Monday, May 30, 2016

Words of Shady Acres

 Statements by residents of the Shady Acres/Shady Brook Manufactured Home Park, in Ellensburg WA

Family Retablos/Offering, CWU Museum

Family Prayer:  We ask you Virgencita (Affectionate term for the Virgin Mary), to please intercede,  so the situation in which we live can be solved; for us to find a good solution--please help us to not lose our home; we implore you with all our hearts…I know we have not lived in this place for long--merely two years-- but it is what in the meantime we can pay; this is one of the cheapest trailer parks and here there are not many places where we can find a similar arrangement (paying what we are paying now).”

"I have worked many jobs in Ellensburg, in the hay industry, in cold storage, in construction, and at nurseries. I also buy, repair and resell used cars. With my savings I finally bought a mobile home in Shady Brook. I am married with four sons and a daughter.  I really love Shady Brook, since the rent is affordable, there is no traffic and our children can play outside. All the neighbors are kind and look after each other. Another great thing about living in Shady Brook is that we can walk to our church, which we really love.  Shopping is easy for us, and it is easy for the kids to get to school on foot.  (My younger son says he loves going across the street to Winegars and 7-11 for “slurpees" with his friends!)  We don’t know where we would live if we lost our home. That would just be devastating for our family. We ask all our friends to help us stay in the community that we love. " (Anonymous resident) 

Public Comments by Shady Acres Residents, at Open Hearing of the Kittitas Board of Commissioners, May 24: 

Adriana Villa:  I have lived in Shady Acres, for 17 years. In this community my daughters and I have been very happy until we found about the sale. We ask that you take us into consideration. Please come to a decision that can help us. Because we want to continue being a community. A bad decision would have a negative effect on all us, especially my daughters--because of their school, their friends, their doctors, all nearby. I have always contributed to the community. These are people with good moral character --so please treat as such.  I only ask that you allow us to continue being the beautiful community that we are. And I ask God to grant you the wisdom to grant us a safe and just outcome. (May 24, public comment to Commissioners)

Jovita Linares:   I am very saddened by the situation that all of my neighbors have been put through. I never thought we would go through something like this, through decisions that adults are taking that do not take into consideration the impact upon us. We haven't been able to sleep well. I don’t know if you are a father or a mother. I am a mother. Imagine coming home every day from work, Imagine your children saying, what are we going to do? What answer can I give them, when I don’t know myself? My heart has been broken in many pieces because of the decisions you are making. We are such a beautiful creation that God has made. We are not dependent on anyone else, we depend on ourselves, to provide for ourselves. (May 24) 

Ron McClellan:  I live in Shady Acres. I have lived in Ellensburg for the past thirty three years; I moved here in 1973. I worked for Don Williams, Okanogan-Seattle Transport, and McKnight Express.   I drove trucks for forty-two years here in Washington state and up in Alaska. For ten years I hauled jet fuel, based in Anchorage, supporting the cargo planes going back and forth across the Pacific. Around 2006, I started to experience excruciating back pain; eventually, I learned my spine was deteriorating and that I needed multiple surgeries. I  loved my job and worked as long as I could, but had to stop driving, and retired early, in 2012. I’m still in constant pain. I’m hoping to get a special surgical procedure for my spine —but that would be extremely expensive, and I’m saving up money for that, because of the high deductible ($4,500) on my medical insurance. I’m on Disability, and just can just barely make ends meet. It will be three years before I qualify for supplemental insurance. I bought my trailer in 2006 from Jerry Barton, hoping to have a place to retire to; I moved into Shady Brook in 2012. I’ve found it a pleasant place to live, with friendly and supportive neighbors. The kids are always outside running and playing. I really don’t know where I could move to. As an experienced truck driver,  I don’t think my  trailer, which dates back to 1969, could survive relocation to another trailer court. Where am I going to go?  (May 24)

Sr. Linares:  I have lived in Shady Brook since 2001, in four trailers in that place. In 2009 I had the opportunity to buy the trailer where I live now. I had to make the repay the loan, and pay rent for the lot. We can’t buy a $250,000 home. I believe that you have all houses and your children sleep peacefully and you sleep well, but when I get home my children ask where are we going?  Will we be sleeping under a bridge? We pay 325 dollars per lot rent. Looking on line I see that to the equivalent house we'd have to pay $1200 to $1800. Where will I get that money from? Would I take away clothing and food from my children? I understand your work, you have the capacity to help us in a good manner. You are saying you are going to find a good solution but we are not seeing that yet. What will happen if one of our elders in the community had an aneurysm or a heart attack because of this terrible pressure? We need action, please.  (May 24)

Francisco Ibbara:  I have lived at Shady Acres for over 15 years. I lived in California, then came to Ellensburg.  I liked it. I came for a better opportunity for my family, and Shady Acres gave me that that opportunity. To move, would be to take my family to a much less safe community. Please take our place for our moment. Please make the right decision.  That way I can go home and tell my 8 years old daughter that Shady Acres will continue to be our home.  (May 24)

Lorena Garcia:  We are here talking about our situation. We don’t know what is going to happen. We are a family that really likes where we are living. My kids can buy an ice cream across the street. My husband is the only one that provides for our household. He has worked  at Twin City Foods for 18 year.  We were so happy (and here she began to cry) when we had the ability to buy a house, what we call a house. It is a double wide. If we had to purchase a regular house that was the same size, we couldn’t afford it, it would be over $200,000/  We fear we would have to move out of this town. We attend our church that is close our house. All we are asking is that you think what is going to happen to us and everyone else. We have experienced a lack of sleep, tremendous amount of stress. This is not only harmful for elders; ; we are all suffering from a fatal uncertainty over what is happening-- to all of us.  (May 24) 

RDLR:  (President, Shady Acres Homeowners Association)  I have been listening to everything said there. I feel confused, hearing there is no plan for all these families, even though you are asserting you care. As we just heard, the families are going through a very traumatic period.   If I had the resources so that my family didn’t have to go through this trauma, I wouldn’t be here. I am a family man, I earn 10 dollars per hour, I have to help my wife and help my two daughters,t o succeed. It has been a great effort for me to succeed, for my family. My daughters say Dad, we want a house, I don’t have the words to say no, all I can say is let’s wait a little while and see what we can do. Right now, this is what we have and this what we can do.

After hearing all that has been said today I feel like I have made my home in the sand. I really hope you put your hands and put your heart into this00many families have made their life here, and it is complicated. The majority of the people I know are hard working. They work 10 to 16 hour shifts just to help their families and move forward. It is our decision to be there, we are trying to make our good life there, it is our choice. From one side I hear don’t worry, but I can’t but wonder what is going to be the end of this situation. I don’t know if it would be better to have an exact date or to continue in this trauma when we don’t know what is going to happen?  (May 24)

RDLR  Estoy hablando en representación de mi familia y de toda la comunidad de Shady Acres. Trabaje duro para comprar me casa, en la cual están invertidos mi años de esfuerzo, para tener un mejor hogar para mi familia. Es mi bien más importante.

Mi familia y yo tenemos mucho amigos cercanos en Shady Acres. Si esta comunidad es dividida por este Candando nuestras relaciones van a ser quebrada y mi inversión en mi casa que es mi propiedad será perdida. No sé si mi casa se podrá mover con seguridad ya que es 50 años vieja. Quiero lo mismo que todos, mi versión del sueño américo, que es ser dueño de mi casa.

Si el condado decidiría mover a mi familia también alteraría mi economía ya que trabajo en Ellensburg, la ubicación de las escuelas de mis hijos y relación con todas las personas que tengo alrededor y el apoyo que me dan, además de la seguridad de tener un hogar seguro.

Le pedimos al Condado un visión clara para nuestra comunidad y que tomen en cuenta la esencia de las familias y los problemas que van a provocar con esta desalojo de hogares.

Faces of Shady Acres

Rob Fraser's photographic series of the  families of Shady Acres/Shady Brook Manufactured Home Park, facing eviction by the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners, which seeks to close the park and build a seasonal RV park to service the adjacent County Fairgrounds and Event Center (which hosts the local rodeo):

Guadalupe with her father Carlos.

Rev. Scott Sinner (Mercer Creek) prays with residents and friends

Ron attends every meeting, to support his fellow residents

Mother and Daughter

Ibarra Family

Carlos Huitron, bringing water for the flowers

Preparing Scarlet Oak for planting

Interfaith vigil, 6.18.16

Villa Family

Pinkie: the "mascot" of Shady Acres!

Donna Margarita (left)
Memorial Day, 2016

Community members

Franco Ibarra with niece

Community Meeting: June 4

Jasmine Ibarra and her children, walking to Homeowners Association meeting


"We all watch out for each others children. I put this basketball hoop up on the tree for them."
Francisco Ibarra

Jasmine Ibarra and her daughter

Father and daughters, Memorial Day 2016
Children of Shady Acres, Memorial Day 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Media Coverage

07.30.16  Letter to Editor:  There is an Option to Resolved Shady Acres (Jessica Hope Amason)

07.30. 16 Letter to the Editor: Shady Acres is not a Good Investment of Funds (Stan Blazynski)

07.30.16.  Letter to the Editor: Event Center Plans Hinge on Private Investment  (Steve Verhey)

07.29.16. Letter to the Editor: County Putting Taxpayers on Hook for Shady Acres    (Susie Weis)

 07.28.16.   Letter to the Editor: County Not Complying with Affordable Housing Plan (Carl Nelson)

07.25.16.  Letter to the Editor: Reviewing Facts behind Shady Acres Decisions (Laura Osiadcz)

07.20.16 Candidates for Commissioner Speak out Against Shady Acre Purchase

07.19.16.  City to Sign Letter about Shady Acres:

07. 12.16. Letter to the Editor: Shady Acres Resident Appreciates the Support (Carlos Huitron)

07.06.16 Letter to the Editor: Time to Elect New Commissioners (Kevin Anderson)

07.01.16  Letter to the Editor:Support of Shady Acres  (Rev. Lowell Murphree)

6.30.16. Letter to the Editor: Shady Acres Supporters not ones triggering fear  (Ellen Schattschneider)

6.28.16   County Officials and Community Leaders Tour King County Mobile Home Parks (Tony Buhr) 

Letter to the Editor:Osiadacz's comments recall civil rights area.

6.25.16   Shady Acres Residents Speak Out (Tony Buhr)

6.25.16.  Shady Acres Tied to Fairgrounds (Tony Buhr)

6.25.16  Letter to the Editor:  Support Rob Fraser for County Commissioner (Mark Auslander)


Shady Acres Owners Want to Sell to the County


 KNDO TV story.  (Tree plantingand the community)

KIMA TV story: (on Commissioner's Meeting)

Prayer Vigil Held at Shady Acres (Daily Record, Tony Buhr)


Guest Column: Land's Best Use is Shady Acres (Ishbel Dickens)


Editorial: Keep Options Open on Shady Brooks

Shady Acres Residents Attend County Planning Meeting:

Letter to the Editor:  Comparing Donald Trump and Paul Jewell (Steve Verhey)


Housing Panel: Maintain Shady Brook Neighborhood

6.9.16. Residents share ideas for shady brook mobile home park.

5.28. 16. Daily Record. Shady Brooks Won't Close without a Plan.

5.28. 16. Daily Record.    Petition Started against Shady Brook Purchase

5.25.16.  Paul Jewell, opinion column on Shady Brook (see also public comments at end)

 5.21.16. KIMA-TV. Cultural Celebration brings dialogue in community.

5.12.16. CWU Observer. Central Community Rallies to Support Displaced Residents at Shady Brool/

5.12.16.  Mark Auslander, Guest Column in Daily Record. "Better Option for Shady Brook") 51°

5.10.16. Larry Lowther, Letter to the Editor, Daily Record  (County, Community needs to find a better solution)

5.7.16. Letter to the Editor, Karen Mattocks. (Daily Record): Administrator would help county avoid mistakes

5.7.16. Opinion Column. A Need for Affordable Housing is Both Urgent and Long Term.  (Mike Gallagher) Daily Record.

5.7.16. Groups say more affordable housing will take organized effort. (Jesse Major, Daily Record)

5.4.16.  County Hears from Shady Brook Residents, Advocates, Daily Record. (Jesse Major)

5.4.16.  Letter: Newspaper  Coverage just fanning flames. Daily Record.

5.3.16.  KIMA TV. Dozens show up to Kittitas County meeting on behalf of Shady Brook mobile homes.

5.2.16. Shady Acres residents form homeowner’s association. Daily Record News. (Julia Martinez and Jesse Major)

4.30.16.  No foundation: Ellensburg lacks options for people in need of affordable housing. Daily Record (Nicole Klaus)

4.29. 16.  KIMA TV. Mobile Home Community in Ellensburg Worries about their Future. (Jack DePilar) 

4.27.16. Photo gallery: Shady Acres Mobile Home Park. ( Brian Myrick)

4.19.16.  County to Purchase Shady Acres Mobile Home Park, tavern (Jesse Major). Note: This is the article that "broke" the Shady Acres story.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Video testimonies

 Videos of public comments presented at the joint meeting of the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners, June 21, 2016

Guadalupe "Lupe" Huitron,  Friends of Shady Acres:

Videoed public comment at the public meeting of the Homelessness and Affordable Housing committee, Kittitas County, (Ellensburg WA) on Friday, June 10, 2016.

RDLR, President, Shady Acres Homeowners Association

Guadalupe "Lupe" Huitron, community advocate:

Videos of public comments presented at the joint meeting of the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners and the Committee on Homelessness and Affordable Housing, May 24, 2016 in Ellensburg WA  (County Courthouse)

Ishbel Dickens (executive director, National Association of Manufactured Home Owners):

RDLR  (president, Shady Acres Homeowners Association) 

Jovita Garcia (resident) 

Francisco Ibarra (resident) 

Adriana Villa (resident)

Video footage from the Friends of Shady Acres Cultural Celebration, Rotary Pavilion ("Plaza del Toro"), Saturday, May 21, 2016.

RDLR (president, Shady Acres Homeowners Association)

Mariachi de Centro, performs with Ballet Folklorico de St. Andrews:

Adriana Villa, resident, Shady Acres

 Carmen Mendez, Yakima City Council:


FAQ about Shady Acres

 The Shady Acres Crisis: Frequently Asked Questions

1. "What is going on?” On April 20 it became public knowledge that the that the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners have executed a “purchase and sale agreement” for $1.45 million to acquire the Shady Acres (aka Shady Brooks) mobile home park, with the intention of evicting or “relocating” more than 30 low-income families residing there, nearly all of them Latino/Mexicano. The County’s plan is to build a seasonal RV park to service the County Event Center and Fairgrounds, which hosts the Rodeo and County Fair.

2. “How long has this expansion been planned?” County Commissioners say the they’ve been considering displacing the Shady Acres residents since 1997, and under the recent master strategic plan the County has been buying up property to expand the Event Center. It appears that around March 2015, Jerry and Diane Barton, the private owners of Shady Acres, began negotiating with the County Commissioners to sell the property.  An independent appraisal of the property was submitted to the County in April 2015, but was not made public at the time. Negotiations were conducted in secret and only became widely known due to a newspaper story on April 20.

3. “What is Shady Acres like?” The over 50 adults and 50 children residing in Shady Acres form a cohesive, tight knit community. Spanish is the primary language, although there’s plenty of English spoken as well. At least 26 families own their mobile/manufactured homes, and rent the “pad” of land underneath for about $300-$400 per month. The remaining families rent a manufactured home from an owner. Parents appreciate that children can run and play freely on the property, that adults are always around to supervise and help out, and that drivers drive slowly on the roadways. Residents tell us that the neighborhood functions as a “mutual aid society,” with adults sharing childcare responsibilities, helping out financially and with food when household budgets run short, and providing advice and support in navigating the challenges of life in the wider society. Parents are deeply committed to their children’s education and future; many young people who grew up in Shady Acres have gone on to college, grad school and professional careers. In short, while residents share the many challenges of low income life, this is a functional and caring community, made up of hard working, tax-paying families.

4. “Aren’t 'mobile home parks' a problem to begin with?” Specialists agree that mobile/manufactured home courts play an important role in meeting low-income housing needs. Buying and caring for a manufactured home is a significant investment and often represents an important step in moving a family out of poverty. Learn more at

5. “Won’t the mobile homes all be relocated at no cost to the owners?” It is true that relocation funds from the State are available to reimburse the costs of moving mobile or manufactured homes when a manufactured home community closes. However, in most cases these funds will not help the Shady Acres homeowners. Many of their homes were fabricated pre-1976 and are not in fact “mobile.” Most of the structures will not survive relocation and will be have to be dismantled and disposed of, at the owners’ cost, depriving these families of their most valuable asset. (As an aside, it is the manufactured homeowners themselves who pay into the state relocation assistance fund – this money does not come from the state’s general funds or general taxpayer revenues.) And those who rent won’t get any help in moving.

6. "So where will more than one hundred residents go?” That’s a big, unsolved problem. The County Commissioners have contracted, for $50,000, the company CC Consulting, which has a background in evicting mobile home owners, to close down the park and “find housing" for its residents. But affordable housing specialists explain there simply is no capacity in Kittitas County to absorb new low income people in need of residences. Virtually all the 930 subsidized units in the County are committed, and there no significant plans yet to expand housing stock. Shady Acres residents have very limited financial means, and simply can’t afford to pay more in rent (Remember, most families sunk their hard-earned savings into their manufactured homes, in the expectation of having a safe place to live with their children.) Many families fear they face homelessness or destitution.

7. “How fast will families be forced out of Shady Acres?”
Under state law, the owner of a mobile/manufactured home park must give manufactured homeowners up to twelve months to relocate their homes. County Commissioners have recently stated that they may extend this timeline. But residents are left in limbo, uncertain how long they have to find a safe, affordable place to live. Given that there is no formulated plan to provide adequate affordable housing, they are extremely skeptical of the Commissioners' claims that "we will take care of you."

8. “What is so bad about having to move? Lots of people move all the time, after all.” For middle class folks, who have some financial cushion, moving isn’t necessarily traumatic. But for low income people, with almost no financial resources, a move can be terribly difficult. That is especially true for immigrant families with limited English proficiency. In Shady Acres, everyone can reach out to friendly neighbors who can help with translation into English, and provide guidance on the many mysteries of modern American bureaucracy and economy. Kids can walk to school, and there is proximity to shopping, houses of worship, medical care, social support services and sites of cultural enrichment. Forced dispersion throughout the county would tear apart a vibrant, supportive community, putting many children and families at risk.

9. "Doesn’t the County have a legal right to close down the park?" In fact, it is far from clear that the county, as a government entity (as opposed to a private party) does have the legal right to eliminate many low-income housing units, especially those that serve a vulnerable minority, without replacing those housing units. The County may face extensive litigation and enormous legal bills, shouldered by us, the tax-payers. All for a goal that strikes many observers as ill-conceived in the first place.

10. “But isn’t the purchase done deal? They should just ‘get used to it!”  While the Purchase and Sale agreement has been signed, the funds haven’t been appropriated yet, and the Commissioners could still work out a better, fairer arrangement for all concerned, including the current owners of the property. Elsewhere in Washington State, mobile home parks have been acquired and administered by public housing authorities, or by non-profits, or even run by resident-owned cooperatives. Financing packages could allow residents to purchase, on low interests terms, beautiful brand-new energy-efficient manufactured homes, and create a community center, pre-school, and playground on the Shady Acres property.  Wouldn’t that be a vastly better solution, one that all of us in Ellensburg and Kittitas County could be proud of? Visitors to the Events Center and the Rodeo would be able to walk by a model small community, showcasing a successful private-public partnership. Shady Acres would stand as living evidence that we are a caring, compassionate community that has found a way to preserve a vibrant, self-reliant neighborhood while protecting the most vulnerable among us.

Friends of Shady Acres. (Updated: May 28, 2016)

Welcome to Friends of Shady Acres

 "Save Shady Acres":  designed by Jenna Kress
Welcome to our new public blog, "Save Shady Acres," devoted to sharing information about the Shady Acres/Shady Brook Manufactured Home Park in Ellensburg, WA. On April 20, our community learned that the Kittitas County Board of Commissioners had executed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire Shady Acres from its current owners, with the plan of closing the park and evicting or "relocating" its residents. The County plan is then to construct a seasonal RV park on the land, to service the adjacent County Fairgrounds and Events Center, which hosts the annual rodeo.  Under state law, residents will have 12 months to vacate the property once the new owner announces plans to close the park; as of this writing we do not know when precisely the County will make that announcement.

Over 30 low income families, nearly all of them Latino/Mexicano reside in the park; at least 22 of them own their own manufactured homes, for which they worked hard, saving up over the years.  The predominant language in the park is Spanish. Adults primarily work in the agricultural sector; over 50 children reside in the complex, attending local schools.  Residents emphasize that they are a close-knot community that functions as an informal mutual aid-society, sharing resources and helping one another navigate the many challenges of modern American society.  They have formed their own organization, The Shady Acres Homeowner Association, and have explained they are committed to staying together as a community, ideally on the current Shady Acres property--where they are close to sites of employment, education, shopping, medical care and social services, as well as houses of worship.  They are being assisted in their efforts by the Friends of Shady Acres (Amigos de Shady Acres.)

This blog will have multiple authors; when possible we will post in Spanish and English.  We will share relevant documents and updates as they become available.  We will also post commentaries (at times anonymous) and works of art and poetry by Shady Acres residents and their allies and supporters.