News


Cordell: A different solution for Buena Vista families

Guest opinion: Keeping families in Palo Alto, if not in the mobile-home park, would honor ordinance's 'comparable housing' intent

"In recognition of the unique situation and vulnerability of mobile home owners, the State Legislature adopted the Mobilehome Residency Law that requires park owners to provide reasonable relocation assistance as a condition of closing and converting a park." (City of Palo Alto Municipal Code Section 9.76.010)

On May 26, the Palo Alto City Council will vote on whether or not to approve the relocation assistance measures offered to the residents of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park owned by the Jisser family. These low-income residents, most of whom are Latino, argue that the compensation proposed by the Jissers will not permit them to remain in Palo Alto, thereby preventing their children from continuing their education in the city's schools. The Jissers maintain that the compensation they have offered is fair.


LaDoris H. Cordell is the current City of San Jose independent police auditor, a former Palo Alto City Council member and a retired judge.
There is merit to both sides in this matter; and there is a solution that can equitably benefit both.

The Jisser family can lawfully sell their property; and they are entitled to make as much money as they can from that sale. Everyone knows that homes in Palo Alto sell for millions of dollars; rental prices for housing in this city are exorbitant; and land is the city's most precious commodity. The land on which their mobile-home park sits is a virtual gold mine. The Jissers will make a fortune, and in our capitalist system, that's their right.

Everyone also knows that one of the primary reasons for which the property values in Palo Alto are sky high is the stellar education offered by our public schools. I moved to Palo Alto in 1984 so that my two daughters might receive a top-notch public education; they did. The parents who live at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park want the same for their children.

The city's ordinance requires that mobile-home families forced to relocate be provided "comparable housing." For that ordinance to have any meaning, the extraordinary education provided by Palo Alto schools must be a factor in the comparable housing determination. It is my belief that there is a relocation assistance formula that will fairly address the needs and concerns of both sides in this dispute.

For the Buena Vista families with school-aged children, I propose this approach as a part of the relocation assistance package: Each family with children currently enrolled in Palo Alto schools would be provided funding to rent housing in Palo Alto until the youngest of those currently enrolled children has graduated from the 12th grade (or is otherwise no longer enrolled in our schools). Deducted from this amount would be the monthly rent the family would have paid to live at Buena Vista over the course of those years of schooling.

So, for example, where a family has three children in our schools, one of whom is in kindergarten, their relocation assistance package would provide funding for housing until the kindergartener completed the 12th grade. For this family, the funding formula would provide an amount equal to 12 years' (144 months) worth of rent in Palo Alto housing, less the rental amount that the family had been paying.

If, say, the monthly rent for housing that family in Palo Alto were $3,000, then the relocation assistance amount would be $432,000 ($3,000 x144 months), less the amount of rent the family would have paid to live at Buena Vista for 12 years. If this family paid monthly rent of $1,000 at Buena Vista, their relocation assistance package would amount to $432,000, less $144,000 (12 years' of Buena Vista rent), for a total of $288,000.

Those funds would be deposited in an interest-bearing trust account and disbursed directly to the landlord each month to pay the family's rent. Any remaining balance in the account would be returned to the Jissers.

Alternatively, where a Buena Vista family has only one school-aged child who, for example, is enrolled as a junior in one of our high schools, the relocation-assistance formula would provide housing funding until that child's graduation, a period of just two years.

Clearly, the approach I have outlined needs tweaking, but given the importance of this issue, I encourage all of the parties to take the time to give this proposal serious consideration. The City Council's decision on May 4 should not be heartbreaking, as some council members have characterized it.

In this instance, it is not heartbreaking to do the right thing.

LaDoris H. Cordell is the current City of San Jose independent police auditor, a former Palo Alto City Council member and a retired judge. She can be reached at ladoris@judgecordell.com.

Editor's note: The date of the City Council meeting has been clarified: It will be on May 26.

Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 24, 2015 at 5:33 am

I believe the city council meeting referred to here is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 26 (night after Memorisl Day), not May 4.

Thank you LaDoris for underlining the need for a solution that allows Buena Vista students to continue their education here. Between now and the 26th, it is hoped that a solution is crafted allowing all BV residents to stay.


65 people like this
Posted by Stir the pot
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2015 at 6:32 am

LaDoris--I recently had to move from Palo Alto due to high rents. However, I also feel a sense of entitlement and think my children should be able to attend Palo Alto schools until they graduate, even though I no longer live here. Can you tailor a package like that for me. And if we are doing it for me, why just for BV residents--it should be available to anyone that has moved from Palo Alto due to rent issues.


9 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2015 at 9:59 am

Thank you Ladoris for posing a possible solution but, as you said, it does need some tweaking and there are several important questions that need to be addressed.

How about those children that are not yet in K-12? Will they be shut out from the opportunity to go to PAUSD schools? Does your idea exclude them?

What will happen when all students of a family have graduated?

Where will the rent money come from? Who will pay?

Who will oversee and administer this? That will be an added effort and cost.

I think your $3000/mo rent is low for the type of apartments and size they would need, and is that space available anyway?

You gave examples and I saw no errors in you math. Those were hypotheticals. I've done some thinking and came up my own set of hypotheticals.

Here are my assumptions:

125 children in BV
90 of them (students) are in school, K-12
The average number of years left until graduation is 6 years
2 children (students) per family, ergo, only 45 families would be included
I stuck with your $3000/mo relocation rent and the $1000/mo BV rent

Now for your homework assignment. I'm not going to go thru and show all the calculation details as you did, but when I did the math using my assumptions I came up with $6,480,000 that it would cost just for the rent. The administrative costs would add to that.

And for those BV residents who don't have children in school, the problem still hangs, what will happen to them. I guess we just have to wait and see how it all plays out...but indeed time is running out.







48 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 24, 2015 at 10:31 am

Real estate appraisers, take note - you have new competition. Why use standard appraisal techniques when you just make them up like this?


45 people like this
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2015 at 11:34 am

Really? This is an equitable solution? Equitable for whom? I don't think the land owner would find it very equitable.

So what you are saying is if *hypothetically* these families could find a place in Cupertino to live, that the education there is so bad compared to a Palo Alto one that it is worth nothing in camparison? That is a bunch of rubbish. And if they were lucky enough to just move there, they basically hit the jackpot(which is probably more likely to be the case if they have kids in school)

And why stop at just the schools? Maybe some couples moved there because they liked just living in Palo Alto. Maybe they should be allowed to live in Palo Alto until they die.

Better yet, just make Jissers buy everyone there a house in Palo Alto for them to live in.




6 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

Cordell does make a really important point. And that is that just because really, truly meeting the letter and spirit of the rule is pretty unimaginable under the circumstances, doesn't mean the rule should be violated and ruled against the residents and their children. The consequences then are pretty unimaginable to real people.

The local municipalities can sweeten the pot by making other development concessions to Jisser elsewhere. The best outcome is a sale of the park to the residents so there is no diaspora of the last low-income community in Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by Gsle Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Ladoris,

Sorry about my one question. You answered it when you said it would only apply to current enrolled students.


5 people like this
Posted by agreement
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 24, 2015 at 1:13 pm

It seems like everyone agrees that the most equitable solution is for the owners to close BV and pay a compensation package to the mobile home owners. The only point of contention is the amount of this compensation.


6 people like this
Posted by Gsle Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Just a few more comments and then I'll shut up for a day or two. I'm sure there are some of you out there clapping for that idea right now.

I support the effort we are making to keep the BV community here. They have been part of us and should remain here. But the defeat of 'D' and the nasty comments about those that opposed it are unwarranted.

The NIMBY attacks are so bad and unwarranted. And to all those who spoke out for 'D' and supported it... I'll bet you didn't live close to that neighborhood and would never welcome a project like that in your neighborhood. And if you really want to divert your energy away from blaming us old timers in PA, us so called NIMBY's, why don't you talk to the folks, your really rich friends (not just us house rich), in the hills, Los Altos Hills, Atherton, Hillsboough, Portola Valley, and Woodside and ask them to welcome low income and homeless folks into their towns. Good luck on that.


1 person likes this
Posted by Perplexed
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:09 am

What a windfall for landlords, as if the rental market here was not tight enough.


54 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:15 am

Anyone familiar with (and certainly those living in) the park knew the owner was talking about closing in the late 90's. By the year 2000, it was so well known that the park was destined for imminent closure, that the City Council created the Urgency Ordinance No. 4672 followed by the Park Conversion Ordinance in 2001. That was over 14 years ago. Plenty of time for anyone in school to have gone from kindergarten through High School.

Via the ordinances and negotiations since 2000, the park has already been kept open long enough for all students in school at the time to complete their education.





27 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:20 am

@Perplexed

BV has had rent control since 2000. You have surely noted the residents pointing out that any comparable rent they can find is many thousands of dollars a month more than they currently paying at BV.

Please refer to the Urgency and Closure ordinances of 2000 and 2001.


38 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:58 am

The market sets the value of property, and in the case of Buena Vista, the homes are worth approx. $25k. Hypothetical future benefits are included in that figure. How does losing $25k of property entitle one family to reimbursement of $25k while another family with a child in kindergarten gets $288k? Not fair IMHO, and I think also not legal, since the law must treat all comers (BV residents) equally.

Nothing wrong with being liberal, your honor, but the ability to write convincingly cannot hide what you have proposed - a redistribution of wealth from the Jisser family to BV residents. Sorry, but the last time I checked, we do not live in a socialist society.


6 people like this
Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 25, 2015 at 10:11 am

Does this formula account for constantly increasing rents? It starts with $3000 per month for an apartment, times the number of months children will be in school, but next year that same hypothetical apartment might cost $3500 or $4000, given the rate of local rent increases.


5 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 25, 2015 at 10:40 am

I have always been very liberal-minded, particularly when it comes to ensuring a quality education for all, regardless of ethnicity or income, but perhaps I am becoming more -- and it horrifies me to say this -- "conservative" in my middle age.

Certainly, the Buena Vista residents deserve some level of compensation due to the hybrid owner-renter nature of mobile homes, but it is a rather big leap to expect the Jissers to more-or-less pay living expenses until all the children currently attending PAUSD graduate from high school.

Judge Cordell's proposal is creative and compassionate. The city ordinance concerning the park closure is confusing but well-intentioned. Still, we have no real clarity and consensus about what would be a fair resolution for Buena Vista and no real leadership on resolving the affordable housing crisis in Palo Alto.


26 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As others have wisely pointed out the fair market value of a home already includes, among many other factors, the value of the local school system. And everyone is very quick to point out the impact of the school system on the value of their home.

So why should the taxpayers give the BV residents double payment for the value of the school system? Should not such double payments also be made to anyone who is relocated by new construction?


4 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2015 at 10:56 am

[Post removed.]


43 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 25, 2015 at 11:19 am

[Portion removed.] Other commenters are pointing out the obvious, which is that their market rate has already assumed the value of the education, weather, jobs, etc -- so why are they somehow entitled to an order of magnitude more?

I'm also curious what relevance the "most of whom are Latino" comment has? Are they entitled to this because they are mostly Latino? Are you suggesting that the windfall be restricted only to the Latinos within the park?


7 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 25, 2015 at 11:37 am

As a thought experiment, I'd like everyone to think about what would happen if Stanford said it wanted the land on which Gunn High School sits back to put up housing and offices. (And the first proposal was 4X the zoning.)

If the contract or laws said the University had to provide a realistic way to relocate the school somewhere comparable in town, do you think it would be fair if they said, Oh, the old structures are only worth about a few hundred thousand dollars, plus a few thou for moving expenses?

Do you think it would even be fair if they said, Ok, we'll pay you a little more -- if there was no way to actually relocate the school in reality for that amount of money? The rule is the rule, and the circumstances may make it tough to follow it, but it is bias against poor people that make people think it's ok for Jisser to enforce his side but not the residents of BV to enforce theirs under the law.

In the analogy, offering even more money for the structures totally avoids the issue that ACTUALLY finding a new place for a real school and putting it there would cost hundreds of millions at this point, would affect all kinds of other public expenditures down the line like infrastructure, traffic, etc (all with public costs), if it were even achievable for any money.

The diaspora of hundreds of long-time low-income Palo Altans will have public costs, too, down the line, and in between the public no longer being able to close their eyes to them and today's shutting people out is an immense amount of human suffering that would have long repercussions in real people's lives and our community.

Helping to purchase the park and retain the community here has many benefits to Palo Alto and the lives of hundreds of people. If we claim to care about affordable housing, THIS is the line in the sand.


50 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 25, 2015 at 11:51 am

>The Jisser family can lawfully sell their property....

Yes they can, if they want to. If they do not want to, they need not do so.

There should be no public funds spent on this private matter.

LaDoris, as a former judge, you must understand the legal can of worms you are suggesting be opened. Do you want Palo Alto to face a massive law suit?


20 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Greenacres -

IMHO your Stanford/Gunn analogy is a false analogy, and in any case we don't need an analogy because the Buena Vista issue isn't that complicated. What has stretched this out for three or four years is the unpalatable outcome: displacing 400 people from Palo Alto housing that they can afford.

Of course the residents of Buena Vista should enforce their rights under the law, but this has gotten to the point of absurdity. Mark Twain said it best: "Figures don't lie, but liars figure." (Note that I am not referring to the BV residents as liars - they are being misled by others as to what is fair and proper.)

I was once laid off along with several hundred others because the owner of the company wanted to retire and sold out to a conglomerate. We all got our severance, but for most it was not enough since the economy was in recession at the time and jobs were hard to find. The owner had a right to sell; we didn't blame our bad luck on him.

Buying Buena Vista so it can be preserved as affordable housing is a great idea if it can be made to work, but it would have to be brought up to code. It's not right either to residents or neighbors for the park to continue as it is today - grandfather the non-compliant units for the current residents only. But realistically, it's probably too late to prevent the evictions.


23 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm

As always, weird things happen when we try to mess with the market forces of free enterprise. Just because someone took some investment risk some time ago to buy a piece of land in town doesn't mean we can expect this investor to pay more if the investment pays off.
To all the Robin Hoods asking the Jissers to pay for your social projects, how would you feel if someone tries to extort some money from you the day you decide to sell your nice homes in town. Not fair, right?
Just hope our city council is smart enough NOT to get taxpayers into a situation where we'll be paying the Jissers some huge $ after they sue for all the discriminatory treatment they have been subjected to.


10 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2015 at 4:39 pm

@Greenacres

I believe that IF Stanford owns the land upon which Gunn HS sits, then Palo Alto has anywhere from a 51 to 96 (or more) year lease with Stanford for the land use. I believe this because that is the term of lease Stanford recently approved for other lands it leases.
Web Link
and
Web Link

Unfortunately, I cannot find any authoritative reference that identifies Stanford ownership and/or land lease relative to the land upon which Gunn HS. sits, and you have not provided one.

In contrast however, we do know that the renters at Buena Vista have 6 month termination clauses in their leases. Meaning that the BV renters have a contract which they knowingly signed making them subject to 6 month termination.

Therefore, absent any reference to Stanford ownership and lease terms relative to Gunn HS, any comparisons you are implying between Gunn and Buena Vista are not valid with respect to lease termination rights.

If I am incorrect, can you please provide a reference to the lease agreement between Stanford and Palo Alto for Gunn HS. land ?



31 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 25, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Ladoris,

You are conflating housing with education. And then overvaluing that education.

Who is to say that the renters won't end up in a fine destination with descent schools?

Your logic is just flawed.


24 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 25, 2015 at 7:56 pm

"LaDoris, as a former judge, you must understand the legal can of worms you are suggesting be opened. Do you want Palo Alto to face a massive law suit?"

Once again, Craig nails it. He speaks for the silent majority in Palo Alto.


34 people like this
Posted by No entitlements for the rest of us
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2015 at 7:57 pm

At first I just thought this was a facetious presentation demonstrating just how unmanageable the entire argument to allow the subjective concept of safety and schools to be used for the purpose of increasing payment to the residents of BV.

Increasing payment to over quarter million per family ---- really? Why not have the property owner just donate the whole thing as a gift to the residents - or just pay the residents to take it off their hands so they can just walk away from it all? That is about what this proposal suggest.

The CC did just as some said they wanted to do i.e.. do whatever they can to stop the closure of BV. This editorial just points ridiculous things can get by increasing the desire for more entitlements.

The original offer was more that fair for old RV's and trailers that can't be moved and have zero intrinsic worth. Just close it and move on.


46 people like this
Posted by Reason
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:32 pm

Reason is a registered user.

Hi LaDoris,

I sort of get your logic, but your math is terrible.

The true difference (if you believe all the benefits accrued to housing come from education), is the difference in rent between a mobile home in Palo Alto, and a mobile home in a nearby, less expensive community. Let's take Mt. View comparable rentals are about $1500/mo. If the Buena Vista rental was $1300, then all the information is in the price - home, schools everything.

The difference is $200/month or about 2400 a year, or $28K for a 12-year period.

And that's if you believe ALL the benefit of living in Palo Alto is in the schools. If you believe only half the value of living here is the schools, then the number drops.

It is far different than your ridiculous $432K. Honestly. You are not even trying to examine this critically.

Basically, you think too much of Palo Alto, and failed to look up even the most reasonable economically viable alternative. Your agenda clearly shows that you want to punish the landowner for whatever reason why.


17 people like this
Posted by Pangloss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:54 pm

"So why should the taxpayers give the BV residents double payment for the value of the school system?"

Ego, Peter, ego. It affirms the self-evident exceptionality of the PA schools and reinforces the perceived inferiority of all other possible schools.


24 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:06 pm

Desert Jack has more-or-less covered the key points as to why this idea of Judge Cordell's is not well thought-through, and probably not even legal. Cordell’s claims that the Jissers should pay, say, $25K per trailer and about $400+K in “relocation assistance” is simply loony-tunes.

Let’s push this a bit. The idea that anyone can get a house (furnished rental property) for $3,000 in Palo Alto for a family of 3, or more, is pushing it a bit. But let’s go with that for a moment. What happens when the rent goes up, as rents invariably do? Presumably Judge Cordell’s highly punitive “settlement” with the Jissers will have them on the hook for all additional/unknown costs for at least twelve years? Or will Judge Cordell be back with her Plan B--direct subsidy for each of these families for the City's General Fund?

And what happens if families decide to move to another trailer park of their choice before their kids graduate? Do they get the money unconditionally, or do those funds revert to the Jissers.

There is a big difference between hanging out in a dilapidated trailer park, and living in a residential neighborhood. How will people who are characterized as “vulnerable”, not very savvy when it comes to financial matters, etc. going to be able to manage a house—which requires a lot more upkeep than a trailer?

All-in-all, there is nothing about this proposal that does not reek of the sound of the old English Highwayman’s directiveto the unlucky traveller : “Stand and Deliver!”

If nothing else, this episode should be more than a cautionary tale for those who want to build/operate anything remotely akin to "affordable housing" here in Palo Alto.


41 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

The whole idea that the value of the schools aren't already factored into prices or an appraisal is insulting.


40 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2015 at 12:30 am

This is bordering on lunacy. Let the man sell his property. The ONLY people who are required by law to be assisted with relocation are those who own a trailer and are currently under a signed lease. Period.

How is the owner of this property responsible for relocating families? It is not his responsibility to be the caretaker. The Jisser family is not an Earl from the Elizabethian period. They own an old trailer park for which the residents were given notices YEARS AGO (correct me if I am wrong).

I've been reading through the current year's Mobilehome Residency Law for California and I can't find anything that would justify the exorbitant burden placed upon the shoulders of the Jisser family. Please see 798.56:g found under SEVEN AUTHORIZED REASONS FOR TERMINATION OF TENANCY:

Web Link


39 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2015 at 1:14 am

These people have been leasing old Datsuns, Gremlins and Pintos and renting spaces for them in a parking lot. Now the parking lot is closing and they want the owner to drive them to a new lot and buy them a shiny new Tesla. Since the roads around town are pretty good, they want the owner to buy them 20 years' worth of tires and foot the bill for tune ups too. Since local radio station reception is good and reception in the new parking lot might not be as clear, they want the owner to equip each Tesla with satellite radios and pay the subscription fees for the next decade.

Do you see how ridiculous this sounds? This is what these people and their lawyers are trying to do. It is fleecing the owners and expecting a payday windfall.

These residents have already received their windfall. They lived in Palo Alto and enjoyed the parks, schools, roads, libraries and other amenities for years. The vacation had come to an end and now it's time to move on.


55 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 26, 2015 at 1:43 am

Is this a joke? Seriously, is this a joke? I thought it was an April Fool's joke from PA Online. Why does the owner owe anything to these people? People who cannot afford their rent/mortgage have to move from Palo Alto all the time and no one pays them. These people should NOT be compensated for their departure. Jisser doesn't need to give them a dime, but for PC purposes, should give them something, enough to relocate, but not pay for their children's education.


22 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2015 at 7:02 am

Now it sounds like it is all about the money.


9 people like this
Posted by BetterIdea
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 26, 2015 at 10:16 am

The residents of Buena Vista can live in East Palo Alto where the rents are lower and have their children bused over to Palo Alto to continue and complete their education.


7 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2015 at 10:47 am

@greenacres, The "land under Gunn" with Stanford holding the lease doesn't work because I believe that Stanford leases land to PAUSD for several schools for $1 a year in exchange for education students that live on Stanford land.

@BetterIdea - in order for students to live in another school district and go to PAUSD, the other district must agree to it and agree to send the state funding that goes with the student to PAUSD. Not sure Ravenswood would agree to that.


2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2015 at 3:51 pm

> and agree to send the state funding that goes with the student to PAUSD.

This is not true. In the case of an inter-district transfer to the PAUSD from an ADA district (Average Daily Attendence), the ADA district will lose the student, and the ADA money that the State pays for each student. The PAUSD does not get any money with the student, because this is a Basic Aid School District.

In this transfer, the home district does lose money--but it also loses a student it has to teach/administer.


2 people like this
Posted by Pangloss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2015 at 5:54 pm

'I can't believe THAT!' said Alice.

'Can't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. 'Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'

Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said: 'one CAN'T believe impossible things.'

'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

'Here, work out this little conumdrum tomorrow morning and you will be well on your way. In Palo Alto, California (that's in the Colonies, you know), some well meaning people believe that the market value of their homes is markedly increased by the supposed excellence of their community schools. These selfsame souls aver that a group of people being evicted from their dwellings which occupy the landlord's property must be compensated by their landlord in addition to the appraised market values of those dwellings for the loss of their childrens' ability to attend those schools.

'Confused? Splendid! You evidently understand the proposition. I sincerely wish you well in your undertaking.


15 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 26, 2015 at 7:53 pm

As written, the ordinance is reasonably balanced. It allows a reasonable relocation fee to be paid to the residents for their loss of space, and on the other side the owner can then repurpose his land.

As modified by the city council, the relocation fee now includes compensation for safety and schools, even though these things are conspicuously absent in the ordinance itself. I believe that this is illegal, but it is possible that the owner may accept it just to move along.

Now let's look at Cordell proposal. If I understand it, it looks like $288,000 relocation per family. With 100 families, that is $28,800,000 in total, plus some other expenses here and there.

Most authorities are saying that the property, unencumbered by the trailer park and ready for development at current zoning, is worth $30,000,000.

In other words, the park residents get the entire value of the park, and the "owner" gets nothing at all. Is this really what is being proposed? Simply try to use the ordinance to support complete confiscation?

Obviously, were the city to attempt to impose this solution, the owner would have no choice but to file suit. What does he have to lose since the proposal just takes away his entire equity (and probably more).

The further implications of the general principle at work here are astounding. Are we going to a policy that once a student gets into PAUSD schools, the student can stay even if he is no longer a resident? The implications of this are even more generally profound and would bankrupt the school system in a few years with people getting their children into PAUSD without having to pay our taxes.

This would undermine completely the sense that the PAUSD schools are simply up for grabs by anyone but the current residents have to foot the bill. This would change every aspect of the PAUSD.

I think we need to start rethinking about the economic implications of these things from a free-market viewpoint to bring some balance to this discussion.


4 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 27, 2015 at 8:55 am

@GoneOnTooLong,

My post was a thought experiment, to help people understand their biases.

The issue of Stanford and Gunn is separately something you could pursue if interested. Stanford seems to have leased the land behind Gunn to PAUSD for Gunn:
Web Link
"Barron Park's back yard is several acres of hilly grassland leased by the Palo Alto Unified School District from Stanford University. Someday Strawberry Hill may be part of a Gunn expansion, but for now it provides habitat for a diversity of wildflowers and grasses, herons and hawks. Barron and Matadero creeks border the Hill, providing a home for ducks, fish and playful little kids. A network of footpaths is well used by Gunn students and neighbors."

Current status of the Gunn land itself? You'd have to check with the district, this is what I could find. (It's really not relevant to my point, unless you want to criticize me for choosing an imperfect thought experiment, or I you for never being unreachable past biases about people who are not rich.)
Web Link
"The university and the school district have a long history of cooperation, with five local public schools on land once owned by Stanford. They are Palo Alto High School, Gunn High School, Escondido and Nixon elementary schools as well as Oak Knoll School in Menlo Park."

The point of the thought experiment was to get people to think about their biases in a situation like this. People are expressing opinions about the current process, but what is happening now is the legal process and both parties have rights. People have an easy time thinking about the rights of the rich party despite the impossible human toll, even as they are not able to consider the rights of the low-income if it costs more dollars than they think it should.


15 people like this
Posted by curmudgeon.
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 27, 2015 at 9:59 am

"I think we need to start rethinking about the economic implications of these things from a free-market viewpoint to bring some balance to this discussion."

That's very easy.

The Free Market says the BV residents hit the road with just what they can pack. Anything beyond that is Socialism.

The issue of this debate is how much Socialism they get.


4 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:05 am

@Palo Alto Native,

The difference is that in the case of a mobile home park, people own the structures, which even the law acknowledges are generally not mobile once they are in place. They have invested in property, which makes them uniquely vulnerable, that's why the laws are different.

What if you owned a condo and the condo-owners association wanted to take over the building? Or you owned a house on leased land? It's really not the same as a person renting an apartment. The low-income people who paid for those mobile homes are hugely affected economically by this as a percentage of their assets and income.

Instead of heaping scorn on them, the owner should be glad (given how poorly he maintained the place) the residents didn't do anything like this:
"Jury awards $111 million to trailer park residents"
Web Link
That was in Sunnyvale



16 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:23 am

Really ??? Pay rent subsidies for those whose children haven't graduated until they do ??? This is progressive liberalism at it's best. Could easily be confused with insanity.


9 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:25 am

If the owner of BV had made the investment to bring the park up to code, there would be a lot fewer people living there now, because it has been too dense for years. If the park were to be purchased (if it would go up for sale), any purchaser would need to bring it up to code...and many people would need to be evicted. The park is a low cost place to live, for so many, precisely because the owner did not bring it up to code. Can't have it both ways, Greenacres.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:37 am

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Craig Laughton,

BV is currently in compliance with all city and state codes and has been since the last state inspection, approx. 2 years ago, city codes apply only to the conventional structures within the park, i.e. single family home, laundry, showers and studio apartments, the trailers are overseen by only the state, not the city or the county.


4 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:41 am

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Also, Craig Laughton,

the owner encouraged all of the build-outs, in fact his straw-purchaser would live in the trailers that the owner acquired while renovating, then they would flip the trailer and move on to the next one.

in case you may not know, the owner goes to each trailer every month to read the electrical meters for our rent and utility bills, so it would be hard for the owner not to know what is going on as far as build-outs, in each unit, every month.


4 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:49 am

>BV is currently in compliance with all city and state codes and has been since the last state inspection, approx. 2 years ago....

That's interesting. Can you provide a link to that state inspection? I listened to the oral arguments at the city council appeal, and a number of people said it was out of compliance with various codes, especially overcrowding and lack of adequate footprint for all the trailers.


Like this comment
Posted by Roger
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:55 am

Let's spend the money relocating these people.
Ok so it may not be in Palo Alto, seems to me this is all turning into the school systems fault, everyone seems to want their kids to go to PAUSD, but at the same time on a different channe, PAUSD gets slammed for being such a poor school district.
So ok I'm confused, but really.


16 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:59 am

Here's an even better idea:
1. Let the Jissers exercise their legal rights by closing the park without further harassment from the city council or the social activitst
2. Have the hard-core supporters of BV create a private fund to allow them to put their $ where their mouths are. This way, they can generously contribute whatever they want without having to depend on taxpayers for their pet projects

A win/win situation that would not violate anybody's legal rights.


23 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Pause button...

OK - take away the imminent closure of BV. Take the best looking, best maintained "mobile" home at BV and try and sell it...

The logic in the OP's posting is that this trailer would sell for at least $433K.

Honestly? Such bunk!

As I've suggested before - most people would agree that both Los Altos HS and Mountain View HS have similar academic reputations to Gunn and Paly.

The highest priced mobile home for sale in Mountain View is a 2015 (brand new) 3BR/2BA in a 55+ park (a premium given amenities and a very clean/quiet park) is $249K.

Web Link

The mobile homes for sale in parks that allow children/families are all going for mid $100's.

There is no way in the world the BV trailers are anywhere near the value (given their collective state of disrepair and age) of the mobile home noted above, let alone the trailers in the other parks.

This is such a joke. This is a city-county sponsored scam.

Although it will cost me public/tax dollars to defend CPA --- I fully encourage the Jissers to take CPA to court and sue the pants off the city.


6 people like this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:57 pm

All of you have it all wrong. This is not about real estate valuation, or fairness, it is about affirming the supremacy of Palo Alto schools. Giving in at BV would be a tacit admission that other schools might be the equals of PA schools, and that is flatly unthinkable.


15 people like this
Posted by janet
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Greenacres, that is so untrue in regards to the mobile homes not being mobile. They are typically mobile, that is why the jissers had to have to packages for the tenants. one for people moving their trailers and the other for people leaving them. The report submitted with the report lists companies that are more than capable of relocating the trailers.

The real reason they are no longer mobile is that the tenants let their trailers fall apart. Remember the jissers only leased the dirt for these people to park their trailers. now the jissers are having to pay the tenants for not maintaining the trailer.

Ellen Gold, the jissers filed to close the park back in 2000. and you want everyone to believe they built these illegal units? Seriously, I dont believe you have your facts straight.

Further, in regards to the owners, I walked in and spoke with them last week. They are waiting to see if the council is really going to make the proposed changes. The councils proposal is intended to increase the residents package which is already bloated. Per our discussion if the changes go through prepare to sink PA residents tax dollars down the toilet. A lawsuit will be file immediately. D

Does the city or the jissers really owe the residents anything? As I drove through last week the park seemed full. REALLY, this has been going on for almost three years and nobody has moved!!!! seems like they are all sticking around to get paid. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH PEOPLE!!!!


14 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2015 at 1:40 pm

May I point out that people living in Buena Vista live there because it is cheap. Location and schools is not very relevant. One never was able to rent in the SF SJ corridor for the money they are/were paying. Schools came into play only now when they have to face the our reality.


6 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Property rights must dominate. Owners own their real estate holdings otherwise chaos develops as in the case of the Buena Vista. Because of property control rent controls are costing California billions of dollars a year in financial damages for the sake of those who do not want to pay market rates. Who makes up the difference: others. One persons entitlement is another's tax bill. Bowles Simpson: America is bankrupt too because of entitlement spending. Economics, history study them.

George Drysdale a social science teacher


1 person likes this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Curmudgeon,

"The issue of this debate is how much Socialism they get."

Labeling something as "Socialism" is often an overstatement.

-- The ordinance requires some help with the relocation, which may not be socialism at all if done properly.

-- Expanding the meaning of an ordinance to go beyond simple physical relocation starts to be unfair to the owner. The council expanded the ordnance beyond the legislative intent I think.

-- Using tax dollars to help with relocation is perhaps somewhat more socialistic. [Not being proposed.]

-- Giving people free public housing yet another step, and certainly more socialistic.

-- But all of this pales compared to outright confiscation of a single person's property, which is what is being advocated by the writer of the opinion piece. Most socialists in the last half-century have seen confiscation as an unworkable step, and everyone else has seen it as outrageous.


3 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm

I have always thought each city was obligated to have in their general plan a provision for low income housing.
What kind of low income housing is there in Palo Alto? This trailer park is as close to that as I have seen. As a dependent on teacher retirement I could never afford to live in Palo Alto. What can be done to help these people find a new place. I am appalled at how callous some comments have been.
What is the community going to do to comply with the state requirement?


8 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Greenacres -

The article about the $111M jury award to residents of the Sunnyvale trailer park says the owner was responsible for things like geese droppings in the swimming pool, sewage backups, potholes, electrical blackouts, inadequate street lighting, homeless people camped out under the clubhouse stage, a gate that fell over and lay on the ground for a couple of weeks, and water outages that lasted up to 20 hours at a time. Plus, the owner consistently ignored complaints from the residents.

Sounds bad - but how does this apply to Buena Vista? Did the Jissers fail to maintain in the same degree? No painting, no black top on the driveways, etc, is not the same as no electricity and no water. Do the BV residents have a record of complaints that the Jisser family ignored? It would be good to see some facts to back up your statement that BV was poorly maintained.

Was the $111M award to residents of the Sunnyvale trailer park allowed to stand? That was more than a year ago and Google doesn't turn up anything more on the case. Did a judge reduce the award? Has anyone seen any money yet?


6 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Issues about the maintenance of the park must be considered in the light of the rent control ordinance passed by the city.

Rent control has been studied by economics in a very big way. The ultimate effects are generally found to be disastrous. Some relevant effects:

1. Properties are not maintained because the landlord has no incentive to maintain and eventually will not able to afford it. Many properties are simply abandoned by their owners.

2. Owners will try to find a way to exit the business as soon as possible.

3. New properties subject to rent control will not be built. Item 2 and 3 will guarantee that the supply of rent-controlled housing will fall in time.

Residents of the trailer park noted that their rent was about a third of the rent of any other housing in Palo Alto. This is because of rent control. Rent control also means that only the minimum maintenance was done, and it may have had a part in the owner's decision to exit.

Who here would like to invest his personal family's money on a rent-controlled trailer park in Palo Alto? If your answer is you would not, you can sympathize a bit with the Jissers.


Like this comment
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Mr Smith:

The Free Market says the BV residents hit the road with just what they can pack. Anything beyond that is Socialism.

Supplement: Anything compensation to the residents beyond what the landlord freely chooses to give, without government coercion, is Socialism.

I am not advocating or opposing Socialism. I am merely illustrating how routinely it is used for softening the brutishness of the oft-revered, but seldom used, Free Market.


12 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Endless lunacy. Why do fools in this paper print such a nonsense article.The Jissers own the land and should sell it if they want. Only some fools in Palo Alto believe it is the center of the universe and its schools make property expensive in Palo Alto. San Francisco property is more expensive and desirable and nobody talks about its school system.

The Appraiser took into account the "value of the school system" when he made his appraisal and the Palo Alto appointed judge agreed it was more than fair. If the left wing residents want the BV kids go to school let them live in their homes and drive the kids to school every day.

It is just nonsense and a red herring some idiot thought up to try to delay the closing of the fire trap trailer park.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Craig Laughton,

sorry, I don't have a web link, but you can check with CA HCD, that's the agency that inspects parks to make sure they are in compliance with State codes.

Janet,

Since I've lived in BV for 20 years I personally witnessed the owner's building spree over about a 5-6 year period of time.

Also, its hard to believe you were able to speak to the owner at the park, since he only comes here the first and last weeks of the month, but maybe you know him :)


4 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Probably many of the kids being counted don't even live in the trailer park and their parents are just using friend's BV addresses to send them to school paid for by the Palo Alto taxpayers. Has the Palo Alto School District checked to verify how many kids actually live in Palo Alto and checked their addresses. Seems as bad as the deadbeats that live in motorhomes on the street near El Camino and Maybell and go to PA schools.


8 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:47 pm

@Ellen Gold

You said:
"the owner encouraged all of the build-outs"
"Since I've lived in BV for 20 years I personally witnessed the owner's building spree over about a 5-6 year period of time."

Since the CC has now required the owner to include all additions (whether permitted or not) in the bedroom counts for rent offsets, and the unit appraisals, it sure does sound like the owner is going to pay big time for that bad decision.

Since you are a witness to the "building spree" and "build-out" "encouragement" - Can you share with us how much additional income the owner realized as a result of those build-outs ?


2 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:54 pm

>sorry, I don't have a web link, but you can check with CA HCD

OK, I tried the CA HCD site, but could not find the state inspection that you mentioned. Please help me Ellen. I am quite willing to look at it.

Frankly, I find it difficult to believe that the BV firetrap would pass any type of code inspection...but maybe I'm wrong.


4 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Gone on too long,

I'm not privy to actual figures, but the scuttlebutt is that for the home built out around the heritage oak, the trailer was acquired following the death of the owner for a pittance, usually around 10k or less and it sold for close to 80 or 90k after the buildout. The profits were shared with the straw-buyer/builder. As an "owner/builder" he could build without a contractor's license, cheaper than the owner buying the trailer and paying a contractor to renovate. The owner traded free housing in the trailer undergoing renovation to the builder during the renovation as well.


4 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:03 pm

@Ellen Gold

I had heard the Heritage Oak unit story as well.
Thanks for providing the example.



2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Craig, it you can't locate the info you want on the HCD web site, then you'll have to call them! Yes, BV did pass the last state inspection approx. 2 years ago. Many buildings had to be taken down and/or altered, and it does appear that some things taken down for the inspection have been gradually re-installed, but the state only gets out here about once every ten years and the city and county do not oversee or enforce building codes at BV with the exception of conventional buildings such as the single family home, the showers and laundry building and the studio apartments.

Its becoming very tiresome to constantly see comments about bringing BV "up to city code", when CITY AND COUNTY BUILDING CODES ARE NOT ENFORCED AT BV.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Gone on too long,

You're welcome!

The owner milked $ out of BV like it was his personal cash cow, which it still is!


8 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:17 pm

>Craig, it you can't locate the info you want on the HCD web site, then you'll have to call them!

Ellen, since you made the claim that the state inspection gave BV a green light, I think it is up to you to prove it. How about you call them, then provide the written report on this blog?


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Thanks Craig, but I'm kinda busy planning my relocation! I'm sure they'll be able to confirm the park's passing inspection, as the owner can as well.


12 people like this
Posted by Barry
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:20 pm

I think Craig has you cornered, Ellen. Just provide the state inspection report. We would all like to read it.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Barry,

Please do not doubt my credibility. If BV had not passed the last inspection, the inspectors would keep on inspecting until it did. Since they haven't been here in the last 2 years or so, it is safe to assume BV passed.

At the time of the inspection, it took BV a full YEAR for the inspectors to pass it.

The inspectors would come back every six weeks or sooner to review the mandated changes and each time they returned they would find more irregularities that needed correction, until after almost a year they finally passed the park.

I do not have a copy of the state's last inspection, but the owner's do! If I did have a copy I'd be happy to provide it. I'm sure HCD can provide phone confirmation that BV passed its last inspection.


4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:32 pm

re: bringing BV up to code...

From PAO, Sept. 2011: Web Link

"Redevelopment of Buena Vista, which gradually became established as a trailer park after World War II, has been rumored for years, with the Jissers repeatedly denying they had such plans. But Jisser said that 12 years ago the city noted the park had a 10-year life span before its infrastructure, including water and electrical facilities, would need upgrading.

"We're at 12 years now. We're starting to get a feel that the infrastructure won't hold up too much longer. We figure the utilities might last another two to five years," he said.

"If you do upgrade, the cost would be enormous,' he said.

Many of the pre-1950s mobile homes would also require improvements to accommodate the new utilities, including increased electrical power, he said.

A majority of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park's residents are very low and low income, seniors or disabled, according to the City of Palo Alto.

Upgrading the park to comply with state codes would mean the legal spacing between units would change.

"That means a large reduction in the number of homes. You would almost have to start building a new mobile home park from the ground up," Jisser said. "


-----

And just in case you don't understand the concept, owning a business or a rental property usually means that the owner wants to make a profit. "Cash Cow" defined:

cash cow
noun informal
noun: cash cow; plural noun: cash cows; noun: cash cow; plural noun: cash cows

a business, investment, or product that provides a steady income or profit.

... as if this is a bad thing.


12 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:44 pm

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we talking two different things when we say the park has to be brought up to code? The park itself - water lines, electricity, driveways, etc - may be up to code. The mobilehomes/trailers may not be. So in the unlikely event an angel can be found in the next few weeks and the park can be preserved as affordable housing, does anyone think that in the long run it's OK to have non-compliant mobilehomes/trailers there? Maybe those units could be grandfathered for current residents but then they should be removed or fixed up.

But IMHO this has gone on long enough and it's past time to stop. And if, on 26 May, Council ignores the obvious, that even its own expert says that the value of PA schools is included in the present appraisal, then expect this whole mess to turn out to be very costly for the city, which is all of us.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:44 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Crescent Park Dad,

[Portion removed.]

Upgrading the park would not require any changes to comply with State codes, as I've already said, the park is in compliance with State codes now. They required one of my neighbors to dismantle an addition that did not have enough set-back. They also required another neighbor to dismantle a shed in their car port. The existing set=backs for each lot are in compliance.

The utilities have not been evaluated by a professional to determine if the owner's lip movements might be correct or are just another example of his prevarication to present the picture he wants. He's good at it, he had his brother in law/biz partner convinced that Blockbuster was paying half the rent they were actually paying according to court documents.

Also, thanks for the definition, I know what it means and I wrote it while fully cognizant of its definition, and since I too own a business I know exactly what cash cow means.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Desert Jack,

This is the last time I will explain this.

BV IS UP TO CODE. ALL OF BV IS UP TO CODE. THE STATE ENFORCES THE CODES ON THE ENTIRE TRAILER PARK. THE CITY ENFORCES ITS CODES ON THE ACTUAL CONVENTIONAL BUILDING IN THE PARK, SUCH AS THE LAUNDRY, SHOWERS, SINGLE FAMILY HOME AND STUDIO APARTMENTS.

THE WHOLE PLACE IS UP TO CODE NOW.

THE OWNERS WOULD LIKE YOU TO THINK IT IS NOT. IT IS.

We all live within the rule of law, although, some like the owner are scofflaws. The legal due process will continue on May 26th and the final outcome remains to be seen. Since you're so concerned with being up to code, maybe you could ask the owner to comply with the city ordinance and remove or cover the graffiti on the back wall of the Valero station, also his property. He has not responded to months of requests to do this.

Also, you could ask the owner what happened to the "plantings and irrigation" he was required to install when he replaced the Los Robles Ave. fence. The said plantings and irrigation were never installed.

Its been very enlightening to read the comments about BV here.


6 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm

Buena Vista is R-15 zoning. Looking at past articles about the park, it was stated that it is 15 individual units per acre (max but fewer preferred). BV is 4.5 acres, which would be 67.5 units for the park. Could someone refresh my memory on how many units are currently in BV? If there are more, that may be the issue in terms of issues with the park in its current state.

I also recall reading several articles that were not quotes from Jisser talking about how the park needed to be brought up to code. Ellen - as others have stated, since you insist it's code-compliant, it's up to you to provide the source. I looked up a few items but am not going to spend hours researching something you are claiming that so far has no facts behind it.

I have no skin in this game but I expect that when someone posts something as "fact", they back it up. Thank you.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Curious,

The state does not provide copies of the inspections to the residents. Call HCD and they will confirm it has passed inspection.

I'm sure you can get the city and county to verify that they do not provide code enforcement or oversee BV. Like I said, I'm busy -- getting ready to relocate.


6 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Ellen -

As I recall, the appraisal by Beccaria was predicated on illegal (unpermitted) additional bedrooms being allowed. Are you saying that there are none of these additional bedrooms in Buena Vista?

If your point is that an unpermitted structure can be built to code, that's true, of course, but it's not what I meant. "Non-compliant" is a more accurate word.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:36 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Desert Jack,

As I've already stated, ad infinitum, all trailers passed the last inspection, approx. 2 years ago. That means ALL TRAILERS.

As I've already stated, some structures had to be taken down or modified before BV passed the inspection, so YES, structures built without state permits are now in compliance and all set-backs are conforming.


4 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:44 pm

Ellen -

So help me to understand, please. Why did Beccaria say that for purposes of the appraisal, unpermitted additions would be considered allowed? One might suppose that he knew there were some of these additions in Buena Vista, no?

Deeper into the rabbit hole we go...


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:55 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Desert Jack,

Unfortunately, I have no idea why Beccaria said anything he said. Sorry. You need to check with him.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Barron Park

on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:59 pm

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


4 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 7:01 pm

Ellen - OK. I'm sure he'll be asked on the 26th. THX.


2 people like this
Posted by Joseph
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Beccaria said what he said because the units are built without a permit. His report was clear. The owner instructed him to do so in order to be politically correct.


4 people like this
Posted by Flo
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2015 at 7:32 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by mary s.
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2015 at 8:18 pm

The owner gets to sell anytime he wants. I used to live in Palo Alto but had to move, couldn't afford it. This is definitely discrimination.


22 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 8:24 pm

With all due respect, how does someone who thinks like this become a judge ? This proposal is grossly unfair to the property owner, if not unlawful. Surely, she didn't think this through.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 8:33 pm

Just curious - when coming up with the "comparable housing"$$ is the criteria the square footage of the BV housing (which seems to mostly be under 500 square feet) or the number of bedrooms on the appraisa?


2 people like this
Posted by sea seelam prabhakar reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 28, 2015 at 4:57 am

the bottom line is 'Greed'

It is a good thing to have moratorium on greed.

There are 100 or so families. They are hardworking and have children going to school in the area.

Let apartment owners be kind to them and give them a break on rent.

It is a good karma to help a family.

Respectfully


13 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 28, 2015 at 9:36 am

That's such baloney: "greed". It implies evil. So if anyone invests in a property or business and then wants to improve it in order to make a profit (or to create financial security for the family), it is evil-greed? We might as well stop working altogether!

The BV owners have stated for a decade that they wanted to close the park. Yet everyone is surprised and running around with last-minute stalling tactics. They have a right to close the business. They have a right to sell the property if they want to...or redevelop it. The trailer owners have a right to state-mandated relocations costs.

The law is the law. Get over it please.


11 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 10:27 am

@ Crescent Park Dad.....liberal progressives call those that profit from a free market system where supply and demand is a spoke in the wheel of capitalism, greedy. To the elitist progressive liberals, commercial property owners are evil blood suckers who feed on those who have less. Corporations are the evil empire, yet how they love those Apple products (progressives can't live without them). You never hear them complain about Apple, which I believe is now the richest company in the U.S. Yet I'm sure none of them would want to live in anywhere else.


4 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 28, 2015 at 10:53 am

More ethnic gentrification via economic manipulation. Property value in Palo Alto or anywhere is created by supply and demand. The amount of supply and demand is established through setting policies and laws. Policies and laws can be changed to favor economic and ethnic diversity or they can be changed to create segregated singularity. Palo Alto's and for that matter the entire Bay Area from S.J to S.F has a policy in place to segregate the entire bay area through via gentrification utilizing the economic policy that "creates a high demand and a short supply of housing."

If Ladris Cordell truly wants diversity in Palo Alto, then she would work with the policy makers to ensure that there was a greater supply of housing in Palo Alto relative to jobs, a greater supply of housing in the bay area relative jobs.

How would that be accomplished. Either build up, which the residents do not want, therefore policy needs to be put in place to push jobs to cities where there is more land available for housing, like Manteca, Tracy, Stockton etc...

But the policy makers don't want to that locally, because they are more greedy for tax dollars than they are for quality of life.


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2015 at 11:24 am

We The People, of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, to me means buy out the bad actor and greedy ownership entity and save our community members of Buena Vista, and this value system has been in our Palo Alto General Plan since at least 1998 or longer, and it mentions Buena Vista by name, so if that sounds like "socialism" to you, maybe you need to go back and take civics at Barron Park elementary school from Shromila Gupta, 4th grade.

Thank you, Judge Cordell for chiming in here.

I agree with the second poster that we need a broader talk about economic justice here: how many families have been displaced in the last few years by gentrification and what if anything can or should we do about it? My moral compass says I would rather offer "rent relief" to qualified and deserving families than pay $10 M for a bridge, and I've said as much at public hearings. My morality says the clear choice would be eminent domain even at the risk of defending our values in court. When you say "property rights" I read "due process" and clearly we have done such.

The real estate industry is a billion dollar cartel here and that warps our attempts at self-governance and Democracy. People acting here merely on their values who do not have an immediate financial stake have a very difficult time, we've seen in case after case.

Democracy itself is on the ropes here. Speak out, stand up or go ahead and let it slip away.


8 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 11:49 am

Mr Weiss -

The Jisser family does not have a billion dollars, and the BV issue will be decided according to existing law, not law as you would have it be.


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2015 at 12:07 pm

The law is a living thing, Jack.


7 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 28, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Yes the law is a living and evolving thing. Thank goodness for that.

But as the saying goes, you can't change the rules in the middle of the game.

Change the laws fortune future? Give it a shot. But you can't change existing law that is the guiding force on an existing legal conflict.

My advice is to take all of this taxpayer money that has been volunteered and purchase a vacant lot and make it a new trailer park. Clean, new and with brand new trailers. Done.

Cut bait and move on.


2 people like this
Posted by rainbow38
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Janet et al:

While it's true that mobile homes/manufactured homes can be moved (as can any house), it costs at least $2,000 to move a mobile home. The major difficulty is that no other local park that has available space (and few have) will accept an older home.


8 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm

@ Mark Weiss...can you define economic justice ? Or are you advocating redistribution of wealth and assets (The Obama Plan)? Sounds like the same thing to me.


9 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 28, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Mr. Weiss is on unabashedly on the record in support of wealth redistribution. He's said as much online, let alone in other candidacy statements over the years.


2 people like this
Posted by mark weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2015 at 5:24 pm

No, I am against the forced redistribution en masse of 400 neighbors, the economic cleansing some say ethnic cleansing and the hypocrisy, weakness and doubletalk, the gap between what we say we value and what we actually do, and thousands of people agree with me.

The owners bought the park subject to these conditions, I am for enforcing our own policies, and the Constitution, and yes I pay taxes, how bout u??


4 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 28, 2015 at 5:28 pm

@mark -

I'm for allowing a person to close a business he no longer wants to be in.
I'm also for focusing our efforts on finding the BV residents new homes, instead of spending time on sound bites for the local politicians.


6 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Mark....if you look at the responses
to your posts, it's clear that most don't agree with you.


12 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 28, 2015 at 5:48 pm

@Mark Weiss
You said: "The owners bought the park subject to these conditions,"

Nope.
The Owner has owned the place since 1986.
The Urgency Ordinnce was put in place in 2000 (creating the first and only rent control in Palo Alto)
The Closure ordinance was created in 2001 (continuing the rent control and creating the mitigation/relocation requirements that this article is adressing, the latest of which some maintain were only added in 2015).

None of the closure conditions being debated here existed until over a decade after the owner first purchased the property.

You can familiarize yourself with the facts by reading the City Records here...

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Mark...perhaps you can read them and do the math.


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Palo Altans and leadership of one or two generations prior to current have valued the diversity BV represents and created protective language, or what I call, and I'm not a lawyer, nor do I represent in any way the BV residents, I'm just an average Palo Altan with average and commonplace and popular Judeo-Christian values of compassion - covenants that date back, it is my understanding to the use permit from the 1960s. And as I said above our Comp Plan or General Plan has codified this since at least 1998, well before current ownership entity; and I believe it is their plan since their inception to oust their tenants.

The current owners took control in 2000, buying out the 1986 owners, although the name of their LLC confusingly is similar, it may have overlapping at least one member.

The crux of the matter is: how does leadership in 2015 differ in interpretation of the covenant or how have we weakened in our values and morals, as the right wing "property rights" people and their propagandists shout down the rest of us?

The links another poster points to are not a complete record.

[Portion removed.]

I admire the hardworking BV residents I've met more than the old money CP people whose only task is managing their various equity funds.

What we have permitted over the last two years and yes "gone on too long" is an economic and emotional pogrom.


8 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:15 pm

@Mark Weiss

"...or what I call, and I'm not a lawyer, nor do I represent in any way the BV residents, I'm just an average Palo Altan with average and commonplace and popular Judeo-Christian values of compassion - covenants that date back, it is my understanding..."

..... You lost me there.

"... to the use permit from the 1960s."

Reference ?

".. And as I said above our Comp Plan or General Plan has codified this since at least 1998"

reference ?

"...well before current ownership entity; and I believe it is their plan since their inception to oust their tenants."

reference?

"The crux of the matter is: how does leadership in 2015 differ in interpretation of the covenant or how have we weakened in our values and morals, as the right wing "property rights" people and their propagandists shout down the rest of us?"

You make an impressive argument.
I am speechless.



1 person likes this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 29, 2015 at 8:51 am

Excellent. The comments about the Buena Vista mobile home park show that in an educated area most people understand basic economics. Arguments concerning utopian solutions, "kingdom of heaven on earth" are impossible because they are unaffordable. The comments of Palo Alto citizens online are now being used to get rid of rent control in California. ". . . the Catastrophe in Capitola and the Great Santa Cruz Land Swindle". On the internet. Very often politicians underestimate the intelligence of the electorate. In Silicon Valley you have a check on demagoguery or do you.

George Drysdale


9 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 29, 2015 at 10:01 am

So the Constitution, Federal Laws, State Laws and City Laws & Ordinances are all good things until they don't work for you or your cause?

The law will always trump emotional pining and moral lecturing.

Both the property owners and the BV residents have certain rights as defined by State and City laws/ordinances. The process has been going along as prescribed by such laws. Time to move on.


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

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