Palo Alto will appeal a recent court ruling in which a judge overturned the city's decision to allow the closure of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park.
The City Council voted unanimously in a closed session on Jan. 9 to file the appeal. City Attorney Molly Stump said the appeal would be filed early February.
The city is challenging a Dec. 21 ruling from Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Brian Walsh, who reversed the council's 2015 decision to approve the closure application from the Jisser family, which owns the mobile-home park off El Camino Real. The council's 2015 vote came several months after Administrative Officer Craig Labadie reached his own decision on the closure application and deemed it to be complete.
In overturning the council's decision, Walsh argued that the city based its approval on insufficient and incomplete data. He specifically took issue with the relocation assistance that the Jissers had offered to the roughly 400 residents who would be evicted from the mobile home park. The relocation-assistance package includes moving costs, start-up costs for new housing and rent subsidies for a year, totaling the difference between their Buena Vista rents and their new ones.
During numerous public hearings in 2014 and 2015, Buena Vista residents and their attorneys maintained that the relocation assistance falls far short of what would be needed for the residents to relocate anywhere in the area. The council largely agreed and conditioned its approval of the closure application on new property appraisals.
The decision prompted lawsuits from both the Jisser family and the residents. The Jissers argued that the conditions are "unconstitutional" and estimated that the relocation costs would add up to about $8 million. Meanwhile, the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Residents Association argued in its own suit that the city didn't follow due process in approving the application; that the decision to allow Buena Vista's closure violates the city's Housing Element; and that the findings that the council relied on during its May 2015 vote were unsupported by evidence.
Walsh sided with the residents on the lattermost point and reversed the council's decision.
"Because the City Council based its Final Decision on evidence that does not yet exist and the City Council lacked evidence regarding the actual amount of relocation assistance that will eventually be provided to the residents, the Court finds that the Final Decision was not supported by the evidence," Walsh wrote.