News

Buena Vista residents sue Palo Alto over closure approval

Lawsuit seeks to prevent evictions, requires more relocation assistance

Residents of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park have filed a lawsuit against Palo Alto, challenging the city's decision in May to allow the mobile-home park's closure and requesting that the Santa Clara County Superior Court bar the property owner from issuing eviction notices.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday by the attorneys for the Buena Vista Residents Association, comes at a time when the City Council is actively trying to raise money to buy Buena Vista from the Jisser family and preserve the site as a mobile-home park.

Weeks after it approved the park's closure on May 26, the council agreed to allocate $14.5 million from the city's affordable-housing funds toward the preservation of the city's sole mobile-home park, which is home to about 400 mostly low-income, Latino residents.

Earlier this month, the city changed the guidelines in its commercial-housing fund to allow this allocation -- a move that was welcomed by the park's residents.

The residents association is now asking the court to overturn the city's approval of the closure application, which allowed the Jisser family to begin the six-month eviction process, though that has yet to happen, according to residents.

The Jisser family launched its effort to close and redevelop the Barron Park community in the fall of 2012 and revised its closure application five times before winning the approval of an administrative officer and, ultimately, the City Council's.

Now, the nonprofit organization representing the park's residents is asking the court to reverse the council's vote. The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley argued in its complaint that city officials have denied the residents association a fair hearing; that the city "ignored its obligation to affirmatively further fair housing throughout the closure process"; that Buena Vista's closure runs counter to the city's Housing Element; and that the mitigation measures that the city approved as part of the closure application would not allow residents to move to "comparable housing."

In the suit, attorney Kyra Kazantzis criticizes the city for the process that was used to conduct the closure hearings and argued that the decision to allow Buena Vista's shuttering clashes with the federal Fair Housing Act, which requires cities that receive federal funds for housing to act "in a manner affirmatively to further fair housing," and the state Housing Element Law.

The suit points out that the city's own Housing Element, which the council adopted in 2014, includes an objective to "preserve the 120 mobile home units in the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park as a low and moderate income housing resource" and commits the city to seek "appropriate local, state and federal funding to assist in the preservation and maintenance of the existing units in the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park."

The lawsuit claims that the city's inaction before January 2015 and its decision to approve Buena Vista's closure without taking "concrete action to attempt to preserve it are inconsistent with the Housing Element of the General Plan."

Even though the city pledged funds to preserve Buena Vista (adding it to the $14.5 million pledged by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors), the suit contends that this action came too late. The suit also notes that the City Council took "no action to preserve Buena Vista until after it had already approved Buena Vista's closure."

Yet before the May hearing, the council was expressly discouraged by the city attorney's office from commenting on Buena Vista or taking any action to preserve the park. In evaluating the closure application, the role of the council was more akin to a judge than to a legislative body, and the city wanted to preserve its neutrality and avoid accusations of bias.

Some of the residents association's complaints pertain to the process used to conduct the closure hearings. Before the hearings, the council voted to adopt a process that allowed each side to have one expert witness and no cross-examination of witnesses by the attorneys. The lawsuit contends that by not allowing the residents association to subpoena material witnesses, including the park owner, or allowing the cross-examination of the Jissers' appraiser, David Beccaria, Palo Alto denied the residents association a "fair hearing."

"Because of the denial of a fair hearings, the Association and its members suffered harm" the suit states.

The suit also criticizes the city for not insisting on more relocation assistance for the park's residents. The city's ordinance requires the park owner to provide enough assistance to allow residents who can't relocate their mobile homes to a different park enough money to cover the cost of buying or renting "comparable housing" in a "comparable community."

The relocation assistance offered by the Jisser family in the closure application includes the cost of moving the mobile home or, for those who cannot move the home, the appraised value of the home. It also includes moving costs, expenses for a temporary hotel stay; first and last month's rent; and a year of rent subsidies equal to the difference between the Buena Vista rates and those at their new homes.

The suit calls the approved relocation-assistance package "grossly inadequate" and claims that it will eliminate "any opportunity for Buena Vista residents to relocate to comparable homes in a community comparable to Palo Alto."

"Instead, virtually all Buena Vista families will be forced to leave Palo Alto," the suit states. "Many will be forced to leave the Bay Area altogether, meaning that they will be leaving their jobs, schools, health care providers, friends and community."

The suit argues that the relocation-assistance package should have also incorporated the value of Palo Alto schools, a subject that was central to the closure hearings and that the council tried to include in its approval.

Ultimately, that condition was left out after Beccaria, the appraiser, argued that the value of schools is already included in the appraised values and threatened to quit. The council responded by commissioning a peer review of the methodology used in the appraisal. The suit argues that this action was not enough.

"By failing to ensure that the Latino residents of Buena Vista will retain access to high quality schools, economic opportunities, and other amenities in Palo Alto, the City affirmatively failed to further fair housing," Kazantzis wrote in the lawsuit.

The residents association is asking the court for an injunction prohibiting the Jisser family from issuing six-month closure notices and for a writ of mandate forcing the city to reverse its approval of the closure application.

The association is also asking that the court require, as a condition of closure, "a program of mitigation assistance that will adequately mitigate the closure of the park on displaced residents, including monetary relocation assistance that is sufficient to allow residents to relocate to comparable housing in a community that is comparable to Palo Alto."

It remains to be seen what impact, if any, the suit will have on the city's effort to help purchase Buena Vista or on the Jisser family's decision about selling the mobile-home park.

Kazantzis told the Weekly that Buena Vista residents are hopeful that the mobile-home park will be saved after the Caritas Corporation earlier this month made an informal offer to the Jissers to buy the park, in part with the $29 million from local and county funds.

"We very much appreciate that the City of Palo Alto (and the County) has dedicated funding for the Park's preservation, and we hope that that funding can be used to save the Park," Kazantzis said in an email. "However, as attorneys, we have an ethical obligation to protect our clients' legal rights.

"If the sale doesn't happen and the park is closed, filing the lawsuit by the statute of limitations deadline -- which was Monday -- gives the residents the best chance of ensuring that their right to adequate relocation assistance is preserved."

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

Comments

169 people like this
Posted by Last straw
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:21 am

This has got to be the last straw! If the BV residents want to sue the city after having drawn out the closure process for 2+ years and still believe they did not get a fair hearing then its time for the city to rescind the offer of $14 million to help purchase the park. Don't bite the hand that feeds you!


116 people like this
Posted by Geez
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:26 am

OMG, this is ridiculous and infuriating. The arrogance.


29 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:53 am

Calm down. Anytime anyone anywhere wants to close a mobile home park, it's a long and difficult process because a mobile home park isn't just rentals, people own the mobile homes and rent the land. The law recognizes that once in place, the units themselves aren't really mobile anymore, either. So mobile home park owners are uniquely vulnerable. When residents appealed, they had a right under the law to due process.

Right now, their only remedies to stop eviction while working out a possible sale under the law are probably only in court, and are no longer administrative. The owner hasn't been quoted much, but there was a recent Washington Post article in which the story indicated that the owner really is weighing the personal cost of closing the park. However, the whole equation changes if everyone is evicted. People are hoping to save their homes and there is real money now to offer for a sale, the only avenue to keep them from being evicted at this point may be judicial rather than administrative. Note that the residents' suit did not ask the City for damages, it's just the next step in the process. If they are kegally entitled to wage the suit - meaning, if there is cause to bring the suit under the law - then this is the next step and their right, just as the owner has rights, too.

In their position, I think modt people would follow due process to save their homes. Everyone has rights here. If this were a corporation, everyone would say, "It's just business." Again, they haven't sued the City for damages (it appears), they seem just to have taken the next step which seems to be chalkenging the closure in court. It's certainly understandable.


25 people like this
Posted by winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 6:42 am

Attorneys are boxed in because they have an ethical duty to preserve their clients' rights even if pursuing a different resolution - buying BV. It's a shame the owner didn't simply agree to postpone the filing deadline of Aug. 24 as is frequently done in such situations. All is needed is mutual consent of the parties (owner, city, and BV) to allow the time to arrive at a solution without the filing of litigation.


12 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2015 at 7:52 am

The Farmer and The Viper - Aesop Fable #176


67 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2015 at 8:45 am

The city has done everything it could and then some. In my opinion, Mr. Jisser's rights were continually compromised as the city tried to help the residents. Some issues:
-- the city drug out the process as much as it could, stretching every deadline
-- the city granted the appeal, which it need not have done
-- they came up with a number of things to try to increase the relocation fees, clearly trying to rewrite the ordinance
-- Mr. Jisser was also subjected to a lot of unfair criticism, which the city did nothing to stop and even added to with side comments

Mr. Jisser had clear grounds to sue in my opinion. He must have the patience of Job to have put up with this.

I still hope that the sale goes through and the residents can stay there, but the residents' legal representation has gone too far.


66 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:31 am

Ungratefulness and self entitlement at its highest, Great example being set for the children


16 people like this
Posted by all about money
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:38 am

"If the sale doesn't happen and the park is closed, filing the lawsuit by the statute of limitations deadline -- which was Monday -- gives the residents the best chance of ensuring that their right to adequate relocation assistance is preserved."
This is all about getting the maximum payout ("adequate relocation assistance") possible for residents lest the park closes.


3 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:43 am

After eviction and compensation like other city (e.g. Mountain View), don't overdo with compensation.

The housing agency should start a raffle process and regularly do it every 2-5 years. May give current tenants a better odds like NBA draft.

This should be done on all public subsidized housing in Palo Alto. This will avoid any legal issue and give other people a fair chance not to monopolize by existing tenants.


73 people like this
Posted by Let it die
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:43 am

Pure greed on the part of the residents. Greedy, selfish and vile.

This isn't about stopping eviction notices to get more time to work things out. The bids are in, there is nothing more to work out. If the owner is thinking about accepting the
Caritas offer, he won't send out eviction notices, that wouldn't make sense. If he is sending out eviction notices, it is time to accept that. Its been three years. It's neither healthy nor fair to keep doing this.


13 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:52 am

I hope Mr. Jisser gets compensated for all the delays. They are unfair and dysfunctional.

I hope the land can be preserved as low-cost housing, using the available public funds.

I hope if public funds are used, then ownership resides with the government, and that Caritas is a fee-per-service management group, subject to the same transparency and bidding procedures used for any government contractor. Public money should not be used to increase the assets of a private corporation.


8 people like this
Posted by Truth
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 10:24 am

I agree with almost everyone's comments, but I can complain because I vote as an Independent. I hope that anyone who is complaining isn't a liberal leaning Democratic voter.

"You get what you vote for"


39 people like this
Posted by Ruff Rider
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

Biting the hand that feeds you... before you've been fed.


80 people like this
Posted by NoLongerSympathetic
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

From a once sympathizer, tell the BV lawyers that they have just created an anti-BV voter.


31 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 10:35 am

I'm interested to know who is funding all the attorney's fees for the residents of Buena Vista.


68 people like this
Posted by Real American
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 10:46 am

C'mon. Public funds are being used to subsidize housing for poor people in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Why do they have a right to remain? Complaints that they'll be forced to leave rings quite a bit hollow considering middle class people are forced to leave Silicon Valley (not just PA) all the time because they can't afford to live here!


76 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 10:46 am

Greed at the highest level.

1. the city delayed the closure for 3 years
2. the city violated the law purposely to further protect the BV residents
3. the city illegally changed their own ordinance to increase the relocation package
4. the city funded half of the money to purchase the park
5. the city was invited to a thank you party by the BV residence August 15
6. the city is being sued by the Residence.

I wonder if the City Council knew this was coming?


56 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 10:58 am

So after all the city's efforts on the residents behalf and basically giving them $29M to help with a possible purchase, this is our thanks ?

Do they not realize the costs we will incur fighting this lawsuit in court?

Hopefully, the City will use the $14.5M it has set aside for Buena Vista, and use it to pay for it's legal defense costs we will incur fighting the lawsuit brought against us by the residents of Buena Vista.

Thanks Buena Vista !


62 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:00 am

> It's a shame the owner didn't simply agree to postpone the filing deadline of Aug. 24 as is frequently done in such situations. All is needed is mutual consent of the parties ...

@Winter, this is an obvious fabrication. Any appeal of an administrative decision such Council's approval of Buena Vista's closure is governed by California Code of Civil Procedure, section 1094.6. There are clever ways to extend the 90 day deadline, but mutual agreement with the park owner is not one of them.

The Buena Vista residents did not have to file this lawsuit. I'm sure that you believe in the cause, but that does not justify anyone making misleading statements and drawing unsupported conclusions, especially in a court of law.

In fact, the actions of the Buena Vista residents and their attorneys makes a lot of us very uncomfortable and now unsympathetic to your cause.


8 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:01 am

The attorney for the BV tenants may be doing this for the publicity. Should there be some type of financial settlement, she'll probably take a percentage.


16 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:02 am

Even if Caritas buys the property and runs it as-is, how long can it do so without a major overhaul? The units are aging and they are impossible to replace, given how the site is laid out. This site will have to be redeveloped unless we want a favela in Palo Alto.


52 people like this
Posted by Malia
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:06 am

I grew up going to school with the families that lived in the park. While I sympathize with the residents, the fact that they are even being given money to move is HUGE, I've never been offered that when I have had to move due to new ownership. The fact that they are suing is just beyond me. The city is doing everything they can to save the park. I am so tired of entitlement.


85 people like this
Posted by Shameful
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:06 am

This is what you get when our own city council suffering from liberal guilt decides to get into the welfare business. The BV residents have enjoyed a sweet deal allowing them to benefit from Palo Alto for many many years, and now they feel so 'entitled' to the point they will sue the idiots who made this arrangement possible in the first place.
If the city council doesn't have what it takes to make decisions out of fear of not being politically correct, they should resign and let others take their place.
As much as I think Donald Trump can be a bit extreme in his views, I can now appreciate why he's appealing to such a large segment of the population. We are tired of politicians making irresponsible decisions that others will have to clean up when they are long gone.
This also proves the foolishness of having the city purchase this park. Just imagine the number of lawsuits these 'entitled' residents will file every time they need more benefits.


28 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:07 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

If the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina taught us anything, it is that no government (federal, state or local) should participate in the mobile home business.

End this debacle.


7 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:07 am

It does seem like an incredible waste of resources that could otherwise have gone into improving housing conditions and quality of life for denizens of BV and all of Palo Alto.


126 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:10 am

Nayeli is a registered user.

1.) Evict these residents (via the timeline set by law).
2.) Give the residents ONLY what state law dictates they must receive (hopefully nothing).
3.) Let the owners do whatever they want with that park.

The end.


83 people like this
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:26 am

Many of us have had friends and family forced to move away from Palo Alto for economic reasons. None of those people were ever offered economic assistance to get comparable housing in PA. None of those people were ever offered city funds, or any attention at all, as these BV residents have received. These latest demands strike me as arrogant and ludicrous.


18 people like this
Posted by Lose Lose
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:36 am

Only the attorneys will win on this one.

Lots of money to be made from both sides.


18 people like this
Posted by barron park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:39 am

I am now more against"saving BV" ... it s just the same loud voices that got heard.. no common sense.

Not sure if this has been answered:

1)If Jisser sells to the current 'Offer" do the BV residents still get their "Prize Money" from Jisser??

Of does Jisser just sell and those with Government Grants ( my tax $$) go to pay BV residents??? I sure hope not!!!!!
I do not want my tax money going to BV residents.. affordable housing OK that is open to all, but not directly to " individuals".

2)WillBV residents need to go through the normal waitlist for affordable housing that is funded by our tax money???


38 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:40 am

@Greenacres : "The law recognizes that once in place, the units themselves aren't really mobile anymore, either"

Who do you keep promoting this tired and incorrect talking point?

The majority of the units at Buena Vista are "Travel Trailers" NOT "Mobile Homes". Please review the BV appraisal inventory at Web Link

The units are easily movable.


@Winter : "Attorneys are boxed in"

That phrase excuses all manner of sins, doesn't it ?
There is ALWAYS a choice.
The BV Renters did this deliberately, in a greedy attempt to force their will over the decision of the people (via their elected officials) and over the owners constitutional rights.

The BV Renter lawsuit is NOT a request for a stay, or a time extension as you imply in your post ("simply agreed to postpone the filing deadline").

Per the article, this lawsuit IS:
1. Accusing the City if failing to do its duty
2. Demanding the court throw out the City's closure ordinance decision (which has taken years and cost us millions already), and
3. a demand for more relocation/mitigation money for the renters.





65 people like this
Posted by Cancel the buyout
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:43 am

We taxpayers are willing to fork over $29 million to help these folks, and this is how they show their gratitude? I say we cancel the plan to buy the park and tell the residents that they’re on their own.

And, and please don’t argue that this suit was filed to preserve the tenants’ legal rights. The buyout plan is already fully in swing, so this filing was unnecessary. This is simply an opportunity for the tenants' attorneys to get some billable hours that will be paid by the city when this case is settled. This how public interest attorneys work. They sue somebody and then get a settlement that covers their fees.


14 people like this
Posted by Counterclockwise
a resident of University South
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:54 am

"Many of us have had friends and family forced to move away from Palo Alto for economic reasons. None of those people were ever offered economic assistance to get comparable housing in PA. None of those people were ever offered city funds, or any attention at all, as these BV residents have received."

And I bet none of them fed posole to city officials. Now we know their price.


16 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 27, 2015 at 11:56 am

I do not know the law or what tolls the statute on filing in court to appeal/protect the right to appeal, but the attorneys for the residents clearly thinks they waited until the last minute hoping to work something out without filing. @Joe, you may believe differently, and if you are an attorney, may believe there are other ways to push back the deadline, however, you are not their attorney -- anyone in any kind of legal proceeding puts themselves in a vulnerable position if they don't file by the most clear legal deadlines.

Sometimes a legal filing by a deadline is just about protecting rights in an appeal circumstance, because there are no administrative remedies, and that appears to be the case here. Everyone has rights, and the residents have the right to do this. They appear to have waited until the very last minute possible to do so, that also indicates that this is NOT about greed. This has to be very stressful for the residents, but they are between a rock and a hard place, and this is the path of due process. If they had simply let the deadline pass, they would have lost any chance of bargaining. (Honestly, why don't we teach kids civics anymore!)


7 people like this
Posted by AllenE
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:06 pm

AllenE is a registered user.

Everyone complaining, you don't know what is going on here. I don't either. But it is possible that the city is not inclined to fight the suit. Maybe they even welcome it. What are the residents asking for? Not being evicted. They just want a judge to stay the evictions. Unless I am missing something, it would be the owners who are the real targets of this suit, not the city. It is just that the city is the who has to get sued.


56 people like this
Posted by Cancel the buyout
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:13 pm

This suit is nothing more than the Silicon Valley Law Foundation wanting a payday. This situation was on course to being resolved without litigation. Jisser is actually negotiating with Caritas, the city and county are helping with the money. That meant that the Law Foundation wouldn't be able to force a defendant to pay a settlement that included their legal fees. So they had to sue. That's how these "pro bono" law firms work. They target some government agency or big corporation with a lawsuit. The defendant looks at the suit and determines it's cheaper to pay a settlement than go to trial. The settlement always includes the plaintiff's legal fees. It's called a shakedown. Winter is a former attorney for housing advocates, so she knows how this game works.

I hope the city says, we're canceling the plan to buy Buena Vista and we'll fight this lawsuit in court. No settlement. We want to go to trial and let a jury decide if the city was wrong here.


9 people like this
Posted by Reward the rich instead
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:17 pm

I agree the city should not spend money on greedy people.
It should continue to spend our money on development plans for Arrillaga and Stanford.

Those billionaires need our help. Keep it up, city.
Reward greedy rich people, not greedy poor people.


53 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:21 pm

"Unless I am missing something, it would be the owners who are the real targets of this suit, not the city. It is just that the city is the who has to get sued."

Q: And the "City" is....?
A: Us.

Q: And when we get sued, who pays for the lawyer time at $300 to $500 per hour ?
A: We do.

I'm sure glad we're not the "real target".



111 people like this
Posted by Carla
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Carla is a registered user.

I hope they end up with nothing.


34 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Unless I am missing something, it would be the owners who are the real targets of this suit, not the city. It is just that the city is the who has to get sued."

The longer this drags out the bigger the claim will be that the owners will have against the City.

The City stepped into this mess and the City will eventually pay big bucks to everyone for its mis-judgements.


5 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2015 at 12:58 pm

If the sale goes through, the lawsuit will be withdrawn. The suit objects to the way the city handled things. But if there is a sale, there would be no basis for litigation.

The lawyers are trying to protect their clients from the case where the sale does not go through. Then, they want to force the city to pay them for what they consider to be lost relocation fees due to the way the city handled the situation.

Altogether very awkward since the lawyers know fully well that the city has done everything that they could to help the residents.


16 people like this
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Winter says, "Attorneys are boxed in because they have an ethical duty to preserve their clients' rights even if pursuing a different resolution - buying BV."

I don't believe the attorneys are "pursuing a different resolution".

The public face of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley in the Buena Vista matter has been Supervising Attorney James Zahradka of the Foundation's Public Interest Law Group, where the Directing Attorney is Kyra Kazantzis who is the attorney for the lawsuit. Zahradka and Kazantzis hold the same positions in the Foundation's Fair Housing Law Project. Neither is part of the Foundation's Mental Health Advocacy Project which is the name of the entity on the lawsuit.

Rather than pursuing a different strategy, I believe the attorneys want to force Jisser to accept the Caritas offer instead of a higher offer from someone else by forcing Jisser to pay legal expenses if he doesn't accept the Caritas offer. That lawsuit doesn't seem to be a different strategy than the strategy of Jisser selling to Caritas.

The Buena Vista residents should heed the comments of previous posters that the attorneys may be primarily looking out for themselves rather than their clients.

Caritas has previously said that they would replace the mobile homes of the current residents and rehabilitate the infrastructure.

Have the attorneys told their clients how much additional rent they would have to pay for the new mobile homes and the rehabilitated infrastructure, or have they told the residents that Caritas will not buy the current mobile homes when they are replaced?

Here is the list of the Foundation's attorneys: Web Link

Here is the Simitian press conference about the Caritas offer. Take a look at the last three minutes starting at 28:40 to see the comments of Winter and Zahradka: Web Link


25 people like this
Posted by So's ab
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Been a Palo Alto resident for twenty plus years and raised my kids here. We have seen many families be priced out of the rental market over the years, moving their families to more affordable communities, giving up the enviable Palo Alto school district for their children because that was all they could do. Nobody has cried for these " casualties" of our over-priced community, or even given them a second thought, in most cases.
Is this BV situation really any different than any of those other unfortunate families? Why does the city care now? NNCUx Because it's public and political? All I know is that now it's going to cost the city more money than anyone can imagine, and I see this as a huge "Lose-Lose" situation for everyone, except for the BV attorneys.


11 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Another interesting feature here is that the city has itself to blame for this litigation.

1. The city is accused of violating its own ordinance. Perhaps they could have drafted a clearer ordinance at the outset, reducing the likelihood of finding grounds for suit. For example, they could have expressly limited the community amenities that were included.

2. The city council tried mightily to find loopholes in their own ordinance to allow for further relocation monies for the residents, especially based on the value of the schools. They are now likely to find some of their own arguments cited if the lawsuit proceeds. They should have stuck to the literal interpretation of the ordinance.

A further interesting note is that the lawsuit is against the city, so it would be the city that would have to make up any difference between what they actually get from Mr. Jisser and what they "should" have received, since it is the city that denied them their rights. Or so the theory goes.

All this is very unlikely of course but it is interesting that the city has to some degree created this problem for themselves. And for us of course.




3 people like this
Posted by Stacy
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:41 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:48 pm

The end of rent (property) control. With the moratorium on mobile home parks closures in San Jose and the absurdity of the Buena Vista rent controls in California are living on borrowed time. There will probably be a crash after the correction. This sort of thing has happened thousands of times throughout history. What does not change is the drive for power of many politicians.

George Drysdale a social science teacher



































6 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:49 pm

All this talk about legal fees -- the City's attorneys are already being paid by us and the lawyers representing the residents are working pro bono. That's a very strong charge to make and may have no basis in fact.

As near as I can tell, it's just a necessary thing the residents had to do or they would lose any bargaining power they had. Now that there is real money available to help buy the park, it would be a silly thing to do not to retain their rights before the deadline expires. It sounds like there are good faith things happening behind the scenes that none of us knows about, and nothing may ever come of this.

It's not the greatest for PR, but I can't see any reason for all the exaggeration.

But if you are in a business negotiation, the talk softly and carry a big stick holds. If you no longer have a stick, even if you would never wield it except in the most extreme circumstances, you lose. The talking is over.


50 people like this
Posted by moot
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:50 pm

moot is a registered user.

I was once very sympathetic to the BV cause however this has just pushed me over the edge. I teeter on the edge of having to move because next year's rent might be unaffordable. I have a kid in high school and we have considered many other possibilities so if the times come it won't be so hard. There are many other lower middle class families in Palo Alto who rent and face the same fate but we all just get on with it instead of trying to squeeze ever last ounce of patience out of everyone in this city.

I am beginning to feel for the Jissers who had the right to sell their property to whomever they wanted.


11 people like this
Posted by moot
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:52 pm

moot is a registered user.

Once last thought, if they drag this on long enough, the tech bubble might collapse or the economy might take a nose dive, then property prices will drop and comparable will be a little easier, less relocation expesnes :)


42 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Buena Vista residents allowed to appeal mobile-home park's closure
Jan 13, 2015
Palo Alto pledges $8M to preserve Buena Vista
Feb 20, 2015
City pledges funds to save Buena Vista
Jun. 30, 2015
Palo Alto pledges millions to save Buena Vista
July 3, 2015
Palo Alto changes fee rules to support Buena Vista purchase
Aug. 18, 2015
Buena Vista residents sue Palo Alto
Aug 27, 2015

Thanks Buena Vista


8 people like this
Posted by Don Anderson
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Residents of Buena Vista, like residents of all mobile home parks in California, are protected from arbitrary eviction by state statute and local ordinance. I have come to know many Buena Vista residents over the years and have found them to be people who work hard (often at more than one job), who have strong family values, and who don't have the education or skills to qualify for high income jobs. More than anything, they want their children to have a chance to get the education that the parents missed out on, so they'll have a chance at better jobs and higher incomes.

I've lived in Palo Alto for 30 years. My children graduated from Palo Alto schools and went on to college. If someone had attempted to throw me out of Palo Alto and I had any legal way to prevent them from doing so, you can bet I'd have pursued my legal options to the fullest. If I did so, I would not have considered myself greedy (though apparently some others might have considered me to be greedy).

I think our city is a better place for having a mixture of low, middke and high income residents. Others may disagree. But must we call the residents of Buena Vista "greedy" because they pursue every legal recourse to hold onto what the rest of us want (and, by the grace of God, HAVE)?


62 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:30 pm

No, Don.
What the renters are doing is wrong.
The ends do not justify the means.


2 people like this
Posted by midtown resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Sometimes Justice and the Legal System are at odds with each other. This one is too close to call. Myself, I am rooting for justice.


34 people like this
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:49 pm

This is quite shocking. I am very unhappy with this BV move. They didn't have to sue the City.


35 people like this
Posted by jury trial
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm

I suspect that a jury of Palo Alto residents will not view this lawsuit terribly favorably.


26 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:57 pm

@Don, given that you've spoken for the residents on many occasions, I have no doubt about your convictions. But, suppose you were renting your house and decided it was time to sell. How would you feel when renter decided to sue you and refused to leave?


3 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

There is no biting of hands here and people shouldn't be shocked. This is yet another step that the residents find necessary.


5 people like this
Posted by Berry
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm

SEE WHAT YOU GET FOR DOING NICE THINGS! YOU SEE! SOLD! I HEAR SACRAMENTO IS NICE.


52 people like this
Posted by mary
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2015 at 3:37 pm

I had to move because I could not afford my own house in PA. They are all ingrates. Get them out of there. I have no sympathy for any BV residents.


4 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Mary - did you live in a mobile home park, with its own set of closure laws, or were you a tenant in a house or multi-family dwelling? Or, a homeowner?


23 people like this
Posted by moot
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:32 pm

moot is a registered user.

Sorry Don but there is a whole group in this economic scale that can't afford to live here and they are NOT low income. They have had to move with NO protection or support from anyone.

I can understand the desire of the BV residents to stay here in Palo Alto but to sue the city who has bent over backwards to help them is the final straw for most people. Many people have gone out of their way to advocate for these families, spent hours helping them free of charge and these helpful people are residents, tax paying residents in this city.

As many people have pointed out, it is not going to stop here. Even if BV residents win, get charity to pay for the property, who is going to maintain and upkeep this property. Have you seen the state of it? Have you seen the bathrooms in that place particularly in the early evening? These need renovation. There is more that needs to be renovated and fixed and who is going to pay for it? The city will be sued over and over again by the BV residents. It is such a shame that the city has allowed it to get this far.


7 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:35 pm

@Bill,
But this is not the same as renting an apartment or house. The residents of BV have assets that will be wiped out by the closure of the park. This is more like professors on Stanford land owning houses but renting the land from Stanford. If Stanford wanted to bulldoze a bunch of its professor neighborhoods and take over those houses, there would be a big protracted legal process, for good reason. Relative to their income, this is as big a deal to the residents of BV.

Most people don't seem to understand the way the law works. You can't just sue people anyway and for anything you want. The residents did not sue the City for monetary damages, they filed to protect their right to appeal. They may never even go through the appeal. But this was a necessary step. Anyone in their circumstances would do the same.


4 people like this
Posted by dennis
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:40 pm

[Post removed.]


33 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If Stanford wanted to bulldoze a bunch of its professor neighborhoods and take over those houses, there would be a big protracted legal process, for good reason."

Those home owners have paid for very expensive long term leases for the land that their houses sit on.

The BV renters do not have and did not pay for long term leases on their trailer spaces.


78 people like this
Posted by Outraged, Again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 27, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Disgusting. My conclusions from following this sordid affair:

[Portion removed.]
-my tax dollars are being used for purposes I wholly disagree with. This is my #1 issue the next time city council voting comes around again. This inept group of liberal-guilt-driven economic illiterates deserve to go ASAP.
-thanks to the city council's indulgence, now my tax dollars are going towards lawyers on both sides for what should have been a non-issue. Then when Mr. Jisser sues, my tax dollars will go to him.

I'd participate in a rally outside city hall to voice displeasure over this idiocy. Anyone with me?


2 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


8 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 27, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

I predict that our PACC will cave on this one, too. They are imbued with liberal guilt, and they won't dare stand by while the BV complainers are evicted. Bet the ranch on it.


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 27, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

For now I'll go with Greenacres calming posts. I'll sleep well tonight. I'd be curious if CC members feel the same way and already knew this was coming and just yawned, thinking it was the only way for BV to go. Would any of you CC members please respond online in a post? I hope I don't only get to hear your opinions early AM of the day after your scheduled meetings. Cory, please speak on this here or privately...you have my email address.


8 people like this
Posted by Bill Ross
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 28, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Bill Ross is a registered user.

The residents of Buena Vista are doing exactly what they should do AND that action is absolutely authorized by law. Everyone commenting took a class on government in High School where the three branches of government at the federal, state and local level were described. Decisions of the executive and legislative branches (here the decision of the Council with the input of the executive--City Staff) are subject to review by the judicial branch. Again that review is an absolute right. If the City Council decision had been to not close the Park and the Owners sued would there be the same criticisms? Moreover, did it occur to anyone that the City Council decision may be wrong because it is not supported by sufficient evidence or not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan? Finally, the City over at least 2 decades has spent thousands of dollars to assure affordable housing which would include Buena Vista--would the critics suggest the City should not comply with this State Mandate?


3 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 28, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Thank you Bill. Those early posters...including the first one 'Last straw'...had it so wrong but they wanted to be first to vent their hate at those ungrateful BV residents. He is probably relishing in his 105 'like' hits. Believe me, those residents love our CC and PA citizens for our support. Writing articles about this subject is risky. So many people don't have a clue but feel the need to speak out anyway because this forum is available. The suit was justified and I doubt if any CC members were surprised by it. Just another step in the process of resolving a very controversial issue.

But my personal opinion that I've expressed previously...this whole idea of saving the junkyard park, investing so much money already, and not knowing how much more will be needed, will go down in history as one of PA's...and it should be put squarely on CC's shoulders, as the biggest boondoggle ever. All those votes 'for' were to prevent political suicide. I suspect those CC members aren't really good friends or know those residents personally, and they surely wouldn't want to live near them. But there might be a few dozen registered voters there. Hmmm!


46 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2015 at 7:50 pm

m2grs is a registered user.

If you search on this website you will find that long, long time ago I repeatedly warned that BV lawyer will sue City of Palo Alto. I warned that the City should not get too close to BV. It will not do any good.

Sadly this has come true.

I will make another prediction: the Jisser family will also sue the City!

Why not? They have endured real emotional and financial damage. They are the real victim of this fiasco.

Our city government has done severe and irreparable damage to Palo Alto. They have, like in the high speed rail fiasco, put citizens of Palo Alto into ruinous hardship. It is time for Palo Altans to reflect on these two tragedies, and think about what kind of leadership we need in city hall.


4 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

m2grs - ruinous hardship for resident - really?

Question: what good does it serve for people to search the archives to read your comments predicting the lawsuit? Many others also predicted a lawsuit by BV residents against the city. How is this relevant? I'm confused because so much of this - including your post and mine - is predictable, but how is it relevant?


21 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2015 at 11:10 pm

m2grs is a registered user.

@Hmmm, if you think about the financial liability our city may incur by injecting itself into this legal battle, yes, the consequence to tax payers is ruinous.

My point about my prior warnings is that our city government apparently did not listen to voices of the community. They are too indulgent into left-wing ideologies. They think Palo Alto is full of billionaires and should have no problem patronizing BV residents.

Of course it is completely wrong.


13 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

Even though some people are pointing out the legal differences between closing an apartment versus a mobile home park, I wonder just how "different" it really is.

How many of the mobile homes in BV are owned by the homeowners?

Shouldn't those who merely rent their mobile homes be in the same position as anyone else in an apartment that closes down (or raises rent)?

At the same time, I think that those who own their mobile homes should be allowed extra time to prep their mobile home to be moved (or sold), but they shouldn't receive a windfall for it. After all, this is equity that they invested in and get to keep if they didn't allow their mobile home to fall into disrepair.

Still, it is absurd for the residents to bite the hand that has been feeding them for so long.


9 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 30, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"My point about my prior warnings is that our city government apparently did not listen to voices of the community. They are too indulgent into left-wing ideologies."

Excellent point. The BV residents may be pushing it a bit here. Our right thinkers would have shoved them onto the streets long ago.


2 people like this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Does anyone know if the text of the lawsuit is available online and if so, where?


2 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Nayeli - you really have to ask how different it is? You can look for the mobile home park closure law online. You can also, as anedcdotal evidence, read up on local attempts to close mobile home parks vs apts complexes in the Bay Area to see which was the more difficult, and why it was.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 4, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Nayeli,

ALL OF THE MOBILE HOMES IN BUENA VISTA ARE OWNED. THERE ARE NO RENTALS OF MOBILE HOMES.

THERE ARE SOME STUDIO APARTMENTS THAT ARE RENTED, BUT, I REPEAT, ALL OF THE MOBILE HOMES ARE OWNED, THAT IS THEY ARE NOT RENTALS, THEY ARE OWNED.


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