News

Buena Vista residents allowed to appeal mobile-home park's closure

City Council adopts rules for April hearing about park's future

Palo Alto officials set the stage on Monday for an emotional battle over the future of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park when they affirmed the right of the park's roughly 400 residents to challenge a decision authorizing their displacement.

After a long discussion and testimony from a crowd of Buena Vista residents and their supporters, the City Council voted unanimously to affirm the right of the Buena Vista Residents Association to appeal a September decision by an administrative judge paving the way for the park's closure. In his decision, Craig Labadie found that the park's owner, Joe Jisser, offered the residents fair compensation for relocation from the 4.5-acre park in the Barron Park neighborhood.

Residents and their attorneys have consistently contended that the compensation offered by the Jisser family is insufficient and that Buena Vista's closure will cost them not just their homes, but also their jobs and their children's Palo Alto education.

These arguments, which played out over the course of a three-day hearing in front of Labadie in May, re-emerged during Monday's meeting, where the council was set to consider whether to allow the residents' appeal of Labadie's ruling to proceed.

Every speaker at the hearing with the exception of the Jisser family's attorney urged the council to hear the appeal, and to schedule it at a time and place that would make it easy for the residents and community members to attend and testify.

Some speakers stressed the importance of preserving Buena Vista, a primarily Hispanic community and a rare bastion of affordable housing in Palo Alto. Ruth Lowy was one of many Barron Park residents who spoke out in support of Buena Vista, and urged the council to find a compromise that would allow the Jissers to make money without displacing the families in the mobile-home park.

"No one is saying that the owner shouldn't get some money from this," Lowy said. "But you need to weigh in the balance dollars and people's lives and there has to be a reasonable in-between. I hope you take this very seriously."

Others emphasized Buena Vista's value in enriching the community bringing diversity to Palo Alto. But for residents, the issue was simpler. The compensation offered by the Jissers, they said, falls far short of what's needed to find a new place to live. The package includes three months of rent, the appraised value of each trailer home, moving expenses and a one-year rent subsidy covering the difference between their current rents and their new ones.

Melodie Cheney, secretary of the Residents Association, was one of several residents to plead with the council for a reprieve.

"There are other solutions to just closing the park. We have made offers to the owner, we are also looking into other things," Cheney said. "Buena Vista is my first home and I want to keep it."

Blanca Fonseca, who also lives at Buena Vista, framed the issue as one that has less to do with the city's diversity and more to do with basic human needs.

"It's not about being Hispanic," Fonseca said. "We're all humans. We need homes to survive."

After hearing from the residents and from the attorneys representing the two sides, the council swiftly rejected the argument from Jisser's attorney that the appeal shouldn't be allowed to proceed at all. The attorney, Margaret Nanda, pointed out that the local ordinance on mobile-home closures specifies that an "aggrieved person" will have a right to appeal the administer judge's ruling to the council. Because in this case the appeal is coming from a residents association rather than an individual, the appeal should be rejected outright.

"The issue of standing is critical to the appeals process," Nanda said. "If the association or an individual lacks standing to appeal, the appeal cannot go forward."

The attorneys for the residents strongly disagreed. Nadia Aziz and James Zahradka, both from the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, both argued that the Residents Association should be allowed to go ahead with the appeal.

Zahradka said the residents are being "sandbagged in the last minute" by Nanda's attempt to undermine their standing. Aziz noted that the association, which was formed in 2012 to oppose the park's closure, has been representing the residents during every step of the process and should be allowed to continue to do so.

"It would be a violation of the ordinance and due process to not let the residents continue this appeal," Aziz said.

The council quickly rejected Nanda's argument and agreed that the appeal should be allowed to proceed.

"You said you'd like your day in court with us and we heard you," Councilwoman Liz Kniss told the crowd during the hearing. "That's clearly very important: that that chance be given."

With that decision made, the council's discussion shifted to the details of the appeals hearing. Attorneys for the Jissers argued for an informal meeting that relies largely on the voluminous testimony that has already been presented during last year's public hearings. Residents and their attorneys pulled for more formal proceedings, with witnesses, cross-examinations and the ability to object to statements made by the other side.

On this issue, neither side got exactly what it was looking for. The council agreed to largely go along with the recommendation of City Attorney Molly Stump, who proposed a process that includes 30-minute presentations from each side followed by rebuttals and a period for public comments.

The council also adopted a suggestion by Councilman Tom DuBois that each side have an expert witness who would testify for up to 10 minutes about the inference that should be drawn from and the weight that should be given to the record.

The council also directed each side to submit a statement laying out its case. These statements would be up to 10 pages long and they would be made available 21 days before the hearing begins, most likely some time in April.

The council unanimously adopted the procedures, paving the way for the city's final act in a closure process that has been proceeding for more than two years. Once the council issues its decision, any future appeals would have to go through the court system, Stump said.

Related content:

Lawyers squabble over rules in appeal of Buena Vista's closure

Ruling brings closure to Palo Alto's Buena Vista

New report boosts effort to close Buena Vista Mobile Park

Buena Vista hearing opens in Palo Alto

Buena Vista owner offers eleventh-hour changes to relocation benefits

Survey shows neighborhood support for Buena Vista residents

Developer drops plan to buy Buena Vista Mobile Home Park

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Sea SEELAM REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 13, 2015 at 5:08 am

It is good news.

Thanks city council. Good first act with compassion as the beginning act of 2015.

Let us not be GREEDY.

100 families are impacted.

Let the attorneys negotiate a reasonable settlement that does not break the bank.

Respectfully.


7 people like this
Posted by winter dellenbach
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 8:46 am

Thank you to everyone who attended the council meeting last night. And a special thanks to those who spoke with unusual eloquence and relevance. You could see that some of what was said mattered to some council members. And I am thankful as always for BV residents who showed up and spoke up as only they can.

Though one council member slept through the entire long item, the other members were attentive and clearly most had read the thick packet of BV documents relevant to last nights decisions. Thank you, council members for paying attention, being informed and listening - your support for fair due process and the Appeal is appreciated.

It is critical that if BV residents cannot remain in Palo Alto, that they leave here with dignity and compensation for what they will lose as a consequence. But better yet, we must find a solution, working with the property owner, so residents may continue to be Palo Altans.

For more info about BV or to join Friends of Buena Vista, go to fobv.org.


6 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 8:59 am

Not surprised by this at all. Note that the CC is not disputing the property owner's right to close or to sell. It's all about the settlement/money at this point.


7 people like this
Posted by Help Me Understand
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:00 am

Please help me understand. Mr.Jisser owns the land, bought the land with his own hard earned money and now he cannot sell the land because people who rent on the land he owns are up in arms and feel it is unfair.

I remember renting a room in someone's house when younger and owner decided to sell the house for a huge profit and I had to move out and move from Menlo Park to Redwood City. I was upset but owner owned the house and could do what he wanted. Seemed unfair at time but was just reality and I realized life is not always fair, especially in society based on supply and demand and money.


Btw, I was not given any compensation when I had to move. Living in Palo Alto with the schools is a privelage and not a right.

This just all seems so socialist.


5 people like this
Posted by Helping You Understand
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:09 am

@Help Me Understand

The difference is that Mobile Home Park residents have rights and legal protections (which are not strong enough) under state and local law, and you as a renter did not.


5 people like this
Posted by Easy earned money
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:15 am

Help me says >Mr.Jisser owns the land, bought the land with his own hard earned money>
What makes you think it was "hard earned money"?
<was bought by Toufic Jisser and his wife Eva in 1986, along with investment partners, whom the Jissers bought out in 1999 >

Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 10:57 am

Unbelievable. I hope that when the city council members wish to sell their homes there is this much interference.


7 people like this
Posted by BarronParker
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 11:17 am

BarronParker is a registered user.

Only in Palo Alto!

A process that was supposed to take about 1 year in total has now ballooned to over 2 years, and the City Council has just further extended it for another 3 months.

The injustice is being done to the owners of the property, not the renters who have had a sweet deal for a long time. Preventing the owners from selling after going through the established process is equivalent to theft. City council is foolishly opening us up to a multi-million dollar lawsuit, which we will lose.

Unfortunately, the citizens of Palo Alto will pay, not their representatives on the council who are responsible.


4 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 13, 2015 at 11:20 am

@Help me understand,

To understand, you would need a more accurate analogy. It's more like you were the owner of a condo that you had just put all your money into buying and even renovating, but the condo association or the original developer decided to sell the structure and land so you were getting evicted and losing your condo and investment in the condo.

Mobile homes occupy a unique place in land use law because, first of all, the law recognizes that mobile homes aren't really mobile once they are in place, and secondly, the residents are both property owners and renters. The owner made a lot of money from this endeavor over the years, and now on the sale of the land, anyone going into that kind of enterprise understands they aren't just dealing with renter law.

The biggest problem here, of course, is that providing the difference in rent for a year is like a slap. No one will be able to sustain that after the year. Once these residents are evicted from this very unique, stable low-income housing, they face very different futures for their families. The proposed "compensation" package takes absolutely no account of the realities of the local housing market in addressing the legal requirements.

There is enough money in our City's affordable housing fund now to, in combination with the money the residents drummed up before, make a comparable offer to Prometheus's, and save Jisser the cost of the compensation package, so in many ways it would be a better offer and let him have use of his money now. The affordable housing fund cannot be used except for affordable housing, so it's not like naysayers could complain about the cost. And the money would eventually come back to the City (as it would either be an investor or be making a very low-interest loan of the funds).

Is there no way we can encourage City Council to pursue the possibility of such a negotiation? Especially prior to the April hearing, so the whole thing can be settled, and the possibility of Jisser having a favorable deal that he would accept would be better? If the non-profit residents' association were able to purchase the park, they would also be able to apply for grants to improve the park. Our community wins, and the owner would have as good or better a sale price.

Is the Council allowed to consider this prior to the hearing? Winter Dellenbach, if they can, will you please let the community know what can be done and what specifically we should ask to support?


8 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 13, 2015 at 11:23 am

@ Help me Understand,

Actually, an even more close analogy would be if Stanford decided they wanted the land on which Gunn High School sits back, and all the land on which its professors own homes (but rent the land underneath their homes from Stanford). There are lots of strings because of the unique vulnerability of the assets.

Most people can understand the analogy with Stanford land, but are more prejudiced when it comes to understanding property/ownership rights and low-income residents who, if anything, have a much greater asset at stake in terms of their personal wealth and futures.


5 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 13, 2015 at 11:36 am

Hopefully the City Council will follow the law during the proceeding and not protract this already unnecessarily lengthy dispute. Both sides deserve a fair hearing, not one that's already been pre-judged. Effectively blocking any reasonable sale serves as a real disincentive to any landlord thinking about opening up land or housing to low-income tenants. The City needs to stop passing the buck (by penalizing private homeowners) on issues like homelessness and affordable housing and start dealing with the problems themselves.


6 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2015 at 11:50 am

Gethin is a registered user.

They own the land, they should have every right to sell it. I recognise the difficulties for the current residents but nothing implies they have any kind of endless ongoing right to live where they do. I understand that the laws are different but as an exercise, are there any homeowners in Palo Alto who are renting a room tolerate being told they can't sell their home because it would displace the renter?


3 people like this
Posted by Samina
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 11:56 am

We do need to think about the future of these kids, who have excellent schools here in Palo Alto. Most parents work two jobs and the stability and good schools will not only benefit the kids, it will also benefit our society by extending support for people in need. It is an wonderful lesson/value we should be providing for all of out kids. This is how we build a beloved community. Please let us work together to make Palo Alto a compassionate city and community?


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:33 pm

The sale of the mobile park land was first proposed in the year 2000; there have been hundreds of BMR units available since that time. I think the City of Palo Alto could have helped by prioritizing some of the BMR units for the residents of Buena Vista over the last decade; the city does bear some responsibility as they decided on the rules for the Jissers to sell the property. And the city does have some say on the BMR units as the city is a major source of funding for the BMR units.

I think it's unfortunate that this brinkmanship is going on between the attorneys for the residents and the Jissers. I wonder why the attorneys as well as all those who have been proponents for the Buena Vista residents haven't done more to influence the city to get the BV residents placement in the hundreds of BMR units that have been available over the past decade.


8 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:42 pm

This is a totally wasting of tax payer's time and money motivated by some special political agendas of some politicians!
If anyone got evicted by landlord for reclaiming ownership in other premises in Palo Alto will they got compensated?
enough is enough!


Like this comment
Posted by BMR units
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

It's possible that many BV residents would not qualify for BMR units due to household income and/or immigration status.


7 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2015 at 1:17 pm

[Portion removed.] The Jissers have fulfilled ALL the requirements set forth by the city and then some. The BV residents are getting fair compensation for the inconvenience of having to move. There are plenty of people that drive into Palo Alto from as far as Tracy, everyday to work here. I don't hear them rising up and telling their employers that it's a real inconvenience for them to have to commute from such a distance. People seem to always find a way. Relative to the school situation, California ranks 48th in the country. Granted, Palo Alto schools do a pretty good job in California, but compared to the best schools in the nation? Debatable. This should not have been brought up for review. Judge Labadie has ruled for the owner, fair and square. this is a waste of time and taxpayer money. We don't need any more drama over this.


7 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm

@Jonathan Brown....there HAS been a judgment in favor of the property owner. Due diligence was proven and the closure was approved, paving the way for the sale. This hearing will be no more than a dog and pony show. Lawyers will drag out crying kids, etc, etc. Some city council members will pretend to be sympathetic to the BV residents and it will and SHOULD end in favor of the property owner.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2015 at 1:39 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm

@Joe,
[Portion removed.]

You said it yourself: mobil home owners are property owners themselves, not just renters. They have, proportional to their own means and personal wealth, as great a stake in what is going on as the park owner. This is not comparable to a rental situation, the mobile home owners are renters AND property owners. Very comparable to the professors with their large houses on leased Stanford land. If Stanford decided it wanted to up and sell that land, it's not as simple as if there was nothing on it already, or if the properties were all just rentals, because people have assets they purchased and invested in on that land.

I hope that makes it a little more clear. This isn't just about compassion, though I hope there will be compassion. And it's not just about what's best for our community as a whole, though I hope people understand that retaining a cohesive community at Buena Vista is desired by a majority of residents on this side of town who prefer diversity in our community and chose this side of town because it is more diverse and low-key, and retaining the park will help retain some of the low-key character of the area. But realize, it's as much about property rights and justice for the mobile home owners who do have rights and much more difficult road enforcing the spirit of the law than the park owner. The mobile home owners face more severe consequences if their end of the bargain is not adjudicated fairly. They have the right to appeal. even Jisser's lawyers acknowledge that and are only going after parsing language.


9 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Watch out for an expensive lawsuit from the owner, against the city. And don't think that the owners will pay for it, because there are interested private property rights public law firms that may be willing to take it on.

Palo Alto just passed a tax issue to accumulate money to pay for infrastructure...are we going to allow that money to be frittered away in court costs (or direct investment in BV)?

This is an appeal too far....


1 person likes this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Joe
[Portion removed.]

They bought their homes. In so doing they gained whatever rights go with the particular form of home ownership they were able to secure. What those rights are under Palo Alto's mobile home closure ordinance is unclear because this is the first (and final, since there are no other mobile home parks in PA) test of the law.

Don't know if you're an owner or a renter, but I expect you count on the law to support whatever rights you believe you have, as do I. I don't understand why so many posters are vociferously rooting against the Buena Vista residents. What do they fear?


1 person likes this
Posted by Homeowner
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 3:13 pm

That's the way it is moving forward. Jisser is just out of luck for owing property in PA.


1 person likes this
Posted by Winter dellenbach
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

A friend just told me I was asked a question above about "negotiated settlement". Sure, a good negotiated settlement among the interested parties is timely and I assume the city would welcome it. It would be complicated, so left to those with the know how.

What can people do now to support residents at BV? All the following are important and directly helpful. Residents would have been long gone had we (residents & supporters) not continued the following: 1. Pay attention to the BV issue by reading the local papers and PA Online. 2. Keep BV in the public eye - write an occasional letter (250 words max) to the editor of the papers, cc the city council. 3. At council oral communication time, make a 3 min. comment on BV to council members between next Mondays meeting and the April Appeal. 4. Show up at the Appeal (details later) and wear a supporter sticker. 5. Sign up as a Friend of Buena Vista by going to: fobv.com.

Remember - no doors have closed, so all doors are open.


1 person likes this
Posted by legal maneuvering
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 13, 2015 at 4:07 pm

It is in the best interest of the CC to dot all i's and cross all t's to avoid a costly lawsuit from BV residents and their supporters. This will prolong the drama and, possibly, induce Jisser to increase his compensation to the BV residents to mitigate their losses. OTOH the park will inevitably close.


8 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2015 at 4:16 pm

If City of Palo Alto rejects Jisser family's plan, I'd recommend Mr. Jisser to contact Palo Alto developer Charles "Chop" Keenan. He won a case against City of Halfmoon Bay. The fine was so huge, $36M, it almost bankrupted Halfmoon Bay city government.

While that case is not about low-income housing, the basic thesis is the same. It's about private property rights. I don't see how a judge e.g. Vaughn Walker can support ludicrous claims by BV residents. This is America, not Venezuela.

City council must be aware. Tax dollars should neither be spent to "sweeten" the deal for BV residents now, nor on a potentially huge fine rewarded to Mr. Jisser later.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Wow. I'm watching this for future reference when houses are taken for HSR and/or grade separation. Who will get to play the bad guy, State of California, Caltrain, or City of Palo Alto? What compensation will be fair? I barely remember the unhappiness when Oregon Expressway displaced many families, though I think in 1962 most were able to remain in Palo Alto. Yes, different situations, but still getting thrown out of a home.


1 person likes this
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm

M2grs - [Portion removed.]

It's astounding, overall, that as long as this park has been in the news, so few commenters have learned anything about mobile home park law so that their comments reflect any relevant knowledge.


6 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm

One might also ask what can we do to support the Jisser family? They have been more than fair with the BV residents in providing an agreement that exceeds what the city recommended. Judge Labadie has already determined that the offer was fair.

If left to public opinion, my guess is that there would be overwhelming support for the property owner. Just take a moment and put yourselves in Jisser's shoes. What would you want for your family?


5 people like this
Posted by Hello
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Oh well, I hope the Jissers got money for the lawyers. They can't do anything with this land for many years to come while the issue winds itself through the courts. Only in Palo Alto ;)


6 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2015 at 5:21 pm

To those of you who support mr jisser and think he is getting a raw deal from the city and " friends of BV". ( not to mention the fact that we have to pay millions to settle a lawsuit he will file against the city), I suggest a variation of winters suggestions:

1. Pay attention to the BV issue by reading the local papers and PA Online
. 2. Keep Jisser in the public eye - write an occasional letter (250 words max) to the editor of the papers, cc the city council, supporting mr jisser and private property rights
3. At council oral communication time, make a 3 min. comment on Mr jisser and his rights to council members between next Mondays meeting and the April Appeal.
4. Show up at the Appeal (details later) and support mr jisser
. 5. DO NOT Sign up as a Friend of Buena Vista by going to: fobv.com. , since there seems to be no regard for jissers rights with this group


5 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2015 at 5:22 pm

@Memories, I don't claim to be an expert in mobile park law. But mobile park closures are nothing new. Most recent example that I recall is the one close to Winchester House in San Jose. In fact I think the mother of the landowner lives in the mobile park. But still it is getting closed down. The law has run its course in the case of BV. The City should not intervene.

@musical, thanks for bringing up HSR. If city council sides with BV residents against Mr. Jisser it will weaken itself in standing against HSR, because HSR will say that since the city chooses to sacrifice Mr. Jisser for "the greater good of BV residents", HSR can do the same and sacrifice entire Palo Alto for "the greater good of all Californians".

See, respect of private property rights is the foundation for our way of life. If we don't respect that right towards some of our own, we do ourselves a disservice.


Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Buying the land will be into the millions, upgrading the park is not very costly and it does have to brought up to code. The answer is to find a nice empty parcel of land to build a new BV Park but where to find land for a replacement is the next problem.

Does Stanford have empty land on their property seeing that they are in the rental business also.


2 people like this
Posted by Phil
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 13, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Vinod Khosla & Martins Beach.
Web Link

Vinod Khosla challenges judge’s order to open Martins Beach gate
By Peter Fimrite
Updated 10:50 am, Thursday, December 18, 2014
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by mary
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 13, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Funny only Kniss is quoted.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Barron Park

on Jan 13, 2015 at 8:20 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


3 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 13, 2015 at 8:26 pm

The owner has begun his lawsuit. Cc members based the decision on compassion not law. The owner had no lawsuit till now. None of the cc members had any info on their own ordinance, nor did they have any knowledge in the law. Tax dollars are now wasted. Great job cc members in wasting tax dollars.


Like this comment
Posted by To Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:46 pm

Bob, how do you know that the owner has begun a lawsuit? It seems that after patiently waiting 10 years to close BV, with the end now in sight, he would simply wait a bit longer for this final appeal to run its course.


1 person likes this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:53 pm

It sounded like the lawsuit was the end game but no grounds earlier on. Now that the cc formally ignored the law they had grounds for a suit. Almost felt like they had no intention of closing. Also we the rent increase in a few years they will be able to exonomcally evict the tenants.


1 person likes this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2015 at 8:01 am

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 14, 2015 at 8:32 am

Can we all at least get on the same page...the property owners want to close the park and then redevelop the property. At this time there is no buyer.


3 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 14, 2015 at 8:55 am

This is really sad for the Jissers from what I have read so far. So if Bob's hunch above is correct that is a lawsuit is forthcoming, then the Jissers predicament will get even worse. Once a lawsuit starts, an injunction maybe put in place where BV residents could stop making rents altogether while the court weighs in. I have been there done that. What a nightmare for all homeowners and landowners. In addition, as a tax payer in PA, our tax bill will go up as always since thus issue will not help the bottom line.

My sympathy goes out for the Jissers. This will take years not months.


Like this comment
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 14, 2015 at 9:16 am

"Funny only Kniss is quoted."

Easily explained. Kniss' friend and supporter Jim Baer owns the building that the Weekly occupies.


1 person likes this
Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2015 at 11:22 am

I have not followed the Buena Vista debate closely. What caught my attention was a report from Stanford University that makes clear how valuable BV is to its residents. Acknowledged as a multi-ethnic, low-income group, the home owners in BV model principles of community in the best sense. They support each other, they take care of the children as a community, they value education, and some of their children go on to college. It seems to me that we should want to keep this small gem where it is. I don't want to penalize the land owner, but it would be a shame to send current BV residents into the diaspora.... No amount of money can re-create what BV residents have achieved. Here's the Stanford Report FYI Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 14, 2015 at 11:32 am

Bob,
If Jisser is unhappy with what is happening, he can almost certainly negotiate a deal. The community is behind the City doing something, there is now a majority city council sympathetic to doing something, and money in the affordable housing fund (that can't go to other civic purposes, just affordable housing) that could go toward making a deal that is ultimately even more financially attractive than the one Jisser had with Prometheus. Not only could Jisser avoid the costs of closing the park, he could probably work out some kind of tax write-off in the situation because of the non-profit residents group. If he plays his cards right, he will also be remembered as a hero and not a villain, for the same exact deal.

I really have trouble working up any tears for whether Jisser will make a little more or less than $30 million. Meanwhile, 400 low-income residents who put a larger amount of their assets into their properties face a very different future if the spirit of the law isn't honored.


7 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 14, 2015 at 1:04 pm

This decision by cc are both unfair and unconstitutional to the Jissers. It's a real slap in the face for all PA property owners who pay property taxes into the city coffer year in and year out so that these funds can now be misused to fight lawsuit due to their poor decision making process. Of course this will not be final and cc decision will be struck down in Federal district court with so many precedents already existed that are in favor of land ownership rights.

The only tragic thing here is the Jissers will have to continue to play this issue out for years to come. In my case, I had only one property with one deadbeat renter. It took well over 8 months to evict this person out of my property. During that whole time, this renter did not pay any rent to me. Rent was for $3500/month at the tine so you can do the math. It's a real travesty of justice as to how we treat people who had worked hard and invest their money correctly just to be shafted by local ordinance at the end.


4 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 14, 2015 at 3:09 pm

@Me,
What about the Buena Vista Mobile Home owner property rights? Do you not care about them because they are just not as wealthy as Jisser?

If Jisser doesn't want a suit, he doesn't have to wage one. The City has attorneys on staff, and the costs are going to be a lot more odious for Jisser. And he may lose.

Whereas he could look for a deal now instead that works out better financially than the former Prometheus sale. If Jisser is realistic, he will recognize that this is the same neighborhood that prevented upzoning in the Maybell situation, and if anyone is successful at evicting residents, no way ever will anyone upzon e that property. It's not worth as much to a subsequent owner for that reason. Jisser could work out a sweet deal now that doesn't involve a lawsuit.


8 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 14, 2015 at 3:44 pm

@ S. Zimmerman...as you are new to the discussion, then you might want to review the methods and questions that pollsters employed. The survey has been widely viewed as biased and skewed towards the BV residents.

@ Greenacres. The BV resident's property rights are for what they own, which (in most cases) are their trailers and personal belongings. The Jissers own the land and the improvements on that land. The BV residents have mobile home renters' rights as outlined by the State and certain provisions imposed by the City of Palo Alto. These are not property rights. The BV residents have no legal claim of property rights in terms of the real estate itself.

There is no dispute that the Jissers own the land and may close the park and/or sell the property. The bottom line is whether the Jissers have satisfied all State and City requirements to close the park...sale, no-sale, develop, no-develop, up-zone, no-up-zone, the Jissers plan to close the park. Like it or not it is their right to do so.

What is interesting is that so many people on this forum have interpreted any support towards the Jisser's right to close the property as "hate" towards the BV residents. Convenient - yes. Accurate - no.

The Jissers have the right to close the trailer park. The BV residents are entitled fair compensation towards relocation costs. That's the way the law is written and that's the bottom line.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 14, 2015 at 3:55 pm

In other words, nobody else in Palo Alto should stick their nose into this??


7 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm

@Greenacres- why would you think he may lose? Are you implying local ordinance trumps federal statutes? 40 + years ago local ordinance instituted in the Deep South were racist agains blacks. It was struck down to be unconstitutional and the rest was history. I view this issue to be the same way. We got people in cc had lost their ways and forgotten who they really serve. Their poor decision will eventually be struck down in the ninth district court to be unconstitutional - which I doubt this case will go that far.

As for the BV residents I have nothing against them. This is a battle between right and wrong. Any business owner in America has the right to close its door and Jissers is no different. BV residents know that they are renting a lot to park their mobile home when they rolled in and they know in the back of their heads that there may be a time for them to roll out. And this is the time.

As your comments regarding the city has attorney on staff. Are you also implying that these city lawyers show up for free? Of course not. They are being paid by Yours Truly and manny other tax payers in PA. I want these guys to be put to good use and not have to defend the city on some dumb lawsuit in ninth district US court. Any sensible counsel knows he/ she can not win based on an abundant of precedents existed thus far.


6 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 14, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Define stick your nose in it.

If you mean support the BV residents to ensure that they get all that is due to them under the law (relocation fees), by all means sniff away.

Trying to stop the lawful closure and/or sale of the land by delaying and/or creating obstacles that does nothing more than create added expense for the State, the City and the private property owner. While legal,...it just causes further entrenchment and resentment between the two litigants more than anything else. Just what everyone needs.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

What I gather from what I've read and heard about Buena Vista over the past couple of years is that a large part of the Palo Alto community feels that there is a significant public benefit to having the families at Buena Vista continue as our friends and neighbors. (I acknowledge that many others see no such benefit.)

Right now, BV residents are housed in small, crowded-together mobile homes on an ill-maintained trailer court whose sole positive feature is its location. That doesn't need to be, and in my opinion shouldn't be, the case over the long term. Fair compensation for relocation of those who wish to leave is an important issue to resolve. Good, affordable housing for the families who want to remain in Palo Alto is even more important..

I look forward to a discussion about finding a way to develop the property that will produce attractive, affordable housing at that site that benefits not only the current residents of BV, but many others over the next half century. That's a challenge worthy of a city looking for a way to maintain its progressive, can-do reputation.


2 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2015 at 6:26 pm

When city loses its case, not only it will have to pay a hefty refine to Mr. Jisser, it will be sued by BV residents, because BV will claim that the city mislead them into believing that they will get more. Since they won't get it from Mr. Jisser they will sue the city to get it. The city will be on the hook.

I won't be surprised if this is the secrete Plan B (or Plan C) of BV lawyers.


5 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2015 at 9:01 pm

This is getting utterly ridiculous. They have already been given too much time. Just close the place.


Like this comment
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Nayeli, it looks like your local elected officials disagree. Perhaps you should let them know your opinion.


3 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 14, 2015 at 11:38 pm

@Jerry Underdal,

That's a nice vision, but pursuing that is so unrealistic, you would end up hurting the people you are trying to help.

The only hope of retaining the property as low-income is if somehow Jisser sells it to the mobile home park nonprofit. (That could end up being a good deal for him, and would certainly get him his money soon enough to invest it in the next spring/summer real estate cycle.) If that happens, the residents can stay and even apply for grants to improve the park. This is the best outcome. Maybe some people look down on their homes, but it is the low-key nature that keeps it affordable. If all this got settled somehow, it can be improved, though.

If somehow another entity purchased the property to build there, the residents would still be evicted. They would lose their assets and autonomy, and have to enroll in a government program that may not even be allowed to give them preference. The people living there chose to live there over subsidized housing. It may make no difference to you, and when push comes to shove, maybe some will be glad to take anything, but retaining and improving rather than razing the park is probably better for the residents.

New housing is so expensive. Are there still empty BMR units in our system? Wasn't there an article in the Weekly not that long ago about intergenerational housing? Maybe that's one way to increase housing stock cheaply, for a wider demographic, without millions of dollars -- transitioning some of the stock to intergenerational housing in order to make more spaces and make new community bonds. Can some of the older stock be upgraded and divided into smaller but nicer units? It's still not going to help at BV, but it might make for more spaces without requiring major new buildings so that no one begrudges the money getting spent to help purchase BV, should it become possible.


5 people like this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 7:18 am

Plz close this camp site ASAP. It's an eye sore


5 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 9:44 am

An eye sore and drug depot. Had to stop my son from walking down Los Robles, two gentleman from the park offered him meth for free. Called the the police twice already.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 10:44 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Greenacres,

Being fixed on a particular outcome there is hard for me to justify when the situation is so fluid and uncertain. I have no problem with your scenario provided that there is a path for people who live there to have improved housing over time. Have you thought about next steps if the plan you outline can't be realized? As we've seen on this thread, there is significant opposition to doing anything other than wave goodbye as our neighbors leave for parts unknown with the compensation judged legally adequate by the administrative judge.


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2015 at 1:14 pm

>They bought their homes.

Actually, they bought mobile homes—which are not the same thing as permanent real estate. People who purchase this sort of housing have made it clear to themselves, and others, that they are prepared to move to another location when the mood strikes them—without having to sell their home, or go through a lot of difficult exit procedures.

Mobile homes are not the same thing as fixed site homes. For one thing, mobile homes are not taxed the same way that “secured property” is taxed. And this is of some importance in a Basic Aid School District.


> In so doing they gained whatever rights go with the
> particular form of home ownership they were able to secure.

This is clearly an example of circular/unclear logic—that is by no means helpful.

> What those rights are under Palo Alto's mobile home closure ordinance is
> unclear because this is the first (and final, since there are no other
> mobile home parks in PA) test of the law.

The original (and now deleted posting) raised the question—why does Palo Alto have a “Trailer Park Ordinance”?

Can you, or anyone, explain to us why people living in mobile homes should be “protected”, or given any rights that exceed other renters? (This is an important question, given the frequentcy that apartment buildings are converted to condos.)

> Don't know if you're an owner or a renter, but I expect you count
> on the law to support whatever rights you believe you have, as do

I hope you understand that “the Law” gives the City the right to take your property and sell it to a friend of a Council Member using any number of crazy interpretations of “eminent domain” theory that have become outrageous since the Supreme Court ruled on Kelo vs New London.

At some point, the law is just words on a piece of paper. Again, I ask you—why should people living in mobile homes have special protections that other people do not?


3 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 15, 2015 at 1:27 pm

@ Jerry Underdal,

I do appreciate your sentiment, but new BMR housing at that site in particular is pretty unrealistic, and if it were doable, saving the park itself would be doable, an that is the preference. If the site can be purchased and retained as a mobile home park, it would be eligible for state grants through the non-profit for improvements, and the residents then would need the guidance and assistance of those who know to apply.

I don't think you should take the comments on these BV threads to be representative of the community as a whole, especially since there is so much money involved for one party, and the opinions don't reflect what many of us actually hear in the community. Take a look at how HSR political threads read and have so many comments from obvious outsiders and contrast with something only locals would ever read or post to. You'll see which is closer in feel...

I think Winter Dellenbach and FOBV are thinking of all possibilities. As you know from past posts, my own desire is to get together people willing to put together an organization to crowdsource affordable housing, so that it didn't just help possibly purchase this site to keep it affordable, while also making the seller a happy guy, but went on to help save other low-income communities around the Bay Area. That kind of effort is doable, it just needs someone with vision and time to lead, and usually someone at the front end to find and convince that person or persons to do it (something I have not had the time to do). We have a number of organizations in our community that have the expertise and probably the interest - LinkedIn, Palantir.

I have not found alternative proposals to CC in the past to improve the capacity of BMR housing in creative ways to be successful, but maybe the new council will be more open. Times have changed. However, for this particular community, saving the community is an important goal, too.


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 15, 2015 at 1:33 pm

@Jerry,

I guess the other point I would try to make to you is that talk is cheap. To save BV, there has to be a doable path. From out here in the sidelines, it's hard to tell if there is a specific Plan A, Plan B, Plan C to achieve the goal, or if there are a lot of ideas and the hope is one might pan out. My hope of course is the former and the rest of us are in the dark because it's important not to show all the cards especially since one of the biggest cards is the result of the settlement negotiation.

My own sense is that there is a lot of goodwill toward the residents and inclination to save the park.


5 people like this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 1:37 pm

@Joe - you hit the nail right on the head. @Me above also stated something similar to what you said. Mobile residents rolled in knowing that at some point they will need to roll out. It's never meant to be a permanent structure. either cc is wasting all tax payers money or they are ensuring that all grievances are followed through before eviction starts. I hope it is the latter. otherwise Jissers will sue the city for years of investment losses that he had to endure and we will all have to pay for this stupid mistake. The logic of BV mobile home supporters do not even pass the litmus test - not even close! with all the novices here that can sniff out the bs how can this case even stand in the court of law?

Plz close this camp site down ASAP. It is truly an eye sore.


3 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 15, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Linus,
That is unfortunately a misunderstanding of what a mobile home park is. It's not an RV park, in fact the definition of a mobile home in state code does not have anything in it about the home being mobile once in place. Laws regarding this type of manufactured home actually take into account the fact that once in place, most "mobile" homes are effectively no longer mobile.

Mobile homes are in fact meant to be affordable, often permanent structures. They may not meet your standards, but people choose to live in them for their affordability. And they invest in them, and can sell that investment just as someone else would sell a condo.

If the park being an "eye sore" is the sole reason to want it closed, I can think of a long list of new buildings and developments around town that fit that bill far better and would be applauded if they were torn down, but most people in this town have never even been inside the park to even judge what it looks like, they just speak from prejudice. It sits behind a gas station, but you could make it look beautiful from the street for $15,000 in hardscape and plants, and if residents association owned the park, they would have the incentive to improve it. It's not a reason to evict the residents.


4 people like this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Greenacres I don't believe anyone on this board wanted people to be homeless. I believe compassion is in everyone's vein but it has to be within reason and achievable. That said, society can only work if rule of laws are to be followed otherwise we would ended up in chaos.

My problem here is Jisser's complaint does have more than enough merit to seek relief from the court. Based on what I read, it's hard for me to keep my mouth shut knowing this man's rights have been violated. At the local level it may not be clear to all. But should this case get litigated further, and I am assuming involving Federal Circuit, I cannot see how BV residents can win this over Jissers. And as always, tax payer will ultimately be the one to foot the bill for mistakes made by short-sighted local cc members.


4 people like this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 4:28 pm

One more thing....when Jissers win the case, knowing how lawyers work, they will be hurling an entire kitchen sink at our city. Damages will for sure be in the multi millions to ensure his team of lawyers are well fed. Really sad


4 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Have any tenants moved out yet??? It's been over two year, that in itself should be notice enough. And please stop blaming the owner on the run down trailers. He only leased land to these people, not home.

If the home is run down it should be the mobile home owners responsibility not the land owner.


3 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 15, 2015 at 8:55 pm

@Bob,

The systems and exterior of the park are actually the land owner's domain. If the park doesn't look attractive from the outside, which is mostly what people comment on, it's the land owner people have issue with. Most people can't see the trailers.

You are right, the land owner doesn't lease the homes to people, just the land they sit on. This is a comparable situation to Stanford neighborhoods - professors buy those large beautiful houses but lease the land from Stanford. The professors put a lot of money into those homes. The residents of Buena Vista, proportionally to their incomes, put just as much into their homes. As a result of the unique vulnerability of someone owning an asset sitting on leased land, they have rights that renters don't have.

The mobile home owners have rights, even that is not in dispute by Jisser's lawyers who are only trying to parse language, they're not even denying the process is legitimate. I find it really sad that people don't even see their prejudice in ignoring the rights of mobile home home owners because of their socioeconomic status. The process is the process.

I think Jisser has the right to make money from his property. He also understood the business he was getting into and made lots of money, and will make lots of money. Everything else comes with the territory.

Palantir: you have lots of young people interested in housing options. How about helping to keep this one in Palo Alto by creating a platform for crowdsourcing funds to preserve communities of affordable housing like this one? Nature Conservancy meets Habitat for Humanity, allowing the residents to buy the park through their nonprofit, even while the property itself remains affordable through a regulatory agreement. (Search on my moniker and BV for details in previous discussions.) Everyone has their price -- this could be a big win for everyone. It needs expertise and energy to make it happen. Palo Alto Forward, how about it?


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 9:13 pm

@greenacres - Your opinion is that Jisser should have 2 choices -

He should be forced to continue to operate a business he wants to shut down OR
He should be forced to sell the business.

From what I understand, he wants to close BV (and that has been known for 10-15 years) and he does not want to sell. Although it affects so many people, BV is a business. So is HP, they have laid off people in Palo Alto. Businesses close, they expand, they go bankrupt. As a community we should focus on helping the residents of BV find homes as close to Palo Alto as possible.

Ff the City really cared, they would have been placing the residents of BV into the units of affordable housing built since Jisser told the City of his plans to close BV. There have been at least 120 units of affordable housing built in Palo Alto in the last 15 years, enough to house all the BV residents


1 person likes this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 16, 2015 at 1:52 pm

I wonder if cc members consult city attorney's office before making such a dumb move on this!? I did NOT vote for these knuckleheads


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 16, 2015 at 5:16 pm

@dave. They did not. I was at the meeting. Something about 900 pages and they did not read them or see them prior to the meeting. The rest of us would get fired if we worked like that.


Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 16, 2015 at 5:51 pm

@Bob- unbelievable. Like you said, no one can operate this way without serious consequence. However cc did w/o consulting City Attorney's office. These city lawyers are there for a reason.

Do you know if there is a Waste Fraud and Abuse like on the federal level that I can contact? Obviously the cc members don't give a hoot what the consequences maybe because they will use PA homeowner like an ATM machine. We need to collectively as citizens of this town and stop this nonsense. @linus above sounds like he had experienced lawsuits. Just unbelievable!


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 16, 2015 at 6:34 pm

I was looking into it but I don't believe it will make a difference. Owner filed in 2012 and has been dealing with this since. I believe they are done. The appeals may not happen, the owner may elect to have a California court judge look into this. If the judge ruled the appeal was filed wrong the appeals will not happen. The only thing left would be to calculate damages. Being that the developed pulled an$30m dollar contract? This can get very expensive very fast for Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm

Bob thanks. I am beside myself and furious about this. CC just basically handed public funds to all the trial lawyers at our expense.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 16, 2015 at 10:43 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Dave, I don't know whether this will please or further outrage but at least it is factual. The city attorney Molly Stump is present and gives legal advice to the city council frequently during city council meetings. The 900 pages reference was to documentation that city council needs to become familiar with before the appeal is heard.


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 18, 2015 at 12:15 am

@ Palo alto resident,

"@greenacres - Your opinion is that Jisser should have 2 choices -
He should be forced to continue to operate a business he wants to shut down OR
He should be forced to sell the business. "

? Huh? Nowhere have I suggested anything even close to this. I have suggested things like setting up a crowdfunding for helping to preserve affordable housing and save existing residents from being evicted because of rapid gentrification. Everyone has their price - Jisser could say no, but coming up with an offer that might be more attractive and lucrative and wouldn't involve years in court is just business, and advantageous business for pretty much everyone involved.

I have never, not once, suggested anything like having Jisser continuing to operate the business. You just simply haven't read what I've written.

I don't believe in forcing anyone to do anything here. The law should be followed though, and everyone's rights must be respected, including those of the property owners on all sides, especially the residents of the park.


2 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2015 at 2:16 am

If the residents want to stay in the park, their last and best option is to get the city to buy it. There doesn't seem to be any support to do this, but you're certainly welcome to try. I'm sure you're aware that there are lots of competing interests for the funds you'll need.

Buena Vista supporters have to realize two things. First, now that the RIR (relocation impart report) is complete, the battle has shifted. This is no longer a "David versus Goliath" one-sided kind of story. Residents must decide between trying to stay in the park forever or maximizing their relocation compensation. Protracted legal action cuts both ways. In the worst case, many residents could end up with almost nothing in compensation from the park owner. Sad, but true, because last Monday's decision by council puts a tremendous burden on the city to stand by its closure ordinance. If elements of the closure ordinance get struck down in court, it's game over for the residents in travel trailers, RV's and other non-mobile home type of residences.

Second, council's appeal hearing is going to be a "quasi-judicial" proceeding. Basically, unlike a "legislative" proceeding where the city creates ordinances (laws), this hearing cannot be a popularity contest. If council changes the closure compensation for reasons not supported by the ordinance, the park owner will be able to claim a violation of "due process" and invalidate the council proceeding.

The best thing that could happen right now is that the city sits down with the owner and residents and works out a deal before the closure appeal gets heard. Lots of other cities do this during mobile home park closures. Why hasn't the city council done this? Part of the reason is that nobody really knows what the residents want! Stanford did a survey of the households in Barron Park, but never did a survey of the Buena Vista residents themselves. Our city attorney's office, totally clueless about mobile home law, claims it can't be done. But, it's now time for the city to step in and fix the mess they created. Hopefully, at least some of the council will show leadership and put an end to this nonsense that's gone on for way too long.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2015 at 2:27 am

Bill, great post!

Yes, the lead for handling the Buena Vista closure should have never been given to the City Attorney's office. I think that is a fundamental lesson lost in this debate. Other California cities let their planning and community development agencies take the lead and they are much more in touch with the salient issues that need to be addressed in the Buena Vista closure.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 18, 2015 at 9:00 am

@greenacres -

My comment about Jisser's your view of Jissers choices -"
"He should be forced to continue to operate a business he wants to shut down" he is currently being forced to do exactly exactly that do this appeal. He should be going thru the shut down process at this point.

"He should be forced to sell the business" All your creative ideas would require Jisser to sell, something he does not appear to want to do.

So the current situation is forcing him to continue to operate a business he wants to close. And all of your suggestions would require him to sell.


1 person likes this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 18, 2015 at 7:01 pm

@Bill,
"The best thing that could happen right now is that the city sits down with the owner and residents and works out a deal before the closure appeal gets heard. Lots of other cities do this during mobile home park closures. Why hasn't the city council done this?"

I agree that negotiation is definitely preferable. I think the answer to your question is in the not-too-distant past, recall the last City Council had been treating zoning like it didn't exist, and this got developers counting on being able to put dramatically upzoned developments in, ratcheting up the value and interest in buying up property and building up. Recall Prometheus - the company that our mayor at the time had been lead of acquisitions for, I've heard - had been in contract with the seller and had a proposal for something like 4 times the max under zoning on the property. There was no talking or negotiating with that, especially when, before the Maybell referendum and after High Street, the Council felt the residents of Palo Alto could never win a land use referendum and stop the wholesale violations of our zoning rules.

Had that not been the backdrop, it's very possible the residents putting together a deal to purchase the property could have seemed like a great way to make millions and make a clean break. Jisser could have chosen that as well, but made a decision to go for more, counting on the breaking of the zoning rules. Sorry, that doesn't incline me to feel sorry for him. He's going to be a rich man, and the only question is how rich and after how much aggravation. His choice.

@palo alto resident,
It's all business, man. Jisser will make whatever decision works best for him. I haven't suggested anyone force him to do anything. Jisser may have choices in which he has to remember that there are other human beings with rights on the other side of the table, but that's not the same as forcing him to do anything. Like Bill, I think the City Council should try to help work out a deal that works best for everyone.

If there are others competing for the affordable housing funds, they should be brought in the discussion. If no one else, they should be understanding about the human side of this. Are they doing what they are doing for the sake of buildings or the sake of people? They exist for the latter, and should understand. The affordable housing funds will be replenished soon enough. The goal of saving the park is probably the best thing anyone interested in affordable housing could do for affordable housing in this town, maybe ever at this point.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm

The owner should sue the city to delay the closure, raise the rent over the next few years and force the tenants out. The rent could only go so high until an apartment becomes more attractive. It's a win win for the owner. He gets, the income, save the closure costs, and will easly win a settlement from the city. This would be the ultimate justice for such an unconstitutional treatment.


Like this comment
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Unconditional? Please.


1 person likes this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 18, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Greenacres your logic is circular with lots of "you should" , "he could" and a bunch of non binding suggestions which makes no sense at all and will not even hold up in real court. I tried to follow your posting but give up after a few minutes. The salient points here are

1) Jissers wanted to sell BV park lot several years back
2) buyer pulled out after mobile hone renters with support of cc put up several road blocks to sell/redevelop the site
3) mobile park renters and the city were notified of his intention to just close it down completely after the impending sales fell through
4) cc approves mobile residents to appeal the closure

That is it. Once step 4 is completed and if PA cc continues to put up road blocks, I strongly believe the city has a huge law suit on its hand. My rights and all PA tax payers rights are being trampled on if this occurred since public funds will be used to defend the city. I believe the rights of an entire city is more important than any small group here.


1 person likes this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 18, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Greenacres btw you continue to point out that Jissers is a rich man. Your point regarding Jissers state of being wealthy is none of your business. The bone of contention here is his rights to close down his business. The US Constitution will support him and millions of other business owners in America in their rights to either open, close or go bankrupt as a way to move forward. You are welcome to buy Jissers lot and give it to the mobile residents. However, please do not preach humanity through the use of someone else wallet. When PA loses this case in circuit court of appeals, mine and all PA tax payers money will have to be used to defend and payout for damages


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 18, 2015 at 9:18 pm

I'll post it again. This should be the last post it is the most rewarding for such an unconstitutional treatment

The owner should sue the city to delay the closure, raise the rent over the next few years and force the tenants out. The rent could only go so high until an apartment becomes more attractive. It's a win win for the owner. He gets, the income, save the closure costs, and will easly win a settlement from the city. This would be the ultimate justice for such an unconstitutional treatment.


1 person likes this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 18, 2015 at 10:05 pm

Linus,

This sounds like a lot of bluster. Jisser didn't have any problem when he stood to make a lot of money on a development that would have overflowed the local schools and infrastructure at many times the zoning. That would have cost the taxpayers, too. If the City gets sued, the City has attorneys on staff but Jisser will have to pay his. And his court costs. And he may lose, too. Or he may win, and maybe it won't end up making economic sense like settling and working out a deal now would.

I"m just a commenter out here in the public expressing an opinion, which is what these forums are for. Me thinks thou doth protest too much. Mostly, I would love to see a way to crowdsource the funds to help purchase the park, without asking the City for help, and enough to make an attractive offer to the seller. An organization that existed to raise funds for affordable housing could end up being structured as a decent investment while also having a regulatory agreement to keep the property BMR and allow the residents to accumulate some wealth. Maybe Jisser would never want to sell for any money but I doubt it, like I said, it's just business. The great thing about a crowdfunding entity to save low-income people from displacement in places of rapid gentrification would be that it could take financial commitments that wouldn't be charged unless the deal went through.


Like this comment
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 18, 2015 at 10:23 pm

Greenacres- perhaps crowdsource funding. Fine. But remember, you got legal process to look out for. Maybe Jissers is a heartless capitalist pig or maybe he is mother Theresa depends on who you ask. I just wanted to let you know that the appellate court do not care but will look at the facts, rules and application of laws to disposition the case .... Just saying.

Meanwhile, you me and Yes...including BV residents will ended up with a huge bag of bills.


1 person likes this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 19, 2015 at 12:12 am

Linus,

You and me will end up with a much bigger bag of bills if we have to build more schools because of a sudden jump in the number of students because of major developments. That's not an incremental cost, we are at capacity. etc.

On the other hand, we already pay for the lawyers on staff at the City. There is a legal process around mobile home park closures, and people on both sides have rights, that's playing out. We need to respect the process, every person in this society deserves as much, rich or poor.

I also hope that sharing ideas on these list will encourage those who have the resources to consider what they can do. I read a lot about how some of these companies care so much about the least among us, it would be amazing if they could put their programming expertise to good use with some of the legal volunteers, to create a crowdfunding for saving low-income residents from displacement in rapidly gentrifying areas and stabilizing communities like BV. That may or may not be enticing for Jisser, but we won't know unless there is a realistic option.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 4,251 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,455 views

Can we ever improve our schools?
By Diana Diamond | 7 comments | 1,323 views