The Residents of a West Dallas Trailer Park Are Headed for a Showdown with Developers

Categories: Neighborhoods

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Activist Carlos Quintanilla addressing Dallas West residents in June.
There was a time not long ago when no one really cared that there was a trailer park on Commerce Street, a stone's throw from downtown. The trailers, though generally well kept, seemed to be at home amidst the threadbare businesses and houses that characterize much of West Dallas, not that anyone was paying much attention.

But then City Hall and developers began trying to capture the gentrifying spirit that has revitalized North Oak Cliff and transplant it north of I-30.

See also
The Residents of a Commerce Street Trailer Park Are Getting Booted, But They Won't Go Quietly

That's where we got the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and the Trinity Groves development at its foot. A few blocks away, Brent Jackson's Sylvan Thirty is under construction. Now, planned for the site of the Dallas West Mobile Home/RV Park , is a project, probably apartments, by Atlanta-based Wood Partners.

The current trailer park's residents won't be living there. Last month, they were given a deadline of August 31 to get out. Their lease agreements stipulate that their landlord needs only provide 30 days advance notice. They were given 81.

That's when veteran rabble-rouser Carlos Quintanilla entered the fray, organizing protests and demanding the move-out date be pushed back and requesting various concessions from developers, such as money to cover moving expenses and free rent.

On Friday, residents got some of what they wanted. Cienda Partners, which currently owns the site but plans to sell it to Wood Partners, told residents they can stay until January 31, provided they pay a $250 renewal fee and (see letter below) keep paying their rent. If tenants agreed to leave by August 31, they'd get $2,000. If they stayed until November 31, they'd get $1,000. Past that, they'd get nothing.

The Dallas Morning News' Roy Appleton was at the trailer park on Friday night when residents met to discuss the offer:

[A]fter [Quintanilla] read and explained the letter to the 30 or so people present, about 20 indicated by a show of hands that they believed the offer wasn't good enough. They want a rent-free extension and more money because they believe the offer wouldn't cover moving expenses.

"We appreciate it, but it's not enough," said Sonia Brink, a resident organizer of the gathering, which included a display of hand-lettered signs such as "No Displacement," "We Have Rights" and "Do Not Destroy My Sweet Home."

Quintanilla reiterated those points raised in the meeting in an interview today.

"These are individuals who have lived there for a very long time, and they've invested money in their homes," he says. In return, he says, the landlord has ignored needed repairs, failed to maintain security patrols and generally neglected tenants' needs.

He figures that some residents might take the $2,000 and call it a day, though more will continue to fight. What shape the battle will take isn't exactly clear.

"There are different options. We will continue the public protests. Some will go into court to file lawsuits against Cienda for unjust enrichment [and] fraud by inducement," Quintanilla says. "There's always the option of withholding rent if Cienda Partners does not fix the streets, repair the light bulbs, deal with theft of property" and deal with the constant mosquito infestation.

We've left a message with Randall White, who's serving as Cienda's spokesman. We'll update when we hear from him.

Update on July 30: White responded via email this morning. "The property's owners fully understand that some are upset over the park's closing," he writes. "The park's owners also look forward to helping leaseholders find new spaces for their RVs and mobile homes."

He also passed along Cienda's letter to residents:



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112 comments
IgnatiusJ
IgnatiusJ

Clearly, these people need to move.  Dallas needs more upscale OR disposable multi-family development, hopefully with attached strip mall for revolving parade of smoothie shops, tanning, nail salons, cigar shops.   Hopefully they'll be a Walgreen's or CVS on the corner.  They're hard to find.

Paddy Martini
Paddy Martini

Maybe they should float the trailers along with the clueless Mr Quintanilla over to Cuba in a reverse Cuban Boat Lift.

FEDUP
FEDUP

Trailers have WHEELS !!!! HAUL YOUR ASS OUT!

Obummer
Obummer

Yo eyezn’t even git’n uh chickn wing.

ruddski
ruddski

If they can somehow work in a racism angle, they'll get a lot more.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

It may be un-Liberal of Myrna, but rent control is a disaster.  Check out the condition of the rent controlled apartments in New York.  Believe me, you wouldn't want to live in one.

sebastian2708
sebastian2708

The only advice that Carlos is doling out is to fight and so far we have done well, from the first meeting where Monica Alonso and Randall White told the residents that they had until August 31 to move out and obviously that did not happen and will not happen.

These tenants have been there for many years some as long as twenty plus years and who have paid rent like clockwork, they are not asking for a handout they are asking for a return on their investment which has been millions of dollars paid to Cienda partners.

Rest assured that we are not getting a piece of the proceeds, we are fighting to end the displacement of our Latino community.

Finally, the developers Wood partners received 4 million dollars in TIF money stand to received more for this development, TIF money paid in part by these tenants, who many here ridicule, berate and insult.

Wesley House
Wesley House

they rent that does give them some rights .. but not to be squatters ,.

Threeboys
Threeboys

I am very confused here

It's a mobile home. By definition, mobile. If you have rooted it or somehow otherwise rendered it not mobile, that's not the landowners fault.

Then the landowner, who is obligated to give you 30 days to move your 'mobile' home, gives you 80.

Then the landowner, who is not obligated to incentivize you to move your 'mobile' home offers you cash to move it.

Then you the 'mobile' homeowner who has rooted his aluminum home tells your landlord that he owes you more, including not having the right to sell or develop his land?

What am I missing?

WhatDoIKnow
WhatDoIKnow

This is the problem when you have a city that has never planned affordable housing for the working poor to live, other than Section 8 housing, which many of these families could have probably qualified for, but rejected because of pride of ownership in something, if only a mobile home parked on someone else's investment property. Congratulations everyone! You are true humanitarians. 

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

This is the risk you take when you rent property. According to the terms of your contract, the owner can choose to cease renting to you with a certain amount of notice. The property owners are being more than fair. If you do not want to be forced to move, buy property instead of renting.

Steverino
Steverino

@sebastian2708 

So wait a minute. Here you refer to Carlos in the third person. But in a later comment, you sign it as Carlos Quintanilla. So basically you are doing here the same thing Mike Snyder did in the Museum Tower fiasco. That is, pretend to be someone you are not to spin a topic your way. Not a smart move, Mr. Quintanilla.

pak152
pak152

@sebastian2708"they are asking for a return on their investment" go back to school. they didn't invest anything they paid rent.

Threeboys
Threeboys

Key word. Rent.

Rent is not an investment.

sebastian2708
sebastian2708

@Threeboys that these tenants have paid this landlord mortgage and who will receive million of taxpayer monies tha tenants have paid and the tenants getting a good riddance, do not think so.

pak152
pak152

@WhatDoIKnow"you have a city that has never planned affordable housing for the working poor to live" where is it written that it is the responsibility of the city? now city zoning laws may play a role and if that is the case then you need to get the city to change the zoning

Threeboys
Threeboys

So the landowner shouldn't have the right to develop or sell his property because there are mobile homes on it and therefore he should be a humanitarian?

ruddski
ruddski

1. March

2. ?

3. Profit!

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@sebastian2708 @Threeboys You seem to be extremely fixated on the current and future TIF, even more so than the plight of the tenants.  The TIF, whether a good or a bad idea (I think it is a bad idea, by the way), is a completely separate, wholly unrelated subject to the tenants having to move.  TIF's are not awarded to help move people out of a development zone.  They're awarded to encourage investors and developers (which, despite your seeming claim to the contrary, these tenants are not) to invest in and develop an area they otherwise would not.  That's why I think TIF's are a bad idea for the most part.  It's throwing good money after bad.  So the developers are getting millions in tax money.  What does that have to do with the tenant/current owner situation?  Absolutely nothing.

WhatDoIKnow
WhatDoIKnow

@sebastian2708 @Threeboys Are you saying the developers are getting a tax abatement, to build these apartments?  If that is the case, why don't they offer these tenants a no deposit, if they sign a lease for a new apartment? 

Threeboys
Threeboys

A. They paid rent, not mortgage

B. What taxpayer monies?

C. Tenants. By definition, renters.

WhatDoIKnow
WhatDoIKnow

@pak152  In essence, you are saying people who support businesses by making minimum wage in our City's hotels, the sheet rockers, roofers, etc., who will work for developers like Wood, restaurant workers, secretaries and other service providers, have no right to decent housing. Wow! I don't agree with that. Without the service sector, we are screwed. 

WhatDoIKnow
WhatDoIKnow

@Threeboys The landowner has the right to do whatever he wants on this land. He doesn't morally have the right to do the minimum if he is getting $10 million of our tax dollars. The city should have built stipulates into his abatement contract when they did that deal.

B1ng
B1ng

@ruddski Man, those gnomes have sure educated a lot of people.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@WhatDoIKnow @Threeboys TIF goes to developer.  $2,000 for tenants is coming from current landowner.  How the hell is the current landowner, who doesn't get the TIF, supposed to dole out TIF money to these tenants?  Do you people even think before you rattle out this nonsense?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@WhatDoIKnow @sebastian2708 @Threeboys The developer is not giving the tenants notice to vacate, the current landowner is.  The current landowner is not getting any TIF, they are selling the land.  

You cannot link the TIF to this situation, the two are wholly separate.

Steverino
Steverino

@WhatDoIKnow @Threeboys 

The current owners are not getting any TIF money on this. If any TIF money were to be handed out, and that is by no means certain, it would be to the BUYERS of the property. And they are not going to pay to move people on property the deal for which might fall through a day or two before the closing.

If you were buying a home from someone, and they had a renter in it, would YOU pay that renter $8,000 to move BEFORE you even closed on the house?

duanewmurphy
duanewmurphy

@WhatDoIKnow @Threeboys If they were so "Proud" of there city they would not have let it go to being such a drug infested shit hole. drive through there sometime,they spend more on the rims of their cars than they did for the "Mobile"house they live in. I am Glad they are finally about to do something with that eye sore.


wcvemail
wcvemail

@WhatDoIKnow @Threeboys You're using words you don't understand, such as "disenfranchised." This has nothing to do with these people's right to vote.

Similarly, Sebastian does not understand the difference between "rent" and "mortgage," or between "rent" and investment."

Frankly, no wonder these mobile-home-park renters have no understanding of business or finance, if they're mindlessly repeating these errors.

WhatDoIKnow
WhatDoIKnow

@ThreeboysThe fact is, they are receiving the TIF money, so they should do something worthwhile with a portion of it by moving the community. It is up to all citizens to make sure that when communities are disenfranchised, that it is as painless and as humane as possible. Doing so makes people  proud of their city and a place people will want to live. It's unfortunate, Randall White did not think of that as part of his PR strategy. Why does it seem like all of the PR for everything new in West Dallas, has been a boondoggle?

Threeboys
Threeboys

It appears you are the one too close to his bottle of Jim Beam.

I am agreeing with you on the TIF but I don't understand what the landowner 'owes' his tenants other than giving them almost three times the advance notice to move their 'mobile' homes, and offers $2k to do it quickly.

pak152
pak152

@WhatDoIKnow @Threeboys So what prevented these folks from saving up money for an eventual move?

As for minimum wage do you have proof that is what they are earning

WhatDoIKnow
WhatDoIKnow

@Threeboys They are not asking for compensation, they are asking for help. The same help the developer asked for, to build his apartment. 

WhatDoIKnow
WhatDoIKnow

@Threeboys Let's see...$2,000....10 million.....$2,000....10 million. Yep, seems fair to me. Go to bed. You're drunk.

Threeboys
Threeboys

Is it customary for an owner of a mobile home to either expect or receive compensation to move his mobile home?

I assume the answer is no, and if so, the $2,000 amount is irrelevant.

Actually it's charitable.

WhatDoIKnow
WhatDoIKnow

@Threeboys Do you think a mobile home can be moved for $2000. How business savvy do you think people who make minimum wage are?  Come on...

Threeboys
Threeboys

A. Agree on the TIF being welfare. I do not agree with TIF's.

B. if I am reading correctly, the landowner is offering $2,000 to move them..

WhatDoIKnow
WhatDoIKnow

@Threeboys Another kind of welfare....Unfortunately,  it is necessary for redevelopment in areas that have been neglected. However, if they are going to get that kind of money from our taxes, they should at least have the decency to pay to relocate the homes. 

Threeboys
Threeboys

Sounds like your fundamental problem is with the TIF.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@WhatDoIKnow @pak152 They have the right to purchase or rent decent housing.  Having the right to do or have something does not mean that something will be given to you or provided by the government.

Steverino
Steverino

@WhatDoIKnow @Threeboys 

Again, those who own the property now aren't getting $10 million. If anyone were to get it, it would be the BUYERS of this property. And there is no guarantee they will ask for or get $10 million, $1 million or $37.22 at this point. You really have all this TIF stuff confused...don't seem to know what you are talking about. The BUYERS MAY get the TIF but the SELLERS ( the ones closing the trailer park) do not.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@WhatDoIKnow @Threeboys The thing is the landowner has been doing more than the minimum. The minimum was giver leaseholders 30 days notice. They got 81 days. After hearing the complaints of the residents, they offered them $2000 if the residents would just stick to the terms of the contract that they had signed (and, this is not required of the landowners to offer this).

I understand that these people are unhappy that they have to move. And, knowing what I know about mobile homes, I'm betting that most those that have been there more than 10 years are not capable of being moved. This is why, after looking into buying a mobile home, I decided not to get one. But, it is not the responsibility of the land owners. I think that  with the latest offer they have made, they have exceeded any moral responsibility they have to the tenants. 

A rental agreement is not a form of purchase (or investment). It is saying that you will legally be allowed to use this property in exchange for payment. When the agreement is ended, you have to return the property to the owner.

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