Council approves Cactus Rose mobile home park rezoning
Friday, November 11, 2016 by Syeda Hasan
After more than a year, residents of an East Austin mobile home park have reached a deal with developers looking to rebuild on the property. Some city leaders say the case could set a precedent for future development.
About a dozen Cactus Rose residents gathered at City Hall yesterday, many of them donning bright green t-shirts with photos of children protesting gentrification. In advance of a unanimous vote to rezone the land by City Council, they presented a tentative deal with developers. Resident Cynthia Martinez said she and her neighbors would be relocated within 3 miles of the existing mobile home park in Montopolis.
“This agreement allows our children to continue to attend their same schools, and also to visit their local supermarkets and continue the access to public transportation, which is great,” Martinez said.
The 23-acre area has long been home to a community of RVs, trailers and duplexes. But residents were faced with uncertainty when the property owner applied for a zoning change, looking to redevelop.
The relocation negotiations inspired changes to the city’s Tenant Relocation Ordinance. It requires more advanced notice of any demolition plans and provides a mechanism for financial assistance for displaced residents.
Council Member Pio Renteria represents District 3, which includes Cactus Rose.
“The case of Cactus Rose has changed our city,” Renteria said. “By working with the residents of Cactus Rose, our city has realized how vulnerable mobile home owners can be when redevelopment occurs.”
Some residents have already moved out. But among those who’ve stayed, mobile home owners will each receive $10,000, and RV owners and renters will each receive $2,000 for relocation. The developer, Oden Hughes, has also agreed to provide bilingual relocation assistance for residents who need it.
Mac McElwrath, managing director of Oden Hughes, called the deal a victory.
“The financial and logistical assistance that we are offering upon rezoning of this property is superior to all other tenant relocation assistance programs that we are aware of anywhere in the country,” McElwrath said. “This includes the program recently approved by the city of Austin.”
He said the property owner has expressed intentions to redevelop the site whether or not Oden Hughes’ project was approved, so this plan provides residents some security.
This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT.
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