The Riverside County Board of Supervisors last week approved a memorandum of understanding with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians in an effort to address the ongoing crisis at the Oasis Mobile Home Park in the Eastern Coachella Valley.

“As the board is aware, we’ve been in the process of relocating residents from Oasis mobile home park,” Greg Rodriguez, deputy director of Housing and Workforce Solutions, said. “Some concerns arose as we exited people from the park, individuals were moving back in, so our efforts over hopefully what will be about a three year process from now to three years would have been done in vain.”

To prevent people from moving into the mobile home park, the agreement allows the county to inspect mobile homes, issue notices of violations or other orders to the owners/operators of Oasis, red-tag mobile homes, install barriers to prevent access to the mobile homes, cut off utilities to mobile homes and remove or demolish mobile homes. Enforcement efforts will “primarily focus on vacant units or units that become vacant while this [memorandum of understanding] is in effect,” according to the agreement.

“This is a very difficult jurisdictional issue, because it is tribal land, federal land,” Rodriguez said. “But again, the county has stepped up because of the humanitarian crisis, and the need to get people into suitable housing.” 

Since 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued three emergency administrative orders regarding high arsenic levels—up to 10 times the allowable amount—in the water system serving the mobile home park. Other issues at the park include uninhabitable and dilapidated mobile homes, substandard sewer systems that flow into open pits and electrical systems that present fire risks and outages, according to the county.

“It’s really bad,” Supervisor Chuck Washington said. “And behind Supervisor [V. Manuel] Perez’s leadership, this board has decided to do something about it. It is just unconscionable that on the front end of that, the managers of that mobile home park were allowing people to move in as we vacated some, and so finally, it looks like we have a real resolution in hand.”

To date, Rodriguez said the county had relocated 78 families to the Mountain View Mobile Home Park. He also said the county provides monthly community updates at Oasis where they provide hands-on coaching, housing assessments and resource referrals to residents still living in the mobile home park.

“We have a multi-pronged approach for that area,” he said. “Because it’s deplorable that people have to live in these conditions.”

In other board news: Supervisor Chuck Washington asked that the meeting be adjourned in memory of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old man who died after being beaten by five Memphis police officers. “I’m proud of our sheriff and our sheriff’s department for speaking quickly against this injustice, may he rest in peace,” Washington said. “And on behalf of the County of Riverside, I’d like to extend our condolences to the Nichols family.”

You can watch a replay of the meeting here.

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