Senior Park-“Land of the Living Dead.”
By Dr. Pelham K. Mead III
Senior Park-“Land of the Living Dead,” is a reality story based on a real and ongoing Senior Mobile home park in El Cajon, California. It is a dark humor story filled with politics and intrigue about a group of elderly Seniors who bought their mobile home park from the owner in 1997 for 2.3 million dollars with HUD backing and a crooked lawyer who benefited from the sale with a finders fee of $80,000. By purchasing the park called “Anchor Down MHP,” from the original owner the members of the park hoped to avoid yearly rental increases on the property where their mobile homes rested.
No sooner had the park been purchased by securing ten mortgages, the County of San Diego cited the mobile home park for 28 violations including improper voltage wiring for 15 amp when the current amount was 30 amp per household. The water pipes had corroded from the late 1940’s when they were installed, since they were galvanized pile that collected a lot of sediment that was blocking the proper water pressure and quality of the water. Since the Senior Park had no reserve money to make repairs to the park, it tried to secure a loan from the California Housing Department for $750,000 in 2006. A second attempt with a presentation by the then President of the Board in Sacrament requested 2.3 million to upgrade the electric from 15 amps per household to 30 amps per household because when ever the Seniors turned on their air-conditioning units the fuses blew. The request was approved and the same lawyer received another $85,000 for her services in preparing the documentation for the California Housing Loan to a Senior mobile home park in 2008.
Through the years the park had all the construction done and grossly mismanaged by the President of the Park Board and his full-time park manager. The Park board meetings were an example of brow-beating and name calling by the board against the members of the park.
The current members of the park include a cast of characters with the first being Bernie the veteran with Bipolar disease. Bernie does not have all his marbles and if you stop to talk with him, he will tell you how well he can sing or some other useless information. Bernie was married to a woman 20 years his senior who went blind. She died and he moved down the street to another woman he was having an affair with all the time his wife was living.
Pam is the next character. Pam lives with her aging father is was a biker chick at one time and has no money or a job to work. She is poor like so many people in the park. She got on the Board for a few years and tried to make the park into a prison according to her ideals. She was asked to step down after making many enemies. To survive financially Pam married her step-father Bill who was living on a Navy pension. She changed her name to her father’s name and filed a claim for medical assistance from the Department of the Navy as his legal wife. What she did was morally wrong and legally questionable.
The widow of the deceased Past Board President that stole almost a million dollars from the park lives in the park with her two overweight sons. One son in his twenties had bariatric surgery but continued eating the way he did before the surgery. He weighs 450 pounds or more and is in an electric wheelchair, and his brother is paid by the county to take care of him because he is declared disabled. The widow of the past president got on the board and tried to make sure no one discovered the deeds her husband did and covered up before he died of cancer.
The resident park manager called Elizabeth is another white haired Senior who handled all of the past president’s park construction projects and helped him milk the park of all the money he was loaned by various scams such as borrowing money and not depositing it into the expenditure account; wiring money to a contractor with no paper trail to determine what the payment was for; and lastly, stealing petty cash to fund personal expenses, monthly dinners and Saturday breakfasts which accepted donations in addition.
One of the members of the park has HIV and lives alone and is also an alcoholic. Most of the men whom are widowers are all alcoholics in the park. One Senior lives on pizza and beer as a major diet. Another Male Senior tries to seduce all the woman in the park on a regular basis by taking them to breakfast.
One Old Irish lady in the park was so poor that she was eating cat food to stay alive. Eventually, she ended up in the hospital for poor health and malnutrition.
The park gets the nickname, “Land of the living dead,” from the fact that 2-3 Seniors die each year. What is inevitable in a Senior park is that everyone will soon die due to their advanced age and many illnesses.
The past maintenance man for the park, George, was another person who took advantage of the park. He lived in an illegal room in the pool house which was previously the washer and dryer room for the park. He did not pay for electric, water, or trash like everyone else in the park. In addition, even though he did very little in terms of cleaning he collected a part-time salary. His TV was tapped into the office internet line illegally and no one was the wiser. He played on the emotions of the old ladies in the park by rolling their garbage cans out every Tuesday night and putting them back after the garbage trucks came on Wednesday.
Another person in the park was an ex-board president who happened to be a lesbian. She fought with the now deceased ex-president when he was on the board as a secretary for over a year. Eventually, she tired of his stress and sold her property and moved away.
Another ex-president of the board, Carol who was in her late 70’s when she was elected to the board had to step down because he had memory problems. Maybe she was suffering from alzheimers, no one really knew. She wanted revenge for the ex-president Bill G. forcing her off the board back in 2008 after she was elected. She waited to long however, because Bill was already dead before she got on the board.
Candice is the recent maintance person who had a drinking and drug problem. She was involved in a brake in at one of the member’s properties with a prostitute whom was living at her house for a month. Candice is in the park illegally because she is not 55 or older. She came into the park as a care-giver for her mother, however, she got her bipolar brother to take care of her mother while she worked in the park. To this day she runs around the park buttering up the women on the board so they allow her to stay in her job even though no one else in the park trusts her after the run in with the police.
Mat is a past board member that has difficulty holding a job. His wife is a medical miracle with an artificial heart valve, two replaced hips, asmtha, high cholesterol and adult diabetes II. She is constantly incurring medical bills for which Mat is unable to afford. He was once a collections specialist who got laid off. He then ended up as a security guard on the waterfront in San Diego. When he was on the board, he and two other male board members got the board to fire the HOA company that was putting the park into bankruptcy and the same crooked lawyer that had been getting paid since 1997 for her overcharged services in the hundreds of thousands.
Glenn is another past board member that was a landloard and suffered from the bank collapse and balloon payments for houses. He went bankrupt and moved from Arizona to El Cajon to start over financially. Glenn and his wife are very religious and got involved in delivering day old bread to the park in 2010. He got the bread from a charity called Senior Gleaners that collected stale bread and pastries from local stores when they were declared stale by the date on the product. Glenn believes in helping people out and often paints some of the old ladies homes free of charge or helps some of them solve maintenance problems they cannot do themselves. Because he is outspoken, and wealther than most women in the park he is disliked by a small group of widows in the park.
Pel is another past board member in the park with a Doctoral degree from Columbia University, NYC. He was a public school teacher for 31 years in New York state and after retiring he taught on the college level for 12 more years. His ability to read and work with spread sheets helped him to discover how Bill stole money from the park from the California State Housing Loan. He was on the board for three years until he resigned due to a strong female force on the board that wanted to remove all the men from the board. Pel continues to work with Glenn to help Seniors through a local charity and currently is an author of five published novels.
As each new member comes into the park they want to get on the board to have some control on what is being done to keep the park financially secure at the loan monthly rent of $580 a month. The board has come close to running out of funds on several occasions over the past few years. Refinancing fell through when HUD discovered $200,000 to $300,000 in an audit missing from the records for 2008, 2009 years when Bill the past board president was in control of the funds.
The inability of the board to run the park like a business leads to the tension in the community in gossip and back-stabbing politics and finger pointing and still not being able to save the park from future bankruptcy. Each new board that comes in soon learns that the park is in 5.5 million dollars in debt with one loan from the State of California due in 2028 with a balloon payment of 500,000. A loan from the County of San Diego for $500,000 is also due in 2030 with the interest owed for $900,000. In addition, currently the park cannot refinance because of their bad financial records for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The humor in living in a Senior park is mostly sarcasm and the reality is two or three park members will get sick and die each year. Old members die and are taken away and their trailer is removed and sold to Mexico for scrap. New members move in and discover too late that the park is on the verge of financial bankruptcy because of it’s past corrupt policies and corrupt ex-president Bill G. The dark humor comes in the petty ways the board and members of the park fight one another. Meanwhile, the pool house is falling apart as is the Park members hall too. Construction is past due, but no funds are available to repair the water damage.
In this reality series the future is unclear. But, what is clear is that honesty cannot survive when the board cannot see it’s way out of a paper bag. Their lack of education and experience in business leads them to run the park like a girl scout pack instead of a business with real people’s lives and livelihood at stake.
Sometimes the gloom is downcast by small kindness by some neighbors to other neighbors, but they are in the minority in the Senior Park from Hell.