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A trailer’s tale

Submitted by on 1, July 20, 2010 – 4:50 am4 Comments

Photo courtesy of Donald Shafer

Donald Shafer has a $2,700 problem. The 77-year-old Independence Plaza resident bought a trailer to protect his Harley-Davidson Soft Tail motorcycle from the elements, bad drivers and thieves after getting permission from complex management.

But a few weeks later, the same manager called and left Shafer a message: He’d made a mistake, and the 10-foot-long trailer, which is shorter than a mid-size sedan, had to go.

“Frankly, I couldn’t sleep that night,” Shafer said. So he made his case to the head of the Housing Authority, which operates the complex, and the City Council.

He was told he couldn’t park his trailer at the complex even though the authority’s parking rules don’t explicitly bar them.

Shafer, who said he passed up less expensive trailers because he “didn’t want to put something that wasn’t nice out there,” pleaded his case to the City Council on July 6, a month after he sent a letter to the Housing Authority’s executive director, Michael Pucci, without response. Pucci responded three days later.

“The rules allow you to have a car, motorcycle or a small pick up truck; the rules do not allow trailers,” Pucci wrote. But he said he could understand why the complex’s manager erred when he told Shafer he could park his trailer at Independence Plaza, because “the parking rules do not state explicitly that trailers are not permitted.”

The rule Pucci referenced says that “Cars, motorcycles and small pick-up trucks with or without a camper top and designed for personal use, are eligible to obtain a parking permit. Boats, larger trucks, campers, recreational and commercial vehicles are not eligible to obtain a permit and are prohibited from parking on the premises.”

“They didn’t say anything about the trailer,” Shafer said.

Pucci said the Housing Authority’s parking rules were changed in 2009, and somehow, inadvertently, the word “trailer” was “inadvertently left out describing what was prohibited whereas the previous rules which had been in place for many years expressly stated trailers are prohibited.”

Regardless, Pucci said, “the rules state that only cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc. are eligible to park. It does not say trailers are eligible to park there.”

He said there isn’t an appeal process in place to address Shafer’s concerns, but he can state his case at the Housing Commission’s next meeting.

Since he moved the trailer to a relative’s house – Shafer said he feared it would be towed – Pucci told him the matter was closed, without any chance of appeal. So Shafer has been trying to sell the trailer and recoup some of the money he has spent. The complex’s manager found Shafer a parking space inside its locked gates to protect his bike from thieves. But he’s had no luck unloading the trailer.

“This does not ring true to me,” Shafer said.


  • Dawna says:

    To bad to sad Alameda Housing you should be ashamed of yourself…..you erred by leaving out “trailers” and should let this young man keep his trailer parked at the site. You should then change the rules and go forward from there.

  • Bob says:

    So, let’s get this straight. This guy lives in housing subsidized by my tax dollars. He not only can afford to own a harley davidson motorcycle, but buys a nice trailer to keep it in and presumably has another vehicle to drive that is capable of hauling a trailer. I think the real root of the problem is not whether the word “trailer” was left out of the rules, but is that this individual is milking the system. He should be evicted.

  • Genny says:

    To suggest that a person who can afford a motorcycle should be evicted is evil. Most of the people who live in housing projects have cars, campers, bikes, trucks that is why there are policies and rules on these vehicles. Not because one owns such vehicle mean that these people are milking the system. One needs to understand that these seniors have paid their dues by paying their taxes during their working years and most of them have earned their dues and deserve to own vehicle in whatever form. The Independence Plaza have tenants that have beautiful and half decent cars, trucks, bikes, and recreational vehicles such as a camper. The policies promulgated on this complex should be carefully reviewed and should be equally apply to all irrespective of their race. Clearly, campers are included in the banned vehicle, but there is a camper allowed to park in this complex. To allow one to park a banned vehicle and disallow one to park a unbanned vehicle is blatant discrimination to me. Someone needs to have a close look at this. This is the root of the problem here.

  • Genny says:

    You can have this problem be analyzed by the barristers.

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