News

Officials to announce 'breakthrough development' in quest to preserve Buena Vista

Supervisor Simitian, Palo Alto Mayor Burt prepare to discuss latest plan to save mobile-home park Wednesday morning

An effort by Santa Clara County and Palo Alto to save Buena Vista Mobile Home Park from closure could be approaching a key milestone.

County Supervisor Joe Simitian and Mayor Pat Burt are preparing to announce on Wednesday what they call a "breakthrough development" in the quest to keep the city's sole mobile-home park in place.

The county Board of Supervisors and the City Council had already committed $14.5 million each in county and city funds, respectively, to purchase Buena Vista from the Jisser family, which has been trying to close it since 2012.

So far, the family has been loathe to sell the 4.5-acre park. Last August, after several months of negotiations, the Jisser family declined an offer from the City and the County for the mobile-home park. At that time, the plan was to turn over the management of the mobile-home park to the nonprofit Caritas Corporation. The announcement from the family came just after the Buena Vista Residents Association filed a lawsuit against the City, alleging that officials should have done more to protect the mobile-home park from closure.

The City is also facing a suit from the Jisser family, which is contesting the relocation-assistance package that it is required to provide to Buena Vista's roughly 400 residents. This includes the first and last month's rent, moving costs and a year of rent subsidies that would cover the difference between rates at Buena Vista and at their new residences. The City Council approved the relocation package in May 2015, when it affirmed the Jisser family's right to shutter Buena Vista.

While a potential deal between the City, the County and the Jissers fell through, the Wednesday announcement suggests that public agencies are now eyeing a different strategy.

Simitian and Burt are preparing to announce "significant developments regarding the preservation of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park," the press release about the Wednesday event stated.

They will be joined at the Wednesday press conference by Katherine Harasz, executive director of the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara, a local government agency that administers the federal rental assistance program, develops affordable housing and provides services to low-income households. Also joining them at the 10:30 a.m. event at City Hall will be Erika Escalante, president of the Buena Vista Residents Association.

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

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Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by hopeful
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 14, 2016 at 10:43 pm

As long as the city of Palo Alto isn't on the hook for any more of the costs (including legal settlements) it's all good.


25 people like this
Posted by Hello
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 14, 2016 at 11:24 pm

WHy?


160 people like this
Posted by Why??
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2016 at 7:02 am

What an outrageous use of our taxpayer dollars. They are using our hard-earned money to keep this eyesore. The stupidity absolutely boggles the mind. Well Palo Alto voters, this is what you supported. Maybe you can make better choices next time.


18 people like this
Posted by Jane Degan
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 7:11 am

Hopefully joe and his gang don't use more of our money to save this place. The owner should turn down any offer, at this rate they will offer him more next year.


29 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:15 am

You just wait. The next step is to designate Buena Vista Park as a "historic" district. Given how we just cavalierly throw around the word "historic" when it comes to tract houses in Palo Alto, it would be our just desserts.


8 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:37 am

I think our city council would be better serving the community if they focused on the issue of foreign money over bidding all the houses for sale in Palo Alto then trying to save the decrepit trailer park.


34 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:39 am

"The county Board of Supervisors and the City Council had already committed $14.5 million each in county and city funds"

"the Buena Vista Residents Association filed a lawsuit against the City, alleging that officials should have done more to protect the mobile-home park from closure."

"The City is also facing a suit from the Jisser family"

Forget it, this fiasco is wasting the taxpayers' hard earned money. The Buena Vista residents had their chance, and then decided to do something incredibly stupid (filing a lawsuit). If they want to bite the hand that feeds them, then let them eat cake. Withdraw the city's 14.5 million offer and use the savings to fight the lawsuits tooth and nail. Buena Vista has become far more trouble than it is worth. It's bulldozer time for BV.
"


28 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:46 am

"I think our city council would be better serving the community if they focused on the issue of foreign money over bidding all the houses for sale in Palo Alto then trying to save the decrepit trailer park."

The "foreign money", aka the Chinese, are not overbidding at all. They are simply paying what they think the property is worth,boosting homeowners' net worth through the roof in the process. As an added bonus, they make good neighbors, a lot better than the whining, petulant fussbudgets they replace.


Like this comment
Posted by place your bets
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

What are the odds on Eminent Domain?


31 people like this
Posted by Logic
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:44 am

BV only houses a limited number of people. How many more low income residents in Santa Clara County could be helped by investing $30M in building a new facility elsewhere?

One of the original reasons cited for closing BV was the cost to upgrade the outdated infrastructure (sewer, water, electricity, etc.) as the facility is long past that point. These articles never discuss those details.


36 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:45 am

Here we go again, our elected officials continue wasting time and $ pursuing a matter which is simply a private contract between the landlord and tenants who have had a good deal for too long, and has created a sense of entitlement.

As far as I know, nobody is 'entitled' to live and go to school in Palo Alto. It depends on personal circumstances and market forces. People come and go, and we all eventually settle in a place that we can afford. If you cannot afford to live in this community, please don't expect your neighbors to subsidize you.

Easy for the politicians and city council to promote their welfare projects at the expense of others. However, I never see them putting their own $ or offering their own neighborhoods for these projects. Hypocritical and insulting to the intelligence of the neighborhoods affected by these projects.

Please remember this next time you vote.


70 people like this
Posted by jack
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 10:24 am

probably a "new" joint venture to raise more funds to waste on the mobile home park. Seriously $40 plus million to save 100 year old homes from renters without a lease. when the bay area has a real housing crisis?

Who is electing these people?

I agree the owner should reject all new offers and wait till next year and get more.


7 people like this
Posted by Di
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 15, 2016 at 10:44 am

[Post removed.]


28 people like this
Posted by longtime resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2016 at 10:51 am

This "eyesore" represents peoples homes. How would you like to be forced to move knowing that the chances of finding another place to live that is affordable is practically non- existent. How would you like to be faced with this long, drawn out situation, wondering when you might have to leave your home and wondering where you might end up -- where your children might be going to school sometime in the near future. Can you even imagine this scenario? So much thanks and gratefullness is due to Joe Simitian and all the others who are trying so hard to come up with a workable solution so no one will have to move and have their lives disrupted. Eyesore -- really!


38 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 15, 2016 at 10:59 am

I understand that people have their perspectives - but they're entitled to their opinions, not to their facts.

The fact is that the funds made available here are from funds not available for other purposes - they can only be used for affordable housing. In fact, the bulk of it is money that went back into the fund when the Maybell property was sold. It can't be used for anything else. Thus, there is no better use for the fund than for helping long-time low-income Palo Altans keep their homes.

Secondly, this is not just a renter/landlord situation. Most of the residents of BV are property owners, too. They may have mortgages on their structures. Some invested up to $50,000 to buy their mobile homes, a kingly amount for low-income people. They made investments in what was until the current building boom, a stable place to live for decades here. They have rights,too. Mobile Home Park law recognizes the unique vulnerabilities of people who live in mobile homes, because they aren't just simple tenants. There is an equivalent situation where Stanford rents the land on which the houses of its faculty sit - which they purchase (just the houses). Stanford may have rights to take back the land (they own the land on which Gunn HS sits, I believe), but there would be a fight given the structures sitting on them. Most people can understand that, yet keep talking over that fact when it comes to the low-income residents of Buena Vista. Shame on them.

Lastly, if the park is purchased, the residents will be eligible to apply for funds to improve it, they won't have to wait on a landlord who doesn't want to improve it. Having a cohesive community like Buena Vista here, with residents who care about Palo Alto and are glad to be here, reaps other benefits for our community, economic, civic, and personal. The City of Palo Alto buys homes for some of its highly paid employees - a former manager, I believe, still lives in one of them even though he no longer works for the City - also costing the City millions. But these are investments the City is making for its benefit. (Retaining the community of Buena Vista is, IMO, a far greater benefit than a retired City manager.)


16 people like this
Posted by longtime resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

Thank you Greenacres for your immensely valuable perspective and suggestions!


13 people like this
Posted by jack
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Unless the owner is serious when say "THE LAND IS NOT FOR SALE". What a joke and a waste of tax payers money. Everyone keeps on saying that the tenants own their own home.

First its not a home, its a trailer which is considered personal property not real estate.

Second, the owner is being forced to buy these "home", hence the waste of more tax payer dollars due to the on going law suits.


4 people like this
Posted by Catmom Leonorilda
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2016 at 1:15 pm

After reading the most "enlightened" of these comments, about the best I can say is that this country deserves nothing better than Donald Trump, who represents the utter perversion of decency and respect for all and caring about the fate of others.


Like this comment
Posted by hello
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 15, 2016 at 1:32 pm

I support building a big giant wall....


7 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Facts?

What's the ratio of low-income resident to investment ratio for these millions? BV is a low-density park. This money should be going towards a project with a bigger impact (i.e. more low income residential units) rather than maintaining a minimal stock of low income housing.

And BTW, if we take money *out* of this fund, where is the new money coming from? Even though there is a technical distinction that prevents other uses of this money, government agencies abhor a budget vacuum. New tax dollars will come in and fill that sucker up (from us suckers that let them do it).

"Secondly, this is not just a renter/landlord situation."

Yes this is. They may own a mortgage on their structure, but they are renting space. In fact, they're called mobile homes for a reason - they can be moved elsewhere.


12 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:22 pm

This is financially risky for the city and county. Eminent domain requires paying fair market value of the land's potential FUTURE use, not its present use. This plot of land is really valuable when redeveloped.

If the Jissers thought $29 million was fair market value, they would have taken the government's offer a long time ago. Undoubtedly, they've done an in-depth analysis about how much money redevelopment could bring. It has to be a lot more than $29 million for all the time and effort this whole ordeal has been.


10 people like this
Posted by Compassion
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:36 pm

I thank Joe Simitian and his strong support including allocating county funds to help with Palo Alto's low income housing alongside our already allocated funds. These folks have been part of our community for a long time and the City of Palo Alto has gone above and beyond to help these folks, regardless of the ultimate outcome, which is somewhat outside the city's control.

We have an affordable housing crisis. There are typically over 200 places for rent so plenty of supply. Unfortunately, its not cheap or affordable for many. For market rate units it's reasonable to expect folks to pay more for the same house in a more desirable location. However, to address the core problem we need to protect and expand the supply of affordable housing in Palo Alto.

I hope those affluent folks in our community have compassion for many other folks working in our community who may not be as as fortunate but nevertheless teach your kids, are nurses in your hospital, respond when you have a medical emergency, work in retail where you shop, etc... I know many Palo Altans do care about these folks.


168 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Wow... sorry I took a long nap on this subject, but now that I've been rousted from my slumber I feel a need to speak out...again.

And, I see many of the same online posters are back at it. Duh, well here I am, also.

I posted a lot, earlier, when this was the hot issue in town and consumed too much of CC's time. I'll try to be brief now. I am in a quandary...do we spend that money to save BV or could it be better spent and provide more housing for more of the very low and low income people in our community? I'd like to know and hear it from people qualified to answer my question, not the street, pedestrian experts, who think they have answers to everything, and on any and all subjects.

If saving BV is calculated in as our share of ABAG's required housing I might be in favor of it. If not, I'm not. And a side note...we should give ABAG the finger. Don't dictate at the state level what local municipalities should do, even in terms of housing. We know more about our towns, much more than the politicians in Sacramento will ever know, so let us take care of our business and local issues here.


1 person likes this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Wow... sorry I took a long nap on this subject, but now that I've been rousted from my slumber I feel a need to speak out...again.

And, I see many of the same online posters are back at it. Duh, well here I am, also.

I posted a lot, earlier, when this was the hot issue in town and consumed too much of CC's time. I'll try to be brief now. I am in a quandary...do we spend that money to save BV or could it be better spent and provide more housing for more of the very low and low income people in our community? I'd like to know and hear it from people qualified to answer my question, not the street, pedestrian experts, who think they have answers to everything, and on any and all subjects.

If saving BV is calculated in as our share of ABAG's required housing I might be in favor of it. If not, I'm not. And a side note...we should give ABAG the finger. Don't dictate at the state level what local municipalities should do, even in terms of housing. We know more about our towns, much more than the politicians in Sacramento will ever know, so let us take care of our business and local issues here.


39 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Greenacres wrote:
"There is an equivalent situation where Stanford rents the land on which the houses of its faculty sit - which they purchase (just the houses)."

I believe you have this backwards.

Stanford owns land in Menlo Park that has private homes homes on them; the parcels in "Stanford Hills" and "Stanford Creek" are leased to the homeowners. Those leases expire and when they do the homeowners (homes worth millions EACH) get nothing. NOTHING.

Source: Web Link

Source: Web Link

So, Greenacres is citing a good equivalent to the Buena Vista issue; unfortunately for Greenacres it undermines the case he/she is trying to make.

I fail to see why the Buena Vista residents should be treated as special snowflakes when there are plenty of other groups of people that face similar circumstances, but unlike Buena Vista they don't get special financial dispensation nor special treatment.


1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"The "foreign money", aka the Chinese, are not overbidding at all. They are simply paying what they think the property is worth,boosting homeowners' net worth through the roof in the process. As an added bonus, they make good neighbors, a lot better than the whining, petulant fussbudgets they replace."

Congratulations! When do you close escrow?


Like this comment
Posted by And?
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:30 pm

So what is the major announcement?


Like this comment
Posted by Link
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:34 pm

It's here:
Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:36 pm

The reality of the situation is that the Jissers should be able to do whatever they want with their property, unless it is not lawful.
The ridiculous over-spending of tax pay money (including in the form of time devoted to this by Palo Alto City Council and officials, Santa Clara County officials, etc.) is discouraging as it is excessive at this point.
I am all for open exploration of ideas, but at a certain point it's time to be fair to the property owner and accept reality. I sympathize with those living in the mobile homes, but change is all around us all the time and we all have to adjust. Cooking up costly schemes at taxpayer expense is the wrong approach, and I disagree with government officials who continue to pursue these schemes.


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

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