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Hearing officer hired for Buena Vista's proposed closure

Original post made on May 21, 2013

With the future of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park up in the air, Palo Alto has selected a hearing officer to evaluate a recent report on the impact of relocating the park's residents.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 9:54 AM

Comments (21)

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Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 11:50 am

boy this whole thing should be making investors really wary of investing their hard earned money in palo alto. property owners are not even entitled to the same rights as they would be in other cities.


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Posted by Dean
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Again, in the interests of full disclosure, I am a former Mid-Towner now living in the Southwest.

It would sure make sense if the 65 low income apartments (not sure what low income is in Palo Alto) be offered first to the Buena Vista Residents, many of whom may want to stay in the neighborhood, albeit in different living arrangements.

The $20K or so each gets as a lump sum housing grauity may serve as funding for transitional housing or to furnish the apartments. It would be equitable of the City and developer to finish their units first, and, if possible, make them architectually somewhat like the Barron Park homes adjacent.

Might be asking too much of the City which has higher priorities I'm sure.

It's been 40 years since I lived in Palo Alto, but I have warm memories of Barron Park from a project I did. The BP folks seemed then to have a fighting spirit vis a vis the Palo Alto municipal hierarchy. They seem to have maintained some if it.


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Posted by oh well
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on May 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm

...the trailor park is under the jurisdiction of the state and Santa Clara County. Why the city choose's to stick their nose into matters that are beyond their control and hire yet another outside consultant is the main reason Palo Alto will continue the cyle of deficit budgets.


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Posted by barron park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm

The developer should stay with their original plans. Barron Park has several low income projects already and many apartments off El Camino .Most people in Barron Park
are looking forward to improving this area. There are very nice trailer parks south of moutain view . Buena VIsta was in need of repair that is why the rents were so low. So tired of hearing about the special treatment this group is receiving


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Posted by jane
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm

If the Jisser family is putting up 31,000 to assist these people. What is the city doing to help? I was under the impression that in a democracy, government has the job to help the displaced not private businesses.

So is Apple or IBM responsible for the victims of the deadly tornadoes




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Posted by bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm

I must agree with Jane, why are private business that invested in Palo Alto being treated like this. I read that they have owned the park for over 25 years and this ordinance is only a few years old. I understand that the city has the right to create law, but a law that governs a single business owner is power that no governing body should empower.


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Posted by Former Gunn Student
a resident of Ventura
on May 22, 2013 at 12:00 am

If you really think about it. 20,000 does not go far anywhere in the bay area for housing. It's pittance when looking at a down payment for a house, and rent in a cheaper place like San Jose is still about 1,200 for a two bed, one bath. At $1,200 a month, it's still 14,400 a year in rent. It's a shame that this Jisser family can't be happy with what they have. I know so many kids who have lived in this park, attended Gunn, then get full scholarships to very good universities. When multicultural week at Gunn would come around, it would be residents of this trailer park who would represent Mexico and all its culture had to offer.

For those who live in Palo Alto, are white, and have an household income of 100,000 or more, look to the future what the impact this will have. Higher property values will always be foreseen so why develop? I certainly don't think the residents of Barron Park would like having 180 units worth of traffic around the neighborhood. I also don't think a set of tall buildings encroaching on neighboring properties would be very pleasant either.

To Palo Alto: This is still a city with residents of many backgrounds. Do not turn it into a sterile land for only the rich.


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Posted by Barron Park Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2013 at 6:48 am

What happened to property rights? This is a county and state matter.
Has anybody looked at the crime statistics in this trailer park? Full disclosure: I live down the street


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Posted by Prometheus, Not A Good Investment For You
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2013 at 8:44 am

It is unfortunate that Prometheus does not realize they will have a difficult time renting the planned apartments. It sounds as if Prometheus has a goal to rent the units to local technology workers. Obviously, this company has not done the proper research. Most young technology workers want to live in San Francisco, where they have activities beyond bars and restaurants. Palo Alto does not offer the entertainment and recreational outlets for this group of people. This age group prefers to live in SF, and commute via a company sponsored bus or take caltrain to Palo Alto. This way, they have the best of both worlds. I believe this will be the of case of if you build it, they will not come. Prometheus should really think about whether this venture will be worth their efforts. I think not. And as far as the rest of Palo Alto renters, I am certain the property will not be attractive financially rent wise for most Palo Alto renters who are looking for decent, temporary rentals that enable them to still save to purchase a condo or a home - be it in Palo Alto or elsewhere.


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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 22, 2013 at 8:54 am

Prometheus, Not A Good Investment For You -
Prometheus owns the nearby Tan apartments that rent for 2300 to over 5000 a month, so I'm sure they know the market. You may be right about who will end up renting the apartments, but they will have no problem renting them. Not everyone wants to live in a city or have a long commute. These apartments will be in the Gunn school district and plenty of families from China and Taiwan want to sent their kids there for high school.

Former Gunn Student - The Jisser family can't leave the mobile home park as is, it needs to be upgraded (utilities and the trailers) for safety and code reasons.

If these low-income apartments are built, where are the residents going to live in interim? It takes a while to build things (especially in Palo Alto).


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Posted by jake
a resident of Community Center
on May 22, 2013 at 9:10 am

The ideal place would be in the city hall if that gets approved. I doubt Prometheus knows anything about the rental business these days.


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Posted by John P
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2013 at 10:39 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

How do you know to whom Prometheus would rent the apts to? Do you have the inside scoop on this? If so, it sounds illegal to me - various types of housing biases are against the law.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2013 at 11:24 am

If you've read other threads on the BV saga, then you'll have learned that there are special circumstances and requirements applied to any owner and developer (in the State of California) when it comes to closing a mobile home park. The process is being played out as prescribed. The criticisms about private property rights and the hoops that need to be navigated are a little bit off target, given the current use of the property. You can criticize the process if you'd like to - but lay that blame on the state & the county, not on Palo Alto. Both the seller and the new owner knew this was coming.

I think what gets lost on many observers is that a decent portion of the BV residents are renters, not owners. My understanding is that the renters get very little compensation, if any. Perhaps an expert can provide a comment on this.

The issue surrounding school attendance is still getting muddied. The city has no control over who attends PAUSD schools. And PAUSD has their documented requirements for attendance eligibility. As much as some people want to require a PAUSD attendance resolution, there is no jurisdiction or state/county requirements on this particular issue. Any agreement between CPA and the seller/buyer cannot be extended or pushed upon PAUSD.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2013 at 11:24 am

If you've read other threads on the BV saga, then you'll have learned that there are special circumstances and requirements applied to any owner and developer (in the State of California) when it comes to closing a mobile home park. The process is being played out as prescribed. The criticisms about private property rights and the hoops that need to be navigated are a little bit off target, given the current use of the property. You can criticize the process if you'd like to - but lay that blame on the state & the county, not on Palo Alto. Both the seller and the new owner knew this was coming.

I think what gets lost on many observers is that a decent portion of the BV residents are renters, not owners. My understanding is that the renters get very little compensation, if any. Perhaps an expert can provide a comment on this.

The issue surrounding school attendance is still getting muddied. The city has no control over who attends PAUSD schools. And PAUSD has their documented requirements for attendance eligibility. As much as some people want to require a PAUSD attendance resolution, there is no jurisdiction or state/county requirements on this particular issue. Any agreement between CPA and the seller/buyer cannot be extended or pushed upon PAUSD.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2013 at 11:52 am

Jane asks: "What is the city doing to help?" Which is a great question given that the City knew 10 years ago that the park was going to be closed. I think the answer is basically nothing. The City's can't help because a small group of pro-Buena Vista supporters decided to find a lawyer and threaten legal action against the City based on the CRAA. I assume the supporters did this with the intention of wanting to help the Buena Vista residents. But, as with anything in politics, it's hard to read people's motivation given the emotion and back scratching that happens in local politics.

CRAA is the California Relocation Assistance Act. California's law is modeled on the Federal law and gives assistance to people displaced as a result of eminent domain actions. For example, if some public agency wanted to build a road or park on the spot where you live, the CRAA outlines the compensation you'd receive from the government. I'm not able to find any legal precedent where the CRAA was successfully used in the closure and rezoning of a mobile home park. Certainly, the CRAA has nothing to do with the closure of the mobile home park that's owned by a private party. So, threatening the City with legal action under the CRAA made no sense whatsoever. Here's a link to the letter if you haven't seen it: Web Link

The problem now that a small group of pro-Buena Vista supporters want Prometheus to sell PAHC an acre of land from the site. PAHC would use this land to build 66 two bedroom low income units. But, since anyone can draw a direct line from PAHC to the City of Palo Alto, this would precisely be the event that would expose the City to a CRAA lawsuit. All leverage in the suit would belong to the Buena Vista residents (which I assume was the original intent of the letter). Obviously, the City and PAHC don't want to be in the position of funding a series of CRAA settlements. Furthermore, Prometheus or Jisser would be foolish to agree to selling land to PAHC in order to initiate this cascade of events. The CRAA is a quirky law in that you can't sign away your rights, so any of the 90 or more mobile home owners could individually sue the City. That would be nightmare for everybody, except of course, the Buena Vista residents and their lawyers.

So, the actions of a few pro-Buena Vista supporters tied the hands of our local government. But given that the City knew the mobile home park was going to be at the end of its useful life 10 years ago and they did absolutely nothing in those 10 years, you can likely draw your own conclusions why the City isn't more involved.


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Posted by Surprise@
a resident of Community Center
on May 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I would admit that I'm for a very strong deterrent and penalty system for illegal immigration. However, I find accusations that the BV residents are illegal (without any proof) is nothing more than attempt to gutterize the situation.


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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Even if PHCC builds low-income apartments on part of the site, where do the residents go in the interim?


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Posted by Surprise@
a resident of Community Center
on May 22, 2013 at 12:39 pm

CPD. My message is intended to CA. It never intends to BV residents!


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Posted by Jane
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm

While there are supposedly plans to help the residents relocate, I wonder where many of those who live with dogs in the trailer park will be able to find housing. Several of the dogs are Pit Bull style although many are small dogs. About 7 years ago, my adult son, who had returned home to live while looking for a new rental unit, (he had only one well behaved cat), could find almost no place that would even consider renting to him. How is a propective landlord going to view the large dog. There are many children who live there also, and while Child discrimination is supposedly illegal, several children and a dog will mean that many places will not even consider the family. I walk my dog regularly by the trailer park, and see many of the canine residents being walked in the same areas.


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