State Denies Funds to Complete Duroville Relocation Project
PALM DESERT – The state Department of Finance has denied Riverside County's appeal for redevelopment funds to complete Mountain View Estates, a housing project designed to relocate residents from the notorious, hazardous living conditions at the so-called Duroville mobile home park, Supervisor John J. Benoit said Friday.
"The state’s decision leaves the future of Mountain View Estates in question,” said Supervisor John J. Benoit, who learned this week of the department’s devastating decision. “This is a travesty because it puts in limbo the health and safety of men, women and children who had planned to leave the squalor of Duroville for a safe, clean home."
Mountain View Estates, located on Avenue 70 and Harrison Street in Oasis, would provide 181 manufactured homes to be purchased by Duroville residents through affordable housing loans. Residents would have access to public water and sewer systems, public utility electricity, wide streets, curb and gutter and interior street lighting.
Riverside County requested authorization to complete this project in accordance with the redevelopment dissolution statute that allowed for the completion of projects ‘under contract’ prior to the decision to eliminate redevelopment agencies. Numerous individual contracts had been processed, signed and executed, over a four-year period, preparing Mountain View Estates for the installation of modular housing units.
In the estimated $16.2 million construction budget, approximately $6.3 million had been invested by county redevelopment on mobile homes and infrastructure prior to the decision to eliminate redevelopment agencies. The remainder of the construction budget was $6.3 million in three federal grants to bring high-quality water and sewer lines to the project and also private financing that built roads, community facilities and landscaping.
The remaining piece of the project’s first phase was $12.1 million to purchase and install mobile homes on site. This final contract had not been issued and was the subject of the Department of Finance’s April 26 ruling and subsequent denial of the county’s appeal for these integral funds.
"Riverside County will continue to explore further legal options and alternative funding sources in an attempt to see that the prior taxpayer and private investment in Mountain View Estates is not wasted," Benoit said.
The federal government has worked for years to close the so-called Duroville trailer park, which sits on tribal land and has been home to hundreds of farmworkers. Mountain View Estates was part of the closure plan, and residents were scheduled to start moving in this summer. A status conference hearing in the lawsuit seeking the park’s closure, United States v. Harvey Duro et al, is scheduled for July 23.