Woman Sues Campground Over Access Issue
The Holiday Trav-L-Park in Virginia Beach, Va., was no “Eden” for Karen Smith and her daughter, according to a discriminatory housing practices lawsuit filed in Circuit Court.
The lawsuit alleges the campground prohibits renting a campsite in a monthly residential section of the grounds, known as Eden, to anyone with a child, according to The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk.
The Virginia Attorney General’s Office, which filed the complaint earlier this month on Smith’s behalf, is seeking an injunction to stop the alleged unlawful conduct and $20,000 in compensatory damages.
Phillip Upton, the manager of the roughly 100-acre campground, denied that Smith was forced to leave because of her child.
“Our business is a campground, and what Karen Smith would want us to be is a trailer park,” Upton said. “Our business is the tourist business.”
The state Fair Housing Board began looking into the allegations last year when Smith, who had moved to Holiday Trav-L-Park, complained that she was told she could not stay there for more than three weeks because her daughter, Olivia, was between 5 and 18.
According to the lawsuit, the campground enforced “children restrictions” forbidding prospective residents from living in Eden on a month-to-month basis if they had one or more children.
The attorney general’s office contends that Smith and her daughter were denied fair housing based on their family status. They would not comment further on the allegations, citing pending litigation.
“We never had a problem before,” said owner Virginia Bosher, who has run the campground for almost 35 years. “This is a shock.”
In an interview, Bosher said she first became aware that Smith wanted to stay longer than a month when the investigation began in November 2007.
Neither Bosher nor Upton would discuss the alleged policy on children because the case is ongoing. However, they pointed out one of the 45 campsites in Eden where Smith lives and explained that they made several arrangements for her to stay at the campground.
“There are two sides to the story,” Bosher said. “We work hard to run a good establishment. We have a wonderful family campground.”