For Carl Beahm, this year's Christmas already has an unhappy distinction: It will be the last he spends in the Dumfries trailer he calls home.

The Beahms are among 16 families notified by letter in September that they are being evicted from their mobile home park at 211 S. Main St. on New Year's Eve because the property owner, U-Haul Co., wants to build a rental and storage facility there.

"Santa Claus ain't coming this year," said Beahm, a maintenance engineer who worked as a White House florist during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. "Maybe I'll stand on the porch and say 'Ho, ho, ho!' or maybe I'll say 'Help, help, help.' This whole thing is disheartening, to be told to leave your home. It really hurts down deep."

Relocation for mobile home residents is difficult because most parks in the Washington area have waiting lists, and restrictive local laws have meant that few new parks have been built in the last 10 years.

Many park owners, who have found that their land values have risen steeply in the past decade, have chosen to sell rather than lease to tenants.

Owners of mobile homes built before 1976, when the federal government began regulating the industry, often are turned away from parks because their homes don't meet safety standards. Most of the tenants in the Dumfries park own homes that were built before 1976.

The cost to move the homes can also be prohibitive; short trips run at least $500, and longer moves can reach into the thousands of dollars.

Ray Smith, vice president of U-Haul's middle United States region, said his company bought the three-acre park in 1983 with plans to build the rental facility. Initial planning for it will begin in the spring; construction will begin "sometime next year."

The company has decided to forgo rents for November and December and plans to refund security deposits "to help defray the cost of moving," Smith said. But the company is not willing to let the families remain, even though construction is not likely to begin before summer.

"Ninety days is an appropriate time to give people" for a lease that requires 30 days' notice, Smith said.

U-Haul told Dumfries planning officials in June that the company wanted to rezone the property eventually to allow a rental facility.

However, no formal application has been submitted, and no action has been taken, said Marvin Wilkins, chairman of the Dumfries Planning Commission.

"They said they did not want to make a formal request for rezoning until they get the problems with the tenants ironed out . . . . I'm sure they will be back in another month once they get all these details taken care of," Wilkins said.

Most park residents said they did not know of the company's plans until the letters arrived. The residents include families with children, elderly women and retired men and blue-collar workers, many of whom have lived in the park for more than 10 years.

"I was standing down in my mom's yard when the mailman came up," said one woman who asked not to be identified. "I thought it was about rent going up. Then I read it and I had to go and tell my mom, who is 70 years old, that she had to move. It just broke my heart."

Four families have moved, including two who left their mobile homes on the lot; the other two families moved to a nearby park, neighbors said.

The Van Meters, who moved to the park 2 1/2 years ago, sold two antique cars after the eviction notice arrived and used the money to buy an acre in Spotsylvania County, where they will move as soon as they save $1,000 to pay for towing their mobile home, Nancy Van Meter said. Estimates ran as high as $1,600 for the 60-mile trip, she said.

But some residents of the park say they have no place to go, and a few families may end up homeless, residents say.

Michael Allen, a lawyer with Legal Services of Northern Virginia, which has been helping six of the families, said he is planning to ask for a delay in the evictions or for U-Haul to pay for moving.

"We don't want these people evicted at Christmastime, and many of them have so little income that it is a significant barrier for them to move," Allen said. "It serves no purpose. {The mobile home park} will just sit there."

The Beahms, who moved in 13 years ago, say they cannot afford to buy a house; even apartments are too expensive.

Betty Beahm, who is recovering from two operations to correct a brain aneurysm, has begun packing the family's belongings and will take them to her daughter's house.

"I'd like to get my stuff moved if they are going to take my trailer," she said.

The Van Meters decided to buy land to avoid another eviction. But the move is not going to be easy.

The couple's 1988 home costs $386 a month, and payments on the land are about $350 a month. All the financial burden is on Nancy Van Meter, a 36-year-old laborer, because her husband, Leroy Van Meter, also 36, has not been able to work since he had a heart attack July 31.

"It's going to be hard, but we just thought it was a waste of time to move to another park when it will later close down anyway," she said.

The residents say they want to stay until spring, when warmer weather and possibly a better economy would make moving easier.

"The bottom line," said 15-year-old James Beahm, "is they just don't care. They don't care about these families."

But Smith said, "It is not our position to make anyone homeless, and we will do whatever is in our power to {avoid} that."

Meanwhile, residents say they are hoping U-Haul officials will change their minds.

"You spend 15 years busting your ying-yang working for something, and then somebody comes along and tries to take it from you," Carl Beahm said. "I'm gonna stay right here. I ain't got no place to move. You can't get blood from a rock."