In decision's aftermath: sadness, hope

Palo Alto mobile-home park residents to continue fighting to save their homes

Residents of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto said they are expecting eviction letters any day now since the Palo Alto City Council voted on Tuesday to allow the owner to close the property. But amid the worry and tears, they are still hopeful that they can work out a deal with the owners, the Jisser family, despite more than two years of difficult and sometimes bitter battling.

The overall mood at the park this week was sad -- but also optimistic with an undertone, for some, of defiance.

"It's the start of a new phase," Melodie Cheney, a board member of the Buena Vista Homeowner's Association, said one day after the city's verdict. "Hopefully, we can get everyone to the bargaining table."

The Jissers have twice rejected residents' offers to purchase the park, which is home to 400 residents, including dozens of children. But circumstances change. Prometheus, the Jissers' development partner, pulled out of an arrangement that would have given the family an estimated $30 million if 180 high-end apartments for tech workers were permitted there.

"He has not said what he wants or even if he wants to sell it," Cheney said of patriarch Toufic Jisser, adding that she is hopeful a deal to purchase the park might be worked out with the help of funding from Santa Clara County, the City of Palo Alto and nonprofit groups. County Supervisor Joe Simitian has been working to find funding and to approach the Jissers. So far, $19 million has been identified, including $11 million in county funds and $8 million from the City of Palo Alto.

Now is the time for everyone to regroup, Cheney said.

"Mr. Jisser, please come to the table. Please let us know what you want. Then we can have some kind of stability," she said.

Buena Vista board member Mary Kear agreed. The Jissers' hopeful plans to get the property rezoned to allow for the denser development might now be snagged by neighborhood opposition, considering how the Maybell project, also in Barron Park, was soundly defeated by opponents in 2013, she said.

If Kear and Cheney are evicted, they fear losing work or having to make hard choices over basic necessities due to sky-high rents elsewhere, they said.

"Three quarters of my paycheck would go to rent. I'd have to decide between food, rent or medical care," Cheney said.

Kear could move in with her sister, but that would be three hours away from her job, she said.

Maria Martinez, who lives in one of the 12 studio apartments that are rented -- not owned like the mobile homes -- will get no compensation under the park closure plan. (The owner of an average two-bedroom mobile home would receive about $60,000 as a lump-sum payment, according to figures provided by the Jissers' attorney in March.)

Martinez isn't sure if, when the eviction notice comes, she will even get the six months the mobile-home owners will receive. Under state law, anyone who lives in a rental unit for more than a year gets two months, she said.

"I've lived here for seven years. I help babysit for my sister who lives here too in a mobile home. There are six in her family, and she is the sole provider," she said.

Losing her home will mean also losing her family, she said. Several members live in units within the park, including nine children.

At the City Council hearing, two of the children, Angel Martinez and Elissa Guzman, cried when they heard the council approved the closure, they said.

"I felt really bad, 'cause there are tons of good memories here. I don't want to have to leave this home," Angel, 8, said.

Brother Nicolas, 11, agreed.

"I felt like my heart just tore apart. I learned to ride my bike here, and we have so many good memories -- the posadas and all the parties. The important thing is no matter where we go, we are all one family. Nothing can stop us from all being one family," he said.

But Umbelina Martinez, Elissa's mother, said she doesn't know how she will find housing. She is the sole supporter for six, including three girls, her younger brother, and her elderly mother. She has already lost everything except for her family, she said.

"After a divorce, I lost my house, I lost my credit. Everything crumbled down," she said. But Buena Vista gave the family a new chance, she said. Umbelina works as a waitress at the Four Seasons and Rosewood hotels, and is studying to become a naturopathic doctor and raises her family. Above her head, a framed picture on the wall states "Live, Laugh, Love."

"I want to be a certified doctor of natural medicine," she said, displaying two certificates for nutrition counseling she has already earned.

"When I came here, this place was just junk. It didn't have water or a way to cook. It took me eight months and $35,000. I worked 10 hours a day, six days a week to fix it up, and eight months later it was finished," she said.

"We all got full of hopes. We did everything we could do. Last night was about breaking down all of the dreams we built," she said of the council's decision.

Cheney said many people plan to stay until they are dragged out because they have nowhere else to go.

"Ninety percent of the people here say, 'I'm not going anywhere.' Let the sheriff take me out of here in handcuffs."

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

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49 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2015 at 7:39 am

It's always better to move on and start anew

71 people like this
Posted by Bunyip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2015 at 8:05 am

[Portion removed.]
Tired of the constant entitlements and discussions on how save a small group of residents. Is it even ethical to selectively support a small subsection over the greater good? Where is my help?

34 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on May 29, 2015 at 8:23 am

Sad to see the last enclave of affordable housing in Palo Alto die. In the long run no society can function with such an extreme disparity of wealth.

36 people like this
Posted by Kniss puts the "crone" in crony
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2015 at 8:30 am

Liz Kniss is a heartless [portion removed.] Her condescending statements at the meeting about how she was helping the residents move on made me physically ill. I suggest that residents purchase RVs and move in front of her house in the delightfully leafy section of northside Palo Alto where people like Kniss pay low taxes due to Prop 13, and hit the jackpot just by sitting on houses purchased inexpensively years ago. [Portion removed.]

49 people like this
Posted by reality check
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2015 at 9:10 am

"So far, $19 million has been identified, including $11 million in county funds and $8 million from the City of Palo Alto."

There is no reason that a mobile home park needs to remain at the current location. It's not even the best location for such a park. The city can open one up in another location and let the owners develop the land as they are able.

The city had the opportunity to buy and use the Maybell site for a mobile home park. They owned most of it via the loan. Instead the affordable housing and the city sold it to a developer even knowing that Buena Vista was going to close and they would need land for a mobile home park if they wanted to keep one.

So now they want to put pressure on the park owner and have even contemplated eminent domain? Seriously?

"Mr. Jisser, please come to the table. Please let us know what you want."

The owners aren't going to entertain any offer until the land is vacant. That's the only way they're going to start getting competitive quotes. Premetheus already backed out with all the issues surrounding it.

Even after vacancy they're probably going to wait a year or so for all of this to die down before they start talking to developers. Don't expect a reply any time soon.

29 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2015 at 9:24 am

Keep it Real and Honest!

Any Public Funds should be spent on helping to relocate people that were forcibly removed from "the jungle" in San Jose. We need to be fair, just and equitable on affordable housing in Santa Clara county and in this State as a whole.

58 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2015 at 9:39 am

Jissers attorney has already fired off a warning shot probably to lodge into evidence that his constitutional rights were violated during this whole process. I hope our City will take careful notes on this statement below:

"I want to make it clear to the council that the park owner intends to exercise a constitutional right — and it's a constitutional right that every property owner has in the City of Palo Alto, the County of Santa Clara and the State of California," Nanda said. "It will sell its property when it deems appropriate to whom it chooses and for an amount it deems acceptable. It will not yield to pressure from the city to do anything but that."

12 people like this
Posted by Tearful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2015 at 10:03 am

I can not imagine the fear and worry these people must be going through.

38 people like this
Posted by Merry
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2015 at 10:10 am

The city should not be in the trailer park business!H

49 people like this
Posted by twocents
a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2015 at 10:38 am

I have been 'pushed out' of two buildings in Palo Alto. First time after 5 years in an apt on Curtner due to a landlords inefficiency and bad business management and dramatic rent increase - 50%(ended up in small claims over deposit - they ended up paying me right outside of courtroom!) Then the next building on Alma the landlord kicked us all out to 'remodel' (facelift) and then raise rents another 50% increase. Where was my relaction assistance? Whats the difference here - there really isn't any, so what that they own the trailers (at least i think they do). They don't own the land, there is no lease allowing them to stay longer. This is life however 'unfair' it may be. I work two jobs - one of them is white collar, then other blue to make it here with a wife and three kids. Yea it is difficult and the home prices and rents are ridiculous. But that is what it is here unfortunately. Deal with it, its not changing. I would like to see less foreign money impacting the real estate prices, I think that should be limited as it is a factor pushing out natives. Hard to compete when cash - from anyone or anywhere - is king.

39 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 29, 2015 at 10:44 am

Low-income housing is basically a government responsibility with assistance from non-profits and private individuals who wish to make donations.

The city has a huge budget (over $500M for the 2016 operating budget not to mention the capital budget) and can well afford to spend more than it has been accustomed to doing. The city is spending a lot of money wastefully that could be much better used.

It is unfair to try to require private individuals like Mr. Jisser to foot the bill for low-income housing. The city greatly overstepped the boundaries of the ordinance in an effort to increase Mr. Jisser's RIR payments. This was an outrage, and it is counter-productive to the whole cause of low-income housing.

People who want to see more efforts in low-income housing need to work to get the city council and the board of supervisors really committed, not just wringing their hands in despair over the possible closing.

11 people like this
Posted by palo alto urbanist
a resident of Professorville
on May 29, 2015 at 11:27 am

I find it interesting that the most obvious solution-- that the park be upzoned so that affordable units could be created for the families being displaced AND allow a profitable sale for the Jisser family-- is so unthinkable in Palo Alto that no one even brought it up. People have brought up eminent domain, spending millions and millions of tax payer dollars to buy the park, Council bullied appraisers into putting their thumb on the scale of their appraisal calculations, but no one said the obvious: allow more units to be built on that site, and give preference for the families currently living there.

12 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 29, 2015 at 11:51 am

@ palo alto urbanist

The Prometheus plan was somewhat similar to this.

My guess is that the community would oppose such a plan on the grounds that the resulting construction was too large. Maybell is a similar case.

I oppose such efforts. I believe that the city has an obligation to provide low-income housing out of tax funds. Building a large construction to include low-income housing along with market construction is simply a way of making the people in the surrounding area foot the "bill" through having to deal with the big construction.

The city is happy to see low-income housing, senior housing, and similar things as long as their half-billion-dollar budget isn't impacted.

18 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 29, 2015 at 11:53 am

I wouldn't make it easy on them. I would go out of my way to be as difficult as possible. I'm so tired of the rape of this area. I saw an open house this morning and the DeLeon bus there. The new order of Palo Alto makes me physically sick. Carpetbaggers, all!

20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 29, 2015 at 11:56 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I find it interesting that the most obvious solution-- that the park be upzoned so that affordable units could be created for the families being displaced AND allow a profitable sale for the Jisser family-- is so unthinkable in Palo Alto that no one even brought it up"

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.

61 people like this
Posted by Go Jisser's!
a resident of Woodside
on May 29, 2015 at 12:07 pm

When one of my son's, some years ago, could not afford to buy in the Bay Area, he moved to an area he could afford. The community/taxpayer did not subsidize him. His children (like many others) do not attend PA Schools, and are doing very well. Either you want a free country with private property rights, or you don't. Why should a specific group be "entitled" to special treatment & huge taxpayer monies?
If I were the Jisser's, I would NOT, under any circumstances, sell to the mobile park residents or the City of Palo Alto. His attorney is right; he has the right to sell when he chooses, to whom he chooses, and for what he alone deems an acceptable price. And, I believe, he also has the right to sue the City of Palo Alto for violating his rights, much as the city of HMB was sued some years ago, with the developer obtaining a 32 million dollar (well deserved) judgement against the city.

10 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm

At this point in BV, the situ may be characterized as Tenancy at Sufferance.

Like this comment
Posted by yours
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 29, 2015 at 2:18 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on May 29, 2015 at 3:15 pm

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27 people like this
Posted by Robbie
a resident of Barron Park
on May 29, 2015 at 6:03 pm

@palo alto urbanist
Why, if affordable housing were built on the BV site or any other, should the BV residents get a preference??? They're no more deserving of AH then any other low income resident in the area.

10 people like this
Posted by very sad
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2015 at 7:27 pm

It is so sad that these people have to move. The City of Palo Alto should make sure that these people can stay. Where does PA have housing for the poorer people? PA does not want to make room for them because they want all LUXURY
APPARTMENTS. Shame on our City! This move will only create more homeless for the county to look after. Last year alone Santa Clara County spent 80,000 tax-payer dollars to cater for the needs of the county's homeless community.
How much of this tax burden are these developers going to contribute in 2015?

7 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 29, 2015 at 10:05 pm

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

Certainly would be -- in Atherton. You have lived in an elitist community for too long good buddy. Come mock Palo Alto after Atherton citizens advocate for a trailer park in their city limits.

Helpful hint: don't try this at home, pal, unless you like a tar and feathers wardrobe. Send us a selfie.

40 people like this
Posted by Go on
a resident of Greater Miranda
on May 29, 2015 at 10:14 pm

I grew up on welfare till I was 18. Worked 3 jobs in summers. Took out student loans. Today I live in Palo Alto. No one gave me free affordable housing..I earned it and proud of it. No one gave me wealthy neighborhood and free scholarships. I earned it. Enough of this! Get 3 jobs and pay rent like the rest of the folks. Kids can excel in other schools. Palo Alto is not the only school around here. Go to college and come back here and buy/rent like the rest.

15 people like this
Posted by Kim-Mai Cutler
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2015 at 11:33 pm

To Go Jisser's!:

You are subsidized.

The U.S. government spends $195 billion a year on the mortgage interest tax deduction, which primarily goes toward paying for larger home sizes for the upper-middle class. Meanwhile the HUD budget, intended for lower-income families sits at $46 billion per year. This is regressive. Web Link

On top of that, California puts ceilings on property tax through Proposition 13, which can only go up at 2 percent per year. This in aggregate means that many property owners are just not paying taxes at a level that rises commensurately with the cost of providing municipal services.

Lastly, from a broader systems perspective, when 20% of the homes being sold in Palo Alto are going toward overseas Chinese, half of which do not even reside in these homes, while people who *actually* live and work in the city are being evicted, you have admit that something is grotesquely wrong. The whole intent of the American project of massively subsidizing homeownership after the Great Depression and World War II was to provide community stability and a means of wealth accumulation for the middle class. When those protections get subverted by increasingly globalized and non-resident capital flows, the original intent of these policies has been grossly abused. Web Link

32 people like this
Posted by roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 30, 2015 at 12:04 am

Can we please clarify something that keeps getting repeated regarding Buena Vista. Namely Affordable housing.
First, some people are charged almost $1000 per month to park their motor homes here.
Second, its not housing, its a collection of RV's and coaches crammed into tiny spaces, with no room to breath.
Third, some of the tenants are shall we say not the kind of neighbors you or I would want living that close to us.
Fourth, the police are regularly called to Buena Vista to settle neighbor disturbances.
These people are living in sub standard dwellings,not by any fault of their own but by circumstances.
Lets not save the park, lets bulldoze it, but please save the people, $60,000 dollars seems a fair amount, remembering that its mainly for the inconvenience of having to move.
Do I feel sorry for the residents, of course I do, but mainly because of the way they are forced to live now.
Their life will be better away from Buena Vista.

3 people like this
Posted by
a resident of Green Acres
on May 30, 2015 at 1:36 am

Some people think of this dilemma as if it was a car with a parking ticket...........

21 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 30, 2015 at 3:44 am

Speaking of parking tickets, will those vehicles on the property's El Camino curbside ever be removed? Two of the cars have been sitting there with flat tires for quite awhile. But of course it's none of my business what our city looks like.

17 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on May 30, 2015 at 7:15 am

Mr. Jisser should be nominated for citizen of the year for Palo Alto. He is protecting property rights and fighting off one of the slickest land swindles in American history. Trailer owners should be paid the actual price of their coaches, not the price caused by price fixing governmental corruption. This is part of probably one of the best lesson plans in economics. On the interent: The End of Rent Control . . . The only "affordable housing" that can be afforded is for the very needy, not economic refugees.

Geroge Drysdale a social science teacher

30 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 30, 2015 at 8:56 am

We are all subsidized. But please do not be fooled from the definition of "subsidization" vs "socialization". The key point that is germane between the 2 are:

In a free market economy, investment incentives are purposely injected into the system through a broader economic policies at the national level in order to spur/incentivize it's citizens/businesses to move/invest/work/climb the economic ladder.

In a socialist society, the government provide your basic survival needs with either little or no incentive for anyone to do better.

Of course wealth disparity in this country exist; notwithstanding, there are thousands everyday from this group that have successfully moved into the middle or upper income group by following an orderly process. Demanding handouts will fail at every turn.

14 people like this
Posted by Government money?
a resident of Stanford
on May 30, 2015 at 9:58 am

Unless you think all money is government money, the U.S. government doesn't spend anything on the housing mortgage deduction.

That money belongs to the people claiming the deduction.

It may sometimes seem to you that the government is so aggressive about collecting our money that when they don't do it, they are actually spending it.

But they aren't; it's not their money.

24 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Atherton
on May 30, 2015 at 10:04 am

Kim-Mai Cutler wrote:
> You are subsidized.

Just because subsidies exist doesn't mean all subsidies are valid or appropriate.

> The U.S. government spends $195 billion a year on
> the mortgage interest tax deduction

Residential property tax taxpayers pay more in property taxes than what is returned in mortgage interest deductions. Taxing someone, then returning some of it in the form of a tax deduction, is in no way a subsidy.

For those of you who think the mortgage interest deduction should be eliminated, I will join you in your quest as soon as property taxes on personal residential property is abolished.

39 people like this
Posted by mmmmMom
a resident of Downtown North
on May 30, 2015 at 10:39 am

I am glad that the decision was made as it was.

The residents there were LUCKY to have taken advantage of such low housing for as long as they did. I raised my 2 children as a single Mom, paying an arm & a leg to give them the opportunity to grow up in P.A. I was on the BMR waiting list for over 10 years..... with no result. In the end, when our greedy landlord raised the rent $750 per month above an already outrageous amount, we had to leave. Gee, I never thought of going to city council to whine & complain.

The BV residents will all get assistance - something my family, AND THE OTHERS WHO MAKE JUST A WEE TOO MUCH TO QUALIFY FOR GOV/COUNTY HELP - did not.

In fact, I made just a little too much to qualify for all of the low income housing PA has put up. WHY NO HOUSING FOR THE LOW, LOW MIDDLE CLASS? I certainly would have had an easier life by working part time, & reducing my income enough to qualify for the current "low income housing."

But is that the kind of neighborhood PA wants? Only the extremes of wealth & poverty? "Mixed" neighborhoods? Not in my book.

I wish the BV residents all the best, but not on my dime anymore.

23 people like this
Posted by PolicySage
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2015 at 10:56 am

It is my impression that a majority of Palo Altans support the City Council's unanimous decision to approve the Buena Vista owner's right to evict the tenants, and to sell the property for the construction of homes whose owners will pay taxes to support the schools and city services just a other Palo Altans do. The zeal and fervor of the minority have eclipsed the majority's views, but now, at last we can move on. Kudos to the City Council!

12 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 30, 2015 at 12:18 pm

One way to fight against the unfair amount that is being levied against the land owner is to begin a lawsuit against the city ASAP. Once the lawsuit is served, counsel could seek an injunction for a temporary reprieve from the court regarding relocation cost payment based on the rationale of unfair assessment i.e. City has imposed a rent control for more than 10 years at BV. Meanwhile, Jissers can concurrently serve eviction notice immediately while relocation cost payment battle can continue winding its way through the Court. Strategy here is to allow landowner a clean slate (vacant lot) to architect and negotiate for a viable plan without having to pay millions right upfront.

Of course more hw needed here but this off the cuff quick strategy to vacate and not have to immediately pay an unjust ransom dictated by overreaching local officials!

7 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2015 at 1:15 pm

A question - Jisser can now hand out eviction notices, which I believe give the residents 6 months. When do they receive their relocation payments? If they appeal the appraisal, how does that affect the timeline?

Somewhat unrelated but there are a 15 of mobile homes varying from 17-35K available in parks in Modesto. They are 2-3 times the size of the trailers in BV and are in parks with lots of amenities such as pool, playgrounds, etc. They are in safe neighborhoods with decent schools.

8 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Palo alto needs to supply more affordable housing units per ABAG. Why should palo alto give up over 100 u its of affordable housing that is acceptable to both current residents and the neighborhood?
Jisser has already sold off and converted to or her uses a very important part of the quality of life in Barron Park--the All American market. It was replaced with so called services that do not serve Barron Park residents. Don't let tham get away with his again.
I think that people who are removed from affordable housing in an area should have instead pick of any existing or new affordable units in that area.
If Barron Park turns its back on the residents of BV the neighborhood will lose some of its vitality and diversity.

Like this comment
Posted by
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 1, 2015 at 9:33 am

Palo Alto housing is so expensive because of the balance between jobs and housing. Every time a development project is approved for greater office space (often without the required parking) there is more demand for housing but the only way to provide it is to replace low density housing with high density housing. If you want a "reasonable" housing prices force a balance between housing and jobs.

Is the "Survey Monkey" building at Lytton and Alma so beautiful that it was right to give it concessions which make life more difficult for residents and for shoppers visiting down town.

Tax developments which are over-built and don't have adequate parking. Remove the profit from false justifications for exemptions. Push development to move towards our communities goals.

4 people like this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 1, 2015 at 10:11 am

"Every time a development project is approved for greater office space (often without the required parking) there is more demand for housing but the only way to provide it is to replace low density housing with high density housing. If you want a "reasonable" housing prices force a balance between housing and jobs."

Spot on!

Our least efficient land usage is in our R-1 neighborhoods, especially the McMansions of Crescent Park and Old Palo Alto. Increased density and diversity would improve all of our underdeveloped neighborhoods, and denser bus routes would furnish transit.

2 people like this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 1, 2015 at 10:16 am

"Palo Alto housing is so expensive because of the balance between jobs and housing."

Uh-uh. I'd believe that if the great majority of working Palo Alto residents worked in Palo Alto. Fact is, only half do. The other half commutes to jobs in other towns. Clearly the latter live here for other reasons than employment.

21 people like this
Posted by Go Up
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm

I'm sorry to see this unfold as it has. The 'supporters' of the BV residents, although ostensibly well meaning, have led these people up the garden path. Instead of working so hard to keep them stuck in such an unfortunate situation so some of us can feel good about ourselves, it would have been better to undertake an effort to relocate them into better housing in Palo Alto, or elsewhere instead. This would have been a huge challenge, but so much better than making it a win lose. If the goal were to empower the residents of Buena Vista to improve their lot, while working with the Jissers so that both could have what they want and need, this time might not have been wasted. Instead, because the goal was for a bunch of bleeding hearts to keep the 'local color' that makes them feel good about 'supporting' this little oppressive and tokenized enclave, we have this depressing outcome for all concerned.

24 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 1, 2015 at 4:20 pm

I grew up in a less than desirable neighborhood in South East San Jose where the demographics are very similar to the BV residents. I took out loans, I went to college and grad school and now am a homeowner in Palo Alto.

I'm sorry. Do what everyone else does. Stop whining and live within your means. Work hard. Go to school and then live where you can afford. Being able to live in nice area is a privilege, not a right, nor an entitlement.

3 people like this
Posted by Let's Be Fair
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jun 2, 2015 at 12:27 am

Dear Neighbor,

Congratulations on your achievement. However, one person's experience is not sufficient to determine that everyone in similar circumstances will reap the same results. There are so many variables in a person's life, including innate abilities, family values, unique experiences with educators and society, and peer pressures, to name just a few.

Studies have shown us that children growing up in poor neighborhoods are less likely to finish high school and less likely to go to college. Children growing up in wealthier communities do better across the board. This is not in dispute. What is also not in dispute is that ethnic minorities, such as African-American and Hispanic American (as is the case at BV) consistently fair more poorly in U.S. society. This is also not in dispute.

If you accept these known differences as purely based on each individual's talent and ability, it is akin to determining that some races are simply superior to others' - there is no other explanation as to why some races consistently do better than others in this country. I do not believe that to be the case.

Sure, some kids succeed against all odds, but that is not the norm, and should not be the "measuring stick" against which we make cavalier decisions about kids' lives. Not every kid (actually, only a rare kid) has the mix of innate ability, family support, positive role-models, etc to climb out of poverty all on their own.

If we want to help break the unequal standards in this country, and help end the cycle of poverty, we need to help these low-income (and mostly, if not all, Hispanic) kids as much as we can to give them all the support possible to become educated, productive members of society. They were not born into privileged families, but if we provide the environment, they can succeed as first generation college graduates.

Throwing them all into a hole and saying, "I was able to climb out, so you all should be able to also," is not reasonable or realistic. Let's not measure ability by the exceptions (actually, this is a bit of a parallel to the PA HS students who think they are a failure if they don't get into Stanford), let's be fair and try to understand the immense challenges these kids face, whether they deserve their circumstances or not (and how does a kid 'deserve' their circumstances?).

Turning our backs on these families is akin to throwing these kids (and adults) into a hole and telling them to climb out on their own. It's just not humanitarian.

Yes, there are other low-income people waiting for housing, and we should be figuring out their plight as well, but the BV residents are already an established part of our community, are already attending our schools and working nearby. Let's find a way to keep them a part of our community.

I prefer to part of the solution, not part of the problem.

2 people like this
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 2, 2015 at 3:35 am

Who was cleaning your toilet last year around this time???? Who was cooking in the restaurants rain or shine??? Who was cutting your hair??
Who was washing your car?????????? Who stood out by the Rail Road tracks trying to divert any more suicides???????????????? Your neighbor??? Where do you live??? What bucket of sand are you sticking your head into anyway??????? People that live in BV do that some of other people in Palo Alto wouldn't be caught doing..might break a nail Ladies?? Hopefully some people from the park won't stray to Modesto ( as one person suggested in this thread..) We need workers, don't you get it???????????

13 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 6:36 am

@Let's Be Fair
> "I prefer to part of the solution, not part of the problem."

So can I assume that you have been advocating for the construction of new BMR and low income housing in Palo Alto, and specifically near Jordan Middle School ?

I have pointed out several times in other threads that the City already owns open space and park lands in excess of 1000 times the acreage of Buena Vista. Allocating just 0.1 percent (zero point one percent) of existing Palo Alto property could house a new trailer park with updated pads and infrastructure. That is one simple solution easily within the City's control.

I have also pointed out that paying the $43M current appraised value of the RM30 4.7 acre Buena Vista to buy it as is (assuming it was for sale at all, which it isn't), would equate to $443k per unit. That is enough to buy a 3000 sq foot home on a quarter acre next to mine in a beautiful central valley community and with $200k left over (put in a trust) to pay the property taxes for the rest of their lives. They own a home free and clear in a lovely community (I have a home there) and their lives are improved forever.

Those are the solutions I am a part of and advocating for. Can you tell us what solutions are you a part of ? I hope you are not advocating that the residents just hold out till the 6 months expires (at Christmas by the way) in hopes of a buy out deal from some miracle investor. That is a fools path.

3 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 6:41 am

Sorry, my previous post should read:
" paying the $43M current appraised value of the RM15"
... NOT RM30

13 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 7:38 am

@Mayfield Child

I have done all, and still do most, of the jobs on your list.
I'm sorry you don't want to do those jobs, but you probably should. It might improve your outlook and perspective on the situation. The poor do not exist to do the jobs you don't want to do and Buena Vista in particular, does not exist for the purpose of providing a wiling and/or desperate workforce.

15 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2015 at 8:43 am

It is disingenuous to think that BV park exists so that we all can have a cheap labor force in PA. I worked with lots of people who had to commute to the peninsula from as far as Fresno valley in order to hold a job here. Please do not tell me I made this up. There are many people here that had either done this or still doing it. You do whatever it takes to take care of your family and move up in the ladder. Quit making excuses!

4 people like this
Posted by Agree with "Crony"
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 6, 2015 at 9:44 pm

[Post removed.]

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