Local News

Mobile homes around Fairchild in jeopardy

AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. - Mobile homes around Fairchild in jeopardy

A proposition will be on the ballot this November to protect Fairchild Air Force Base and the people who live nearby, but it won't come cheap.

County commissioners say many of the mobile home parks near Fairchild are in a potential crash zone, meaning if a plane crashed near the runway, the people living there would be in danger.

Proposition 1 would raise $18 million in revenue from property taxes to help move people out of the area.

Ernest Sisco lives in a mobile home on land owned by someone else. If the levy passes, he'll have a year to leave.

"That still wouldn't probably give us enough time to do everything, that we probably have to do," Sisco said.

Ernest Sisco hopes to stay in his home of 13 years.

"This is kind of hard to get everybody cleared from here," Sisco said.

Most of the land is owned by companies which have agreed to sell it. The homes are in an area designated by the military as an "accident potential zone" or APZ.

"We also want to protect civilians, and these folks...that are living in a potential crash zone," Spokane County spokesperson Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter said.

She also says Fairchild lost points in the race to get the new KC-46 tankers because of the mobile home parks. The Air Force says the land around the base is too heavily populated. Moving the mobile home parks should also keep Fairchild from any potential closure.

"We want to do everything we can to keep Fairchild in as strong of a position as possible because of it's economic importance to this community," Wheatley-Billeter said.

The $18 million from property tax revenue over nine years would be used for relocation and demolition. The proposed property tax increase would be 6.5 cents per one-thousand dollars on your home. If you own a $200,000 home it would cost about $13 a year.

Many of the people affected will have at least a year to move and also have financial help. Catholic Charities will work with them to relocate as well if the proposition passes.

The mobile home parks affected include: Aero, Sands, Lone Pine, Lawson, Campbell A, Campbell B, and Mountain View.