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Elk Grove Citizen

Rancho Cordova Seniors Targets for Crime, Abuse, Aggression

Jul 06, 2022 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Bill Bird

Mobil Country Club is a 479-space mobile home facility for residents 55 years or older described as a "quiet haven" with a "convenient and serene neighborhood."

Rancho Cordova Seniors Targets for Crime, Abuse, Aggression [3 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - They claim that they live in fear. You can see it in their eyes. You can hear the fear in their voices.

Residents of the Mobil Country Club (MCC) on the border of Rancho Cordova and Gold River claim they are under a daily assault from residents who inhabit a large homeless camp behind the facility. Numerous tents and large piles of rotting trash now inhabit land originally set aside for the Citrus Road bike and pedestrian access trail. No bike rider or pedestrian dares use this path today.

“If you don’t know who it is, you don’t answer the door,” said one rattled resident who was in fear of giving her name. “Everyone who lives back there (the back of MCC) is in a state of paranoia. They wonder what is going to happen next.”

MCC is a 479-space mobile home facility that caters to residents who are 55-years or older. Storz Management Company describes the facility on its website as a “quiet haven” and a “convenient and serene neighborhood.” The 10 residents who attended a recent meeting with Messenger Publishing strongly disagree. They say they live in a state of fear.

MCC residents say the problem started in 2016 but has grown worse in the past two years as the size of the homeless camp has tripled. Frustrated homeowners say they have placed numerous calls to the Rancho Cordova Police Department and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for help. One resident produced copies of 14 calls she made to Rancho Cordova police over the course of a single month. Officers do respond to these calls but will not take action to remove the source of the problem and eyesore behind the MCC facility.

“I stopped calling police,” one frustrated resident said. “They don’t do anything.”

As bad as the problem is during the day, residents say, it doesn’t compare to what happens at night. Like the Mongol hordes who assaulted the Great Wall of China, MCC residents share stories of the criminal element from within the homeless camp that scales the six-foot-high brick wall in the back of the facility after the sun has gone down. Anything that isn’t nailed down, residents say, is stolen. The theft list includes bicycles, heavy ornaments decorating the outside of homes and even a laptop computer. Locked sheds are also targeted for theft.

Numerous residents shared stories of noise, drug use, loud music, screaming, assaults, and unwanted visits from homeless camp visitors. Late night pounding on doors and windows isn’t uncommon. One homeless man tried to make his home under a trailer. Another resident claims she made the mistake of opening a late-night knock on her door, only to be confronted by a homeless man who demanded she provide him with blankets and a pillow.

An attorney representing the management company, which receives roughly $850 per month from each resident for management and security services, is familiar with the homeless camp. Joseph Carroll says the camp is not on land owned by MCC, and his client “has neither the power nor authority” to clear it out.

“The homeless and housing shortage crisis in California has affected all property owners, whether it be a gated manufactured housing community like Mobil Country Club, an apartment complex, or a single-family residential home,” Carroll said in a statement to Messenger Publishing. “Mobil Country Club has nighttime security, which patrols the community multiple times each night, a 6-foot concrete wall surrounding the park, security cameras at the front entrance of the park, and a full-time community manager.”

MCC residents who spoke with Messenger Publishing say the security patrols do not deter homeless from entering the grounds.

“They don’t do their job,” said one resident. “We caught a homeless person in the park and security refused to kick him out.”

Several MCC homeowners are banding together to fight back over frustration and mounting fears that come from non-stop noise and crime. Resident John Hunepohl has drafted, and residents have signed, a petition titled: “Seeking Relief for Our Abused Senior and Elderly Residents.”

The petition, which will be presented to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors during the July 13 meeting, reads, in part: “We believe that our elderly have a legal right to occupy their homes in peace and quiet as defined in California Health and Safety Code.”

Rancho Cordova City Manager Cyrus Abhar says he is just as frustrated as homeowners in the MCC park. However, he says federal and state legal restrictions limit what actions the City can take. Mobile Country Club is within Rancho Cordova city limits, but the Citrus Road bike path, where the homeless camp sits, is on Sacramento County land.

“Homelessness is one of the top issues that I have to deal with on a daily basis,” Abhar told Messenger Publishing. “I am an avid bicyclist. I use that Citrus Road path. I see the problem. I am MCC’s biggest advocate.”

One of the problems cited by both Abhar and Carroll is a 2018 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That ruling stops cities like Rancho Cordova from removing camps from public land like the Citrus Road path, unless the city or county provides adequate shelter for the homeless that live there.

Relief can’t come soon enough for some residents. Many, like Michele Fors, are confined to wheelchairs. This means they are forced to use the bike and pedestrian access path behind MCC to go shopping or obtain needed medications.

“It’s like running the gauntlet,” Fors said. “I haven’t been touched, but I am subject to plenty of verbal abuse.”

“The City of Rancho Cordova did take action to clean up the drainage area next to the Citrus Road path because the overgrown bushes and trees served as great hiding spots for criminals,” Abhar said. “At the same time, I think the county can potentially do more.”

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to requests for comment on this issue.

Legendary English singer David Bowie promised a brighter future in his 1975 hit record Golden Years. “I’ll stick with you baby for a thousand years,” he wrote in his lyrics. “Nothing’s gonna touch you in these golden years.”

Unfortunately, at least for the residents of MCC, Bowie’s dream of a brighter future appears to have died with him.