The Housing Authority of Santa Clara County has made a $36,072,500 offer to purchase the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, Executive Director Katherine Harasz said on Friday. The offer was made after the housing authority's board of directors unanimously authorized the agency on Dec. 20 to negotiate the sale.
The Jisser family's attorneys received the written offer on behalf of their clients on Wednesday or Thursday, which is based on the property's appraised value, Harasz said. She and the Jissers' eminent domain attorney Norman Matteoni said they did not anticipate a response from the family until perhaps sometime in mid-January. After then, Harasz said she hoped the housing authority and the family and their representatives would have a sit-down meeting to discuss the possible sale.
The Jissers have been trying to sell their property since they filed an application to close the park with the City of Palo Alto in late 2012. A long process that brought out the Buena Vista community and its allies in protest resulted in lawsuits filed by both sides and a pullout by the Jissers from previous negotiations with the city, county and a nonprofit housing group, Caritas.
With the housing authority stepping in as buyer, funding for the purchase would include $29 million from the city and county ($14.5 million each) and additional funding by the housing authority, which, Harasz said, would likely come from federal or state money and other funding that is available.
She has the regulatory authority to negotiate the deal, she said. But a purchase-and-sale agreement, which is likely to have conditions, would go through an approval hearing by the board, she said.
If the family chooses not to sell the property, the housing authority could exercise eminent domain proceedings to acquire the park.
The housing authority's offer tops the estimated $30 million deal that was previously reached in an agreement between the Jissers and developer Prometheus Real Estate Group in 2012. That offer was contingent on the city's approval of a zoning change to allow the developer to build high-end apartments for tech workers, displacing the 400 residents who live in 117 low-income mobile homes, including 12 studio apartments. Prometheus pulled out of the arrangement in 2014.
A subsequent offer by the residents to purchase the park through low-interest state and federal loans and a cooperative membership was rejected by the family in August 2013. The nonprofit Palo Alto Housing Corporation, also considered working with Prometheus to build about 65 low-income apartments on the site.