Cactus Rose Supporters Ask for Delay on Rezoning
Mobile home residents to be dislocated for market-rate apartments and retail complex
A coalition of activists held a press conference last Thursday to ask City Council to postpone its decision on the Lenox Oaks rezoning application, an item on Council's June 16 agenda. Oden Hughes, the development company that filed the application last year, wants to rezone the Montopolis property where the Cactus Rose Mobile Home Park currently resides to accommodate a new multifamily market-rate apartment complex as well as retail.
The coalition at the press conference, led by Susana Almanza of PODER, included representatives from Austin's NAACP, Sierra Club, and Austin Neighborhoods Council. In a press release, the group pushed for a proposal approved a few weeks ago by Cactus Rose residents, mostly low-income people of color, which calls for Oden Hughes to buy new trailers for the residents, to be located either on the property or on city-owned land. The developer's current offer to residents is up to $5,000 for relocation assistance. "We're asking City Council to do the right thing," said Daniel Llanes at the press conference.
Serve the People, another group in attendance, is pushing for a more radical stance. The group runs "free stores" in Montopolis, providing residents with basic necessities like food, clothing, and child-care products. STP has been active in the Cactus Rose case for the past couple of months and has provided food and water at neighborhood meetings. A spokesperson for the group, who wished to remain anonymous, thinks that this is not a case of relocation but a violent removal of working-class people from their homes. In their opinion, none of the proposals on the table address rising rent prices. "The working class and poor of the southeast side will suffer the same fate as other neighborhoods unless we come together and fight as much as it takes," they said. "Montopolis will be the grave of gentrification."