Vanguard Responds to Royal Oak Mobile Home Park Demand For Retraction

On Thursday, the Vanguard reported on a police raid and high-risk warrants that were served on five residences in the Royal Oak Manufactured Home Community on Wednesday morning.

In that article, the Vanguard used the exact wording from a police statement, “… served search warrants on five residences in the Royal Oaks trailer park in Davis. The search warrants and subsequent arrests were the result of a 4 month investigation into narcotics dealing in that neighborhood.”

Just before 5 pm on Friday afternoon, the Vanguard received a letter from Attorney Terry Dowdall of the Dowdall Law Offices located in Orange, California, with an office also located in Sacramento. The letter from the law firm accused the Vanguard and myself of acting “with malice in making false and denigrating statements in the article, in order to injure the owners and management of Royal Oak Manufactured Community in its business, trade and profession.”

Mr. Dowdall asks that we retract the false statements, “accompanied by an editorial in which you specifically repudiate your libelous statements and provide an accurate description of the location wherein the reported raid occurred.”

The law firm demands “immediate retraction in writing of these false and libelous statements.”

The Vanguard takes these matters very seriously and takes great pains to ensure that the information provided is true and accurate. In this case, the Vanguard‘s information came directly from the police release and from discussions with Assistant Police Chief Darren Pytel.

According to Mr. Dowdall, the statements at issue – which, interestingly enough came from police sources, including the spelling of the mobile home park itself – incorrectly referred to the park as “Royal Oaks” rather than “Royal Oak.”

Mr. Dowdall states that the headline of our article was incorrect when it stated that “the police recovered weapons and narcotics at Royal Oaks.” He writes, “In truth, Police raided a single mobile home situated on property outside the park. The mobile home that was raided has nothing to do with the Park, and the Park has no control whatsoever over the raided mobile home, which is situated on property the Park neither owns nor controls.”

Second, Mr. Dowdall objects that the firearms and narcotics “were recovered from this one mobile home which is outside the Park and which has nothing to do with the Park.” Mr. Dowdall writes, “You clearly chose to fictionalize this aspect of the story in order to make it conform to your ongoing efforts to defame the Park.”

Mr. Dowdall ignores that this information came from police sources and that this is the first article that the Vanguard has every written on this topic.

Third, he notes that we correctly state that a residence “was condemned as being uninhabitable,” and “yet you deliberately fail to mention that this residence is not part of the Park. Instead, you lead readers to believe that this home is in the Park.”

Fourth, he writes that “for four paragraphs after this assertion about the one mobile home (which in fact lies outside the Park), making the claim that this particular mobile home is part or indicative of some larger problem at the Park. A mobile home outside the Park is not part of any larger problem with the Park; it is not even part of the Park.”

He adds, “The reporting in this case appears to have excluded any inquiry of any of the police agencies, the management, or counsel for any of the parties, prosecutors, the defendants or other sources. Any of these sources would have provided truthful information about the location of the raid and that it occurred outside Royal Oak.”

Mr. Dowdall ignores that the information came from a police press release and fails to note that the Vanguard includes a quote from Assistant Chief Darren Pytel. The police department served as the primary source of this information, and yet Mr. Dowdall asks, “Did you talk to a single knowledgeable person about this case?”

The Vanguard stands by this report and its accuracy. The police in their release reported: “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, 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 that representatives from the mobile home park claimed that the residences were outside the park on Thursday. However, he stated, “we were unable to verify (that) on the maps.”

Assistant Chief Pytel indicated that they did “four other searches (in that location) also in trailers and made arrests and recovered guns.”

Weapons seized by police at Royal Oak Mobile Home Park - photo courtesy of Davis Police
Weapons seized by police at Royal Oak Mobile Home Park – photo courtesy of Davis Police

Assistant Chief Pytel told the Vanguard last night, “The two handguns and two rifles at the bottom are from that (protective custody) house.”

He added, “The two assault rifles, one Smith and Wesson handgun, and pink shotgun are from the Moriarty residence.” Kenneth Moriarty, 27, of Davis was one of five adults arrested in the raid – the Vanguard had not previously published the names of the arrested.

Assistant Chief Pytel said, “The (protective custody) house was in with the rest of the trailers in Royal Oak[s].”

The Vanguard has learned much more about this situation in the last few days.

Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza told the Vanguard on Friday, “Royal Oaks appears to be a very poorly managed mobile home park.   Law abiding residents are at financial and physical risk. This is extremely disturbing, as many low income families reside there. I am working with justice and law enforcement to explore solutions.”

He added, “Based on information that I’ve received over the last several weeks, this week’s raid brings to light just one example of a complex set of issues in Royal Oaks that may well demand a legal remedy.”

The Vanguard will have a follow-up report when more information comes to light.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. PhilColeman

    Demands of retractions of a published article or column from a law firm are rare, and for good reason. Almost never does the publisher respond to the demand, even should it have merit. First Amendment Rights in this country are generously interpreted so that it requires an overwhelming abundance of evidence, and repetition, to support a libel suit. The utter nonsense in tabloids–and the more recent creations in innumerable blogs of questionable repute–are sufficient proof of this assertion. You can say I’m the love child of Elvis and an alien and I can’t do a thing about it.

    A formal demand for a retraction has the intention of seeking vindication for the demanding party. Instead, a retraction demand only causes a further public telling of the incident, along with a righteous denial, and the “wronged” party watches the damaging story being played again, and again.

    David is Teflon-coated on this one, as everything reported came from official police documents and direct quotes from a high-ranking administrator. Notice that the real “offender,” the Davis Police Department, received no such letter. The reason is simple, they are worthless and just routinely forwarded to the City Attorney for permanent filing.

    Daren Pytel is no fool. He’s an attorney (not that the two words are necessarily mutually exclusive). Whatever he said publicly is carefully measured and the Assistant Chief knows he can back it up with facts, evidence, and witnesses. He surely can count past one when doing an inventory of invaded mobile homes.

    The most intriguing part of this sordid story is the property boundary dispute. Somebody paid somebody for the space rental, utility hookups, not to mention property taxes. Were I representing this mobile home park, I’d submit–as part of my demand–all relevant receipts and payments showing they had nothing to do with the renegade trailer(s). Maybe they will be included in a second demand. Everybody hold your breath.

    And the most satisfying part of the story is it getting the County’s attention. Kudos to Jim Provenza.

  2. Jim Frame

    I’m curious about the contention that one or more of the mobile homes were “outside the park.” Is the attorney referring to locations in other jurisdictions that were part of a coordinated raid, or is he claiming that one or more mobile homes that appear to be in Royal Oak are actually on land owned by others?

    1. Alistair D

      You mean the black lines? (Not trying to be a smartass but I don’t see red lines so making sure I’m not missing something). So if I’m understanding this map, everything between morris way and gay way is one parcel and apart of the royal oak park?

      1. Edgar Wai

        The black lines are just the streets. The grey lines are the parcel boundaries. But I think the parcel boundaries don’t tell you its owner. Maybe some parcels do not belong to the Royal Oak.

      2. Matt Williams

        Alistair, if you click on the graphic it gets larger (fills the screen). The Yolo County GIS site, which is the source of the graphic, uses red lines to delineate the individual lots. To make it more readable, here is another version of the same graphic with the picture image removed. In this second image (the parcel map from the Assessors Office) the lot demarcation lines are black on a white background … and therefore easier to see than the red lines on the grey background. To see a full screen version of the map just click on it. The full screen version is easier to read.

        Since the individual lots are numbered, does anyone know which lots were the ones that were raided? … and/or does anyone have the addresses of the lots that were raided?

        Royal Oak Assessors Map

  3. Michael Harrington

    Good morning Ms Eisner, of the Dowdall Law Offices:

    As you know, I am very familiar with your client and it’s business practices. May I suggest your offices devote resources to improving those practices rather than attacking David Greenwald and his Blog? They have many friends in the Yolo County Bar whom would be happy to handle the defense if your client foolishly files a frivolous legal case. I’m one of them.

  4. Alistair D

    I live in the Royal Oaks community and got up to SWAT pretty much everywhere in this community Wednesday morning. I went outside to have a smoke, was told instantly to go back in doors. If they didn’t raid other mobile homes in this community, I’d be floored. There was at least one MRAP here, numerous swat officers, and yah that raid was all about drugs, guns and so fourth. Many people have come and gone from that house at all hours of the night, all throughout the community. Not to mention you can walk around here on most nights and find kids smoking weed. I believe it when they say they raided more homes here, as that house isn’t the only trouble spot. As for if that mobile home condemned on morris way is actually apart of the park or not, hell if I know. I’ve been told it is and isn’t from so many people (including management) I’ve given up trying to understand lol.

    Your reporting is pretty well dead on. This community has gone through numerous managers since I moved in around 2 years ago. It took till recently to just get the title for the mobile home. Department of Housing was also out earlier this year conducting an investigation into many issues that have come up.

    The mobile home we live in was pretty F***ed up when we got it. A LOT of work had to go into it just to make it livable, and there are some homes around here that are so bad I don’t understand how they can even attempt to sell them. But they do.

    “Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza told the Vanguard on Friday, “Royal Oaks appears to be a very poorly managed mobile home park. Law abiding residents are at financial and physical risk. This is extremely disturbing, as many low income families reside there. I am working with justice and law enforcement to explore solutions.””

    If we HAD managers I’d say it’s very poorly managed. There is one girl that I see constantly and she is just a sales person. She’s understanding though and very nice to talk to, but as for ACTUAL management? Yeah right. If we get one, they last MAYBE 5 months then gone. Then another 2 will go by without a manager, and the cycle repeats. People that have lived here for longer have said it’s common. Apparently this place has gone through more managers than people living here. (I’m sure that’s a massive exaggeration but it’s what I was told). I guess corporate comes down, makes sure we pay rent and that be it.

    MOST people here are nice, polite and good fun. There are the portion of the bad seeds though 🙁

      1. Tia Will


        Maybe….but it seems that one MRAP, already available in an interagency action, was sufficient. I see this as an excellent example of when another MRAP isn’t needed.

  5. DurantFan

    Kudos to the Marguerite Montgomery Elementary (MME) School trachers and support staff for maintaining such a loving, personable, and welcoming oasis for the young children from the Park. Even though the Park may not technically be “withiin” the City of Davis, MME certainly “is”. Does any School Board member or candidate care to comment on this situation?

  6. Frankly

    Apparently we have another underemployed attorney looking for something to do. They are a little bit like mosquitos… they do some good, but also cause a lot of unnecessary problems. Too bad we can’t just spray to eliminate their oversupply. Otherwise we just need to periodically swat them away.

  7. Tia Will


    Please correct me if I am wrong. It seems to me that some lawyers love a “food fight” so much that they will engage whether or not the initiating claim is
    “bogus”. This is ,in my opinion, much the same as some surgeons love surgery so much that they will choose it as the first option whether or not that is in the patient’s best interest. No one is immune from choosing what they like to do.

  8. Anon

    If a unit is uninhabitable, meaning it does not have hot and cold running water, electricity or heat or is infested with vermin, the tenant can stop paying rent until the landlord makes the unit habitable. The tenant does take a risk of being evicted for nonpayment of rent. However, in the eviction proceeding, the tenant should bring evidence to prove his/her contention the unit is uninhabitable. If it is uninhabitable, the judge can support the tenant by ordering the landlord to fix the unit, and inform the landlord the rent will not be paid until the necessary repairs are complete.

    1. David Greenwald

      This is a little more complex than that – these aren’t tenants and landlords – they own the mobile home but rent space from the park. I need to get a better sense of how that works. The other point is that we are dealing with in many cases very vulnerable populations.

      1. Matt Williams

        Mobilehome Rent Laws Civil Code Sections 798-799.2.5

        798. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Mobilehome Residency Law.”

        798.4. “Mobilehome park” is an area of land where two or more mobilehome sites are rented, or held out for rent, to accommodate mobilehomes used for human habitation.

        798.12. “Tenancy” is the right of a homeowner to the use of a site within a mobilehome park on which to locate, maintain, and occupy a mobilehome, site improvements, and accessory structures for human habitation, including the use of the services and facilities of the park.

        798.55. (a) The Legislature finds and declares that, because of the high cost of moving mobilehomes, the potential for damage resulting therefrom, the requirements relating to the installation of mobilehomes, and the cost of landscaping or lot preparation, it is necessary that the owners of mobilehomes occupied within mobilehome parks be provided with the unique protection from actual or constructive eviction afforded by the provisions of this chapter.
        (b) (1) The management may not terminate or refuse to renew a tenancy, except for a reason specified in this article and upon the giving of written notice to the homeowner, in the manner prescribed by Section 1162 of the Code of Civil Procedure, to sell or remove, at the homeowner’s election, the mobilehome from the park within a period of not less than 60 days, which period shall be specified in the notice. A copy of this notice shall be sent to the legal owner, as defined in Section 18005.8 of the Health and Safety Code, each junior lienholder, as defined in Section 18005.3 of the Health and Safety Code, and the registered owner of the mobilehome, if other than the homeowner, by United States mail within 10 days after notice to the homeowner. The copy may be sent by regular mail or by certified or registered mail with return receipt requested, at the
        option of the management.

        798.56. A tenancy shall be terminated by the management only for one or more of the following reasons:
        (a) Failure of the homeowner or resident to comply with a local ordinance or state law or regulation relating to mobilehomes within a reasonable time after the homeowner receives a notice of noncompliance from the appropriate governmental agency.
        (b) Conduct by the homeowner or resident, upon the park premises, that constitutes a substantial annoyance to other homeowners or residents.
        (c) (1) Conviction of the homeowner or resident for prostitution, for a violation of subdivision (d) of Section 243, paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), or subdivision (b), of Section 245, Section 288, or Section 451, of the Penal Code, or a felony controlled substance offense, if the act resulting in the conviction was committed anywhere on the premises of the mobilehome park, including, but not limited to, within the homeowner’s mobilehome.

  9. mosca

    unfortunately I bought a trailer at royal oaks not knowing laws on mobile homes back then I got screwed my place wasnt habitable I had to work on it for two weeks before I moved in  no water heater,no toilets,no smoke detectors , holes on the floors. And after three years I still dont have the title to my home I bought it in 2011 well it turns out that theres back fees owed to the state since 2005 royal oaks sent me a packet with fake dates for me to sign to get the title making me responsible for all the back fees yea right! I talked to the state about mi issue they said thats illegal they cant sell a home here with out having the title I just hope they dont kick me out and keep my home and about homes that are uninhabitable its true there is one right across mine with mold in it Leakey roof broken windows and its for sale 

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