News

Editorial: Saving Buena Vista

With the county Housing Authority stepping up, preservation of Palo Alto mobile-home park now appears likely

Intense and persistent efforts over the last year by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian to put together a financial plan and political strategy that could save the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park and preserve 117 units of badly needed low-income housing in Palo Alto have finally paid off.

With Palo Alto and the county already having committed to contributing $14.5 million of their restricted housing funds toward the purchase of the park, the breakthrough came with the county Housing Authority agreeing to act as the lead agency and being prepared to provide the additional funding necessary to buy Buena Vista from the Jisser family. Equally important, the Housing Authority has the legal authority to acquire the land at fair market value through eminent domain proceedings should that become necessary, and as proposed, the Housing Authority will also indemnify Palo Alto and the county from any new legal challenges.

All three agencies -- the city of Palo Alto, the county Board of Supervisors and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara -- will consider the plan at meetings over the next 10 days.

With two separate lawsuits currently pending against the City of Palo Alto -- one brought in state court by the residents of Buena Vista and the other in federal court by the owners of the park -- protracted and expensive legal battles over the city's actions and conditions on the Jissers application to close the park and evict its residents could easily have gone on for years.

And while that would have put off the day of reckoning for the approximately 400 residents, it would have prolonged the anxiety, despair and uncertainty for all involved and forced the expenditure of large sums by the city, the Jissers and the law foundation supporting the Buena Vista residents in attorney fees and court costs.

In short, it was a lose-lose proposition regardless of who ultimately prevailed.

Instead, the announcement on Wednesday that the Housing Authority would join Palo Alto and the county and acquire Buena Vista completely shifts the legal and political dynamics, to the benefit of all parties.

The Housing Authority is an independent public agency that is responsible for creating and providing affordable housing within the county, primarily using federal housing funds. Governed by a seven-person board of commissioners appointed by the Board of Supervisors, the Housing Authority has the legal power to buy property at fair market value, as established either through negotiation with the owner or, if a value can't be agreed upon, by a court.

The law grants this power in order that government agencies have a mechanism to acquire land to achieve public purposes, in this case to preserve low-income housing. The process protects land owners by giving them the right to reject any offer and to make their argument about the value in front of a judge. The entire purpose is to ensure that the property owners are ultimately paid no less than what they would have been able to sell the property for on the open market.

While some object to this as a government "taking" of private property, it has a long history and is an important tool for achieving public benefits when a property owner declines to negotiate. (Eminent domain, for example, was used by the Housing Authority more than a decade ago in acquiring the land on which the Opportunity Center was developed.)

The genius of the city-county-housing authority partnership is that it solves several problems that were blocking a clear path to preserving this important low-income housing asset.

It caps the city and county financial investment in the purchase to the $14.5 million in dedicated housing funds they committed almost a year ago. It paves the way for a public agency to acquire the land rather than a nonprofit, which provides the legal ability to use eminent domain if necessary to buy the property. And it makes moot the lawsuits against the city, since they relate to the legality of the city's mobile-home park closure ordinance and the approximate $8 million the Jissers were obligated to pay to the current residents in relocation assistance.

With this new clarity, the Jissers can be assured of receiving fair market value, will not have to evict and make payments to the current residents and won't have to wait out a long legal process with the current law suits.

Simitian deserves accolades for herding many elected officials, forging unanimous support for the $30 million in funding already approved, keeping hope alive for its residents and respecting the owners and their needs.

We strongly urge the Palo Alto City Council, the Board of Supervisors and the Housing Authority commissioners to approve this plan.

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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Comments

29 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 17, 2016 at 8:03 am

Thank you to Simitian and to all those who worked so tirelessly on this. I hope there is a speedy anf fair resolution in the offing. If I were Jisser, I might consider being proactive in countering with a higher offer involving a write off of some of it, it ultimately ends up netting him tax relief and the most overall, or giving him some valuable density transfer rights to other projects.

Sometimes there really is a right thing to do. I'm sure we will hear from those who rail about this or that principle, but the reality of so many people's lives and the cohesive community they represent cannot be so easily dismissed. This isn't "just business" for so many people who will be unable to find longterm housing anywhere near their longtime communities or perhaps at all.

This is good news. I hope cooler heads are willing to go forward with as positive a win-win as can be found.


17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2016 at 8:53 am

How about the city of Palo Alto exchange one of their properties for the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, e.g. Gambles Garden, Cubberley, etc. Everybody Wins! City/County gets to keep 29 Million to upgrade Buena Vista Mobile Home park/use for more affordable housing, Jissers gets a property to keep in the family.

Or are our civic leaders only willing to support affordable housing on someone else's back? Time for everyone to put some skin in the game.


61 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 17, 2016 at 11:28 am

There is a flaw in the EI tactic. EI should be used for public benefit. It was used when they built the Opportunity Center for example. However, the difference is that the "public" benefitted from the construction of the center, not a specific set of private citizens - who happen to already own their units. The benefactors of this possible EI are specific set of individuals - the general public (low income in this particular case) will not be allowed to benefit. By default they are locked out of the opportunity since the plan will only benefit a specific/limited of set of pre-existing trailer owners. I sincere doubts whether this fly when brought to the courts...IMHO you can't use EI to benefit a specific set of individuals who happen to already own housing property via their "mobile homes".


57 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 17, 2016 at 11:35 am

Regardless of the merits of the controversy, it is time for Joe Simitian to ride off into the sunset. He has caused enough trouble around here to last a lifetime.


32 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2016 at 11:37 am

@Crescent Park Dad...I agree. It's typical Palo Alto to not think things through and wind up paying out more of our tax dollars defending lawsuits, etc.


20 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 17, 2016 at 11:44 am

Good grief. The benefit goes to the trailer owners who have been able to sell their trailers for many times their actual value. In Washington state mobile home parks are recognized as land to be developed. The state buys single wide for 5K and 7.5K for double wides. In oregon the land owner gives the mobile home owner 7.5K for a double wide and 5K for a single wide. The internet: The end of rent control the battle of Buena Vista Trailer Park the Waterloo of rent control in California. The land appraisal will come in too high for a purchase. George Drysdale a social science teacher


91 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

Using Eminent Domain is a terrible idea for this mess even if the EI language could be interpreted to cover it. The cost involved for such a small group of people - and I understand the problems it will cause for them if they have to leave - is just not commensurate with the problem, its an outrageous use of tax payers money. Having to pay them $8M to move is also an outrageous cost to force onto the Jisser's if they ever get approval to remove the people living there. Afterall, the tenants are renters not owners and its the Jissers's land.


68 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2016 at 1:56 pm

It is difficult to fathom the idea that editors at the Palo Alto Weekly actually endorse this appalling misuse of "eminent domain."

I can't think of a single reason for the city to fight so tenaciously to twist the arms of the Jissers and keep a park filled with dilapidated old trailers at this location.

Yes, I feel for most of the families who don't want to move. However, if the city feels strongly enough about it, it would be cheaper for them to use existing city land and turn it into a city-run or non-profit trailer park.


31 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2016 at 2:40 pm

I wonder how many new affordable apartments can be build on this land? And at what cost?
Surely, even if it will take more then 40 mil, it will be better then dilapidated trailer shacks with seriously outdated utilities.


51 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 17, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I wonder how many new affordable apartments can be build on this land?"

BV mobile home park is 4.5 acres.

If it were rezoned to RM-40 (high-density multi-family residential)it could accommodate over 360 units.

Would this not be a better "public purpose" use of this land than simply accommodating the current 110 mobile homes?

How would the neighbors feel about such rezoning?


69 people like this
Posted by hello
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 17, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Why do we need to save this?
Why does it need to be in PA?
Ridiculous


28 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 17, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"liberal guilt

Empathy for the poor or working class and shame or remorse for one’s own affluence."


Posted by John
a resident of Downtown North

on Jun 17, 2016 at 4:02 pm


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14 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 17, 2016 at 4:05 pm

"...the Jissers ... will not have to evict and make payments to the current residents..."

Nope. The Housing Authority will be doing the evictions instead. The irony, the irony.


22 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2016 at 4:21 pm

There is a big difference between being "legal" and being "morally right" or "ethical" as a method to force sale at below open market price because of the axe the government is hanging over the head of the owner . The eminent domain application here may or may not ultimately be "legal" but it is definitely unethical and scary for anyone who cares about their property rights. It fails to pass muster on two accounts (and I am not talking about technical legality, but rather right and wrong)... 1) public good (it benefits only a targeted sliver of the population, i.e. maybe ~ 400 current residents of the trailer park out of ~ 68k residents in Palo Alto, ~ 2 million residents in Santa Clara county, none of whom are having any finite probability of ever receiving a benefit... to be a public benefit they would need to give equal priority to anyone else on the housing waitlist through a lottery in Santa Clara county). 2) If you believe affordable housing "public benefit" outweighs property rights, there are still many alternative ways to spend the tax dollars without forcing this particular property taking. Eminent domain should only be allowed when it is reasonably concluded that it is the ONLY way to achieve the recognized public good.For something this questionable, the law really should prescribe a significant premium ABOVE fair market value (maybe +50%) to help keep the government in check.


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 17, 2016 at 4:35 pm

"How would the neighbors feel about such rezoning?"

Generally like you and your Atherton neighbors would feel about it if it happened in their town, but more accepting on the whole.


75 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 17, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Dan - Your position is certainly a sound one but legally the Housing Authority can use eminent domain to buy this property.

The problems with doing so include:

1 - They have to pay fair market value and they and the County and the City simply do not have sufficient funds to do that,

2 - If they bought it then they own it and the Housing Authority would become an instantaneous slum land lord responsible to over $10 million in repairs and improvements - again with money they do not have,

3 - To comply with the State law on trailer parks they would have to evict 10-20% of the current residents AND pay their relocation costs - again with money they do not have,

4 - Some of the residents would not qualify for low income housing and they too would have to be evicted and they would be eligible for relocation payments - again with money they do not have.

There has to be a more cost effective way to spend ~$80 million of public finds.


55 people like this
Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 17, 2016 at 4:39 pm

The editorial is a disgraceful attack on property rights.


22 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2016 at 5:41 pm

@ Nayeli....it's how the progressive liberal press rolls.


14 people like this
Posted by July
a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2016 at 7:53 pm

It might be cheaper to move Buena Vista to another open area within Palo Alto. It'll be better than fighting with the Jissers for their land. Only the lawyers will benefit. There are definitely many lots available especially around Stanford.


26 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 17, 2016 at 11:09 pm

Instead of spending millions in legal fees trying to establish a new eminent domain precedent, which may be for naught if courts side with the Jissers, it would be cheaper and serve more residents to eminent domain Stanford undeveloped land fronting El Camino.

The hardest thing to find in this area is undeveloped land located near major transit centers. Stanford has a ton of it near the Palo Alto transit center.

The county and city could eminent domain the land and build new housing for BV residents there. It would cost less money and there would be more certainty a project could get done.


6 people like this
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 18, 2016 at 2:58 am

This is just too little towards building affordable housing. What should be done is to use EI to expropriate Stanford land and then build TONS of affordable housing, TONS.

This is just a little bite. Need a feeding frenzy.


27 people like this
Posted by Cheap Land
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 18, 2016 at 8:28 am

Now that this is a County issue, why not use the money to buy cheap land elsewhere in the county?

Surely it makes no sense to spend limited resources to subsidize trailer lots in Palo Alto when nicer land (larger, not on a busy street, maybe near a park) is available anywhere else in the county.

The only reason this tragedy lumbers forward is liberal idealism; not pragmatism. The actual residents could actually have better land. But that doesn't match the liberal disdain for market based decisions. Sad.

It looks like Joe has to PROVE that he can waste money and get a worse outcome in pursuit of ideology. Why not start representing the county, Joe?


Posted by rip
a resident of Downtown North

on Jun 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm

rip is a registered user.


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5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2016 at 3:46 pm

"The only reason this tragedy lumbers forward is liberal idealism..."

That's what the local Tories said in 1776. But the liberal idealists had their way, and here we are flying the Star Spangled Banner of the USA instead of the Union Jack of England. I think that was a good thing. You may, of course, disagree.


16 people like this
Posted by Feel good blight
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 18, 2016 at 9:26 pm

Palo Altans can feel good about saving one run down mobile home park. Won't do much good - but as long as you feel good. Meanwhile, other renters are being priced out of the city and county by the thousands. But feel good, Palo Alto. You did your part for the less fortunate.


7 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Well, looks like the attempt by the city to get affordable housing built at Maybell didn't sink saving Buena Vista after all, as at least one poster has opined.

People who wanted both Maybell and Buena Vista to succeed as affordable housing sites in Barron Park didn't prevail on Maybell, for many reasons. But that didn't keep them from doing what they could to support the residents of Buena Vista against the folks posting here in great number who would be happy, for various reasons, to see them evicted with minimal compensation.

Thank you, Commissioner Simitian and others for finding a way for Palo Alto values to find expression in concrete action to help the current residents of Buena Vista and keep BV affordable for future Palo Altans as well.


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Jerry Underdal,
I do not understand your statement. The project at Maybell did not go forward, so we will never know how the lack of the funding available now to help at BV would have affected the outcome. [Portion removed.] Support for residents of BV to keep their homes is high among the same people who voted No on the referendum. I realize those views are not universal and that there are ideological divides, and I don't think anyone wants to see Jisser treated badly. But especially since JIsser's expressed desire was to just sell, it seems that as long as he is able to be compensated fairly, eminent domain is a way out - for both sides - of expensive and lengthy legal proceedings that could carry into a down cycle for the property value.


5 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 19, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Crescent Park Dad,

This arrangement, in which the public owns that land (rather than giving it to a nonprofit corporation) is a better outcome, because it's possible to keep the property affordable into the future. Yes, the residents will benefit from the standpoint that they will not lose their investments in their homes, and can sell them in the future. I think that's a public good, too - better for people to be independent and in some manner developing equity. They're not going to strike it rich from this deal; the alternative is being thrown over the economic abyss and almost inevitably creating public costs (with far less public good). The homes are never going to be luxury homes, the substandard nature of mobile homes will keep the housing affordable, and if that's not enough, the public owner of the property could almost certainly establish some kind of BMR contract. I think whatever option affords people the most dignity and autonomy is the best for them and our community.

If the county is buying and holding the land, it is an investment for the future, as the land is not likely to ever get any cheaper - the alternative of it being turned into private luxury condos, that's the end of any chance for affordable housing there.

Buena Vista is a fairly cohesive and friendly community - that in itself is a reason to care that it isn't just destroyed. Neighbors support each other in ways that public agencies never could if some percentage of residents are pushed over the edge economically. Palo Alto benefits from having some diversity.

More importantly, we have policies and funding mechanisms already in place to support affordable housing. Preventing displacement of existing Palo Alto residents, while ensuring the property remains affordable into the future, is in my opinion a far greater good for the money than any other purpose, better than focusing on buildings and building lottery spaces (that history has shown can even go empty or at least do little to nothing to prevent displacement of existing low-income Palo Alto residents when boom times come).


58 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2016 at 1:34 pm

The Behind the Headline Video only had the one side trying to save Buena Vista with not representation for the other side or viewpoints of this issue. The presentation suggested that everyone really whats to save the park which is not true. In fact it was implied there were just a few disenchanted people on the on-Line Forum who were not in favor of keeping the park.

This is not the impression I get from either reading the Forum nor in talking with most of my neighbors who seem to be playing the role of the silent majority.

The video never addressed how the current over densification was to be addressed without changing zoning nor how many families would be allowed to remain. Also the selection process on who has to move to meet zoning regulations was never addressed.

There are many of us who do not want the RV/trailer camp to remain and to close the run-down area without putting more tax money into this area.


49 people like this
Posted by How do,you spell bias?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Resident--do not be surprised that the video is one sided. Since day 1 of this story the coverage by the weekly, editorials, "news" stories and videos have been biased and on sided. The weekly, along with FOBV and the council have made it sound that there is u Iverson agreement on the need to save BV. They have also,painted Jisser as an evil, greedy landlord. In fact Jisser has kept rents low and has been prevented from closing this park for over a decade. Jisser has been treated shabbily by the weekly, FOBV and the council and Joe simitian.
But I am not surprised by thi. IMHO the weekly has never presented unbiased coverage on stories-- it is all about their agenda and financial rewards


5 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm

"The editorial is a disgraceful attack on property rights."

If it as Embarcadero Media's property that was threatened [portion removed], I'll bet the editorial would have a very different take on property rights.

"If it were rezoned to RM-40 (high-density multi-family residential)it could accommodate over 360 units."

Then that is precisely what should be done. If the city and county politicians really do care about affordable housing, then this is the course of action they would propose. So how do they benefit by instead supporting a far less effective and problematic solution?

"That's what the local Tories said in 1776. But the liberal idealists had their way, and here we are flying the Star Spangled Banner of the USA instead of the Union Jack of England."

Those Liberal idealists also opposed property seizures by the British.


7 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 2:25 pm

"But I am not surprised by thi. IMHO the weekly has never presented unbiased coverage on stories-- it is all about their agenda and financial rewards"

Is there a known connection between the Palo Alto Weekly, or its parent company, and certain local politicians and special interest groups? If so then which ones and how are these relationships monetized?


15 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Public benefit?

Unless those residents actually work in Palo Alto, there's no public benefit. In fact, it's a public loss with the loss of property taxes and the transfer tax that would have come from the Jissers selling to another private owner. How else are we going to continue to subsidize the old long-time residents of Palo Alto who pay near nothing in property tax thanks to Prop 13?


1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 5:26 pm

This grousing about tax expenditures is one more reprise of the Reagan era "tax and spend liberals" dogwhistle. Stated honestly but delicately, it's "TAX us AND SPEND on Those People liberals."

"Liberal" is commonly understood code for a two word phrase from the Jim Crow era, but later for that.


45 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2016 at 9:06 pm

The definition of a "liberal" today is a far-cry from how you would describe "liberals" of yesteryear.

The old "liberals" used to fight for liberty and freedom equally applied but constrained by the federal Constitutional and state or local laws implemented by the consent of the majority of the governed.

Today's "liberals" are largely motivated by radical socioeconomic activism on behalf of various (often small) special interest groups and often forced upon the majority of society irregardless of whether or not they believe in it.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Resident, a resident of Barron Park

"The presentation suggested that everyone really whats to save the park which is not true. In fact it was implied there were just a few disenchanted people on the on-Line Forum who were not in favor of keeping the park. . . .
This is not the impression I get from either reading the Forum nor in talking with most of my neighbors who seem to be playing the role of the silent majority."

That's the question, isn't it, whether the constant online complaints about the Buena Vista rescue, many of them identified as "a resident of Barron Park," represent Barron Park opinions on the matter better than the votes their city representatives have taken over the same period. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe both the pre- and post-2014 city councils voted unanimously in support of retaining BV as a mobile home park.

There will be a public hearing on the Memorandum of Understanding at the June 27th council meeting. You should share your ideas with the council for the record and break what you consider to be the silence of the "silent majority." Perhaps you've already submitted a letter to the council, but you might try that as well if you haven't.


7 people like this
Posted by Sammy
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 20, 2016 at 7:10 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 20, 2016 at 12:02 pm

"Today's "liberals" are largely motivated by radical socioeconomic activism on behalf of various (often small) special interest groups and often forced upon the majority of society irregardless of whether or not they believe in it."

Yup, very often special interest groups with dark skins. Not a ticket to popularity with the dwindling old American majority.

We heard that quote used against "those meddling liberal yankees" a half century ago. It's resurfacing.

Look, one does not need to win over one's detractors. One only needs to outlive them.


12 people like this
Posted by Ben Rumson
a resident of University South
on Jun 20, 2016 at 1:23 pm

@Curmudgeon
I'm not understanding your point here.

The support for Buena Vista is primarily due to Palo Alto believing they are supporting the minority community. The FOBV literature and advocacy for saving Buena Vista, for example, is 98.6% descriptions and images of the Hispanic community and phots of Hispanic families with wonderfully beautiful and cute children.

There are plenty of Caucasian residents in that park too, but they are not put front and center in the battle for hearts and minds. I doubt there would be much support for saving the park if it was an all Caucasian community. Are you suggesting otherwise?


83 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2016 at 1:25 pm

@ Curmudgeon - As someone with "dark skin" and a very thick accent, I don't think that you are in a better position to understand what is best for someone like me. Moreover, any comparison with "liberals" a half-century ago and "liberals" today is like comparing a bottle of fine wine with a pouch of Capri-Sun.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 20, 2016 at 3:54 pm

"@Curmudge on: ... The support for Buena Vista is primarily due to Palo Alto believing they are supporting the minority community."

Agreed. And the opposition comes from the customary crowd, which I am gleefully engaging here. Please know that my reservations about the deal concern the adequacy of, or even the existence of, the plan for BV after the deed is signed. It is not evident that anybody has thought this project through.


"@ Curmudgeon - As someone with "dark skin" and a very thick accent, ..."

We've discussed your web identity before. Updated advice from an old online buddy: you are relatively safe in liberal-majority enclaves like San Francisco and Palo Alto. Do not stray far from them if Trump gets elected, and stay out of the sun as much as possible just in case. Remember how reluctant Trump was to (well, kinda, sorta) disavow his endorsement from the KKK.


Like this comment
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:09 am

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


24 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2016 at 10:30 am

Curmudgeon, maybe I'm being dense (wouldn't be the first time), but what point are you trying to make? Palo Alto is a majority Democratic and self-proclaimed liberal leaning crowd. I also find that to be hypocritical given how conservative-minded this crowd is.

That being said, it is absolutely appropriate for people to have views on how their tax money is spent, whether it's for VTA or for low income housing, and the downstream unintended consequences from this effort. What does "brown skin" have anything to do with it?

Or is everything about race for you?


19 people like this
Posted by pickpocket
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2016 at 11:40 am

Here's what I predict:

City Council will approve the plan and congratulate themselves for addressing low-income housing for only $14.5 M in City costs.

Jissers will demand and get full market value for property more like $45 M, and City will be on the hook for balance.

City will suddeenly realize the mobile home park is not up to code. Then conclude they can do more 'good' by erecting high density housing on the site. City will pay for all BV residents to live in hotels for 2 years of construction. City will waive all zoning laws so sheer 6 story walls rise up from the edge of sidewalk. Some chummy-with-Council developer will get a sweetheart deal for construction. City will demand public art and PV panels...Developer will happily add these and bill highly-marked-up costs to City. City will have a grandiose ribbon cutting and pat themselves on the back.

Then the low-income residents will move into the BMR units, at which point they will quietly sublet them at market rate to any family (perhaps new arrivees from China) desperate to get into PA school district.

End of the day: a fiasco of epic costs and little to no lessening of the "PA affordable housing crisis."


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:18 pm

"Or is everything about race for you?"

I have recentky realized what a powerful social/political race is, especially when prompted by skin color. Have you ever pondered what US politics would be like absent the white reaction to dark skinned citizens? I have.

Modern US conservatism is founded on white pushback against welfare for dark skinned people. Hence the venom against those liberals who "conservatives" tout as its proponents. "They TAX us AND SPEND on Them, you know." The modern Republican party would not exist without that perception, which it has carefully nurtured since adopting its Southern Strategy following the sixties Civil Rights legislation.

I think the USA would be a much more liberal, prosperous society, much like northern Europe nations, had the slave trade not occurred. White bigotry has hurt the nation. We should not ignore that elephant in the room.

Locally, I am challenging the motives of the objectors to the BV deal to examine their motivation. And anyone else, for that matter.


17 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:24 pm

If the supporters wanted that bad to save BV then they need to articulate how we are going to pay for this in the long haul. This is getting ridiculous by the minute


62 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:32 pm

@ Curmudgeon - Your assessment of modern US conservatism is so incorrect that I don't even know where to begin! The fact that you think that it is based upon race is so incredibly strange. I've heard this sort of rhetoric in talking points before, but I didn't think that anyone actually believed it.

As a Conservative and one of those "dark skinned" people that you talk about, all that I can say is that you're egregiously wrong in your generalizations, stereotypes and underlying assessment. Like most Conservatives, I abhor racism. Moreover, I have never felt like I was looked down upon by other Conservatives.

Slavery was evil. It is a terrible part of human history that existed on every continent (well, other than Antarctica of course). I was watching Genealogy Roadshow last night on PBS. In it, a young African American woman who thought that she might have had some Cherokee blood in her lineage discovered that her ancestors were actually slaves of the Cherokee. So, yes, even Native Americans owned slaves -- and this even includes the enslavement of other Native Americans.

Sadly, I think that the elephant in the room should have been laid to rest long ago. Unfortunately, I think that some people tend to make a public spectacle of a dead elephant by implying that anything and everything is motivated by racism -- including the closure of a dilapidated trailer park in Palo Alto.


11 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


46 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2016 at 12:59 pm

"The modern Republican party would not exist without that perception, which it has carefully nurtured since adopting its Southern Strategy following the sixties Civil Rights legislation."

Ah, the narrative du jour. I always like to remind people that the Democrats were the party of the South from Reconstruction through the late 70s - and even later (e.g., first Republican governor of Mississippi since reconstruction was 1992). The pushback for the Civil Rights legislation were mainly Democrats!

Imagine that.

It's always dangerous to paint groups such a broad brush. Both parties consist of a variety of viewpoints, and it's lazy thinking that tries to bucket large groups that way. But if I were to take that tact for the "modern Democratic Party" - it would be easy to say that they are full of limo liberals that pretend to care about minorities more than they do.

You're criticizing Palo Altans for being anti-BV based on race. Well, the majority of Palo Alto votes Democrat, so maybe you need to revisit your categories.


1 person likes this
Posted by pickpocket
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2016 at 1:30 pm

@GoneOnTooLong -- exactly my point: There are many examples of City Council eagerly pushing new RM-30 designations&developments adjacent to R-1 neighborhoods. I expect BV to follow the same path.


2 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm

"The pushback for the Civil Rights legislation were mainly Democrats!"

Yes, like Strom Thurmond and other Dixiecrats turned ArchRepublican after losing their war against LB Johnson's (D-TX) Civil Rights legislation. Take careful note of the past tense in your statement. The parties have totally flipped since 1964.

As we all know, when Johnson forecast that his civil rights initiatives would lose the South for the Democrats for a generation, he understated both the geography and the duration. Nixon and Reagan gleefully welcomed those Dixiecoats to the former Party of Lincoln, which became the Party of Reagan, and now the Party of Trump.


"You're criticizing Palo Altans for being anti-BV based on race."

Only those who merit it. They know who they are. And it's not only Palo Altans posting here. Be honest, people. You cannot fix what you will not acknowledge.


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Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2016 at 2:01 pm

@ Curmudgeon - Your assessment of modern US conservatism is so incorrect that I don't even know where to begin! The fact that you think that it is based upon race is so incredibly strange."

I'm only reporting what is plainly obvious to the most casual observer.


"As a Conservative and one of those "dark skinned" people that you talk about, all that I can say is that you're egregiously wrong in your generalizations, stereotypes and underlying assessment."

You should be very careful and keep your eyes wide open. Did you know that the German Jewish National Union supported Adolf Hitler in the 1933 elections? No? Thought not. Read Tolman.


130 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Curmudgeon, I don't know if you have the inside information on whether people's anti-BV viewpoint is driven from racism or not, but to paint someone as racist seems to be a way of not debating the issues directly.

So, because I'm anti-eminent domain for BV, are you actually accusing me of racism?

Because that's what I'm seeing. Since you're using the race card, would you mind sharing yours? Would be interested in really finding out who's closer to being an immigrant.


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Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2016 at 3:45 pm

"So, because I'm anti-eminent domain for BV, are you actually accusing me of racism?"

Not you, nor any specific person. But just because some closeted malefactors may fear being outed (Mr. Trump is changing that fear to pride, BTW) is not a valid reason to ignore the possibility. None of us can say definitively that it does not exist, so let's face it down. OK?


"Because that's what I'm seeing. Since you're using the race card, would you mind sharing yours?"

Trying the 'ol card card, huh?


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 21, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


32 people like this
Posted by Martin
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2016 at 4:54 pm

It should be the case that calling someone "racist" was about the worst thing you could say about a person. Accordingly, someone accusing another of racism ought to have pretty hard and definite evidence as the basis for such accusations.

But it seems that some people on this thread use racist as a synonym for someone they disagree with. "They know who they are.", "closeted malefactors", and allusions to Hitler and Jews are ugly insinuations that lack the specificity necessary to have an open discussion about them.

Curmudgeon says that "None of us can say definitively that it [racism] does not exist, so let's face it down. OK?" This gets it exactly backwards. If you're accusing someone of racism, you better have something definite as proof. Asking the accused to prove a negative is the essence of McCarthysim - something I thought we on the left all decried.

Throwing the racist charge around so casually devalues and diminishes its sting and content. That charge should be reserved for definite and open racist conduct - not something we "can't say definitely doesn't exist."


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 21, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm

"If you're accusing someone of racism, you better have something definite as proof."

I have never accused anyone of "racism," which is also a word I never use. You need to read what I actually wrote instead of rereading the misreadings of others.

"Asking the accused to prove a negative is the essence of McCarthysim - something I thought we on the left all decried."

See the above re reading. Also, an objective damage assessment on "Tail Gunner Joe" indicates he was working for the Soviets, so reconsider him as you prefer. But that's straying from the topic.

Agreed, Peter.


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Posted by Cleo's mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2016 at 11:12 pm

I have lived in the Buenavista mobile home park for the past 15 years We are every day people who work in the community as handyman deli worker's teachers etc. we just want to stay as productive members of the community as we have been doing the money that's been allocated to us from the city and the county is not tax money it is housing money that's already allocated as housing money the money from Palo Alto is being used by the Stanford fun for housing the money from the County is also housing money there was no tax money being used Eminent domain is a last resort. This would be a win win situation the owner gets fair market value for his Park land and we get to stay as productiveF83se members of society as we have been in the past


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