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King County purchases mobile home park along flood-prone Cedar River
As part of an ongoing, long-term project to protect public safety, King County has acquired a mobile home park that lies perilously close to a flood-prone portion of the Cedar River in Maple Valley, and was offered for sale by its owner.
King County staff met with tenants of the Riverbend Mobile Home Park on July 24 to discuss the acquisition and future plans for tenant relocation, which is expected to begin this fall.
Acquiring the property is identified as a high priority in the King County Flood Hazard Management Plan, as approved by the King County Council.
“A fundamental role of local government is to protect residents and property from injury and damage by natural disasters,” said Mark Isaacson, Director of King County’s Water and Land Resources Division. “Although it’s hard to imagine at the height of summer, this community faces risks from both flooding and sudden changes in the river’s course during winter floods. In 1990, the river channel shifted suddenly overnight, washing out the flood control levee and undercutting and threatening homes.”
Because King County is the purchaser of the mobile home park, tenants are eligible for relocation benefits and assistance in accordance with state guidelines for relocating tenants displaced by the sale of a property. If the park had been purchased and closed by a private buyer, the tenants would not be entitled to receive relocation assistance.
"We understand the difficulties relocation creates for our residents and are committed to providing financial and technical assistance, as well as adequate time, to help them find and move into safer housing," Isaacson said.
King County purchased the 18.6-acre property for $6.8 million. Funding for the acquisition came from the King County Flood Control District and a mix of state and regional grants, including the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, King County Conservation Futures and WRIA 8 Cooperative Watershed Management Grants.
Riverbend Mobile Home Park currently has 87 occupied mobile homes and 38 occupied RV sites.
The state Legislature this month approved a $4.1 million Coordinated Investment for Puget Sound Floodplains grant to support relocation assistance for these residents. Including other state and local sources, that gets the County to $5.2 million and close to the $6 million it will ultimately need to help tenants find and move to comparable replacement housing over the next two to three years, as well as remove or demolish vacant structures.
Tenants who face the greatest risk of flooding will be relocated first. As tenants are relocated, vacant mobile homes will be removed to minimize disruption to the remaining tenants and to prevent vandalism of vacant properties.
Relocating residents and removing mobile homes and other structures from the property will protect lives and property, with an added goal of reducing flooding downstream by giving flood water more room to flow.
The Riverbend property fills a gap in a five-mile-long stretch of publicly owned property along the left bank of the Cedar River between the Elliott Bridge Reach and Belmondo Natural Area, and is immediately downstream of the recently completed Cedar Rapids Floodplain Restoration Project. A secondary and long-term goal of the project is restoring habitat for threatened chinook salmon.