The Vanguard received reports early on Wednesday of a SWAT operation. Police sources later informed the Vanguard that a multi-jurisdictional force served high-risk warrants on five residences in the Royal Oak Mobile Home Park in Davis at 8:15 on Wednesday morning.
Officers from the Yolo Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Davis Police Department SAFE (Special Assignments and Focused Enforcement) Team and several allied agencies (Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, Woodland Police Department, West Sacramento Police Department, Yolo County Probation Department, California Department of Corrections Special Service Unit, Yolo County Bomb Squad, Sacramento Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol were involved in the operation.
The search warrants and subsequent arrests were the result of a four-month investigation into narcotics dealing in that neighborhood.
Police recovered 168 marijuana plants, 3 lbs. of marijuana, and a concentrated cannabis lab. A related search warrant carried out in Sacramento netted 1.5 lbs. of methamphetamine.
Also recovered from the searches at the Royal Oaks trailer park were multiple firearms and ammunition, including 2 assault rifles, and tools and parts used to manufacture assault weapons.
One residence was condemned as being uninhabitable, and two children were placed into protective custody.
Assistant Chief Darren Pytel told the Vanguard, “The searches carried out today were the culmination of months of work into repeated complaints of thefts, drug activity and drug sales occurring in Royal Oaks.“
“Area residents have been complaining the area has been largely ignored and crime has festered to the point they felt unsafe having their children be there,” he said. “That is not acceptable. Today we removed a drug lab, a marijuana grow, illegal guns, parts used to make assault weapons, and a large quantity of methamphetamine.”
Assistant Chief Pytel added, “This is a good start towards taking care of the criminal activity that has festered there. We will continue to look into related activity and work with the community to make sure it’s safe for the hardworking families that live there.”
The Royal Oaks Manufactured Home Community has represented an ongoing problem. Located and surrounded on three sides by the city of Davis, the mobile park itself is outside of the city limits, on county land. That has presented ongoing problems.
In July, the Davis Human Relations Commission cited the large number of highly vulnerable residents and the unsafe conditions in the park, asking the city-county two-by-two to look at this issue. To date, this has not yet occurred.
There are a large number of non-native speaking residents in the mobile home park, some percentage of which are undocumented workers.
A number of complaints have arisen over the years, where residents have complained about being tricked into purchasing units that turned out to be uninhabitable. They were lured in by cheap prices, promotional rents, and promises of home ownership.
While Royal Oak provides some of the only truly affordable home-ownership options for very poor people in Davis, many have accused the mobile home park of violating countless laws. There are many units with no electricity and unsafe wiring.
A 2012 story that appeared in the Davis Enterprise illustrated how a family of six, including two young children, were hospitalized after being sickened by a deadly level of carbon monoxide gas.
Fire crews came to the rescue at 6 am at the home on Hedy Lane inside the Royal Oak mobile home park.
“When the crew arrived they noticed not only the condition of the patients, but also a strange odor in the home,” then-Fire Chief Bill Weisgerber said.
The paper reports, “The crew took a carbon-monoxide reading and discovered a level of 380 parts per million inside the residence, according to Weisgerber. A level of up to nine parts per million is considered normal, while levels over 100 ppm are labeled dangerous.”
“So they were in real trouble,” Chief Weisgerber said. “They were lucky they woke up.”
The report continued, “It’s believed a faulty appliance such as a water heater or wall heater was to blame for the carbon monoxide leak, Weisgerber said. Gas lines to the residence were shut off Saturday, and PG&E workers pulled the meter ‘so that nothing could be put back into service without the appliances being checked.’”
This is unfortunately not an atypical problem and we have heard, from PG&E officials, real concerns about the safety of the electrical wiring in the complex. However, they too have limited ability to deal with the matter because, in part, mobile homes have special status.
The police raid on Royal Oaks will help in the short term, but, longer term, officials in the city of Davis and Yolo County need to step up and protect vulnerable residents from exploitation and unsafe living conditions.
—David M. Greenwald reporting