News


Buena Vista residents compensation plan released

Property owner to offer $11,000 for moving costs, $20,000 minimum for mobile-home buy-out

Buena Vista Mobile Home Park homeowners would get a minimum of $31,000 for their mobile homes under the terms of a "resident impact report" submitted by the Jisser family for closing Palo Alto's only mobile-home park, according to papers submitted to the City of Palo Alto on May 2.

The 52-page report was handed to the city on May 2, and was made public on the city's website on May 8. The report details the assessed values of the mobile homes and what the property owner is willing to pay if the units cannot be moved to another location.

Homeowners occupying 98 mobile residences would be paid the on-site fair-market appraised value for their homes, plus an $11,000 lump-sum relocation payment if the home cannot be moved. Persons moving their homes would receive only the $11,000 in moving assistance. Renters in 12 studio apartments and a single-family home would not receive any money, according to the report.

An appraiser found most of the mobile homes were so deteriorated that they could not be moved, according to the report. Of 68 units that had been modified or had additions, 66 lacked permits.

In many cases, the homeowner doubled the square footage of the mobile home by enclosing the home in siding and continuing the siding as walls. But those homes could not be sold or moved, and they could not be restored to their original, permitted state. The appraiser found those 66 units to have no legal transferable market value.

The problem is compounded because most other mobile-home parks in the Bay Area only accept new mobile homes in an effort to improve the appearance and desirability of the park. Residents with older units might have to move out of Santa Clara County. With the exception of one mover, all mobile-home movers contacted said they only move new homes, primarily from dealer lots, into mobile-home parks, the report found.

The Jissers notified residents in September 2012 of their intention to close the park. The owners have an agreement with developer Prometheus to purchase the property and build up to 180 high-end apartments for technology workers. Jisser filed a development-review application with the city in November 2012.

Buena Vista began as a tourist camp in 1926 and became a trailer park in the early 1950s. It has 104 spaces, but only 98 are currently occupied. The property was purchased by Toufic Jisser in 1986. It is the only mobile-home park in Palo Alto, and is considered to be a valuable resource for low-income housing by fair-housing advocates. The city's comprehensive plan also identified Buena Vista as a critical low-income housing resource.

The city enacted a 2001 Mobile Home Conversion Ordinance to help control skyrocketing rents. The ordinance allows the owners to close the park, but it outlines procedures for closing the park, providing relocation assistance and compensating mobile-home owners if they are forced to leave.

The conversion ordinance is consistent with the state's Mobilehome Residency law, which recognizes the vulnerability of mobile-home owners and protects them from eviction except under certain limited conditions. Mobile-home owners own their homes, but rent the land on which the home is located.

For the majority of residents, the option would be to be given a lump for purchase of their existing homes, the report noted. The average fair-market value of Buena Vista homes is estimated at $18,816.

About 59 percent of the total 98 homes are worth less than $20,000, but the property owner would pay a minimum of $20,000 for those homes, while paying more for homes with additional value, according to the report. The highest valued home in the park is appraised at $45,000; that homeowner would receive a lump sum of $56,000, according to the report.

A March letter to the City of Palo Alto from the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and the Western Center on Law and Poverty said that homeowners must be moved to comparable housing in Palo Alto, but in the report, the owners said they would not provide housing in condominiums, since there are no "comparable condominiums" in Palo Alto or any surrounding cities.

The average price for a condominium in surrounding cities for the past 12 months is $575,867; in Palo Alto, the cost is $881,750. The average cost is 30 times the amount of the average site value of a home at Buena Vista, the report said.

Of 71 reporting households, Buena Vista has 173 adults, 21 who are 62 years of age or older, and 21 households reported having at least one member who is disabled. Among reporting households, 69 appear to fall at or below the "low" income level established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There are 74 children who attend Palo Alto schools.

A big bone of contention between the property's owners and residents and their supporters involves the definition of the city ordinance's meaning of "comparable housing." Continued education in Palo Alto schools for the 74 students is seen as an important part of any mitigation for loss of their homes, and that would mean finding and paying for housing within the city, proponents have said.

But the report's authors maintain the city's ordinance defines comparable housing as being "similar in size, number of bedrooms and amenities to the mobile home that is being displaced and is located in a community that has similar access to shopping, medical services, recreational facilities and transportation," and it does not use the words "comparable schools" or "access to comparable schools."

The quality of education in surrounding communities such as Redwood City, Mountain View and Sunnyvale is also high, so housing in those communities which is otherwise comparable in those communities meets the ordinance criteria, according to the report's authors.

The full report can be viewed here.

Related story:

Mobile-home residents pack school board meeting

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 9, 2013 at 10:41 am

$31, 000 won't buy you much around here. Maybe a used RV so they can add to the local "car dwelling" population. Yes, the owners of the park have the right to sell their property, but this is a real hardship for the residents. Many of these mobile homes have become real "homes" for the owners, as much as you can make gardens and a home on rented space.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lipinskya Moldova
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 9, 2013 at 10:45 am

I feel said for this community and even sadder that nothing can be done for them to keep their homes. I am sure that if the residents were dogs or cats, much can and will be done to keep them in Shallow Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Liberal in PA
a resident of Community Center
on May 9, 2013 at 10:59 am

How much advance warning are these soon-to-be-displaced residents given? I hope at least 6 months.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 9, 2013 at 11:11 am

This is just wrong.
No one should be forced out of their home. The majority have been there for many YEARS.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

Wow. People who rent a spot are going to get at least 31K and a 6
Month notice to move. If this was a level playing field for all landlords in California. For rent units would not exists and/or rents would be so high that only the rich could afford to rent. I'm not saying don't help the poor, But why does this owner have different rules than others in Palo Alto


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Srteve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 9, 2013 at 11:43 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jane
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2013 at 11:50 am

I agree with john. The owner is only doing what everybody else is doing in Baron Park. How many homes here sell for two million or more without questions. This guy is selling his land at market value and is being asked to fund the cost of the tenants. If this was a level playing field, He should be able to sell and notice his tenants like all other landlords. It's the governments job the help the poor not landlords.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mobilehomes
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

In response to John and Jane, the difference is that the residents of Buena Vista are homeowners--they own their mobile homes and rent the space in the park. The mobile homes aren't actually "mobile," though--it won't be possible for them to be moved to another park. So, if the park closes, they'll lose their investments in their mobile homes in addition to losing the homes themselves. That's why the law treats mobile home parks differently from other landlord-tenant situations and why the owner is required to pay relocation benefits.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 9, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I read through most of the document - the residents (defined as mobile home owners occupying their mobile home) will be given a minimum of 6 months notice. The first potential "move" date will be no sooner than the END of NEXT school year, so they are actually receiving more than a years notice and an average of $31K.

$31K is a life changing amount of money - certainly not enough to buy something, but enough to help with relocation and rent. 14 months is enough time to look for somewhere new to live, they will hire a company to help them with the process.

Yes, some of them will have to move out of Palo Alto. I have several friends who have had to do the same thing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Is that $31,000 before or after taxes?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jane
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm

to mobilehome: - I understand that they own their own mobilehome, but they chose to park it at Buena vista. many of them have been their for over a decade. Did these people actually believe this is a life time deal between them and the landlord?

Also, from reading the report the owner has treated these people kindly in respects to the market rent over the years. The owner could have taken the low road and raised the rents to vacate the park, but instead the high road was chosen. I am all for helping the poor and needy but I believe this is the job of the government and charities, not a law directed at a single investor.

I'm surprised they haven't sued yet.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shame on You Shallow Alto Duplicitous Folks Who No Doubt Voted For Obama
a resident of Green Acres
on May 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm

The role of the government is to help the needy and poor? This makes no sense. The U.S. government does not exist with the sole reason to help the needy and the poor. The tax dollars that we ALL pay to the government helps facilitate, implement and run departments and programs to assist ALL U.S. citizens when the need arises - i.e. if one needs affordable housing, there are government assisted and subsidized programs to help if the citizen qualifies; if one needs Social Security, one can apply for it at the appropriate age, or if one becomes disabled; if one needs food stamps or welfare, one can apply for those programs, and if you qualify, you will receive it. The list goes on. There is bureaucracy involved, and not everyone qualifies for any or all of the programs. Despite Mitt Romney's comments, it ain't easy getting government assistance. It does require some work.

In the case of Buena Vista, the residents who own their mobile homes are being asked to re-locate due to the owners' desire to sell the property. If the mobile home is capable of being moved, then the owner can do so. From the article, it is clear that none of these homes can be moved, and in essence, the owners of the mobile homes are losing their equity and investment. This is the same as if the state wanted to use the space where your owned house is located (eminent domain), and pay you a price to take over the land where your home is located. Would you expect the government to simply take care of you if that were to happen after you have invested your hard earned money into your living space, building equity and investment for you? I believe you would expect some money in return for what you invested in your home, how about at least fair market value - so that you can move on with your life. Essentially, this is the same situation for the Buena Vista residents. They have to be compensated for their investment, as if it were a sale, so that they too can move on with their lives, be it in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, etc. If they have other assets saved, they can add it to what they are being given as a down payment towards a purchase somewhere more affordable than Palo Alto.

Moving from Palo Alto is no big loss in my opinion. After all, there is really nothing to do in Palo Alto. It is a rather boring place, and the rental apartments that are here are simply overpriced shacks needed in order to keep yourself housed, for the most part. I have heard many other renters express that Palo Alto has very few decent rentals that you really want to pay for - I say free yourself Buena Vista residents of the illusion that is Palo Alto. You can do better elsewhere, and live happily ever after.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The Good Think
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm

The only good thing about this, is that the register child molester will have to go too. And those innocent Buena Vista Park residents do not longer have to play few feet away from the two of them. I hope this time the police place them some place where there is no children so close to them. That was just not right.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by barron park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Hope the trailer park is closed ASAP. the ghetto living will be gone. People should be integrated within the community, not segregated like the ghettos/ projects of the 1960's.

I commend the trailer park owner, you have provided a home for a population that could not afford to live elsewhere. They should be very happy with this impressive offer of $30,000. It is your right to sell and the residents should just be thankful they had this opportunity for many years. You could have sold out long ago.

These residents should stop complaining and looking for handouts and pity. Move on like everyone else does. I read about families who have to move out of Palo Alto when homes they rent are sold. They do not cry and complain to the school board that it is not fair.
Its shocking the school board reacts to those who complain the loudest.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm

barron park resident - I think you have it wrong. Given that there are legalities involved in closing down a place where a large number of people own the home but not the property, it's wise for the school board to be involved. No one wants a lawsuit because the City or one of its entities screwed up. It's not nearly as complicated when one person or family moves when a rental house is sold. At least this time a low income underclass was listened to, instead of the monied, influential powerbrokers. I find it rather refreshing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2013 at 10:06 pm

The school board has nothing to do with any of this situation. The meeting had many people expressing their angst about leaving PAUSD - but the PAUSD doesn't have any say in the property sale and/or the compensation. Lastly, PAUSD is not part of the CPA city government - so those who predict legal battles, etc. should understand that PAUSD will not be included in the upcoming court room drama.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by kb
a resident of Barron Park
on May 10, 2013 at 9:28 am

Well, I certainly feel for the residents, as it's very unlikely that they will be able to find anything in Palo Alto even close to the price they're paying now. Jisser has not been raising rents anywhere close to the CPI, and certainly not commensurate with PA housing prices. The report states that the average rent in the park is $685 per month, which seems like a hell of a deal for Palo Alto.

As Hmmm points out, their situation is not a lot different from when a rental house is sold and the tenants have to move out. At least these folks are getting about 18 months and a decent chunk of money. That's a lot more than a rental tenant would get. Those of you complaining about 6 months notice clearly didn't read the article.

As for them not being able to move their mobile homes, why is that Jisser's problem? Seems to me the residents were not maintaining their homes properly, or perhaps bought a low quality mobile home that didn't last. It's not Jisser or the developer's responsibility to ensure the homes are maintained well enough to move. If you're the mobile home owner, you've got to maintain it, or it won't be worth anything.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm

And the catch-22 in this for the residents is that if they have $31,000+ in the bank they have too many assets to qualify for low-income housing. They will have to blow all the money on high rent and then they can get on the very long waiting list for section 8 housing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shame on Landlords
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 10, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Truth is, these people are screwed either way. The money they receive will not be enough to get them into anything else.

They probably are low-income, but just enough above the poverty level to disqualify them from any aid. Amazing how much cash it takes to live on the Peninsula. Real Estate agents scoff at folks who "only" earn $300,000!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm

This situation just highlights the hollowness of Palo Alto's affordable housing desires. All these huge developments going in to make develops rich with a few Below Market Rate BMR units.

To maintain economic diversity in this town what is needed is stable rental properties. Owning a home in any fashion does not make the best financial sense for many people (not to mention the simple impossibility). But good renters in stable situations when they are not constantly worried about having to relocate their children, change schools, at some else's whim, add to our community.

I understand the private property owner's rights. I'm just saying it's ironic that we will now agonize about squeezing in a couple BMR units here and there after displacing long term residents who actually were already a part of our community.

It's like all the hadwring that went on about the city providing safe, entertainment to show that we value our youth at the same time our only bowling alley (they gave out free summer passes to all youth) was being demolished. So sad.

Once these things are lost they don't come back.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm

While I have some empathy for anyone who is, unexpectedly, asked to move, this is really silly. The landlord is paying the displaced tenants $11K in moving expenses AND the value of their trailer if it cannot be moved. The fact that most of the units have been so-modified as to make them unmovable is not the landlord's fault. The tenants were never guaranteed lifetime tenancy.

And the fact is that the landlord made his intentions clear many, many months ago, so folks have had ample time to make plans.

I am so sick and tired of people who feel entitled to tell a landowner what he can and can't do with his own private property. This guy doesn't want to build a strip joint or a nuclear waste dump -- he wants to build nicer housing that is more profitable for him and will likely generate more property taxes for the city.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 11, 2013 at 10:35 am

Hey Bob - have you familiarized yourself w/laws governing the sale of mobile home parks & the displacement of many people? Maybe you should to temper what you're sick of on behalf of property owners. It doesn't matter what you're sick of unless you change the laws that sicken you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by People Have to Help Themselves
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2013 at 11:01 am

I agree that there are too many people who feel entitled to a PAUSD education and when people can't afford rent or mortgage, they move to a less expensive location. These kids can move to the East Bay, San Jose, etc. Redwood City has a huge trailer park off Seaport/101.

How is it that the Chinese immigrants somehow became successful without knowing English, without government assistance, without community pity, without affirmative action? They do what they have to do to compete and don't complain about it or turn to crime.
[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on May 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Yes I agree the culture of the Wall Street banker and financial services executive seems very accustomed to receiving government bailouts. Goldman Sachs is definitely part of a culture of entitlement to government aid. As are those in the middle and upper class who appear to be very accustomed to their government mortgage interest deduction. And the farmers who receive their giant agricultural subsidies. There definitely are some cultures who seem highly accustomed to getting government aid. The people who live in BV and do your dirty work are not among them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kerry
a resident of Midtown
on May 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I would like to encourage the Palo Alto bleeding hearts to open up their homes to the to-be-displaced renters at BV. If enough families walk their talk, the pain will be less.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by One Latino
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2013 at 3:29 pm

So I am a Latino and because I have never been on the "bad" kind of government assistance, according to a few posters here, that would put me out of the "certain cultures" who "are accustomed to government assistance." Why one generalizes about a culture--meaning race--it's called racism. Buena Vista folks, it's simple supply and demand capitalism and you'll need to confront that this is what defines Palo Alto, and really always has. PAUSD doesn't care about you, sure you've made a few friends, but outside of board members giving you hugs during the public show, posters that refer to you--and me!--as a "certain culture--and to the "Chinese immigrants" as "more successful . . .without pity or affirmative action, don't complain or turn to crime" are simply bringing to the surface the racism that many of us experience on a daily basis in PAUSD and in PA, not all us, not all of the time, but pretty much daily for some of us. I guess I think of myself as fairly financially successful and I haven't turned to crime, but I look forward to a day when my fellow PA homeowners exercise that famous collective intellect so that we will never violate the civil rights of children again, especially those of that "certain culture." Stay classy, PA.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by End Tinsley and AA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm

"One Latino"s posting exemplifies why the Tinsley Program and affirmative action should be discontinued. There are successful Latinos but all our students are seeing are students who are so opposite of them that they learn to stereotype. How is this helpful for our children? And when a minority is accepted into a reputable school, everyone assumes the bar was lowered for them, which breeds resentment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on May 11, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Yes and isn't the real point of Tinsley and affirmative action to be "helpful for our children"? Isn't the real point of it not to level the playing field or provide some (inadequate) measure of distributive justice but to show "our" children what "successful Latinos" look like up close? And I know exactly how "end Tinsley" feels when "a minority" gets into a "reputable school" the very first thing that anyone thinks is that they didn't deserve it. This is exactly how I feel about legacies, and there are so many of them around here. You can hardly swing a dead cat in Palo Alto without hitting an unqualified legacy admit or Harvard or Dartmouth off to join daddy's fraternity.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 12, 2013 at 8:47 am

The legacy admit works against more than minorities. Thank goodness that we are lucky to have an elite public university system here. But this topic is off subject.

I am curious though - I'd like to learn more as to why the sale of BV would be considered a violation of the children's civil rights. Or maybe I misunderstood the point?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by One Latino
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Not "everyone assumes" in PA. I don't, for example. I can only offer my opinion and perhaps a bit of my family's and friend's. White privilege, if you believe in that crazy kind of thing, might explain how a poster could assume that he or she speaks for "everyone." And that person doesn't have to be white, just in a privileged PA class or caste. To the question about civil rights, another poster today in another thread about PAUSD and civil rights asked if we have a separate system of rights for the wealthy. Well, for those of us in those "certain cultures" according to one of the posters above, we don't have the same wealth, connections, or political power, not in PA, not in PAUSD, two different institutions in the city, the same feeling of poor treatment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Straight Up
a resident of Community Center
on May 12, 2013 at 8:14 pm

The issues here is quite straightforward if we simply look up the rule book:
1) Owner if a property is entitled to sell it
2) Buyer of a property is entitled to develop it for profit
3) If you rent the space you live on, you are not entitled to stay there forever
4) Nobody is entitled to a PAUSD education
5) There are tons of family out there that cannot afford Palo Alto, therefore cannot send their kids to PAUSD
6) Having been here for a long time doesn't grant someone special status. If I live in my house for 20 years and stop paying more mortgage or rent, I will still be asked to leave


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kerry
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]



 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 12, 2013 at 9:34 pm

thank you "straight up".

I agree 100% and I am sure many other Palo Alto residents agree, we are just too busy to post.


Simple common sense. Can the City Planners, council, school board take note of the posting from "straight up".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 13, 2013 at 6:23 am

Straight up's rule book is riddled with exceptions. Local voters or lawmakers in Sacramento can rewrite the rule book right out from under you. If demographics are not on your side, sooner or later you lose, even if you are rich. (And I'm not referring to race, but rather values and acceptance of the status quo.) Much as it seems like circular logic, society will decide what is right for society. That is why we are even having this discussion.

Regarding legacies, is there any child in the PAUSD who got there other than by choosing the right parents?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by know the law before you post
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on May 13, 2013 at 9:08 am

@ Straight Up.

As poster "mobilehome," poster "Hmmmm," and the article itself have already noted, special laws govern evictions from mobile home parks. These laws were enacted to address issues that arise from split ownership of the land and the homes in mobile home parks. It is these laws, and not your imaginary "rule book," that apply to Buena Vista. It is these laws that set the backdrop for the offer by the Jissers described in the article.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 10:25 am

People like "straight up" love to post as if they have the facts, and the rest of us are just too stupid to know the "straight" "truth." Remember the "Straight Talk Express"? That went well.

The facts are that this would be the largest single displacement of families from Palo Alto that has occurred in modern memory. The families are all long-time PA residents and they will have no hope of remaining in PAUSD or PA due to the high cost of housing here. They will be displaced by the lack of affordable housing options in the community, because they cannot find suitable affordable replacement housing. Many of them are families with children. Something over 10% of Barron Park School's students will be evicted. That is a large disruption to the school community.

The school board could, due to the uniqueness of the problem, make a determination that those students displaced by the evictions will be able to attend PAUSD for some period of years, or until graduation. They could also decide to waive the fee we customarily charge out of area residents if they sent their children to PAUSD.

The board need not worry about precedent. If the Resolution stated that it applies to all those students who are residents of trailer parks within PAUSD borders that are closed for redevelopment, that would solve the problem as BV is the only such situation.

Under California law the school board is responsible for setting all policies relating to inter-district transfers and accepting out of district students. The power resides within the School Board to permit these students to attend our schools until either they graduate or their parents withdraw them (so long as their current district of residence also agrees, which it certainly would do). This is something that is completely within the school board's power to do and it should do. It is not the case, as Camille Townsend said, that it is a difficult legal problem. There is nothing difficult about it. The board can vote to let them stay. See: Web Link

The board passed a resolution expressing hope that the students can stay, when it could pass one just letting them stay.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jane
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 10:35 am

To "know the law" you keep referring to the law and special protection of the residents and buena vista. Jisser's made an offer I agree. For what reason? Palo Alto does not have rent control. That being said, the Jissers can simply raise the rent until the tenants are either evicted or or move out on their own.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

> The facts are that this would be the largest single displacement of families from Palo Alto that has occurred in modern memory.

I don't think this is correct. We saw a significant reduction in enrollment during the "dot com" crash. Lots of families and children left the area and were forced from Palo Alto schools. Nobody gave them an opportunity to stay in the district until the economy recovered.

The biggest problem with the Ms Dauber's proposal is that it will likely trigger at least one counter-suit because the neither the state law nor the local ordinance governing the closure of mobile home parks specifically requires continuing educational assistance to dependents. Given how much people hate Tinsley, this seems an almost certainty. But, it will be fun to watch the PAUSD board try to wiggle out of it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JustANeighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 10:58 am

People like 'Michele Dauber' love exceptions and extras from school board. The fact that there are many families do not make this cituation unique. They choose the pausd and were fortunate to use it for many years. I support StraightUp - renters are RENTING, not OWNING the land and law protects private property. No, we are not 1% in any way or form and have 3!!! Mortgages on our house to send our kids through PAUSD. No complaints, just tired of all the exceptions!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerky
a resident of Ventura
on May 13, 2013 at 11:37 am

- Michele Dauber

"They could also decide to waive the fee we customarily charge out of area residents if they sent their children to PAUSD."

What exactly are you referring to? Are you saying way for someone to send their children to PASUD even if they don't live in PA by pay some sort of fee?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 11:49 am

In order for an interdistrict transfer there must be a hardship (which there could be in this case) as defined:

"When it is determined by the administration through evidence provided that there are psychological, sociological, financial or environmental reasons indicating that it is essential to the student's well-being that a transfer be granted."

In such cases, the sending district of residence has to agree to pay tuition to PAUSD:

"Prior to enrollment of a nonresident student in the Palo Alto Unified School District, an agreement shall be on file in the Central Attendance Office, or be in the process of completion, stating the financial agreement between the district of residence and the Palo Alto Unified School District for the tuition payment of the identified student."

See: Web Link

Under the law the Board could simply resolve that the BV students have a hardship, much like might be found in the case of an earthquake that displaced 200 low income students. As in the case of a physical disaster, the eviction is no less a disaster over which these families have no control. They have no fault for what has occurred. They are innocent victims of circumstance. As the board would if there had been a physical earthquake, it could find that in this instance, these students have been injured by forces beyond their control and they should receive a hardship without expectation of payment from the sending district for some period of time, perhaps five years or graduation whichever comes first.

Such a resolution or policy would be easy to draft. I could do it in under an hour. What is missing is not legal authority. What is missing is political will. It is all well and good to pass a resolution about how we all hope that the problem is solved. That is different than solving it, especially when the power to solve it exists in their hands.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

@Joe, there would be no basis for a "countersuit" by anyone. The power to address inter-district transfers rests with the board. Unless the board has no rational basis for setting a policy regarding the closure of mobile home parks causing hardship (which clearly would be fine) there is no issue and would be no basis for anyone else to challenge it.


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Posted by JestANeighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Why would we want to do that? My heart goes to every family longing to get the best education for kids, but the law is the same for all. Renters, loosing rent are moving outside the school district. Last year a great friends of us lost the rent and moved 11th , 7th and 6th graders from pausd. Why some, not others????


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm

The law IS NOT the same for all. Single family homes, multiple family dwellings & mobile home complexes have different laws which apply to various situations. Why some commenters can't or won't grasp this is beyond me. It doesn't matter what an uninformed commenter thinks. What matters are the laws in play in this situation & the related decisions. That's why some commenters understand what's happening & why better than others.


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Posted by Crescent Park City
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 13, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Don't shoot the messenger (again)...

I would suggest that the opposite view would be that the BoD *is* representing the political will of the majority of the taxpayers in the school district.

As a side note, the inter-district fees are not paid by the affected families - not sure if that was the intent of the posting, but it came across to me that way. The inter-district fees are the state funds that the XYZ District would have to send to PAUSD since the student(s) would be attending PAUSD and not XYZ. Roughly $10K per pupil per year.

70 students = $700K. The annual amount would drop over time, but the total cost of the above proposal would be millions.

Simply put, millions of unfunded dollars is where the rubber hits the road and why the board (and the taxpayers) will not go for it.


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Posted by barron park parent
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 7:07 pm

@Crescent Park:

You wrote that " the BoD *is* representing the political will of the majority of the taxpayers in the school district."

I don't know if you're right or not. I hope you are wrong but I don't have an opinion and didn't say whether they are representing the will of the people or not. I am really responding to the idea that the problem of how to keep the BV kids in school is a "legal" problem, asserted by board member Camille Townsend:

"School board member Camille Townsend, a lawyer, said she so far has come up short in a search for legal ways to keep children in the district who do not live within its borders.

"Obviously we have the Tinsley program (admitting some children from the Ravenswood City School District), but that was a court-ordered agreement of desegregation many years ago," Townsend said.

"This wouldn't fit into that category.

"I've tried to find other legal avenues. The current policy is that children can stay until the end of the semester after their parents leave, but that doesn't solve it either," Townsend said.

I was merely showing that this is not a legal problem. It's up to the board whether or not the children can stay in school. I think they should be able to, and I think many people agree with me. Obviously, some people posting here don't agree. But the problem is political (and I think you agree with me about that) not legal.

I did state that the fees are paid by the sending district typically and posted a link to the policy providing that. I disagree with your cost estimate however, since you are assuming that the students would be replaced by other students and that the cost of retaining the BV students would be additive. I think it could be relatively cost neutral from the status quo since the new housing is not family housing but for young, childless tech workers.

But even if it cost a bit as with VTP it is an important community value to maintain diversity and not see school communities decimated by mass exoduses of long-term residents so I would vote to make whatever the sacrifice might be in order to have those values. Some people would agree with me about that; perhaps you don't.

Again, let's think of the analogy of the natural disaster. What if an earthquake hit Palo Alto. Generally low income housing is affected more severely by disasters. If 200 families were displaced from damaged low income housing and their children were to have to move away from our schools, would it not be the right and humane and just thing to do to help those children of the disaster? Having lost their homes and all that they had, would it also be right that they should lose their teachers, friends, schools, and communities where they feel safe? Shouldn't we, as a community, ensure that they have continuity in school even if they cannot in housing? What is my responsibility for my brother, my neighbor?


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Posted by John Birch
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm

barron park parent, thank you for being you. We've got a lot of nice people in this town, but there are a whole bunch of you, you know, people who can trash a former principal, an elementary school, Latinos (hispanics to you), English Learners, and other students. Thank you for revealing your perspectives. Without them, readers might not believe that many Palo Altans share these beliefs. All I ask is that he or she go looking for all the "illegal" residents, including the non-"hispanics" who are living in other cities such as San Francisco and San Jose. How dare they live off my PiE donation and parcel tax. Perhaps our new PR person or our new Compliance Officer can deputize teachers and round up any student looking like an "illegal." Or we could have barron park parent do it since he or she is so skilled at it.


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Posted by Just Looking for Information
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2013 at 8:33 pm

@Joe

You wrote "Given how much people hate Tinsley" in your post earlier today.
I feel a bit dense about this comment. Could you explain to me why people "hate" the Tinsley program?

Thank you.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2013 at 11:44 pm

"What is missing is political will..."

Correct, there is no political will for this, which is likely due to the fact that many, many voters would oppose an effort like this. I do find it bizarre, frankly - the idea that families who relocate to other districts (whatever the circumstance) have lost something so dear that PAUSD, as an act of compassion, should make it up to them. Who thinks that way?

Kids change schools, towns, etc. - I did, my own kids did, many kids do, due to changing circumstances - and life goes on. The kids will be ok, and so will their former classmates. The school district should wish any departing student well and re-assure them that they can succeed at whatever school they attend.


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Posted by Thomas Paine IV
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 14, 2013 at 10:47 am

We need the diversity in Palo Alto this trailer park brings and all of us should be willing to pay for it. So create a special sales tax just for Palo Alto and use the revenues to pay the landowner the profits he would have received if he had developed his land.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Fred says, "The school district should wish any departing student well and re-assure them that they can succeed at whatever school they attend." It'd be nice if students can succeed at whatever school that they attend, but it's not true. I don't know these students, but I've applied barrier metrics to many kids in EPA & I've seen what many low income minority kids are up against. One of the biggest barriers that can't be changed by the community or the school - the education level of the parents on these kids. This can be a huge barrier to the kids, as is their correlating inability to find the right support for the kids.

I've known uneducated parents who work incredibly hard on their kid's behalf to make sure they get a great education. But they're more uncommon, unfortunately. What's more common is getting the kids out of school asap to work, or work while in school, which also often prevents them from focusing on educational pursuits.

Another thing to consider: some cultural values are different enough from ours that we look askance at them. For many cultures, kids working hard in their teens, rather than pursuing education, is more important. In the US, we don't agree. The kids from BV seem to share our US values & there are many who are supporting that. While my personal bias lies w/them, in my professional life I've had to rein in my biases at times due to what a family's situation is.

I'm certainly not against the redevelopment of BV - I don't live in the neighborhood nor am I against capitalism. But as I keep stating, the laws governing the displacement of many people from a mobile home park aren't the same as the displacement of one family from a rental home. That those to be displaced are also marginalized in so many ways means that this is an opportunity for them to become more enfranchised, which in the long run, is better for everyone. If this means that they reap the generosity of those in positions of power, so be it. Life isn't fair, but when those w/responsibility are confronted w/unfairness, they must discharge their duties according as they see fit.

I helped a neighbor w/their whole process of dealing w/our previous scumsucking landlords. This neighbor didn't "deserve" the money he won in his lawsuit, in the sense that he's a lazy loser who exploits others. But *legally* he deserved the money, as he'd been grossly exploited by the landlord. And really - it wouldn't serve society if he'd ended up on the street, along w/his disabled dependents.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 14, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Hmmm, you seem to support my point. I completely agree, the family is more important than the school. But that's my point - wherever they go to school, their family will be with them. If striving, hard-working families are key to the kid doing well, the student will still have that. If the families are not striving and hard-working, why should PAUSD make any special accommodation - because they happened to pick our local trailer park?

There certainly are laws relating to trailer parks, and the should be followed. But I am not aware of any law that says the displaced students need to be accommodated in their current district. And, I sincerely believe, the kids will be fine.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Fred, I don't support your point, because I can't. I can't because I don't know the families involved. I'm not convinced, from the little that I've read, that they'll go above & beyond to ensure their kids' success. I say this because it's unfortunately rather rare. But then again, their values may not totally dovetail w/mine, which is fine. Not everyone should go to college if they lack the interest, focus & drive.

There doesn't need to be a law re the accommodation of the students. From what I've read, my interpretation is that the accommodation serves the interests of the community & these students & their families. There's also what's served that I think is political, but that's just my cynical opinion.

I'm not convinced that these kids will be fine, regardless where they go to school, because I don't know them. I went to Paly w/kids others figured were fine, but they're dead from suicide. I wish these kids & their families the best. I wish this type of attention was paid to all underserved kids, but that's not the case. At least it's happening in this case.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2013 at 7:50 am

@Hmmm - thank you!!


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2013 at 11:54 am

I wouldn't sell the BV families short when it comes to measuring their support and involvement towards their students. Obviously they care enough to show up to the PAUSD board meeting. No reason to believe that they wouldn't involve themselves if/when they move to a new school district.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

Sorry typo - should read: "No reason not to believe....


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Crescent Park Dad - you're right of course, I think! I really don't know how these kids will care because I don't know them off their parents. The meeting attendance is great but it takes a lot more than that, generally, for a disadvantaged child to succeed. I think & hope that their remaining in PAUSD indicates both stability & good education enough fit them to have a number of options come graduation time. Also, I type this w/the awareness that of course they should define success on their own terms, not mine or Palo Alto's. Please note my caution re all of this is based on not knowing them & having worked w/students w/multiple barriers here in EPA & Belle Haven. One barrier less the BV kids have is their school & another is the town's culture. So they already are in a milieu that's less violent & less stressful than what EPA & Belle Haven kids often contend with. I truly wish these kids the best. I know the developer & owner will make $$ so my concern has been for the more vulnerable involved.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Sorry for the typos. I meant I don't know how the kids will fare!


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Hey Village Fool - glad you like my comments but I'm not sure exactly what I said that you liked so much :-)


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Hmm, while I like your candor I don't agree with your logic. If the families don't really care that much, then I certainly don't see why the school district or other families should. Without good family support, most kids will not do that well anywhere. I certainly don't want to see PAUSD acting as the surrogate parent for kids whose families are not engaged in their education - even more so for kids that don't even live here!

I had assumed the families did care - otherwise, why the ruckus? To your point, if they do care and strive, the kids have a decent chance in any district; if they don't, then there is no real need to accommodate them. Either way, I can't see a good reason for PAUSD to educate these particular kids if they end up living somewhere else. district.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm

But Fred - do our opinions really matter now? I know mine matters less since I don't even live in your town anymore. My comments were based on my experiences w/kids w/multiple barriers. It doesn't matter that you & I don't agree. I happen to believe, based on my experience & my values, that weighting the odds as much as possible in the favor of underserved kids is the best way to go whenever possible. I have seen it work well before, many times & I hope that it continues to work. The parental involvement isn't an either/or as it seems to me you presented in your last comment. Their involvement must be ongoing, even if that means they set up a lot of support that they can't provide. Are they bad at math but get their child into a good tutoring program? Good. Does their kid excel at sports and is gifted in music? Find them coaches & mentors that can help when you've reached your personal ability to help them in a particular area. Does your kid's IQ test out high & they're a bookworm but you're dyslexic & can barely read? Get help! Does your kid lack intellectual & athletic gifts but loves church & community activities? Get them into a youth program! These are all examples that I've seen & it's more work for the kids & the parents, but it also results in less time on the streets, less exposure to crime & a sharper, more strategic & more disciplined mind. Again - this is shaped by EPA/Belle Haven, not low income kids in a mobile home park surrounded by multimillion dollar homes & classmates who have more privilege.


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Posted by If it adds ABAG units, it will work
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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