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Trailer-Dwelling Fire Victims Face Eviction

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

San Diego County officials are starting to enforce eviction notices for Cedar and Paradise fire victims still living in temporary dwellings three years to the month after they lost their homes. KPBS Radio’s Andrew Phelps reports.

About 130 fire victims in San Diego County’s unincorporated areas are living in trailers. Beginning this week, county officials will issue citations to people who haven’t made an effort to get out of their trailers and rebuild their homes. Pam Elias is the county’s chief of code enforcement. She says her job is not an easy one.

Elias: They’re all people, and they’ve all gone through a lot of trauma. It’s not something I enjoy doing. The other side of that coin is there are health and safety issues. These particular types of living arrangements were never meant to be permanent. 

More than 2,500 homes burned down in the firestorm. The owners of more than 800 of those homes have not even applied for a permit to rebuild. Many homeowners are uninsured or underinsured. Elias says some people are still waiting for a court date with the insurance company. So she says the evictions will be decided on a case-by-case basis. 

Elias: We might give people an extension to do either rebuild or maybe find some more housing, depending on what their circumstances are.

About 20 people have submitted paperwork to show they’re working toward reconstruction  and need more time. Elias says penalties will escalate for people who refuse to abandon their trailers. For KPBS, I’m Andrew Phelps

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