News


County supervisors offer aid in preserving Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto

Proposal from Supervisors Joe Simitian, Dave Cortese would devote $8 million to affordable housing

New hope emerged this week for residents of Palo Alto's Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, who since 2012 have been fighting their landlord's attempt to sell the El Camino Real property and close their community. On Tuesday, Santa Clara County Supervisor and former Palo Alto Mayor Joe Simitian proposed to the Board of Supervisors that the county use $8 million from an affordable-housing fund to help prevent the mobile-home residents from being forced out of the city.

Supervisor Dave Cortese, president of the Board of Supervisors and chair of the board's Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee, joined Simitian in making the referral to the board, which will hear the proposal on Tuesday, Jan. 27.

"If the park closes, that's 400 low-income folks who are out on the street," Simitian said in a press release. "And God only knows if and when, and at what cost, we'll ever be able to replace that supply of affordable housing."

If the board approves Simitian's proposal, it would direct county staff to enter into talks with the City of Palo Alto, local housing organizations, the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Residents Association and other interested parties, for the purpose of securing the long-term viability of the mobile-home park as deed-restricted, affordable housing.

Up to $8 million would come from a housing fund tied to Stanford's general-use permit, established to create and preserve affordable housing within six miles of the university.

Winter Dellenbach, founder of the group Friends of Buena Vista, said Simitian's proposal is "logical, and (it's) frankly rather touching that he is making this effort."

"We've been at this for two and a half years, working on this issue. This is the first concrete action that's been taken," said Dellenbach, who lives in Barron Park, the neighborhood that includes the mobile-home park.

Affordable housing isn't an issue that is solely affecting Buena Vista; it's of concern to the city and county, she said.

"Affordable housing is like a spotted owl or any endangered species: If you don't take action to protect it, you won't have it anymore and you won't get it back," she said.

Dellenbach said the proposal is a tangible catalyst for local municipal and community organizations to work together. Nonprofit housing groups, including Palo Alto Housing Corporation, Eden Housing and MidPen Housing, have the funds and resources to preserve and steward affordable housing, she said.

Melodie Cheney, secretary of the Buena Vista Residents Association, also praised Simitian's proposal, calling it "a step in the right direction."

For Cheney, who has lived at Buena Vista for 14 years, the battle is not only to keep their homes but also to preserve the community.

"This is my first home. No matter where I go, it's not going to have the same feeling," she said. "This is where I, my friends, my neighbors -- my second family, as I call them -- can live and pay our bills. This is where the kids can have a great education. ... We want to stay together, we want to be active members of the society."

Buena Vista's future has been in jeopardy since the park's owners, Joe Jisser and his family, announced their plan to sell the property to a developer. Though the developer who initially intended to redevelop the site, Prometheus Real Estate Group, has pulled out of the deal, the Jissers are moving along with the park's shuttering. Residents have been battling the closure every step of the way, mounting street-side protests and testifying at hearings and before the Palo Alto City Council.

Last May, the Jissers received a boost when Administrative Judge Craig Labadie approved the Relocation Impact Report, a document that details the compensation that the park owner will provide to residents as part of the closure. The relocation package includes three months of rent, moving expenses, the appraised values of the mobile homes and a one-year rent subsidy equal to the difference between Buena Vista rents and those charged at residents' new homes.

The residents' group has appealed Labadie's ruling, and the Palo Alto City Council last week scheduled the appeal hearing for April.

In the supervisors' announcement this week, Cortese called mobile-home parks "an important part of our affordable-housing stock in this county."

"We need to take a stand for those dependent on these homes by pulling existing resources together," Cortese said.

Though it's far from clear whether the supervisors' proposal will do anything to prevent the Jissers from selling the park, it could offer Palo Alto some new resources to develop affordable housing.

Located at 3980 El Camino Real, Buena Vista is Palo Alto's sole mobile-home park. Approximately 100 low-income families, mostly Latino, live there.

Kyra Kazantzis, directing attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, which represents the park's residents, said in a statement that a pledge from the county "could make a huge difference in preserving the Buena Vista residents' affordable housing."

"We hope this pledge will leverage other funding sources to help get us closer to a viable solution," Kazantzis said.

Despite their proposal, Simitian and Cortese in their memo to colleagues on the Board of Supervisors stated that they are not envisioning the county's long-term involvement in Buena Vista.

"To be clear, we are not proposing that the county either own or operate the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park," the memo states. "Rather, we believe that the appropriate use of these existing funds might provide the impetus necessary to turn the current conversation away from enabling the conversion ... to determining if and how the property can be preserved as a long-term supply of deed-restricted affordable housing."

Related content:

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

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

10 people like this
Posted by Winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2015 at 1:40 pm

This is a great first step. Thank you Supervisor Simitan for you leadership.

Become a Friend of BV by going to fobv.org and help complete this gain toward a good outcome at Buena Vista.


2 people like this
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Winter - why has it taken this long for the county to get involved? They've been on the line all along with regard to the loss of affordable housing at BV.


16 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

I spoke with the owner. His position is the land is not for sale. They want to develop the land with the existing zoning. This will not help these people.


6 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Everything is for sale at the right price.


20 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Why drag out this issue? [Portion removed.] Close it down and let the landowner develop it into something much nicer and cleaner.


5 people like this
Posted by MKIE
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2015 at 8:33 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 20, 2015 at 9:32 pm

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 20, 2015 at 11:44 pm

Since politicians can play with taxpayers' money, they will bring up ideas and initiatives that will earn them some political goodwill, but it's the residents of this community(us) who will be paying for the consequences down the road.

The city should not get dragged into what's clearly a contractual situation between an owner and tenants, with legal arguments clearly supporting the owner's position.

For those who feel so strongly about supporting the residents of the mobile park, please open your wallets and homes to them, but don't expect taxpayers' money to support your private causes.


16 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 21, 2015 at 8:10 am

Another useless local county worker offering up millions in public funds in order to drag this thing out. Of course it's not his money and it's politically expedient to look good at someone else expense. Shameless and unbelievable!


8 people like this
Posted by better idea
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2015 at 9:26 am

I don't oppose local/regional government recognizing the need for affordable housing and thoughtfully creating plans to potentially incentivize developers.
I do oppose cherry picking individual projects (such as this one) to "buy" and "force" to remain a mobile home park or whatever - it is too liable to involve special interests, political connections. How to value the land/pricing has to involve market forces, not politicians currying favor and votes by spending taxpayer money.
I am sorry about the individual tenants' situations, but can't see it being appropriate for government to get involved in a specific private property case like this. We do have private property rights in this country, the right to re-develop and so on, within limits. It appears the owner is offering a generous relocation plan for tenants, that sounds like a good middle ground plan that is fair to all.


10 people like this
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 21, 2015 at 10:58 am

This is a great development.

If we combine the County Contribution with the Palo Alto Funds that were previously designated for Maybell, we really have a workable deal.

Add to it, some additional development on El Camino related to Senior Housing and now we have a project where everyone wins.

The Park should be valued as Zoned, and it is only the previous willingness to rezone and gift the landowner the value that has placed such a premium on the land. However, with the new money, we can pay the extra price and everyone wins.

Never mind what did, or did not happen before. Let's get on with creating a good thing. We will need to rely on the Council to enforce the zoning in this situation, or else a bidding war will ensue that may undo the good intentions of the community.

Best regards,

Tim Gray


7 people like this
Posted by Winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:02 am

This is a welcome opportunity for us all, most of all BV residents. The possibilities include preserving the village nature of BV and improving on it. Perhaps Stanford sesign and architecture schools could make it a project and see what might be possible. With county, city and other funds, there may be a happy ending that is a credit to Barron Park and Palo Alto. ,


4 people like this
Posted by jm
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:19 am

Does anyone know who was responsible for rezoning the land? Did a previous council vote to rezone the land and gift the owner this incredible bonanza , and if so why? And if so does anyone remember who was on the council at the time?


9 people like this
Posted by jack
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:47 am

dont get your hopes up high, the owner wants to develop the land not sell. they gain to profit over $50M. The zoning was rm15 prior to the owners in the 1980's. Nobody gifted them anything, it was an investment that paid off.


3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:47 am

The land has not been rezoned. The Prometheus proposal would have needed upzoning...but the purchase fell through after the Measure D vote. Jisser's redevelopment plan has not been filed - therefore no upzone request exists. At this point it is pure speculation by those on the sidelines.

IMHO any attempt to upzone will be voted down by the CC or we'll see Measure D Part II.


1 person likes this
Posted by jack
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:49 am

Winter, your efforts are amazing to say the least, unfortunately the land is so precious even a charity would find it more affordable to build housing for these people than buy the land a market value


1 person likes this
Posted by jack
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:51 am

well said Crescent Park Dad, but remember half the land at maybell sold for $22M that makes the BV site around $44M at the current zoning.


2 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Jan 21, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Yea, some creative thinking from the county.


7 people like this
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm

The Zoning has not been granted. Previously, it was expected to be granted, and that expectation caused the valuation.

The Maybell is not a good comparison, as it is zoned for higher density housing, just not the density that was opposed by measure d.

You see, as council that is loyal to the residents, and not swayed by the big money developers that want zoning changes, is the council that we need to have and keep in place.

My residential lot would be worth three to four times as much if the council were to grant me the rights to develop a four-story building, but that is not the zoning.

No exceptions for me. No exceptions for the owner of BV. If we were to decide that the community needed the extra dense zoning, the owner should need to pay that differential is the appraised value between the two uses to the City, as it is the City that then has to pay for the infrastructure that supports that additional density. The problem has been that the City has been up-zoning without any regard to the traffic, streets, and infrastructure costs, which has been pure and simple a gift to developers.

Thanks,

Tim Gray


2 people like this
Posted by jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 21, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Tim, Maybell and the BV site have exactly the same zoning RM15. The owner of BV asked for RM40 informally but nothing developed from that. Actually measure D was the reason they never applied for the RM40 upzone. Regardless it is zoned rm15 just like maybell. Thus the valuation of the land hold at around $44M


1 person likes this
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 21, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Thanks for the fact check. I had always understood it to be zoned for a mobile home park.

In that case, it is a big price, but we can be creative. Keep the hope.

Tim


6 people like this
Posted by sympathetic neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 21, 2015 at 1:55 pm

While I'm sympathetic to the housing plight of the BV residents, it should come as no surprise that living on leased land means eventually you'll be asked to move.
I grew up on the east coast in a community of about 600 families in what was originally beachfront camping sites dating back to the 1920s. The first renters pitched their tents in cow pastures, but eventually all self-built their own bungalows and paid land-rent to the landowner. During the depression, people gave up their city apartments and downsized to these bungalows, living there year-round. After 60 years of living with this system, there were rumors in the 1980s that the third (or fourth) generation of the land-owning family might be thinking of selling the land since this waterfront property had become so valuable. The (blue-collar) residents organized into a housing co-op, made the land-owners an offer, had their various parcels surveyed, and since every yard had a different shape and amount of square footage, each family paid a percent of the selling price based on how much space they occupied. Though I haven't lived there since the 60s, I'm glad to know my Grandmother's house is still there along with the houses of families I grew up with.
Maybe if the BV residents had been more pro-active and gotten organized and funded before the Jesser family had decided to sell they would be in more control of their future. As it is, now they face the prospect of moving. It seems to me that they have gotten a fair offer to cover relocation, rent increases and other costs, though of course it will not go far in over-priced Palo Alto.
If/when housing is built on the BV site and below market units are factored in, I would hope that the former BV residents would be at the top of the list.



3 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Does anyone else recall the claim that PAHC overpaid for the Maybell property when it purchased it for about $15M, that the true value was no more than $12M? This despite the fact that PAHC had prevailed over other offers because they could deliver by the end of the year, not because their offer was higher.

What demonstrated to all of us how valuable land is around here was not the $15M price PAHC bought the land for. It was the $22M they were able to sell it for when the Measure D referendum scuttled the 60-unit low-income senior affordable housing project planned for the property.


9 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2015 at 4:20 pm

The land is owner my Mr. Jizzer and he intended to sell it and the city and lawyers have now held that up two years. Lunacy. Its his land and he should sell it.
Everyone forgets the fact that the last 10 year trailer park extension was the end of the utilities for that location. The sewers, electricity, water, etc. must be replaced/upgraded and CA zoning law would only allow for half the number of units on that amount of land. Stop the nonsense already and let the residents find new places to live.
And who cares about Joe Simitian and Cotese, just politicians playing to expand their voting bases. They don't care about anything but being reelected.


1 person likes this
Posted by DZ
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 21, 2015 at 5:03 pm

As a long term Cotese supporter, he definitely lost me this time.


3 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 21, 2015 at 6:16 pm

jack,
Not all of the Maybell site is zoned for RM-15, some of it is zoned R-2, which is essentially R-1 with the ability to put an in-law unit on it. RM-15 is supposed to be a transition zone between an area of greater zoning to an area of lesser zoning, and is supposed to be 8 units per acre adjacent to R-1 areas. I believe the proposal at Maybell even now is greater than that, and the developer surely felt they could get away with that because of the last City Council's more or less vindictiveness towards the neighborhood after the referendum. There is recourse by the neighborhood to oppose 15 units per acre in the subdivision process, but I think people are still just trying to work with the developer. The tragedy is of course that if the City Council hadn't been so vindictive, and had just purchased that property as they had the right to do, they could have sold the part with the houses 6 months later and gotten the orchard with the 100 established trees (that are still there) for free.

So, expectations of greater-than-allowed zoning probably played into the sale price at Maybell anyway, even if not upzoned from RM-15, based on the kinds of things a pretty vindictive City Council was saying after the election.

Therefore, I'm guessing anyone expecting to develop the Mobile Home Park is probably counting on building under the max interpretation on RM-15. For one, the transition is from El Camino rather than Arastradero (which is only a residential arterial, not a main road like El Camino). Also, I honestly haven't read the new comprehensive plan, which was approved under the previous City Council and may have removed even those interpretations/protections -- anyone?

If not, and the City Council were to put forward a perfectly reasonable ordinance that they were going to enforce the previous interpretations in the comprehensive plan except for very, very compelling public benefit, AND evaluate any new development against infrastructure needs and schools in interpreting what is allowed during the subdivision process, this would probably discourage speculation at BV, even "within zoning".

Previously, the Council was just giving away upzoning to whomever applied, which is what encouraged that whole business in the first place. Prometheus simply expected to get its 4X + upzoning. But even under existing zoning, there is a range open to interpretation. If City Council, perfectly within its rights, especially on this side of town already so adversely impacted by development, were to be clear about that interpretation, making it clear no one would get away with anything within zoning either (because RM-15 is a range), that would also make the price of such land a little more clear and less open to speculation.


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 21, 2015 at 6:17 pm

PS - I of course meant the new housing element, not the new comp plan, which isn't all finished yet.


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 21, 2015 at 6:35 pm

@Jerry Underdal,
According to Candace Gonzales in one of the City meetings prior to the referendum, the fact that the seller was able to get a write-off in the sale because PAHC is a non-profit played into their getting the property for a lower sale price than another offer.

The same could work to Jisser's advantage if someone could work out a sale to the residents' non-profit here. (I am not suggesting anyone force Jisser to sell, that's not possible nor desirable. I am suggesting a desirable offer could be made, especially now that this money is being made available from the county.)

@sympathetic neighbor,
Unfortunately, if residents of BV are displaced, anything going in there, even BMR units, is not necessarily going to be very "affordable". BMR just means below market rate, it often isn't very affordable to very low-income people.

Plus, even if a few units could be made available, the entire community will be displaced and lost. Building takes time and people will move on. Additionally, the situations aren't comparable. The BV residents right now are property owners, BMR units will put them in a subsidized government program where they are only renting, and probably for a greater portion of their income. A far more desirable -- and realistic -- outcome is the purchase of the park, with a regulatory agreement with the non-profit, as is suggested here in this offer from the County, so that the property itself remains low-income, yet the residents continue to benefit. The park would also then be eligible for grants to improve it, that the residents' association could then apply for.


1 person likes this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Greenacres,

You're right about the importance of the tax write-off as a significant part of the package that PAHC managed to pull together to purchase the Maybell property--another reminder of the complexity of getting to a deal in a tight market. Perhaps it will come into play again at BV if there are negotiations over sale of the property.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 21, 2015 at 8:10 pm

green acres there is the issue of the price for the land. Remember maybell proposal is 30 units on 2.5 acres. They could have built more with Bmr but chose not to. The jissers have made it very clear. The land is NOT for sale. They are developing it themselves and have done similar projects in nearby neighborhoods. So remember there is the issue of land cost plus the profits of building the homes themselves.

Put it this way, if a developer was to pay $40M for the land, they would do it only if they can forcast a profit. The jissers will evaluate the $40M for the land or develop it themselves and profit near $60m. That is about 30%. The general number builders work on. Even if they run into some hard time they can bring in $50m with their eyes closed. It's numbers like these that make it impossible to maintain the mobile home park.

The people have hope but unfortunately sometime reality is hard


4 people like this
Posted by Edgarpoet
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2015 at 8:13 pm

I thought this was the United States where property owners
could sell their real estate without government interference?
Apparently I am just wrong, We are actually living in the
Soviet republic of Palo Alto!


3 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 21, 2015 at 10:20 pm

@Edgarpoet,

To which property owners are you referring? The mobile home property owners or the park land property owner? This is very analogous to people with houses on leased land. I thought this was the United States where we at least ideally gave everyone with rights equal consideration under the law rather than giving preference to the wealthy.


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 21, 2015 at 10:37 pm

@Jack,
You bring up valid considerations. There are other considerations as well, which is why developers lose their shirts, too, since things don't always work out in the most optimal way. A good business decision takes all things into account and doesn't roll the dice.

The process of closing the park is time consuming and will be costly. That's just the reality of the situation and the business. People can complain all they want, but the mobile home owners have legal rights, too. It remains to be seen how much that will cost in legal fees and compensation, but the timing could mean Jisser has to consider whether having use of the money in a good deal to sell the park earlier will mean he has other, better, investment opportunities during the next building season rather than things getting delayed into a later one. Anything can happen in a year -- if there is an earthquake that slows the market like in '89, the decision to evict the residents could end up looking like a bad one. Construction loans are extremely expensive, again, timing is important. Jisser sticking things out for the last dollar to evict the residents could end up causing him to lose other opportunities down the line simply from reputation, it may be one of the reasons Prometheus pulled out, to avoid tarnishing an otherwise decent reputation for the future in this area. (That's worth something in dollars and sense in business, too.)


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 21, 2015 at 10:42 pm

@jack,
Regarding sale price of the property - the other way it's not really comparable to Maybell brings to mind the three important elements of real estate price: location, location, and location. Both properties have their pluses and minuses, but Maybell is in a better location.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 21, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Green acres. The law rules here. The mobile homes in the eyes of
The law are not real estate they are personal property. Further the land owner is not arguing the law but made every effort to buy the units per the law. So far the hearing officer agrees that the report is within the parameters of the law. This is the first and only park in Palo Alto but many in nearby neigborhoods have closed. And by law this is the owners constitutional right. Thus it's now a question of time. The council will review the report and maybe modify it, but they cannot stop it.

With this information and the profits to be made the park has no future. Yes developers have lost money in the past and will do so again. But an amature couldn't lose money here. The future homes will be sold prior to building them.


Like this comment
Posted by Sea Seelam REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2015 at 5:32 am

Joe

You are amazing. Keep up the good work.

100 families are grateful to you.



2 people like this
Posted by Sea Seelam REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2015 at 5:32 am

Joe

You are amazing. Keep up the good work.

100 families are grateful to you.



12 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 22, 2015 at 8:23 am

Why can't the mobile residents move to San Jose, Fresno or Manteca? Its a wonderful diverse cities and they are reasonably affordable. My son when first got his CPA license was working and living in Manteca for 7 years before he moved to the peninsula. I am sure he wanted to live in PA but it was not in the card for him at the time. Learn to work hard and move up over time

Why are these mobile park renters think they are so different?


3 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 22, 2015 at 9:19 am

While speaking to the owner at the CC meeting last week, I learned that they live in San jose. That the definition of irony.


3 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 22, 2015 at 2:54 pm

@ Dave,
The difference is that the residents of Buena Vista aren't moving here from somewhere else, they are long-time residents of this community, are themselves a coherent community, and the children make up 10% of the local elementary school community. Evicting them is rending this community.

@jack,
I am not a lawyer, but I don't think either of us is - and I have read the relevant state mobile home code, which seems to be cognizant of the unique place mobile home owners occupy in the real estate landscape (figuratively), and that mobile homes are not really mobile once they are in place. They are absolutely NOT treated just the same as someone with, say, a box of personal property on a rented patch of land. That's just not true.

The residents have rights, they are exercising them here, and Jisser as a businessman also has rights that he feels he is entitled to exercise, that's the process. The residents' interests in their property, as long-time residents of this community, too, are just as compelling as that of the land owner. It may be inconvenient, but if that's one's concern in business, don't invest in a mobile home park.


9 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 22, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Greenacres - My son was born raised in pa and graduated from Cal. Got his MBA from Pepperdine in south Cal. He lived in Manteca for a time while gaining experience and saving up. You do what is needed to move on with your life

What so unique regarding mobile home park renters? The land owner closing down....time for these people to roll out and move on with their lives. What happen to responsibility and accountability for oneself? It should not be one sided

What you are advocating for sounds like stirring up the pot at the expense of someone else wallet. How very convenient of you. Please put money where your mouth is.


9 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 22, 2015 at 3:48 pm

greenacres. I am a attorney for 34 years now. This is not my specialty but I have read the state law in regards to this. The mobile homes are in fact personal property and not real estate. The biggest hurdle for the residents is going to be just this. The owner has Complied with the ordinance oer the hearing officer. The council can amend it but cannot exceed "reasonable cost of relocation". This will hand cuff them during the appeals.

1 the owner has the constitional right to close
2 must complete relocation report. (Done)
3 hear office approval (done)
4 appeals. - this is the final step
5 the owner will have right to close.


9 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 22, 2015 at 3:59 pm

you don't need to be Alan Dershowitz to know that Jissers constitutional rights are being violated here. 14 th Amendment Equal protection. You can not demand to live on land that isn't yours period!

Cc is doing a real bang up job. when Jisser sues our city, as usual, the city will use homeowners as their personal ATM machine to pay for damages


6 people like this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 22, 2015 at 4:41 pm

@Jack this was what I posted previously on this subject. The caveat here is that I don't follow this as closely as you have but my hunch on facts correlate to yours above

1) Jissers wanted to sell BV park lot several years back
2) buyer pulled out after mobile home 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.

@ Dave - I hear you. We are teaching people not to work for things and be more dependent on government to provide a living for them. Moreover, if staying in pa school system is an argument to not move out, this is a miserable rationale to squat on someone's property. There are equally good schools all around California that these parents could move their kids to. It's a lame excuse.


9 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Being a long time resident of BV is not a valid excuse not to move out especially when Jissers wants to close down his business. Take a cue from all the brave military families and all other hard working families that had to move due to direct orders, jobs relocation ect...these families moved and made the best out of the situation. Are BV residents think they are better than these groups?

This is the most sorry excuse I have ever heard of. One thing comes to my mind....entitlement


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:20 pm

@Jack,
I searched on whether mobile homes were personal property or real property, and while the answer depends on circumstances, you appear to be incorrect in saying they are always personal property, and incorrect in saying they are personal property at BV:
Web Link

"After removal from its foundation, a manufactured home becomes personal property until it again qualifies as real property."


@Dave,
The homeowners at BV own real property, in many cases, they've taken out mortgages to pay for them, and they pay property taxes. They are called "homeowners" in the relevant law books. It's the same situation as the people living in the grand houses on land they lease from Stanford. The mobile homes are investments, real property, and the people who own them, while they may not have your sympathy as low-income residents, they do have rights under the law.

They are not living in subsidized housing, these are people who chose to live in substandard housing that many people wouldn't, in order to pay their own way and be autonomous. But they have investment at risk, as well as their stability in life. I do not fault them for exercising their rights. (The landlord should feel lucky the residents didn't sue the way the residents in Sunnyvale trailer park did because of poor upkeep -- wasn't there a $100 million judgment in another local park in favor of the residents?)


8 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:50 pm

greenacres. Two key elements that your are missing in your web link. B. First is the foundation, owner already established none of the units have foundations. Second and more importantly these mobile homes do NOT pay real estate taxes. Thus do not qualify as real property. You can argue the merits of the ordinance but the only real property here is the owners land which was leased to the tenants. State law will not allow the city to offer more than "reasonable cost of relocation". It's only a matter of time. 2-4 years seems to be the California average to close down a park. Being that 2.5 years has past, leaves little time for these people


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 23, 2015 at 12:11 am

@Jack,

Sorry, I am not familiar with the documents, can you please provide a link showing that the mobile homes in the mobile home park were deemed trailers rather than homes? I am finding other information. I'm not saying you are wrong, I would just like to see the information.


5 people like this
Posted by jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 23, 2015 at 7:08 am

Greenacres, visit Web Link
this link at search the BV Park address 3980 El camino real, palo alto 94306. It pulls up the info. for the mobile homes the if they were built on traditional foundations they would need to be listed as to be taxed, they are simply not listed.

Further, it was the hearing officers final decision (it can be found on the city of palo alto website under buena vista) his 22 page decision refers that the personal property of the tenants not the real property of the tenants. the biggest factor for ruling in favor of the owner

and it will continue to be the reason the park will close


3 people like this
Posted by JC
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 23, 2015 at 10:43 am

Yep someone said it and I agreed - entitlement at its best for all the wrong reason. If somehow Jissers property can be developed into a high density for low income veterans I will support this idea all the way 100%. There are homeless veterans around the Bay Area that need our help and deserve a chance to live in Palo Alto. I cannot think of any group that is more deserving in our compassion and sympathy than veterans. I am sick of all the whining from people who can help themselves but chose to find excuses after excuses as to why they still remain on a site where it is proposed to shutdown.


4 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2015 at 10:45 am

The other day I was watching a youtube video called "Justice", a course on philosophy. The professor gave an example in which a doctor has five patients who desperately need transplant organs. Let's say it happens that there is another healthy guy in next room doing a regular checkup. If the doctor kills the other guy he can use his organs to save the five patients. Should the doctor do it? Is it moral to kill one in order to save five? Of course not.

More importantly, the doctor cannot. It is murder under the law. He will be severely punished. That is why a society set up and enforce laws. "Greater good", being as it may, must stand the scrutiny of the legal framework.

What happens between BV residents and Mr. Jisser is a legal battle about a business contract. The outcome must be determined by the courts, not public opinion, compassion, or any other means.

Now if Bill Gates offers 100 million, or more, to Mr. Jisser, it is likely that he will happily cancel the contract and walk away with the check, leaving BV as is. I, and most people in this forum, would have no problem with that.

But if tax dollar is used to do such things, we the tax payers will certainly raise questions about the merit and legality of such usage.


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 23, 2015 at 4:24 pm

@m2grs,

It's good to raise questions always, but we have pots of money that are allocated for affordable housing, and cannot be spent other ways. It seems to me they are better spent saving affordable housing of long-time Palo Altans, focused on helping actual people as the first priority, rather than focused on buildings first, people second. If we have this money for affordable housing, it seems to me it should be used to help save the only patch of affordability left in this town. The county has now made a commitment to do so with a similar pot of money.

Just because compassion is a part of what motivates people, does not mean it's a bad business or civic decision, either.


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 23, 2015 at 4:32 pm

@JC,
Well, don't get me started on how totally unfriendly our City policies/new housing are toward the disabled! But that's just a pipe dream, no one is proposing to put veterans housing there. I don't think veterans housing groups would be keen on displacing low-income residents and their children in order to build there even if such a thing were being considered (and it's not).

But you do bring up a point. We have a major VA here, but what kind of infrastructure do we have to make it seamless for the disabled and veterans to enjoy the prosperity of Silicon Valley, anything like Berkeley has, for example? The new norm in housing in this town is the aptly-deemed "stovepipe" structure that someone with mobility problems couldn't even visit easily or at all, much less live in.

I don't get why people are dumping all over the residents of BV. m2grs is right, there is a business relationship that is working its way through due process, both parties exercising their rights. No need to dump on anyone. The best outcome would be if someone could negotiate a sale to the residents' group, with a regulatory agreement to keep the property BMR into the future.


1 person likes this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 24, 2015 at 11:31 am

VA Housing is being built at the Menlo Park location of the VA Palo Alto site. Construction started in December for 60 units, they are supposed to be completed by December 2015.

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 25, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Can anyone tell me why this man cannot close down a trailer park on his property? Is there a law that says he doesn't have such a right?

Is this all about silly zoning rules?

I feel for the people who live there, but life will go on. Besides, the development could wait until all of the residents are relocated -- including the two sex offenders living there.


2 people like this
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Nayeli: Maybe you should actually read up on it, like others have.


2 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2015 at 11:10 am

@ Memories: Thanks for the kind response. ;-)

I have read several of the articles on Palo Alto Online -- like others have. I am simply missing the reason why a property owner can't redevelop his property without years of costly debate. What if he simply decided to close the trailer park. Period. Does he have a right to do this?

None of the articles that I have read seem to indicate the law that doesn't allow these property owners to either close the trailer park, redevelop their property or sell to a redeveloper. I understand the need for "affordable housing," but the property is extensive enough for multiple developments (including one that focuses on affordable housing).

Instead of a cute remark, why not provide a link that might explain the debacle better?


2 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2015 at 11:24 am

@nayeli - here's the link on the City website regarding the closure

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 26, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Thanks for the info, palo alto resident!


4 people like this
Posted by EnjoyPaloAltoANDbeHappy
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2015 at 10:57 am

EnjoyPaloAltoANDbeHappy is a registered user.

Seems like it is just a matter of time before the park is closed and redeveloped. TIME is on the owner's side; he is still collecting rents from the future exiting residents and his property value will only go up with TIME. Palo Alto seems to be very desirable with the overseas buyers who spend millions for tear down homes and many residents are happily capitalizing on their overnight millionaire status and buying homes for fifth the price up North and East Bay.

It seems that the current residents of the trailer community would do better for themselves to move and lock-in a better rent now elsewhere than a year or a year and a half from now. The judge already ruled that their moving offer is fair. No one likes to pack up and move, but this is how the WEST side of the country developed.

At the end of the day, American fundamental values of private property ownership, investment, risk taking will prevail.


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

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