Lawrence city commissioners approved a draft of an ordinance Tuesday that would protect mobile home park residents from negligence by their landlords.
The four-page draft spells out specific rules for park owners concerning water pressure, lot licensing, utility equipment quality and city inspections.
The ordinance was prompted by a 1990 dispute between owners and tenants of a local mobile home park over who was responsible for providing adequate utilities.
The purpose of the ordinance isn't to beat down mobile home park owners, but to police them and ensure the health and safety of park residents, said Mayor Bob Walters.
"We have to have some kind of way of enforcing the health and safety issues, of saying (to park owners) you're not being a good neighbor," Walters said.
The proposed ordinance is a complete revision of current city laws governing mobile home parks, said Dave Corliss, city management analyst.
THE LAWS were ineffective in settling a dispute more than a year ago between tenants and owners of Green Acres Mobile Home Park, 1045 E. 23rd.
Green Acres residents lost water pressure for two weeks in December 1990 and later didn't have enough pressure to bathe or wash dishes. The park owners were slow to respond.
"Our hands were tied," said Walters. Few state or local regulations could be used to force the park's owners to make the necessary repairs. A city-mediated agreement in March settled the dispute. Commissioners asked the city staff to draft an ordinance addressing health and safety problems with mobile home utilities, Corliss said.
Provisions contained in the proposed ordinance include:
Park owners would be required to have a city license to operate a mobile home park. A license fee also would be required.
The water pressure to mobile homes would be at least 20 pounds per square inch.
The water supply would be capable of supplying a minimum of 250 gallons of water for each home each day.
All utility equipment would be maintained in accordance with state and local regulations.
THE CITY'S building inspector would be authorized to inspect a mobile home park's utilities annually. If a violation is found and the problem is not corrected, the city could revoke an owner's license.
Violations of the ordinance would be punishable by fines of $25 to $500 and-or imprisonment of five days to three months.
Both the mobile home park residents and operators at Tuesday night's meeting praised the ordinance as an effective plan.
"I'd have to say that most park operators feel that this is an ordinance that both parties can live with," said Bill Webster, owner of Mobile Estates North and Mobile Acres South.
"I think it's a program that will work without passing a lot of the cost onto our customers," Webster said.
More than a dozen park owners sitting behind Webster at the meeting indicated they agreed.
SUSAN KENNARD, a resident of Green Acres when water problems occurred, said the ordinance exceeded her expectations.
Commissioners voted unanimously to place the ordinance on the consent agendas of the next two commission meetings for first and second readings.
Although commissioners can pull items from the consent agenda for further consideration, the majority of items are passed in one motion without discussion.