News

Santa Clara County supervisor to propose plan to save Buena Vista

Joe Simitian to be joined by official from The Caritas Corporation, in announcing 'credible plan' to preserve mobile-home park

An eleventh-hour plan to save Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto from closure is expected to be unveiled tonight by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who has been leading the charge by allocating funding and finding a nonprofit partner to preserve the mobile-home park.

Now, one such partner appears to have joined the effort. The Caritas Corporation, a nonprofit based in Southern California, has reportedly expressed interest in helping to buy and operate Buena Vista, a plan that could prevent the eviction of the roughly 400 residents who call the Barron Park park home.

Buena Vista's future has been cloudy since the fall of 2012, when the property owners, the Jisser family, first announced plans to close the park and convert it to market-rate housing. The park at 3980 El Camino Real includes 104 mobile homes, 12 studios and one single-family home and is the largest bastion of affordable housing in the city.

Last month, the City Council set the stage for the park's imminent closure when it tentatively approved a 2014 decision by hearing officer Craig Labadie, affirming the adequacy of the relocation-benefit package being offered by the Jissers to the residents.

On May 26, the council is expected to make the ruling final, a decision that would allow the Jissers to immediately begin the six-month eviction process.

With the clock ticking, Simitian is preparing to present what he calls a "credible plan" for preserving Buena Vista.

As the Weekly first reported, The Caritas Corporation was one of three nonprofit operators of mobile-home parks that the county has been talking to about saving Buena Vista.

Simitian will elaborate on the plan at a press conference later today, where he will be joined by John Woolley, the chief operating officer of The Caritas Corporation, and Erika Escalante, president of the Buena Vista Residents Association. The announcement will be made at 5:15 p.m. in Palo Alto City Hall, shortly before the City Council's scheduled meeting.

"With the potential closure of Buena Vista just weeks away, it's crucial that we find both partners and resources in a hurry. Otherwise, we've got 400 people out on the street," Simitian said in a statement. "We hope to use this opportunity to present a credible plan to avoid closure and to build support for that effort."

The potential purchase will likely involve contributions of public funds and a tax-exempt revenue bond that would allow the company to buy and make upgrades to the mobile-home park.

Since 1996, Caritas has acquired 20 mobile-home parks, many of them in south and central California, according to the company's website.

Santa Clara County and the City of Palo Alto have already allocated close to $20 million in funds designated for affordable housing to preserve Buena Vista.

The company's annual report for 2014 notes that the company's purchases of mobile-home parks are financed by non-recourse, tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by a public entity, including counties, cities or a joint-powers authority. The report notes that revenues from the mobile-home parks are "generally sufficient to sell non-recourse revenue bonds equal to acquisition costs."

Sellers are often willing to carry back a portion of the financing, Caritas notes, in return for a "professionally managed, tax-exempt income stream."

"If a public entity is willing to pledge housing funds or provide credit enhancement, the bond issue for the entire purchase price can be sold at a lower interest rate," the company's annual report states. "Because the seller receives all cash, the purchase price is often lower. If structured properly, these savings generally result in increased rent relief for residents and enhancements to the park communities."

The inclusion of a nonprofit in the preservation effort is seen as critical by county and city leaders, with neither county supervisors nor council members eager to get into the mobile-park-management business.

Santa Clara County Chief Operating Officer Gary Graves noted at the April 21 meeting that county officials are working to identify "who has the experience doing this and how we would arrange an agreement with them in terms of what exactly they would do so as to make sure we are at an arm's length and not in any way involved."

And members of the council, even while affirming the Jissers' right to close the park, emphasized how badly they'd like to save Buena Vista from closure.

Council members acknowledged during the April hearing that most residents would not be able to afford homes in the region, even with the relocation assistance. Councilman Greg Scharff was one of several council members to express some hope that despite the vote to affirm the closure application, it's still possible that the park will be preserved.

"No matter how the council votes today, one of the things the public should know is that it's not a vote to close the park, but really the beginning of saving the park," Scharff said.

Related content:

Santa Clara County in a 'race against the clock' to save Buena Vista | April 22, 2015

Attorneys debate the value of a Palo Alto education | April 17, 2015

Lawyer: Buena Vista evictions could start next month | April 16, 2015

Buena Vista's closure hangs on new appraisal | April 14, 2015

Buena Vista residents make final plea to save their homes | April 13, 2015

Videos from the two Buena Vista hearings

The Weekly has compiled an archive of news coverage capturing the many voices of the people involved in the fight over Buena Vista.

Comments

32 people like this
Posted by More "news"
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2015 at 9:49 am

Another BV "news" article by PAO. Sounds more like grandstanding by a politician to me. Is there really any doubt that BV will close?


22 people like this
Posted by Jeff Rensch
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

Supervisor Simitian and the others involved are my heroes of the year and of the decade -- this is showing "caritas" indeed.


18 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 11:06 am

Is Buena Vista suddenly for sale again? I thought the owners were not planning on selling, simply closing the park.


37 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2015 at 11:14 am

I hope the closing of the trailer/RV park is not delayed any further. Time to close it and move on.

Just look at the amount the taxpayers are being asked to spend!


48 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 11:22 am

There is no compelling reason to "save" this trailer park. Rather, the current residents simply need to find new housing options that they can afford.


47 people like this
Posted by Let's be fair
a resident of Community Center
on May 6, 2015 at 11:27 am

Any public money spent on affordable housing should be for housing that is equally available to all low income residents. Targeting BV residents as recipients for all that money/ housing is inappropriate- there are many others that are equally deserving. BV residents have been riding the gravy train for a long time and shouldn't be given preferential treatment. They should be grateful for all they've received to date on the Jissers and the taxpayers dime. Time for them to move on...


32 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Simitian's "credible plan" is not necessarily a good deal for the Jisser family, who have the right to maximize the value of their property and apparently are not willing to sell the park. Also, is Buena Vista the best use of $20M in affordable housing funds plus the additional $10M or so that will be needed? Comes to approx. $300,000 per mobile home and space, which is double or triple the going price. Rather than dumping $30M into a small deteriorating park filled with old units, why not benefit twice as many low-income people by building a new park somewhere else with the same money? Stanford has 10,000 acres of land and could easily host a "new Buena Vista" in the hills behind the main campus - $1/year lease plus zoning/building concessions by the city to the university sounds about right.

IMHO a "credible plan" is one that doesn't try to make political points or portray the Jisser family as greedy. A "credible plan" makes the best use of public funds to help the most people. Time to move on...


21 people like this
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Let me preface this with the fact that I am sorry for the people that live in BV...BUT since when did it become anyone's issue if someone wants to sell their own property??? Besides the owner and the tenant?
It happens all the time with houses, apartments, etc. No other city (or county) steps in, comes to the rescue of all the tenants, and suddenly makes it their own issue!
This is ridiculous and a waste of city and county time and money. Just stating the real facts.


14 people like this
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Let me preface this with the fact that I am sorry for the people that live in BV...BUT since when did it become anyone's issue if someone wants to sell their own property??? Besides the owner and the tenant?
It happens all the time with houses, apartments, etc. No other city (or county) steps in, comes to the rescue of all the tenants, and suddenly makes it their own issue!
This is ridiculous and a waste of city and county time and money. Just stating the real facts.


11 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on May 6, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Do you really think the BV residents want the deal? Or just cash in and move on since they already have a pretty good deal! I will if I were them!

Politicians can you stop grand standing!!!


8 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on May 6, 2015 at 12:16 pm

If the land should go to the public. All interesting parties should have a chance to live there not just the current residents. Start the lottery on all qualified parties that applied again since the new public money is in!!!


15 people like this
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Why should the land go to the public? It is already owned by the Jissers! They should be able to do with it whatever they wish. THEY pay the property taxes on it, not us, the public. Jeezlouweez!

@Supply and Demand...I bet they would too!


15 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

It now has become everyone's problem when politicians like Simitian decided that it is a win-win scenario for him to pledge public funds for this cause all the while pandering for more Hispanics votes.


16 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of College Terrace
on May 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Buena Vista is quite simply a mess, what are we saving, a place for people to live in awful conditions and packed in like sardines. Even the folk who live there will tell you that. Why spend all that money just to allow people to live in squalor.
Forget saving the park lets save the people, spend the money re-housing and bulldoze the park.


22 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Stop it Joe. "400 people out on the streets"? Scare tactics! They will have 6 months to find a new home or mobile home park to and be compensated for it. It will be interesting what additional compensation will come from the study of the value of PAUSD
schools. And those residents should have already been making plans to move and getting counseling by somebody on how to make the transition. They've had ample time. There is no need or reason to be "out on the streets".

Good points by 'Let's be fair' and 'Desert Jack', the right way to take care of the problem.

I'm curious if the Jissers have tipped their hand on this and are willing to sell. If not, then our politicians have wasted a lot of time on the issue.


11 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 1:36 pm

@Gale Johnson - the politicians haven't been "wasting their time", they have gotten a LOT of press for not that much effort! I agree that the residents have had a very long time to work on finding new homes - and that is where the energy should really be going, to find housing for these families.


5 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 6, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by News is what you think news is
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 6, 2015 at 2:09 pm

More "news"
a resident of Barron Park
posted 3 hours ago
“Another BV "news" article by PAO. Sounds more like grandstanding by a politician to me. Is there really any doubt that BV will close?”
Yes there is.
There are enough lawyers licking their lips already. The City Ordinance #4696 is written in a way that there is no solution to close the Park. It is contradictory in itself.
There is no mobile home park in 35 miles. The cost of either creating or buying low income housing in Palo Alto maybe unreasonable elsewhere, but here it is the market, so it is reasonable! That is the wording in the ordinance. That all might have looked OK in 2001 after the dot.com crash, , but now we have 2015.
The City Council could have, and should have, rejected the hearing officer’s “approval” of the closing application because the mitigation measures proposed by the Park Owner are inadequate to mitigate the adverse impacts on the displaced residents. By completely disregarding the value of the Palo Alto Education he failed. He gets an F. It might still be adequate in Central Valley, but not here. For an estimate of the value of such Education, read Judge LaDoris Cordell’s Op-ed piece last week.
Any real professional appraiser who knows more than comparing multiple listing entries can make a convincing case. Educational Question: how much do you have to pay if you illegally cut down a 20 inch well-placed tree on your neighbor’s property, because you want a better view (called vanity logging for Google search)? Educational answer: about $35,000, nearly independent of species.
It is only because the City Council once more was intimidated by the City Attorney (“spooked”, Dave Price of the Palo Alto Daily News wrote) that we got to that stage. IMO the City Attorney has not been hired to avoid a law suits at any price. In fact, I think that if there are not a few lawsuits against the City in litigious California every year, my interests as a citizen of Palo Alto have not been aggressively enough represented.
Fire her


11 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania was right
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 6, 2015 at 2:38 pm

His post was to clear for the sensitive souls of POW.

Let's try this: many posters seem to be racked by envy that "those people" might keep a home where they can educate their children. It's all "me too"? Why not me?

Palo Alto should be proud of the Hispanic population (a majority in Buena Vista) who have endured living in basic shelter for their children's sake. As far as I know this is the only identifiable Hispanic community in the US who has a 100% graduation rate from High School. Congratulation PAUSD and Buena Vista. Way to go.
'


12 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Great news.

Community is grateful to Joe for all the hard work.

Respectfully


17 people like this
Posted by numbers
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm

“As far as I know this is the only identifiable Hispanic community in the US who has a 100% graduation rate from High School.”

Lets not get too excited about this 100% graduation rate. Read the Stanford study carefully. It says: “We were unable to identify any of the children (age 18 or younger) as having dropped out of school.” They stopped counting at age 18. This means anyone who dropped out of school after age 18 doesn’t count, anyone who dropped out of school younger but was older than 18 by the time the study was conducted does not count.

The reason you’ve never heard of any other Hispanic community that has a 100% graduation rate is because legitimate studies either look at a group between ages 15-24 to see who is not in school and who does not have a diploma or they look at cohorts to see how many who entered ended up graduating. Normal studies never just stop counting at the age when people actually start to graduate. But the Stanford study wanted pretty numbers, so alas you get a 100% graduation rate.


6 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania was right
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 6, 2015 at 3:34 pm

... and "numbers" with the normal studies from the American Enterprise Institute knows precisely what Stanford did to get pretty numbers.
HaHaHaha


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 6, 2015 at 4:22 pm

@News is what you think news is
I read the article by Doris and commented on it in kinder words than I could have used. She used poor judgment (pun intended).
I posed some good questions which she never responded to. A very extreme liberal view but what else would we expect.


8 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania was right
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 6, 2015 at 4:42 pm

@Gale Johnson,

LaDoris is middle of the road as far as Palo Alto is concerned. She is not liberal. She interprets the law astutely and correctly

What the rightwing like you tries to ignore is that the Buena Vista inhabitants have accumulated equity in their property by paying down their mortgages. And the monthly payment o the mortgage holders plus the payments to the Jissers are, at prevailing interest rate for mortgages, at least worth $20Million.

George W. should be excited about this way for low income people to come to his "ownership society". But naturally we conservatives know that George W. is not right wing enough anymore. Not that he changed, but the Republicans have.


20 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Hmmm....

"financed by non-recourse, tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by a public entity, including counties, cities or a joint-powers authority"

So "The Plan" is for the Government (ie. the taxpayers) to loan the money for the purchase of the park to the purchasing "Group" by issuing bonds.

These bonds are Tax exempt, so the Tax Payers are further subsidizing this loan.

The Bonds are non-recourse so the borrower can default and the Taxpayers are stuck with the bill.

Why didn't they just say "The Plan is for the Taxpayers to buy the park and give it to a non-profit and the renters to manage." ?




4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 6, 2015 at 6:21 pm

@Hulkamania was right
Nope! Wrong! Not middle of the road by any stretch. Her idea demonstrates that. That's liberal and bordering on socialistc. Can't argue with her very simplistic hypothetical arithmetic example tho. Grade school level stuff.

Read my comment. I wish she would have responded.


18 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2015 at 7:27 pm

Posted by News is what you think news is
a resident of Evergreen Park
5 hours ago

"There is no mobile home park in 35 miles."

This is a patently false statement. Google provided hits for mobile home parks in the following cities - all within 35 miles of PA:

Alameda
Alviso
Belmont
Brisbane
Campbell
Castro Valley
Daly City
East Palo Alto
Fremont
Half Moon Bay
La Honda
Los Gatos
Milpitas
Moss Beach
Mountain View
Newark
Oakland
Pacifica
Pleasanton
Redwood City
San Bruno
San Jose
San Leandro
South San Francisco
Sunnyvale
Union City

But don't let the facts get in the way of your argument...


13 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 7:32 pm

> the Buena Vista inhabitants have accumulated equity in their property by
> paying down their mortgages.

And they are free to take their property, and move it to anywhere they want. The equity is theirs, unless they choose to sell their units--at which the equity is converted to cash, and that cash not owed to some lender is theirs.

> And the monthly payment o the mortgage holders plus the payments
> to the Jissers are, at prevailing interest rate for mortgages,
> at least worth $20Million.

This makes no sense at all. What payments to the Jissers are you claiming somehow really should be credited to the people renting space in this park?


12 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 6, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Residents do not own the land and no one can put a spin on this fact. They went in knowing this and they should owe up to this fact when exiting.


4 people like this
Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 11:05 pm

You wealthy, privileged, entitled people have nothing better to do than sit around judging people who are barely getting by in life. How dare you dismiss these 400 lives like they are just game pieces you don't need.

Most of the BV residents are Hispanic; a culture that values family, collaboration, and social equality. They do not have the same values as the predominantly white, upper middle class Palo Altans - they actually care about their community.

American culture is all about competition and individual achievement: Me, Me, Me.

While you white, privileged bunch of people sit around snarking about *your* "public" money, try to remember that not everyone enjoys your white privilege that paved the way for your expensive lifestyle and nice home in a nice neighborhood. YOU know nothing of true struggle, foreign culture, and discrimination.

People of color struggle far more because of the color of their skin and their non-white culture. [Portion removed.]

God forbid any of you should walk a mile in their shoes.


18 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 11:15 pm

@ Hulkamania was right:

You wrote: "What the rightwing like you tries to ignore is that the Buena Vista inhabitants have accumulated equity in their property by paying down their mortgages. And the monthly payment o the mortgage holders plus the payments to the Jissers are, at prevailing interest rate for mortgages, at least worth $20Million."

I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say here. However, there is a major flaw in the beginning of your premise. The residents of the trailer park who purchased trailers own equity in those trailers -- but not in the trailer park itself. This is a mobile home (a home built in a factory and designed to be moved), not a house in a subdivision or a time-share unit. Instead of thinking "time-share," think "RV." The lots belong to the Jissers.

As for Palo Alto being "proud" of Hispanics: I don't think that this is a racial or ethnic issue. What if everyone living in that trailer park was Anglo-Saxon? Should the people of Palo Alto be any less "proud" of white people who worked to live in the city?

Let's not turn this into a racial-ethnic or religious issue.


25 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 11:20 pm

@ I Wish:

Please don't try to turn this into a racial-ethnic issue. There is no need to preach to people about your notions of "white privilege." As a Hispanic woman -- an immigrant from Mexico who grew up far less advantaged as those people living in Buena Vista -- I find the "racial blame game" to be extremely offensive.

Let's stick to the facts. Insinuating racism where it does not exist is a bit like the boy who cried wolf.


4 people like this
Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 11:33 pm

@Nayeli:

Like it or not, this IS a race issue! I understand you have a Hispanic background, but clearly you do not understand the Mexican culture or background (or are running from it as fast as you can).

I do not have "notions" of White Privilege - I live it every day of my life as a white, native of the US. Perhaps you will deem this as "White guilt."

Why are you so vocal in denying what educated people understand is a racial disadvantage and cultural difference? Why are you so determined to condemn these people, mostly your racial kin (per your comments), to the street?

Sometimes we try so hard to distance ourselves from those we think make us look bad, we forget who we are and what we stand for.


4 people like this
Posted by Wish I'd known
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 11:38 pm

@Nayeli:

Please educate yourself on the difference between mobile home park "owners" and renters and land property owners. The former falls in between the two latter.


2 people like this
Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 11:39 pm

Sorry - last post was from me, "I Wish." "Wish I'd Known" auto-filled from some time long past. I'm not trying to post as a different person.


18 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2015 at 11:47 pm

@ I Wish:

You wrote: "Please educate yourself on the difference between mobile home park "owners" and renters and land property owners. The former falls in between the two latter."

I am quite educated, than you very much. Besides, I thought that I made my statement clear. I simply pointed out to the poster named "Hulkamania is Right" that the equity that the trailer-owners are building is in their TRAILERS. Period. Those trailers are their trailers. No one is taking them away. They can move them to other trailer parks or lots. They can take their equity with them. I was pointing out that their equity is not in Palo Alto, Buena Vista or PAUSD.


4 people like this
Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2015 at 11:59 pm

@Nayeli:

>> I am quite educated, than you very much.

I wasn't questioning your education in general, only pointing out there are specific laws about mobile home parks that you seem to be unaware of. Mobile home park resident/owners have more rights than simple renters because of the "owner" investment they make in their homes that, in most cases, are really not "mobile." It was this nuance I was referring to, which has been discussed to some extend on this forum.

For what it's worth, I just think you are young and still learning.

I have no ill will toward you, but I feel the residents of BV deserve more than simple dismissal. Like it or not, in this country, we are not all equal. YET!


32 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 7, 2015 at 12:22 am

@ I Wish:

You wrote: "Like it or not, this IS a race issue! I understand you have a Hispanic background, but clearly you do not understand the Mexican culture or background (or are running from it as fast as you can)."

Easy there! I certainly understand "Mexican culture." I was born and raised in Mexico. When I came to the United States, we traveled around the nation performing migrant farm labor. My parents don't speak English. I didn't speak English until Junior High School. I went through ESL programs until High School and I can still read and write in Spanish better than I can in English.

My dad currently works part-time at a Wal-Mart after the K-Mart where he mopped floors across town closed. My parents have never had a bank account. I have nine siblings and 17 aunts and uncles (and half of them live in Mexico). My brother played in a mariachi in high school and college. "Bread" to me was always corn tortillas or pan dulce until we moved to the U.S. If given the choice between prime rib or tripas con aroz y frijoles, I will always go with the tripas.

My skin is very tan, my hair is dark and thick and my accent is very noticeable. For a prolonged stretch during my childhood, we all lived in a one bedroom travel trailer that we parked at the migrant camps. We took showers with a water hose behind blankets. We were translators for my parents even though we hardly spoke English ourselves.

Do I pass your litmus test for "understanding the Mexican culture?"

You wrote: "I do not have "notions" of White Privilege - I live it every day of my life as a white, native of the US. Perhaps you will deem this as "White guilt."

I have no idea what you're talking about. I don't blame white people for any success that they enjoy. In fact, this nation is set up so that all people have the opportunity to succeed -- no matter the race, religion or ethnic background. Yes, we don't all start on equal places and some people might have an easier path to success. However, we can make our own trails to success without focusing upon and bitterly assailing those who we think are ahead of us. White people don't have to feel guilty for me. Economic privilege isn't something that someone should be ashamed of -- and I learned this in Mexico where the contrast between the "haves" and "have nots" is much more apparent.

You wrote: "Why are you so vocal in denying what educated people understand is a racial disadvantage and cultural difference? Why are you so determined to condemn these people, mostly your racial kin (per your comments), to the street?"

You fail to understand that I am educated too. In fact, all of my siblings have graduated from college with at least a bachelor's degree. Six of us have post-graduate degrees. I am not condemning anyone. No one else here is condemning anyone. This is a straw man.

The people who live in Buena Vista will have every opportunity to look for whatever housing that they can afford -- just like the rest of the people who look for housing in the Silicon Valley. They are no different -- no better and no worse -- than the rest of us (no matter whether they are Hispanic or not).

The notion that this is about "racial advantage" and "cultural difference" really makes no sense. It is about a trailer park that is closing down. Period. There is NO EVIDENCE (nada) that race played any factor in the decisions of anyone other than those who pretend to be "championing the cause of Hispanics."

You wrote: "Sometimes we try so hard to distance ourselves from those we think make us look bad, we forget who we are and what we stand for."

I hope that you're not implying that I forget what I stand for. I never forget who I am or where I am from. Every time I look into the mirror, I see a young Hispanic woman. Every time I hear myself speak, I hear a strong accent (one that some people mistake for a lack of intelligence). Every time I go home and visit my family (and even when I don't), I remember the sacrifices that my family made so that we could educate ourselves and make the most of the American opportunity and try to pursue the American dream.

I don't think that any honest, hard-working person makes me look bad. The only time I feel that Hispanics make us look bad is when I see some article about a Hispanic youth on the Palo Alto Online website who committed a crime, performed poorly in school, made excuses for their lack of perseverance or blamed white people for something that white people really played no role in. I also feel embarrassed when someone tries to get something that they didn't earn (call that old fashioned if you want).

I haven't forgotten where I came from. However, I won't let that distract me from where I am going or impede me from achieving the success that comes from diligence, hard work and perseverance via the opportunities in this nation. Does that make sense?

I do not see this as a racial issue or even as a Hispanic issue. This issue is about a trailer park that is closing down and the people don't want to leave (or don't want to leave without a windfall). I don't care if they are white, black, Hispanic, Democrats, Republicans, Christians or whatever: This is not about labels and there is no evidence to substantiate such a claim.


4 people like this
Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 12:36 am

Denial.


22 people like this
Posted by Barron Park
a resident of Barron Park
on May 7, 2015 at 9:35 am

@Nayali: Thank you for a thoughtful and elegant statement.

@I Wish: Her statement juxtaposed with your single word, ad homium, and literally thoughtless response sums up this exchange rather nicely.


23 people like this
Posted by Amen
a resident of Barron Park
on May 7, 2015 at 10:53 am

@Nayali: Well said - your words and your attitude are impressive.

@ I Wish: you would do well to heed Nayali's words. It is precisely her positive attitude that allows her to enjoy a better life than her parents (and I have to assume that her parents taught her and her siblings well considering that they all graduated from college despite enduring hardships). Those that see themselves as victims and maintain an entitled attitude will remain downtrodden. Those that assume personal responsibility for their lives and decide where they want their lives to go will rise above.


15 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 7, 2015 at 10:55 am

Nayeli - I always find your posts to be thoughtful and intelligent. Thank you for contributing to the discussion.


6 people like this
Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 12:09 pm

@Barron Park:

Thank you for the elegant insult. You definitely made me see the error of my ways.

Nayeli's account of her life experience is, in my opinion, a tremendous exception to the vast majority of the Hispanic experience in this country. She should be congratulated!

Please note, however, that there are many people who resent ESL programs (I am not one of them) as being an expense that only helps minorities and therefore takes money away from standard education. So, ESL, which so many immigrants benefit from, is in fact a similar "public benefit" just like low-income housing. How different would it be for immigrants if they had to learn English on their own before they could attend school? How many fewer would graduate and go to college?

To deny that people of color have a tougher time, is bizarre to me. And, to deny that Mexican culture values different qualities than those of Caucasians is naive. So my premise is, that demanding that this group of people behave like Caucasians and succeed like Caucasians, is unreasonable. Of course we want them to succeed and stand on their own, but kicking them out of their homes an forcing them to move far away is not likely to accomplish that. And, I have never suggested Jisser not be allowed to sell his property, I am simply defending the City's and County's effort to buy the park and maintain the BV residents homes. That's all.

There was no intention to attack a single person, but I see that there is significant defensiveness nonetheless.

Thank you all for engaging in the conversation.


29 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 7, 2015 at 1:16 pm

@ I Wish:

I debated whether or not to address your recent post. I am ready to rest from this debate, but I'll touch upon a couple of things that you said.

You wrote: "Nayeli's account of her life experience is, in my opinion, a tremendous exception to the vast majority of the Hispanic experience in this country. She should be congratulated!"

I guess the difference is that I don't feel a need to be congratulated for doing what is right or simply making the most of my opportunities. If anyone should be congratulated, it is my parents. The taught us to be grateful, empathetic with others, content with what we earn honestly and driven to make the most of our opportunities. My parents are my heroes; yet, they wouldn't think so. They simply say that they did what was right.

Let me be clear: I don't see being Hispanic as a "handicap."

Yes, it is a challenge in the sense that I had to work a little harder to get up to par when it came to academics (particularly since I didn't speak English when we moved here and it wasn't the language of our home). Even poverty can be in the eye of the beholder. I have seen people complain about their "poverty" -- but they have it much better than we had it growing up (and we didn't complain about it).

Yes, I have had obstacles that I have faced. There are some people who see Mexicans as a "lesser" people (perhaps a stereotype based upon some of the things that those people see on the news or read about in newspapers in stories about crime, academic performance, entitlement use, etc...). I know what it is like to be called a "wetback." I have seen the look in the eye when someone converses with me and might mistake my accent for a lack of education or intelligence. On a few occasions, I have gone to some of the stores at the Stanford Shopping Center where the employees didn't go out of their way to help me (perhaps assuming that I didn't have any money to spend) but quickly assisted white people who were eloquently dressed. It might be annoying if I dwell upon it, but it really isn't my problem.

So, I have firsthand experience when it comes to obstacles that are familiar among Hispanics. However, that is true for any person -- regardless of his/her background. I've known individuals who are Hispanic or Black who stereotyped white people -- as if all white people have had it easy in every aspect of their entire lives. To borrow a quote from The Princess Bride, "Life is pain. Whoever says differently is selling something." I learned a long time ago that most people are successful because they worked hard for it. I can sit around feeling sorry for myself or work hard to improve. Thankfully, I inevitably follow the example of my parents in my own pursuit of happiness.

You wrote: "Please note, however, that there are many people who resent ESL programs (I am not one of them) as being an expense that only helps minorities and therefore takes money away from standard education. So, ESL, which so many immigrants benefit from, is in fact a similar "public benefit" just like low-income housing. How different would it be for immigrants if they had to learn English on their own before they could attend school? How many fewer would graduate and go to college?"

I don't know if you understand what exactly ESL (English Second Language) programs consist of. After we moved to the U.S., we attended schools in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. The ESL programs there consisted of classes that take the place of English and a couple of other subjects. In other words, it was just another class (almost like an elective) that was similar to remedial English or even a foreign language class. The point of the program is to prepare students to be integrated into mainstream English classes. Where we lived, many students attended ESL classes.

To be blunt: Although I appreciated the classes, I disliked them. I felt that "total immersion" would have been a much more effective method for integrating non-English speakers into mainstream settings. In addition, my parents paid property taxes, income taxes and any and all other taxes associated with school funding in that state. During our first season of migrant farm work, my dad used every dime to buy property in Texas. We built our house with our own hands and paid taxes for it when its value was assessed.

You wrote: "To deny that people of color have a tougher time, is bizarre to me."

Well, I never said or implied this, so your comment is a bit bizarre to me too. I think that I made it clear that I am fully aware that people do not start off at equal places or have the equal paths toward success. I simply disagree with the notion of "white privilege" as though it was something that I should hate. If you were raised in a good home with a successful family, then good for you! I am not jealous nor do I dislike you for it. In fact, I aspire that my children will one day be raised in a similar environment too (which is one reason that I endeavored to earn my education).

You wrote: "And, to deny that Mexican culture values different qualities than those of Caucasians is naive."

Again, I never implied this. However, I will say that there are values that are intercultural. Hard work, honest living, perseverance, empathy, academic opportunity, etc... -- these are values that any race, ethnic group or culture can and should embrace. I think that there are plenty of things that white people can learn from Hispanic people and Hispanic people can learn from white people. I would love to find out what "Mexican culture values" you are speaking about though. You seem to think of yourself as something of an expert -- enough to question my own lifelong cultural experience and views as "naive."

Once more, I don't think that it is healthy to make this a "racial" or "Hispanic culture" issue. This is simply about a trailer park. Yes, it happens to be largely populated by Hispanic residents, but that doesn't mean that any person's motive is negatively guided with "race" in mind. I just don't see the racial component as any sort of guiding motivation in this -- except in the sense that some people "feel sorry" for the residents perhaps because they are Hispanic. If the residents were largely comprised of white people, I would still feel the same way. Would you?


2 people like this
Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Everything is not personal, and one person's experience does not define everyone's experience. I do agree that compassion is a critical component to a civilized society.

Since there doesn't seem to be any real communication occurring, I am going to move on from what could have been an useful conversation.

Cheers!


2 people like this
Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 11:14 pm

One more post, because I realize I was bullied into backing away by an immigrant who chose to use her "immigrant status" to portray her view as superior to my plain, old, educated but non-immigrant perspective.

Frankly, I am disappointed by the aggressive "victimhood" put forth by a person who claims they are not special, while their posts clearly suggest anything but.

I see a person commenting vigorously that being Hispanic is a non-issue and should not be a factor with BV residents, and then (lightly) acknowledging the challenges she experienced because she was Hispanic. I also see extremely lengthy posts about a hard life as an immigrant, and then amazing success by her and *every one* of her NINE siblings.

How many of the children in this family were helped to gain admission to college because of their immigrant and minority status? I'm betting most, if not all.

But the posts also include why we should not be impressed: she is just doing what is normal. If it's normal and expected, why so much detail about your hard life? You know, like the details about 12 people in a "one bedroom travel trailer?"

What "travel trailer" has "bedrooms?" Can anyone realistically visualize how 12 people could possibly all sleep in a travel trailer? Here's where we'll probably hear that half of them actually slept on the ground outside, or some other further hardship story.

How thankful is this ENORMOUS family that they were allowed to park their "travel trailer" with *12 inhabitants* and were not told to move 100+ miles away and find new jobs because, well, they were no longer welcome to squat there?

Sorry, but I am not buying the whole story, especially with the lack of empathy and compassion for the BV residents. I have no doubt that Nayeli's posts are fan favorites with the anti-BV majority, but that doesn't make them credible, reasonable, or true.

Nayeli: Me thinks thou doth protest too much.

Most likely my post will be deleted because, let's face it, race is involved and Nayeli will be protected because of her minority, immigrant status. There will be no effort to check her story, but my questioning will result in deletion because it might come across as racist.

Enjoy your privilege, Nayeli, it is indeed much better than mine.


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Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2015 at 11:18 pm

Also:

I never used (nor implied) the terms, "pity," feel sorry", or "handicap." Those terms were all brought to the table by someone who doesn't think she is any different than anyone else.


19 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2015 at 3:30 pm

@ I Wish:

You wrote: "Everything is not personal, and one person's experience does not define everyone's experience. I do agree that compassion is a critical component to a civilized society. Since there doesn't seem to be any real communication occurring, I am going to move on from what could have been an useful conversation."

A conversation isn't one-sided. It doesn't consist of a person telling us what she/he thinks and everyone agreeing with her/him. We don't have to agree, but it would be helpful if you could be a bit more civil with your tone.

You wrote: "One more post, because I realize I was bullied into backing away by an immigrant who chose to use her "immigrant status" to portray her view as superior to my plain, old, educated but non-immigrant perspective. Frankly, I am disappointed by the aggressive "victimhood" put forth by a person who claims they are not special, while their posts clearly suggest anything but."

You were "bullied?" By whom? My responses were in regard to you stating "clearly you do not understand the Mexican culture or background (or are running from it as fast as you can)." I felt a need to point out why I take offense to such a broad allegation. I don't care if you're educated (as I am too) or non-Hispanic. I don't find your perspective any more or any less valuable because of your education, racial-ethnic or economic background. I simply disagree that this is a racial issue in the sense that anyone here is motivated by race in regard to their views. I see no evidence of this and you haven't provided any to make me reconsider this position.

Moreover, I am not a "victim" nor do I pretend to be. Yes, our family endured plenty of situations that many people would call "hardships" in life. However, we don't view them as handicaps nor do we blame anyone else for advantages that we didn't have. As for being "special" or not: There is a difference between a distinction and a sense of being "special" in this particular application of that word. We are all special. We all endure hardships. We all have advantages too in certain areas. That doesn't make one entire group "privileged" as though the notion of "privilege" is a bad thing or comes at the expense of another group.

You wrote: "I see a person commenting vigorously that being Hispanic is a non-issue and should not be a factor with BV residents, and then (lightly) acknowledging the challenges she experienced because she was Hispanic. I also see extremely lengthy posts about a hard life as an immigrant, and then amazing success by her and *every one* of her NINE siblings."

I brought it up as a RESPONSE to things that you implied and not for any other reason. You questioned my understanding of Mexican culture, so I provided person anecdotes about my life to help educate you about my "understanding of the Mexican culture and background" that you previously dismissed. In other words, I was educating you about my life so as to help you understand the person and perspective with which you were communicating.

You wrote: "How many of the children in this family were helped to gain admission to college because of their immigrant and minority status? I'm betting most, if not all."

To be frank, I don't know if any of us were helped by my "minority status." I didn't apply for minority-based scholarships. I suppose that the scholarships that I did receive might have considered my racial-ethnic background and gender; however, I suspect that my GPA, SAT scores, ACT scores and class rank (along with the other activities that I was involved with alongside my essays) might have played a much more important role. I will also say that some of the scholarships that I applied for didn't ask for my race or gender. I received numerous scholarships, but I also relied upon some student loans and work study to pay for college and graduate school -- and those aren't dispersed with favoritism to any particular race (to the best of my knowledge).

My siblings? I suppose that you could ask them if you want. Several of us attended the same schools, so maybe there were "legacy" points in determining our admission. I have a sister who was admitted into Stanford, but I don't know if she was accepted for her gender or ethnicity any more than someone else might have been accepted because of their family legacy or participation in athletics. I suppose that it helps that all of my siblings excelled in academics.

Oddly enough, I am puzzled by your emphasis on my family. I suppose that my responses might also be construed as "victimhood" when they are merely a response to your own comments and insinuations. Not only do I find your fascination and insinuations about my family odd, but this entire conversation detracts from the actual topic of this discussion. I don't see any evidence behind your allegation of racial-ethnic motivation behind those who believe that the Jissers are in the right.

You wrote: "But the posts also include why we should not be impressed: she is just doing what is normal. If it's normal and expected, why so much detail about your hard life? You know, like the details about 12 people in a "one bedroom travel trailer?"

What "travel trailer" has "bedrooms?" Can anyone realistically visualize how 12 people could possibly all sleep in a travel trailer? Here's where we'll probably hear that half of them actually slept on the ground outside, or some other further hardship story.

How thankful is this ENORMOUS family that they were allowed to park their "travel trailer" with *12 inhabitants* and were not told to move 100+ miles away and find new jobs because, well, they were no longer welcome to squat there?"

All that I can say is that some of us were very young children during that time -- even though we also worked in the fields (which is true of many migrant families that we knew or met). As for why we were not told to move 100+ miles away: We were. When our work was complete, we moved on. We didn't expect to live there forever. We moved from job to job (and camp to camp) as the times necessitated.

You wrote: "Sorry, but I am not buying the whole story, especially with the lack of empathy and compassion for the BV residents. I have no doubt that Nayeli's posts are fan favorites with the anti-BV majority, but that doesn't make them credible, reasonable, or true."

First of all, I don't think that anyone is "anti-BV." I hope that everything will work out for them as they find new housing outside of the trailer park. I am not "pro-BV" either. I simply think that the Jisser family is in the right when it comes to the law and common sense.

However, I do take offense with you publicly questioning my "understanding of Mexican culture" and, after I explain that understanding, you feel a need to state publicly that you don't seem to believe it. I suppose that a lesser person could insinuate racial or even racist tones behind your rhetoric -- simply because a young Mexican woman doesn't fit in the tidy little stereotype of what we are supposed to believe or feel on this matter. I wouldn't do that, but such an allegation -- like the one that you use -- is the same sort of fallacy that some people often use in an effort to stake superiority in an argument.

You wrote: "Nayeli: Me thinks thou doth protest too much."

If you didn't make strange insinuations or question my "understanding of the Mexican culture or background" or accuse me of "running from it as fast as I can," then I wouldn't have to "protest" your words and accusations.

You wrote: "Most likely my post will be deleted because, let's face it, race is involved and Nayeli will be protected because of her minority, immigrant status. There will be no effort to check her story, but my questioning will result in deletion because it might come across as racist."

The strange thing is that I don't feel that I am using my "minority, immigrant status" in this argument. I simply responded to your claim that I didn't understand this situation because you claimed that I don't understand the "Mexican culture or background."

In fact, I think that your insinuations about my understanding of Mexican culture and background is irrelevant to this discussion -- because there is NO EVIDENCE that anyone is racially motivated in the first place. I don't know if this is "wagging the dog," ad hominem or some other fallacy, but it simply doesn't fit in this discussion because you implied something ("racism" or, at the very least, motivation over race and culture) without providing a single shred of evidence to substantiate that claim.

You wrote: "Enjoy your privilege, Nayeli, it is indeed much better than mine."

I suppose that it might be a privilege to not see "racism" where it doesn't exist. As someone who has felt the brunt of prejudice in real life, I hate to see it implied where it doesn't exist. It is like the boy who cried wolf. It is a concern because false accusations of racial motivation might cheapen the cry in those terrible incidents when it does actually apply.


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Posted by I Wish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2015 at 12:38 am

Nayeli,

You should go into politics. You have an amazing gift for twisting (to the extent of completely changing the meaning of) other people's words to support your agenda.

Nothing you have written in your incredibly verbose posts are reflective of my actual comments or opinions.

Right off the bat you were confrontational with me before I ever addressed a single post to you, or about you.

>> "There is no need to preach to people about your notions of "white privilege." As a Hispanic woman -- an immigrant from Mexico who grew up far less advantaged as those people living in Buena Vista -- I find the "racial blame game" to be extremely offensive."

Wow, how much more defensive can you be? I never suggested a "racial blame game," I suggested that people of color have steeper challenges. And later you acknowledged the same thing.

Your defensive attitude and combative posts are out of line. Your comment, "...racial or even racist tones behind your rhetoric" is completely out of line, disingenuous, and merely meant to inflame other readers.

Now who is playing the "racial blame game?" Now who is playing the race card?

I pray the BV residents end up in stable homes within a supportive community and remain here as part of the Palo Alto community.


12 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2015 at 1:02 am

@ I Wish:

I actually quoted you in the body of my responses. I am not reading between the lines. My point was -- and still is -- that there is no evidence that race plays a factor in the views of the people with whom you disagree. When I made stated as much, you questioned my "understanding of the Mexican culture" and insinuated that I am "running" from it as fast as I can. You played the race card.

My responses are just that -- responses. I am simply responding to things that you wrote. I am not attacking you and I think that I have been quite patient with your assumptions and insinuations. I simply take issue with you bringing up race, insinuating that the people are operating out of some "white privilege" and then questioning my understanding of Mexican culture simply because you disagree with my view that this is not a racially motivated issue. My responses to you then elicited flippant responses and further insinuations.

I think that one of the misunderstandings about the BV community is that people who side with the owners are somehow lacking empathy for those who will have to move elsewhere. That just isn't the case. I also hope that these residents can find a home that they can afford in the best possible community that they can find them in. Yet, this just isn't the ultimate legal responsibility of the owners of the property, the city officials or the taxpaying residents of Palo Alto.

I do apologize if you mistake my responses as some sort of "offensive defense." However, if they seem like a defense, then it is because I feel that you have made assumptions and insinuations about me, the people in Palo Alto that you disagree with and even Mexicans and/or Hispanics in general. You might want to go back and read your posts aloud and consider whether they might be as judgmental against those with whom you disagree as you accuse them of in your very first post.


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

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