News

$40.4M deal saves Buena Vista mobile homes

Residents can stay; aging park to be renovated

Nearly 4.5 years after announcing plans to close the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto, the Jisser family has agreed to sell the low-income residential park to the Santa Clara County Housing Authority for $40.4 million, Housing Authority officials and the Jissers announced on Thursday afternoon.

The agreement ensures the preservation and upgrade of the mobile-home park at 3980 El Camino Real so that the roughly 400 people who live there can remain. The Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners must formally approve the deal on May 23, according to the statement.

The agreement ends what has been a long battle between the Jissers and the park's residents and their allies, which included lawsuits filed by both sides against the City of Palo Alto over its process in closing the park. Supporters of the residents claimed the financial reimbursement offered by the Jissers was insufficient and violated a city ordinance that called for a just replacement of their housing.

Saving Buena Vista became a movement to preserve an important chunk of Palo Alto's affordable-housing stock. Loss of the park would likely have resulted in residents leaving the city, amounting to the largest displacement since the internment of Palo Alto's Japanese community during World War II, according to advocates.

But all of the arguments are now moot.

"We are really happy the Housing Authority could join the community-wide effort to ensure the permanent availability of this important affordable housing resource in Palo Alto," said Kathy Espinoza-Howard, chair of the Santa Clara County Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners, in the announcement.

Joe Jisser stated, "I am pleased we reached this settlement that will enable the families to stay here and also allow the Housing Authority to pursue the park's renovation and upgrade."

The Jissers will retain ownership of a commercial parcel adjacent to Buena Vista on El Camino, which includes a strip mall and gas station, the statement noted.

The sale negotiations took four months and were preceded by months of work by the Housing Authority to obtain a fair market value appraisal, engage the affordable-housing nonprofit Caritas Corporation (which will serve as the master leaseholder), and obtain approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use federal funding, Housing Authority officials stated.

The purchase and redevelopment of the park's infrastructure will be funded through a three-way partnership between Santa Clara County, the City of Palo Alto and the Housing Authority. The city and county previously committed $29 million in affordable-housing funds, and the Housing Authority will contribute $26 million through federal funding from HUD, which will also pay for improvements to the park's aged utilities infrastructure. Residents currently living at the park will retain the right to lease their spaces, according to the statement.

Erika Escalante, president of the Buena Vista Park Residents Association, expressed her gratitude over the news on Thursday.

"I know it's not completely done, but I'm very excited and thankful. It's amazing to reflect back. At times it seemed impossible to get here," she said.

When the possibility of losing their homes first surfaced, she said, it seemed as though the residents were alone in their battle. But then she met Winter Dellenbach, who spearheaded the Friends of Buena Vista group in support of the residents, at a City Council meeting and the two women began to work together. Since then, hundreds of supporters have come out to help the Buena Vista residents.

Escalante said that Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian help was essential in saving the park.

Simitian launched an effort to purchase Buena Vista from the Jissers in January 2015, as the City of Palo Alto was reviewing the Jissers' park closure plan. As part of the closure, residents would have received some relocation costs and the assessed value of their mobile homes, which the residents own.

The council approved the park closure in May 2015, which led to multiple lawsuits and ultimately a Superior Court judge's reversal of the approval last December.

Simitian worked to get the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to approve $8 million toward the purchase of Buena Vista, which it did in January 2015. The board voted unanimously to increase the county's commitment to $14.5 million in June 2015.

The Palo Alto City Council followed suit, approving $8 million initially and then upping the total to $14.5 million in June 2015.

On Thursday, Simitian reflected on the deal.

"Any day you can save 117 units of affordable housing, that's a good day," he said. "When I moved here 50 years ago, Palo Alto was a place of economic diversity and a place of opportunity. There is a threshold question: Is Palo Alto still a place of opportunity?"

Saving Buena Vista is a significant victory toward maintaining the city's economic diversity, Simitian said.

"At one level this was a test — a test of whether or not our region remains a place of inclusivity and opportunity," he said in a statement. "In this instance, at least, I'm gratified to say we passed the test."

Simitian added that the process was complicated because it required five entities to come to an agreement. All worked together to find an equitable solution, he said.

But he also gave credit to the residents of Buena Vista.

"It's hard to overstate the dignity and decency with which the residents carried through this process. Every day these folks got up and wondered if an eviction notice would be in their mailbox. That's a very tough way to have to live, especially for people of limited economic means," he said.

Barron Park resident Dellenbach said that preserving the mobile-home park required the work of the entire community, from neighbors and the residents to church groups, the Palo Alto PTAs, government and nonprofit groups.

"Overjoyed doesn't even begin to describe it," she said upon learning just minutes before of the agreement. "This news transforms what we used to describe as a potentially slow-moving catastrophe into an almost unimaginable victory."

Many people said five years ago that with Palo Alto's high land prices the purchase of Buena Vista would be impossible, but there were so many resources in the community that worked together to make it happen, she said.

"For the first time the residents of Buena Vista can exhale and be secure and feel safe. This puts all of the unpredictability and insecurity to rest," she said. "It took a whole lot of resources, so much intelligence and a whole lot of faith and trust, and it all came together."

Escalante said that she, too, wanted to thank the entire community, from the PTAs to the churches, the city and county and other groups and individuals.

"I am so grateful to live in this community and to know when we needed it they came through. I would not be here talking to you if it wasn't for the community. I am grateful to know that the community values what we bring to the bigger community. That's just amazing," she said.

Simitian said the victory is not just for the residents.

"On a very practical level, this has also been an effort that benefits us all. The people who live at the Buena Vista are mostly working class folks filling the jobs that make our community run. They're working at local businesses, nonprofits, colleges and universities. They're essential to our continued economic vitality. We need them in the workforce," he said. "And if they're forced out of the region, commuting from God knows where, that has traffic congestion implications for all of us as well."

Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff also applauded the outcome.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity to preserve affordable housing for low-income residents, including at least 100 children, in a city where it is desperately needed. Palo Alto's commitment of affordable housing funds to this project are well spent," he said in the joint statement.

U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, who lobbied the HUD for approval of funds, said she is proud to have helped.

"These resources will also help to renovate over 100 units of affordable housing for the community. The efforts of the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, the City of Palo Alto, the County of Santa Clara, and the superb leadership of Supervisor Joe Simitian have brought about a remarkable success for our mutual constituents," she said in the joint statement.

The acquisition is expected to conclude by early fall after the park is subdivided from the the commercial property that the Jissers will retain. Caritas will hold the ground lease and oversee the residents' subleases. The nonprofit will bring in a firm to manage the property, said Katherine Harasz, Housing Authority executive director.

Caritas will continue to assess the park and the residents' needs. The park's water, sewer and electrical systems will be upgraded. Some of the mobile homes might also need work. Although the residents own their mobile homes, Caritas is also committed to helping the residents where they need assistance, she said.

The Housing Authority is the largest provider of affordable-housing assistance in the county, aiding nearly 18,000 households.

Related content:

For Buena Vista residents, joy, relief and a new beginning

Behind the Headlines: District investigates sexual assault; Saving Buena Vista

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

52 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 18, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Bravo Erika Escalante and Winter Dellenbach their families and the many many people who supported and helped them.

This is an outcome where we all win!


38 people like this
Posted by Lydia Kou
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm

WOOHOO!


55 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 18, 2017 at 3:06 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

Everyone wins if you ignore the opportunity cost of the $40 million.


46 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on May 18, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Bravo! Special thanks to Joe Simitian and his aides for never giving up. And kudos to the residents, advocates, and many others who made this deal finally happen!


123 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Ridiculous. This trailer park should have been shut down years ago. It is a shame that the city, tenants and lawyers held the Jisser family hostage for nearly a decade.


27 people like this
Posted by Negotiators
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Who negotiated this deal? Jisser's $40m + $8m savings for not closing the park + $25m in commercial property. Jisser is either a really good at negotiator or the city needs some schooling.


103 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Lol, people think this is over. Wait until they are required to fix the place up and enforce building safety codes. That place screams "money pit."

Good luck, Palo Alto and Santa Clara County. You got what you wished for...remember that.


25 people like this
Posted by Agreed
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2017 at 3:31 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


25 people like this
Posted by sheri
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Thank you, Winter!


56 people like this
Posted by Summer
a resident of College Terrace
on May 18, 2017 at 3:40 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


102 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

The thing that irks me the most is the fact that the activists (preventing the Jisser family from closing the park) equated the closure of the trailer park with Japanese interment during World War 2.

That is a slap in the face to Japanese Americans who lived during that time.


90 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 18, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Simitian reflected on the deal.

"Any day you can save 117 units of affordable housing, that's a good day,""

$40 million divided by 117 = $348k per unit plus all the infrastructure improvements that must be made plus the costs of actually running this place including insurance plus the lost property taxes.

That is a good day??


30 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2017 at 4:23 pm

The costs of bringing this place up to code??

What happens when one of the renters decides to move - kids leave school or other reason??

I foresee many problems in the future that means we have not seen the end of this fiasco.


35 people like this
Posted by Rafael
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Yes Peter it is a good deal compared to the cost of acquiring the land and building that number of affordable units. This is a bargain. Do the math!


15 people like this
Posted by Jean
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 18, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Yay!


12 people like this
Posted by Expenses?
a resident of Mountain View
on May 18, 2017 at 4:51 pm

How funny to see Peter Carpenter complaining of costs here -- ESPECIALLY considering that he belongs to the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, who has 12 employees earning more than $300K.

Physician, heal thyself.


55 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 18, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"it is a good deal compared to the cost of acquiring the land and building that number of affordable units. This is a bargain. Do the math!"

It is only a "bargain" if you ignore the fact that the 400 plus people are living in substandard housing that does not meet code and which cannot be brought up to code without evicting about 1/4 of those people and spending millions on improvements.


27 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on May 18, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Congrats to everyone (especially the residents of Buena Vista) who fought to make this happen. Happy day!


25 people like this
Posted by Owners ignored
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 18, 2017 at 5:44 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


4 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm

"and obtain approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use federal funding, Housing Authority officials stated. "

Has this element been approved (signed contract) by the Trump administration?


28 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 18, 2017 at 6:02 pm

"$40,400,000.00. For 100 trailers! Jisser should rewrite the "Art Of the Deal"."

You left out the land. It has some nominal value in Palo Alto.

But you are correct that someone should rewrite the "Art Of the Deal". The present author ain't living up to the hype.


9 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 18, 2017 at 6:09 pm

Congratulations (pending Housing Authority approval). One less headache for our city.

I'm curious what the residents have been paying for their leases, and how much going forward. A private owner might want a 5% return on $40M, or something like $1400/month from each of the 117 lots. Seems like a non-profit should be satisfied with zero percent, or are they somehow expected to rebuild the $40M for future affordable-housing acquisitions?

Certainly there will be the upgrade costs, for infrastructure of the entire site, and for each of the individual properties. What fraction of the improvements could be covered by residential lease payments? Will the leases become dependent on household income? Were the leases historically dependent on household income?

Just wondering about the economics, and whether from a cash-flow standpoint this is really affordable housing or actually subsidized housing. (Opportunity costs aside, since everything is subsidized if you consider opportunity costs.)


33 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2017 at 7:51 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Great news! Congratulations to the Buena Vista residents, the Friends of Buena Vista and the officials and government entities that have made this possible. This, to me, represents Palo Alto at its best.


17 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 18, 2017 at 8:17 pm

"$40 million divided by 117 = $348k per unit plus all the infrastructure improvements that must be made plus the costs of actually running this place including insurance plus the lost property taxes. That is a good day??"

Ever tried to buy a unit for $348k in Atherton or Palo Alto or ... lately? Be prepared for a bad day if you do.


3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Any reserves set aside for improvement and management? The rents aren't going to cover the ongoing costs so the Housing Authority better have deep pockets to keep this trailer park from blight.


48 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 18, 2017 at 8:32 pm

Instead of building a higher density housing for the benefit of a lot more people in need of housing, all these government officials used public fund to keep this eye sore slump for a selected few... I fully support low income housing, but is this the smart way of spending the public fund?? It's crazy!


15 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Total cost is $55 million (the article states "The city and county previously committed $29 million in affordable-housing funds, and the Housing Authority will contribute $26 million through federal funding from HUD, which will also pay for improvements to the park's aged utilities infrastructure.")

That works out to $470,000 per unit. Because it will probably qualify for a welfare exemption from property tax assessment, it means foregoing around $480,000 in property taxes per year.

No mention about what happens if the current residents want their kids to inherit, or if they want to sell their unit, etc. as they residents still own the unit, not the land.


57 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2017 at 9:24 pm

Another disaster orchestrated by Joe Simitian.

Wonder how much money the taxpayers will be stuck having to keep this blighted housing project afloat?


13 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 19, 2017 at 12:47 am

This will help keep some diversity in Palo Alto.


34 people like this
Posted by So sad
a resident of Professorville
on May 19, 2017 at 1:03 am

If there were ever a reason to starve local government of revenue this would be it.

Absolutely unconscionable waste of money.


30 people like this
Posted by What a joke
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 19, 2017 at 1:23 am

I want to know how many of them actually work in Palo Alto. And how many of their students use the Gunn education to attend college. They have just stolen housing from tech workers who could cut down on their long commutes if they were able to live in a high rise there. I am not supportive of more Palo Alto traffic, but think that this is unfair to those who could benefit more from that prime location. Jissers just got worn down by the liberal elites.

I fail to understand why the people who can positively impact society were disfavored.


30 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 19, 2017 at 7:47 am

"I want to know how many of them actually work in Palo Alto. And how many of their students use the Gunn education to attend college. They have just stolen housing from tech workers who could cut down on their long commutes if they were able to live in a high rise there."

Seriously???? I sure hope this sentiment is isolated and not a reflection of a growing trend of an exclusive and judgmental breed of Palo Altans. If so, then I'm afraid for the city I grew up in. My dad, an immigrant in the 1960s was not considered white collar. We had two neigbhors who were gardeners. One was a mailman. ALL were able to raise their families on a single income, and NONE were treated like dirt. And, by the way, my dad's kids were all college-educated; grandchildren, as well (one is in med school, and the rest are in school becoming engineers -- and they will probably still not afford to remain in the Bay Area, let alone, raise a family in Palo Alto). As for the tech workers you are so worried about, they are CHOOSING to live in culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse San Francisco, where they spend their $ on food, rent, and retail, and take "Google Mobiles" back and forth to work in P.A. At least, THESE mobile home residents spend their $ on local businesses. Bravo, Simitian and everyone who worked to make this happen. Sometimes, the reward for one's efforts is the knowledge that you made another person's life a little easier.


26 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2017 at 7:59 am

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

This truly is a win-win situation with fantastic cooperation between the Jissers, the City of Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, the Housing Authority, and Caritas (non-profit dedicated to operating mobile home parks) putting. This was a complex deal with lots of moving parts

The equivalent of a large affordable housing complex has been completed for almost half of what a new one would cost, with current residents remaining in place with the pride of home ownership, and money already dedicated to upgrade the park. While the wheels of government can turn slowly, I am very pleased we got this done. Always proud to be a Palo Altan.

Only money that is dedicated to affordable housing was spent on the purchase. For a point of comparison, constructing affordable apartments is much more expensive (nearly double the cost), would likely have been smaller units, available for rent, and require higher income. These affordable housing funds could not be used for any other purpose and were not money from voters. The Housing Authority becomes the owner of the park and responsible for it going forward.

I want to thank all the parties involved - our city staff, my colleagues on council, County Supervisor Joe Simitian, the residents of BV, and our latest Tall Tree, Winter Dellenbach, and the countless others who spent time and money on saving these homes. Thank you all.


19 people like this
Posted by al munday
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2017 at 9:47 am

as soon as the residents will be required to make upgrades, you will see another news article about them protesting against PA....you wait....


18 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2017 at 10:00 am

Even though Buena Vista was saved the reality is that the residents will have to move out for some period of time while the infrastructure is updated. How will they pay rent during this period? And once their units are brought up to code I'm sure that there will be stricter enforcement on the number of residents at the park and per unit. This saga isn't over for the residents.

Still think the money would be better used on new, high density housing for low income residents.


14 people like this
Posted by What a joke
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 19, 2017 at 10:11 am

@PA Resident: As you know, the American Dream is dead in Silicon Valley. "Back in the day" stories are just that. Paly academics have changed too. There is no Brady Bunch skit at Senior Frolics, as there are only stressed-out, sleep-deprived students on campus. Senior Frolics is dead. The principal killed Streaking, and no one has time to climb on the Tower Building roof to paint their class level, plus, there would be repercussions, unlike the turned heads of the past. There is no time for Paly students to have fun unless they choose to attend Foothill, thus ignore their grades and resumes. Where is the evidence that the Buena Vista residents are churning out physicians and engineers as your family did? Are their children making the most of their PAUSD education and attending 4-year colleges? The issue is that the rest of us who rent or have nearly 6 figure mortgages and if we cannot afford it here anymore, we have to move away, no help from the government, no offer of relocation help. And to even be able to afford to live in Palo Alto, we sacrificed and worked HARD. And who says we don't spend money on local businesses? Or is that another assumption? I get what you are saying, however. Why is the life of intelligent, hardworking, college graduates better than blue collar workers? We learned at a young age that life isn't fair. This is Palo Alto's way of resolving their guilt, just like the campers that line El Camino across from Paly are allowed to live there although there are two ordinance they are breaking (72-hour parking and vehicle dwelling). Oil and water do not mix, just like the EPA students in PAUSD self-segregate. But let's feel good that their students are taking good spots at our schools even though most are not progressing to 4-year colleges.

Good to hear from DuBois that it's already allocated money.


36 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2017 at 10:14 am

COMPLETELY idiotic waste of money, and a fine example of upper middle class guilt at its worst. Does ANYONE really want a trailer park........A TRAILER PARK........in the city? It's UGLY. Too bad it isn't going to go away, but here it is to stay. [Portion removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by only the beginning
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

what an end to a five year story. Imagine the day you announce that would like to sell your investment and retire and five years later it actually happens. I'm glad the jissers can now move on with all that money.

But don't be shocked when you hear our city is being sued (again) by the residents when they don't like the upgrades or any other story that they and their attorneys can conjure up.


25 people like this
Posted by BillA
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2017 at 10:21 am

I can't beleive they are wasting so much money on this. People in this community are just nuts.


58 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 19, 2017 at 10:29 am

God bless the compassion but this is the worst investment for 117 mobile homes EVER!!! This site can fit over 500 units easily but it will never happen. Politics before common sense. More flushing $$$ down the toilet.


17 people like this
Posted by Hamilton
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2017 at 10:35 am

Joe Simitian, Thank You!!! Without your persistent tireless work against the odds, this would not have happened. Maintaining some economic diversity within Palo Alto and ensuring affordable housing where possible is critical. Once again glad to have you as our supervisor.


8 people like this
Posted by GOOD
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 19, 2017 at 10:39 am

DAMN GOOD!
Now, next issue and good day Sir.


1 person likes this
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2017 at 10:42 am

casey is a registered user.

Who owns the land? Will it just be the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County or will the City of Palo Alto receive a proportional share of the land? In Palo Alto, the land is precious. While preserving the mobile home park may be a short term solution, there may be a better use for the land in 10-20 years. At that point, I hope the City of Palo Alto and its citizens still have a say in the matter instead of it being entirely in the hands of the Housing Authority.


15 people like this
Posted by Scotty the Boot
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2017 at 10:48 am

PACC and the Santa Clara County Housing Authority strong armed, forced, and held the Jisser family hostage on the sale of their property until they buckled. They should have been allowed to sell the property to the highest bidder and not FORCED to comply with the city. Shame shame shame


73 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 19, 2017 at 10:53 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The land will be owned by the Housing Authority.

The problems with the management of the existing tenants and the future of the site will be equally shared by the Housing Authority, the City Council and the Board of Supervisors.

Everybody better feel real good today because in five years this site will be an ongoing problem for everyone concerned.


7 people like this
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2017 at 11:09 am

I have compassion for the residents, but 40M for 117 units? From the photos this place looks like the Jisser family did the minimum at maintaining the place, no doubt it is riddled with code violations, now the county is responsible at taxpayer expense. There are some very nice mobile home parks in the area, this is not one of them. I wonder how many of the residents would have accepted 300K cash to move elsewhere? Easier said than done I guess. In any case the Jissers have hit the jackpot, better than an IPO.


6 people like this
Posted by Questions
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2017 at 11:11 am

I am glad for the residents who will be able to remain in their homes. I have a few questions:

Some of the homes are rentals - who will decide who gets to rent them and at what cost? Will the renters have an income requirement?

Similar question for owners -if they decide to sell, who is allowed to purchase and at what cost? Will they be like our BMR housing or simply free market prices?

Can the owners of a unit rent to someone else?

Will the converted RV's be allowed to stay (some of the units are not mobile homes, they are RV's).

Will there be limits on the number of people per unit?


2 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2017 at 11:17 am

Here's an idea:

My utility bill says Palo Alto is still in a drought even though the rest of the Bay Area is not. How about we pool all the drought surcharges to pay for all the needed infrastructure upgrades in the Park?


28 people like this
Posted by Deborah
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 19, 2017 at 11:26 am

I've been following this issue for entire time. It's very complicated. All the points raised are true. But when it comes to weighing out everything that is/was involved, this is a good outcome for everybody, especially the people who live there and who would, given even the tiniest bit of opportunity, change places with a Palo Alto homeowner, are still grateful for the tiny sliver of the pie they are getting. In the lives of the children being raised there, the value of keeping their "housing" is priceless.

If we have no compassion, we can't call ourselves human.


2 people like this
Posted by long view
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 19, 2017 at 11:49 am

long view is a registered user.

Would the tenants have done as well just taking 341K per unit? (40M /117 units = 341K per unit) What rent would they have found? And for many tenants who use public transit, they need a nearby rental to be able to keep their current jobs. If they found a rental for 2,000 a month, then the 341K lasts 14 years. Plus they could go a little higher because they would not be paying a space rental. If they rent for $3,000 a month, the 341K only lasts 10 years. What happens after that? Most of the people in Buena Vista now can not afford local market rents. Plus there is the likely disruption of children changing schools.

Can you imagine buying any condo in Palo Alto for 341K? Tell me where! Yes, much more low income housing is needed. But securing this land for permanent affordable housing is a good expenditure. Perhaps over time the Housing Authority can transition from the mobile homes to a denser housing use, to provide even more affordable housing from this site.


34 people like this
Posted by BP resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2017 at 11:52 am

Disaster. Another Simitian wealth transfer. Over the long term, none of this really works. One writer in past evaluations nailed it: Improve transportation and don't try to fight housing costs. Opportunity cost of property taxes, upgrades, etc. will be a big number, though not as large as the unfunded pension liability in Palo Alto.

And oh yeah, the argument that they spend their money locally? Not all of it; a lot goes out of the country.

Keep spending other people's money Joe.

I learned my lesson when I found a grad student at Stanford living in Buena Vista.

Ridiculous.


14 people like this
Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2017 at 11:53 am

This is a mojor victory, significant and poignant! Hat’s off at the peek of Affordable Housing Week in Santa Clara County – the news of this purchase agreement highlights and underscores that housing people has reached beyond a crisis level and has become a human rights issue. And in this Valley of the Kings - a multi trillion dollar a year tech industry – housing those less fortunate is a near catastrophic health and safety issye for so very many young, old and disabled! Toast a glass of Martinelli’s to the BV residents, The County, the City of Palo Alto, The Jissers, and most notably, The Housing Authority!!


14 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Mountain View
on May 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Saving 117 families from eviction and getting 117 units of affordable housing was worth the price. Yes, the trailer park is run-down, but you can't build / buy apartments for anywhere close to $348k per unit in this area. So we got what we paid for - a reasonable price for run-down housing.

It's good that the money was spent on something tangible, rather than flushed down a BART sinkhole or wasted on some other boondoggle.


16 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Native To The Bay:
-- housing people has reached beyond a crisis level and has become a human rights issue.

Well said, it's nice that someone in Palo Alto understands the significance of this.

--

The people who put this all in terms of money and property rights are the kind of people
who immediately after they post a comment have scores of LIKES appear magically
on everything they say - presumable from scores of people who never comment
themselves.

The severe inequality that has resulted from this kind of manipulation of the media are
from the same people who are screaming about fake news.

Property rights cannot just be about people who have reserves of capital voting
themselves tax breaks and then using other people's tax money to buy the government
and making it give them more and more free stuff.


103 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 19, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Housing Authority now owns 117 non code compliant housing units.

The Housing Authority is legally obligated to bring the entire property into code compliance.

Such code compliance will require permanently displacing about 1/4 of the current units.

As a public agency the Housing Authority has relocation obligation in excess of those that would have been required by the previous private owner.

The neighbors will, in my opinion, never allow this property to be converted to true low income housing as the density would require multistory buildings.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 19, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Housing Authority now owns 117 non code compliant housing units.

The Housing Authority is legally obligated to bring the entire property into code compliance.

Such code compliance will require permanently displacing about 1/4 of the current units.

As a public agency the Housing Authority has relocation obligation in excess of those that would have been required by the previous private owner.

The neighbors will, in my opinion, never allow this property to be converted to true low income housing as the economically necessary density would require multistory buildings.


8 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 19, 2017 at 1:16 pm

I guess 'bravo', at least for the euphoria and high fives going on now. But 'it ain't over til it's over'.

I'm very happy for the residents that don't have to move right now, but might have to before all the dust settles. So many unanswered questions. What will be the cost of the renovations/upgrades? Who will pay for them? Will the residents' rents stay pretty close to what they are now? Or will they be asked for increases of 30-50%? That would be a big shock to them when they thought things were going so smoothly. Will all residents be re-vetted for their income levels to determine who still qualifies to live there? And the worst argument made...comparing unit costs at BV with those at the very modern facility at 801 Alma. C'mon...it's 'good' oranges and 'bad' apples. We will be saving a mobile home park with many substandard units, many barely fit to live in, and nothing like the modern units the residents at 801 have.

Today's story made headlines, as a success story, for a day, but let's wait for the final outcome before we raise our glasses and give a toast to it as a real success story.


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Sure, PC, they cannot do anything about Buena Vista because of all the problems,
but when there is a problem with some private developer things get rammed
on through ... like the Edgewood Shopping Center debacle.

The transparency of the nonsense of the anti-people side of this debate always
astounds me.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2017 at 1:42 pm

What is the plan to fix the discrepancies between zoning/code????

To bring the Trailer/RV parking lot up to the required code or will the code/zoning be change to match the conditions?

Another option is to just continue to ignore the discrepancies which has been happening for the past few years anyway.


4 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Congratulations


8 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Special thanks to Joe Simitian and Jim Keene and the legal team. We owe them a lot for their dedication.

Of course the Palo Alto city council has made this happen.

Respectfully


Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm

The best way for the residents is to just let it go, ignore the discrepancies. Otherwise they will be hit by big rent increases. And the city seemed to be fine with letting those discrepancies exist, so why not keep doing that?


23 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Some predictions:

Code enforcement inspections of all BV homes by end of this summer.

Condemnation proceedings of red-ragged homes.

A new map of BV requiring most homes or tenants to roll somewhere else into one of three future redevelopment zones: Habitable now, habitable with fixes by a date certain with work paid for by charity or tax dollars to pay for improvements, and means-tested temporary FEMA-style close pack trailers.

How many BV tenants will wish they took the Jisser's buy out offer when their neighborhood becomes a three-step construction zone for many years?



27 people like this
Posted by Immigrants daughter
a resident of Green Acres
on May 19, 2017 at 4:44 pm

I live in the neighborhood and am happy for the residents that they have an inexpensive place to live. However, in its current condition, it is an eyesore. I hope they clean up the place a bit. I am also happy that the kids get a great education at Palo Alto schools and hopefully continue on to college to attain the American Dream. My parents were not very educated and immigrated here for a better life. However, my parents learned the language. I think if you want to live here, you need to learn Englsih. The article refers to residents who have lived in the trailer park for 14 years and don't know the language. I believe there are free Emglish classes offered through Cubberly.


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2017 at 5:03 pm

-- I think if you want to live here, you need to learn Englsih.

As fascinating as that is, it's not really on topic is it?


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2017 at 5:06 pm

--- How many BV tenants will wish they took the Jisser's buy out offer when their neighborhood becomes a three-step construction zone for many years?

Punish them so they feel the sting of the City doing the right thing because you personally don't agree with the resolution. Amazing.


17 people like this
Posted by What a joke
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 19, 2017 at 5:11 pm

@CrescentParkAnon: Posters digress all the time. And the second gen has a point. Why do immigrants have to be enabled? Why do they offer Spanish on PAUSD materials? How about Hindi, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Russian? Don't the liberal elite find that unfair that they favor the Hispanics in this district?


4 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Hey Joke ... how many Americans that live, work or retire overseas learn the language?
I think it is great if people can learn the language, that was not my criticism, and it can
only help them and make their lives easier.

But some people cannot - and how are you going to measure this and what is the cut-off
point? Sorry, but that meme is much like Donald Trump - it appeals to some people's
righteous indignation but there is no clear or good way to do anything about it except to
suggest abusing or stigmatizing them.

You have to admit that it seems like persecution when first these folks are liable to lose
their places to live and jobs, and lives even because they cannot live in the areas where
they now work ... but they get housing some of the meaner folks want to search for and
probe areas where they can get agreement from other arrogant folks to find a different
way to pay them back for daring to stand up for themselves.

I am sure you won't agree with me, but maybe you can take a moment of two to imagine
how it might seem from another point of view? I only mention it because it used to
also bother me a long time ago until I thought about it. If something is working in a
job where they interface with the public and need to speak English - hiring the wrong
person is really the employer's fault isn't it, and likely they are exploiting people who
cannot speak English for their own greed while not providing you with the service you
really pay for. ????? Think about it.


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2017 at 5:56 pm

-- Don't the liberal elite find that unfair that they favor the Hispanics in this district?

And by the way joke, the elite, even in Liberal California are hardly Liberal, the Liberals
merely have the heart, the brains and the numbers and the logic! ;-).

This kind of talk is the same brand of nonsense that finds various ways to blame Jews
for all the world's problems, or sometimes Muslims, but always ... the OTHER.

The issue in my opinion on immigration, since that is how your framed your comment,
even though the subject is Buena Vista, is - is there so much immigration that the
cultural cohesion of our society and values are threatened. I believe that is a good
question that has not been put forth for realistic discussion because the whole issue
is used to people with anti-social intent to attack various minorities for their own
idiosyncratic purposes. Trump found a way to take all these peculiar outliers and
amalgamate them to vote together based on a wrong negative view of this issue and
completely avoided any real discussion of the possible problem.

All he really needed to say was let's slow down immigration to what we can determine
is a socially manageable level - instead of calling for a complete and total shutdown
of all "whomevers" as he did to demagogue the issue - because he never had any
intention of doing what he said he was going to do.

How's that for a digression?


15 people like this
Posted by What a joke
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 19, 2017 at 6:13 pm

@CrescentParkAnon: Yes, that is quite a digression. I couldn't stand to live in a country where I can't understand what is being said. If people are going to use the country, then the country shouldn't have to print another language on packaging. It seems more divisive when people cannot communicate with each other. People will accept each other more if they all speak the same language.

You are being fooled; the Dem leaders only care about the votes. We've got homeless Americans and they want to help the immigrants.


6 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm

-- I couldn't stand to live in a country where I can't understand what is being said.

OK, I would have the same problem, but that is a personal choice. I and I assume you
are not being hunted down by ISIS or the secret police, or starving because there is
nothing we can do for work to make a living. The suggestions about English are
impossibly impractical and self-regulating. What is the problem you who cannot
resist taking shots are Liberals seem to have with helping people. Look at the
economy and the government tax codes and if you can read and comprehend, who
is it that is getting almost all of the help today - billionaires, corporations, financial
speculators and all of the above with money outside the country.

The absolute pittance spent on this issue is not really even worth one post comment
let alone all this.

-- You are being fooled; the Dem leaders only care about the votes.

Think about that in light of the Electoral College. You really do not seem to
have much respect for the public town hall forum to speak so flippantly. Have a good
one, but what's the point of speaking a common language if you have nothing
serious to say?


8 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on May 19, 2017 at 9:18 pm

This is just paying for the site.

How soon will tens of millions be required to build habitable housing on the site?

How long did Stanford use trailers to house students? I remember when students fell through the floor of their showers after the rot set in.


24 people like this
Posted by ASadDayForReason
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 19, 2017 at 10:19 pm

My heart burns every time I read something about this fiasco. Did we do any due diligence on what the best way is to benefit the maximum number of people with the kind of money that is being spent here? Could this money instead have been used for housing to help Palo Alto teachers, firefighters or policemen live here and their kids have the opportunity to benefit from the schools here. We talk about how they cannot afford to live near here. With the kind of money that was at stake, did we have a prioritized list of things that we could have tackled and did we pick the one with the highest priority? We taxpayers work hard, make personal sacrifices on a daily basis and exert tremendous due diligence on behalf of the businesses we work in. Just hurts so much when our hard-earned tax dollars are so callously spent.


12 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on May 20, 2017 at 10:15 am

The Buena Vista is the ulimate form of price control. For those who understand real estate usage it is an up front disaster. It just doesn't pencil out at all. HUD should back off immediately. This leads into I believe the best lesson plan in basic economics. Status quo bias. The next battle is concerning the rent control vote June 6 in Santa Rose. My blog is in the hands to the editors of the Palo Alto/Mountain View online. RENT CONTROL IN MOUNTAIN VIEW; BOMBING DAMAGE ASSESSMENT (BDA). Silicon Valley is perhaps the best educated area in history with corresponding high rents.

George Drysdale social studies teacher and land ecoomist


3 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Barron Park
on May 20, 2017 at 11:05 am

"I’m proud to have helped secure $26 million in federal funding to complement the overall package to save the homes of 400 Palo Altans" (Anna Eshoo).

I looked on the HUD website, and I could not find that grant funded. Could someone please provide the grant number for me? Thanks.


4 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm

@ ASadDayForReason......I agree that this is a fiasco and most everything you said, but Palo Alto teachers, firefighters and police officers are very well compensated and many can afford to live here and do. Take a look at the published salaries of these city employees and you'll find that many earn 6 figure incomes and some, in the case of police and firefighters earn with overtime in excess of 200K per year. They don't need any special favors.


8 people like this
Posted by Fan of local students & families
a resident of Barron Park
on May 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm

It would've been tragic for the many families and students who live in Buena Vista to have had to re-locate and, for their children, attend new schools. I am so grateful that Buena Vista will remain here. Thank you to all who made it happen!


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

A Hard Road
By Chandrama Anderson | 4 comments | 1,638 views

Babywearing
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 481 views

 

Registration now open

Sign up for the 33rd annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run and Walk. This family-friendly event which benefits local nonprofits serving kids and families will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 at the Palo Alto Baylands.

Register Here