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Council rezones nine mobile home parks, sometimes defying neighbors

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Council passed two resolutions last year directing city staff to identify all mobile home parks or other properties being used for mobile homes but not zoned as such. The next step was to initiate the appropriate zoning so the properties would continue to serve the low-income Austinites residing in mobile homes and recreational vehicles.

On Thursday, Council voted to rezone nine such properties out of 20 identified in last September’s resolution. Residents living close to two of those properties told Council members they were making a mistake and asked them not to approve the rezoning. However, each vote was unanimous.

Teresa Reel, vice president of the Old Town Homeowners Association, came to ask Council not to grant mobile home zoning for Patton Courts Mobile Home Park at 7100 E. U.S. Highway 290 Service Road.

Reel said mobile homes generally last about 30 years and the mobile homes in Patton Courts were 40 to 50 years old and dilapidated. She told Council that she and her neighbors had been involved for four years with the neighborhood planning process. They wanted a commercial buffer on U.S. 290 and high-density affordable housing – not mobile homes.

Reel also complained that the children who live in the mobile homes have no playground and no place to play within walking distance. She said the kids jump over their neighbors’ fences and into their swimming pools, creating a liability problem.

“They’re good residents, they’re working people,” she said, “but in most cases they don’t have any credit history or any way to do better. We think Austin can do better than having substandard housing for these people.”

Another nearby resident, Adele Loessberg, told Council she had lived in affordable apartments in Bellevue, Washington, and praised that city’s efforts to house the homeless. She said the Patton Courts Mobile Home Park is basically a “slum,” and warned Council if they approved the mobile home zoning they would have “a place that Austin should be ashamed of.”

After moving for passage of the zoning item, Council Member Greg Casar thanked residents who came out to speak. He explained, “This is part of the bigger initiative, started by the Council last August when we found out that there were hundreds of mobile homes across this city that had been zoned for something else and so while there may have been individual cases where people were trying to plan their neighborhoods, the overall impact was that (we are) trying to help 833 homes not turn into office buildings or single-family subdivisions so that these hardworking families that are in these neighborhoods get an opportunity to stay.”

Council also approved mobile home zoning for Phan Mobile Home Park at 711 W. Powell Lane, Jensen’s Mobile Home Park at 3201 Burleson Road, Congress Mobile Home and RV Park at 6111 S. Congress Ave., Go-Go Mobile Home Park at 4811 S. Congress Ave., Villa Denese at 4511 Luksinger Lane, Frontier Valley Mobile Home Park I and II at 1430 Frontier Valley Drive, and Woodview Mobile Home Park at 1301 W. Oltorf St. Council also approved rezoning for the Comfort Mobile Home Park in the 7300 and 7400 blocks of East Riverside Drive on first reading only.

Council postponed considering a zoning change for Palm Harbor Mobile Home Park at 810 Bastrop Highway until Aug. 8 at a request from city staff. Several other mobile home parks are in the process of rezoning.

Jerry Rusthoven, assistant director of the Planning and Zoning Department, told Council members as they started to hear the zoning cases, “We have 49 zoning cases on your agenda today. For your information, that’s three short of the record of 52.”

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

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