Cactus Rose Residents Weigh Options
Community, developer don't agree on relocation terms
After months of uncertainty, the residents of the Cactus Rose Mobile Home Park have received a relocation assistance offer from Oden Hughes, the developer that has a contract to build a new apartment complex on the property. The proposed options depend on each resident's living situation, with renters allotted a $1,500 stipend plus last month's rent free, recreational vehicle owners a $2,000 stipend plus last month's rent free, and mobile home owners a $5,000 stipend. Saúl Madero, president of the Cactus Rose Mobile Home Park Neighborhood Association, said it made him angry when the Oden Hughes representatives visited the park on May 15 to make the offer. "They acted like their deal was the best we could get," he said, "but we don't believe that."
Susana Almanza, president of the Montopolis Neighborhood Association, who has been vocal in her opposition to Oden Hughes' plans for Cactus Rose, held a press conference this past Monday, May 23, at the trailer park with some of the residents to announce a counterproposal to the developer's offer. "We felt like the city should know what the residents really want," she said.
The counterproposal, which residents approved in a meeting the previous day, includes two plans that Almanza has been pushing for months. The first suggested alternative is that Oden Hughes designate a portion of the 23 acres (Almanza thinks 3 acres at most) as a new mobile home park for the current residents, providing them with new or used trailers. The second option proposed is that the city provide a portion of the city-owned Levander Loop site, or some other city-owned land designated for affordable housing, for the new trailer park.
Mac McElwrath, a spokesperson for Oden Hughes, called the counterproposal "unfeasible" in an email to the Chronicle. "Oden Hughes has made a good faith effort to work with Cactus Rose residents," he said, "and we continue to do so."
Council Member Pio Renteria, in a separate email exchange, said that while he is hopeful that the residents and developers will come to an agreement, the city's legal standards restrict how active a role he can play in the negotiations. "However," he said, "I have made myself clear as to what I expect from a relocation agreement and how important this agreement is to me."
Unmentioned at the press conference was a petition signed by the majority of the residents, dated May 1. "We the residents of Cactus Rose wish to stay living together as a community," the statement reads. "Relocation of our current homes is our first choice. Replacement homes for the ones unable to be moved and living in a park together is our first choice."
Almanza said she did not know about the petition, but she suspected that it was authored by someone outside the community. Madero said that he and a fellow resident, Robin Saxton, wrote it together. Still, he said that he does appreciate the people from outside the community who have supported Cactus Rose so far. "The developers don't understand that not only are the city and Susana on our side," Madero said, "but so are people who don't even live here. The developers don't understand the power we have."