News


Palo Alto, Housing Authority back plan to save Buena Vista

Votes by the City Council and the Housing Authority directors secure new partnership for buying mobile-home park

An effort to save Palo Alto's only mobile-home park from redevelopment took a critical step forward Monday night, when the City Council unanimously agreed to join a partnership that would make the purchase and preservation of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park possible.

By a 9-0 vote that prompted cheers and applause from more than 100 residents of Buena Vista and dozens of their supporters, the council approved an agreement with Santa Clara County and the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County that would allow the three agencies to purchase the mobile-home park from the Jisser family. Under the partnership, the county and the city would each contribute $14.5 million for the purchase, with the Housing Authority paying the balance and investing at least $10 million for infrastructure repairs.

The council's vote comes less than a week after the county's Board of Supervisors similarly threw its unanimous support for the preservation effort, which is being spearheaded by Supervisor Joe Simitian. And on Tuesday, the Housing Authority completed the trifecta of unanimous votes when its own board of commissioners supported the new agreement.

The council's vote on Monday was, in many ways, a foregone conclusion. The city has already committed affordable-housing funds for the preservation effort and every council member has indicated in prior meetings his or her support for retaining the mobile-home park. Even so, more than 150 people attended the council meeting to show their support for the council's action. Most wore yellow stickers with the words, "Keep B.V. residents in P.A.," and almost all rose to their feet to applaud after the vote was cast.

Erika Escalante, president of the Buena Vista Residents Association, told the council Monday that the past four years have been "very difficult of all of us, emotionally."

"It's been quite a journey to simply remain in our homes," Escalante said.

Councilwoman Karen Holman, who made the motion to support the partnership, called it "an example of what hope, intention and action can create."

She also lauded the park's roughly 400 low-income residents for the way they handled themselves since the fall of 2012, when the Jisser family announced its plan to close Buena Vista.

In May 2015, the effort hit a milestone when the council approved the Jissers' closure application, which includes a Relocation Impact Report that lays out the assistance that the residents would get once they are displaced.

The vote brought little closure to the process, however, with both the Jisser family and the Buena Vista Residents Association filing lawsuits against the city (the Jissers' suit was dismissed in a federal court last Friday; the family's attorney, the Pacific Law Foundation, filed an appeal Monday).

In addition, a prior effort by the county and the city to purchase Buena Vista from the Jisser family collapsed last June after the family decided to halt negotiations.

Now, the city and the county hope that bringing in the Housing Authority will change the equation. In addition to the extra funding that the Housing Authority would be able to provide, it would also be able to exercise the power of eminent domain to compel the sale.

Councilman Tom DuBois, who joined his colleagues in supporting the partnership, said he hopes this power would not need to be used. He called the partnership a win-win-win proposition, with the public agencies preserving much needed affordable housing, the residents keeping their homes and the Jisser family getting full-market value for their property, without having to pay the roughly $8 million in relocation assistance to the residents.

Though the Jisser family was not in attendance, DuBois publicly asked them "to be open to a full-market offer and a resolution to this process."

So far, the family has shown little willingness to entertain an offer from the city. Shortly after the proposed partnership was announced, the Jisser family's attorney, Larry Salzman, denounced it as "outrageous" and stressed the fact that the family wants to keep the property.

Throughout the proceedings, the Pacific Legal Foundation has argued that the city's action constitutes as taking of private property. While the federal judge last week tossed out its lawsuit against Palo Alto, claiming its "not ripe for adjudication," Salzman indicated Monday that the ruling will be appealed.

Salzman said in a statement that the court "misapplied the rule that applies only to cases seeking money damages against the government for a taking of private property." In this case, Salzman said, the family is not seeking money. It is asking the federal court "to stop the city's unconstitutional shakedown before the harm is done."

"Federal courthouse doors must remain open to people who have had their property rights violated, just like they are open to every other class of federal civil-rights plaintiffs," Salzman said.

The council, in its comments Monday, focused on the plight of the Buena Vista residents and the new hope that their partnership with the county and the Housing Authority brings to the preservation effort.

Mayor Pat Burt praised the effort to buy and save Buena Vista as consistent with Palo Alto's values and, in a broader sense, American values.

"We believe, as you do, that equal opportunities for our children to have the best chance in life to fulfill their potential through our education system and our community are really values that we hold together as a community," Burt told the gathered crowd. "I want to say that you helped us live up to our values and we hope we will help you live up to yours."

While the council hailed the partnership as a welcome development, Councilman Cory Wolbach warned that the move is just a small step toward addressing Palo Alto's shortage of affordable housing, a problem that has become increasingly urgent in recent years.

"The housing crisis that is destroying our community and our region and harming our national economy is bigger than this," Wolbach said. "We cannot take this action and consider our work complete. This is but a small step forward toward addressing one of our most existential crises."

Councilman Marc Berman concurred and challenged the packed crowd to remain involved in the city's efforts to boost its housing stock.

"Don't stop being an activist," Berman said. "Don't stop coming to council meetings. Don't stop supporting affordable housing. Don't stop supporting housing, because it will take housing of all costs to maintain the amazing community we have, and the amazing region we have in the Bay Area."

The council's vote left the Housing Authority as the last agency that had to approve the memorandum of understanding before the partnership could become a reality. The agency did just that Tuesday, thus authorizing its staff to perform a feasibility study and then potentially make an offer that the Jisser family may not have the option of refusing.

Once the agency buys the park, Buena Vista would be improved and maintained by a nonprofit entity, according to the terms of the agreement.

Katherine Harasz, executive director of the Housing Authority, said in a statement that the agency is "excited to join the effort" to preserve Buena Vista, which she called "a unique source of affordable housing in an area where there are few opportunities for affordable housing."

"Once we have an appraisal and have finished due diligence, the Housing Authority Board will consider acquisition of the Park in an effort to keep these 400 families in their homes, including negotiation and, if necessary, eminent domain," Harasz said.

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.

Comments

58 people like this
Posted by Nadel
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm

This is the lowest our city council has reached. First with their own words they agreed that the city has an affordable housing crisis. This has been the crutch argument that PLF has used in the owners case. And further they are saying that to resolve the issue we are going to take the land for the Jisser family (at fair market value) knowing that the owner does not want to sell.

What is stopping city officials from using the eminent domain threat on any residential land owner in Palo Alto.?

I hope that the owner fights this, I believe this is abuse of power and it will ultimately impact all of us


16 people like this
Posted by Summer sale
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 27, 2016 at 10:15 pm

This will become an argument of fair market value. I hope the numbers become public. Joe Simitian and his posse will show their true colors when they offer the ower the "fair market value".


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Charleston Gardens

on Jun 27, 2016 at 10:38 pm

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


8 people like this
Posted by Who's lying?
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2016 at 10:40 pm

They keep sending Erika head of the association and she repeats the same words. "Very difficult and hard on all of us"

Someone needs to stop lying to the poor tenants. If the owner doesn't agree with the "fair market value" this will take years to litigate.

First the use of eminent domain will have to be argued. This is the most difficult argument the city will have. Most attorneys will agree it will never go beyond this point. And if by small chance they win this argument then the value will be argued. This process will and can take years.

So my question is which city official is telling these tenants that this story is almost over? And who is telling them the chances of prevailing


17 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 27, 2016 at 11:17 pm

"This process will and can take years."

What PA process doesn't? Meantime, the tenants get a stay of eviction.


2 people like this
Posted by Who's lying?
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2016 at 7:42 am

@curmudgeon. I understand they can stay as this is being litigated.

My previous point is that this process and the uncertain outcome has been hard in the tenants. The city's recent actions doesn't help the problem.

If the owner and city diagree on the offer then the issue and the idea that the tenants are living in fear will
Continue


60 people like this
Posted by Senseless
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2016 at 8:24 am

If the city council really wanted to address the issue of affordable housing, they could acquire the land and construct high density housing that could accommodate a lot more than the trailer park. The fact that a trailer park is going to be preserved / upgraded / maintained just for the benefit of the current residents is not just wrong but smells of a giveaway. Isnt it wrong to take away property from one party to benefit another - with no public good? Converting this to a high density BMR housing complex might meet the definition of public good. As of now it feels more like theft to benefit a few.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton

on Jun 28, 2016 at 10:48 am

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35 people like this
Posted by Very useful information
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2016 at 11:02 am

Thanks Peter:

"Redwood City has a low income housing project under development that will create 20 homes on a 5.015 sq ft parcel.

BV has 4.5 acres which is 196,020 sq ft.

At the same density being used in Redwood City the BV site would accommodate 780 homes.'

Not sure why everybody can't see his posting.


34 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 28, 2016 at 11:36 am

With an estimated cost of $40M to $50M to help about 100 families, about $400,000 to $500,000 of taxes/fees is being spent to help each of these families. It is hard to see that this the best way to help the most people with the available money. It seems like "spend it while you can" is flourishing in government.

For 30 years I've heard various people/groups talk about how costs are forcing them out of Palo Alto and who claim they should be entitled to stay. Buena Vista residents seem to have won the lotto. I don't see how this could be considered a sustainable model promoting diversity.

For housing to be more affordable it has to be less desirable. So is the best way for promoting diversity to give a lotto prize to about 100 families or should it be to create a government run "slum"? If Buena Vista residents say their living standards are substandard five years from now should tax dollars upgrade their standards to "middle class" after spending tax dollars to prevent the property owner from turning his property into middle class (by local standards) housing?


16 people like this
Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 28, 2016 at 11:48 am

Be Positive is a registered user.

Mountain View recently approved a 67 unit, affordable housing complex on about 1/2 an acre for a cost of $28 million. Using that same zoning, we could build 603 units at BV.


15 people like this
Posted by just a thought
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2016 at 12:09 pm

being that many readers in Palo Alto see this as poorly spent "fees" one has to really consider why the elected officials are still pushing their agenda forward. Including abuse of power.

1. Either they really do not understand how to resolve the affordable housing crisis or 2. they are driven by the votes and not common sense.

One must ask with all due respect, but would they be this aggressive if Buena Vista was not predominately Hispanic community. After all, California is a tough state to win without the Hispanic vote.


18 people like this
Posted by winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2016 at 12:15 pm

A good thing happened last night - not only good for residents of Buena Vista and its affordable housing, but good for the owner and our town. What would be have been a wound and embarrassment in Palo Alto's history will instead be noted as a time when we stood by each other, refusing to make 400 of us expendable.

The city council approved a doable plan which allows a way forward for everyone including the owners who will walk away with a good deal at market value allowing their family a very comfortable financial future that few on this earth can only dream of.

Well done Palo Alto.


10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 28, 2016 at 12:17 pm

"One must ask with all due respect, but would they be this aggressive if Buena Vista was not predominately Hispanic community."

Conversely, one must ask with all due respect, would the BV opposition be this aggressive if Buena Vista was not predominately Hispanic community.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton

on Jun 28, 2016 at 12:49 pm

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12 people like this
Posted by Listen to Reason
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2016 at 12:52 pm

We should be listening to reason:

"Good public policy should begin with defining the objective rather than simply being opportunistic.

Is the objective here to maximize the number of affordable housing units given the amount of funding available or is it to preserve a trailer park?"


11 people like this
Posted by Nadel
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Winter, I do agree with your comment on the condition that the owner willing agrees to the transaction. Joe Simitian could have approached this new development as a new opportunity to acquire BV with addition funds provided by the new partnership. However, the approach was much more tasteless, the threat of eminent domain should have been hidden. Rather he and the housing athority we're proud with the new tactic.

Though you believe that this is good for Palo Alto, if eminent domain is used it will be a sad day for our constitution.

Time will tell when the offer is made.


2 people like this
Posted by EvolutionaryProcess
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm

(assuming that this goes forward) I hope that as the existing residents move out (and they will over time), their mobile homes will be purchased by the housing authority and removed from the site to be replaced, over time, by modern high-density housing. This 'preserves' the existing mobile home park and residents, but will eventually maximize the site's potential.


1 person likes this
Posted by Question
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Hey Winter, since you've got an inside view to this, can you confirm a story we heard? Last August, although the City and County had $29 million to purchase the park, the offer to Jisser was significantly less. While the owner was waiting for a better offer closer to $29 million, the residents filed their lawsuit collapsing the deal. Is it true?


35 people like this
Posted by SuperD
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 28, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Last time I checked, living in a home in Palo Alto was not an unalienable right. Why do the tax payers need to be strapped with paying a huge price for a piece of property that will only benefit a small group of people. Not only that, but the government is bullying the owner of the property by using eminent domain. Shame on you Santa Clara County and the City of Palo Alto! Shame on you. If we are trying to provide low income housing, this IS NOT an efficient use of tax payer money. Shame, shame, shame.


24 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Once again, City Council goes for the politically correct option instead of one that makes sense and is fiscally responsible. But that's what progressive liberals do. They take money from someone else to finance their causes without any regard for what the tax paying citizens think. Want to know what they think? Put it to a vote. My guess is that this boondoggle would fail miserably. But then again, politicians don't care what the electorate thinks once they get into office.

Perhaps every renter in Palo Alto can start a class action suit against the City and County demanding their housing expenses be subsidized in part by the government. That's what this is, isn't it? If the city and county think they are obliged to do this to benefit a small group of people then why not do it for everyone?


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 28, 2016 at 3:18 pm

"But that's what progressive liberals do. They take money from someone else to finance their causes without any regard for what the tax paying citizens think."

That old proven dogwhistle: Those TAX AND SPEND liberals tax US and spend ON THEM.

But don't worry. Donald Trump promises put a stop to it, just like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and Bush 41 & 43 promised to put a stop to it.


34 people like this
Posted by Pound Foolish
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2016 at 3:35 pm

This is such a classic case of throwing good money after bad--and this is a losing battle.

Palo Alto and the County should cut their losses and drop it!


7 people like this
Posted by CCW
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 28, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Who is going to pay for all the upgrades ( piping, electrical etc.) that are needed as B V is quite old? From what I read over the past year, not much has been done in recent years.


5 people like this
Posted by It's only right
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2016 at 4:14 pm

I've lived in the park for 16 years. The landlord [portion removed] let the place run down and uses the fact the he has not increased the rent as an excuse. I think what Joe is doing is great. The owner Jisser has gotten rich off collecting rent off is poor people. My only concern is that they pay him to much and gets richer. He admitted that the park was worth 14 million and he should be luck to get even that much because to close would cost him 8 million. I think the city should take his land and not offer more than 6!million. [Portion removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2016 at 6:06 pm

@It's only right.....you should have moved if you were unhappy with your situation. They will pay him fair market value (which is a lot more than they are proposing) if he decides to sell to them. I'm sure if you owned the property you would want the same for your family, or am I wrong? What Simitian and the City Council are doing is a political ploy....that's it. They know they can't have it their way but will continue to hold the property owner hostage with their phony proposal and they'll garner sympathy with the "Save BV"crowd, knowing full well they are on the losing end of this boondoggle.

I personally don't want taxpayers to foot the bill for improving your living standards and I'm sure that if this were put to a vote the city and county would lose by a landslide.


24 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2016 at 6:54 pm

Count me among those who object to this ill-thought out proposal to spend public money in this grotesquely inefficient way without any consideration given to how it will work in practical terms, or how much benefit it will have compared to other uses of the money for low income housing assistance. Over on his blog, Steve Levy has a list of unanswered questions about how this eminent domain scheme will work if it comes to pass.

It seems Supervisor Simitian, the Council and other public officials haven't even thought about Levy's questions. Instead, it seem they have been thinking hard about another list of questions about this deal = some that have everything to do with their own self interest, but nothing at all to do with the well being of taxpayers or even low income housing needs:

1. Can I hold a press conference to brag about my moral superiority on this issue? Will I look good on TV?

2. Is there a way to parlay my support of the BV seizure into contributions for my next election?

3. If this scheme runs into trouble (as it certainly will), will it come late enough so it doesn't affect me and my political viability?

4. If this scheme runs into trouble sooner rather than later, who can I blame for its failure?

5. [Portion removed.]

6. What opportunities for political graft will there be in a deal involving large amounts of public money from at least three government entities?

7. Can I count on the kind of fawning coverage that this scheme has received so far from the Weekly and other press organs to last? How can I get as favorable press coverage as Joe Simitian did for his brilliantly conceived press conference?

8. What happens when the low income housing advocates realize they've been had and that all this money won't really do much to help low income people?

9. What office can I run for when I am termed out of my current position?

........


1 person likes this
Posted by It's only right
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2016 at 7:50 pm

@38 year resident. You don't know what it is like to be poor. If people like Mr Simitian want to help who are to stop them. Don't you read my comment. [Portion removed.]

Further, the owner thinks the eighty thousand package is enough. In San Francisco people are paid twice that to relocate. If he sells for thirty million then we should get at least half


12 people like this
Posted by Yao
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 29, 2016 at 4:34 am

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Yao
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 29, 2016 at 4:39 am

[Post removed.]


43 people like this
Posted by Sigh
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2016 at 6:55 am

@Its only Right
- The owner will have his land forcibly taken from him in an imminent domain action.
- The citizens of this City and county will be out $60M+
- Hundreds of people who could have benefitted from those funds spent on a proper low income housing development will go without.

But somehow you, a resident of Buena Vista, are the one being cheated ????


3 people like this
Posted by its not wrong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2016 at 7:02 am

I'm with @it's all right. I also am in the trailer park. The landlord [portion removed] only wants our rent and he thinks just cause it was low he could keep the park unmaintain. It hurts to read that people support him. Our association has done more than I think they could. I want to see them take his land, he is a very rich person off us and now he should give it back. its the right thing to do.


8 people like this
Posted by Just like Maybell
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2016 at 7:11 am

When this is all over it will end up just like Maybell - a market rate low density housing development. Because that is what the community really wants.

Low income housing is very important - someplace else!


28 people like this
Posted by Low rent because the park is closing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 29, 2016 at 7:24 am

To the BV residents commenting on the state of the Park, if I was planning on closing the park, which has been the Jissers plan for something like 10 years, I wouldn't upgrade it either. If you plan on knocking down a house, you don't remodel it first.


21 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2016 at 7:48 am

@ It's only right....[portion removed]
The Jisser family has bent over backwards to give all of you a more than fair relocation allotment but that's not good enough for the social justice crowd. Stealing his land, as you call it by the city and county won't happen. Sorry to burst your bubble. And if it does, the people in office who have put up this phony show of support will be voted out the next time around. That's really all they care about.


6 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 29, 2016 at 8:41 am

Thank you Palo Alto city council and the board of supervisors. This story will end rent control in California along with: "The catastrophe in Capitola and the great Santa Cruz land swindle." The best lesson plan in economics.

George Drysdale a social studies teacher


50 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2016 at 9:06 am

@it's not wrong...... Most people who have commented on this fiasco rightly support the property owner. He has provided you with well below market rents for years, a more than generous relocation allotment and has every right to sell his land to the highest bidder.

Why can't you understand that? Put yourself in his shoes. What would you want for your family if you owned the property? Would you want your land taken from you? My guess is that you would take the highest offer you could get from a buyer. That's why this won't go anywhere. The land is worth more than the city and county can pay. Taking it from him as you seem to favor, is not the right thing to do and would be contested in court.

Also, why should the city and county use funds to help a small group of people when there are hundreds in the area trying to make ends meet? You're not the only ones. Don't the others deserve the same bail out?

Eventually you will have to move. You should understand that the false hope being pedaled to you by the local politicians occurred after the last election. Had they taken their current stance before the election they would probably have been voted out. You and the other residents have been duped. This is a dead end and they know it. Staying in office is what they care about.


44 people like this
Posted by mon dieu
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2016 at 10:16 am

This whole multi-year episode is incredible.

That a government entity can infringe on a private property owner's rights in such a way is appalling and should raise at least eyebrows in any property owner in the city and county. Rather than implementing a master plan for the region, county, or city to support equal opportunity to housing regardless of income level in a fairly distributed manner - geographically, demographically etc., the local politicians have instead seemingly decided to try and generate as little per capita benefit as they can through an investment of public funds.

And the affected residents who've come to voice their opinions here are truly the children that anti-taxation, welfare-queen Republicans would love to adopt onto their posters.
@It's only right
@its not wrong
Advocating seizure and redistribution of private property.
Disregarding the law since the defendant is a "jerk" and is "mean". Since when did the law only apply to nice people?
If the mobile home residents thought the property wasn't being maintained to their standards, they should have looked back on their leases to validate their claims, negotiated with the landlord, individually or collectively, to address those claims, and then gone to mediation, arbitration, or court to settle those, and only those, claims of maintenance if negotiation failed to produce a mutually satisfactory outcome.

Frankly, with the sad way in which the residents are presenting themselves, I'll be glad when the property is demolished and repurposed. Then we can try to implement an affordable housing plan that is equitable, financially sound, and will do the most good for the greatest number.

[Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by BV resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2016 at 1:24 pm

[Post removed.]






.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2016 at 1:31 pm

RobinHood is alive and well.


5 people like this
Posted by JT
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 29, 2016 at 1:45 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 29, 2016 at 1:47 pm

All those of you who have a (yearly tax deductible and with a 250 thousand dollars/person tax forgiven) mortgage object to the government spending money to shore up people?


106 people like this
Posted by Self made in Atherton
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 29, 2016 at 3:22 pm

"It's only right", a resident of Barron Park, wrote:
> You don't know what it is like to be poor.

I do. Likely more than you do.

I went to Grant Elementary in Richmond. My divorced mom, I and my half-brother rented in Richmond. We were briefly even on food stamps. We were so poor that when the rent was raised on our apartment in Richmond -- next to the drug-infested Nicol Park -- we couldn't afford RICHMOND, so we had to leave.

That's right, we couldn't afford RICHMOND. You know what we did? We F----NG moved, that's what we did. And when we were so poor we couldn't afford the Bay Area, you know what we did? We F----NG moved out of the Bay Area, that's what we did. I went to a nondescript middle school and a nondescript high school. I then moved back to the Bay Area and went to a nondescript CSU. I then rented a 8x10 bedroom room for years and worked my butt off putting in 60++ hour weeks to pay off college, then saved up for a condo for several more years. I kept working my butt off and now I own a home in Atherton and have a wife and kids. I am arguably more successful than all of my dozens of cousins, aunts and uncles, many of which went to prestigious high schools (Miramonte for example) and colleges (Cal and Stanford, for example).

I have no sympathy for the residents of Buena Vista, at least not with regards to their housing situation. You have no right to live wherever you wish to live; it is not in the Constitution, it is not an inalienable right, it is not a civil liberty. The potential use of eminent domain in your case is a gross injustice and an abuse of the intent and spirit of eminent domain, which was meant to acquire property for the PUBLIC good, not a small group personal property holders. You moved there knowing the land was not yours; your paying RENT proves you knew you had NO real estate property rights.

I do respect your interests in staying in a good school district, and getting good educations for the kids. However, I think you overestimate the value of Palo Alto schools, at least with regard to the education (you're not alone there, though; many Palo Altans over-value Palo Alto education). There are many, many other school districts both in the Bay Area and outside the Bay Area that offer excellent teachers and curriculum that offer the same post-high-school opportunities that a PA education can provide, at a fraction of the cost of living in PA.

[Portion removed.]


100 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2016 at 4:07 pm

[Post removed.]


51 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 29, 2016 at 4:52 pm

@self made in atherton.

Great post!! I to was on food stamps with an alcoholic father. Moved out of the Bay Area when mom died to the Midwest. Never received my high school degree but learned through various jobs that business fail because people simple don't care. I purchased my first restaurant for 13 thousand all borrowed, and slept in the back on a make shift bed. Blood, sweat and tears fast forward 25 years. I am happily married, great kids and loving Menlo park with 9 successful restaurants.

My biggest fear in life is that my kids grow with a sense of self entitlement and not understand the value of hard work. I do have feel bad for the BV residents, but in no way support our politicians. This is as pathic as it get. The owner wants to close the business and from what hear they may want to sell or develop the land. It's been three years and now they are using eminent domain to continue the litigation.

I have read some of the articles and comments and several time people have wished for a billionaire to step in and save this place. After everything the owner has gone through I believe a billionaire is going to step in. NOT to save the place but to pay for the owners attorney's fees from the relentless assault by our government


21 people like this
Posted by possible option?
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Did anyone tell the residents to apply for the affordable housing Mayfield project on El Camino? There are 70 new affordable apartment units at this site. The website says applications will be available on the website June 30 2016 - July 20 2016. Mayfield website also says "certain applicant households of Mayfield Place may be given priority if their circumstances fall under 1 or more of the following: Displaced or are threatened to be displaced from housing in Palo Alto or if the applicant currently lives or works in Palo Alto."

Also says rents are expected to be $1002-$1212 for 1 bedroom, $1,198-$1,449 for 2 bedroom, and $1,381 - $1,671 for three bedroom.

This development will have a community room, fitness center, and a community courtyard with bbq grills. FOBV should make sure all residents are aware of this opportunity.


5 people like this
Posted by BV
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2016 at 5:22 pm

BV is a registered user.

Nobody here wants to live in pack and stack.


Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park

on Jun 29, 2016 at 5:32 pm


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3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 29, 2016 at 5:38 pm

"After everything the owner has gone through I believe a billionaire is going to step in. NOT to save the place but to pay for the owners attorney's fees from the relentless assault by our government"

Any billionaire worth his Koch Bros certification would know what to do: Buy BV for pocket change, say $200M, immediately, thereby establishing a market valuation the county could not hope to meet.

Any takers? Donald?? Joe?? No? Words are lots cheaper than deeds.


1 person likes this
Posted by mon dieu
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2016 at 5:47 pm

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Bob M
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Here is another mass displacement Web Link Notice the reference to Joe Simitian. This is only the beginning. Any older residential complex that needs upgrades will soon be a target to our political system to use eminent domain. Does anyone else see how our political system is killing our fair market. Why would anyone become a developer


8 people like this
Posted by Lucy
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 29, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Thank God,for Joe Simitian,Palo Alto city council, and all the Buena Vista supporters. That they can see the big picture. 400- people will not become home less. The blue collar workers, of Palo Alto. The elderly, that have no where to go. The mental challenged, who would be, homeless for sure. The blind person,who lives at Buena Vista. The woman,who is dying of cancer. The man who is waiting for a kidney transplant,and all the children, whose parents work two jobs. No, not everyone is Hispanic,their Chinese, Tongan,Russian, Portuguese, Croatian, and Irish. Their also,father's with children that they are raising themselves, with no mother's. As, I mentioned in the beginning, Thank God, For Joe Simitian, Palo Alto city council, All of Buena Vista supporters, Winter, All of them can see the big picture.


41 people like this
Posted by Cohan
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 29, 2016 at 9:17 pm

@Lucy, you, Winter and Joe see the big picture. But what you don't see is the bigger picture. The city tried to build affordable housing at Maybell, but did not fight for it. When push came to shove they put the property on the open market and made a huge return in 9 months.

Here at BV, they are putting a road block in front of a single family trying to close the business and sell the land. Preventing them from selling the land in the same market that they sold their land. Basically forcing this family to keep their investment as affordable housing.

I think the bigger picture that you don't see or refuse to see is that if the city is handling the BV issue incorrectly. If you want to preserve the people and diversity of BV, then build affordable housing for them.

NOT bully this family around for three years then threaten them with Eminent Domain.


1 person likes this
Posted by Self made in Atherton
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 29, 2016 at 10:27 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton

on Jun 29, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.


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

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