New Owner Threatens to Close RV Park, Changes Mind
Two days after residents at the financially troubled River Grove RV Park on Highway 9 near Felton, Calif., got a notice giving them a week to move out for "long overdue maintenance repairs," the new owner said he would postpone the shutdown.
Initially, Lawrence Andrews, agent for the new owner and president of UnitVest in Rancho Cucamonga, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel Tuesday (Jan. 5) the park along the San Lorenzo River south of the Bay Area would be closed temporarily, "three to six weeks at most," for repairs.
"We just intend on cleaning the park up a bit and make it a nicer place," said Andrews, who called back minutes later to say he would retract the shutdown notice today.
The notice, taped to the doors of their RV Sunday, shocked Steven Robillard, 43, owner of a cleaning business, Maid Nu Enterprises.
"We understand the park needs to make repairs but they haven't given people enough time to find a new place," said Robillard, who estimated Tuesday morning that 20 to 25 of the 65 hook-ups were in use.
Robillards moved his RV five months ago to the scenic river location to be close to his mother, who lives in Scotts Valley. He pays $200 a week, which covers water, sewage, electricity, cable and trash pickup.
County Supervisor Mark Stone commended the owner's decision, saying the delay would give residents breathing room. Initially he called the five-day notice to vacate "outrageous" and "probably not enforceable" for anyone who has lived at the park for more than 30 days.
He said attorney Terry Hancock of Senior Legal Services is looking into the matter on the county's behalf.
Some people have been living at the park a long time, even though county assessor records list the property as an overnight travel park, said Stone.
"We're trying to see what leverage the county has," he said, advising residents of the park to organize and stay together rather than move out.
Santa Cruz RV Park 1 LLC purchased the park Dec. 30, according to Cara Coon, communications manager for Sterling Financial, the former owner. She declined to disclose the purchase price and the transaction is not yet posted to the county records online.
The property was foreclosed in August, coming under the ownership of Evergreen Environmental Development Corp. for $1.47 million.
Evergreen is a subsidiary of Spokane-based Sterling Financial, which got a cease-and-desist order in October from federal regulators and notices in December of delisting from the NASDAQ exchange and an investor's lawsuit alleging securities violations.
During the summer, some RV owners were paying $5 to $10 a night to stay at the park, getting discounts because of their membership in certain RV networks.
The River Grove RV Park has a checkered history in Felton.
In 1985, residents complained after coliform was found in their drinking water, prompting intervention by the county Environmental Health Services.
In 1997, then-owner Quality Resorts of California got a $1.1 million loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration for improvements. Two years later, the SBA granted another $205,000. Early in 2005, the company fell behind on payments and a notice of default was filed.
Later that year, the property was sold to River Grove Resort, based in Canyon Country, for $2.75 million. River Grove Resort financed the purchase with $2 million from Sonoma National Bank and $600,000 from Cedar Funding, a lender in Monterey. When the property was foreclosed in 2007, Cedar Funding bought it for $1.3 million.
When Cedar Funding didn't make payments, Sterling Savings Bank, which acquired Sonoma National Bank in 2007, foreclosed. Cedar Funding filed for bankruptcy, but the bankruptcy judge took the property out of bankruptcy so it could be sold in July, according to San Diego real estate agent John Grant, who had been looking for buyers.