If Santa Clara County can take possession of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto, the hopes and dreams of children at the aging tin, wood and asphalt community just might come true, they said.
Maybe, just maybe, they'll finally get that basketball court or a playground they have been dreaming of, instead of using a wooden enclosure in front of a doorway to shoot hoops, they said.
The makeshift basketball court, which is comprised of an unused handicapped parking space, was getting plenty of action on Wednesday afternoon by elementary and middle school children who live in the park of 117 units and 400 people.
The bathrooms and laundry building where they play their games is sometimes a scary place, Omar Cruz, 13, a Terman Middle School eighth grader, said.
"I hear people moaning in there sometimes," he said, adding that the place "is disgusting."
But news on Wednesday that the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County might take over the park through eminent domain, preventing the potential closure of the park and bringing possible property improvements, cheered the children, who said that the park's uncertain future has been stressful for them and their families.
If the Housing Authority takes the park from the Jisser family, who own Buena Vista, the county and city, which have already set aside about $29 million, would give the Jissers market value for the property, officials said at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
By early afternoon, the announcement by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt and Housing Authority Executive Director Katherine Haraszs was slowly making its way through Buena Vista, as notices of a formal meeting on Friday evening for the park residents fluttered in the afternoon breeze from fences and doors.
"My mom said we are going to make arrangements to make the house a bit bigger," Cruz said, noting there is no room to play indoors with his friends. Seven people occupy their home, which includes three people who rent space in it from his family to help make ends meet, he said.
Playmates Giovanni Lopez, 10; Kevin Ramirez, 12; Natathaly Livera, 9, and Andre Bracamontes, 10, all attend nearby Barron Park Elementary and Terman Middle schools. They said they would be sad if they had to leave the mobile-home park, their schools and their friends.
"I'm excited," Livera said. If they had to leave, she would be sad.
"We have nowhere else to go."
Bracamontes said he dreams of a small soccer field where the aging bathrooms and laundry now stand; others would like a playground, but perhaps that is dreaming for too much. There might not be enough space, they said.
But they also dream of continuing their education in Palo Alto, where the good schools would mean a better future, they said. Parents who were once youngsters playing on the mobile-home park's streets said the education at Barron Park and Terman their kids will receive is the greatest reason they want to stay.
Jenny Cruz and Dagoberto Garcia are young parents, and Cruz grew up in Buena Vista, having lived there for 14 years. She and Garcia heard the news about the possible county takeover around lunchtime. Cruz, who works at Mollie Stone's market, said the county takeover would be good for schoolchildren and families.
"The neighbors are good here. It's safe," she said.
As Garcia and Cruz wheeled a stroller holding their 2-year-old son, Dylan, through the neighborhood, they said that the past few years have been stressful as they have faced possible eviction by the owners, who want to close the park. If they are forced out, they could not live anywhere in the Bay Area because of high housing prices.
"It's been a nightmare," Cruz said.
Angelica Ruiz and Tomas Tejeta and their three children, ages 12, 10 and 6, have made the park their home for 12 years. Learning about the possible county ownership came as a surprise and welcome news, she said. Staying at Buena Vista, a place they said is safe, also means a better future for their children.
But she is hopeful that the long wait will finally conclude with this recent news. The stress is something that most people just don't understand, and it affects the entire Buena Vista community.
"You have to think about it all of the time. You think about it mostly every single day," she said.
The Weekly has compiled an archive of news coverage capturing the many voices of the people involved in the fight over Buena Vista.