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Family booted from home by Caltrans - No residential aid in sight to help struggling retirees

A Bonsall family may soon find themselves without a roof over their heads as the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) continues its plans to widen SR-76.

Ron Alvarado, a 67-year-old man living near the E. Vista Way and State Route intersection for 12 years, stated that he had been approached by the state department two years ago and had been told that the property upon which his home was built was going to be purchased for the expansion of SR-76 and the mitigation process that would come along with the construction of the road.

Alvarado and his family moved onto the property from a ranch in Valley Center after spending over two million on various health bills from losing a daughter to leukemia and rehabilitation for a son that was in a severe accident in Vista.

“We had health insurance, but those bills bankrupted us. Even now, we still get calls about an odd $100,000,” said Alvarado.

Originally, Caltrans had told Alvarado that the entire 80 acres of property would be bought and used, requiring that Alvarado, his partner of nearly 30 years and their son would need to be relocated. The family had been told that this would be done at the county’s expense, and that they would be given approximately $50,000 to relocate.

“This property is my life estate, the land I was going to live on until I died, and a part of a grant my family received that included a parcel of 13,600 acres from the Juan Bautista Alvarado grant,” said Alvarado. “I’m disabled because of my arm, but I have worked my entire life. I was only on unemployment once for about a week, and now [Caltrans] is taking the only thing I have. I built this home from material I found out of the dump. It may not be a lot, but it’s our home.”

Alvarado set about looking at various properties to find a new home for his family, and even showed interest in several properties, but was not given an advance to put a down on a house. When Alvarado approached Caltrans for help, he said the properties would become unavailable by the time the department responded.

“They would all tell me that they were not in the business of real estate,” said Alvarado, who believes the stress of the ordeal has begun to take a toll on his body. “Since this began, I have gotten two stents, may need another, and have gotten a hernia. I think [Caltrans] wants me to die. I’m not the one that’s taken from them; they are the ones taking my place.”

Since the original confrontation, Caltrans amended the amount of property that would be needed to expand the state route, electing to only use .038 acres. However, Alvarado and his family would still need to be moved for up to six months, along with his equipment and goods.

Alvarado fought against the decision made by Caltrans, and began looking for help to buy time at his home while he looked for a new home. On July 1, Alvarado was approached by Caltrans and told that he would need to relocate from his property by August 1, an extension that came after he and Don Detisch, an attorney assisting in the case, claimed that Alvarado was not given adequate notice to relocate.

“We went to court to meet with Caltrans, and are simply asking for them to put their promises in writing,” said Detisch. “We have been trying to negotiate with them, asking for help in relocating and helping in storing Alvarado’s equipment and supplies. We would also like to know what would happen if the house were to fall prey to vandals. We would like for there to be an insurance policy in effect.”

Alvarado said he has already begun moving off equipment from the property, and has even relocated a small business that was renting land from him, all without any compensation from Caltrans.

“I live off of $1,300 a month, and I know what it is like to go without,” said Alvarado. “But that means I have no money to buy a house, or even put a down payment on a property.”

“Realtors who have been informed of the situation have told us that they can’t work under the parameters set up through the court processes,” said Detisch, who stated he believes Alvarado may be overwhelmed with the information given to him by Caltrans. “Some of the problem also comes from not understanding what is required by Caltrans, because people are not moved around like this every week.”

However, Caltrans has informed Detische that they are “anxious” to meet and resolve Alvarado’s housing dilemma.

“I just hope that they are willing to put something that we can depend on into writing,” said Detische. “Otherwise, Alvarado will be taken out of his home.”

Caltrans representative Edward Cartegena said that because of the current negotiations, he could not make a comment on the matter.

Alvarado does not seem afraid to continue to fight for what he believes to be fair.

“I am not afraid to stand up to [Caltrans],” said Alvarado. “I am willing to put a chain around myself and tie myself to a tree if I need to.”

 

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