Leesburg Mobile Home Park Residents Push Town Council for Action

Residents in the Leesburg Mobile Home Park hosted four members of the Leesburg Town Council to push for answers, as they wonder what will happen to their homes after the property is sold. But town council members did not have many answers.

Crescent Mobile Partners LLC, led by Darius Saeidi, has the property under contract in an $11 million deal, and Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk told park residents that the town council cannot legally interfere. And they told they were caught off guard by the news of the impending sale just like the residents.

“At this point, the sale has not gone through and we can’t touch it—as council members, we cannot touch it, we cannot interfere with it. That is not allowed. We would end up being in great trouble if we did that,” Burk said. “So the sale has not been completed and will not probably be completed until December.”

It was a familiar frustration for the residents; when they approached the county board, Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) told them their fate was a town issue, not county. The high price tag has residents worried that the property, which sits walking distance from downtown Leesburg, will be redeveloped. They have said they don’t know where else they will be able to afford to live. Park residents have also been staging regular marches through town to plead with the town council to do something to save their homes.

So far, the assurances they’ve gotten have been that they won’t be kicked out of their homes in the next year.

Burk was joined at the meeting at the park’s playground Wednesday, Oct. 13 by council members Neil Steinberg, Zach Cummings and “Marty” Martinez, who asked at the meeting to go by his given name Fernando. They said they’ve been meeting with other organizations and nonprofits to consider options, although nothing concrete has emerged. Steinberg asked residents, for example, if it would be acceptable if another form of affordable housing was provided on the property that was not the mobile homes.

Some residents wanted a simpler answer—that the town buy the mobile home park. With a likely price tag of at least $11 million or more even assuming it’s for sale, Cummings said “at this point, we’re discussing all options and it’s an option on the table, but the likelihood is very slim.”

Many of the families in the park have been there for years, raising children who have never lived anywhere else. But council members also heard from some new residents.

“In my hands I have the contract that my husband and I signed on Aug. 2. Then on Aug. 3 we received the notice that this park was being put up for sale,” said one resident speaking through an interpreter. “How could these people allow us to sign a document only to then give us the notice that it was going to be sold off? We have invested all of our savings and even taken out loans to try to even afford a roof over our head. So what are you going to tell me for all the efforts I’ve done? We are older people. We have invested and we have paid taxes and contributed to the community. We are not a burden on anybody. So what have we done wrong?”

Children watch from the swing set as members of the Leesburg Town Council meet with Leesburg Mobile Home Park residents to talk about the park’s future after it is sold. [Renss Greene/Loudoun Now]

And although Saeidi stands to buy the land under their homes, so far the residents have not heard from him personally. Some asked the councilmembers to see if they can get him to meet with park residents.

“It would be nice to at least know who he is and his plans, you know?” said one resident.

“A week ago or two weeks ago, he had his people out here taking pictures of the land, so he has time for that, but he doesn’t have, you know, maybe just 30 minutes to just come in and speak to us,” he added. Residents have also complained that the email provided to them to contact the buyer did not work—Burk said that has been corrected. She also said Saeidi has said he would be willing to hold a community meeting at a future date, but is not ready yet.

“No one said that this would be resolved day from day to night. It’s going to take some time, and we’re willing to go to court and do anything possible to make sure we have this affordable housing that we have now,” said another resident through an interpreter. “And then that goes back to my point as to how you guys want to be remembered: as the authority that showed up tonight but did nothing to save these families and ensure that they have affordable housing, or would you like to be remembered as representatives that heard us and did everything possible to make sure that this mobile park stayed intact?”

In that effort they have some help. Joe Kirkwood, an attorney NOVA Business Law Group with experience in commercial real estate, mergers and acquisitions, and business formations, is helping the residents out on a pro bono basis.

And another resident said the council will need to “work hard,” because the park is only one of many communities that could be asking them for more affordable housing.

While the county at large works to encourage more price-controlled and attainable housing, the town has done little concrete to increase its stock of lower-price housing—and in fact the town caps the number of county Affordable Dwelling Units within its borders at 120. Data provided by the county Commissioner of the Revenue’s office listed only 23 ADUs in Leesburg, although other housing programs like the federal Housing Choice Voucher program are also possible.

The town is also likely years from having a cohesive plan to create more affordable housing—the town plan, which is not expected to be finalized until next year, currently includes a call for an affordable housing plan but no actual plan.

“I will say that I care, our council cares, and one of the things that we are doing, our best just to do what we can to preserve this community,” Martinez said.

“We all know it’s still a failure if we only find homes for 70 of 75 families, if we can’t help all 75. We’ve got to do that,” Cummings said.

The town’s calendar noted the meeting would be “not open to the public,” which would violate Virginia open meetings law. Residents and reporters were not barred from entering.

6 thoughts on “Leesburg Mobile Home Park Residents Push Town Council for Action

  • 2021-10-15 at 3:56 pm

    Dear people, you are being lied to. The Leesburg Town Council can zone this land so that it remains a mobile home community. They have the power to do something, and they choose not to help you. The sale isn’t the problem–rezoning the land so it can be redeveloped is the problem. The Demcorats are not willing to do that because they have close personal relationships with the Saeidi family. Remember this is the same Town Council that spent $1M of taxpayer money to install a sidewalk that the Saeidis’ use for their restaurants, which was good for their business. This is Leesburg cronyism at it’s worst.

    • 2021-10-15 at 8:06 pm

      While it’s possible for the Town to rezone the land (or refuse to approve a likely request to rezone it to something else), it’s unlikely that would achieve the result they want. First, it takes months and months for the Town to change the zoning. They have to pass motions to direct staff to work on it, it all has to be drafted and then it has to go through public hearings and votes. It’s possible that would just encourage a developer to speed up their project and get the request in before the zoning is changed. If the Town did change it, they would likely have a tough argument in court since it would clearly be an attempt to stop this specific development and would also likely be considered spot zoning, which is generally illegal. Secondly, even if they did somehow stop the zoning from being changed, there’s nothing they can do (short of spending something north of 11 million dollars of tax payer money to buy it- if they were willing to sell) to force them to keep running a trailer park. They could decide to shut down the trailer park right now (or as soon as they satisfied whatever notification and contract requirements they have) and kick everyone off and there’s nothing anyone can do…they own the land and you can’t force someone to do something with their land that they don’t want to do. This is a very tough situation- both for the people living there and for the Town. There’s not really a good (realistic) option. The best option I could see would be for all parties involved to get together and for the developer to agree to provide a reasonable amount of affordable housing as part of whatever project I assume they are planning and also commit to letting the people remain for a specific amount of time- maybe 3 years since it will likely take at least that long to get to construction with whatever they are planning. If they really want to help, they’d make it rent free for the current residents.

      • 2021-10-16 at 6:25 pm

        The Democrats stabbed these humble people in the back the moment they designated this land to be in the “Crescent Design District,” thus making it a prime target for redevelopment The Town Council knew from that moment forward that these people would be kicked out of their homes. The Town Council has been working to displace these people for years, but now it comes into full view with the offer of a sale. The idea that Democrats want “workforce housing” is laughable. Clearly, right here in their own backyard, they have the opportunity to help maintain workforce housing but they aren’t willing to keep these people in their homes when development money shows up. Democrats are workforce housing liars.

  • 2021-10-15 at 6:13 pm

    It’s encouraging that a dialogue continues between Mobile Home Park residents & Leesburg Town Council. I hope Mayor Burk can use her influence to get the owner to meet with residents. I think that could go a long way to alleviating the crisis. The residents might not like what they hear. But at least they’ll have a better idea of what lies ahead for them. P.S. — Kudos to attorney Joe Kirkwood. I think it’s great that an attorney is serving the residents on a pro-bono basis. We need more attorneys like that in Loudoun County.

  • 2021-10-16 at 12:50 pm

    Local governments almost universally fail when they become landlords. Modern US history is replete with examples of this.

    The owner of the property has a right to sell his property. And the buyer will have the right to develop the property he buys.

    The town could try a bunch of idiotic tricks to infringe on the property rights of the owner but, given the recent zoning changes and addition of high-value condos right next door, the town would run up large legal fees and certainly lose in court. And frankly, the town is in bed with developers and benefits from the redevelopment of this property. They may try to fabricate a sympathetic narrative for the current residents but it is theater.

    Renting a piece of land, even for 20 years, does not convey any special rights to that property. While I have sympathy for the current residents, their best bet is to use the next year looking for a new place to live. Life isn’t fair and the government doesn’t care about your housing needs.

  • 2021-10-25 at 9:27 pm

    A few of the residents were interviewed when the new broke about the trailer park possibly being sold. What sticks out is one family has lived there for 25 years and didn’t speak English! An interpreter was used for the interview.

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