Santa Clara County supervisors on Tuesday upped the ante in a bid to preserve the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park when they unanimously voted to allocate an additional $6.5 million toward the cause, contingent on a similar match from Palo Alto.
With little discussion, the Board of Supervisors voted to contribute $6.5 million from its affordable-housing fund for the purchase of Buena Vista. The new allocation raises the county's potential contribution toward preserving Palo Alto's sole mobile-home park to $14.5 million.
The decision to allocate additional funds comes weeks after the Palo Alto City Council formally authorized the closure of Buena Vista, paving the way for the park owner to begin the eviction process for its 400 residents. Now, the county and the city are working with the nonprofit The Caritas Corporation to make an offer for the mobile-home park.
Supervisor Joe Simitian, who proposed the additional allocation along with board President Dave Cortese, told his colleagues Tuesday that "time is of the essence." On any given day, he said, the owner "is within his legal rights to accept that authorization and send a notice of termination to residents."
On June 29, the City Council will discuss Buena Vista and consider its next steps. If the council chooses to match the county's contribution, the total set aside by the city and the county would go up to $29 million. All of the contributions pledged by the city and the county thus far would come from funds designated for affordable housing.
"Developers pay affordable housing fees for exactly this reason," Simitian said in a statement. "We're fortunate to have two potential sources of affordable housing funds on which to draw Santa Clara County's and the City of Palo Alto's. If we can put those two resources together we have a real shot at preserving the 117 units at Buena Vista and, ensure they remain affordable in perpetuity."
Cortese, who chairs the county's Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee, said in a statement that as "housing becomes more expensive, more affordable housing is needed; but it is also harder and harder to find opportunities to develop affordable housing.
"Preserving the units in place at Buena Vista has got to be more cost effective than trying to replace them down the road," Cortese said.
Now, it's up to the Palo Alto council to decide whether to make a similar contribution. Nancy Krop, representing the Palo Alto Council of PTAs and the Sixth District PTAs, urged the council on Monday night to follow the county's lead. Both school associations passed resolutions in support of Buena Vista, whose residents include more than 100 Palo Alto students.
"As a city we can't just talk, we have to walk the walk," Krop said. "It's a unique opportunity to walk the walk and teach children in our community that this is how we care for each other."
The Weekly has compiled an archive of news coverage capturing the many voices of the people involved in the fight over Buena Vista.