Crime & Courts

Appeals Court: mobile home owners can be treated differently

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Owners of mobile homes can be treated differently than owners of other housing in a community, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

At issue was an ordinance by the city of Maize designed to phase out all pre-1976 mobile homes and restrict newer mobile and manufactured housing to licensed parks.

Mobile homes cost substantially less than site-built homes and are often owned or rented by low-income families and senior citizens.

“The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld ordinances that treat the owners of mobile homes differently from other homeowners in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of citizens,” said Friday’s court opinion, delivered by appellate Judge David Bruns.

Mobile homes scattered promiscuously throughout the residential district of a city might well stunt its growth and certainly stifle development of an area.

Kansas Supreme Court

Bruns quoted a Supreme Court decision in a Colby case: “Mobile homes scattered promiscuously throughout the residential district of a city might well stunt its growth and certainly stifle development of an area.”

After Maize passed the ordinance in late 2014, two park owners sued, claiming it discriminated against owners and residents of mobile and manufactured housing. They also claimed the city exceeded its policing authority with a long list of standards that apply to mobile and manufactured housing.

A Sedgwick County judge dismissed the case and the appeals court upheld that decision.

Friday’s ruling also quoted testimony from Maize City Administrator Richard LaMunyon.

“The concern was (a mobile home without skirting is an) attractive nuisance for children,” the testimony read. Mobile homes without skirting “also allow for rodents and pests to take up residence underneath the trailers. There is also a concern about lighting. There was a concern about storage of lawn mowers and things of that nature that were left out. Oh, grass. The other issue, I think, was trash.”

In addition to restrictions on the locations of mobile and manufactured homes, the ordinance sets standards for licensing, lighting, outside storage, recreational space, storm shelters, internal street paving, pest control and trash disposal.

“We find each of these regulations to be reasonably related to the health, safety, and/or welfare of the residents of mobile home parks and/or those who visit mobile home parks – including those responding to emergencies,” the court ruling said.

The court also noted that existing parks will be exempt from some of the standards in the ordinance until they change hands.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

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