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1/29/2014 6:00:00 AM
Chimney Ranch fiasco
Mobile home park hit with multiple citations
BBN Photo/Cheryl Hartz
Yavapai County Development Services Chief Building Official Jack Judd inspects the underside of a mobile home at Chimney Ranch Mobile Home Park in Mayer Friday. The park is on a strict deadline to make numerous corrections.
BBN Photo/Cheryl Hartz
Yavapai County Development Services Chief Building Official Jack Judd inspects the underside of a mobile home at Chimney Ranch Mobile Home Park in Mayer Friday. The park is on a strict deadline to make numerous corrections.
BBN Photo/Cheryl Hartz
Yavapai County Development Services Director Steve Mauk fastens a “do not enter” onto a vacant mobile home declaring it unsafe to 
BBN Photo/Cheryl Hartz
Yavapai County Development Services Director Steve Mauk fastens a “do not enter” onto a vacant mobile home declaring it unsafe to occupy.
+ view more photos
Yavapai County Development Services staff discover environmental violations at Chimney Ranch Mobile Home Park in Mayer, Ariz. Friday, January 24, 2014.
Cheryl Hartz
News Editor

Yavapai County Development Services Director Steve Mauk expected to spend only about 10 minutes driving through the Chimney Ranch Mobile Home Park in Mayer Friday to check out reports of raw sewage under a trailer. What he and his 3-man crew found stunned them and kept them there all day, listing violations for the park's absentee owner.

"This is a typical problem when the landlord doesn't live in the community," Mauk said.

The upshot was, by late afternoon, Mauk and otherofficials had stapled bright orange placards on eight trailers declaring them unsafe for occupancy.

"We probably should've tagged 35," Judd said as he headed back to his vehicle.

Mauk informed park manager Matt Matejka that no one is allowed to move into the park and he has 30 days to correct the problems, or the county could shut it down.

"That seems reasonable," Matejka responded.

Park owner and California resident Brian Menold disagreed. In a phone interview Friday evening, he said he felt ganged up on, because in the past two years since he bought the park, never has such a large crew descended upon it, and any problems have been small things.

"This whole day has been shocking. I'm not a slumlord," Menold said, noting he was unsure of all of the issues. "When we receive a list from the county we'll be right on top of it. We want to make it right."

He said even though the park had problems that were not disclosed when he bought it, his goal always has been to make Chimney Ranch a place where people want to live and actually can own a home.

By the time he phoned the Big Bug News after receiving the list Tuesday morning, Menold had set plans in motion and his outlook - and the park's - had brightened.

"I'm trying to get funding for the infrastructure (repairs) and we're already getting bids to get the whole sewer system fixed," he said.

Along with infrastructure repairs will come substantial changes in the park's buildings.

"Basically, the county listed every single home with violations. We will be moving out older homes and bringing in new ones," Menold said, emphasizing he wants people to know their landlord cares. "I'm not a slumlord. The park is not going anywhere and we will be making drastic changes so it will be a good safe place to live. We have too much invested in the park to let it fall apart. I can't just walk away."

He added he wasn't sure how long that would take, but he plans to meet with tenants, possibly as early as next week.

"We're forced to do things outside our timelines, but that's not a bad thing," Menold said.

Matejka said the park has 59 spaces, 57 of them with homes. Many of the mobiles date back to the 1960s, or are travel trailers. Of the eight tagged homes, seven were abandoned or unoccupied, and the family was in the process of moving out of the eighth. One family arrived on site to move in only to find a placard on their door. Mauk and company returned Saturday and tagged an additional four places - three vacant and another where the residents were moving out.

Khrystal Boom's family was moving. "So many people here are out of options. People with low income are stuck between a rock and a hard place because they can't afford to hire lawyers," Boom said.

Part of the problem is confusion as to who owns and who rents.

Menold said they no longer were taking on renters, but only selling homes. Chimney Ranch web site information states: No seller warranties. Real and personal property being sold in "as is, where is," condition.

Mauk explained to Matejka that a purchase contract is different than actual ownership.

"They are renters until they take title to the home," Mauk said. "I don't care who's responsible; I care that the park is maintained, and that's the problem."

Yavapai County Supervisor Tom Thurman also stopped by Friday to see what was happening.

"(If the resident has title) inside the mobile is not your responsibility," Thurman told Matejka. "But what happens to affect the rights of the neighbors is the problem."

"The owner of the property ultimately is responsible for maintenance of the structures in the park," Mauk said. "We're not here to be punitive, but the timeframe for corrections will be extremely short."

Matejka said he could print leases from the park web site for any renters who needed a copy, but when Boom asked for hers on Friday, Mauk said the manager couldn't produce it. The Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Act states "at the beginning of a tenancy, a signed, written agreement must be executed."

Jill Knighton said her boyfriend's diabetes make walking difficult, but they were crossing Highway 69 several times each day to use the bathroom at Circle K because their toilet didn't work and sewage was backing up into the bathtub. Last week, park maintenance came and snaked the pipes, causing sewage to spray all over the walls.

"It looked like an exoricism in here," Knighton said.

Mauk said violations ranged from discharge of sewage on the ground to leaking sewer and water lines crossing over each other to a multitude of homes with no heat. Some homes were "daisy-chained" electrically.

"Frankly, we could shut the rest, but we're not going to," Mauk said. "We're looking to see what resources are out there in case we have to shut the park down. There's a fine balance between compassion versus regulation in this regard. But we wouldn't close it down without significant notice."

"The park is not going to be shut down," Menold assured the Big Bug News. "I'll do everything in my power toward the goal of making it a decent place to live."

Related Stories:
• Mayer mobile home park residents sue owners
• 'Evicted' mobile home park residents get more time; code violations remain
• Chimney Ranch residents ordered out by Feb. 28

Related Links:
• See 2011 related story: Resident claims Mayer mobile home park unsafe (dCourier.com)

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Kandis Miano

I've lived here a little over two yrs, when I moved in the park was in way better condition than it is now. We had a few issues with our trailer shortly after buying it, like the hot water heater was corroded an was never fixed I was informed by Jeff that the owner was not doing any repairs for people buying the trailers, that we were responsible for doing the repair ourselves. Do we did due to not wanting a fire. Do we replaced the water heater with an instant heat water heater, once we removed the very old corroded water heater we found the wires connected to water heater were also corroded an in need of being replaced, wiring was replaced with proper gauge by us. We have had no problems since wiring an a few old worn out breakers were changed. Our oven didn't work, they repaired it instead of replacing it, it lasted a few Mon an went out again, do we were forced to purchase a new one, same with refrigerator, a new for was put on backdoor but was ruined by the water cooler leaking down wall, of course were repaired it as soon as we had the funds, had to replace toilet, sink in bathroom. All out of pocket. Oh I almost forget all the mold were had to tear out ceiling an remove all mold from ceiling, go on roof an repair, work was done by us an no more leak or mold.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Jensen

The war on the poor continues. Nice work, hope you sleep well at night.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Kayla Andrews

My mom and I were living 2 years ago. Our heat had never been fixed and it was in the middle of winter. Instead of fixing everyone's heat they handed out space heaters. The space heaters they gave us kept popping our breakers. We had to have an electrician come out and look at the breakers. Well come to find out they had a breaker for a RV on our 3 bedroom trailer and it had partly melted. Instead of fixing this issue which was clearly their fault, they blamed us and kicked us out on my birthday. We had no electricity and had to sleep in the freezing cold till we could move everything out. They ARE slumlords!

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Michael Rabideau

I've been told numerous times this park will get clean-up(2 1/2 Years now) but NEVER has been done. Neighbors gets away threating other residences,speeding through out the park,nacortics going on,and kids running around AFTER 5 p.m. disturbing tenants& Manager not dealing with the issues. In my OPION I'm moving my family out of this park due it NOT SAFE park to raise kids'.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Not Surprising

After the trailers that have burned due to faulty wiring, and the miriad other problems plaguing this park, the only surprise is that the county allows it to keep being sold to "absentee owners" and kept in operation. The whole thing should be razed.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: County Resident

The gentleman in the first photo is Jack Judd, not Geoff Meek.

Editors Note: We have corrected the name. Thank you, and we apologize for the mix up

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