San Jose mobile home park residents face uncertain future

The uncertain future of the Westwinds mobile home park in San Jose caught the attention of local politicians Thursday.

Residents are preparing to take action in the hope that they can keep their homes. 

Two news conferences were held two hours apart on the grounds of the Westwinds Mobile Home Park.

City leaders, political rivals, and housing advocates are all stepping in with the hope of ensuring residents that they can stay.

San Jose officials say they're pushing for a zoning change. It would turn the land from "high density residential" to an exclusive "mobile home park." 

"By changing the land-use designation, that would require any land owner who wants to develop something different than a mobile home park to go through a general plan change. That's a very lengthy process," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Residents say they need all the help they can get. A dispute between the Nicholson Family Trust, who owns the land, and MHC, the company that runs the mobile home park, makes the future seem very uncertain.

MHC says when their lease runs out, they're being asked to return the property "free of residents."

That could mean the displacement of 1,600 people.

"Wait a minute, this is ridiculous. How are we going to move? Do we just have to abandon [this]?" asked resident Rob Leeper.

The Nicholson family issued a statement saying in part it is exploring "more stable and viable long-term housing options" and "they have no plans to displace anyone."

Speaking on behalf of the residents, housing advocate Martha O'Connell says "they're absolutely at risk." She adds, "it's clear to me redevelopment is coming." 

Housing advocates say the residents can't just rely on politicians. They need to fight for themselves by organizing as a group and showing up to every meeting.

Residents say they're prepared to do whatever it takes to keep their homes.

San Jose will take up the matter at their next housing meeting on January 23. It will then go to the planning and City council meetings that follow.