A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge is considering whether City of Palo Alto hearings surrounding an application approved last year to close the city's only mobile home park were adequate.
The Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Residents Association filed a writ of mandate heard by Superior Court Judge Brian Walsh Monday morning at the Downtown Superior Courthouse in San Jose.
The association claims the city incorrectly interpreted its ordinance surrounding mobile home closures in considering Toufic "Tim" Jisser's 2012 application to close the mobile home park and leave the business.
The association is seeking a fair administrative hearing from the city on the application that impacts more than 400 residents who live on the site at 3980 El Camino Real.
The City Council granted Jisser's application after hearings last year on an appeal by the residents, who claim the approved relocation benefits don't give them access to comparable housing in the area, the association's attorney Madeline Howard said.
The residents own their mobile homes, and the issue has a human impact that shouldn't be interpreted simply as a land use decision, Howard said.
Jissers' attorney, Margaret Nanda, told the judge that her client with the city's decision is allowed to move forward with the closure and remove residents from the property.
The mitigation package is sufficient for the residents and doesn't exceed the relocation costs Jisser would have to provide, Nanda said.
The city's attorney Kevin Siegel told the judge that the mitigation measures were adequate and the residents don't have a vested right to stay at the mobile home park.
Under state civil code, the city can adopt additional conditions including rental assistance and a yearlong subsidy before approving a mobile home park closure, Siegel said.
The relocation benefits based on the appraised value of the homes and moving costs have changed over the past few years since the application was filed, Melissa Morris, an attorney for the residents, said after Monday's hearing.
The rate that was originally provided by Jisser through an appraiser differed from what the City Council approved last year, Morris said.
The judge can make one of two decisions in the case. He could grant the writ that would require the city to correct its hearing process before making a decision on the application based on the court's order, according to Morris.
The judge could also find that the city was proper in approving the closure, which would allow the closure to continue and allow the owner to begin serving six-month eviction notices, according to Morris.
The owner's relocation specialist who testified at the city's hearings last year claimed that many of the residents would be forced to live in the Central Valley with the benefits they were expected to receive, Morris said.
The mobile home park has low-income residents, many of whom are Hispanic and live with their families, residents association President Erika Escalante said.
"We've never been told how much we'll receive in relocation assistance," Escalante said.
Escalante doesn't want to leave the Bay Area and would like the relocation package to help her buy another mobile home in the area, but many mobile home parks in neighboring cities are mostly dedicated to senior citizens.
Escalante hopes a plan by the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara announced in June to acquire the property will help avert the closure.
The Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet with negotiators on the costs for acquiring the property during a closed session Tuesday.
The attorneys are scheduled to present their arguments to Walsh at another hearing on Wednesday afternoon.