California: Oasis Mobile Home Park Residents Reach Settlement Over Water and Habitability Issues

Residents of the Oasis Mobile Home Park, a longstanding source of controversy in Thermal, California, have reached a settlement in a civil lawsuit against the park’s owners. The lawsuit, filed by 22 residents and a tenant association named Juntos Por Un Mejor Oasis, addressed various issues plaguing the community, including high levels of arsenic in drinking water and sewage spills.

The settlement, facilitated by the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability and Sher Edling LLP, includes enforceable commitments from the park’s owners to protect residents from retaliation, rent increases, and eviction. Additionally, the agreement resolves litigation stemming from environmental and habitability issues that have persisted for years.

Among the key provisions of the settlement are protections against retaliation, eviction, and excessive rent increases. The park’s owners have agreed not to take punitive actions against residents for participating in the lawsuit and to limit rent increases to 5% per year with 90 days’ notice. Furthermore, the agreement prohibits the owners from disconnecting utilities or imposing unauthorized fees.

Representatives of the residents hailed the settlement as a significant step forward in ensuring the safety and well-being of Oasis Mobile Home Park residents. They emphasized the importance of honoring the agreement and called for efforts to relocate current residents to safer housing options.

However, the settlement does not resolve ongoing legal challenges, including a federal lawsuit filed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against the park’s owners. The EPA’s lawsuit focuses on water and septic tank problems, highlighting the complex and multifaceted nature of the issues facing the community.

Despite the settlement, concerns remain about the park’s long-term viability and the well-being of its residents. Efforts to relocate residents and enforce a moratorium on new occupants continue, with hundreds of people already relocated in recent years. Collaboration between stakeholders, including Riverside County, the EPA, and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe, will be crucial in ensuring the successful relocation of remaining residents to safe and affordable housing.

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The settlement represents a milestone in the ongoing efforts to address the challenges facing Oasis Mobile Home Park. However, sustained action and cooperation will be necessary to address underlying issues and ensure a better future for the community. News Channel 3 will continue to provide updates on this developing story, underscoring the importance of ongoing vigilance and advocacy in safeguarding the rights and well-being of mobile home park residents in California.

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