Residents of Mobile Home Park Brace For Possible Displacement
Published: April 30, 2014
Retired civil servant Mary Cubillo Flores sits on a dark green couch in a living room decorated nearly top-to-bottom in framed photos of her two children and four grandchildren. She reflects fondly on the memories created within the four walls of her trailer home in the South Side’s Mission Trails Mobile Home Park, where she and her husband Homer have resided for the past 38 years. Happily living in self-admitted modest surroundings, the Floreses have built up decades of strong relationships with neighbors, part of the community they call family. But the couple—and the more than 200 other residents at 1515 Mission Road—may be forced to make an exit, as the park’s landowners hope to sell off the property and replace it with a $75 million luxury riverfront apartment development.
“My husband and I wholeheartedly support development in San Antonio, but not at the expense of the people that live here. When do projects become more important than the lives of people?,” Mary says, with tears welling in her eyes. “They are not moving us, they are displacing us.”
Homer chimes in, “It puts a burden on all of us,” he says. “We don’t have the money they have, so we’re handcuffed in a way. We’re just praying for the best.”
The property sits near a golf course, Concepción Sports Park and the newly redeveloped Mission Reach River project, adding to its allure for developers. White-Conlee, a local firm, got the nod from the Colorado-based Mission Trails owners American Family Communities to seek rezoning for the 21-acre tract of land from “manufactured housing” to commercial and multi-family use so the deal can be officially brokered.
Residents claim they were left out of the rezoning process and contend the plan is riddled with lack of communication and transparency from the developer and the owner. However, under Texas law, the City is only obligated to alert the landowner of rezoning changes and not the residents, who pay rent on a month-to-month basis. While the Trails community is cognizant of the law, they still argue that, at the least, they should have been alerted to the prospective sale as a sign of respect.
However, according to residents, it wasn’t until three days before the issue appeared on the February 18 City Zoning Commission meeting that the mobile home renters became (inadvertently) aware of the proposed rezoning and sale. San Antonio College student Christian Amador, the de facto leader and principle voice of the community, was the first to spot the rezoning notices around the park. He and his parents called the City to inquire, spurring him to inform his neighbors, take action and mobilize. “The first thing the owner should have done is have the common courtesy to tell us about the sale to our face,” says Amador.
Attorney Bill Kaufman, representing the developer, tells the Current the landowners advised his client not to approach tenants about the purchase. The owner, he says, didn’t want to “stir anyone up” before the sale—far from a done deal and contingent upon the zoning reclassification—went through.
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