News

Buena Vista owner rejects nonprofit's offer to buy Palo Alto mobile-home park

Citing litigation from residents, Jisser family drops negotiations with Caritas Corporation, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian

The owner of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park has broken off negotiations with Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and the nonprofit Caritas Corporation over a potential sale -- and preservation -- of Palo Alto's sole mobile-home park.

Margaret Nanda, attorney for park owner Joe Jisser, notified city officials and Simitian in a letter Monday that the Jisser family will be declining the offer by Caritas to purchase the park, which is home to about 400 mostly low-income and Latino residents.

The announcement was made exactly a week after the Buena Vista Residents Association filed a lawsuit against the city, challenging the council's decision in May to approve the mobile home park's closure.

Nanda wrote in the letter that the Jisser family has been negotiating "in good faith" with Caritas and Simitian over a potential purchase of Buena Vista. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Palo Alto City Council had each voted to contribute $14.5 million toward the purchase, arguing that the purchase of Buena Vista is important to both retain affordable housing in Palo Alto and prevent a displacement of hundreds of residents, including about 100 students. Earlier this month, Caritas made an offer to the Jisser family, which has been formally pursuing Buena Vista's closure since the fall of 2012.

Nanda wrote that "because of the threat of legal action from the very same Resident's Association, the Jisser Family has not been able to honestly negotiate with other interested parties."

"These threats of possible litigation have been clear attempts to place a virtual wall between the Jisser Family and other potential buyers, thus eliminating an opportunity to establish a fair market value for the Buena Vista site," Nanda wrote. "The Jisser Family will not be coerced into accepting a sale agreement by the use of litigation as a strong-armed tactic.

"Now that the lawsuit has been formally filed, the Jisser Family has decided that it cannot negotiate with Supervisor Simitian or representatives of Caritas any longer. The Jisser Family notified Supervisor Simitian today that it will decline the offer to purchase the Park by Caritas."

In addition to notifying the city about the end of the negotiations, the letter also served as an official acceptance by the Jisser family of the city's decision to approve the park's closure. In voting unanimously to approve the closure application, the council turned down the appeal from the residents association, and validated the Relocation Impact Report submitted by Jisser, a document that lays out the relocation-assistance package that each household will be offered once the park is closed.

The relocation assistance includes first's and last month's rent, moving costs and a year of rent subsidies, equal to the difference between the residents' rates at Buena Vista and at their new homes.

The decision not to pursue the sale deals a potentially fatal blow to elected officials from Palo Alto and Santa Clara County to preserve the park, at 3980 El Camino Real, as a source of affordable-housing.

The effort to save Buena Vista has attracted an upswell of community support, with residents packing into Council Chamber for public hearings last spring to lobby the council to help preserve the park. By approving the closure application in May, the council reaffirmed a decision made last year by Administrative Judge Craig Labadie on the validity of the Relocation Impact Report.

In his ruling, Labadie acknowledged that the impacts of Buena Vista's closure will include "not only disruption to the lives of the residents and their families, but also loss of economic and cultural diversity for the City of Palo Alto." He also concluded that the park owner "made a thorough evidentiary presentation regarding the merits of the closure application and asserted his right to close the park, subject to providing adequate relocation assistance to the residents."

The council also reviewed and ultimately approved the report, though in April council members made an effort to increase the relocation assistance offered to residents by including the value of a local education in the appraisals. That attempt fizzled after the appraiser, David Beccaria, refused to change the methodology, accused the city of pressuring him and threatened to quit. The council's final approval in May included a condition for updated appraisals and a peer review of the methodology used by Beccaria.

In challenging the council's decision, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley is asking the Santa Clara County Superior Court to overturn the approval of the closure application and to prohibit the Jisser family from launching the six-month eviction process.

The suit against Palo Alto characterizes the council's approval as "a failure to affirmatively further fair housing" and argues that it will "exacerbate racial and ethnic segregation in Palo Alto." The suit also claims that the city denied Buena Vista residents a due process during both the administrative and the appeal hearings and that the city failed to follow its Housing Element, a state-mandated document, by not taking any action to save Buena Vista until after it had approved the closure application.

The suit notwithstanding, Kyra Kazantzis of the Law Foundation said her clients "very much appreciate" the funding that the city and the county dedicated for Buena Vista's preservation and hope that the funding can be used to "save the park." Kazantzis also told the Weekly in an email last week that the residents very much hope that the park is preserved by a nonprofit organization's purchase of the mobile-home park -- a hope that was all but dashed by Jisser's announcement Monday.

Kazantzis noted, however, that as attorneys her group has an "ethical obligation to protect our client's legal rights" by filing the suit by Aug. 24, the deadline under the statute of limitations.

Simitian, who has been at the forefront of the negotiations over Buena Vista, called the decision by Jisser to halt the negotiations a "bump in the road" but by no means the end of the preservation effort.

He said he has had long conversations with both Kazantzis and Joe Jisser over the past few days. He called the news of the halted negotiations "regrettable but understandable."

"The Law Foundation says, 'We have a duty to represent the clients vigorously and that's particularly the case when there's no certainty whether or not we can get a deal that preserves the park,'" Simitian told the Weekly. "And Mr. Jisser, through his attorney, says, 'I can't really negotiate a deal with Caritas, the city and the county when I don't have the ability to go out into the market and determine what an alternative offer might look like.'"

Litigation, he noted, is inherently "adversarial and not collaborative," which made Jisser's decision to halt negotiations not surprising. However, Simitian also noted that the letter from Nanda does not preclude future discussions about the acquisition of Buena Vista.

"It has been made clear to me that once the owner feels he has the ability to go out into the larger market and do a little comparison, we can resume the conversation," Simitian said.

The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley also remains hopeful. In response to Jisser's notification, the nonprofit said in a statement that Buena Vista residents "hoped and continue to hope that negotiations with Caritas would be successful so that their homes and their community could be preserved."

Attorneys for the residents had requested that the Jisser family extend the Aug. 24 deadline for filing the lawsuit so that negotiations can continue -- a request that Joe Jisser declined, according to the Law Foundation.

"This forced the residents' association to file a lawsuit on the last day it could as a last resort to preserve its legal rights, despite their hopes that negotiations would succeed," the statement read. "His letter is surprising and disappointing, but the Resident's Association is still hopeful that an amicable resolution can be reached"

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

Comments

76 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Yes. Coercion and strong arm tactics will not work here.


11 people like this
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Here is the comment I made on a previous discussion about this subject at Web Link.

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


147 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2015 at 3:45 pm

I am not surprised by this at all. Mr. jisser has been ill treated by the residents of Buena vista, the city council, friends of BV , the weekly and simitian. He has been made the villain by these groups and been strong armed into selling his private property. I applaud him for standing up to the ill advised pressure applied to him and hope that he will soon file his own lawsuit against the city. The city council, as a whole, has acted in a one sided and biased manner since the beginning of this matter-- spurred on by the weekly and a local lawyer associated with the friends of Buena vista. They have orchestrated a one-sided campaign that has disregarded jissers rights.
[Portion removed.]


68 people like this
Posted by Agreed
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Agree that Jisser should be allowed to figure out the market rate, and base his calculations upon those numbers.


8 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Yeah!


64 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 31, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"because of the threat of legal action from the very same Resident's Association, the Jisser Family has not been able to honestly negotiate with other interested parties."

"These threats of possible litigation have been clear attempts to place a virtual wall between the Jisser Family and other potential buyers, thus eliminating an opportunity to establish a fair market value for the Buena Vista site,"

So where are all the posters who claim that the latest law suit was just a technicality? Are they now willing to acknowledge that the lawsuit was responsible for this outcome?


67 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Mr. Simitian and the like threw a stink bomb into the process and walked off as if nothing had happened. Meanwhile, BV sued us and now we are potentially facing another lawsuit coming from the Jisser. This is why people across this nation are so fed up with career politicians who shamelessly continue to pander from a particular group for votes.

Who is paying for this liability? Will it be coming from Mr. Joe Simitian bank account? Of course not!


17 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 31, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Too many people posting here with no experience of legal negotiation. Each side here has rights and seems to be doing their best. In their shoes, the residents did the only thing they could, and now I think Jisser has done what he needs to. Even if he sells the park to Caritas still, if there is a possibility of a higher offer but he decides to take the residents', in order for him to legitimately take a write off for the difference, he needs to have other offers on the table, he can't just speculate or the sale price becomes the market value. The trouble is that with litigation, the likelihood of offers is perhaps diminished or he may perceive it so. The problem for the residents, is they really had no choice or they could be evicted tomorrow with no recourse.

Very tough situation. I hope there are experienced negotiators willing to help hash out a good compromise. All I can say is, good luck to all. I would love to see the park stay.


105 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2015 at 4:43 pm

My feelings are that the jissers feel that the city has burnt their bridges as far dealing fairly with them. The council has shown a one sided bias and n this whole matter-- ignoring the owners rights. The weekly, spurred on by certain council members and a local attorney, have editorilialized against the owner and have published one sided and biased " stories" about this matter for a long time. Joe simitian has been playing politics with this issue for a long time. The city and simitian have pledged a great deal of money for a small group of people.
In addition the council has tried to circumvent the closure process and has put undue, and perhaps illegal pressure, on the arbitrator in this case in order to get him to rule the way the council wanted.
Is it any wonder that the owner has pulled out of these negotiations.


13 people like this
Posted by 5th Generation
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 31, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Who are we kidding here? Mr. Jisser and family just want top dollar, from the beginning and throughout this whole charade. Not much decency left in this world.


4 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2015 at 4:51 pm

I think the City has to make some tough choices very soon. With nearly $30 million in funding identified, the City and County could use the money to fund projects that might help mitigate the closure of Benua Vista. Is it worth waiting to make another offer when they can help residents right now?


2 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2015 at 4:53 pm

I sure hope counsel for the BV residents to ignore this extremely poor advice on legal negotiation methodology. Any layman understands that negotiation under threat is not good thing. To advise ones otherwise surely indicate that you are an absolute armature. Thank goodness that you have to pass the bar to practice law


62 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 31, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" The problem for the residents, is they really had no choice or they could be evicted tomorrow with no recourse."

1 - they did have a choice in that they could have not sued
2 - and with all the due process they have already had they have had plenty of recourse,
3 - they cannot be evicted tomorrow but rather they could be served with letters of eviction effective at a date as specified by all the deliberations of the City Council.


2 people like this
Posted by Sue City, Sue
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 31, 2015 at 5:03 pm

"Kazantzis noted, however, that as attorneys her group has an "ethical obligation to protect our client's legal rights" by filing the suit by Aug. 24, the deadline under the statute of limitations."

If you can sue, you cannot not sue.


33 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 31, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If you can sue, you cannot not sue."

Wrong - they made the choice to sue.

How far will they take this? To the US Supreme Court?

Who will pay both side's legal fees?

Who will get a free ride as long as this is held up in court?

Who will subsidize that free ride?

Who will do the essential maintenance and upgrades on this property while this is tied up in court?


9 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2015 at 5:15 pm

I think the residents either had poor counsel or none at all. Just glance at some of the comments above. Statement such as "residents did the only thing they could..." That is so ill advised and an absolutely bull headed way to enter a good faith negotiation.


21 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.


Move, counter-move, it's part of the process. We'll see what comes next. For those who feel sorry for Mr. Jisser I'd ask whether they'd rather have his hand or the BV residents' as this is playing out.

He's got an almost guaranteed floor of, what is it now, $39 M or so as the bidding process begins. The actual price that the property will sell for truly is the question, one that I believe property owners along El Camino Real, from Page Mill to Charleston/Arastradero have been anxiously awaiting for years as they decide how long to sit on their under-utilized properties.

The last time the Jissers were close to a big payout, the $30M Prometheus deal fell through because it was clear that the city wasn't about to grant the up zoning Prometheus was counting on to justify the price. Now Jisser looks at a situation where he's assured $39M if the Caritas offer goes through, thanks to the decision by city and county to make $29M of affordable housing funds available for this single project and the expectation that Caritas would be able to come up with the other $10M through a bond offering.

What's the likelihood there won't be other bidders willing to top that offer because what they can build there is worth it, even at a time when developers can't count on easy acceptance of projects that exceed zoning requirements? Not much, I'd guess. But it's perhaps a little less likely if the terms of the mobile park closure are still uncertain, hence the outrage that the BV residents' lawyers would continue to defend their clients' interest in getting a better relocation package than the administrative judge and the city council approved.

Mr. Jisser is eager to find out how much he can get for the mobile park if it is unencumbered by its current mobile home park status. So, I’m sure, are other El Camino property owners, who don't own mobile home parks but whose interest lies in Buena Vista’s going for top dollar to set a high baseline price on ECR land going forward.

I appreciate Supt. Simitian's characterization of what's happening now as a bump in the road, not an end to the process. I wish him, the Buena Vista residents, the City of Palo Alto, and Mr. Jisser success in getting over the bump and negotiating a solution to the Buena Vista conundrum.



47 people like this
Posted by Citizen 6
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 31, 2015 at 5:28 pm

The renters of BV have been poorly served by their "legal help". Their strong-arm strategy has
1. blown any chance of a negotiated purchase from Mr. Jisser
2. destroyed any impression of negotiating in good faith
3. further alienated the surrounding community (us hard working folks they just sued).

Perhaps the renters at BV can file suit against the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and the principals in FOBV for blowing any possible deal. They should at least file to sue them now, to preserve their right to do so in the future. They need to preserve their rights.


21 people like this
Posted by Citizen 6
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 31, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Jerry U said : "the $30M Prometheus deal fell through because it was clear that the city wasn't about to grant the up zoning Prometheus was counting on to justify the price."

Not correct.
Promethius had a one-year option to buy the property. As we all know, the Closure application (thought to take less than a year) dragged on for three years. The Purchase option expired when the closure application was not approved in a timely fashion, while the property slowly appreciated beyond the option offer price.
Promethius, wisely ran far from the controversy (not re-offering) while the City and Jisser hashed out the closure application. Once the closure politics are settled and the park is closed, you will surely see Promethius back at the table.


3 people like this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Now that the non-profit's offer has been rejected--got to wonder who will sue whom next?


49 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Very happy with Mr. Jisser's action. He has abided by the law and made the correct choices!

Remember Salaries in "nonprofits" are very high- there is a great deal of $$ being made by employees of nonprofits- Our tax money is paying for all the grants the nonprofit receives- and paying for lawyer salaries too...


15 people like this
Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Just got word of this and some other news. Jisser has begun his own lawsuit.


1 person likes this
Posted by NewYorker
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 31, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Article in last week's edition of the New Yorker, by Malcolm Gladwell, discussing the unintended positive consequences of an otherwise painful uprooting: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Asron
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 31, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Play with the bull you will get the horns! Should have taken the first offer.


3 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Currently, it would be difficult for the Jissers to sue for monetary damages - the key word here damage - what have they suffered? The price of their property has appreciated since the offer they received three years ago ($30M offer from Prometheus).

There have been quite a few posters on prior articles and the current article who have raised the question about what happens after if the Jissers did sell to Caritas/Santa Clara County/City of Palo Alto - what are the changes in infrastructure that will be required, how much will it cost, will it affect the BV homes, who will pay for this, and how much will the rent change? Supervisor Simitian, Palo Alto City Manager Keene, Caritas have all been silent even though this process has been going on for many months.

Is it fair to the BV residents, the supporters of BV, and the tax payers of Palo Alto for NO details to be presented on the aftermath of a purchase? I think not, and I fear that the $29 million dollars is not the last of what the tax payers of Palo Alto will be paying, and I think that the BV residents may be in for a surprise in what they pay in rent.


14 people like this
Posted by Citizen 6
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2015 at 7:51 pm

@Asron - No sense your statement makes.


28 people like this
Posted by Citizen 6
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 31, 2015 at 7:57 pm

@common sense
The City has "poisoned the well". In effect, depriving the owner of property value by making known that
- the city wants the property for itself
- would resist the sale to anyone else
- would be unfavorable to a developers plan if they bought it.

The City has a basic conflict of interest.
The City of Palo Alto has been sued over this behavior successfully before. Look up (Google) the Foothills Park lawsuit.


41 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 31, 2015 at 8:05 pm

The property owner's rights need to be respected. He can negotiate and sell the property to whomever he wishes.


18 people like this
Posted by Mercury news
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2015 at 8:37 pm

San Jose Mercury News version Web Link

Notice Nadia aziz's quote and cc member Burt's quote. Burt believes Jisser could have continued negotiations with the law suit. Yes he could have BUT he didn't because other than the city and county no other party is willing negotiate with this new law suit. That was clear by Jissers letter but again Burt cannot understand this

Also Nadia aziz's says that Jisser didn't extend the 90 days for them. So they were forced to sue the city. so in other words if Jisser took another offer to a higher bidder then Nadia want to reserve the right to sue.

This is the problem the liberals in Palo Alto don't understand how the FREE market works.


6 people like this
Posted by 5th Generation
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 31, 2015 at 9:28 pm

What conservatives don't understand about "FREE Market" is that communities set rules on who can build what and where. When Jisser bought the property it was a trailer park. Owners aren't allowed to simply do whatever they want with a property they purchase, for example, you can't buy a shopping center and then simply decide you'd rather have an apartment building there. You can cry FREE MARKET all you want but there is a limit to your desires and wishes. The City of Palo Alto should never have passed the closure agreement, but they've been siding on the side of the well-to-dos for quite awhile now.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2015 at 9:37 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Could someone give me a fact check on my claim that the Jissers have an assured $39M as a starting point if he returns to negotiate with Caritas? After I posted it occurred to me that the $10M bond Caritas hoped to float would be for upgrading the park, not for upping the initial purchase offer beyond $29M.

I think the main points in my earlier post still hold up: Jisser could expect to get an offer from Caritas worth more to him than the $30M offer that got away, and whatever was offered would only by the starting point for a bidding process that could see a final, successful, offer significantly higher, whether from Caritas--for a mobile home park-- or from a commercial developer for who knows what.


53 people like this
Posted by Mercury
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2015 at 9:38 pm

@5th Generation. That is simply a false statement. The owner bought a mobile home park zone rm 15. Thus able to build to rm 15 zoning rights. The owner wants to close the park down and build to zoning. The Palo Alto city council is interfering with his 5th amendment rights.


5 people like this
Posted by 5th Generation
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 31, 2015 at 10:46 pm

Sorry, you are dead wrong. The property was developed as a mobile home park and was zoned to stay that way unless changed by the Council. This has nothing to do with the 5th amendment rights of Mr. Jisser.


46 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 6:27 am

It's zoned RM-15. There is no such thing as "Mobile Home Park Zone" in the city zoning declarations.

You are confusing the state and city regulations surrounding mobile home operations and/or sales with city zoning. Neither the state or city cannot prevent the sale if all requirements are met. That's why there was an appointed arbiter to settle out the Jisser's closure and relocation offer.

Your other point of confusion may be over the city housing element policy. However that document does not hold legal sway on the Jisser's right to close the park and redevelop to RM-15 zoning (despite what the BV lawsuit may think).


2 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 6:29 am

"Cannot prevent" should be "can prevent "


10 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 6:41 am

Here is the link to the CPA zoning regulations:

Web Link

No mobile home park zone listed. Just R1, 15, 30 and 40.


33 people like this
Posted by George Drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 1, 2015 at 9:02 am

The Buena Vista is the Waterloo of rent (property) control in California. Caritas is a racket. Check on Zillow etc. the price of mobile homes in their portfolio, much higher than the mobile homes on the open market. On the internet: The end of rent control, the crash . . . The end of rent control the catastrophe . . .

Mr. Jisser should become the citizen of the year for Silicon Valley for fighting the ignorance and tyranny of government. Property rights are the keystone for all human rights. California's rent controls in many cities are the vestiges of Soviet era land use policies.

George Drysdale a social studies teacher


Like this comment
Posted by Hadleyburg
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2015 at 9:40 am

I have always assumed that Buena Vista was zoned as a mobile home park when it was last purchased, and that no other use was permitted at that time.

If that is true, when did the zoning change and why?

I appreciate the link to the current city zoning regulations, but I would like to understand the zoning changes over time.


53 people like this
Posted by Ruff Rider
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 1, 2015 at 9:53 am

Anyone who has followed this story can understand why the Jissers will no longer engage with Caritas or the city and county. Friends of Buena Vista and the BV residents association can't have their cake and eat it too. That's the price for listening to Winter Dellenbach.

Next events:

1) The owner sends eviction notices to the BV residents. Six months and they're all history.

2) The BV residents sue the owner.

3) The owner countersues the BV residents.

4) The owner sues the City of Palo Alto for approx $20 million.

5) A petition for referendum to rescind city funding for the purchase of Buena Vista is successful.

6) A petition to recall the entire Palo Alto City Council is successful. (Repeat of 1967 recall process.)

7) Palo Alto voters rescind city funding for Buena Vista and fire the city council.

8) Many BV residents refuse to leave and the Santa Clara County sheriff notifies them that he will be required to remove them.

9) Protesters and professional agitators begin to arrive from all over the country.

10) It gets very ugly, and Palo Alto is on CNN for something other than its status as center of the tech universe.

All the result of liberal guilt...


5 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 1, 2015 at 10:09 am

Geez....what a mess


6 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2015 at 10:17 am

@Ruff Rider,

11) Donald Trump descends to BV Park to talk about pitfalls in real estate investing...

Just kidding.


Like this comment
Posted by almunday60
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2015 at 10:43 am

sounds like a tidy sum of money...but sounds more like the owners don't want to be told they cannot close the park...so they are being difficult....if I read the article right you are talking about $28 million between what the City and the other party is offering to pay the owners.

So what gives


33 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 1, 2015 at 10:49 am

@ Ruff Rider....great look into the future. I'm convinced you are absolutely correct on this (and that includes your statement on liberal guilt).

So the winner is the Jisser Family. Chalk up a big loss for the Social Justice attorneys, the Palo Alto Weekly, Joe Simitian, the liberally guilty City Council and the greedy BV tenants.

A recall and firing of the City Council is certainly in order. May as well include the City Manager on the list of those who need to go. his is going to wind up costing the taxpayers a small fortune.


56 people like this
Posted by Barron Park local
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 10:54 am

As to zoning and/ or new developments and land use:
These are of NO CONCERN to the present owners, the Jisser family. They will sell their property and walk away. The NEW owners will have to comply and obtain permits from the City to build there. And how does anyone not understand the concept of PRIVATE PROPERTY. It can be bought and sold at the owner's whim just like the thousands of Palo Alto residents have done with their mid-century $50,000 homes selling now for millions. How would they like it if they were offered or even coerced into selling at a fraction of market value to a non-profit to "save the old homes and preserve the character of the old neighborhoods".
Preposterous! Pardon my shouting, but the comments are outrageously ignorant of due process and fairness. I hope that the BV residents put their more than fair payout to good use and find another neighborhood and schools to thrive in. Thanks for listening.


Like this comment
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Sep 1, 2015 at 11:27 am

Oh let's just do lawsuits at 30 paces so everybody loses some money. Are we are the intersection of greed and stupidity?


9 people like this
Posted by apo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2015 at 12:03 pm

This is for the best. We call the effort to save Buena Vista a preservation, but with the state it is in, it would basically be a rebuilding. In 2015, it does not make sense to provide affordable housing by building a trailer park and it does not make sense to build a trailer park on a $50 million piece of land.

I don’t know how the lawsuit will play out, but is it possible that if we act quickly, we can take some of the $14.5 million and use it to somehow find immediate alternatives for the people about to be displaced? We could surely use some of it to find at least a few spots in other structures, especially for the families with children.


4 people like this
Posted by Sue City, Sue
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 1, 2015 at 12:12 pm

"""If you can sue, you cannot not sue."

Wrong - they made the choice to sue."

Wrong right back at ya, Peter. The suers were trapped by a legal deadline and had to sue or forever forget about sueing. To maintain their option to sue they had no choice but to sue. It's the law. Gripe to Congress, not to us.


25 people like this
Posted by Ridiculous
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 1, 2015 at 12:17 pm

It seems to me that even if Caritas, with financial help from city of Palo Alto, purchases the park, most of the BV residents will still be evicted. With the city's involvement it would become "affordable housing" and as such would have to equally available to all low income PA residents. Many of the BV residents won't qualify as low income and to offer those that do qualify the ability to live there without opening it up to the public would be discriminatory. Which would bring more lawsuits...


28 people like this
Posted by Ridiculous
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 1, 2015 at 12:25 pm

@apo - the BV residents are being paid to relocate to the tune of $60k each. That's a Lot of free or subsidized rent.

[Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Well Then
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2015 at 12:44 pm

>> "Many of the BV residents won't qualify as low income and to offer those that do qualify the ability to live there without opening it up to the public would be discriminatory. "

Not all discrimination is illegal. Only discrimination based on the factors laid out by the various federal acts are deemed illegal discrimination, such as race, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. In order to successfully sue for discrimination a person would have to prove they were denied housing based on one of those protected statuses.

They could probably sue on the basis of the City not adhering to the provisions of the comprehensive plan and any other laws/ordinances/agreements governing BMR housing.


4 people like this
Posted by Ridiculous
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 1, 2015 at 1:01 pm

@well then - if the city cherry picks the residents eligible for affordable housing it could be viewed as bad practice at best and corruption at worst. And those that qualify for low income housing but not offered "equal opportunity" to participate will cry foul (as well they should). Interpretation is always a factor and people don't have to be "legally correct" to sue. A case in point is that the BV residents don't really have a leg to stand on yet they're suing...besides I'm sure that there are folks from all those classes that could claim discrimination by not being offered the opportunity to apply. It would be a mess and very costly for the taxpayers. All together a really dumb idea.


6 people like this
Posted by MD from TO
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2015 at 1:12 pm

MD from TO is a registered user.

Mr. Drysdale-

How many rental units do you own?

Many young beginning teachers started out by renting in controlled units.

Just sayin.


2 people like this
Posted by Hadleyburg
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Sorry Barron Park Local, zoning is an amazingly important part of the equation.
You also seem to be confusing the concept of alienability of property with the concept of due process.
The Jissers have always been free to sell the property.
The issue is what can be done with the land.
To the best my understanding, the Jissers applied for a zoning change when they bought out the parcel's co-owner in 2000 and tried to sell the property then.
They still need to obtain a zoning change to get higher density occupancy and maximize their profit. It seems like they need to play nice with PA to get the zoning change.


4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 3:03 pm

I'm pretty sure that the Jissers are well aware of the anti upzoning climate in CPA. Don't think that they would want to try given the Maybell vote.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 1, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Remind me again where this is ultimately headed. It's 4.6 acres (?) currently zoned RM-15 (?) which equals a maximum of 69 (?) residences. Somehow there's already 104 (?) residences on the site. Prometheus' objective was RM-40 for 184 units? (4.6x40=184) Can that number go higher with concessions? Any chance we'll just end up with more office space?


2 people like this
Posted by Chris Gaither
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm

In the words of Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along?" and in my words, "compromise".


4 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Actually, Mr. Jisser wants to value his land as if there is no mobile home park and the associated restrictions, and as if it is possible to get it upzoned from RM15. The fact is, the value of the land is impacted by these facts. He was perfectly happy to take $30M (less the cost of evicting the mobile home dwellers) several years ago, Now he wants more and more. I have no sympathy for him. The fair market value of a property is what a willing buyer is willing to pay a willing seller given the current conditions of that land.

Greedy developers will pay more than the value of current zoning if they feel assured they can get new conditions (i.e. up zoning) for little or no cost. I hope the current city council can convince the developers that there will be no more free up-zoning to further enrich them and to further increase the job-housing imbalance in Palo Alto. We don't need more offices or luxury condominiums. We do need more low and moderate income housing and it is totally the right of the city council to try to use our city plan and zoning to meet those needs.


13 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm

I wouldn't own rental units in California because in rent controlled California property rights are forgotten. Go to any other states and the owners own their property. In Washington state when the owners convert their mobile home parks to development the state pays for the location expenses. 5k for a single space and 7.5k for a double wide. I don't believe there are any actual mobile homes in the Buena Vista.

On the internet: Rent control, around 80 pages. The ugly aspect of rent control is that the poor don't get the rent controlled units. They're hoarded. Paul Krugman sums it up best about San Francisco's rent control: the grandchildren can't trust their granparents.


6 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Mr. Drysdale,

Really, you "don't believe there are any mobile homes at Buena Vista." I have been living in an exceedingly well maintained mobile home at Buena Vista for 21 years! It is a 1959 Universal, at the time it was considered the "Cadillac" of mobile homes and it is quite nice. It has not been modified with additions. It has a fully enclosed and covered patio and a fully covered and enclosed car port.

I can buy a comparable mobile home in Mountain View for about 150k. That is what the ordinance states is required if the park closes, comparable housing. Jisser is offering less than half of that. The park has been a cash cow since he purchased it. He is greedy, he has demonstrated this by the fact that we have had no management of the park, only rent collection. Come on over, I'll give you a tour!


57 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2015 at 4:24 pm

@Marie

If you are a homeowner I hope that when you sell your property you will not be greedy and sell it at the then current market rates, but sell it at a more "affordable" price that will let some low income family purchase it.

I suggest that every person that supports/has supported the residents of BV, pledge that they will sell their own property for far below market rates so that low income families can purchase them.


23 people like this
Posted by Property Rights
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 1, 2015 at 5:14 pm

The winners are the lawyers with their high fees. The trailor park is a legal liability with hazardous illegal units.


40 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2015 at 5:18 pm

>I suggest that every person that supports/has supported the residents of BV, pledge that they will sell their own property for far below market rates so that low income families can purchase them.

@Marc: That would be too logical and consistent for PA liberals to accept. I have warned, from the get go, that this BV thing would end up where it is...public taxpayer funds to swing a deal that should have been left to the private marketplace. Now, we are $14.5M into this mess, with many more millions to face...remember the lost property tax burden. If the BV owner decides to sue, then Katy-bar-the-door...CPA will be spending huge legal fees to defend something t should never have gotten involved in.

[Portion removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by Citizen 6
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 1, 2015 at 6:11 pm

From:
Web Link

"The door to a deal to save Buena Vista is not entirely closed. Mr. Jisser met with Mr. Simitian on Monday and told him he is still open to negotiating at a later time.

“The lawsuits have to just stop,” said Mr. Jisser. “I’m just trying to establish the market.”

Mr. Jisser said he was surprised the residents sued the city. “The city has bent over backwards for the residents,” he said."


9 people like this
Posted by bill kelly
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Didn't this process start out with the problem that BV has more density than is allowed by current fire codes, and 50% of the current residents will have to move because of updated fire code permits? Has this been forgotten in this awful mess?


9 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Relax, Craig. The city's $14.5M is available and can only be used for affordable housing. If this deal falls through, the money is still there for-- a different attempt to build or buy affordable housing in the future. Same for the county's $14.5M.

Regardless of how this turns out, the Jissers will do very well. I believe the city will come out well, too, if the money it has available in designated funds for affordable housing generates more housing units for low and moderate
Income households than would other ways of deploying that money. Purchase of the BV Mobile Home Park by the non-profit Caritas using funds put up by Palo Alto and the county would meet that criterion.

I hope negotiations will restart soon.


18 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 1, 2015 at 7:32 pm

[Post removed due to inaccurate factual reference.]


11 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 7:39 pm

We're still not sure what Simitian, Keene and Caritas proposed to the park owner. Can Gennady and the Weekly please fill us in on what's been offered?

According to Herb Borok's letter, the City and County would make just under $30 million available for the park purchase. The City's half would come from the residential and commercial housing funds. The guidelines say that these funds are not granted, but loaned, with a typical interest rate of 3%. Caritas would issue bonds of over $10 million which would be used to rehabilitate the park, reconfigure the trailer layout and purchase new mobile homes for the residents.

Would the City own the mobile home park or hold a note for the funds? How many mobile homes would the new configuration support? Were the residents going to be paid for their old mobile homes as the owner was asked to do?

This seems like a very different deal for preserving the park than what was originally proposed.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Thanks, Bill (and Herb Borock) for the detail about the proposed city and county funds for Caritas to purchase the BV mobile home park being loans, not grants or an ownership stake in the park. That makes it analogous to the housing fund loans that made it possible for PAHC to purchase the Maybell property before the referendum collapsed the 60-unit low-income senior affordable housing project for low- and very low-income seniors. The city does not own PAHC properties and would not own BV if a deal is made for Caritas to buy and manage the mobile home park.

A close look at the Caritas web site was helpful for me to understand what their mobile home parks are like and what their niche is in the affordable housing environment.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 2, 2015 at 7:25 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The city does not own PAHC properties and would not own BV if a deal is made for Caritas to buy and manage the mobile home park."

No, but just like a bank that makes a loan to what becomes a social sensitive activity the City will be held"responsible" for any BV "issues".


13 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2015 at 9:22 am

The resident's lawsuit is a bit surprising.

It looked like Mr. Jisser was moving in the direction of an agreement to sell to Caritas. This would seemingly have resolved everyone's problems.

It is difficult to maintain a negotiation when one of the parties files a lawsuit. The attorneys for the residents had to know that their filing a lawsuit would likely stop the negotiations and would anger their political support in the city.

Moreover, the arguments that the attorneys have are not very good. The city of Palo Alto tried very hard to come up with legal justifications for larger payments and basically failed and had to return to the administrative finding. The owner was already obligated to over $5M of payments, how much more did they really think they would get from a lawsuit?

So it is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps the attorneys felt that the negotiations would not succeed and it was time to go to plan B while they still could, or perhaps the residents are more interested in a larger payout than in preserving the park as it is. As some have suggested, the attorneys have different motivations than the residents and may be looking for a payday in court. But none of this seems very likely.

Or perhaps the attorneys just misjudged Mr. Jisser and made a mistake in filing the suit.



16 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 2, 2015 at 10:40 am

It's not a mystery at all. The residents were poorly advised and they succumbed to greed by falsely thinking that a lawsuit would extract more money out the owner. The worse advice I have ever heard of was "...they had to sue to keep their options open" ..yeah right!


Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 2, 2015 at 1:06 pm

@Ellen Gold,

I have been through the park but never inside one of the homes. I would be interested in a guided tour of the park with the possible peek inside a home. I am curious about all of this.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter

". . .but just like a bank that makes a loan to what becomes a social sensitive activity the City will be held"responsible" for any BV "issues".

How is that different from the support the city has given over by making loans from its affordable housing funds so that PAHC and others have been able to buy and build projects around the city? What "issues" do you have in mind?

@Robert Smith

"It looked like Mr. Jisser was moving in the direction of an agreement to sell to Caritas. This would seemingly have resolved everyone's problems."

Making it look like you're moving towards making a sale while refusing to extend the deadline for starting expulsions sure didn't resolve the residents' problems. It sent alarm bells ringing instead. Look, the goal for the residents is to be here long term. Secondary goal, to improve on the relocation offer that will be forced on them if the current terms are not revisited and the sale falls through, for whatever reason.

Continuing negotiations and coming up with a deal is what will resolve everyone's problems, except for the anger felt by those who do not want affordable housing programs in Palo Alto to succeed, period. Where is the hard-core opposition to this deal coming from? Not from PASZ, nor Forward Palo Alto, nor the City Council, nor the PTA, nor religious groups of all varieties, who have all taken strong positions in favor of keeping the Buena Vista site as affordable housing. Not from other identified political groupings ready to take a public stand, so far as I can tell. Who, then, has such a strong interest in blocking this project and why?


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

(edit previous post, adding time span)

How is that different from the support the city has given by making loans from its affordable housing funds so that PAHC and others have been able to buy and build projects around the city during the past 45 years? What "issues" do you have in mind?


9 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Jerry Underdal,

My consistent position is that we need public housing and it is the city (and county) that are responsible for providing it. I do not believe that the city council has done nearly enough in this area, and seem to always be looking for someone else to hold responsible for it.

It is not the responsibility of private individuals (or corporations) to provide public housing. Mr. Jisser has been treated very badly in this whole process, and I am sorry for this. He has been trying for 3 years to move forward with his property and has seen numerous delays (some arguably his fault but mostly not). Perhaps he is tired of delays and didn't want to allow another one.

I also think that he had decided he was tired of being called names and wanted to make a good sale to Caritas.

I feel that the residents have damaged their case by the suit.

I also think that the entire cause of public housing has been damaged by this affair. Public housing is now seen as confiscation of the properties of the rich, rather than rational public policies of taxation and effective public housing policies. Opponents of rent control and ordinances protecting the rights of renters are going to gain a lot of support from watching this sad event play out.


12 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm

How is saving BV considers to be affordable housing when the entire effort is slated for a selected group? What about all the poor working families in PA that also needed affordable housing? They are less important than BV residents?

If you are for entitlement program than just say so. Please stop hiding behind the words "Affordable Housing".


19 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Jerry U :"Who, then, has such a strong interest in blocking this project and why?"

Has this not been discussed at length, and "ad-nausea", already ?
Do you really want everyone to repeat all the prior threads and points made over the past 15 years ?

Since you didn't read or understand our points then, what is the point of repeating them again ?


18 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 2, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Well...it's sorta like beating your head several times against the wall and hoping for a different outcome


18 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 2, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"How is that different from the support the city has given by making loans from its affordable housing funds so that PAHC and others have been able to buy and build projects around the city during the past 45 years? "

Because each of those projects was built in accordance with Palo Alto zoning and subject to compliance with Palo Alto ordinance. A mobile home project is not being "built" according to Palo Alto zoning ordinance and only has to comply with State laws which are seldom enforced.

Both the residents and the neighbors will, legally or not, hold the City responsible for literally anything that is or goes wrong with such a city funded project.

It is the city's deep pockets and liberal guilt which make it the obvious target for any displeasure.

And, given the most recent lawsuit, what do you think the chances are of all the residents signing a legal agreement to hold the city harmless?


13 people like this
Posted by A Gunn Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Here's an article with a good perspective on this issue, Web Link

Also, I've never seen so many people who believe themselves to have good intentions work so hard to try and keep a group of other people in a small, unsafe ghetto in order to make themselves feel good. There is so much money involved, plenty, in fact, to provide all the residents of Buena Vista with better housing than decrepit trailers jammed into a small area. They have become enamored with the vision of themselves rescuing those less fortunate and got lost in the mirror. As the article in the link points out, the city is the arbiter of property value, and has other space at its disposal. If you add all the money that has been allocated, the city could build enough new affordable housing on property it already owns, to house everyone at Buena Vista, along with numerous people who are right now living in tents.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

First off, let me thank Peter Carpenter and Robert Smith and Craig Laughton for consistently identifying themselves in their Town Square postings. I often disagree with them, but I appreciate their willingness to stand by what they say.

@Robert Smith
"Public housing is now seen as confiscation of the properties of the rich"

There was a time in the online discussion of this topic when a proposal kept surfacing that Mr. Jisser should accept an offer of about half the $30M he'd hoped for from Prometheus. (I didn't consider it a practical notion, and it had the unfortunate effect of fueling the perception you raise.) But this is something different. He's got the $29M plus some tax advantages that would come from selling to a non-profit in the bag. That would have seemed like a pretty good offer two years ago, and maybe it still is.

But the question's got to be there, Can I get the city/county and Caritas to dig even deeper into their pockets for this project they want so badly? And once I'm satisfied that they've made the highest offer possible, why wouldn't I keep looking for even better from someone else?

Who's got leverage here? Mr. Jisser, hands down, unless you count moral leverage. Many on this thread argue that moral leverage, too, should operate in Mr. Jisser's favor because of the delays and obstructions to his plans. But the values of the community at large give the moral nod to the current Buena Vista residents, and others who will benefit from affordable mobile home housing for decades to come. Evidence? The overwhelming support from the community for Buena Vista. That's got to be frustrating to some folks.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 2, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"But the values of the community at large give the moral nod to the current Buena Vista residents, and others who will benefit from affordable mobile home housing for decades to come. Evidence? The overwhelming support from the community for Buena Vista. That's got to be frustrating to some folks."

Then pay Mr. Jisser fair market value by putting the property up for open auction with no strings attached.
If the city, county and Caritas are the high bidder then they can do what they want with the property.


16 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2015 at 5:17 pm

I reject the idea that Mr. Jisser should be subjected to any moral leverage whatsoever. This is part of the "confiscatory" sentiment that I am hearing.

Mr. Jisser has agreed to the city's terms for relocation. This will cost him at least $5M, probably $6M by the time the final assessment is done.

Assuming that the market price of the property is $30M when the property has been cleared, that is 20% of the value. BUT notice also that there are expenses (lawyers, assessors), interest costs, and perhaps Federal and state capital gains taxes. These things may well push the amount that he has agreed to being about 1/3 of what his net would otherwise be.

HE HAS AGREED TO PAY THIS!

But this is not what some of the residents and their supporters want. They want more. Much more. Most posters say the amount paid should be doubled or even trebled. At that point, we are near to what a former councilperson recommended in paloaltoonline a few months ago: basically total confiscation of Mr. Jisser's property.

Another way to look at this. Each day, a house in Palo Alto is sold in a private sale. Often, they are sold immediately in a bidding war well above asking price by someone offering cash and no contingencies. For some of these, the price is over 10 times what the seller paid.

Yet, no one would dare to apply "moral leverage" to these good people. Nor are they expected to give their houses to the poor and unfortunate, or share in any way beyond normal taxes (which can be very steep by the way).

We seem to have the idea that Mr. Jisser has some special obligation beyond the law, and I do not see that at all.

The city, not Mr. Jisser, should be providing low-income housing. Mr. Jisser has mroe than done his part.



13 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 2, 2015 at 5:25 pm

If one is so sure of the overwhelming support for keeping BV open....then let's put it on the next November referendum.

Btw, it's really not affordable housing. I and many people that I have spoken with would prefer to call it "Subsidized Housing". "Non profit" is the buzz word A.K.A payers subsisidized tax incentives. Plz do not kid yourself or insult anyone here with that same old mantra.


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@GoneOnTooLong
"Has this not been discussed at length, and "ad-nausea", already ?"

Connecting the Who to the Why certainly hasn't been done, with rare exceptions.

GoneOnTooLong has appeared at the top of many posts on this topic. I've followed pretty closely for the past two and a half years, since the Maybell controversy erupted. But I still don't understand what moves people to dismiss an effort by people to keep their homes as illegitimate whining that reveals a sense of unmerited entitlement. I read what you write, just wish you'd give more pointers to the basis for your consistently strong positions to help me understand where you and others are coming from.


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 2, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"what moves people to dismiss an effort by people to keep their homes as illegitimate whining that reveals a sense of unmerited entitlement"

Jerry, those are your words not mine or others.

What I object to is 1) the use of public funds to benefit a selected group of people chosen on the basis of where they are living rather than on a random drawing among eligible people for publicly subsidized housing and 2) the de facto use of eminent domain to acquire private property for purposes that do not qualify for eminent domain.


31 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 2, 2015 at 5:52 pm

There are plenty of struggling families in PA that I don't see politicians come and help them. How about families that were forced to uproot from "the jungle" in San Jose? Where is their "Joe Simitian"? Where's everyone? Lets be real, equitable and fair here. And just because a small boisterous group yelled louder than everyone else does not make the issue more legitimate.

A referendum will settle this once and for all.


2 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Jerry Underdal,

The law clearly does not give people living in a trailer park the right to stay there. It allows the owner to repurpose the park, and/or to sell it. In this sense, trailer parks in Palo Alto are like apartment buildings.

The only issue is that of relocation fees. The judge, and the city, have both found that the fees are appropriate. The residents are suing over the fees and other issues in the process.

If the goal of the residents were to keep living in the park, the most likely solution would be the Caritas purchase. Ironically the residents and their attorneys may have made that less likely because they chose to challenge the city.

I have consistly wanted the park to remain and have been willing to see the city/county use my tax dollars to pay for this. But my sympathy with the residents (or their lawyers) is weakening.


17 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2015 at 9:56 pm

>A petition for referendum to rescind city funding for the purchase of Buena Vista is successful.

Exactly. Put it to a vote. The secret ballot has a way to getting to the real truth of what the citizens want. My bet is that those funds would be easy rescinded. Why? Because the PA citizens don't want their tax monies (which is what developer fees are) spent on this private deal.


1 person likes this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2015 at 10:34 pm

City of Palo Alto is 16,667 acres (about 26 square miles); 40% is parkland or open space owned by the city - about 6,670 acres. Why not allocate 4.5 of those acres to relocate the BV residents? or why not rezone 4.5 of the acres to RM-15 and swap with the Jissers?


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2015 at 11:23 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter

". . . the use of public funds to benefit a selected group of people chosen on the basis of where they are living"

The direct beneficiaries are all the households of modest means that will be able to live in Palo Alto for decades to come, thanks to preservation of a mobile home park owned and operated by the non-profit corporation. Right now, it is the community of households already on the site who will be housed at BV. Twenty years from now, different folks. Forty years out, yet another set. And so on. I'd like to see a calculation of how many households we could expect to benefit over a fifty year period.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Jerry - You missed the point.

How do you justify a gift of public funds to a specific group of people based solely on where they currently happen to live rather than based on a preset list of qualifications (income, family size, disability etc.) and then, if there are more pre-qualified persons than funds available , selection by random drawing?

What about all the people currently on Palo Alto Housing Corp's list of eligibles for low income housing who will denied an opportunity because these funds are being diverted elsewhere to people not on that list.

It is great to feel good but you ought to also feel fair.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter

I would expect those adjustments to be made over time. I don't understand how the whole business model is structured, but I believe those factors that you list will be formally built into determining who can live there. People's lives and circumstances change. Lots of details to be worked out for sure.

What you term a "gift of public funds to a group of people living on a property" is actually a loan of public funds to a non-profit corporation, not to individuals.

The argument along the lines of "how can you use funds to help the residents of BV, when PAHC has long waiting lists" is an interesting one. I'm one of those folks who wanted both PAHC'S low-income seniors project and preservation of the Buena Vista site as affordable housing. If I believed that other current opportunities to build or acquire affordable housing were being squeezed out by committing the funds to providing financing for Caritas to buy the mobile home par, I would be very concerned. That doesn't appear to be the case.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 3, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I believe those factors that you list will be formally built into determining who can live there. "

Not so - the proposed Caritas transaction gives absolute priority to the current residents. Why should they automatically win the affordable housing lottery when there are many others who are already on the waiting list?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If I believed that other current opportunities to build or acquire affordable housing were being squeezed out by committing the funds to providing financing for Caritas to buy the mobile home par, I would be very concerned. That doesn't appear to be the case. "

Wrong - every penny spent on this project means less money available to build new affordable housing - which was the pretense on which these funds were extracted from developers.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter

"the proposed Caritas transaction gives absolute priority to the current residents."

Sure, for now. Makes sense to me. What would you do, have a random drawing for people who have mobile homes and need a place to put them to come to the Caritas facility? These are people, many of whom meet any criteria likely to be established for the newly organized park, who will lose their current homes within months if no deal is reached.

" . . . to build new affordable housing - which was the pretense on which these funds were extracted from developers."

Was it to build or to provide? Either way, I don't get the impression that you'd be likely to support any realizable project that would do either. Am I wrong?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 3, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"" . . . to build new affordable housing - which was the pretense on which these funds were extracted from developers."

Was it to build or to provide?"

The fund was specifically raised to BUILD affordable housing.

" Either way, I don't get the impression that you'd be likely to support any realizable project that would do either. Am I wrong?"

Wrong even back in 1974 I supported the affordable housing effort as a Palo Alto Planning Commissioner when we wrote the new Comprehensive Plan/


3 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 3, 2015 at 2:05 pm

>Wrong even back in 1974 I supported the affordable housing effort as a Palo Alto Planning Commissioner when we wrote the new Comprehensive Plan/

@Peter: So, do you support subsidized housing in Atherton, west of ECR? It's funny, but I can't find a single elite neighborhood in PA that wants it. Did your Comprehensive Plan, in 1974, target the elite neighborhoods...or just dumping the housing in the non-elite hoods?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Craig - can you just picture some lovely affordable housing in Atherton, perhaps designated for seniors? There could be electric shuttles to take them to their appointments. Then, some housing for hard working single mothers and perhaps housing for folks with various disabilities? The latter would need shuttles, too. You could efficiently replace pool and guest houses with multistory affordable housing buildings.


5 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Does anyone know whether or not the current BV residents would all qualify for low-income housing? I ask because I don't think there was ever any requirement or vetting. I knew someone who lives there and doubt that he would have qualified (ended up buying a house), but that was some time ago.

I ask because it is clear that rent control in our major cities does not really benefit low-income people particularly.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Robert - to which major cities are you referring with regard to rent control?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 3, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I have long ago urged that CalTrain and HSR be tunneled under PA, MP and Atherton and that the surface be used for a Class 1 bike/pedestrian way plus housing WITH high density/mixed income housing above every station including Atherton.


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Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Hmmmm,

The theory is that people retain their rent-controlled apartments even when they could well afford something else. Many people end up buying investment properties out of the reach of rent control while continuing to live in their rent-controlled units. I know people in this category.

Another reason is that builders do not build properties that would be eligible for rent control or compete with rent-controlled properties. Instead they build luxury units. So there is less inexpensive housing, making it harder to find and higher in price.

Question: would you build a trailer park in Palo Alto (or elsewhere in the Bay Area) having seen how park owners are treated?

Here are a few articles about the overall situation. Many economists who have studied rent control are very down on it.

Web Link

Web Link



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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Robert: You don't actually know how many low income residents are benefited by rent control. Also, what do major cities with rent control have to do with Palo Alto? Palo Alto is not a major city.


For a long time economists have said that rent control is the devil. Big deal. There is plenty of evidence that shows rent control is a saving grace in the lives of thousands of people. The real problem isn't rent control, but that it's hard to maintain affordability due to vacancy decontrol. California lawmakers have always been in the pockets of developers and despise renters.


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Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 3, 2015 at 5:11 pm

The problem with loopy logic is that this issue will somehow miraculously work itself out over 20, 30 or 50 years. And what if it does not work itself out? Why should the tax payers be on the hook for additional liability? What about fairness? Process? This is ludicrous in the way of planning and ways-ahead be it a profit or non-profit organization. Should you teach your own kid to just hope for the best and all will work itself out somehow? And perhaps when things fail to materialize, you teach them how to file a brief in order to keep their options open?


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Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Hmmmm,


I certainly do not have that data. I do know that economists have become increasingly critical of rent control in the past several decades. I would prefer rent subsidies such as Section 8 to rent control myself.

This is a part of the issue at BV. It has been under rent control for 14 years, imposed by the city, and during that time rents have increased very little. This means that the owner has not had resources to make repairs, and also has an extra motivation to sell.

We also do not know how many of the residents in BV would be eligible for low-income housing. This may yet become relevant.

Another thing to watch is what happens if Caritas takes it over. My guess is that they will not be able to operate and maintain the park based on the rents. The city may exempt them from rent control (BV is the only property in PA under rent control). Then, you will see the rents increase. I have heard that this has happened in other places operated by Caritas.

It is also hardly clear that the best use of the PA/SC funds is a trailer park. Given the land prices there, I would think that it would be hard to justify that usage of the funds. However, PA/SC are clearly committed now, if the owner decides to sell to Caritas after all.



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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Robert - you cant judge rent control by what happens with one trailer park in your city. One big reason is that turnover is much lower in a mobile home park, and I'm also not clear on what your vacancy decontrol laws are. That said, I agree with your other points. It's been awhile since I checked into your mobile home park ordinance.

For a long time, it seemed to me that the situation there was mutually agreeable to both residents and the owner- low rent and fairly benign neglect. Of course things change, and counting on infrastructure still keeping propped up somehow long past its normal lifespan is not something I would do. Wouldn't that make you nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs?

Who really has a clear idea about what would happen with Caritas? Will info be rolled out to the community at some point soon?

Most rent control programs offer incentives for property owners to keep up repairs, which you may not have known. I've seen that make a big difference to property owners in my town, in addition to the write offs. Ignoring economists isn't always wise, but that doesn't mean believing everything that they say is smart, either.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Craig Laughton - did you see Peter Carpenter's answer? Not for the housing west of ECR ;-)


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 4, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Hummmmm - Did you have a question for me that you were somehow afraid to ask?


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm

>Craig - can you just picture some lovely affordable housing in Atherton,

@Hmmm: No, I cannot imagine it. I also cannot imagine it in the elite neighborhoods in PA. Limo-libs and all.... I often agree with Peter Carpenter on some things, but not this effort by him to push subsidized housing on someone else. I don't believe in subsidized housing, period. I also don't believe in rent control. I absolutely reject any public monies being spent on BV, which should be a private deal. I hope I have not been unclear about my position.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 5, 2015 at 1:00 am

Peter - no, I do not.


Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community

on Sep 5, 2015 at 11:53 am


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

With regard to the mater of compensation, the amount to be paid by the park owner to residents has always been known and fixed if the sale of the property were to Caritas. Zero, because there will be no resident relocation.

An offer was made by Caritas to the Jisser Family, who reviewed it and did not accept it prior to the deadline for filing a lawsuit on the council’s decision to approve the park's closure. The Jisser Family chose not to agree to a suit-deadline extension, and the Buena Vista families would have been foolish to give up their right to be heard in court if they felt the compensation or process was unfair.

The amount of compensation the Jisser Family or another owner would pay if they sold to a group that would not retain the residents on the site was uncertain even prior to the Buena Vista residents’ lawsuit. Concurrent with the council’s closure decision was a stipulation that a peer reviewer be retained by the city to review the appraisal of each unit on the site. It is not inconceivable that the result of this peer review and subsequent council action could lead to another lawsuit.

This is the way this, rather unique, process can play out.

The city should proceed expeditiously with beginning the peer review process, then staff with its evaluation of the result, and council with its final review.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 15, 2015 at 7:28 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It is not inconceivable that the result of this peer review and subsequent council action could lead to another lawsuit.

This is the way this, rather unique, process can play out."

Sounds like the lawyers win.


1 person likes this
Posted by Tell It Like It Is
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 24, 2015 at 4:08 pm

According to this PAL article Web Link

The County needs $30M urgently to help our homeless during the upcoming winter....
"The plans, which were presented to the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 15, will cost the county roughly $13 million in one-time costs and another $13 million in ongoing costs. If approved, it would raise the number of year-round shelter beds in the county from a meager 130 to 715."

Since the $29M City and County funds allocated for the BV trailer park offer has been rejected by the owner, we should use the $29M to address the urgent need to provide housing for the homeless (our lowest of the low income residents). Who is stopping the use of that money while so many Santa Clara and Palo Alto families have no home, with Winter almost here ?


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 24, 2015 at 4:54 pm

When we had the Maybell issue come up for a vote people in Los Altos I know said we needed to do provide the housing. I asked them where in Los Altos is your Low Income Housing?

So we should ask Menlo Park / Atherton where their low income housing is.

I am trying to figure out why Palo Alto is the city that is suppose to provide every service imaginable that no surrounding cities provide.
I am for the people who live in the trailer park but suspect that if it rains El Nino then a lot will be ruined from water damage.

There has to be a better answer for all of them but not sure how to get there.


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

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