News

Buena Vista closure heads toward final chapter

As Palo Alto council prepares for May 26 decision on park's closure, focus remains on schools

With the City Council just days away from making a decision on the closure of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, supporters of preserving the low-income community in Barron Park are making a renewed push to keep Palo Alto schools at the center of the conversation.

The question of whether the value of a Palo Alto education should be included in the relocation benefits offered to the park's roughly 400 residents is at the heart of the dispute over the closure application. The relocation package offered by the property owners, the Jisser family, is based on an appraisal that did not specifically consider the value of schools in determining the cost of relocating to a "comparable community." While local law does not list schools as a factor that needs to be considered, Buena Vista residents, their attorneys and supporters have argued that Palo Alto's vaunted education system is one of the city's most defining characteristics.

From the perspective of Mike Pyatok, a Buena Vista supporter and the architect of such affordable-housing projects as Palo Alto's Oak Court and Treehouse, schools are by far the most important characteristic of living in the city. Pyatok made a plea this week for the council to do anything it can to prevent the residents' eviction.

The New York native recalled his own childhood in "one of the worst tenements of Brooklyn," a four-story walk-up with 100 units per acre. He said he lived in one cockroach-ridden room with his mother and a brother until he turned 22 and went to Harvard University, where he completed his education as an architect.

Thanks in large part to Franklin Roosevelt's rent-control legislation, Pyatok was able to stay in that neighborhood and attend local schools, including an "outstanding" public elementary school, PS 107. Pyatok credited the school for helping him get into a good high school and land scholarships to the Pratt Institute and, ultimately, Harvard.

"As an architect of over 40,000 multi-family dwellings and a winner of hundreds of design awards and housing competitions — I would be the first to assure you that the single-most important measure of good housing is not the quality of fixtures, finishes and furnishings — not how good it looks from the outside," Pyatok told the council. "The single-most important measure of the quality of family housing is how good is the school system in which that housing is located."

Pyatok called it "not just negligent, it is criminal" that the Buena Vista appraisal left schools out of its scope.

The council likewise agreed on April 14 that the value of schools should be considered in the appraisal, voting to tentatively approve the closure application but ordering an added appraisal specifically of the worth of access to local schools and safety.

On May 5, however, the appraiser who was commissioned to perform this analysis, David Beccaria, wrote a defiant letter stating that his company will not go forward with this assignment. He also contended that any further communication with him about the methodology would be considered "pressuring the appraisal."

The council is scheduled to take a formal vote on the closure application on Tuesday, May 26. It could opt to allow the closure process to move ahead without changing the appraisal's scope so that it includes schools.

Joining Pyatok in support of Buena Vista residents, Amado Padilla, a professor of education at Stanford University, also addressed the council on May 11. Padilla, a former member of the local school board, said he and several Stanford students are surveying the approximately 85 Buena Vista residents aged 12 to 24. In general, he said, the youth reported a "positive relationship with teachers" and "a high level of stress at a prospect of having to attend schools at another community." They consider schools to be their "home away from home," he said.

"Breaking the bonds with the teachers and friends they have in schools is weighing heavily on them," Padilla said.

Padilla also joined Stanford professors Donald Barr and David Gursky in cosigning a letter highlighting research that considers the correlation between educational attainment and poverty levels. The professors said they had interviewed all the Buena Vista families with children 18 and younger and looked at numerous studies that examined the topic. Their survey indicated that there have been no high school dropouts in the largely Hispanic community of Buena Vista, even as the dropout rate among Hispanic students in Silicon Valley was 29.3 percent in 2011.

They also pointed to a study conducted by Raj Chetty and Lawrence Katz of Harvard University that considered the impact of moving from an impoverished community to a wealthy one when it comes to college attendance. The study concluded that the outcomes of children who move into better neighborhoods "improve linearly in proportion to the time they spend growing up in the area."

Because Buena Vista families would likely have to relocate to more impoverished communities than Palo Alto, the Stanford professors wrote that they would expect "the likelihood of college attendance to decrease with every year the families live in lower-income communities as compared to having remained in Palo Alto."

Barr, Grusky and Padilla also point to a study by Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren and Katz focusing on the relationship between the environment in which a child grows up and income earned as an adult. The research showed that the association between the two factors is strongest for children who moved before the age of 13. Children in poor families who moved to wealthier neighborhoods when they were younger than 13 saw an increase in lifetime earnings of $302,000, according to the paper.

"While the data in the study refer to children who moved from a high-poverty neighborhood to a low-poverty neighborhood, it is reasonable to assume that low-income children who move from a ... neighborhood such as Palo Alto to a high-poverty neighborhood will experience an analogous decrease in lifetime earnings of a similar magnitude," the paper from the Stanford professors states.

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

Comments

72 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 22, 2015 at 7:28 am

Quit abusing my tax dollars on this issue. Enough already!


57 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 22, 2015 at 7:35 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

""not just negligent, it is criminal" that the Buena Vista appraisal left schools out of its scope."

Just exactly which State law was violated? The appraiser stated that the appraised values included, as required by law, all of the relevant factors.

Is there a State law that the implied value of schools should be counted twice - once in the original appraisal and then again in a special bonus?

I suggest that the proponents make their case on social justice or humanitarian bases rather than an easily disproven failure to properly appraise.


53 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on May 22, 2015 at 8:24 am

The house price use for comparison during the appraisal includes the value of the school education already.

Look at what Mountain View is doing when they are closing down their two mobile home parks. Are we different than norm?

Don't waste any more public money in this issue, politicians!

They are more pressing issues to discuss/resolve e.g. four railroad crossings, City's role/share in fencing the railroad fences etc.


71 people like this
Posted by surprise, surprise, surprise
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2015 at 8:30 am

What a surprise. On the eve of the council decision, we get another biased and one-sided article from the weekly. Looks like Gennady is fawning over these so-called "experts" and presenting their comments as the "word". We also have another regurgitation of the results from Padilla's survey. This survey has long ago been discredited as being biased and bogus. But do not let the facts get in the way of another fevered article that is really propaganda for FOBV and their cause. Please continue to ignore the property owner and his rights. Nothing like "real" news from the weekly!!!


43 people like this
Posted by Merry
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2015 at 9:22 am

Fraud continues that mobile home owners own anything. They do not. The land is the only thing of value. And they don't own it.
sad but true they are renters that may have thought they owned something. Time for this to end


29 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2015 at 10:32 am

I find it ironic that Pyatok called it "not just negligent, it is criminal" that the Buena Vista appraisal left schools out of its scope" when the appraiser specifically said that the value of the schools, safety, etc. in Palo Alto were included in his ORIGINAL appraisal. Just another negative puff piece trying to put PR pressure on the Jissers.

So much of this article is a "duh". Of course kids do better in quality schools and safe neighborhoods. No one is arguing that point.


48 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2015 at 11:23 am

Gethin is a registered user.

I hope the council can muster the courage to do the right thing and let the park be closed. It was time to move on from this months ago.


12 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 22, 2015 at 11:24 am

David Beccara claimes that his firm's appraisal at the Buena Vista mobile home park already considers the value of schools and safety is already embedded in his figures. Although appraising is a formal process, it does involve some degree of discretion, for example, in the choice of "comparables" to consider. Mr. Beccaria should be able to explain his methodology and explain where and how he considered the value of schools and safety in the calculations. The Palo Alto City Council can then have a basis for determining whether Mr. Beccaria's appraisals are accurate.


54 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2015 at 11:40 am

Close the trailer park already. We have wasted 2 1/2 years on every conceivable tactic to delay the closure. School will be out in the summer, the kids can start next year at some other trailer park community.
Again, Palo Alto Online shows its left wing leanings, bringing out "experts" who are part of the original "save the park". Padilla needs to find something worthwhile to do with his life besides pandering for Latinos and making up distributing forms to community members and interpreting the data from his own perspective as well as the trailer park residents who want the free lunch to continue indefinitely at the expense of Palo Alto taxpayers. Enough already, the Barron Pasrk residents and ownerswant the trailer park closed.


29 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 22, 2015 at 12:42 pm

My prediction is that the Palo Alto CC will continue to cave to liberal guilt, and try to kick this can down the road ever more. There will an inevitable huge lawsuit by the owner. I think our CC is probably welcoming this result, because it gets them off the hook while the case winds its way through the court system (and the BV residents to live at BV). Our CC has not, yet, learned the lessons from the Half Moon Bay disaster, where that town was left nearly bankrupt, because it failed to follow applicable laws (Chop Keenan case). Our PACC is probably thinking that delay is THEIR friend, instead of OUR enemy.


6 people like this
Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2015 at 12:43 pm

The City Council agenda for May 26 has as an attachment a letter to the council from the city attorney. It states that two appraiser are available to peer review the latest appraisal from the owners of the park and that the hearing officer is ok with that. So the May 26 meeting may not actually approve the closure!

Check out this letter from Molly Stump.


33 people like this
Posted by dennis
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 22, 2015 at 12:56 pm

[Portion removed.] Never, never, never, should this have been dragged on so long with so much money being spent. From the beginning the owners had the right to do whatever with that property and they have been more than fair in their offers to the tenants. End it now.


25 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on May 22, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Unless PA council will afford the same protections for all PA renters I will not vote for the single council member who wastes our tax $$ for selected group of people.


19 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Per the writer: "The question of whether the value of a Palo Alto education should be included in the relocation benefits offered to the park's roughly 400 residents is at the heart of the dispute over the closure application."

Really? Who disputes that the value of a Palo Alto education should be included? Correctly stated, the question is whether that value is already embedded in the appraisal or must be added separately.

But don't let basic journalism get in the way of a biased narrative.


9 people like this
Posted by palo resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2015 at 4:16 pm

@Desert Jack - the appraiser said that he already included the value of PAUSD in his appraisals.

BTW - if the "peer reviews" are allowed, the decision gets pushed until after July 12th when the Agent is back from vacation. You know, the one who already said the info was complete...

And again, no one is disputing the value of good schools. This is a long article just restating the obvious. We have good schools in Palo Alto and that benefits the students.


4 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Most of the posters seem to have a better grasp of the situation than the author of this article.

Remember, the appeal by the resident's association didn't actually say anything about safety or the value of Palo Alto's schools. That's a big problem, because the appeal phase isn't a venue for introducing new evidence. The City Attorney already stated in January that the evidentiary record has been closed. Council's role is now legally limited to a judicial review.

The resident's association appealed rather than individual owners, So, City Council can't update values on a case by case basis even if they had compelling supporting testimony. That can only be done at the final appraisal before the park's closure. Council is trying to work around some of these problems by creating classes of residents within the appeal. For example, Council wants to increase compensation for units housing many individuals. The City argues that the Health and Safety Code wouldn't allow four people to live in a single bedroom apartment. That's a good cover. (But, why the City allows this in the first place, and why the park owner is responsible for addressing it isn't a question Council wants to answer.)

There are lots of legal problems applying the same approach to "safety and schools". In April, Council seemed to think their was some opportunity for interpretation based upon the meaning of a "comparable community." Council wanted to capture the value of Palo Alto's schools by folding it into the salvage value of every resident's mobile home. This failed when the appraiser refused to update the appraisals. Legally, the city is pretty much at a dead end with "safety and schools" given the constraints of the appeal.

Somebody posted this clip earlier. The answer by Palo Alto's City Attorney at the very end pretty much sums up the position Council is in concerning capturing compensation for "safety and schools:" Web Link

Making arguments about Palo Alto schools only seems to benefit the owner and raise the price anyone would have to pay to purchase the property. Depending on where you stand with respect to the closure, that could be either a good or bad thing.


12 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2015 at 5:46 pm

See the 21 May letter from the city attorney to Council re: peer reviews of Beccaria's appraisal. If directed by Council, peer reviews could push out any closure decision for another two months.

From the letter: "Both [potential] appraisers informed us that peer reviews are an appropriate assignment within the appraisal profession."

Maybe so, but the Jisser family's attorney may not agree that peer reviews at this late date are appropriate or even permitted by the legal process.

More delay will only make a lawsuit against the city more likely. The citizens of Palo Alto deserves better from Council than one more example of bias, bad faith, and incompetence.


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 22, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Here's a current example from Mountain View -- Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2015 at 6:20 pm

@ Desert Jack
>> "Maybe so, but the Jisser family's attorney may not agree that
>> peer reviews at this late date are appropriate or even permitted
>> by the legal process."

Since the owners process already includes a re-appraisals within 6 months of closure, one option for the CC to save face is to request that the already planned re-appraisal (using Beccaria's existing methodology which already considers the value of schools and safety embedded in his figures) be peer reviewed. That way, the existing appraisal can be kept, the park closed, and the "6 month re-appraisal" will be supported by peer review so the CC won't find the residents back in their laps protesting the final numbers to the CC.



6 people like this
Posted by closure at last?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 22, 2015 at 6:41 pm

Web Link

Attachment E - staff recommendation "draft, not approved":

"Having considered the factual evidence and legal arguments of all parties, and for the reasons stated in the Hearing Officer’s Decision dated September 30, 2014 and as supplemented here, the Council finds that the park owner has met his burden. Accordingly, the Council denies the appeal and approves the park owners closure application conditioned on mitigation described in the Hearing Officer’s Decision and this Decision."


On the topic of appraisals:

"Staff is researching and will advise Council at the meeting on May 26th whether there are other alternatives that would address Council’s concern to ensure that the updated appraisals are complete and accurate, and in particular that the in-place value of the Buena Vista units reflect all the attributes of the community location, including public schools and safety."


10 people like this
Posted by let it die
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Peer reviews. Great. The genius city manager put $8 million in the game, now the City Council is going to be shopping around to see if they can find someone who will make the park owners pay more money.
With the $8 million, the City established that they have an interest in getting the owner to sell to their cause, so if they can keep the owners profit down by increasing the payoff to the residents they’re more likely to be successful in getting the land under the ownership of the non-profit their shoveling money at.
Does this really seem like a good idea to the City Attorney? Or maybe she thinks the inevitable lawsuit will be a fun summer activity for her.


15 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 22, 2015 at 10:33 pm

Both the $8million from the county and the $8million from the City are from funds that have to be used for affordable housing, in fact, are largely the money refunded from the sale of the Maybell property. (It's just really tragic that the money was tied up when the residents had the $14.5million from other sources.) If the funds are not used to help the residents of BV, they still can only be used for affordable housing.

I can't speak for everyone, but my experience is that sentiments in the community are very strongly in favor of trying to help save the park. The money available cannot be used for another purpose, and this is probably the most important effort in regards to affordable housing in this town.

Prayers to everyone in the park. And to you, Winter, and Joe Simitian. Thanks for your efforts. I'll admit I didn't have the heart to read the above.


23 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 23, 2015 at 9:49 am

As one poster stated above, on 26 May Council should approve the park owner's closure application, and any peer reviews can be part of the "already planned re-appraisal" to bring the numbers current. At this point it is just about the money.

Preserving the property as affordable housing is a separate issue entirely. That the $8M from the County and the $8M from the City are funds that must be used for affordable housing does not mean that buying Buena Vista is the best use of that money. We (the taxpayers) care very much how our money is spent and aren't likely to roll over for Simitian and the Palo Alto city manager.


14 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2015 at 10:23 am

Are the RIR payout amounts to the BV renters taxable income ?





10 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2015 at 10:29 am

Per Simitian's comment last month, the BV renters are going to receive, collectively, approx $6M (about $60k each).


10 people like this
Posted by Inquisitive
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Ok, say the city and the county buy BV. Then what?

Has anybody thought that far ahead? IS there a plan? What is it? How much will it cost? Who pays? How?


29 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I believe everyone here is for affordable housing in PA but it has to be equitable for all the low income people in this County. We should NOT just singled out this group over any other group. Let's get real and be fair here!


4 people like this
Posted by I'm so confused
a resident of Greater Miranda
on May 24, 2015 at 4:44 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Edgarpoet
a resident of Mountain View
on May 24, 2015 at 8:09 pm

I thought that these affordable housing funds were supposed to be
provided to help the homeless people get off the streets and
get into some shelter? [Portion removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Gennady is not a fair reporter
a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2015 at 1:35 am

@ Greenacres

If the community was really behind this trailer park, a few local billionaires and a dime a dozen millionaires would have stepped up already and made the gesture of saving the park. The truth is, most people would like to see these dilapidated metal elongated temporary dwellings close, not just because it is a low class rat infested establishment that brings surrounding properties values down, but because many of us (even registered Democrats) believe in the concept of property ownership, investment, and free enterprise. The residents of this park are renters who are being asked to vacate the rented property - the owner should have a right to do so after giving sufficient notice and funds to relocate.

Every overpriced property in Palo Alto is priced so high because of our schools. Yes, we have good schools, which is why we pay so much for our houses in the first place - "good schools" is not a separate line item on our house price list. Every appraisal automatically has good schools value in its calculation.

I take owner's side just because he is a property owner and has right to do with his property as he chooses.


4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 25, 2015 at 8:40 am

@ Inquisitive:

If you have a few moments, there are some earlier articles on PAO that provide some of the answers you are seeking. Currently there appears to be a possible partnership between CPA, the county and a non-profit that specializes in such things. But they seem to be in denial in that it has been publicly stated that the Jissers have no interest in selling...and that the property's market value far exceeds the funds set aside by the two local governments.


13 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 25, 2015 at 10:25 am

To Inquisitive and CP Dad:

After tomorrow night's council vote will be a big push to buy Buena Vista and save it as affordable housing at a cost of $19M in public money plus another $10-20M from wherever. Apart from these top level numbers (and ignoring the inconvenient fact that the park isn't for sale), there is no definition or cost analysis of this "rescue" plan, so basically proponents have not gotten beyond their political soundbite. Heck of a way to commit $40M but easy to do because it's not their money.

The PAO article "Palo Alto pledges $8M to preserve Buena Vista" appeared on 20 February. Some very good comments follow - essentially posters recognize that there is no plan except to throw money at Buena Vista and hope for the best.

Web Link

Couple of thoughts:

1) The closure process should have taken about a year but has dragged on for two plus years already. Why would the Jisser family want to get into any further dealings with a city whose council members have proved incapable of leadership or impartiality?

2) Will any residents of Buena Vista who don't qualify for affordable housing be required to move so their spaces can go to those who do qualify? Twenty percent of the families have an annual income in excess of $40k.

Council is disposed to rubber stamp the $8M allocated by City Manager Keene for the purchase of Buena Vista, but many citizens do not believe that buying a decrepit, non-compliant, overcrowded trailer park is the best use of those public funds. A petition for a referendum would be sure to follow.


5 people like this
Posted by Tired
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2015 at 11:03 am

Are we required to hav a city manager?


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 25, 2015 at 11:09 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Recognize that if the City decides to save BV that the City will effectively become the landlord with responsibility for code compliance - mobile home codes are set by the State.

Imagine the clamor if the City then attempts to evict a non-compliant mobile home owner.


11 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2015 at 11:26 am

There is an article in the Mercury News that says the mobile park owners are refusing to reappraise the mobile park homes. The appraiser who already appraised the homes for the hearing officer has stated that his analysis already factors in the schools and safety environment.

So this sets up a confrontation between the city council and the owners.

Unfortunately, none of the city council members have a legal background in this specific area of the law, nor are any of the city council members have any training as real property appraisers.

I'm fearful that the egos and political motivations of the city council will turn this into a lawsuit, and we the citizens will be on the hook for attorney fees & if the ruling is against the city, for the judgment, which will be many tens of millions of dollars.


12 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 25, 2015 at 11:46 am

If I were the Jisser's Trust Executor, I would look for top ten SF bay trial lawyers like now! Skip those litigators and hire trial lawyers right away. Our city is absolutely on the wrong side of the law on this fight and they know it. This is really sad that our elected CC members are pushing us to a lawsuit that we can't win. But of course they don't care since liability payments and punitive damages are not their concerns.


10 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2015 at 12:02 pm

>Imagine the clamor if the City then attempts to evict a non-compliant mobile home owner.

It will never happen, because there will be no enforcement of code violations...just like there is very little enforcement of the gas-powered leaf blower ban. The code words that the city council will use are "complaint based"...then when there is a complaint, the dispatch will always claim that our police officers are too busy; enforcement officers will always have higher priorities. Therefore, there will be no evictions.

Even a lawsuit will not get the attentions of a liberal CC that is ideologically committed to preserving BV. However, a serious judgment, down the road, might get their attention....but that would probably mean a new set of councilmembers...who will point their fingers backwards at the current crew.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 25, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It will never happen, because there will be no enforcement of code violations.." = Slum Landlord


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on May 25, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I think we should get world champion and all time great poker player and Palo Altan Phil Hellmuth to argue the Will of the People, which, despite the trolls above, is overwhelmingly (super-majority) for saving the park, as we had been promising to do, since well before current ownership took over.

Our failure to be direct here does seem to be encouraging the ownership group to up their pipe-dream expectations.

I say: eminent domain for $15 M, Alex.

Yes, let the courts decide how to divide the additional hypothetical profits between the residents and the future developers over the lump sum equivalent to "comparable housing...in the community" which is a null set.

In what other part of Palo Alto would $5M cover buying out 100 households? Certainly the more realistic number, for Palo Altans, would be closer to $100 M or $200 M. It would push to a Billion in Crescent Park. You couldn't get me to move my bicycle for $50K.

The moral choice is to stand "all in" with our community members at BV and get rid of the greedy ownership group. It's in our General Plan.

Phil?


3 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2015 at 12:16 pm

>"It will never happen, because there will be no enforcement of code violations.." = Slum Landlord

If you are attempting to shame our city officials into forced evictions, it won't work...their ideological commitment to protecting BV will make them ignore the shame, slumlord or not.


7 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2015 at 2:59 pm

@Mark Weiss

You made a number of references and inferences in your post above to people and groups I don't know. Are you referring to your "Covenant" Theory ? Please explain.


5 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2015 at 3:39 pm

@ Mark Weiss

>I think we should get world champion and all time great poker player and Palo Altan Phil Hellmuth to argue the Will of the People,
.
.
.
>I say: eminent domain for $15 M,

Phil, the Great, might decide to come in on the side of the eventual winner (for a cut, of course!). Maybe he will side with the owner...then the stakes will go up to much bigger stakes ($80 M lawsuit?). Watch out what you wish for, Mark.

Pretty amusing post, though...thanks for the laugh!


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 25, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The irony is that, after the property is sold and the tenants are relocated, many of the current proponents of the City purchasing/saving BV will oppose ANY development proposal.

The new battle cry will be Save BV PARK - as a park.


13 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 25, 2015 at 5:32 pm

>The irony is that, after the property is sold and the tenants are relocated, many of the current proponents of the City purchasing/saving BV will oppose ANY development proposal.

>The new battle cry will be Save BV PARK - as a park.

Hmmm, I hadn't thought of that one...but it wouldn't surprise me. $40M for a new park (or a new police station...or both)? Think of all the possibilities....

Good thought, Peter.


11 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Pro Park. Pro Police.

Also in the news: Appears that M. Nanda wrote a letter to the CC on Thursday:
Ref:Web Link

"In a letter Thursday to City Attorney Molly Stump, Jisser's lawyer Margaret Ecker Nanda accused the council of "inappropriately intruding upon the field of appraising" and even suggested it could be penalized as a result.

"The City Council has no authority to engage in the act of appraising by amending an appraiser's scope of work -- particularly with the unabashed intention of affecting the valuation outcome of the appraisals," said Nanda, adding that the council similarly had no legal grounds to increase the rent subsidy.

Nanda also pointed out that an ordinance governing Buena Vista's closure did not explicitly include safety and schools as factors to be considered in an appraisal, but she noted that Beccaria and Webster Inc. considered them when determining the fair market values of the homes at the park."


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 25, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Regarding opposition to future development, would any proposal for the property be held to 24% below 2013 water usage levels? Or is conservation just for the rest of us? Can water credits be finagled like parking credits?


13 people like this
Posted by Desert Jack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 25, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Haven't been able to locate Ms. Nanda's letter of 21 May to the city attorney, but from the excerpts above, can anyone doubt that she is documenting the file in preparation for a potential lawsuit? Particularly in view of Beccaria's firm defense of his appraisal in his letter to Council dated 5 May.

The warning signs are clear. Not a case I would want to defend.


8 people like this
Posted by Iconoclast
a resident of University South
on May 25, 2015 at 6:56 pm

"The irony is that, after the property is sold and the tenants are relocated, many of the current proponents of the City purchasing/saving BV will oppose ANY development proposal..."

Some people have to whine about everything, and then they have to imagine even more to whine about [Portion deleted].


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Posted by $$$
a resident of Atherton
on May 25, 2015 at 7:09 pm

"ignoring the inconvenient fact that the park isn't for sale"

Everything's for sale--for the right price.


16 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2015 at 7:53 pm

re: "anything is for sale at the right price"

In the 17 and 1800's, the greedy Land Barons and corrupt politicians would buy up valuable farm land a huge discounts. Their formula was:
1. Raise the taxes on the farm
2. Cut the the farmer's income by reducing the price and scaring away the buyers of the crop that the farm was producing
3. Impose laws and ordinances preventing the farmer from shifting to another crop.
4. Wait a few years till the farm needed repairs/upgrades to stay afloat. Eventually the only option for the farmer is to sell.
5. Pile on additional penalties, fees and fines to scare away any other buyers. The only remaining viable buyer is the Baron and their corrupt politician friends.
6. Having no choice, the Farmer sells out at huge discount.


That wouldn't happen today, right ?...

2000 Raise the owners property taxes for BV.
Owner says he'd have raise rents or close down.
2001 impose rent control at BV to limit owners income.
Create ordinance to prevent alternate use of BV property.
2012 BV Infrastructure failing.
Owner declares intent to sell BV
2013-14 CC Imposes additional requirements and costs on owner to
reduce land value and pool of external buyers.
"Prometheus" drops out as a buyer.
Cost advantage accrued to the the City and its partner as RIR
costs increase dollar for dollar (ref Simitians statement last month).
2015 CC Adds costs (schools, safety, additional bedrooms) etc. to the RIR
2015-17 ????


2 people like this
Posted by $$$
a resident of Atherton
on May 25, 2015 at 10:29 pm

It was so complicated then. It's really much simpler nowadays. Just pile on the $$$$$ until their obdurancy caves in under the weight of all that cash. Works every time.


4 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 25, 2015 at 11:00 pm

@Gennady/Fair reporter,

I know a lot of my neighbors because of Measure D/Maybell, so I know a great many are in favor of saving BV, in fact many did not understand why that wasn't the priority back then.

I don't think there is no basis to believe that because a billionaire hasn't stepped up, that it's a reflection of support in the community. The last major public meeting I attended, I saw people across a broad swath of Palo Alto, people who were on opposite sides for Measure D, people from very different spheres in town.

It is my experience that less wealthy people are more generous relative to their worth than the very wealthy. The philanthropists think in terms of "leverage" and they don't like controversy, it would frankly be a shocker if anyone stepped up. I don't know why people think billionaires will just drop money anywhichwhere. I was really disappointed that none of them saw fit to support an effort to create a crowdfunding real estate site to help save and improve low-income communities (that are often threatened as a byproduct of the success of their businesses). They would simply be creating the platform for lots of us little people to invest/save the housing.

It's no skin off anyone's nose if it's possible to scrape together a competitive offer for Jisser. It's a business decision like anything else. If Jisser gets a good offer, he earns a lot of goodwill by it and doesn't have to go through the eviction process. With the right offer, it could end up being the best business decision. Maybe he won't sell for any reason, but it's not like it's in his interest to say he will even if he will.


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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on May 26, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Yo La Tengo is a rock group based in New Jersey featuring the husband wife duo of Ira Kaplan and Georgie Hubley. They are big in my world, even if you've never heard of them.

Their name is a baseball reference. When the New York Mets started out, as an expansion team, they were pretty horrible, and laughable. This was about nine years before "the Miracle Mets" the 1969 Champions, Tom Terrific and and that.

"Yo La Tengo" is Spanish for "I Got It' or maybe "I Got Her" -- I guess that's a pun, or inside joke between the couple. The Mets had a centerfielder Richie Ashburn, formerly a champ with Philadelphia I think, without looking it up. They had a Venezuelan shortstop, a pioneer --now there are more than 200 close to 300 Venezuelans who've played MLB, including our Panda Sandoval and King Felix of the Seattles -- excuse the digression -- the Mets had a shortstop who spoke Spanish but little English, Elio Chacon. There was a pop fly to the outfield that fell between Ashburn and Chacon. Ashburn learned that "Yo La Tengo" means "I Got It". The next game another similar ball up there and Ashburn or Chacon call for it in Spanish but another outfielder Frank Thomas comes running in, plows over or maybe there is a 3-way collision. He missed the meeting where they went over "Yo La Tengo". I think, by the way, this is also the source of the SNL character played by Garret Morris Chico Escuela "baseball been berra berra good to me".

My point is that between Molly Stump, Jim Keane, Council, the FOBV, Simitian, I don't see real leadership I see a lot of chatter and I fear the ball is going to drop. I suggest eminenent domain for $10 M -- don't take his property, merely refund what it put in, the ownership group, back in 2000. Let the courts decide if that is fair. Seems fair, and due process to me. And adios amigo to the ownership group.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Mark Weiss,

When the Jisser's bought the park from the Weiland Family in the eighties, they, Toufic Jisser and his wife's sister's husband were partners in the property. After they ran the All American Market into the ground and renovated the space, their first major tenant was Blockbuster. Per court records, when Toufic Jisser's wife's husband discovered that he had been "misled" about the actual rent Blockbuster was paying he filed a law suit against Toufic Jisser. The settlement of the law suit involved Toufic Jisser buying out his wife's sister's husband. When that occurred Toufic Jisser and his son Joe assumed the ownership as TYJ Investments. That is the current "ownership group". In other words, TYJ Investments=Toufic and his son Joe Jisser. Note its called TYJ Investments, NOT Management. They saw the park as a money maker which was never the role of the park until they showed up.They tried to raise the rent by around 25% in 2001 to cover their expenses in paying off the law suit. Don't let the term investments in their company fool you. They've never invested anything that they weren't forced to into the park.


14 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 26, 2015 at 12:47 pm

To those mentioning eminent domain: in California, eminent domain is reserved for properties that are going to be available to everyone in their new use. For example, if the city needs to construct a road, they can use eminent domain to purchase the properties where the road will be. The process is also difficult if there is opposition and very expensive. Finally, the public hates eminent domain in general.

It is really not an option for the city.

The best hope is that Mr. Jisser may elect to sell. This could be helped if the city were to be nicer to him that anyone has been so far.




10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on May 26, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Not till all the displaced renters of Palo Alto will be treated with the same consideration, we have to support "selected group of people".


9 people like this
Posted by Finally
a resident of Barron Park
on May 26, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Done!


11 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 26, 2015 at 10:31 pm

A proper and respectful decision has been reached.


2 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

This deal is far from done. A new appraisal has been forced by our CC. If the owner doesn't like it, he can sue our CC for blatant interference in his affairs. If the tenants don't like the result they can appeal/sue. Who knows how long it will take to get through all those weeds?

Our CC will immediately start to pressure the owner to sell to its favorite mix of pubic monies (Simitian, CPA, etc.). If the owner refuses, and starts to evict, our CC will be back in it big time (liberal guilt).


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

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