Property owner Toufic Jisser has applied to close the 60-plus-year-old residential park located at 3980 El Camino Real. Nearly 400 low-income individuals would be evicted to make way for a 184-unit apartment complex.
The report outlines how much money each tenant would receive for their mobile homes and to cover relocation costs. The city found Jisser's Relocation Impact Report, which outlines the terms, to be "complete" on Feb. 20.
The Jisser family would buy the mobile homes for their appraised value and pay for first- and last-month's rent, a security deposit and 12 months in rent subsidies for the difference between the rent at Buena Vista and the rent at residents' new locations. Persons moving into one-bedroom apartments would receive between $12,000 to $16,300 for relocation; those moving into three-bedroom apartments would receive $20,000 to $30,600, according to the report.
The hearing is scheduled for May 12 through 14, when attorneys for the 400 residents and the Jissers will square off before independent Administrative Law Judge Craig Labadie. The hearing will be held at Avenidas Senior Center, 450 Bryant St., Palo Alto, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Labadie is expected to make a tentative ruling at the hearing, with a final decision in writing. The public will have a chance to speak at the hearing after legal arguments are made.
Buena Vista residents can appeal Labadie's ruling to the Palo Alto City Council if he accepts the report. The council cannot stop Buena Vista's closure; an appeal would be limited to the compensation terms, city officials have said.
The residents are being represented by attorneys from The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and Sidley Austin LLP.
"The closure of Buena Vista means the loss of over 100 units of affordable housing. ... Buena Vista's families, predominantly Latino and low income, will lose invaluable educational and job opportunities if forced to move outside of the city," the law firms said in a statement.
Having residents purchase the mobile-home park is a viable alternative to its closure, they added.
Nadia Aziz, senior attorney for the Law Foundation's Fair Housing Project, called the relocation plan "grossly inadequate" and said it does not comply with Palo Alto's Mobile Home Conversion Ordinance.
Residents said they are determined to fight the eviction so that their children will be able to finish their educations in the Palo Alto Unified School District. They have twice offered the Jissers $14.5 million to purchase the park, which would be funded through government grants and loans, said Erika Escalante, president of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Residents Association.
The residents have spent the last two weeks voicing their feelings at City Council meetings, and they have demonstrated nearly every afternoon at the corner of Los Robles Avenue and El Camino Real near Buena Vista.
The residents and advocates from the Barron Park neighborhood, known as Friends of Buena Vista, also plan a rally at Elinor Cogswell Plaza, located next to Avenidas, on May 12 starting at 5:45 p.m. just prior to the hearing, Escalante said.
The Jissers have only commented that they are tied to an agreement with San Mateo developer Prometheus to sell the land for the apartments. But the city must also allow a zoning change for the new development to proceed, city officials have said.
State law does not allow the City Council to stop the closure of a mobile home park. But Palo Alto can make funding available as an incentive for its preservation or for the creation of affordable housing in the city, City Manager James Keene has said.
"While we may want to comment on the personal, human aspect of the Buena Vista situation, we also do not want to jeopardize the outcome of what is essentially a legal hearing to determine if the relocation benefits for residents are adequate, which is the purpose of the hearing. The hearing officer's decision can be appealed to the City Council, and we don't want to make any statements that could be interpreted to influence the results," he said in a statement.
"Also, we anticipate that whatever decision the council makes will likely be adjudicated in Superior Court, and out of an abundance of caution, want to be careful not to comment on aspects that could impact the outcome of the judicial process.
"We all know that affordable housing is needed in Palo Alto, and the city has been and will continue to be proactive in its efforts to identify funding and opportunities to provide for more affordable housing," Keene stated.