Jackson Mobile Home Park Profiles: Shawn Dochtermann

shawn serious
Shawn Dochtermann strikes a serious face. Courtesy of Shawn Dochtermann

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The closure of Jackson Mobile Home Park on May 1 means that people have been scrambling to find alternative spots for their homes or businesses, other housing arrangements, or are even considering moving out-of-state. This week we share the experiences of several displaced home and business owners of Jackson Mobile Home Park.

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In 1995, when fisherman Shawn Dochtermann bought his trailer in Jackson’s, he was at sea practically all year-round. But now 52, and the single parent of a four-year-old son, he thought he’d be spending more time at home.

“I used to gone fishing 11 months a year and, since privatization, we’ve worked a lot less. I’m probably down to six months a year, seven months a year. So, it was a good place to go to and at least have refuge around town and keep my things. And I also own a house overseas, so it was nice just be able to come and go.”

He says he was away fishing in the Bering Sea and got back to Kodiak in March 2015, and there’d been rumors of a major seafood processor buying Jackson’s.

“Then I happened to go to my banker at First National Bank of Alaska, and I was asking him if he knew anything, he’s says, yeah, it’s on the market for like $1.5 million or $1.6, I don’t remember the exact amount, and I says, oh man, that’s a pretty low figure. I mean, the real property in there of people’s trailers is worth probably more than $3,000,000 dollars.”

He says he and many of the residents thought that the Jackson Mobile Home Park was a stable neighborhood and would remain a trailer court. He says in 2001, the city rezoned that property to one that permits mobile home parks.

“Because it’d gotten too big and it wasn’t legal as R1, so they had to change it to R3 and that was done by the Planning and Zoning Commission, and in those documents it said it would remain a mobile home park, so we were all under the understanding that it would never be sold, and it would be a place for lower income people to live.”

In the last year since the park’s closure was announced, the borough has also modified zoning code in a bid to open up more spaces in other mobile home parks around town and waived fees for moving trailers. However, it’s not enough to alleviate the impact of the Jackson’s closure. Kodiak is already suffering from lack of land, a shortage in housing, and high rent.

Dochtermann thinks the borough should have fought harder. He says it hasn’t done enough.

“It’s their job to get something done. And I think we’ve got a good borough. The assembly members are really conscious of things. But you wonder why this wasn’t done correctly.”

Dochtermann says when he leaves his home of 20-plus years, the trailer will remain behind.

“I was told that if I give them the title for me trailer and sign it over, that they will take care of demolishing it or removing it and dismembering it, whatever you want to call it. And that’s what I’m gonna do. I’ve already packed out the majority of my personal belongings.”

And as he and his son Henri prepare to move out, Dochtermann says he’s more worried for other residents.

“It doesn’t affect me like it does the majority of the residents there. I believe that the kids are already saying that were living in there that they don’t have their same friends, and they feel affected at school from what I’ve heard, and then when you displace 166 adults and 40 children, in our community, that’s a sizable amount.”

When KMXT last spoke with Dochtermann, he said he would like to stay through May and “ride the wave.” He says he’ll have his bookkeeper send the rent by May 1 and see how it goes.

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