Timeline: CA Owners Evicted by Yosemite National Park

Sunday is the last day a group of homeowners near Yosemite National Park will be allowed to live in their longtime homes.

Mobile home owners at El Portal Trailer Park are expected to remove or return their homes without compensation.

Yosemite officials are concerned about the safety of the power lines Yosemite owns and have other plans for the site. It’s located outside of the national park in the small rural community of El Portal, about a 5-minute drive from Yosemite’s west entrance along Highway 140.

Affected residents own their homes but lease the land below them, which falls under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. These leases will end at 11:59 p.m. on March 13. Residents of El Portal must work for Yosemite or its park partners to live in the community.

Here’s a timeline of what’s happened so far, based on numerous interviews and documents collected during an investigation by The Fresno Bee.

  • January 1, 2000: A previous plan to close El Portal trailer park on this date to use the site for other purposes is scrapped in the 1990s due to a lack of funding. There is no new closing date. Residents are advised that the trailer park closure “will continue to be implemented through attrition.”

  • 2009: Yosemite receives approval for an increase in employee housing in the trailer park. Plans announced by Yosemite called for the restoration of underground water, sewer and electrical services to 58 spaces in the El Portal Trailer Court, including for private mobile homes. Only about 25 of the spaces were then occupied. The project is not funded.

Mobile homes in the El Portal Trailer Park near Yosemite on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. Park residents are due to move without compensation on March 13. CRAIG KOHLRUSS [email protected]

  • 2014: A Record of Decision was released for the Merced Wild and Scenic Comprehensive River Management Plan, which becomes Yosemite National Park‘s guiding document for future plans. The 200-page plan includes a number of contradictions, leaving many unsure what to expect. In some locations, he notes that 40 campsites, some with RV hookups, will be incorporated into a redesign of the Abbieville/Trailer Village area, adjacent to a new remote parking area for 300 vehicles. It says 36 private residences will one day be removed or relocated there, and talks of adding more than 150 additional employee housing elsewhere in El Portal “to replace housing removed from Yosemite Valley.”

  • October 2021: Yosemite Superintendent Cicely Muldoon sends letters to residents of the trailer park, also known as trailer yard or trailer village, stating that the electrical system heard was found to be in “very poor condition and warning that “one potential outcome” could be PG&E determining that power lines Yosemite owns should be de-energized. “If the necessary repairs are not feasible, particularly in the context of the NPS’s long-term plan for the site,” then the NPS will “fast-track” their relocation. The letter also states that the site will be converted to a public and administrative use campground for recreational vehicles, with construction of the campground expected to begin in 2024. This is the first time residents have learned of this 2024 date.
  • December 13, 2021: Muldoon writes letters dated December 13 to residents of the trailer park, advising them that the rental agreements for their mobile home blocks will be terminated in 90 days. Unauthorized tenants, including renters, only have 60 days, which later increased to 90. Also that day, Yosemite officials finally do an interview with The Bee that had been promised months before for talk about Yosemite’s construction projects. During the interview, Kathleen Morse, division manager of strategic planning and project management at Yosemite, said the Great American Outdoors Act helped fund a new “major power line that connects El Portal, all this area of ​​the canyon, to Yosemite Valley”. It supplies Yosemite Valley with electricity. We replaced that power line with PG&E…so it’s (outside law) funded that work, which is pretty much done. During the hour-plus call, there is no mention of plans to evict residents of El Portal due to dangerous power lines there.

  • December 2021: Residents of El Portal Trailer Court receive letters in the mail from Muldoon dated December 13, advising them that their rental contracts will be terminated due to unsafe power lines and that they must remove or return the mobile homes they own without compensation before March 13. Some find out a few days before Christmas.

Mobile homes in the El Portal Trailer Park near Yosemite on Tuesday, December 28, 2021. Park residents are asked to move in 90 days or less without compensation. CRAIG KOHLRUSS [email protected]

  • December 22, 2021: After a soon-to-be-relocated resident informs The Bee of the upcoming evictions, Yosemite spokesperson Gediman does an interview with The Bee on the matter. In addition to electrical issues, Yosemite’s construction plans for 2022 and beyond are repeatedly mentioned as the reason for the trailer park’s closure. He said the site could be used as a staging area for “major multi-million dollar projects”. “With our budgets coming in and the need for a staging area and temporary campsite for construction workers, this is the use we need to operate the park,” he said. .

  • February 1, 2022: A GoFundMe donation account is set up by longtime El Portal Trailer Park resident Terri Nishimura to fund legal services to help affected residents. It raised over $1,100 out of a goal of $100,000.

  • Feb. 3, 2022: Luke Harbin and his mother — among longtime Yosemite workers and concerned owners — get a face-to-face meeting with Muldoon. Harbin said he had tried to get a meeting earlier, but had already been told that Muldoon would not meet him. They asked for an extension to remove their belongings during the meeting, which Harbin said ended early after bringing his mother to tears.

  • February 8, 2022: The planned closure of the trailer park is discussed during a conference call of the El Portal Planning Advisory Committee, part of the Mariposa County Planning Department. Residents shared their concerns and said they wanted the parks department to arrange a group meeting with each of them. A committee member said NPS infrastructure in the area will continue to be powered and called the reported electrical problem a “red herring” by the Park Service.

  • March 4, 2022: After Yosemite announced that it would not be holding an in-person public meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, instead promising one-on-one meetings upon request, Harbin decided to hold a public meeting itself. public meeting. The 32-year-old rented the community hall at Old El Portal, just down the road from the trailer park. He said about 30 to 40 community members attended although Yosemite did not send a representative.

  • March 8, 2022: The upcoming trailer park closure is discussed in another El Portal Planning Advisory Committee telephone meeting. Four trailer park residents present told the committee that they had left numerous messages for Muldoon, requesting a meeting and an extension to remove their belongings, but had not heard from her. An NPS employee present at the meeting said he would relay the information to the superintendent’s office.
  • March 9, 2022: Harbin’s mother is finally told in a phone call with someone from the superintendent’s office that she will be given a 30-day extension to remove her belongings – but not to live there. NPS spokespersons previously said three of the trailer park’s 12 licensed residents were granted one of those 30-day extensions and nine were offered employee housing in Yosemite. Harbin said the employee dorm that her mother was able to rent has a shared bathroom and kitchen and is a fraction of the size of the house she owns. Unlike El Portal, the children and spouses of most employees are also not permitted to reside in employee housing in Yosemite Valley.

A former playground stands near the edge of El Portal Trailer Park near Yosemite on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. At one time, children of employees were abundant in the trailer park, but now only more residents remain aged. CRAIG KOHLRUSS [email protected]

  • March 10, 2022: The Bee ran another story about it, “Yosemite will soon evict landlords near the national park. Residents Call It “Heartless,” which included interviews with attorneys and more information about Yosemite. NPS spokespersons now say, “Currently, no further use is planned for the RV area in 2022” and explain why Yosemite is not providing any financial compensation to affected residents. Bee’s story was read by more than 66,000 people online as of early Friday evening.

  • March 13, 2022: As of 11:59 p.m. Sunday, residents of the trailer park will no longer be allowed to live in their longtime homes. Those on 30-day extensions will be allowed to remove their personal property once they “have left their sites and the pads have been de-energized”.

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Carmen Kohlruss is a columnist and reporter for The Fresno Bee. His stories have won Best of the West, George F. Gruner, and McClatchy President’s awards, as well as numerous prestigious awards from the California News Publishers Association. She has a passion for sharing people’s stories to highlight issues and promote better understanding.
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