News

Editorial: Saving Buena Vista

A complicated path to preserve low-income housing

The legal, financial and political obstacles to saving 117 units of low-income housing at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park are enormous, but they are not insurmountable.

With the City Council set to consider an appeal in April of a hearing officer's decision to approve the closure of the mobile-home park, the city is unfortunately constrained in initiating any activity that could be construed as creating bias as the council adjudicates the appeal and makes a final ruling.

This has effectively muzzled the council and precludes any city analyses exploring how the closure of the park might be averted, including the possible purchase of the property.

And when it does consider the appeal, the council's options are very limited. Its primary role is to determine if the proposed relocation compensation for the residents meets the requirements of state and local laws by covering the "reasonable costs of relocation." It may not consider whether the park's closure is in the best interests of Buena Vista residents or the broader community.

Since the law does not define "reasonable costs of relocation" the council could disagree with the hearing officer and insist on greater benefits, assuming it can justify them based on the testimony from the original closure hearing held last year. Through its actions, residents of the park might get more money when forced out, but the council can't prevent the closure by simply voting down the application.

As it stands now, the required benefits include payment to Buena Vista residents equal to the appraised value of their mobile home, moving expenses, payment of start-up expenses at a new location (first and last month's rent and security deposit), and a rent subsidy equal to 100 percent of the differential between the average rent at the park and the average market rent for "replacement" housing for a period of one year.

Supporters and attorneys of Buena Vista residents argue that the proposed payments fall substantially short of what is required because comparable housing and civic amenities would be much more costly than the relocation benefit calculations suggest, if they were available at all. Also in dispute is how the value of Palo Alto schools should factor into either the appraised value of the mobile home or in achieving comparability at a new location.

But while looking for ways to justify increased relocation benefits is appropriate and worthwhile, we believe the primary goal of the community should be to preserve Buena Vista and prevent the loss of these 400 residents, including 129 children and the affordable housing they occupy.

The soaring cost of housing is undermining our community's ability and desire to maintain or add to our affordable-housing inventory, an important goal of our Comprehensive Plan. Since there are so few opportunities to create new low-income housing, we should be doing everything possible to keep the housing we already have, including the Buena Vista units.

With the city currently legally restricted from pursuing any steps toward acquiring Buena Vista while it considers the closure appeal, and with the park owners showing no interest in discussing a sale to a public agency or nonprofit, we urge the county to step up quickly and help develop an analysis of available options, their costs and legal risks.

Such an analysis would explore how other California cities or nonprofit organizations have acquired mobile-home parks under similar circumstances, the costs and requirements of bringing the park up to code, the use of eminent-domain powers to acquire the land and a comparison of the costs and benefits of retaining the existing mobile-home park or building new affordable housing on the site.

Thanks to Supervisor Joe Simitian, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has already stepped up by making available $8 million in affordable-housing funds to help with any viable plan to retain affordable housing on the Buena Vista site and prevent its conversion to market-rate housing.

It will take much more money than that to pull off the purchase of the property, but the city has substantial housing funds available, and the Palo Alto Housing Corporation also has resources and experience with obtaining state and federal housing grants.

Right now we need governmental leadership to achieve a reliable and impartial analysis while the Palo Alto City Council is considering the Buena Vista closure appeal. Having boldly opened the door to creative solutions by obtaining the county's $8 million in seed money, we hope Simitian can be as successful in marshaling the help of county housing staff or consultants to move this idea forward.

— Palo Alto Weekly editorial board

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 1:36 am

I don't understand the legal reasoning behind the lack of effort by the City Manager to explore solutions. Certainly, the council is constrained because of their upcoming role in the appeal process for the park owner's closure application. But there is no constraint on every individual on the City's staff, nor every department. Is there some legal precedent that I've forgotten that precludes action?

I think it's entirely obvious to everyone outside of the City Attorney's office that the City will be involved in lawsuits surrounding the closure no matter what happens. So what does the City have to gain by ignoring the plight of the residents now? When the City passed the closure ordinance in 2001, there were 167 residents living in the park (see: Web Link), now a decade and half later that number has more than doubled to 400 residents and the park infrastructure is well past a serviceable life.

At this point, the City is either "all in" on Buena Vista or "all out". Which is it? This has gone long enough and we all deserve an answer from the City.


4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 9:25 am

State law limits eminent domain seizures for projects of broad public benefit (and access)...e.g., police/fire stations, libraries, roads/transit, schools, etc. the city's cannot take the BV property because will only benefit a few hundred people and does not publicly serve the entire population with city services or programs.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 9:26 am

Sorry...just awful typing on my phone!


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2015 at 9:44 am

The rationale that this editorial uses to suggest use of eminent domain to seize a private party's land is a slippery slope. This same rationale could be used to seize property in the Old Palo Alto or Crescent Park neighborhoods, and the mobile homes moved there, or high density housing built to move the Buena Vista residents into such replacement housing. Or would the editors suggest using eminent domain to seize 27 University, 441 Page Mill Rd, or the site of the old JJ&F market (which is now just a vacant lot) and move the Buena Vista Residents to those properties? if the editors are against seizing those properties using eminent domain, they should state why not (perhaps because they are owned by connected people)?


13 people like this
Posted by winter dellenbach
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 10:00 am

The city has millions in housing fund money to add to the $8 million earmarked by the county Board of Supervisors to save Buena Vista. Money attracts money - public and private, so city funds should be declared.

The Housing Trust of Silicon Valley director is willing to help with financing. Non-profit housing groups should declare their participation as needed, along with groups that aid residents to buy their mobile home parks. Everyone should step up now to declare willingness to participate. This editorial and the county's commitment must be taken very seriously as a call to act now. Individuals, private, and family foundations can participate - contact Supervisor Joe Simitian's office. If the city won't step up, the county must provide leadership.

BV is a village in a neighborhood in a town. It's village nature helped create a tight community among residents who engage in a high level of mutual aid in and beyond its many extended families - a model for the rest of us. I hope this village can be left intact, with long-term affordability secured and residents remaining.

It presents us with a singular issue requiring a singular solution, but attitudes must transition from can't to can - from "BV is too weird and too heavy a lift for us to think about", to "Buena Vista is THE opportunity for us to 'think different' about what affordable housing is and can be in Palo Alto in 2015 where no land exists but where it exists.





9 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 10:07 am

Let me be more direct....eminent domain cannot be exercised by anyone. The suggestion by the editor was obviously not researched and therefore irresponsible to even put on paper. Eminent domain is dead on arrival.


15 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 6, 2015 at 10:48 am

If we have to have low income housing, can it least be nicer than a trailer park? Seems like a waste to dump all this money into such a dump.


33 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 11:03 am

Why is it assumed that the residents of the park deserve to live here? They are, at the core, renters not owners. Unpredicatble things can happen to renters; the stability of never being evicted is one of the benefits of ownership. The Jissers (owners of the Park) seem to be having their rights trampled by some perception that a residents = owners, and that the Jisser family is some sort of malevolent force outside the community disrupting the natural order of things. This is totally backwards.

Shouldn't renters be perceived more akin to employees in our downtown? With a lot of freedom to move in and out, and some risk of being evicted/fired against their will. Yes, I like renters just fine, as I do all the folks who work in the retail stores, but they should be seen to enjoy equivalent rights to "be here" as property owners do.

I don't understand this groundswell of support in some quarters that the renters in a mobile home park are owed something special if the mobile park moves to market rate opportunities for their assets.

If all these editorials started with something like, "Now, progress is inevitable and the rule of law is sacrosanct and the Jisser family has the right to do what they want with their assets, but we'd like to encourage the city to increase our taxes to raise funds to purchase the existing property and keep it in its current configuration..." I'd feel that this is the right tone for weighing the costs and benefits of "saving" the park. But the editorials don't come out that way, do they?


7 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 11:20 am

Have you ever asked what the Barron Park residents want by a secret ballot? You might be surprised. Several anonymous polls disagree with the city's assumptions. Property rights should be recognized.

Full disclosure: I once hired a Yale graduate from a "nice family" (his words) in Wellesley Mass. who had spent three years in the Buena Vista Mobile home park during his grad school at Stanford.

Also, where is the building code enforcement in the park?


9 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2015 at 11:21 am

Eminent domain? This case does not meet the litmus test for eminent domain - a high school kid with a C average could tell you that this is not a definition of eminent domain

Article would have provided more enlightenment if the author was able to shed more case studies in the legal aspects of mobile home park closure but fail to do so. Instead, lots of "we" feel/arbitrary opinion. As a result, at best a second rated editorial nothing more nothing less.


8 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 12:50 pm

"The city has millions in housing fund money to add to the $8 million earmarked by the county Board of Supervisors to save Buena Vista. Money attracts money - public and private, so city funds should be declared."

Hmmm.......Should we use $40Mil of taxpayer and other funds designated for the public benefit to either:

a) Buy BV from the owner at fair market value, so that 100 families can continue to struggle for the rest of their lives to pay rent for their substandard, non-code compliant shack with failing utilities, while they continue to rely on public aid to make ends meet (AFDC, Soc Sec, Disability, Welfare, food stamps, etc.). And not one new unit of BMV housing will be created.

or

b) Split up the $40Mil into $400k for each of the 100 units. The unit owner can take $240k of that to buy the 3,200 sq ft 6 bedroom two story house on 1/4 acre next to mine in a beautiful central valley community, and put the remaining $160K in an interest bearing escrow account to cover prop taxes and utilities for the rest of their lives. All their problems are solved and you've eliminated the need for 100 BMV units in PA, and likely, the need for these folks to continue to rely on other public support and services (AFDC, Soc Sec, etc etc...)

I say give the 100 units the $400k each (taking them off public aid and Palo Alto BMV Housing rolls) and improve their living conditions by orders of magnitude. Let BV be sold to a developer so it can become an income producing property for the city.

Spending even $25Mil for BV would be a foolish use of the money given what those families could do with $250k each in a less expensive area (and I argue those areas offer a much better quality of life, education, and values).


8 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Have you ever asked what the Barron Park residents want by a secret ballot? You might be surprised. Several anonymous polls disagree with the city's assumptions. Property rights should be recognized.

BP Resident, exactly!

What we are seeing in this editorial is the typical limo-lib displacement ploy: Keep 'em in Barron Park (or some other non-elite neighborhood in PA), just don't send them to OUR neighborhood. Clearly, Barron Park deserves a secret vote on this issue. And Palo Alto citizens deserve a secret about whether they want to spend millions on this private property...or not.

Just waiting for the property owner to drop a huge law suit on PA...surprised that he has waited this long.

I have predicted, for a long time on this blog, that PA liberal guilt will eventually demand our money to protect the current BV residents. We need to JUST SAY NO! Those residents need to move to where they can afford to live, and it won't be Palo Alto.


5 people like this
Posted by Suzanne Kelo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Eminent domain is completely appropriate for affordable housing. Slum clearance and the redevelopment of public housing to bring it up to code) is one of the signal "public uses" justifying the taking of private property under the Fifth Amendment. Indeed, the Supreme Court allows the taking of private property for economic redevelopment not merely for the provision of public housing. In Silicon Valley it would be no lift at all to justify taking private property to provide public affordable housing. If the owner holds out against a reasonable offer from the City and County, then the City and County can simply take the property for payment of just compensation. There is no legal problem with this. There may be a political problem, though the politics of BV are really breaking for the residents and against the landowner so provided he receives FMV for his property I see no problem with this at all.


5 people like this
Posted by BetterUsageForTheMoney
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:19 pm

*IF* Palo Alto had the funds to purchase the BV site at current market rates, I'd rather it use those funds to build a new Public Safety building (Police HQ, etc).

But the owners do not want to sell.
And spending money that we do not have for something that we should not be doing - it is beyond my comprehension that some people are still talking about it.


3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:25 pm

@ Suzanne: So you're calling BV a slum? I'm sure the FoBV love that.

There are over 100 trailers in the park --- is each trailer a slum in itself? Jisser owns the land, not the trailers. If you think each trailer is a slum, then Jisser is trying to do the right thing and remove the blight.

Em.Dom. can be used to clean up blight...but the property does not meet that litmus test; not even close.

And you miss the entire point of what the FoBV want to do - they want to purchase the park and leave it as is!

In the meantime, the Jissers want to close the park (which will eliminate the slum that you apparently feel that exists). This is a well-known fact. The court wouldn't even consider such an application of Em.Dom. when the facts are shown that the Jissers are in process of improving their property.

Allowable EmDom for blight happens when the landowners show consistent & lengthy indifference and refuse to improve the property. Your scenario would last 10-minutes in court...and more importantly, would still require clearing the trailers off of the property...which goes directly against what the FoBV would want.

Still not going to happen.


4 people like this
Posted by Eminent domain?????
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Has winter or any of the other friends asked Mr Jisser what he wants? Or does not play into their calculations for BV??
A call to use eminent domain? Clearly written by the editor to impress certain groups in the city. The editor does not have a clue how eminent domain is used.


6 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:58 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

The Weekly's call for the county to do the necessary analysis of Buena Vista options since the city considers its hands tied is a welcome suggestion.

The 2013 debate over PAHC's affordable housing project at Maybell/Clemo did not offer a clear view of the extent of opposition to the city's long-standing program to provide affordable housing in Palo Alto. Many issues were involved and it was argued, contrary to the record on Town Square, that resistance to affordable housing was not even a factor in the campaign to defeat Measure D.

Buena Vista gives us a better chance to judge whether this program has fallen out of favor in the new economic and political environment of Palo Alto to the point that the likelihood of the city's adding significant numbers of affordable units to the housing mix without compulsion by other levels of government to do so is nil.

The stars are aligned to maximize the influence of those arguing for special measures to retain the Buena Vista community. To a base of old-time liberal supporters of the concept of affordable housing to counteract market pressures that leave too many people under housed you can add some critics of increased density who would rather keep the overly dense conditions they know (mobile homes that can't add a second story) than see the property redeveloped, with affordable housing or not, because it would entail multistory, multifamily units that would disrupt the semi-rural feel of that part of Barron Park. An added bonus for this group would be that with funds tied up at Buena Vista PAHC would be less likely to pursue other projects elsewhere in the city.

It would be a tragedy if lack of study and preparation to make maximum use of whatever resources can be gathered to make the best offer on the property played a part in the final outcome. This won't be easy and it won't be cheap. Let's give it our best shot. Thanks Joe Simitian, Friends of BV and other supporters for keeping the dream alive.


3 people like this
Posted by Suzette Kelo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:01 pm

I have no idea what you are talking about. The government can take private property for a public purpose/use on the payment of just compensation, which is generally Fair Market Value of the property assuming an unhurried buyer/unhurried seller. There is no rule that it has to be blighted at all. However, in this case, you have a substandard, roach infested trailer park with poor people living in barrio-like conditions and paying exorbidant rent to an absentee slumlord. I am not sure what you call a roach-infested trailer park in Palo Alto, California other than blight.

Bringing this up to code and making it into affordable housing would be the necessary goal of any government purchase. If the government purchased the land, it would be with the eventual aim of creating affordable housing units on the property. Presumably BV residents would have priority for those units.

There is no impediment to showing that affordable housing in a public purpose/use within eminent domain. There is no eminent domain abuse here, particularly given the fact that there is a regional and city comprehensive plan that requires PA to develop affordable housing.

If the Jissers do not consider a public offer, then they can receive FMV for their land and it can be taken for affordable housing, a public use in this place, day, and age.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It might be useful to understand the process of taking property by eminent domain - it is neither easy or without risks.

Here is a good summary from Web Link:

"Generally, when the government wants to take your property by eminent domain, you can expect the government to take some or all of the following steps in about the following order:

Initial contact by government agency to express interest in the property and/or scheduling date for appraisal or environmental assessment of the property;

Appraisal of the property, including improvements, by agency retained appraiser;

Offer to purchase the property is made to the owner, together with summary of appraisal upon which offer to purchase is made;

Notice of public hearing to adopt "resolution of necessity" to acquire property by eminent domain;

Public hearing is held to adopt "resolution of necessity" to acquire the property by eminent domain;

Eminent domain case is filed in court and served on property owner;

Deposit by agency of the probable amount of just compensation is paid into court and motion by agency for early possession of the property;

Discovery (i.e., depositions and document production) takes place in eminent domain action, and both the property owner and government hire appraisers to determine "fair market value" of the subject property;

The property owner and government exchange their respective appraisers' reports;

Final settlement offers and demands are exchanged (about 20 days before trial);

If settlement cannot be reached, trial of the eminent domain action takes place before a jury whose job it is to determine "fair market value" of the subject property;

Jury returns verdict and judgment is entered;

Government pays judgment within 30 days following entry of judgment and title to subject property is transferred to the government by the court.
In addition, early in the process - owner/occupants and/or tenants should be contacted by a relocation agent retained by the government. The purpose of the relocation agent is to provide assistance to residents and business owners to relocate their residence or business."
*********
Note that if a government in California acquires land that is currently occupied by renters then that government MUST pay the cost of relocating those renters. GOVERNMENT CODE
SECTION 7260-7277


4 people like this
Posted by Suzette Kelo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Furthermore, the fact is that Jisser knows and his lawyer knows that ED is a real possibility in this case. All their maneuvering is intended to drive up the price of the appraisal prior to the Resolution of Necessity. Sorry that no one informed you CPD, but ED was always on the horizon. This is just about the money -- like all ED cases. How much can the seller extract from the government is the only question.

From Jisser's perspective what does he care if the government will pay the same amount or more as his private offer? The PACC should drive up the price of the compensation, drive down the FMV as far as it can, and then bring together a non-profit/governmental partnership and make an offer. ED is in the background as an option that will help to bring about a sale. if the government wants to purchase your home, you can't say no. No is not an available option in most cases so long as the purpose is arguably delivering a public benefit. Here, it is. So that's it, game over and it's all about the price.

That's legally. Is there a political issue? Sure. People usually do not like ED very much. It mostly gets used against poor people, old people, and people of color because they don't have any political power. But here, BV is valued, and the private developers are not. No one wants more ugly high density condos. Throw in some sympathetic victims of the redevelopment, and maybe this would be one use of ED that would be palatable. But it's hard to see how the City or PAHC can own the trailer park without spending substantial capital making improvements as it is currently substandard housing.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Let's not hyperventilate about the inclusion of eminent domain rules as part of the analysis that should be done. Clearly there's not a common understanding of what the law is. One side hopes, the other side fears that it would apply. We should get an informed legal analysis of whether it would/would not apply in time for there to be an intelligent political debate about whether it should/should not apply to BV. My guess, it'd be a tough case to make. Eminent domain is the nuclear option, best avoided because of unpredictable collateral damage.


4 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:45 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

"Such an analysis would explore how other California cities or nonprofit organizations have acquired mobile-home parks under similar circumstances, the costs and requirements of bringing the park up to code, the use of eminent-domain powers to acquire the land and a comparison of the costs and benefits of retaining the existing mobile-home park or building new affordable housing on the site."

Given how ED has been used to redevelop "blighted" areas, I seriously doubt there are any circumstances where cities or nonprofits have acquired trailer parks in "similar circumstances."

This is someone wishing for a unicorn.


3 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Suzette Kello - you are so wrong regarding usage of ED against Jissers. The wrinkle in the theory here is city policies are often triggered by domicile makes domicile a key concept to the choice-of-law process. Like I had posted several times in the past, there are Constitutional limitations primarily Due Process for the land owners .i.e. Jissers. Otherwise, please cite past cases

If you are a lawyer, I highly advised that you review Section pertaining to Equal Protection, Privileges and Immunities. Hence, ED does not pass the litmus test. If the city supports this, we must have extremely poor counsels representing our city. It will be a sad day since Jissers lawyers will be calculating damages on the hourly basis. Once again, homeowners will be used as an ATM machine to pay for liabilities that should have easily been avoided


Like this comment
Posted by Suzette Kelo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2015 at 4:18 pm

You make no sense at all. Sorry. That's not how it works or what the law is.


2 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 4:24 pm

@Suzette - As to your question "From Jisser's perspective what does he care if the government will pay the same amount or more as his private offer?" There is no private offer, Jisser is not selling.


11 people like this
Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 6, 2015 at 4:27 pm

As a county and city taxpayer, BV has no value to me. The government has no business owning a trailer camp.
Those who find it so valuable should form a voluntary corporation and buy it.


2 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Learn how to read and interpret a law book...it will make sense otherwise I am wasting my time


12 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Suzette Kelo - eminent domain is used to take property for the "public good"; you argue that taking the Jisser's property for affordable housing is for the "public good" and is not for the benefit of specific individuals.

If that is the case anyone who is eligible for affordable housing should be able to move into the Buena Vista mobile park. The Palo Alto Housing Corporation has a waiting list of over 400 people, many who have been waiting for years for affordable housing. If eminent domain is used to take the Jisser's property, then arguably the people on the waiting list should be the first ones to benefit from the taking of this property, which would mean that the current residents would need to move out. If you argue that the current residents are the specific ones to benefit, then you are saying that the eminent domain is being used to benefit specific individuals and not the "public".


2 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 8:18 pm

Have you folks even done a web search on Suzette Kelo ?
Web Link

If she is the same "Suzette Kelo", then I think she knows what she is talking about.
If she is not, then she is pretty clever to use that Alias.


11 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2015 at 9:29 pm

[Portion removed.] The kelo v newlondon case is like comparing apples and oranges. Kelo and several residents there owns their property. The city wanted to impose ED on these folks for redevelopment based on the rationale that it would bring in thousands of jobs and it would also improve the economy of new London.

In Jissers case, it is none of the above. There is no benefit to anyone here other than the 400 residents living there and who do not even own the land. BV residents are not in the same league as the case mentioned above. I sure hope there are some intelligent folks left running the city because reading some of the postings here really give me the chill. No wonder we are losing our competitiveness to other nations since no one wants to think any longer


1 person likes this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Dave,

I'm sure there are numbers for this but I don't have them. What I'm talking about is the number of people we could anticipate living in affordable housing over, let's say, a fifty year period if it's in the hands of an entity like PAHC.

Rather than 400 we'd be looking at thousands over time. I believe there's value to the city in making sure there is good housing here for some people who aren't wealthy. Left to itself, barring a catastrophic collapse, the market will create a city where only the wealthy can be residents.


6 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2015 at 11:34 pm

If eminent domain were used to take this private property and the city put our tax dollars into paying for it... I'd being suing the city and I don't live anywhere near there.


2 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 8:05 am

Dave>> "[Portion removed.] The kelo v newlondon case is like comparing apples and oranges. Kelo and several residents there owns their property. The city wanted to impose ED on these folks for redevelopment based on the rationale that it would bring in thousands of jobs and it would also improve the economy of new London."

Mr Jisser ownes the property. The city would impose ED on him based on the rationale that establishing permanent BM housing on that site would benefit the city economically, socially, and ethically.

I want you to be right, Dave. I do not want to see ED. I support Mr. Jisser and his property rights. Unfortunately only Suzette and the Web make the compelling case so far. Please present a compelling argument against ED. Your posts so far are not clear, and your points seem lost in vague analogies and disparaging remarks about our lack of intelligence. We just want to understand how the law applies... but so far, the compelling argument is not coming from you.

Please help us out


1 person likes this
Posted by Prop 99
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2015 at 8:07 am

If the Jissers are worried about ED, they should just move into the park. Prop 99 prevents using ED on an owner-occupied residence to give it to a private party (eg PAHC).


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 8:23 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2015 at 8:25 am

The online name "Suzette Kelo" is spelled differently than the New London case-- "Susette Kelo".


4 people like this
Posted by Susette Kelo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2015 at 8:43 am

Wow, denizens of TS, you have really jumped the shark.

The "nom de plume" is really just a signal that the Supreme Court has approved the use of ED in cases offering far less public benefit than that which would be available here. In Kelo, the Court approved 5-4 the taking of private property to put it into the hands of a private developer, so long as the local legislative body believed that it would be of public benefit. Both CA and US courts have made very broad interpretations of public benefit. There is no question whatsoever that in CA (and under the 5th amendment) the provision of public housing in Palo Alto would be a public benefit. Period. There is no legal issue with the use of eminent domain.

There are, as I acknowledged above, likely difficult political issues with its use. In this case, however, it would be well to remember the following:

1. Jisser wants to sell. He is not a little old lady in a pink house having it stolen by Pfizer for a private development (as in Kelo). In fact, as one alert reader notes, he is not even living on his property but is an absentee slumlord.

2. Jisser should not be able to hold out against a government sale if the government believes that the highest and best use of that land is for affordable housing. Why should he care who gives him his giant bag of money?

3. Jisser's property will not be "taken" as in "stolen." A taking involves PAYING for the property at the fair market value. He will get exactly what the market says he should get. What is the problem here? Why shouldn't the government be able to buy the property? What is the issue? Is it just some reflexive hatred of the guvvmint? What's the problem?

4. Why would anyone prefer to prevent the government from buying the land from a willing and eager seller in order to save the homes of the people who live there and generations more of low-income people? This is what government is for -- to correct for market forces when they would make the existence of the poor impossible.

Maybe climb down off your libertarian right-wing soapboxes and think about how government can and should solve the problem of making residing in PA affordable? Right now what you are facing is the reverse Kelo problem. IN Kelo the issue was the city was driving low income people out to make way for rich corporate interests and job-providers. Here, you have the reverse -- you have the city trying to come up with a way to help regular people stay in the face of massive market development. Why would you oppose that?

The BV residents are the Suzette Kelos of Palo Alto. Why are you on the side of private developers rather than the little guys?


9 people like this
Posted by make a decision
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2015 at 9:14 am

A lot of discussion about ED. As a property tax payer here I do not support any money from the City to buy Buena Vista. The residents there are renters! If this was in another part of town, Old Palo Alto, Southgate, this eyesore would never have been left as it is. Let Mr. Jisser sell and develop it into nice single family houses.


4 people like this
Posted by Prop 99
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2015 at 9:55 am

If the residents of BV want the public to "save" them, the public deserves to know who they are and what their household income is. Are they truly low income? Or are they just living frugally while making huge salaries. I did that for a long time and then used my savings to buy into this upscale town.

One poster above noted at least one former BV resident was a "well to do" Yale graduate.

The Fry's site is supposed to redevelop into housing. Why not spend the $8m County money on that land for low income apartments? I like Joe S., but I totally disagree with him on trying to get involved with BV.




8 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:10 am

>>> S. Kelo : "Why would anyone prefer to prevent the government from buying the land from a willing and eager seller"

As a resident and taxpayer, I do not support the use of any city, county or state resources (including civil servant time) for the purchase of private property to benefit a very small community (0.6% of the city population Web Link).

As a budget minded resident and general contractor, I think it is foolish for a housing authority to spend more than $50k per BMV unit. The BV land purchase price alone is over $400k per unit. As I stated in my first post, $400k would ELIMINATE the need for a unit of BMV if used differently. Why would you choose to sustain poverty when it can be elinmainated at the same cost ?


7 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:26 am

My advise to Jissers would be to assemble a legal team that are extremely knowledgable about Constitutional Law and Coomon a Law regarding property ownership rights. To have this type of legal team, he should steer clear from PI and law school degree mill institutions. Jissers will win hands down if he picks the right team. The unfortunate thing is I am a taxpayer of both Santa Clara County and city PA and I undoubtedly will see my property tax goes up should a lawsuit occur. What a mess and it is also shameful that city leaderships are putting taxpayer into this type of predicament.


Like this comment
Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:55 am

Susette Kelo (the real one) is a tragic victim of eminent domain. [Portion removed.]
The purpose of our government is to protect individual rights, not to redistribute other peoples money and property.


1 person likes this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:02 am

Wray- no worries. I just read the post and it's a complete mumble jumble with no rationale whatsoever. In order to use a case, the writer has to tie in how this particular case is applicable to BV situation. Then cite cases as an example Dolan v City of Tigard. [Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by good strategy
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:05 am

I suspect bringing up ED is just another strategy to get Jisser to further increase his payout to the BV residents so they will finally leave and allow him to close the trailer park.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:14 am

@ Susette Kelo - Your premise that Jisser wants to sell is incorrect. He is planning on developing the property himself.


4 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:33 am

>> Jerry U. : "What I'm talking about is the number of people we could anticipate living in affordable housing over, let's say, a fifty year period if it's in the hands of an entity like PAHC. Rather than 400 we'd be looking at thousands over time."

There is resident turnover expected for all BM Housing and should be applied uniformly across all BM Housing proposals. The correct metric is the "number of units" of BM housing you can create for the resources available. To serve the greatest number of current and future residents over 50 years, one should choose 800 units (using %50k per unit at $40Mil total) rather than this property which supports less than 100 units (per code) at a $40Mil FMV.


Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:36 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@GoneOnTooLong

The number of units you could build in the Central Valley compared to the number you could build in Palo Alto for the same outlay isn't the relevant metric. BV residents are here for the jobs, schools and services accessible from that site. The goal is to have long-term affordable housing in Palo Alto, which is harder and harder to do as funding sources dwindle while costs go up for properties that come up on the market.


Like this comment
Posted by Suzette Kelo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2015 at 12:57 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Sue Kelo
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2015 at 12:59 pm

"However, the private developer was unable to obtain financing and abandoned the redevelopment project, leaving the land as an empty lot, which was eventually turned into a temporary dump."

Go figure.


3 people like this
Posted by Herb Borock
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 7, 2015 at 1:16 pm

This editorial urges “the county to step up quickly and help develop an analysis of available options, their costs and legal risks”; says the analysis would explore “a comparison of the costs and benefits of retaining the existing mobile-home park or building new affordable housing on the site; and thanks the Board of Supervisors for “making available $8 million in affordable-housing funds to help with any viable plan to retain affordable housing on the Buena Vista site and prevent its conversion to market-rate housing.”

The Weekly’s opinion is consistent with possible alternatives advocated by people, including the mobile home park residents’ attorneys, who say the want to save Buena Vista, including saving the land for affordable housing by replacing the mobile homes with new affordable housing on the site.

In my opinion, replacing the mobile homes with new affordable housing on the site would be tantamount to destroying Buena Vista in order to save it.

Has anyone seen a written statement from the mobile home owners of whether they want their homes replaced by new affordable housing?

According to the decision of the hearing officer for relocation payments, the California Relocation Assistance Act requires the City of Palo Alto “to provide relocation assistance to Buena Vista residents displaced as a direct result of programs or projects undertaken by [the City], including the following activities: rehabilitation, demolition, code enforcement and acquisition”, which would occur if the City helped finance the removal of the mobile home park tenants to construct new affordable housing.

That means the City Council will be (a) determining the proper amount of relocation payments; (b) helping to buy the property to develop new affordable housing; and deciding whether a zone change is needed for the new housing.

Does that make sense to anyone?


5 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Jerry U : "BV residents are here for the jobs, schools and services accessible from that site. The goal is to have long-term affordable housing in Palo Alto, which is harder and harder to do as funding sources dwindle while costs go up for properties that come up on the market."

How much are you proposing we spend per unit of affordable housing purchased so they can have that ?
How much are you proposing we spend to subsidize the living costs of the residents of that affordable housing once we've purchased it ?
Is your approach sustainable as the Palo Alto market continues moving upward ?
What is the opportunity cost of choosing to allocate all your resources to establish affordable housing in one of the most expensive to live cities in the United States ?




4 people like this
Posted by Suzette Kelo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Yes. Makes absolutely perfect sense. It is how all public housing is constructed everywhere. The only difference is that as with other slum clearance projects, rather than relocate the residents permanently, the city would ensure that they have first priority for the new units and could arrange temporary housing for them during redevelopment or develop in stages to ensure that displacement is minimized.

There is an alternative in which the trailer park is upgraded to code, though I believe that Jisser determined that would be financially infeasible. Let's not romanticize what exists on the location now. It's better than no affordable housing but it's a roach infested slum in which residents pay inflated rents to live in sub-standard shanties of modified campers. Slums are better than being pushed out, but let's not romanticize the situation. And more than that, let's not be deluded about what it would take to make it acceptable quality housing.

Can the city be a slumlord? Not if it intends to use any HUD money or loans for the development. If the city operates public housing it has to meet state and federal guidelines for providing a safe and healthy environment. BV I think would not even provide code utilities, let alone the right amount of square footage per resident etc. I doubt it can be maintained by the city in its current state and we shoudn't want that. Look at the beautiful development right next door on Los Robles that is a PAHC building. It should be at least that good. Why would the BV residents get less?

If there was an SRO full of roaches and without proper bathrooms and closing it would result in increasing homelessness, the solution isn't that the city step in as slumlord. It's that the city would redevelop the SRO as an appropriate housing situation like the Opp Center. In that case, there was a private organization and donor. In this case, it would be the government itself. In either event, maintaining a slum is not an option for liability reasons alone.

This is what government exists for. This is the purpose of local government. It's not just police and fire protection. It's also to ensure that there is adequate affordable housing for residents of a community.

Palo Alto, you used to be a liberal community that cared about poverty and injustice. I think that spirit is still there and the outpouring of support for the BV residents on display at the last CC meeting was a demonstration of that communitarian spirit. Let's build some nice public housing for these people so that they can stop living in a slum on the edge of dispossession in the richest community on earth.

How sad that in the greatest engine for the production of wealth in human history there isn't a tiny role for the government to help the least among us.


1 person likes this
Posted by Progressive-Is-As-Progressive-Does
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm

> eminent domain cannot be exercised by anyone.
> The suggestion by the editor was obviously not researched
> and therefore irresponsible to even put on paper.
> Eminent domain is dead on arrival.

Whoa! Isn’t Palo Alto a “progressive town”? Doesn’t that mean that extant law doesn’t apply to it? Don’t the so-called “leaders” of Palo Alto (like the Weekly constantly tries to jam down our throats that it is) claim that they can do what they want, without any worry about what the voters, or the law, thinks?


Like this comment
Posted by Progressive-Is-As-Progressive-Does
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:44 pm

> Eminent domain? This case does not meet the
> litmus test for eminent domain

After Kello vs New London,

Web Link

the so-called “litmus test” for the use of eminent domain was turned on its head. Many states responded to this incredibly wrong-headed decision with state/local laws that denied governments the right to take properties in order to repurpose them for increased economic gain, rather than for a traditional public purpose (such as a road, school or park). California passed some sort of voter-approved ban on this sort of use of Eminent Domain—so it’s possible that Palo Alto could not legally exercise this form of government seizure of private property.


Like this comment
Posted by Progressive-Is-As-Progressive-Does
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Oh .. previous poster points out that California's response to Kello was Prop.99.


3 people like this
Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2015 at 3:14 pm

I lived on the south side of Chicago for 4 years. Public housing isn't all it's played out to be.


4 people like this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 3:24 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 7, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Prop 99 would NOT apply in this case - it only applies to an owner occupied single-family residence.

"Proposition 99


4 people like this
Posted by Progressive-Is-As-Progressive-Does
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2015 at 5:04 pm

At some level, it’s understandable that the kinds of people who believe that government is not about protecting the property rights of individuals, but redistributing wealth—are promoting using whatever method government available to it to take the BV property and give it to the residents either directly, or indirectly. After all, Palo Alto took possession of an airport and operates that airport which is used by virtually no Palo Alto residents, but rather for mostly non-residents’ use. This property is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and benefits virtually no one in Palo Alto.

So—if Palo Alto can tie up hundreds of millions of dollars for the very wealthy of Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills—then why can’t they spend a few lousy millions for the oppressed, down-trodden, voiceless, occupants of BV?

Which brings us back to the basic issue—why is the City involved in the affairs of a privately owned trailer park? What compelling reasons can anyone make to justify the heavy hand of government telling the private property owner what he can, and can not do, with his property? Why shouldn’t people who purchase a mobile home not be expected to move it from time-to-time without the City’s becoming involved in their decisions?


3 people like this
Posted by delusions
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm

IMO the idea that Jisser would be willing to sell his property to the city or current BV residents for anything less that it's worth is as delusional as the idea that the city would purchase the Maybell property and leave it as an undeveloped orchard. Ain't gonna happen.


3 people like this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 5:33 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

GoneOnTooLong,

Good set of questions.

1. How much are you proposing we spend per unit of affordable housing purchased so they can have that? Depends on the market, doesn't it? Whatever it is, I predict it will seem cheap in twenty years. In fifty years it will appear unbelievably cheap.

2. "How much are you proposing we spend to subsidize the living costs of the residents of that affordable housing once we've purchased it? Nothing, I want a full-employment economy with workers paid a living wage.

3. "Is your approach sustainable as the Palo Alto market continues moving upward?" Yes, this will remain affordable housing. Payments from residents will be calibrated to cover costs for the usual 55-year period if it follows the typical model.

4. "What is the opportunity cost of choosing to allocate all your resources to establish affordable housing in one of the most expensive to live cities in the United States?" Zero. Palo Alto funds gathered automatically from developer fees and earmarked for affordable housing can only be used for that purpose. I don't see another significant affordable housing project on the horizon that the city would have to forego because of funds committed to this one. That would be an opportunity cost if I'm wrong about prospects for other projects.

What's my level of confidence in the accuracy of my answers and predictions? About 60%, so I'm open to argument. At least with what I've written here you'll have a better sense of where I'm coming from.


23 people like this
Posted by No taxpayer money
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Echoing some earlier comments, as a taxpayer I do not want the county or city to use public funds to help provide housing in Palo Alto to a tiny minority of residents who have the choice to live in more affordable areas.
Living in Palo Alto is not a right, and I'm positive there will be no public funds to assist me the day when I can no longer afford to live in this town. Let's get away from this welfare mentality.
Those who want to help, can do so privately and with their own funds.


9 people like this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 8:22 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Like this comment
Posted by Retired Staffer
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2015 at 2:29 am

Santa Cruz County has about 30 resident-owned mobile home parks. While the lawyers debate the number of angels on the head of a pin, someone should go over there and see how it's done.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Prop 99
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2015 at 10:18 am

When land around here is worth $10 million per acre, can it be done like Santa Cruz County?

If there are 117 trailers, each one would have to be able to finance between $400k to $500k. I'm just guessing at the number of actual trailers and assuming the Jissers would be willing to sell the land for between $40m to $50m.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2015 at 11:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A good first step would be for the current owners to create an organization to serve as a potential bidder for the property. This might provide a nucleus that could attract public, private and foundation support.

Perhaps it already exists but if so it does not have very much visibility.


1 person likes this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 8, 2015 at 11:29 am

Once this paper suggested the city consider the use of Eminent Domain to acquire the BV property, their credibility in offering any 'solutions' to the BV property just swirled down the toilet.

Using Eminent domain is considered by many to be the legal framework by which govt essentially steals private property for pennies on the dollar. Whether or not you like the Jissers position with respect to their property, using Eminent domain to take it is an absurd tactic to consider. BV is the property of the Jissers, period. If the city wants to convert it into low income property, the city needs to buy the lot and redevelop it.


4 people like this
Posted by Suzette Kelo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 8, 2015 at 12:57 pm

That's what Eminent Domain is -- it's how the city "buy[s] the lot and redevelop[s] it."

I am not sure what part of "fair market value" people do not understand. All this fulminating over the very idea of eminent domain is hilarious to observe. I'll just state the facts again: when the government wants to buy your property it can do so by using the process of eminent domain and then paying fair market value. It is how other buyers are excluded. It prevents sellers from holding out, setting up fake auctions to drive up the price, or otherwise screw the taxpayers by engaging in rent-seeking behavior. It is not stealing or scamming or "taking" even though it is called "taking." It is buying for a fair price. Often an inflated price in order to get the sale over with in a minimum of litigation. It is not necessarily bad. It can be good. Would you rather just have moldering slums and blight in every on the lot next to yours but private property is sacred so nothing the government can do? How about drug dealing or prostitution? What about a block of vacant foreclosures filled with homeless squatters with West Nile mosquitos breeding in the empty swimming pools? Just because something is private property does not mean it is sacred and beyond the reach of the city to resolve.


2 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 8, 2015 at 2:14 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

If this "Suzette Kelo" is in favor of ED for public housing, how about offering your own house and the rest of Adobe-Meadows to Palo Alto for public housing?

Oh, right. It's about someone else's property. Got it.


2 people like this
Posted by Progressive-Is-As-Progress-Does
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2015 at 2:25 pm

> That's what Eminent Domain is -- it's how the city
> "buy[s] the lot and redevelop[s] it."

Actually, the government seizes the land and compensates the property owner for it. Perhaps that is a quibble to some, but it is very different than walking into a story and "buying" something.

Historically, ED was only to be used for public purposes (schools, public buildings, roads, etc.). But with the belief that government is about redistributing wealth, or taking a heavy-handed role in the development of properties, we say Redevelopment Agencies arise--which turned out to be, in many instances, quite corrupt, and for the most part, outside the reach of the voters. Here in California, we have shut down the Redevelopment Agencies.

Perhaps it makes sense for a City government to purchase some land that is on the market that might have been in its long-range development plans. But owning trailer parks clearly is outside the realm of reason, and any purchase of BV should be challenged by the taxpayers who believe the City should stay out of this property disposition.

Food for thought--how many people would support using ED to buy 4-6 acres of Barron Park to turn into a trailer park?


4 people like this
Posted by Suzette Kelo
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Jisser wants out. We need to build affordable housing. It sounds like a perfect match. [Portion removed.]

At least you have stopped arguing that it would be illegal. That took a little while to bring everyone up to speed on reality.


Like this comment
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 8, 2015 at 4:41 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Linus
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 8, 2015 at 6:25 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


15 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 8, 2015 at 6:33 pm

Here's an ideas: affordable housing is not possible in PA. Try Fresno or Gonales or wherever that you will be able to provide a shelter to your family. Living in PA is not a right that you can demand at the cost of everyone else


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 8, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Dave

"affordable housing is not possible in PA"

Tell that to the hundreds of families that live in affordable housing units built or purchased by PAHC and other organizations over the decades. Affordable doesn't mean cheap, as we're all aware here where the underlying value of property is so high that it takes huge sums to make a competitive offer for land or existing units to provide housing for a range of economic circumstances.

I'm puzzled by your comment about living in Palo Alto not being a right, as if that settles a relevant argument being advanced. I think if you looked deeper you'd find that everyone knows it's a crap shoot to get a place to live in Palo Alto now even if you have plenty of money behind you, and no one expects to get a Palo Alto address as a matter of right. But there should be a chance. Affordable housing programs provide that chance, a slim one to be sure when there are hundreds of qualified applicants on waiting lists.

Palo Alto needs an economic range of households and residents to be a healthy city. Any individual or family can only hope that they will be among the fortunate ones to benefit from Palo Alto's programs to address this need. It's a matter of luck, not rights. But we can improve the odds for folks competing for the limited number of affordable housing units available by working with elements in the community like the city council, PAHC and the county board of supervisors that are trying to increase the supply.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 9, 2015 at 7:54 am

@SK: no one knows what the Jissers want to do in the end. The only thing we do know is that they are pursuing a process to close the business/park. They were going to sell to a developer but after Measure D, the deal was canceled. The only other tidbit is that the Jissers hinted that they plan to redevelop the site themselves.


Like this comment
Posted by Jon Quill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Has anybody approached the Steve and Laurene Jobs Foundation for financing? This cause seems right in line with its charter.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 9, 2015 at 1:31 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


10 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Rainer is a registered user.

What most of the above posters seem to not know/acknowledge is that Palo Alto needs an economic range of households and residents to be a healthy city. Or that that Palo Alto is under the legal gun from ABAG and the State to build low income housing. And every time a developer builds a few measly Below Market Rate (BMR) apartments in a 20,000sqft “mixed” use building, we pay through our nose in loss of control with parking, setbacks, and size. Go back 2 weeks to the City Council and see what adding 3 BMR apartments does: 10,000 sqft more in office space is demanded.

The number of hateful, ignorant, demeaning, and belittling comments above, all anonymous, is depressing. For most people I know supporting the tenants in Buena Vista was never Eminent Domain, it was getting the City Council to show leadership and enable the purchase of the park by the inhabitants. While nobody would have expected such things from the previous office-space-über-alles City Council, the new one does not seem to be any better.

Since the mobile home owners, already own the housing it is uniquely favorable situation to create real property owners.

@Retired Staffer wrote:
“Santa Cruz County has about 30 resident-owned mobile home parks. While the lawyers debate the number of angels on the head of a pin, someone should go over there and see how it's done.”

This is one of the few sensible postings here, pointing implicit to what has been proposed in City Council meetings, including the observation that the $700/month in rent tenants pay would finance a $170,000 at prevailing mortgage rates.

Starting from the $30 Million the Jissers want, $170,000 is 67% of the needed money. For the mathematically challenged, which seem to be most of the anonymous posters judging from the non-sense they post about dollar and cents: 30,000,000/117 is $256,000.

Since the “tenants” already have made an offer of appr. $15M, the financing does not seem to be the problem.

The $8Million from “Taxpayers” money is more like a catalyst to start the process, if done right, much of it could be recaptured within a few years and used for other low income housing development. This is how most Community Housing Corporations operate: they furnish seed money to get low-incomer people into their own homes. The great advantage of a resident owned mobile home park is accumulation of equity and giving low income co-citizen a shot at owner ship.

But @Retired Staffer, nevertheless, has not done his/her homework, because the State has for at least 20 years supported the buying of Mobile Home Parks by the tenants. The California Department of Real already in 1999 put out a detailed report “Buying Your Mobile Home Park” Web Link , which shows how to avoid filing a Subdivision Plat Map, the largest obstacle in the process.

What is really amusing are all the crocodile tears being shed about the poor Jiffers being prevented to close the park, when in reality trying to close it is utter stupidity on their side. Why? They will have to pay about $50,000 per unit for relocation expenses. So that in the end they will net about $24M only. If they would have done due diligence, talked to the Department of Real Estate, or the PAHC, or/and employed a good Realtor, instead of a greedy developer, they probably would have gotten their $30Million last year, without a huge lawyer bill. And they would have fan base in town.

From what I have read the Jissers just wanted to get out the labor of running the park. The only party interested in closing the park was a prospective developer who wanted to subdivide the lot and build luxury homes. But this requires an up-zoning on the land. How would that go in Palo Alto: Chance, Snowball, Hell! Good for Palo Alto’s reputation. I am proud of it!


2 people like this
Posted by Jon Quill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 9, 2015 at 4:41 pm

@Rainer

OK, you've had your smug namecalling fun. Now put your moves where your mouth is. Show us how it's done.

I've told you where to look for the money. Go get it.


8 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 9, 2015 at 4:49 pm

@Rainer - A couple more facts:

A) Jisser does not appear willing to sell. At all.
B) The property is worth way more than 30 million, probably closer to 50.
C) 50 million/117 = 428K (rounded)


11 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 9, 2015 at 5:56 pm

>What most of the above posters seem to not know/acknowledge is that Palo Alto needs an economic range of households and residents to be a healthy city.

No it doesn't. Palo Alto needs to respond to market forces. It is called economic freedom.


2 people like this
Posted by Prop 99
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Looking at Google Maps, it appears quite a few of those 117 units are actually RV's. I have no idea if they are actually road-worthy, but they are significantly different from a double-wide modular home attached to a porch or enclosed patio. I'm just wondering how the RV dwellers could get financing for >$350k.


4 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 9, 2015 at 8:41 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

Rainer: The $8Million from "Taxpayers" money

Why the quotes? It's all taxpayers' money. Money isn't magical stuff that grows on trees. It's taken out of our own pockets.

If we want to fantasize about spending everyone else's money, I'd rather the city spend $8M to fund fiber to the home, thank you very much.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 9, 2015 at 9:09 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@PAmoderate

"I'd rather the city spend $8M to fund fiber to the home, thank you very much."

And would you like to spend that illegally out of funds specifically collected to fund affordable housing? If it can't be used for something you personally favor should it just sit there, growing but unusable forever?


16 people like this
Posted by NOT ON MY DIME
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 9, 2015 at 9:22 pm

It is difficult to uproot and move, but the renters of trailer park are renting their space and are free to move around once their lease is up. The renters are not victims of their circumstances who are forced to stay in only this tiny part of the universe, they have options and choices. Our city and county governments should not be spending my money on this matter. USA does not claim to be a communist or socialist country, that is what my family escaped decades ago. Don't bring it here. Joe S. you just lost my vote.


7 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 9, 2015 at 10:25 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

"If it can't be used for something you personally favor should it just sit there, growing but unusable forever?"

Sure. Why not? Just because there's money there doesn't mean it needs to be spent on a bad idea.

A penny saved is a penny earned.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2015 at 11:32 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@PAmoderate

"Sure. Why not?"

Well, for starters, there is a great deal of support for affordable housing in Palo Alto which is why it has been a national leader in providing solid funding and a non-profit corporation, the Palo Alto Housing Corporation, to make it happen.

Does distaste for future affordable housing projects extend to existing holdings of PAHC and other non-profits. Does anyone want to make the case for getting rid of the protected affordable housing status of these properties? Would the city be better off with even less economic diversity than we have now? Who would benefit from that?


4 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 10, 2015 at 1:36 pm

>Does anyone want to make the case for getting rid of the protected affordable housing status of these properties? Would the city be better off with even less economic diversity than we have now? Who would benefit from that?

Yes, I want the PAHC defunded and eliminated from our city mission. It has a horrible record of bait and switch promises (e.g. housing will be for essential jobs, like teachers and fire and police...a complete lie). The current stock of subsidized housing neither provides jobs for essential workers, nor does it pay anywhere near what it draws in services.

Jerry, the only way to find out what PA citizens really want is to put it to a secret vote on such major issues. I am more confident that such a vote will agree with my views, than yours.

Since I am in a generous mood today, I will pitch the following for the limo-libs in PA: Recommend that CalPERS invest its money in the homeless in PA by buying up properties in Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park and Palo Alto Hills, and developing them in stack and pack density, mixed with a few market rate homes (essentially the Maybell plan). Perhaps start with a few properties that are owned by rich individuals (directly and through shell companies). Use eminent domain, if necessary. One caveat: Property taxes must remain full rate. If CalPERS loses money on the deal, so what...fiduciary responsibility has been obscured by the divestment climate alarmists, anyway. Our PA city council doesn't seem to care. The one thing that the current council will absolutely object to is subsidized housing in their own neighborhood (with or without CalPERS funding).


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Craig,

And in your alternate world where PAHC has been abolished and many hundreds of occupied housing units are freed from the restrictions of affordable housing programs who takes ownership and what happens then? I'd like to understand who would benefit and how. Two groups that come to mind are developers, large and small, and real estate companies and agents. I'm sure I'm missing a lot of the nuances so I'd like to hear how developers and residential real estate firms and agents regard affordable housing in Palo Alto.



Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 10, 2015 at 2:22 pm

>And in your alternate world where PAHC has been abolished and many hundreds of occupied housing units are freed from the restrictions of affordable housing programs who takes ownership

Answer: The highest bidder, constrained by local neighborhood zoning (before any such zoning was, somehow, changed to pencil in subsidized housing).


6 people like this
Posted by NOT ON MY DIME
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 10, 2015 at 2:33 pm

@JU

Nothing is affordable in this area. It is not affordable for the educated middle class like teachers and nurses and even doctors to live in Palo Alto. We are just pretending to help, but we are all too far deep in a surreal pocket we live in. I can not afford my own house which I bought for a tiny fraction of its current value. This area is evolving and another one will be created - it is a circle of life. Hand outs are demeaning, humans survive and find a way to continue living. Many of the folks living in the trailer park may feel less underprivileged in other communities.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 10, 2015 at 3:22 pm

@ C. Laughton. I share your opinion on the BV property and the Jissers' right to close and redevelop.

But to be frank - the fallback retort of using funds to buy up Old PA, etc. is getting a bit tiresome. Let alone repetitive, unproductive...and certainly a significant detractor from your valid points on private property rights and free market dynamics.

It might be time to give it a rest and stick with your very solid arguments and leave the silliness to someone else.

My two cents at least.


4 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 10, 2015 at 3:31 pm

>But to be frank - the fallback retort of using funds to buy up Old PA, etc. is getting a bit tiresome.

CPD, when I see some powers-that-be in Palo Alto nominate their own elite neighborhoods to build subsidized housing, I may take your advice. In the meantime, I will continue with my meme, because I am tired of non-elite neighborhoods getting dumped on. You don't feel it in Crescent Park (yet), but I do in College Terrace...when you feel the pain, I suggest you will change your tune.


2 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2015 at 5:44 pm

" You don't feel it in Crescent Park (yet), but I do in College Terrace...when you feel the pain, I suggest you will change your tune. "

Thank you, Craig!!! It is about time that the elites swallow their own medicine! College Terrace and Barron Park and Ventura are TIRED of taking the subsidized housing hit.

I totally agree, put it to a secret vote.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2015 at 6:55 am

My point is that you diminish your credibily and your arguments (which I support). Just some honest feedback.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2015 at 10:04 am

@John - were is there subsidized housing in College Terrace?


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2015 at 10:41 pm

>> @John - where is there subsidized housing in College Terrace?

Monstrosity at former JJ&F site comes immediately to mind.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@NotOnMyDime
"I can not afford my own house which I bought for a tiny fraction of its current value."

If you are still living in the house, it is affordable to you. When it is eventually sold, the property will be bought by someone who can pay a great deal of money for it. Result for the neighborhood and city: middle class (-1), wealthy (+1). Repeat many times across the city and voila, an exclusive enclave for the rich. One force that would stand against this class homogeneity is the continued presence of government subsidized affordable housing for a wide range of household financial circumstances. I say that Palo Alto is a better city for having a strong affordable housing element and hope that we can increase it.

"Many of the folks living in the trailer park may feel less underprivileged in other communities."

I don't buy it. It sounds like a condescending way to rationalize kicking them out: <It's really for their own good to remove them from Barron Park. They'd be better off not living in the midst of such affluence..>


6 people like this
Posted by NOT ON MY DIME
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2015 at 1:55 am

Jerry,

1) I can afford to live in my house, I just can not afford to buy my house.

2) Your statement, ".. middle class (-1), wealthy (+1)", so what. It is called evolution. So Palo Alto will be flooded with rich people, it it really a crime in America. The higher the home prices, the more property tax revenue for the city, that's fine with me. When I sell in Palo Alto and move, another community will gain my presence and the owners of a house there will sell me their house for a lot more than what they paid. Their city will get more tax revenue from me. Life is circular.

3) Your comment about preventing class homogeneity; are you fearing the rich or the influx of overseas buyers? Palo Alto has always been a city for super educated high wage earners.

4) Your statement, " the continued presence of government subsidized affordable housing for a wide range of household financial circumstances". For sure . . . in a communist economy. Everyone gets subsidized housing in a communist regime, which usually means a family of four people share in one room. everyone is equally poor, does this qualify for class homogeneity? I believe in Darwin not Marx. People have a will to survive and adept. NOT ON MY DIME.

5) Folks who are living in the trailer park are not forced to stay, it is not a prison. Once the lease is up, they have the right to leave, just like the property owner has a right not to renew the lease and ask the renters to leave. What am I missing here. You feel my attitude is a little condescending. since you are asking me to pay for someone else's home, who can manage to live just fine in a different zip code area.


7 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 12, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Not on my dime -I believe this mostly has been the position for homeowners in PA myself included. The few that are outspoken against the closure of trailer home park are preaching charity through the use of someone else wallet. If you review every single of their posts, no one from this group is ready to put up the money other than advocating for the use of public funds to fight the closure.


1 person likes this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2015 at 10:02 pm

The best thing our landlord did back in mid 90s, is give us a notice to find another place since he was planning to sell the condo we were renting month to month on El Camino Way. He was very nice and gave us up to five months to move out. We scraped a few dollars and decided that it was time to become home owners. In those days banks were practically giving away mortgages. We found the tiniest of houses in PA (smaller than the condo we were renting) on a substandard size lot (smaller than 5K), but the location was great. The market exploded soon after, and a few years after that, we multiplied our initial downpayment amount by fifteen times when we sold the place. Our mortgage, prop tax, and insurance (less deductions) was the same as the rent would have been if we were still renting. With these proceeds we bought a very nice house about a decade ago, on Zillow it is worth millions, and it is all because we were told that we needed to move back in the mid 90s. I hugged our landlord when I happened to see him at a Mexican restaurant on Calif Ave recently.

The trailer park residents are grown ups with options and need to be treated as independent self sufficient adults, not children who need a savior to fight their battles. The property owner is offering a fair relocation package for them to be able to go on with their lives in style. The is not "bad" guy in any of this. ADAPT TO LIFE'S CHANGES AND GO ON.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 12, 2015 at 11:39 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Craig,

About your secret vote. I'd bet against you in a citywide vote on guaranteeing affordable housing in Palo Alto. I won't play with the wording here, maybe you could suggest something that would be down the middle. But here's the caveat: Mandatory voting.

KQED's California Report this morning pointed out the abominably low voter participation in the 2014 elections. In such a situation it's easy for a side to win because the enthusiasm of its supporters gets them to the polls, while the side that has more support loses because they're complacent or distracted.

Measure D illustrated this. Opponents of the PAHC project and the pace and scale of development in the city were highly motivated and came out with a big win in the face of surveys that showed Palo Altans strongly supported affordable housing. So that our secret vote will give conclusive results on public sentiment, I'm sure you'd support my proposal for mandatory voting.

Newspaper editorial boards, the faith community, PTAs, politicians right and left--many individuals and institutions are on record supporting affordable housing at Buena Vista. I haven't seen the energy and willingness to go public in opposition to saving the Buena Vista community that was so evident in the Maybell/Clemo campaign. That's what gives me hope that I'd win our bet.


8 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 10:17 am

It is frustrating to still read that people believe that Measure D was more about voting against affordable housing and/or senior housing. It is still lost on those individuals that most residents of the city have grown exceedingly upset with the CPA CC (and ARB; planning commission; etc.) and its penchant to grant PC waivers or upzone waivers without considering the impact on the existing residents of this town.

The PAHC-Maybell project was over-stuffed, under-parked and too high. Simple as that. Didn't matter who PAHC targeted for residents --- the project stepped way over the limits and the residents are tired of getting pushed into corners.

There is no doubt that if the project didn't request PC or upzone waivers, didn't under park the facility, didn't exceed existing height limits, didn't densify the site....there would have been little (if any) opposition.

All of this is why Prometheus backed out of their BV deal with the Jissers. And I have no doubt that the Jissers are well aware that whatever they proposed for the BV site, it will have to fall in line with current zoning.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Crescent Park Dad

Did you notice that I mentioned the concerns about pace and scale of development (many of which I shared) as motivators? I'm pretty familiar with what was stressed here in the neighborhood to get the ball rolling in opposing what the city council and others thought would be a slam dunk. I could add more detail, but suffice it to say that opposition to affordable housing, specifically senior low-income affordable housing was part of the mix.

[Portion removed.]


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

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Natural wine bar Salvaje opens in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,765 views

Cap On? Cap Off? Recycling Bottles is Confusing
By Laura Stec | 41 comments | 1,590 views

Premarital and Couples: "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,385 views

Everything you've always wanted to know ...
By Sherry Listgarten | 11 comments | 953 views