State, federal funds sought to save Buena Vista

Anna Eshoo, Jerry Hill and Rich Gordon join effort to obtain funds for mobile-home park's preservation

The effort to prevent the closure of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park has spread well beyond the city's borders in recent weeks, with state Sen. Jerry Hill, state Assemblyman Rich Gordon and U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo all joining the drive to raise money for the park's preservation.

Hill and Gordon co-signed a letter earlier this month to the California Department of Housing and Community Development asking the agency for assistance in identifying potential sources of funding for preserving what they call "vital affordable housing." This came weeks after Eshoo submitted a similar request to Julian Castro, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The requests come at a crucial time for Buena Vista, which is set for a City Council hearing next month. Palo Alto's lone mobile-home park has been going through the closure process since late 2012, when owners first announced their plan to convert the Barron Park site to a market-rate apartment complex.

The effort by the Jisser family to close Buena Vista received a boost last fall, when a hearing officer signed off on the Jissers' plan to compensate the hundreds of residents who would be displaced. Residents are appealing that decision, with the City Council set to hear the appeal on April 13.

Meanwhile a parallel effort is under way to raise money for preserving Buena Vista. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, a former Palo Alto mayor, kickstarted the fundraising drive in January, when the board approved his proposal to set aside $8 million in county funds for the park's preservation. The following month, Palo Alto City Manager James Keene followed suit by pledging $8 million in local funds, pending the City Council's approval. Both the county and the city allocations come from funds specifically designated for affordable housing.

"As you know, we represent the Silicon Valley, the driver of California's economic engine but a region in danger of losing its prized socio-economic diversity as a result of the astonishing growth in housing costs," the March 9 Hill and Gordon letter to department Director Claudia Cappio states.

"Efforts to explore potential funding sources to preserve homes at Buena Vista are underway, and we ask for your help. As the City of Palo Alto studies solutions, it would be of great benefit for their leaders to know what opportunities HCD may uncover," the letter from Hill and Gordon states.

Eshoo's letter to Castro makes a similar case. The park "at the heart of my Silicon Valley Congressional district ... is being sold and the residents are at risk of becoming homeless or having to relocate out of this high-priced community," Eshoo's Feb. 18 letter states.

Eshoo also cited the recent $8 million county allocation and noted that the board "hopes to collaborate with the City of Palo Alto and other agencies in this effort."

"Innovative, collaborative efforts are necessary to avoid displacement for families with few or no options to remain in our community," Eshoo wrote. "With your assistance and the efforts of local government and non-profits, I'm confident we can create a solution that will benefit the families of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park and allow them to remain in the community that is their home."

Related content:

Buena Vista rally brings hundreds to City Hall

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6 people like this
Posted by DZ
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Mar 24, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Those people really don't represent the spirit of silicon valley. Innovations for grab more for themselves is still just acts of greediness.

43 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2015 at 4:26 pm

I hope they come up with $50M to buy the park.
The owner deserves the money.

The residents will be left with the crumbling park, failed utilities and a lifetime of debt. No doubt bemoaning having passed up the lucrative buy out package currently on the table.

The city will be a slumlord, saddled with complaining residents, and no way to pay the maintenance and upgrade bills. I will enjoy watching the CC deal with the endless pleas for compassion, and accusations of callousness as they attempt to bring the park up to code, while dislocating not a single resident.

A complete Victory for the owner !

49 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Why do all these articles conveniently avoid the fact that the Park is not for sale?

43 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2015 at 4:57 pm

1) private property rights, correct re-development rights should absolutely be respected. I am VERY concerned with our grandstanding local politicians not understanding that. They should NOT be devoting time and effort on an oddball scheme to provide our taxpayer funds to this one park.
2) it is crazy that local, state, OR most especially, federal "funds" -- as in taxpayer money go for anything related to this park!
3) a generous plan is there for moving out the current residents of the trailers and helping them to re-locate. Yes, it's a tough market for EVERYONE, not just these persons. YEs, we are all sorry it is rundown and the trailer residences have not been kept up to code, people must take responsibility for their residences wherever they reside.
4) IF a private party wants to purchase the park at market rates and let the current residents stay, I'm fine with that.

30 people like this
Posted by City Plumber
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2015 at 7:00 pm

The site is 4.5 acres zoned RM-15, which I believe means there should be 8-15 dwellings units per acre. Buena Vista has 104 mobile homes, 12 studios and 1 house. Who decides which families we kick out to bring it back to the density it is zoned for?

66/68 of the trailers with additions made these additions without a permit. In one of these the resident built his “house” around a tree. There is literally a tree going through the roof of his “house”. Is Jerry Hill going to pay to fix this? Or is the City going to end up paying in court when the tree inevitably ends up killing someone?

Is Anna Eshoo going to come out and personally upgrade the horribly out-of-date utilities?

Does someone want to come up with a long-term plan before we throw $40 million at this?

[Portion removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Great Plan, Jerry
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 24, 2015 at 7:10 pm

[Post removed.]

28 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Our politicians are grandstanding - they want to suck up every available affordable housing dollar to purchase land in one the most expensive real estate market in the country. Those same dollars could go a long way towards buying each and every Buena Vista household a house in San Jose.
Instead of using the affordable housing dollars to serve the most people possible, the politicians want to use it to benefit the few.

And I don't see how this promotes diversity when the purchase in concentrated all in one place. How does some of the city council members or city manager have any day to day interaction when they aren't living in their neighborhoods?

Meanwhile, there are over 400 on the wait list for affordable housing, and if the politicians succeed, there will be no money left to help those on the wait list.

14 people like this
Posted by Private Property Rights?
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 24, 2015 at 8:30 pm

The same Palo Alto residents who fight development tooth-and-nail, opposing legal efforts by homeowners who want to add a second story to their home and companies that want to expand, suddenly turn around and support "private property rights" and the redevelopment of this mobile home park?

"Private property rights" don't apply when a developer wants to build affordable housing for seniors, but they apply when there's an opportunity to displace 200 families - fellow Palo Altans, no less?

Seems a little hypocritical, doesn't it?

I applaud the efforts of Congresswoman Eshoo, Sen. Hill, and Asm. Gordon. Thank you for working to prevent the displacement of these people.

20 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2015 at 8:49 pm

@ Priv. Prop. Rights?: You are conveniently leaving out that the attempted senior housing asked for significant zoning waivers, including density, height and parking. If the developer has proposed a facility that met the existing zoning requirements, there wouldn't have been an issue.

But if you choose ignore the facts, that's your prerogative.

35 people like this
Posted by jackson
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 24, 2015 at 8:54 pm

Spending public tax dollars to acquire low income public housing administered as per public regulations/law is one thing. Public dollars spent to buy property that's not for sale, to preserve a spot for trailers that would apparently never pass a code inspection, for the benefit of specific individuals who really don't want to move, with no apparent plan to manage the place as properly administered low income housing, is an entirely other matter.

35 people like this
Posted by What a waste of taxpayers' $
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 24, 2015 at 9:44 pm

We somehow shouldn't be surprised that all types of politicians are getting involved and asking for public $ for this project. It's not their money, and it doesn't affect their own neighborhoods (similar to those politicians living in exclusive neighborhoods but supporting low-income housing in other parts of town).It's a great opportunity for them to show their smiling faces and get some recognition for collecting future votes.
Aside from violating the property owner's rights, this is just a horrible example of financial mismanagement of public funds. If these politicians are serious about affordable housing, go spend these funds to create housing in more affordable areas, not in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the western hemisphere.
I'll remember all of their names next time I go vote. As much as I would hate to waster taxpayers' money, I would love for the Jissers to file a lawsuit and win big for all the nonsense they have been subjected to.

22 people like this
Posted by rent control
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2015 at 10:16 pm

As long as the City of Palo Alto requires that mobile home parks have rent control, no investor will want to purchase BV and maintain it as a mobile home park. Who will manage the park if public funds are used to purchase it.

11 people like this
Posted by Hello!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2015 at 7:45 am

What has this place come to? Public monies to preserve a crappy mobile home park abutting a major freeway, where the "buena vista" is a cinderblock sound wall?

6 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2015 at 8:05 am

BV is near El Camino Real (a state highway) is not down by 101 and the sound walls.

7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2015 at 9:34 am

If ABAG and others are so keen to get low income housing into Palo Alto then they should be funding BV to get it back into top notch shape. Otherwise, they are just empty noise.

17 people like this
Posted by #s?
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 25, 2015 at 9:57 am

200 families? I thought there were 104 trailers.

7 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 25, 2015 at 10:52 am

Let's use these funds to be smarter about providing decent "affordable housing" rather than patting ourselves on the back by leaving people in squalor both at BV and in RVs on the streets of Palo Alto. Anything less is just scoring cheap political points at the expense of the poorest amongst us.

6 people like this
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2015 at 11:21 am

Is it really sufficient to obtain Federal as well as State monies for this endeavor?

Why haven't we gone to the United Nations to discuss the matter? Isn't this a human rights violation? And not some noise from the General Assembly. We need a binding resolution from the Security Council.

Seriously folks...this is private property (and no, if you're my neighbor and want to build a 2nd story...go for it - it's your land).

10 people like this
Posted by roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 25, 2015 at 11:27 am

Why are we spending all this money on this eyesore.
Drive through it, its a bight.
If anything spend the money re-housing them.

1 person likes this
Posted by Janet
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 25, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Funny how all the comments change from save the place to "what is going on" once tax dollars became involved.

19 people like this
Posted by NotForSale
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 25, 2015 at 12:48 pm

"The park is being sold and the residents are at risk of becoming homeless or having to relocate out of this high-priced community," Eshoo's letter states.

Where does Eshoo get her information? Last I heard the original deal fell through and the Jessers say the land is no longer for sale - that they want to re-develop it. Now maybe that is not true. Does Eshoo have real information to back up her statement?

BTW, this is also true if a family who owns a house in PA gets transferred away but keeps and rents the house. When they return to PA the lease does not get renewed and the renters are "at risk of becoming homeless or having to relocate out of this high-priced community." What are we to do for them? Buy the house (which is not for sale) and continue renting it to them? I don't want the City of Palo Alto in that business.

20 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 25, 2015 at 1:00 pm

16, 25, 50 mil for dilapidated trailers with electrical and plumbing in poor shape? Even if you decided to save 100+ families living there, the conditions are not acceptable. Waste of money.

20 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2015 at 1:23 pm

I hope the Jisser family gets to do what they want with their land and not be pressured by outside forces.

2 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 25, 2015 at 1:30 pm

I would be OK with buying the park out as long as the rights of the property owner are respected and the process followed.

The City must first resolve the appeal concerning the relocation fees, and do so in accordance with the law. Then they can make an offer, and the owner can accept it or reject it, as he chooses.

Let's stop putting pressure on the landlord for doing what every other property owner in the city already does.

13 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 25, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Interesting to note how many "likes" are for the people opposed to saving the park. Shows what we are up against in this City. For the first time in 41 years, I can't afford to rent in Palo Alto because of the egregious housing situation brought on by speculators, foreign investors and landlord greed.

I went to that protest to support the residents of Buena Vista. The irony wasn't lost on me that if not for my 82 yr old mom, I too, would be homeless.

Not that most people reading this post would care. The callous, entitled and cruel comments of the newcomers to Palo Alto say it all...they could care less, and I can find somewhere else to take my broke, pathetic self.

And people wonder why both adults and teens are stepping in front of trains. Palo Alto has become a very callous community that pays lip service to all the right ideas, while acting in a manner that completely contradicts a community supportive of all it's residents. It's sad.

13 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2015 at 2:20 pm

@enough - I don't think that people are callous and don't care about the BV residents. Too many people are just ignoring the fact that the Park ISN'T for sale! Jisser has the right to close his business. He has followed all the laws imposed by the City. The appeal is really only to decide whether he is giving the residents enough $$.

If people are truly concerned with the residents of Buena Vista, they should be looking for other housing options for them within Palo Alto. Perhaps landlords willing to give them a good deal on rent, people with "granny units", etc. They would be looking for ways to actually move some of the homes to other parks - and don't say it can't be done,Kelly Brothers House Moving is in that exact business - moving buildings. And they would be researching other parks that have space.

Web Link

20 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm

@enough! - I feel bad when hear your story, but what do you want to do about it? Should we divert money from the schools to your rent? Should we divert money from pensions to your rent? Should we raise taxes and mail you the money? Prices are what they are, and if you want money, or if BV residents wants money, it is going to be at the cost of someone else who needs the money too. The city, county, state, and country are all already grossly over committed in their spending. I hope you find a way to stay where you are, but if you have to move out of one of the most expensive (overpriced?) cities in the country, is that really a crisis? Sunnyvale is pretty nice, and a lot cheaper.

18 people like this
Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 25, 2015 at 3:24 pm

There are a lot of outside agitators with their own agendas advocating for BV. How many of the actual BV residents want to give up the generous moving allowance funded by the owner and become state subsidized renters? How many feel that they deserve public money?

10 people like this
Posted by S. Levine
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2015 at 4:21 pm

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2015 at 4:48 pm

[Post removed.]

6 people like this
Posted by gz
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2015 at 5:10 pm

[Post removed.]

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

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