MEADOWS MANOR MYSTERY TOUR or Every Picture Tells a Story?
Medows Manor Mobile Home Park residents on Blanca Lane wanted to know one thing, did the owner of the park have the proper permits to add 14 new additional units. The residents have been complaining that their mobile home park was in dire need of road repairs, and that it has poor drainage, sewage backups, poor lighting, and electrical problems. So why was the owner being allowed to add new units without first assuring them that these issues would be first addressed, they were asking.
Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantiz has been of the opinion since before 2008 that there was little the city could do because the state has jurisdiction over the mobile home park. Her position is partially factual. Both she and the state were of the opinion that a 30-40 year old permit issued by the County of Santa Cruz back in the 70’s was still in effect and that the new owner of the mobile home park, Kenneth Waterhouse, could now add 14 mobile homes.
It took me, an elected official, around 7 months and around 150 pages of emails, mostly between me and Assistant City Manager Tavantiz, to determine that the city allowed the mobile home property owner to hook up to our city’s sewer system without a Permit and without paying the $156,283.98 in permit fees. And that the city did not and still has not issued a Stop Work Order to the construction crew even after determining these facts.
Although, after my continual experience with the lack of transparency in our city government, I did not anticipate a 7 month journey which included countless of hours writing and answering emails, making numerous long distance telephone calls to the State of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development, and conducting research, all while Assistant City Manager Marcel Travantiz withheld some documents and provided me with misleading information.
It was Déjà vu all over again-the nightmare of the missing 1999 KME fire truck fiasco.
Being a trained investigator, what caught my attention was a blatant red flag: that being that Assistant City Manager Tavantiz first attempted to mislead me that a “Stop Work Order” (a city used document) was issued when she supposedly determined that the work crew hired to build the pad for the mobile homes at Meadows Manor had hooked up to our sewer line without a permit. After several emails asking Ms. Tavantiz for a copy of the “Stop Work Order” that the city supposedly issued, Ms. Tavantiz finally admitted that a “verbal” Work Stop Order was issued. A “verbal” Work Stop Order is both non applicable and/or non-existent. And, why would Ms. Tavantiz attempt to mislead me? I mean, we are dealing with around $157,000.00 here, right?
So, I began asking questions, you know, Due Diligence, and found out that a lawsuit was filed in 2001 at the Santa Cruz Superior Court (and resolved in 2008) by Meadows Manor Mobile Home Park owner Kenneth Waterhouse against the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. It seems that Waterhouse sued the state to obtain a permit to install the 14 mobile homes. Apparently the 30-40 year old permit issued to the original owner may not have been transferable so Waterhouse sued the state to obtain a permit. This contradicted Assistant City Manager Tavantiz’s opinion that the 30 plus year permit was still valid.
It seems that an Agreement was reached between Waterhouse and the State before a trial was held which included requirements by both parties.
Would you believe that Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantiz was not aware of the lawsuit? She gets paid over $165,000 per year and I get paid not even 5% of her wages and she can’t find this document which I Googled?
Would you also believe that Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantiz was not aware of the Agreement made between the state’s HCD and Waterhouse? Yet, she claimed to have a relationship with both Kenneth Waterhouse and his attorney David Spangengerg? Well how about this letter from the state’s attorney to Spangenberg outlining the Agreement? After sending her a copy of this document, Assistant City Manager Tavantiz wrote me an email stating that she was also not aware this document existed.
You see that last name on this page? “Dan Fitzgerald”, the “NAO Manager”? He was an employee of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development at the time this Agreement was written on August 1, 2008. Today, Mr. Fitzgerald works for Kenneth Waterhouse, the Meadows Manor Mobile Home Park owner, as a “Consultant”. Imagine that. Fitzgerald, who may have a conflict of interest, is in charge of constructing the pad for the 14 units at Meadows Manor. According to an email from Tavantiz, Fitzgerald does not have a Contractor’s License. Then why didn’t the city take exception to Fitzgerald being in charge of hooking up to our city’s sewer line?
Then, after my continual dog style sniffing, the state’s HCD Field Inspector, Chris Anderson, seemed to throw Assistant City Manager Tavantiz under the bus. He wrote the following email:
Good morning Emilio,
Attached is a document from your city showing the permit application was in fact been submitted and approved pending payment of the impact fees. According to Mr. Fitzgerald the city staff also inspected the installation of the sewer connection and approved it even though the permit had not been issued.
I’ll keep you updated as additional information comes in.
Mr. Anderson provided the following document with his email. It is the city’s Engineering Plan Check Corrections List which is marked “Approved”.
So I wrote an email to Assistant Marcela Tavantiz asking why she had not provided me with a copy of this document.
Note what she wrote:
She writes that she “mentioned” the document to me. Do you belive her? A document of such importance that Approves the installation of the sewer line hookup is completed by the city months after I asked for assistance for clarificaiton as to what was being done on the site? I don’t recall she ever “mentioning” the document in any of our email exchanges and certainly we didn’t have any telephone conversations. It seems to me, and maybe to you, that Ms. Travantiz is not being forthright? Consideration should be given to the importance of this document and that it was the state’s representative who provided me a copy, not Ms. Travantiz who’s department issued the document approving the check list.
What would behoove the mobile home property owner to connect on to the city’s sewer line without a Permit and/or without paying for the fees especially after he filed a lawsuit and a Settlement Agreement was reached? Did he cut a deal with the city?
When I spoke with Dan Fitzgerald, now the Conusltant for the owner of Meadows Manner, he stated that Assistant City Manager Tavantiz asked him to make her offer when he questioned the costs of the Permit which are $156,283.98.
The Permit Fees of almost $157,000 are not supposed to go the General Fund as they include impact fees. But, if a deal had been cut to allow the property owner to hook up to the city’s sewer line for less money, how would council members know that the money paid by the property owner would not go into the General Fund?
What Do Think Is Going On?
Currently there are more questions than answers. I’m in the process of gathering more information and will do Part II once it is recevied.
If you have any ideas or information, feel free to call me. 761-2617.