Council prepares to revise Buena Vista lot lines | News | Palo Alto Online |


Council prepares to revise Buena Vista lot lines

New parcel map to pave way for Housing Authority's purchase of mobile-home park

Having succeeded in preventing the closure of Palo Alto's sole mobile-home park, the City Council is preparing to take the next step on Monday to ensure its continued operations.

The council is scheduled to approve on Monday night a new parcel map for Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, a key step in the effort by the Santa Clara County Housing Authority to purchase the park from the Jisser family. The county agency is in the process of buying the mobile-home park, with escrow set to close on Sept. 1.

For the roughly 400 residents who live at Buena Vista, the county's purchase of the mobile home park at 3980 El Camino Real is a long-awaited victory after nearly five years of anxiety. The Jisser family has been trying to close the park since at least November 2012, with the idea of redeveloping the 6-acre site in the Barron Park neighborhood. The process was mired by litigation and arguments over whether the relocation assistance being offered to the residents is adequate.

The conversation changed last year, when the Housing Authority entered the fray, bringing with it its power of eminent domain. After both the council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors each agreed to contribute $14.5 million in affordable-housing funds to buy the mobile-home park, the Housing Authority negotiated the purchase of the mobile-home park for $40.4 million.

The Housing Authority plans to use funds from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to complete the purchase to renovate the park.

The new parcel map is a key step in the process. It would reduce the number of parcels on the 6.19-acre site from five to three, with the Housing Authority controlling the largest parcel: 4.5 acres that includes most of the mobile homes. The Jisser family will still own the 1-acre parcel that includes two commercial buildings and the 0.75 acre that includes a gas station and a few housing units.

Under the terms of the deal, the Jissers will lease back to the county the residential portion of the 0.75 acre site for three years, giving the agency time to relocate the residents to the main parcel.

The Planning and Transportation Commission reviewed and swiftly approved the new parcel map on July 12. The council is expected to do the same on Aug. 14, the first meeting after its summer recess.

Once escrow closes, the county will proceed with the next step: bringing the park up to code. Flaherty Ward, assistant director of housing at the Housing Authority, told the commission last month that she expects there to be some "upfront investment on the infrastructure that needs to happen." After that, the agency hopes to use rent payments to help fund site improvements.

During the July 12 meeting, Planning Director Hillary Gitelman called the decision to change the parcel map a "simple one." It would result in preserving an existing condition that "we all treasure in Palo Alto."

"The city and the County have put a great deal of money into preserving the mobile home park and this is one of the prerequisites to closing escrow and letting the Authority actually follow through with the purchase," Gitelman said.


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24 people like this
Posted by Jzizo
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2017 at 10:35 am

Wonder what the total pubic cost per unit will be in end?

32 people like this
Posted by Crackdown now
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 9, 2017 at 11:06 am

How did this get through the P&T commission so fast. The single entrance to the park is unsafe and in a poor location. Plus code enforcement officials need to goth rough the park ASAP citing unsafe and out of code issues. Not sure why buena vista gets a pass on everything while people like winter. Insist on crackdowns of businesses on el camino and others push for a crackdown on the baptist church on California avenue

5 people like this
Posted by M. Driscoll
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Will the trailer park have its own neighborhood designation? To include them as part of Barron Park is a bit of a stretch.

13 people like this
Posted by BV
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Hey Crackdown Now, the park has TWO entrances, fyi! The city is not responsible for code enforcement in the trailer park, except for actual buildings in the park with foundations. Mobile home code enforcement is the purview of the State of California.

The trailer park has recently been inspected by the State and has passed. Is that the pass you meant?

New management is conducting health and safety inspections now. After 9/1/2017 there will be many upgrades made to the park, including eventually modifying the entrances including the possibility of adding gates. That's happy news for you, right?

The trailer park is an integral part of the Barron Park community, and there is no stretching involved, sorry Driscoll!

3 people like this
Posted by Deb
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Does anyone know whom we can contact to see if it would be possible to move the entrance to the Buena Vista to El Camino and away from Los Robles?

13 people like this
Posted by Winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Let me clarify some misunderstandings about Buena Vista - there are not one but two entrances/exits to the BV.

inspections of Buena Vista have never been under the jurisdiction of Palo Alto's Code Enforcement but instead, along with all mobile home parks in California, are under the jurisdiction of California State Housing and Community Development. BV was inspected by the State last year. With Housing Authority, federal standards will apply.

Let me also anticipate some comments and do some preventative clarification. Neither City nor County used any taxpayer money toward the purchase price of BV. Each appropriately drew from its respective Affordable Housing Fund the amount from each entity was capped at that given.

Buena Vista Mobile Home Park is 91 years old this year - nearly a century. Any map of the Barron Park neighborhood shows Buena Vista to be in the middle of our neighborhood, near but not on its eastern border. It is indivisible from us. To think that the City would now cut off Buena Vista, thereby excluding its residents from our neighborhood, would be to negate much of what was fought for in the last five years. No - we will stay together, all for one and one for all, stubborn as our Barron Park donkeys.

2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 9, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Carry on in the highest tradition. I'm anxious to see the end game results. So much confusion on the state, county, and PA's involvement and responsibilities in this. Wishing for a good outcome!

2 people like this
Posted by PAHC Neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Hey Deb,

Not gonna happen, sorry! Think about it, you want 400 people to use one entrance and exit, gee that's great planning, there prob. won't be any congestion, ever, right?

8 people like this
Posted by June
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2017 at 7:23 pm

> Neither City nor County used any taxpayer money toward the purchase price of BV

This money came from various sources, all involving county and city citizens, directly or indirectly. Winter is falsely portraying this issue. There are no free pots of money. She also avoids the issues of the lost property taxes that result from this cause she espouses.

4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 9, 2017 at 9:25 pm

I would like to see an analysis of where the Affordable Housing funds come from. Someone is suggesting this is not from taxpayers. Please explain.

An estimate of costs to meet code requirements would also be appreciated.

Locals did not get to vote on this, although school bond issues, which have far more universal benefit, do get put to a vote (and the possibility of a veto by taxpayers despite the fact that no one questions the need for schools). So I think the Council could fill in some of these blanks for the voters/taxpayers in Palo Alto. Let us know what the subsidies will be for how ever many residents will be the beneficiaries.

2 people like this
Posted by PAHC Neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2017 at 10:04 pm

Resident, the park already meets all of its code requirements! Read prior comments, the park just passed a State inspection.

1 person likes this
Posted by jisser family
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2017 at 7:19 am

$40.4 million to sell the park (4.5 acres) without the park closure cost or repairs for many years and keep almost 2 acres of prime commercial real estate! The jisser family should write a book, The Real Art of the Deal. Even trump could not pull that off.

3 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 10, 2017 at 10:48 am

The article mentions that improvements to the park will be paid from the rents.

This brings on a question. The City of Palo Alto imposed rent control on the Jissers some years ago. Rent control always means that owners will not be able to make improvements since they will not be able to pay for them.

The non-profit will of course have the same problem that the Jissers had: finding the money.

Does this mean:
1. The city will repeal the rent control ordinance to allow the non-profit to increase rents? How will this go down with the residents? Isn't it rather unfair to the Jissers (not that anyone cares)?
2. The city and county will increase their subsidies, over time, to allow for the rents to remain within the strict confines of the ordinance?
3. Something else.

Like this comment
Posted by PAHC Neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2017 at 10:57 am

Hey, Robert Smith, the Jissers didn't have the prob. of "finding the money", their neglect of the park was the deliberate plan, not a bug.

From the day they took over they began to maximize their income by renting any space bigger than a postage stamp and by maintaining a philosophy I call slum-lord, i.e. all $ flow IN, NO $ flows OUT.

Their income JUST from their cell tower near ECR on Los Robles is approx. 10k per MONTH or possibly higher. The copies of their billing that I saw support that figure.

2 people like this
Posted by Goodness
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 10, 2017 at 12:43 pm

PACC and the New Owners of BV are in the Honeymoon phase. Just like the new Trump Admin. they will blame all the problems on the old Obama admin (in this case, the Jissers). Vilify them all you want while you can. Once the honeymoon is over, the residents and citizens of PA will see the folly for what it is. The PACC and new owners as well as all those who supported this deal will find themselves the target of that same vilification for the mess they have created. It will begin as you put the first residents off the property to conform to maximum density due to health and codes, then displace units and residents to fix the utilities, and then charge rent increases commensurate with your costs.

You own it now. You can't keep blaming your mess on the old administration (..I mean previous owners).

Like this comment
Posted by Jisser family
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2017 at 1:43 pm

PAHC Neighbor. - to y point exactly. The jisser family are slumlords who neglected the place for years then sold it for millions while keeping the commercial portion.

Great negotiations on their part. And the article reads as if the jisser family was forced to sell! They wanted out and by all standards took the profits and left the mess to the tax payers.

The art of the deal in a while new light!

3 people like this
Posted by Goodness
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 10, 2017 at 1:55 pm

"They wanted out and by all standards took the profits and left the mess to the tax payers."

You make it sound as if you were forced to buy.

2 people like this
Posted by PAHC Neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2017 at 1:59 pm

Hey,Goodness, thanks for the cheery outlook, who knows, maybe Green Acres will become uninhabitable due to unforseen conditions in the future or you could lose all your savings and have to declare bankruptcy and lose your home, then you'don't probably feel like all the residents of Buenaventura Vista have felt for the last 4.5 years!Keep on smiling!

2 people like this
Posted by M. Driscoll
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 10, 2017 at 5:51 pm

PAHC Neighbor is the only one who 'gets it'.

The Jisser family made their money after years of operating a run down shanty-town and are home free. The only ones to have any real empathy for are the remaining renters of this decrepit trailer park.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 10, 2017 at 11:59 pm

On the question of the source of funding to for the purchase, here is the press release from Santa Clara Housing Authority regarding the source of funding.

Web Link

$29M comes from the city and the county. And according to 2016 measure A, the fund comes from a bond which will be paid with interest by an increase in property tax rate.

Web Link

This is how our tax money is at work.

Like this comment
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 11, 2017 at 11:16 am

It is my understanding that trailer parks run by non-profits often have the same issues that existed under the former landlords. Given that economic issues are involved, this makes sense.

I am just wondering who is going to pay for the improvements, maintenance, and increases in operating costs.

PAHC: One of the interesting things about the city hearings and process was that we heard nothing at all good about the Jissers, they were totally vilified; on the other hand, we heard wonderful things about the park and what a great place it was. People I have known who lived there were also very supportive of the place. The question is: if the Jissers were so terrible, why was the park so great?

We will see how the new owners measure up.

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