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Mobile home residents pack up

They have until noon Monday to vacate Marina Park, which will be turned into a public park with views of the water.

November 27, 2013|By Emily Foxhall
  • Erin Kunkle, left, a resident of Marina Park mobile home park, packs boxes with her family's belongings on Tuesday. The residents have been ordered to move out of the park by next week. (Scott Smeltzer, Daily Pilot)
Erin Kunkle, left, a resident of Marina Park mobile home… (SCOTT SMELTZER…)

Earlier this week, Newport Beach resident Erin Kunkle took stock of the contents in the kitchen of her mobile home at Marina Park.

She wondered not about which utensils to use to make turkey or stuffing, but instead how to pack all of the items from the cupboards and drawers into cardboard boxes.

The Marina Park residents, whose homes along Balboa Boulevard will be removed to make way for a new public park, must vacate the city property by noon Monday — a final "date of surrender" set so that the mobile home dwellers might enjoy one last Thanksgiving meal at home.

Residents received 90-day notices soon after the city acquired the necessary California Coastal Commission permitting documents in mid-August.

While the current project has been in the works since at least 2008, when the City Council commissioned its conceptual design, the city had been warning as early as 1985 of the space's impending conversion to a public park.

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Knowing their fate, most residents of the nearly 60 mobile homes had already left. And while Kunkle and her family plan to move Saturday, they will spend the holiday at her parents' house, as they usually do.

Regardless, their living room has filled with towers of boxes.

"That's life, moving on," said Kunkle, 37.

Her family has lived in the home for nearly 11 years.

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'The best kept secret around'

The Marina Park site served as a city campground beginning in 1919, when Newport acquired the land between 16th and 18th streets from the Pacific Electric Land Co., according to a book by S.A. Meyer on the city's early history.

In the coming years, Meyer wrote, toilets were installed. The area was fenced. Gas plates were rented for cooking.

The camp underwent renovations in 1956 to become a "de-lux trailer court," complete with a picnic area looking onto the harbor's waterfront, according to Meyer's account. Homes became bigger, plumbing facilities improved and area landscaping was modernized.

What had accommodated up to 120 trailers in the years preceding now fit half that number.

"It provides all trailers with a water view and will, it is hoped, increase the revenue by providing a first-class park," Meyer wrote.

Whereas early campers paid 75 cents per day to pitch a tent in the waterfront areas and 50 cents farther back, as a mobile home park, recent monthly rents have ranged from $924 to $1,364, according to city records.

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