GROUND ZERO of Keizer growth: Park owner has history of bad-faith dealings

The owner of Wildwood Mobile Villa is no stranger to many residents of manufactured home parks in Keizer and Salem.

Irvine, Calif.-based Investment Property Group also owns Briarwood Estates and McNary Oaks Mobile Villa in Keizer and five others in Salem. Brian Fitterer is the principal owner of IPG. 

In 2005, the executive director of the Manufactured Home Owners of Oregon (MHOO), told Keizertimes that Fitterer is “the poster boy for why our organization exists.” MHOO fought for manufactured home owners in the state, but has since become the Manufactured Housing Oregon State Tenants Association (MH/OSTA).

Keizertimes began looking into Fitterer in 2004 when he sent notices to two dozen residents in Iris Village, another manufactured home park he owned at the time, notifying them that they had three months to come up with at least $50,000 each to purchase the land their manufactured homes were sitting on or risk having it sold out from under them.

Fitterer took advantage of changes put in place by the Oregon Legislature in 2003 to allow manufactured home parks to be reclassified as subdivision. The changes were intended to allow park owners to sell off individual spaces for stick-built homes, but Fitterer and other park owners began employing the law in attempts to oust park residents and convert the parks into stick-built subdivisions.

Fitterer eventually relented in his efforts to convert Iris Village, but numerous other parks in Keizer and throughout the state fell victim to the predatory owners before additional protection could be put in place.

Since then, Fitterer has made headlines throughout the country.

He launched a swimming apparel line dubbed Kandy Wrapper Swimwear. Then, in 2013, he purchased a 1,800 square foot condo in New York’s West Village displacing the great-granddaughter of Pablo Picasso. She had rented the space for $25,000 a month, but fled when Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast.

According to reporting by Willamette Week, Fitterer made the largest independent expenditure in Oregon’s primary elections in May 2018.

Through addresses associated with Fitterer, reporters tracked $100,000 in donations to run attack ads against former state Rep. Shemia Fagan, a Democratic opponent of Sen. Rod Monroe (D-East Portland).

The ads singled out Fagan’s reversal on issues of involving a rent-control ban. Fagan won the primary and co-sponsored Senate Bill 608, the recently-passed rent control legislation limiting rent increases and barring no-cause evictions after a tenant’s first year in a building. Governor Kate Brown has promised to sign it into law.

Keizertimes requested to speak with Fitterer as a part of these stories, but the president of IPG spoke in his stead.