per year.”

In a memo to the city council, Koch said, “For ADEC to take an action that would categorize the world’s premier commercial and sportfishing river as an impaired waterway is reckless and not supported by the available data.”

The city council also is slated to consider paying an additional $150,000 to the state Public Employee Retirement System.

Koch said he plans to recommend against making the added payment because “there’s a lot up in the air (with PERS) right now.”

A PERS-related cost saving measure is scheduled to be revisited by the council.

Shot down by the group in May, a resolution to exclude elected officials from participation in PERS is to be introduced by freshman council member Barry Eldridge.

Koch said city administration does not have a position on the resolution other than to say there is a significant cost to the city.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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