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Here comes the neighborhood

La Mesa mobile-home park for seniors closes; nine homes planned for site

The La Mesa City Council last week unanimously approved a relocation impact report for Jennings Senior Park, a now-closed mobile-home park located on the 7300 block of Mohawk Street. A sign formerly displayed at the entrance stated, "Jennings Senior Park…Since 1942. Owner Ted Jennings."

The council action on September 23 affirmed that new owner 7330 Mohawk LLC's report met state law and government-code requirements for closing a park and mitigating the impact to residents through "payment of reasonable relocation costs." Relocation was praised by three former residents and protested in a letter from a fourth. (Due to the nature of alleged activities in the park, residents' real names were not used).

Steve said before the purchase, the park was a drug-dealing site. He spoke about "cruel people who did violent things. They cut my cat up." Residents called La Mesa police and asked the council several times for help, he said.

The park, located one block north of El Cajon Boulevard, consisted of 27 manufactured-home spaces and three apartments on a 1.56-acre site, according to the report from community-development director Bill Chopyk and associate planner Allyson Kinnard. The land was divided into nine lots in a 1912 subdivision map.

7330 Mohawk LLC bought the park in November 2013 and plans to build nine homes there, according to the staff report. 7330 Mohawk LLC attorney George Kaelin III submitted the impact report on June 27, 2014, and Chopyk said all residents were relocated by June.

Kaelin said impact reports in La Mesa were filed with subdivision maps. Owners could negotiate before a report is approved, and Jennings residents "wanted to move."

The impact report described the relocation of residents including Antoinette. On August 13, 2013, she told the council about alleged drug activity. Four days later, I interviewed Antoinette in her home.

Antoinette said Ted Jennings lived in the park and had fallen three weeks earlier and was hospitalized. She said drug-related problems started around 2006, after Ted's son and girlfriend moved into the park.

About a week later, Antoinette told me police were patrolling. Several months later, she said police appeared to be arresting someone.

I didn't hear from Antoinette again. The impact report said the owner helped her move into a San Diego senior complex in December and paid $1000 for "relocation costs."

Steve told the council that the new owner gave him the trailer after repairing it and provided $900 for moving.

A man wearing a green shirt escorted Dale to the podium. Dale said, "Without vision, I can't see too much" about how relocation affected other residents. The owner made the "transition as easy as possible" for him. The report said Dale received a trailer, which they relocated, and $1000.

The owner also relocated the Airstream given to Gene and his wife. They received $2000. "These guys are awesome," Gene said.

Rose had a different perspective. In her September 8 letter to the council, she wrote, "This meeting is 10 months late. First I was told that I have plenty of time to move. Then I was told if I move by the end of Jan. 2014, I would receive help. If I did not move, there may not be any money left to help me."

She "rushed" to find another place, moved in January, and received $2000. "Had I had not been threatened, I would have had time to find a cheaper place…. When I can't pay for [the rental], I will be out on your streets in La Mesa. Soon."

The council didn't discuss her letter.

Mark Scott, the man in the green shirt, returned to answer council questions. There were none for the man identified in cash-for-keys agreements as a McMillan Realty agent and 7330 Mohawk LLC property manager in contracts.

Mayor Art Madrid then called Eric Malcolm. "I'm okay,” Malcolm said from the audience. According to the community development department, he is an owner.

After the vote, the mayoral candidates spoke.

Mayor Art Madrid said," I'm delighted to hear that people who lived there are much more content and living in a safe environment."

Councilman Mark Arapostathis, said, "Congratulations. Well done; you did it right."

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