News

Buena Vista owner sues Palo Alto over closure conditions

Jisser family accuses city of extortion in requirement for relocation assistance

In the latest skirmish in the long and emotional battle over Palo Alto's sole mobile-home park, the owners of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the City of Palo Alto, accusing it of imposing "unconstitutional" conditions in exchange for permission to shut down the park.

The lawsuit from the Jisser family, which was filed Thursday by attorney Lawrance Salzman of Pacific Legal Foundation, seeks to remove the conditions that the City Council approved in May for the closure of Buena Vista, a mobile home park in the Barron Park neighborhood that houses about 400 mostly low-income residents. Filed in the U.S. District Court, the suit also seeks to deal a blow to the city's Mobilehome Park Conversion Ordinance, which was adopted in 2001 as a measure to protect the park's residents in the event of closure. The ordinance, as it's applied to the Jisser Family, violates the family's rights to withdraw their property from the rental market and convert the site at 3980 El Camino Real to new use, the suit contends.

The Jissers have been trying to close Buena Vista since the the fall of 2012, and they reached a milestone last spring when the City Council unanimously approved the fifth iteration of the "relocation impact report" -- a legally required document that lays out the Jissers' compensation to residents who would be evicted. The report was also the subject of a three-day public hearing in front of an administrative judge, who in October 2014 signed off on the document despite emotional testimony from Buena Vista residents and their supporters. They argued that shutting down Buena Vista would not only displace hundreds of residents but also deal a heavy blow to the city's stock of affordable housing. The council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors have each committed $14.5 million to the purchase of Buena Vista from the Jissers and earlier this year tapped nonprofit developer Caritas Corp. to negotiate the purchase with the Jisser family. In September, shortly after the Buena Vista residents filed their own lawsuit against the city, the Jissers declared that they would no longer negotiate the sale.

As part of the city's approval of Buena Vista's closure, the Jisser family is required to offer residents funding to relocate, which includes the cost of each mobile home, start-up costs for the new housing, moving costs, rent subsidies for a year (totaling the difference between rents at Buena Vista and the reasonable expenses for overnight stays at motels or hotels during the relocation process.

Recent appraisals, according to the suit, indicate that the family would have to pay about $8 million to the tenants -- payments that the family calls "oppressive and unreasonable."

"The city's ordinance forces the Jisser family to either bear the unconstitutional conditions imposed on them ... or to suffer the permanent physical occupation of their property by tenants that they now want to exclude from the land," the suit states.

"In effect, the Jisser Family has been told that they must choose between an unconstitutional taking of their money and an unconstitutional taking of their land," the brief states.

In the suit, as well as in a video that that Pacific Legal Foundation posted to accompany the complaint, the family makes the case that the city is effectively extorting them by requiring them to pay a huge sum of money to help solve a problem that the city itself created: the lack of affordable housing. The monetary demand, the suit states, "has nothing to do with any public costs caused by the Jisser family's desired closure of the park but is an attempt to make the Jisser family alone pay to mitigate the city's lack of affordable housing costs that, in fairness, should be borne by the whole public of Palo Alto."

The video, which includes commentary from Salzman and Joe Jisser, makes a similar case. It recaps his family's history with Buena Vista, a site that served as a tourist camp in the mid-1920s and became a mobile home park in the 1950s. Toufic and Eva Jisser, who moved to the United States from Israel in 1973, bought the property in 1986, according to the suit, and have operated the park ever since. Their son, Joe, manages the park today.

In the video, Joe Jisser said that while the business "does OK," the family decided that it "made the most sense to retain the property and look at a development that would work within the city's guidelines." He said in the video that the council's decision was "really shocking and frustrating to say the least," as it became apparent that "it would cost in the upper millions of dollars just to get out of the rental business."

"I know there are a lot of other families in this business who will be treated the same way if someone doesn't stand up to the city," Jisser said.

City Attorney Molly Stump said the city is "confident that the city followed both state law and the process that is set out in our own municipal ordinance related to the closing of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park."

"There is no merit to these claims," Stump said in an email to the Weekly.

The decision by the Jisser family to sue the city means that the city is now facing lawsuits from both sides in the bitter debate. In late August, attorneys representing the Buena Vista Residents Association filed their lawsuit against the city, arguing that the city denied the residents a fair hearing and that by approving the closure application, the council failed in its duty to promote fair housing. The lawsuit from the residents asks the Santa Clara County Superior Court to prohibit the Jissers from closing the park.

Stump said the city is preparing a response and expects the matter to "move forward in the first part of the year."

While the Jissers, in their lawsuit, describe the relocation assistance as onerous and illegal, the residents argue in their complaint that the package is in fact "grossly inadequate" and 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," Kyra Kazantzis, attorney with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, wrote on behalf of the residents. "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."

In a statement Thursday, attorneys from Law Foundation indicated that they are "currently evaluating the lawsuit and how it affects the residents' legal rights."

"The lawsuit comes as a surprise since it seems to challenge the City's approval of a relocation plan that the park owner himself advocated for," the statement said.

Though the Law Foundation had itself filed a lawsuit against the city earlier in the year, its attorneys on Thursday expressed disappointment about the Jisser family'a decision to sue the city. The Residents Association's board of directors has "continued to hope that the matter could be resolved outside litigation and that the owner would fairly consider generous purchase offers from a non-profit mobilehome park management company," according to the Law Foundation's statement.

"The owner's suit seems to put the possibility of resolving this matter out of court disappointingly farther out of reach," the statement read.

Related:

• View a webcast discussion on this latest Buena Vista news

Comments

48 people like this
Posted by Fran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2015 at 2:48 pm

What a mess. Now both the residents and the Jissers are suing the city. How can this get any worse.


38 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 19, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Crescent Park Dad - as you and others predicted.


46 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Yikes, the Pacific Legal Foundation (see: Web Link). They are certainly one adversary that I wouldn't want to face in court. As Michelle Tanner would say on an episode of Full House: "You're in big trouble mister!"

Here's a link to the announcement: Web Link


110 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:04 pm

I have great respect for the Pacific Legal Foundation.
Too bad we schmuck taxpayers will have to pay for this mistake by the Palo Alto City Council, as the lawsuit is filed against the City of Palo Alto but WE taxpayers will be the ones paying, not the Council who have thwarted the owners' legal rights to do what the want with their property within legal limits; added nonsense with the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voting to allocate millions of our taxpayer money in a complicated scheme with regards to all this. I disagreed with both the City's and the Supervisors' actions.
Before I get slammed as being "against" affordable housing, let me be clear I support it, within the scope of feasible and appropriate developments, NOT schemes whereby property owners like the above are faced with contrived and ridiculous circumstances imposed by the City.


Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace

on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:33 pm


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38 people like this
Posted by Carl
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Our city council has completely blown this entire subject. Now we are forced to pay for this law suit. Why, we have been warned about it for many years.


56 people like this
Posted by Former BVMHP sympathizer
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Is it really true that the Jissers will have to pay $8 million to the current residents of the mobile home park in order to sell their property and get out of the rental business? Seems like a big number.

Let's look hard into the fairness of that. Seems like a big "taking" by the Government. I think this lawsuit is necessary.


146 people like this
Posted by Let's get this over with!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:49 pm

More power to the Jissers. City Council effed up. I am so tired of reading the sob stories of the BV residents. We owe them NOTHING. This whole fiasco lost money for the Jissers and the City. When Palo Altans cannot afford rent or mortgage, they move elsewhere - no compensation. BV residents are preying on the left wing liberals and they should leave town as asked. Someone should sue City Council members for poor decision making and wasting our tax money.


39 people like this
Posted by Barron park 25 years
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:15 pm

What a concept: property owners have rights! [Portion removed.] I'm liberal, but not on this one. Remember that the Barron Park Association represents well less than half of the residents.
Ta Ta For Now


11 people like this
Posted by Here's the video
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Here's the link to the PLF video...
Web Link


29 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:06 pm

This is really not as simple as renters being evicted, because the majority of residents own their mobile homes and have in some cases paid a significant amount of money for them. Mobile homes are a really unique kind of investment. I sympathize with the Jissers, but I also think they have to take some responsibility for the limitations, not just expect an equivalent circumstance to an empty field or rental apartments. It's not like they bought the property and then - surprise! - found out there were mobile homes on it.

This is more akin to condos, or houses on rented land, situations with dual ownership. I think people just don't acknowledge that because of class prejudice. The residents will not only be losing a low-income housing in an expensive area, they will be losing an investment that they will not realistically be able to recover. I do not think it's unreasonable for the laws to try to balance those interests.

These kinds of situations are not easy, so litigation will probably be precedent setting. That's probably why PLF got involved. I hope the residents have help equal to the task so that the rules at the end of this are fair for ALL property owners involved (including the residents). The law protects property owners, but just as much, our laws protect the most vulnerable.

My heart goes out to the residents of BV.


20 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Who is providing legal advice to the City Council members?

Are they getting competent outside representation or are they relying on staff?

They should fined a law firm that will be paid on how quickly and cheaply they can negotiate it out of this mess


9 people like this
Posted by AboutRight
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Sounds like the city and council got it about right if both sides are unhappy - one saying "too much" and the other "too little".

Relocation compensation for owners of non-mobile mobile homes is under California state law. Sound like the Pacific Legal Foundation is really challenging the constitutionality of the California law. Hopefully the State will help defend it.


85 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLkng
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:13 pm

This...
"the city is effectively extorting them (the Jissers) by requiring them to pay a huge sum of money to help solve a problem that the city itself created: the lack of affordable housing. The monetary demand, the suit states, "has nothing to do with any public costs caused by the Jisser family's desired closure of the park but is an attempt to make the Jisser family alone pay to mitigate the city's lack of affordable housing...."

and this...
"In effect, the Jisser Family has been told that they must choose between an unconstitutional taking of their money and an unconstitutional taking of their land,"




84 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:16 pm

The entire situation is unfortunate and a result of the city's long-term errors.

The Jisser family has a point: low-income housing is the responsibility of the community, which mainly means the city. The city has failed to do anything to solve this problem, and then took the position that the Jisser family should be held responsible and forced to pay either huge relocation fees or, in the view of the residents and their lawyers, essentially allow their property to be confiscated entirely. The irony is that the person who has done the most to provide low-income housing in this community is now being punished.

It did appear that things were stabilizing. The city backed off of more unreasonable demands, and the Jissers appeared ready to pay what the administrative judge and the city had come up with. More importantly, negotiations were under way for the city and county to buy the land after the city finally accepted some responsibility. The residents were in sight of being able to continue to live there.

Then, the lawyers for the residents filed suit, in a move that was almost certain to destabilize everything. Predictably, the owners stopped negotiating for a sale, and have now filed suit against the city, as much as a defensive tactic as anything else I imagine.

We are likely to now be a very long way from a solution. Unless someone can bring the parties together, this will be a long and expensive set of court cases. Only the lawyers will win.







3 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:25 pm

@ Former BVMHP sympathizer,

My reading of the situation was that $8M could well be within the range of $8M that the Jissers would have to pay. I thought more like $6M based on the administrative judge's ruling.


61 people like this
Posted by Sal
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Well, this was entirely predictable. Thank you governing members of the city of Palo Alto who went out of their way to advance their personal interests, at what will ultimately be a large bill paid for by city tax payers.


41 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:25 pm

@Greenacres wrote:

"This is more akin to condos, or houses on rented land, situations with dual ownership. I think people just don't acknowledge that because of class prejudice."

What evidence do you have that it is due to class prejudice? Not all Palo Altans are snotty, stuck up and elitist. Opposition to the city's approach towards Buena Vista could have been motivated by common sense.

"The residents will not only be losing a low-income housing in an expensive area, they will be losing an investment that they will not realistically be able to recover."

Then perhaps their lawyers shouldn't have blown the deal by filing an unnecessary lawsuit. Living in a mobile home has some advantages, but also some risks. Like any other mobile home dwellers, the BV residents knew what they were getting into when they moved there, or should have.


56 people like this
Posted by Janet
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Reading the complaint the jisser family is not asking for money from the city. Just relief from a poor decision that the city did not need to get involved in. The jisser family purchased the park in 1986. Then in 2000 did the city adopt their ordinance. That in itself should be a takings law suit. The city passed a law after they purchased the business.

Also how can Molly Stump say "no merit to their claim". So Pacific Legal Foundation sued the city because the jissers hired them? Have you seen their resume? Please Molly sub this out to real lawyers so the city can do something right


58 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:48 pm

This should come as no surprise to anyone. Any landlord subjected to the kind of harassment the Jissers went through would fight this in a court of law.

Despite all the warnings, some politicians decided to pursue their welfare project with somebody else's property after being encouraged by a vocal minority, and now the majority of law-abiding residents in the city will pay to get out of this mess. Can we make these politicians and social agitators liable for the mess they created in the first place?


16 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:49 pm

@Kazu,

A great many postings on this topic have enumerated the property rights of the landowner but next to nothing about the property rights of the mobile home owners. That's just an observation, about which I expressed an opinion, which I am allowed to do. I don't see a lot of people looking at both sides.

The investment most people at BV made in their homes as a percentage of their income is substantial. BV had been operated as a mobile home park for many decades through many booms and busts. Mobile home park law has evolved over time. I think it's more incumbent on the wealthy property owner (who can clearly afford whatever legal advice he needs), who bought the park as an investment after it operated as a mobile home park for decades, to be responsible for the limitations of the investment vehicle he chose with eyes wide open. Again, it's not like he bought something and only then realized there were mobile homes on it. The mobile home owners, by contrast, in many cases were living in their homes when the property changed hands, or could not have anticipated such significant changes in the development environment in Palo Alto and the desires of the Jissers.

I think it is naive to suggest the residents blew any deal by filing the lawsuit. There was a statute that would have expired. Had they not filed, there is zero evidence that Jisser wouldn't have then used the residents' complete lack of recourse as leverage, and every reason to believe he would have. It's not an easy situation on all sides. As I said, I have sympathy for the Jissers.

But I also take issue with the perspective that keeps getting pushed on these threads that somehow the situation is anything like apartment rentals. It's not. It's more like condos or owned houses on rented land. There are property ownership rights and unique circumstances on both sides. The residents of BV are human beings, residents of our city, which is another reason the city has an interest in being involved to help.


47 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:50 pm

The issue is not the pre-existing state law...it is the additional requirements that CPA threw into the mix. That is what the Jissers are claiming as unconstitutional.

What a mess...all self-generated by past and current PACC.


12 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:58 pm

@Crescent Park Dad,

Perhaps. But if so, wouldn't Jisser have had a time window, like everyone else, to protest or counter what he saw as an unfair ordinance? He may not have any cause to protest now, because any statute on filing may have long run. That may be why Molly Stump said the case had no basis. Did he file any legal action when the ordinance was made? The law usually takes a dim view of people trying to go back and change things to suit their purposes when circumstances change.


36 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2015 at 8:04 pm

I'm not a lawyer...I would t want to speculate. But the lawsuit is against CPA, not the State of California. So I would imagine that it comes down to the ordinance and then multiple iterations of the PACC moving the goal line. My two cents.


54 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2015 at 9:03 pm

@ Robert Smith >> "My reading of the situation was that $8M could well be within the range of $8M that the Jissers would have to pay. I thought more like $6M based on the administrative judge's ruling. "

It isn't a fixed dollar amount. It is a formula that includes (among other things)...
- the Full appraised value of the in place units (valued as if the park was staying open). These final appraisals have not been completed yet and likely will see ongoing appreciation with the rest of the Palo Alto real estate market.
- Relocation expenses including storage of property and overnight(s) lodging
- On full year rental offset (diff between current rent and cost of apartment) where the apartment is sized to the number of people and unit bedrooms (permitted or not).
- assistance for special needs residents
- etc.
The residents have an individual appeal process for appraisals and relocation costs.

The $6M estimated (not sure who created that number - J. Simitian ?) total cost a year ago inflates with local real estate and rental costs and a more realistic modeling of the process and overhead costs (appraisers, relocation specialists, movers, etc). I wouldn't be surprised to see it exceed $10M when done, and even that being the subject of multiple lawsuits by the residents - so even more costs.

The residents and city have relied upon this as a "poison Pill" for the owner. Expecting that the owner would just sell for some compromised fair market value (what is a trailer park worth?) less this $xM cost and some valuation for his headache.

So glad to see the owner standing up to this bullying and extortion!




Posted by hello
a resident of Crescent Park

on Nov 19, 2015 at 10:35 pm


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4 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 19, 2015 at 10:39 pm

Are there actually laws about non-mobile mobile homes? Can you provide a link? I didn't even know that was "a thing".


32 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2015 at 10:45 pm

@ GoneOnTooLong,

$6M to $10M sounds like a reasonable range given the terms in the supposed settlement. Obviously the new appraisal would only raise the costs, which was exactly the game the city was playing.

I think the landlord was willing to acquiese in order to resolve the matter and sell to the city. What he might have hoped to gain out of this would have been a clean and simple end to the process.

The residents' lawyers were however not willing to settle. They wanted more money, and wanted to drag the process out as long as possible. "Justice delayed is justice denied." So, the residents' lawsuit put an end to the owner's willingness to deal and he looked instead to another approach to solving the problem with his own lawsuit.


27 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Look at this case that PFL is working on: Web Link

It's very close to Jissers' situation. So far PFL has won.

"The U.S. District Court noted that the San Francisco Ordinance violated private property rights guaranteed by the Constitution and unfairly punished landlords for market conditions over which they had no control. "


62 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2015 at 11:27 pm

Quote from court judgement:

"... But independently, and more fundamentally, the Ordinance fails on its face because it requires a monetary exaction that is not roughly proportional to–indeed, does not even share an essential nexus with–the impact of the property owner’s proposed change in use. That is to say, it seeks to force the property owner to pay for a broad public problem not of the owner’s making. See Koontz,133 S. Ct. at 2600. A property owner did not cause the high market rent to which a tenant who chooses to stay in San Francisco might be exposed, nor cause the lower rent-controlled rate the tenant previously enjoyed. The Ordinance’s constitutional infirmity being one inherent in the nature of what the monetary exaction is intended to recompense–a dislocation that necessarily arises in all of the Ordinance’s applications–it fails on its face to survive Fifth Amendment scrutiny. "


2 people like this
Posted by Harriet
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2015 at 7:05 am

Just what we expected.


4 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 8:21 am



Joe Jisser said that while the business "does OK," the family decided that it "made the most sense to retain the property and look at a development that would work within the city's guidelines."


This statement is somewhat questionable as the deal they had with fell throughway to up zone the property to allow twice the density and double the sale price over the (then) estimate of its value.

Wasn't the city required to follow the legal process prescribed by state law and the administrative judge in 2013?
So what could they have done differently?


6 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 20, 2015 at 8:26 am

@m2grs,
It's not a comparable situation to speak of landlord and rent control. This is more like condo owners and someone wanting to sell the building out from under them and the condo owners losing their homes and investments. And yes, in answer to someone else above, CA mobile home precedent and statutes do recognize that mobile homes aren't very mobile once in place. (I'm no lawyer, you can read same as I did.)

Again, since the owner clearly has no problem filing legal action, the question remains as to whether there is now cause of action because he did not try to overturn the ordinance when it was made, through the administrative measures available. He may have had to bring up the issue against the ordinance through the administrative channels first. There is a strong principle of exhaustion if administrative remedies at the federal level these days, so that even if the plaintiff has a case, if they did not exhaust administrative remedies, the courts may not even take the case, the plaintiff may have no cause of action.


27 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2015 at 8:30 am

Here is another very recent (last month) legal ruling in favor of landlords, "Judge strikes down San Francisco eviction law": Web Link

A different lawsuit and a different ruling judge. Quote:

... Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay said the required payments exceed the “reasonable” relocation assistance authorized by the Ellis Act,...

Reasonable payments are those that would offset the immediate costs of eviction — first and last months’ rent, the tenant’s security deposit and moving expenses, Quidachay said in his ruling Friday. He said additional charges to “subsidize the payment of rent that a displaced tenant will face on the open market, regardless of income ... have no relationship to the adverse impact caused by the landlord’s decision to exit the rental market.”

--



6 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 8:41 am

The case is very simple: What are the "reasonable cost of relocation"? The state law doesn't define them. This is likely going to be the landmark case that will.


53 people like this
Posted by GonOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 8:44 am

@GreenAcres "This is more like condo owners and someone wanting to sell the building out from under them"

It is more helpful to call it what it actually is:
Travel trailers occupying a monthly rental spaces at a trailer park.



32 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2015 at 9:18 am

@GreenAcres, the lawsuits in San Francisco is not about rent control at all. They are about excessive cost to evict tenants. Jissers' case will be even more obvious, even to a legally illiterate like me, because the City of Palo Alto imposed the punitive cost *specifically* for them alone, hence even more unfair than San Fran Ordinances, which applies to all landlords.


7 people like this
Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:29 am

Will all landlords who lose tenants out of Palo Alto because they raise the rent to double or triple what it was before be required to pay huge relocation expenses? I doubt that would ever fly.


8 people like this
Posted by al munday
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:36 am

I commend what the City of Palo Alto has tried to do. I did watch the video linked from one of the responses.....even if Palo Alto built up housing, its costs would still be prohibitive to most of us anyway, even more so to the residents of BV (look at all the dense housing complexes being built....rents or to buy is still much too high even in San Jose).

Not sure why the BV residents files a lawsuit against PA (I don't even know kind of lawsuit). at this point I feel it is too demanding to have the Jisser family subsizde rents for 1 yr should have have to move.

I am sure there must have been some chatter way prior to this about selling the park....the park resuidents should have been starting to seek alternatives long before that. Let's face it...they are living in Palo Alto...they knew a time like this would come sooner or a later....

I don't feel sorry for anyone in this case.....


10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:50 am

Part of the case against the City will be that they offered up $14.5 million to help buy Buena Vista.

Since the city had $14.5 million in a housing fund, why didn't they use this money to buy affordable housing back in 2012, when the whole Buena Vista closure case started?
With the affordable housing that was built, along with the housing that the $14.5 million could have acquired, all the Buena Vista residents could have had a place to live.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:50 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

I agree with much of what GreenAcres has made in his/her explanation of the distinction between mobile home court rentals and apartment rentals. Does it have any impact on hard-line property rights advocates? Of course not. This is a fight they have been itching for, and now with the support of the Pacific Legal Foundation, they'll have a high profile case in the heart of Silicon Valley to challenge what they view as unconstitutional "takings."




8 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:52 am

I just contributed ....

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by rainbow38
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:53 am

@ Really? - The part of the California State Law that covers mobile home parks is referred to as the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) and can be found at www.hcd.ca.gov...beginning with Section 798.


30 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 11:04 am

@JerryUnderdal : "I agree with much of what GreenAcres has made in his/her explanation of the distinction between mobile home court rentals and apartment rentals. Does it have any impact on hard-line property rights advocates?"

Most people do not agree with GreenAcres's distinction between mobile home court rentals and apartment rentals.

Support for this lawsuit has little to do with being hard-line property rights, or hard-line Low Income housing.

I AM VERY pro low-income housing. I believe the city can solve this BV problem TODAY if it wanted to. I wish the city would do so. It has the land and the money to build an up to date facility for all the residents and their units (or buy them new units if that is what you and Green Acres feel is necessary). I would support that and have advocated for this solution in almost every BV thread on PAOL.

It is wrong to put excessive relocation impact costs on the backs of the Jissers. That is why I support this lawsuit.


9 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 20, 2015 at 11:10 am

GREED.

Plenty of money has been raised to buy out that property. [Portion removed.]


36 people like this
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2015 at 11:25 am

It was only a matter of time. No property owner should be told what to do with their property, period!


29 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 11:32 am

Here's a copy of the lawsuit: Web Link

As Joe said, it's pretty simple: Does the law require the owner to pay more than $8 million to the residents when he closes the park? The City ordinance says "yes", but the state law doesn't define "reasonable cost of relocation." What are the constitutional limits of this phrase? We'll find out.

If the City's ordinance overstepped constitutional limits, the resident's lawsuit filed in August saying the compensation was inadequate just disappears. The residents of Buena Vista will likely get only a fraction of compensation awarded by the City, as will other mobile home residents across the state.

Wait until the blowtorch of conservative media gets all over this. Until now, the residents have had sympathetic international coverage supporting them. That's certainly going to change. Will our local politicians stick by the residents?

Bring in the PLF was a brilliant move. Well played, Mr Jisser, very well played.


8 people like this
Posted by green gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2015 at 11:32 am

Let's face it, human beings are greedy. That's what has happened to Palo Alto real estate. No more cross section of residents. Just the rich and poor and those of us who have lived here 50 years. By the by the Pacific Legal Foundation argues cases at the Supreme Court. Good luck to the jokers at the CPA and the residents of PA. We're screwed.


7 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 11:39 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@GoneOnTooLong

"Most people do not agree with GreenAcres's distinction between mobile home court rentals and apartment rentals."

You're probably right. That's why we have courts to settle what the law is. Clearly, the city believes the distinction exists in state and local ordinances and is ready to defend its ordinance against this legal challenge.

Expressions of public support, even if backed by government (City of Palo Alto and Santa Clara County) and local media (both the Weekly and the Daily Post supported intervention) count for nothing at this point. I'm OK with expenditure of city funds on legal resources to mount the strongest possible defense of the City of Palo Alto's ability to pass ordinances that embody community values and have them enforced by the courts.


Like this comment
Posted by suggestor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2015 at 11:49 am

What about using the money to purchase the homes from the residents? Then they are free to relocate without strings. Surely there must be some ambitious high school student who will see the resume building potential of this situation.
Or remodel the trailers for acceptance into one of those beautiful mobile parks in Sunnyvale or Mountain View. Habitat for Humanity?


37 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2015 at 12:12 pm

The record strongly suggests that the Jissers were willing to pay the relocation expenses awarded by the adminstrative judge.

The city council mishandled it starting at that point.

1. The council accepted the residents' appeal. They could have simply stated that they concurred with the judge.
2. The council then set up the appeal to look more like a political rally than a judicial proceeding.
3. Before the judicial proceeding even began, the city manager stated that he was budgeting money to buy the park. I read this as a conflict of interest, with the city acting to reduce the value of the park while also wanting to buy it.
4. Council members made numerous statements of sympathy with the residents, pointedly avoiding any positive remarks about the Jissers. If you didn't attend the meeting, take a look at the recordings.
5. The council tried many ideas to increase the payments, including asking for another assessment on a different basis that would include the value of the schools. At the next meeting, the assessor refused to do this, and the city attorney steered the council back to the ordinance.
6. At the end, the result was not markedly different than after the administrative hearing, but the damage was done. My guess is that the Jisser family was furious with the city.

Even then, I think the Jissers would not have sued. They were considering the offers from the city/county and it seemed like they would have settled.

However, the residents and their attorneys then filed suit against the city. I think that was the moment that the Jissers' patience ended. They saw their land being "permanently occupied" and no way to assert their rights.

All of this is unfortunate. I think the city misplayed this and failed to realize that they had to come up with "relocation expenses" and be done with it rather than trying to open the process up to arbitrary damages and excessive delays.


9 people like this
Posted by Caroline
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2015 at 12:23 pm

I am on the side of the BV residents. By reading these posts many residents of Palo Alto have become so greedy, like the rest of the bay area. We need people for lower paying jobs, where are they supposed to live? We need construction workers to build new projects and they can't drive from the central valley to and from their job. It would be a 4 hour round trip, and they would not be safe working because they are too tired. We can't have a society where everyone has a high paying job and can afford an expensive place to live. The Jissers need to show some compassion, this seems to be lacking in the world today.


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

Another day, another lawsuit.

What if the costs of defending the suits uses up the money the city set aside to buy BV? Only the lawyers gain.


25 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2015 at 1:01 pm

"What if the costs of defending the suits uses up the money the city set aside to buy BV? Only the lawyers gain."

I wish that were the case ... that they could take costs of defending this lawsuit out of the affordable housing fund, but it will ultimately come out of your and my pockets one way or the other.

Unfortunately I believe the lawsuit against the city has merit and will likely prevail. Government has to have limits in what it can force individual private parties to cough up in pursuit of its goals.


52 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2015 at 1:31 pm

@Caroline,

You say " The Jissers need to show some compassion, this seems to be lacking in the world today." If you had said "the COMMUNITY need(s) to show some compassion", I would have agreed with you.

Why is this issue UNIQUELY the responsibility of the Jissers? Why do we expect them to sacrifice their property while all of the rest of us continue to enjoy our property without these constraints?

It is especially hard to understand this when the Jissers have, by anyone's accounting, provided more low-income housing than any other family in the community, and have done so for decades. We are punishing them for their previous good deeds.

Low-income housing is the responsibility of the community. Palo Alto has an enormous budget, which has grown by leaps and bounds. The city can well afford to do more for low income housing. The Jissers should be taxed along with the rest of us to help pay for this.


12 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 1:38 pm

@Caroline : "We need people for lower paying jobs.... We can't have a society where everyone has a high paying job ...."

I am always surprised when I see this position posted.

People should stop saying that we need poor people to perform low paying jobs, and rich people (who are by definition "Greedy") to provide low cost housing for those poor people to live in.

Why don't we just implement a living wage so everyone can afford to live ? Society pays for it either way.

What does it cost to live/own in College Terrace these days ? Can one remain sufficiently unburdened by the drive (greed?) to amass sufficient funds/cash flow to afford to live there ?



27 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 20, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Government actions are not without consequences - just ask Half Moon Bay how much it had to pay for denying a property owner his rights.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss a.b.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2015 at 2:11 pm

So in the instant matter a non- governmental organization wants to get a court to tell us how to self-govern, and anonymous posters here seem to welcome that.
And the $16 million subsidy to try to broker a deal, in 50 hours of public hearings is not due process, but a "taking".
And me sitting 30 miles south of Palo Alto today poking with my right index finger but not my thumbs little symbols on a handheld electronic device, in fact, is not citizen engagement in a participatory Democracy but a mediated, contorted and farsical derivative of such.
Or as Steel Wheels said, " clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle, one of 60,000 Palo Altans, 350,000,000 Americans with you".
Bring it!!


14 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2015 at 2:16 pm

" I'm OK with expenditure of city funds on legal resources to mount the strongest possible defense of the City of Palo Alto's ability to pass ordinances that embody community values and have them enforced by the courts."

Form your own legal defense committee and use your own private money. I don't want my city funds to be used for this craziness. We need a new police station, very badly, yet we piddle away our tax dollars on this nonsense? Get real.


7 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Robert Smith

"They were considering the offers from the city/county and it seemed like they would have settled."

What's your evidence for that conclusion? Evidence that they would have settled would have been agreement to postpone the deadline for BV residents to file a lawsuit while negotiations continued. Given the residents' experience with the owners over the years, expecting the residents' lawyers to let the deadline pass, thus losing the ability to challenge the relocation assistance judgment was either a misjudgment or an attempt to kill the negotiations and place the onus on the residents' legal team.

I agree with many that all three parties, the Jissers, the City of Palo Alto and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley will have to seriously lawyer up for what's likely to be a long process. The Pacific Legal Foundation is a long-time go-to litigator for conservative/libertarian causes and this high profile case is made to order for them.


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2015 at 2:38 pm

[Post removed.]


60 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Using Buena Vista as a vehicle for curing low-income housing is very myopic.

The underlying issues that make Palo Alto and similar communities so desirable are what should be addressed, and you don't do that by effectively trying to gift property to a select few against the will of someone else. THAT is selfish.

It's much more effective, and helps more people, to target solutions that help everyone. Improving regional public transportation (rendering the geographic location of Palo Alto less advantageous) helps everyone. Improving public schools in the region helps everyone. Improving just those 2 issues alone would do a lot to mute the advantages of living in Palo Alto.

Governments already have influence in determining housing costs and density through zoning, taxing, etc. We don't need to give even more power.


12 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

What a mess! The city brought this upon themselves. Unfortunately, we are the city and the CITY (government) doesn't always represent the majority of the WE.


10 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2015 at 3:18 pm

@Jerry Underdal,


My point was that I think the Jissers were willing to settle for the relocation costs either as determined by the administrative judge or even as modified by the city. I don't think that the Jissers were willing to keep dealing with the issue on an open-ended basis.

Note that after the administrative judge's decision, Mr. Jisser did not publicly criticize the settlement or appeal it to the city. It was the residents who said they wanted more money appealed to the city. After the city's decision, again it was the residents who complained that it was not enough money, and filed suit.

Expecting Mr. Jisser to agree to an extension is simply a way to allow the residents to continue fighting for more money, as well as more delays. If the residents liked the settlement, why didn't they settle when they had a chance?

I completely understand why Mr. Jisser would have been interested in a reasonably amicable settlement. I would have felt the same way. But, the lawsuit from the residents would have ended my patience and motivated my also filing suit.


28 people like this
Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 20, 2015 at 3:27 pm

The City should repeal the BV law, offer Jisser an apology and reimburse his relevant legal costs. Maybe the lawsuit would be dropped. Justice would be served and the taxpayers would be saved money.


4 people like this
Posted by Janet
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Jerry Underdal - An agreement to let the tenants postpone their lawsuit so the owner can reach a settlement That statement hold not merit! The owner has repeatedly said the land is not hoe sale. They want to keep it and develop it themselves. An agreement of that nature is basically telling the owner if you don't sell it to the tenants then we will sue you.

I believe the owner purposely let the tenants time expire to see if they would sue or not. If they did not sue then they would have closed the park under the conditions set forth by the city.

Now that the tenants sued him and the city he has 3+ years of proof that the has been taken by the tenants. This goes beyond the city ordinance. The lawsuit is going directly at U.S constitution! This is going to end badly for the city and the tenants. City will be out money to defend this and the residents are luck to get a small fraction of the current offer.

I think all the posts here reflect the fact that people can't comprehend that there is law beyond the city ordinance. Pacific legal foundation has a long history of going all the way to the Supreme Court. I am convinced they didn't take this case without doing some due diligence prior.


2 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 3:32 pm

[Post removed.]


40 people like this
Posted by not seeking money from City of PA
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 20, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Thankfully, it looks like the Jisser family is NOT seeking money from the City of Palo Alto other than to cover their attorneys' fees for the lawsuit. Hopefully the PA CC can resolve this asap to avoid exorbitant legal bills. From the filing: "The Jisser Family seeks: a) declaratory judgment allowing them to close their park free of the unconstitutional application of the City’s Mobilehome Conversion Ordinance; b) a permanent injunction forbidding enforcement of the City’s ordinance in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and California law; and c) an award of attorneys’ fees, costs, and other reasonable expenses in this action. Plaintiffs do not seek money damages."


2 people like this
Posted by pamom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2015 at 5:18 pm

i wonder why the Jissers don't give tenants a 90 day notice of rent increase? They can dramatically raise the rent and force out the tenants.


16 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 5:44 pm

@pamom: "i wonder why the Jissers don't give tenants a 90 day notice of rent increase? They can dramatically raise the rent and force out the tenants."

Rent control was implemented in 2001.


2 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2015 at 5:45 pm

As I recall the owner of BVP wants to petition the council to get the land rezoned from mobile home park to R1 or R2 to build on it. Good luck with getting the land rezoned after suing the city.


2 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

Jisser has given the residents a 90 day notice of rent increase. This increases his profits and lowers the rent differential he would have to pay. It would be nice if some management services were provided. All we have now is rent collection, no maintenance and no enforcement of regulations whatsoever.


1 person likes this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm

@jane

It IS RM-15 occupied at RM-26 equivalent.
Developer want RM-30 to 60
Where did you hear RM-1 ???

There is no such thing as RM-"Mobile Home Park"


Like this comment
Posted by pamom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2015 at 5:55 pm

To Gone on Too Long -
I don't think P.A. has rent control. Is there a specific law restricting rent increases just for MH Parks?


2 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 6:00 pm

@pamom "Is there a specific law restricting rent increases just for MH Parks?"

Just Buena Vista.
PA CC enacted it in 2001.


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

@pamom

See:
Palo Alto Mobile Home Park Conversion Ordinance No 4696, 2001
Section 9.76.120
The Park owner cannot charge annual rent increase greater than CPI plus 6%

according to Web Link
at Web Link

the owner has not regularly noticed annual rent increases and has never noticed a rent increase as high as that allowed under the ordinance, and .


51 people like this
Posted by pamom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2015 at 6:23 pm

i just read the 12 page ordinance that PA CC enacted. WOW - all those pages just to restrict one business. Just doesn't seem right that the dire need for affordable housing is thrust upon one business. if we really value affordable housing, this should be a public responsibility. I guess it's easier for people to be "compassionate" when the burden gets dumped on one family instead of all of us. Several people commented that the Jissers should have reacted when the ordinance was passed years ago. If it is unconstitutional, as plaintiffs allege, time will make no difference to their case. You don't lose your constitutional rights by sitting on them.


6 people like this
Posted by mark weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 9:09 pm

a couple more points: the ordinance predates the the current ownership group by more than a decade that is to say it does not target the J family rather they bought the property subject to the laws we the people in our wisdom and enacted. secondly if it weren't for these protections they likely would not have attracted these 100 or so tenants and likely would have gone out of business long before the opportunity to reach for this gold ring or constitute the type of fraud that they induce their tenants with this protection that they don't believe actually applies.


36 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 9:21 pm

@m.Weiss: " the ordinance predates the the current ownership group by more than a decade that is to say it does not target the J family rather they bought the property subject to the laws we the people in our wisdom and enacted. "

No. That's not correct.

1986: Jisser bought the Park with a partner
1999: The partner asked to be bought out, Jisser agreed and became sole owner
2001: The City Mobile Home Park Ordinance ordinance was enacted

ref: Web Link page 6


4 people like this
Posted by Ellen Gold
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Ellen Gold is a registered user.

We got the ordinance because he enacted a huge rent increase to pay for his buy out of his partner. The buy out was a settlement of the law suit of jisser by his partner for holding out Blockbusters full rent $.


4 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:01 pm

@Ellen "We got the ordinance because he enacted a huge rent increase to pay for his buy out"

So your saying, counter to M. Weiss, that the city's ordinance specifically targeted Jisser ?


8 people like this
Posted by Ben Lerner
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 21, 2015 at 12:02 am

Ben Lerner is a registered user.

To those of you who are very critical of the City Council over this, what would you have done differently? They are being sued by the residents for not requiring more compensation, and by the property owner for requiring him to pay any compensation. The City's right to require compensation comes from laws passed in Sacramento, which the property owner says violate the US Constitution. So what we really have here is a dispute between the Constitution and Sacramento, with Palo Alto caught in the crossfire.

If Jisser and the PLF prevail, it would be great if they took down the state laws mandating how much housing and BMR housing cities must build, which are at the root of why Palo Alto wants to preserve BV. But those laws are favored by a bipartisan crew of developers and construction unions, so that's unlikely.


5 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 5:49 am

@ B Lerner. Yes and no. The Jissers are not suing over the State required compensation - otherwise they would also need to sue California. The issue is the constitutional legality of the additional processes and compensation requirements imposed by the CPA ordinance and the subsequent PACC rulings.

The reasons why CPA and SCC wants to keep BV go beyond BMR and/or ABAG requirements. It is a political, emotional and socio-economical grandstanding platform. Liberal vs Conservative. Housing rights vs private property rights. Diversity world vs free market world. Guilt trippers vs Capitalism. Etc.


26 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 21, 2015 at 5:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The City Council should have realized that it was creating a conflict of interest when its ordinance reduced the value of the land and then the City itself elected to fund a buyer for the devalued property.


23 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2015 at 7:28 am

@Ben Lerner, PACC should not have interfered at all. It is a business transaction between two private parties. Let them sort it out through normal legal process. Lawyers of BV residents dragged PACC into this. PACC fell for the trap due to its liberal guilt. Now it is a huge mess. We the tax payers will suffer. And not much public good will be created after all is done.


9 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 8:05 am

My alternate theory is that the Jissers are trying to force a settlement that is lower than what their on the hook for at this time. Essentially a staring contest to see who will blink first. The BV residents are looking at a highly probable reduction in compensation if the Jissers win their suit. They are now facing an unanticipated risk...it maybe smarter to take a settlement now than be forced to take far less in the future.


24 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 8:34 am

@Lerner : "To those of you who are very critical of the City Council over this, what would you have done differently?"

I would have thrown out the Ordinance and invalid and impossible to comply. It is so poorly written that this situation was inevitable.

The key Ordinance para-phrase is
The Owner is responsible for REASONABLE costs needed to MITIGATE the IMPACT of the residents relocation to a COMPARABLE community. The Ordinance does not spell out any objective/quantifiable criteria or formula, so it is wide open to subjective interpretations of the words: reasonable, mitigate, impact, and comparable.

The CC (acting as a judicial body) spent most of the hearing time debating what their own Ordinances wording meant. At several points, they actually asked the opposing lawyers "If we interpret it this way, will you sue us?". The Jissers Lawyer told them that they were re-writing the ordinance, exceeding their role, and this would lead to a likely court challenge. They were warned.

The worst part was when the CC added Palo Alto schools to the comparability list ("Schools" do not appear in the comparabile community attribute list in the Ordinance). Since there are no other Trailer Parks in Palo Alto, there are no comparable communities.

I also agree that the CC having gone on record as a party to a purchase offer for the property, and then sitting in judgement with ability to increase the owners mitigation costs created an unacceptable conflict of interest.


Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 8:44 am

I wonder if the PLF has a say in whether the case will settle. I imagine they are used to situations where they are brought in to intimidate the opponent into a quick settlement, and that isn't what they are about. I don't know how many of their cases settle, but I would think they would have a protection against a quick settlement that doesn't prove their point.


4 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2015 at 9:15 am

@GoneOnTooLong, people don't call up Congress asking "Hey what do you guys mean when you say this word/sentence in this law?" Congress does not interpret the law. Its interpretation is the job of judges. The dispute of the meaning of the word "state" in Obamacare went all the way to Supreme Court, not to Congress.

Similarly PACC should never even bothered to interpret the Ordinance for disputing parties. It was set up years ago by a different group of people under certain circumstances. It should be up to the court and judges to interpret and decide.


Like this comment
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 9:41 am

@m2grs
Not sure if your agreeing or disagreeing with my hypothetical "what would I have done differently" response to @Lerner.

To your point (I think) though, is that the legislative branch (eg. COngress) writes the laws, and the Judicial branch (The courts) interpret it.

Well... PACC wrote (legislated) the Ordinance, and then PACC sat in judgement (in a Judiciary role) over the Owner's RIR compliance with that Ordinance. That was in fact their declared roles.

PACC wrote it. PACC Judged it.
It was therefore PACC's job to understand what they (PACC) wrote, and to see (interpret) that the PACC Ordinance was self contradictory and invalid.

my 2cents



2 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 10:00 am

I'm starting to suspect that most posters have not even read the Ordinance, and any of the City documents relating to this issue, and did not attend or watch the RIR hearings.

To be clear, the PACC sat as a Judiucial body to determine whether the Owners Relocation Impact Report (RIR- which details how the owner would execute the park closure) complied with the City's Mobile Home Park Closure Ordinance. The PACC wrote the Mobile Home Park Closure Ordinance as a legislative body in 2001.

The City's documents can be found here...Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2015 at 10:16 am

@ Fred,

No, the PLF is interested in a test case that sets a precedent, not a quick settlement.

I would imagine that by this time, Mr. Jisser himself wants to go all of way with the suit and will not push for a settlement.

I think he tried to agree to relocation fees and to be helpful to the residents, but finally decided that they were not interested in the settlement. He also saw that the Palo Alto government was completely against him at every turn.




24 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

@ GoneOnTooLong,

You are right about what the process was supposed to be. The PACC was SUPPOSED to act as a judicial body.

I did attend the meetings, and read all of the documents, and I felt the meetings had a carnival, political rally atmosphere. Council members all pledged their support to the residents, and never said anything the least bit positive about the owners.

It was one-sided in both tone and substance.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Barron Park

on Nov 21, 2015 at 10:55 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


4 people like this
Posted by SlumLord
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 11:21 am

The park has been run [portion removed] without facilities found in other area mobile home parks with the occupants fearful of complaining. For too long the state turned a blind eye (they are responsible for enforcing mobile home parks standards). The owners benefited from a no maintenance cash stream for a long time, fully aware of all ordinances they were operating under. As someone mentioned, it seems likely that all of there legal time limits to appeal have expired, the owners signed the councils final ruling. So their only out now is to find the state law and Palo Altos implementation of it unconstitutional under the U.S. Constututuon.

[Portion removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by Ironic
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Funny how a person in America who owns a property and announces to the world that he would like to close down his business three years ago, is still force to keep it open. [Portion removed.]

I get why the attorneys call this a "takings" lawsuit.

I have never heard of the pacific legal foundation but I must say I just donated money to them and will continue to do so.


19 people like this
Posted by James B
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 21, 2015 at 12:13 pm

I was at the council appeal meetings and was shocked with the atmosphere. The Jissers really had no support from the CC or the audience. Further the discussion among the CC was really geared toward how they could increase the mitigation assistants. As a practicing attorney I have been asked why Mr Jisser even went to these meetings. He really had no chance in that environment. The only answer is that they needed to get the CC to make their final decision. There would be no way for them to take this to federal court with exhausting their administrative remedies set by PA ordinance. This has probably been planned since the city rejected the impact report a half a dozen times. They most likely just offered the maximum allowed to get the final ok just to get this case in front of a new court. One were the law actually matters.


15 people like this
Posted by Unfair
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 21, 2015 at 12:28 pm

No surprise here. We have a city council with a clear conflict of interest, led by. A mayor with little clue about fairness ( who also happens to be a good friend of the head of FOBV). Add to that the biased and one sided coverage by the weekly and we are where wears now. The treatment of the jissers by the council has been shameful.


6 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

@GoneOnTooLong, the ordinance states that a Hearing Officer is to be assigned to approve the application for closure. Mr. Craig Larbadie, was assigned to do the work, and approved the closure plan. PACC tried to, I think probably illegally, pressure Mr. Larbadie to raise the cost to Mr. Jisser and he refused.

When BV residents appealed PACC could have just stick to what Mr. Larbadie approved and be done with it. BV residents can then choose whatever legal course they would like to take. PACC would not have put itself, and our tax dollars, into this mess.


15 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Since there has been a good deal of discussion of the city council's involvement, here are the URL's to the recordings of the two meetings held last spring.

In watching, remember that this is a judicial hearing to determine whether the findings of the administrative judge are in conformance with the ordinance, since the residents appealed those findings.

4/14 Special meeting
Web Link

You can jump to 3:20:00 for the comments of the city council members. Marc Berman goes first and he says that he intends to do everything he can to keep the residents in the park. This set the tone for the meeting.

The comments of the other council members follow. They appear to be competing to be the most supportive of the residents.


5/26 Final Meeting
Web Link

This was the final meeting. Note that the comments of the assessor and the city attorney appear to have brought a less aggressive approach but still expressing remorse for the situation.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@not seeking money from City of PA

"Thankfully, it looks like the Jisser family is NOT seeking money from the City of Palo Alto other than to cover their attorneys' fees for the lawsuit."

No, they would be happy if the City of Palo Alto, supposed bastion of old-line liberal values and pioneer in funding affordable housing projects through developer fees, conceded that its mobile home park ordinance was unconstitutional and abandoned it. That triumph would be a major notch on the gun of the property rights movement, dwarfing the Maybell referendum that finished off PAHC's low-income senior project two years ago.


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Since it looks like this may stretch out for a while, maybe several years, perhaps the current resident will actually get what their travel trailers/campers are currently worth which is the the value of the scrap metal minus the cost of clearing the junk from the property. They may even have to pay to move out.

The residents may have lost their opportunity for monetary windfall but the trade-off has be cheap rent for many years.


13 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2015 at 6:47 pm

It's interesting to note that the judge who struck down the San Fran Ordinance is judge Charles Breyer, the younger brother of Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, who is as we all know one of the most liberal judge on Supreme Court.

While we can't be certain judge Charles Breyer is also a liberal judge, raised in San Fran, received JD from Berkeley in the late sixties, and appointed by Bill Clinton, he certainly does not seem to be someone with a Republican ideology.

For judge Charles Breyer to strike down the San Fran Ordinance it just shows that such measures by local governments have gone too far. What PACC did is IMHO even further on left of the San Fran Ordinance. It's hard to see how this can survive the legal scrutiny.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 21, 2015 at 9:02 pm

"The reasons why CPA and SCC wants to keep BV go beyond BMR and/or ABAG requirements. It is a political, emotional and socio-economical grandstanding platform. Liberal vs Conservative. Housing rights vs private property rights. Diversity world vs free market world. Guilt trippers vs Capitalism. Etc."

Finally somebody got it right. What we have here is a simple clash of ideologies: Compassionism vs. Capitalism. IMHO the Compassionists way overreached on the schools thing and their own lawsuit but, balancing that, the latest lawsuit is little more than a vintage Libertarian whine. Any sensible judge would throw it out and advise Jisser to find a real lawyer.


4 people like this
Posted by George Drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 22, 2015 at 10:59 am

CRASH . . . Now there is no value to the trailers. Government has acted in a criminal fashion. You don't know how weird California is in regards to property rights unless go to other states. On Google and climbing: The end of rent control: The battle of the Buena Vista trailer park, the Waterloo of rent control in California. In order to get the crash firmly emplaced I am declaring the: Palo Alto Property Rights Initiative Rent control on mobile parks already is the number one lesson plan in basic economics. On the internet: the end of rent control. All students of economics are also initiators as well. It won't stop either. If there is one honest member of Palo Alto's city council he will be the official initiator of the Palo Alto Property Rights Initiative. And he will win future elections in the banana republic of California. Times are changing.

George Drysdale a social studies teacher


14 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 22, 2015 at 1:54 pm

@Greenacres wrote:

"The investment most people at BV made in their homes as a percentage of their income is substantial."

They made these investments on mobile homes sitting on rented spaces, with no guarantee the rented space would be available in perpetuity. It is like a business building a structure on leased land, not like renting an apartment and not like buying a home and the land on which is sits. If the lease ends, the tenant moves out and leaves behind any improvements they made to the property. That only applies to a mobile home if one chooses to leave it in place rather than relocating it.

"I think it's more incumbent on the wealthy property owner (who can clearly afford whatever legal advice he needs), who bought the park as an investment after it operated as a mobile home park for decades, to be responsible for the limitations of the investment vehicle he chose with eyes wide open."

Oh, so it is the old "bleed the rich" nonsense is it? Unfortunately, that also tends to morph into the "screw the bejeezus out of the middle class", who are often left to foot the bill. Perhaps it was incumbent on the BV residents to stick to the negotiated deal, and not respond with suspicion and mistrust.

"I think it is naive to suggest the residents blew any deal by filing the lawsuit."

I think it is naive to suggest otherwise. Caritas Corporation has a successful track record in running mobile home parks, and $39 million had been raised to fund the purchase of the property from Jisser. Passing on $39 million and getting evicted as a result is like taking a winning lottery ticket and shredding it in my opinion.

"Had they not filed, there is zero evidence that Jisser wouldn't have then used the residents' complete lack of recourse as leverage, and every reason to believe he would have."

And if they did file, the response was quite predictable and has come to pass. I have seen zero evidence that Jisser would have stuck it to the BV residents, and no reason to believe he would have done so. If you have concrete evidence to the contrary, please cite it.

"The residents of BV are human beings, residents of our city, which is another reason the city has an interest in being involved to help."

If the people of Palo Alto really cared about lower income residents, they would have built plenty of affordable housing. That the anti-growthers constantly attempt to stymie such efforts seems to indicate that Palo Altans on the whole couldn't care less. Telling the BV residents to move somewhere else, somewhere more affordable would be a likely and most unfortunate response.

It's not that I don't have sympathy for the BV residents. I just think they shot themselves in the foot, and that the best solution to the lack of affordable housing is to build more. Lots more. Poor people, which in Silicon Valley seems to be anyone making under 100K/year, deserve a place in the community, too. If the voters can't figure out how to deal with this, then perhaps the developers will.


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Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 22, 2015 at 2:24 pm

@Let's get this over with! wrote (with 129 likes):

"More power to the Jissers. City Council effed up. I am so tired of reading the sob stories of the BV residents. We owe them NOTHING."

@Barron park 25 years wrote:

"What a concept: property owners have rights! [Portion removed.] I'm liberal, but not on this one."

@Jerry Underdal wrote:

"No, they would be happy if the City of Palo Alto, supposed bastion of old-line liberal values..."

??


33 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 22, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Why is anyone entitled to live in Palo Alto? People routinely move out of rentals they can't afford. I moved out of SF because I could not afford the rents there. Wouldn't we all have loved getting a year of rent subsidy? What is so special about these people? They should find other rental space for their trailers. I can understand the Jissers owing a reasonable relocation expense, but neither they nor the city owe anything else. And what's with the city wanting to put up $14.5M to buy this land, just so the trailers can stay put there to benefit a select 150-200 families? Is that the best use of $14.5M? Can the city use that money to build affordable housing that can benefit a ton more families? This whole situation is just ridiculous. I wish the city of Palo Alto would be more careful with our hard earned tax money and not cavalierly pursue pet projects.


6 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 22, 2015 at 4:23 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


4 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Has anyone else noticed the disconnect between the overwhelming support by posters in this thread for booting the current residents of Buena Vista Mobile to the curb and the great measure of support within the community--judged by measures of popular will such as election results, votes taken within government bodies, endorsing organizations and the like--for the kinds of measures that the city has used for decades to support affordable housing?

When it came to the Maybell referendum over PAHC's affordable housing for low-income seniors, many people who voted No on Measure D, effectively killing the best chance the city has had in years to add critically needed affordable housing, still said that they support affordable housing if done right. It does seem to be a Palo Alto value to support the concept of affordable housing, even while being inconsistent, in my opinion, in its implementation.





14 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2015 at 10:10 pm

@Jerry Underdal, BV residents are not booted to the curb. They would have been properly compensated as approved by the hearing officer. What happened to Mr. Jisser is IMO the abuse by the Tyranny of the Majority. Fortunately the Founding Fathers have devised a framework to counter this phenomenon. Hopefully Mr. Jisser and PLF can prevail.


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Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 22, 2015 at 10:49 pm

"When it came to the Maybell referendum over PAHC's affordable housing for low-income seniors, many people who voted No on Measure D, effectively killing the best chance the city has had in years to add critically needed affordable housing, still said that they support affordable housing if done right. It does seem to be a Palo Alto value to support the concept of affordable housing, even while being inconsistent, in my opinion, in its implementation."

All is consistent, even (maybe especially) with the most ardent housing advocates. Like "housing near transit", "done right" is code for "done elsewhere, in somebody else's neighborhood".


8 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 23, 2015 at 9:22 am

The lesson of both Maybell and BV is very similar:

_____
Public housing projects should be funded by the broad-based public through tax dollars or private philanthropy, and not by forcing a tiny group of people to bear the costs and inconveniences.
_____


I remain in support of public housing. The city and county should use our tax dollars to pay for these things.


11 people like this
Posted by jack b
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 23, 2015 at 9:40 am

The city of Palo Alto really should have left this alone. Mobile home parks and permitted and licensed by the state. The state has its on laws in regards to the closing of mobile home parks. The state does allow city's to create their own ordinances to further protect mobile home parks, BUT..

But being the owner in 2000 wanted to close and the city knew then he was the ONLY mobile home park in Palo Alto. Passing such a poorly drafted version on one family owned park makes no sense at all.

That being said, just because the city made a mistake then and is making one now, does not mean they cant do the right thing now. That would be to admit they made a mistake, vote the ordinance off the books and instruct the owner to move forward under the State law.


16 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm

For eleven years in a row California has been regarded as the worse state to do business in. Palo Alto hugely differs from a rational mind set. In Washington state for instance the state buys the mobile homes when the owner wants to develop his park into a higher and better use. 5k for a single wide and 7.5k for a double wide. The owner is not a welfare office. Most all mobile home parks along the coast of California should have been developed out years ago. However, politicians declared this land to be "affordable housing" and fixed prices on the rents to make them "affordable." The financial wreckage is enormous. Rent control in general has a devastating effect on the production of apartment houses and has cost the state billions of dollars a year as well as flunking the politicians out of high school economics a required course in high school, let alone economics 101 in college. Mr. Jisser should be voted in as the citizen of the year in Palo Alto for defending property rights and fighting the soviet era land use policies of Simitian and the city council. On top of that the city council should have their high school diplomas revolked

Geroge Drysdale a social studies teacher


13 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 23, 2015 at 2:03 pm

"Has anyone else noticed the disconnect between the overwhelming support by posters in this thread for booting the current residents of Buena Vista Mobile to the curb and the great measure of support within the community--judged by measures of popular will such as election results, votes taken within government bodies, endorsing organizations and the like--for the kinds of measures that the city has used for decades to support affordable housing?"

It is the unholy marriage of Socialism and selfishness, compassion on other people's dime. It means people come up with brilliant ways to spend someone else's money on their pet projects. They can then claim to support humane causes and feel good about themselves. It is one of the reasons Palo Alto is so dysfunctional and conflicted.


22 people like this
Posted by BV residents to cc
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Letters from BV residents to the cc for the 4/15/15 meeting can be found here:
Web Link
All except that from Ellen Gold are handwritten and indicate a lack of familiarity with the legal issues at stake. They say that they don't want to leave BV because it is safe and affordable, their friends are there, schools are good and nearby, and healthcare is accessible. The focus of the CC meeting should have been on whether the compensation offered by the Jissers was or was not sufficient, not on whether or not BV should close, which had already been decided in the affirmative. Based on their letters (many of which were in Spanish) I would suggest that the majority of BV residents are being manipulated by outsiders who, in their crusade for "justice," will likely leave the current BV residents without the generous relocation package they could have had if they had accepted the Jisser's offer in spring. Perhaps residents will, one by one, accept the offer and move on.


7 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 23, 2015 at 4:24 pm

"It is the unholy marriage of Socialism and selfishness, compassion on other people's dime."

It's the ol' tax and spend thing again. They TAX you AND SPEND it for Those People. Nothing turns a guy into a conservative like compulsory compassion.


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 23, 2015 at 4:27 pm

"For eleven years in a row California has been regarded as the worse state to do business in."

Yeah. I guess that's why HP, Apple, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Tesla, SpaceX, Sand Hill Road, etc., etc., are in California.


7 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 23, 2015 at 5:52 pm

"It's the ol' tax and spend thing again. They TAX you AND SPEND it for Those People. Nothing turns a guy into a conservative like compulsory compassion."

Yet Palo Altans keep electing a PACC that does exactly that, all while bitching mightily about their performance. Suggest that the complainers start a recall or have a protest march, well then no... they can't be bothered.


8 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 23, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Not to take this thread off topic, but don't confuse a company's HQ location with its taxable income locations. It is no secret to anyone that these companies run a large portion of their income into off-shore locations to avoid huge federal and state tax liabilities.


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

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