Mobilehome Park to Receive $250,000 in Grant Funding for Safe Drinking Water and Functioning Sewer System

Feb. 18, 2016

With the assistance of students from UC Irvine School of Law’s Community & Economic Development Clinic (CED Clinic), Shady Lane Mobilehome Park is to receive $250,000 in grant funding from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) Proposition 84 grant program in order to provide park residents access to clean drinking water and to install a functioning sewer system.  

Shady Lane Mobilehome Park, located in the Coachella Valley, is home to nearly 40 migrant farmworkers and their families. The farmworkers residing at the park work long, hard hours at low wages to keep food prices low. Unfortunately, those low wages come at an enormous cost: dangerously poor living conditions.  

The park is fraught with uninhabitable living conditions, forcing residents to face the constant threat of electrical outages, water shut downs, and septic system malfunctions. The park’s current water supply is a neighboring park’s water well, which contains elevated levels of chromium-6—a chemical that poses a risk of cancer when ingested. Because the park's septic system is inadequate, it frequently malfunctions and causes waste to overflow into yards and common areas.  Further, because the electrical system is inadequate, residents do not know when the system will fail and leave them without air conditioning—which is particularly unbearable as temperatures in the Coachella Valley regularly eclipse the 110° mark.

Proposition 84 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Grant Program, administered by DWR, provides funding for projects that help local public agencies meet the long-term water needs of the state, including the delivery of safe drinking water and the protection of water quality and the environment.  As one of six projects the DWR selected to fund in the Coachella Valley region, the Shady Lane Water and Sewer Connection Project will use the grant money directly towards connecting the park to the City of Coachella’s water and sewer systems—the most reliable long-term solution to resolve the park’s severe public health issues. The Coachella Valley Water District will administer the grant, and the City of Coachella will serve as the project sponsor. 

The CED Clinic has represented the park’s residents since 2011, when the park’s owner issued a closure notice and threatened to evict all the tenants. In 2012, the CED Clinic and the California Rural Legal Assistance jointly filed a complaint on behalf of the residents asserting several causes of action including: unlawful closure of a mobile home park, illegal collection of rent, breach of implied warranty of habitability, public nuisance, failure to maintain common areas, and breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment. This litigation reached legal settlement in September 2015--under which the residents have one year to either buy the park or select a nonprofit willing to buy the park on their behalf. Since then, the CED Clinic has been working to (1) obtain a conditional use permit to legally operate the park; and (2) secure sufficient funds to purchase, repair, and rehabilitate the park.

More about the Clinic’s work with the Shady Lane Mobilehome Park