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Buena Vista residents urge city to save their homes

Original post made on Oct 2, 2012

Residents of Palo Alto's only surviving mobile-home park are rising up against a proposal from a San Mateo-based developer to turn their community into a dense housing development.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 2, 2012, 5:57 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by Jean
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 2, 2012 at 7:42 am

Hip-hip hooray for the Buena Vista residents! So glad you are speaking out! You are an important part of this community!

Posted by Jerry Lenhard
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:40 am

I live in Escondido. We had two parks, both senior, close over 15 yrs ago. Our residents were all organized. Our city supported us & required the converting parks to buy the homes at their value in a park, or move the home to another park. One resident wanted to move back to Texas & the park owner had to move him & his home. Some other residents sold their home to the park & moved into new senior housing just built, right across the street from the park. The park owner had to pay the difference in rent for the first two yrs. The city had a rep work with each resident & each resident was satisfied with his/her own deal. State laws require re-location when a park closes. Residents should organize & elect leaders to work with the city & park owner to remedy each residents' situation. With over 150 residents in this park, they could/should well afford to chip in $10 ea & hire an attorney for advice/protection. Wouldn't hurt for
GSMOL reps to get off their butts & help. The best way to get new members is to ACCOMPLISH something besides rhetoric.

Posted by winter dellenbach
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2012 at 10:54 am

If you wish to support the residents at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park (established, 1926) and affordable housing in Palo Alto, email [email protected] I will add you to the support list to take various actions we can coordinate, write letters and emails to the City and PAUSD, and be at some public hearings, etc.

Also - Palo Alto adopted IT'S OWN mobile home park conversion ordinance in 2001 to protect Buena Vista which is recognizes as a major source of affordable housing for low and very low income people - many are considered the working poor. So the city and any developer and the owner must follow our Palo Alto law regarding this.


Posted by Worker Bee
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:47 am

Since the council is so almighty about what is morally right or wrong (see article on death sentence), I would think that the “death” of this property would concern them and do everything possible to see it live on for the current residents. Yeah, right. Council (and high level city staff) just love those developers and love to bend the rules for them. Go get them Buena Vista residents!

Posted by Allen Edwards
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:57 am

The developer would be well advised to find another property to develop. Just point out to him how long it took to develop the property near us at Alma Plaza. Or, how about how long it took to get Sandhill to go to El Camino. There is probably no way he can make money in this city displacing this community.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Usually when children speak to the council doing an I'm so "cute" display, it's cringe worthy. The kids make overly long boring statements and usually Mommy hovers over them.
But these folks had the children make brief 1 or 2 sentence statements and it was admirable. Hooray for them!

Posted by Michele
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 2, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I lived in Ventura for 10 years and my Mom is still there. We do not want the mobile home park to be razed and more high density property for wealthy people put in. Our neighborhood is being "gentrified" to the point of insanity. The small cottages are being sold, bought and torn down and built with huge Taco Bells to the limits of the property lines. Pretty soon the entire town will all look alike from north to south, east to west.

Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I totally support this new redevelopment. I know I can write to the council and show my support. Can't show up for council meetings due to work... Any other suggestions on how to organize to show support for this improvement?? Is anyone organizing to show support??

Posted by Moochie
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:17 pm

We do have affordable housing in our area. It's called East Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Based on what I see when I drive near that mobile park, I have to believe that most homeowners in that neighborhood would like to see better housing choices in that location.
Don't understand people who think they are entitled to live in Palo Alto, and that the city owes them affordable housing. As some have pointed out, there are plenty of other communities where housing is much more affordable. There are lots of things in life that I would like to have, but I cannot afford them and have to accept that. Period.
It just goes against the principles of a free-enterprise and rule-abiding society when I see loud voices bullying rightful property owners.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 3, 2012 at 12:04 am

It's interesting that Carlos believes that we have real free enterprise here. Too bad that we don't - it would keep things interesting.

Housing isn't like other types of "free enterprise", hence the specific laws governing it re redevelopment and the displacement of residents.

It's also interesting that people talk so frequently about others being entitled when they're referring to lower income people, as if someone with more is entitled to even more or better just based on their income. It's sad that I recall a time in Shallow Alto before it earned this moniker and that people of all income levels lived in the city. They also personalize it, as Carlos did, as if he can compare his life w/living in a crappy trailer court surrounded by some of the wealthiest people on the PLANET. Carlos - have you had that tough of a row to hoe? I haven't & heck, I live in a former drug house.

I'm glad that there are specific housing laws in place to help prevent homelessness and other tragedies for people who have less, earn less but aren't lesser people for it. What makes them lesser is how they treat themselves and each other, and how they are treated by those in positions of privilege and power. With privilege and power come responsibility. At least the city reflects this with these laws. Quit being so nasty to poor people who have fewer resources, very limited choices and most likely live with much more fear and uncertainty than many of us.

The owners have a right to sell. The city has to ensure that the laws in place work to help the residents if the owners sell. Who cares about the developers? They always make a bundle. The social justice issue here is the residents & that has to be balanced w/the owners making a profit. The larger issue of what will be built when has to still be decided. But the bottom line here - besides a profit - is that the tenants have specific rights & that guides what happens w/them. If you don't like it, change the laws.

BTW, I've seen the place & it's lousy. I well understand why many want to see it go. Take a stand for this working out as well as possible for the residents AND the owners, as those are the most important issues right now.

Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 3, 2012 at 10:54 am

If I was the owner, I would wait till the utilities really give out and then sue the city for interfering with progress and development. After all isn't that why the city past the park closure ordinance? Its really a step by step process that the owners have to go through to close the place down.

I personally cant wait for this place to go. NOT because I have a problem with the mobile home park, but because I have a problem with everybody interfering with property owners rights.

Please people the tenants do have rights BUT so do property owners. What ever happened the the owners rights. Did these tenants actually believe they can bring in their homes, pay rent and stay forever?

Posted by Jack
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

Like many of you I do feel bad for the tenants, its never easy having to relocate, however with that being said.

I must agree with John above. The MH Park is in dire need for an upgrade. Trying to upgrade that place couldn't make economic sense to anyone, unless you are a local government. The owner has rights and many hurtles to jump over, but if he's willing to follow the law I am willing to back him.

Again, owners do have rights.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Who said the owners don't have rights? No one said so. If the owners didn't have rights, this wouldn't be happening. The news orgs need to make money & the tenants are scared, thus this headline.

My advice, as a tenant who's dealt w/horrifyingly greedy landlords:

-Get current on city, county and state laws re your rights
-Save as much $$ as possible
-Don't act like victims
-Keep facing this head on; no heads in the sand
-Figure out how to make it best work for you - who knows? Maybe you can be relocated somewhere better than where you are now
-Stay organized to ensure that the city helps protect your interests, as they're legally obliged to do

Posted by Renter for life
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

For Moochie, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood:
Guess what people in Portola Valley and Los Altos Hills say about Palo Alto......

Posted by robert
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Really people, I lost my job two years ago and had to relocate my family to Palo Alto. I really like it here (other than the fact that it is very expensive) but for my kids it was the end of the world having to leave their school. After making the move the kids adapted to the new school in days (if not hours).

Using the kids however to get sympathy out of the council, now thats just pathetic. You should educate the kids and instill confidence in them, not use them as pawns. My kids where in the Gilroy school system and we prefer it till today when compared to the PA school.

Palo Alto is not the only school system in California and welcome to the new world. Moving, relocating and changing careers is a reality.

Posted by Barb
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Cant wait to see it go. I still have a hard time believing that a place like this exists. I would join any group that supports redevelopment.

Posted by Jon
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 3, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Diversity is a blessing. Socioeconomic homogeneity does not make for good schools even if they are wealthy. What needs redevelopment are mcmansions. They are dismal.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I feel these parent are using thier children as a reason to staying living in a place where the sewers are falling apart,and we have to deal with the smell,I know because I have lived in this park for 12 years.If you bring and issue up to the owner,he syas if you don't like it,move. Sure people want to stay her ebecuase the hae no rule to follow,most love it because they are here illegal,and so many have thier familes use their address so their families can attend the better schools,I'll be happy to see this place go.

Posted by Marielena
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 4, 2012 at 7:09 am

Way to go, Misael, Jenny and all of the children who spoke out. I see new leaders in our community. I am glad you are speaking out. Love, Marielena.

Posted by rental confusion
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 4, 2012 at 8:35 am

I am a bit confused on one issue here, and maybe someone could enlighten me....

The 2001 Ordinance of the Mobile Home park refers to only Owners of a mobile home who rent an actual space from Jisser. But what about those residents who rent either the mobile home or one of the 12 cabins? Are they included in the ordinance, or are they just treated as renters, as in the same as if they were renting an apartment with a month-to-month type rental agreement, or as if they were renting a house where suddenly the owner of said house wants to sell?

There have been many families who've left Palo Alto because rent in their complex went up to the point where they couldn't afford it, or they rented a house and the owner had them move out in order to sell the house. It would seem that any renters in the home park also fall into this category. And if so, those are the terms when one signs a rental agreement, esp. month-to-month.

The children who spoke on Monday night at the council meeting - are they children of renters or mobile home owners?

Does anyone know the numbers of mobile home owners vs. renters at this point? or does the city come in and do a count once a change of ownership deal has been presented?

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2012 at 11:39 am

Here is an idea, use tax monies to fix up the BV park.

Posted by Em
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm

These people can't afford to go anywhere else. They've built lives here for themselves and their children. I don't think they have large savings or bank accounts. Let this be an instance where the City of Palo Alto takes a compassionate, rather than economic, stance.

To Barbara who can't wait to see these people displaced. Really?? You don't even live near the park. Shame on you.

Posted by bob
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I'm surprised this place survived the last 20 years. Palo Alto hasn't had a middle class family, much less lower class, residing within city limits since the Macintosh SE.

Posted by Cynthia
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm

This mobile park is exactly why Barron Park continues to be the least desirable and least expensive area of Palo Alto to live in. It is such an eye-sore!

Our friends live way down that street in a beautiful home, but to get there, you have to drive by that unsightly liquor store on one side and the run-down mobile park complex on the other. UGH!

I agree with Moochie! Affordable housing is called EPA and Redwood City. We know plenty of people would would love to live in PA and can't afford it so they buy elsewhere. Oh well.

Posted by Barb
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm

To Em

Shame on you for interfering with land owner rights. The biggest risk takers here are the owners. If you want the park saved then you should be asking the city to purchase the park. NOT interfering with an investors rights.

Can you even begin to image a country were the renter has more control of a private property than the owner!!


Posted by Robert
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I agree with Cynthia, this place is an eye sore. I have many friends who would love to live in PA but can't afford it.

Any support for development groups being formed. I'm IN!

Posted by Gouged
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I dont understand how tenants can or should be able to prevent a property owner from developing the property as he sees fit. I also dont understand how anyone can possibly have this attitude of entitlement that they are owed low cost housing. There are thousands of people who live where they can afford to live - and most of them dont live in Palo Alto because they cannot the housing here. Nothing wrong with that. There is absolutely no reason why that same rule should not apply to those currently living in the mobile home park.

Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Gouged - it's the law. If you don't like it, change it.

Posted by Gouged
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 4, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Aquamarine: Please tell me what law is it that you refer to? That you can demand a freebie? That you expect a subsidy just because?
That a tenant can demand a subsidy from their landlord?
Which of these is the law that you refer to?

Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 5, 2012 at 1:20 am

Gouged: there are laws governing development, the whys, wherefores and more importantly, the wheres.

There are laws about how much lower income housing is needed per county and city. Cities can get into trouble if they ignore these laws, as happened recently in Menlo Park.

There are laws that govern landlord/tenant relations, what they can and can't do to each other. In some cases, this means that a landlord has to go by the laws in place when they are displacing tenants due to redevelopment. It's complicated and there are a number of variables.

Since this is about shelter, there are many laws involved, some which benefit the tenants, some which benefit the landlord - it all depends on the situation in play. Landlords should know this when they get into the game. Tenants, on the other hand, often don't properly educate themselves on tenant/landlord laws and then scramble when something happens. Landlords will often exploit the ignorance of their tenants, and there are of course tenants who are terrible toward their neighbors and landlords and cause more trouble than they're worth.

This property is an artifact of when the area was more affordable. It's been clung to by the city since it's considered affordable housing for low and very low income residents.

What the tenants are rightfully entitled to, by law, aren't entitlements, they're rights. The same goes for the landlord.

People usually react with fear when this happens, because so much is unknown and shelter is one of our most basic needs. But fear isn't going to help, on either side. Change happens and it's hard to know at the beginning if the change will be good. That's why we say it's HINDSIGHT that's 20/20, not foresight.

Posted by D9194
a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2012 at 12:40 am

I haven't seen any evidence that the property owner is losing money or in financial hardship from the keeping of this property. So my guess is that the desire to turn this over to redevelopment is for profit. There is nothing wrong with making a profit per se; however, profit absent of ethical consideration and social responsibility is somewhat deplorable (I think of the mortgage practices that put us in our economic situtation today that exercised similar motives of profit without ethics and responsibility). Now I understand my analogue is not entirely applicable but hopefully the point is readily discernable.

Previous comments about property owner rights without the need to consider the tenants seems somewhat hypocritical for the reason that should government exercise eminent domain over a large amount of property in Palo Alto for the sake of a highway development deemed necessary (which is in the full "rights" of the government), owners (analogous to tenants in the eyes of eminent domain) would be screaming for their rights to be considered.

So if you are in favor of booting these tenants out of their homes, what just compensation do you grant them consistent with your expectation under an eminent domain situation? I suspect your pleas at the city council meeting would sound quite similar to those of this community; namely, the displacement of your children from their schools, the emotional ties to the community in which you have established yourself, the financial burden of relocating, and the arduous task of relocating to someplace practical to your need for proximity to your occupation as well as schools for your family.

If you think property owners have no ethical obligations to their tenants but that ownership trumps any social responsibility, you might reconsider your opinion as it nears the philosophy of slum lords.

Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 25, 2012 at 8:26 am

From what I understand, the systems that supply Buena Vista (sewer, water, etc.) are failing and are way past their "life expectancy". If that is true, the residents would be displaced anyway in order to upgrade the utilities.

The park is to the point where it needs to be replaced - either with another park (not going to happen...) or with something else. Our efforts would be better spent in finding affordable alternatives for the current residents, especially those who are in PAUSD.

Posted by Barb
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm

It has been the abuses of the living situation at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park that has
caused the extreme interest in it. It is my situation that drew attention to abuse of finances and the greed of extremely greed orientated living persons that caused me to desire a move when I had just moved in. I never got into the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park because of all the extremely greedy bullies that live in and about Palo Alto whose eyes cause theives to break in an steal. I believe that not a few so called residents at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park were not residents in a full use and payment status, but a Set Up Status Of Group Living which is not real home life to anyone. A couple of years ago for two years no one lived in the park as there were no cars and people and before that people hardly stayed for long and others took the mobile homes instead. It has been almost an exteme crime in the abuse level I have received from criminal actions seen and experienced by real criminal minded persons that ruined my life in the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park.
Why? For their Own Selfish and Greedy obtaining FREE PROFITS. Real Palo Alto residents have Never Been Known to Steal night and day, even though they were never FIRST CLASS PEOPLE or UPPER CLASS PEOPLE LIKE THEY ALL APPEAR TO BE CLAMORING FOR almost as IDOLS. The loss? Is there REAL HISTORY in California especially Palo Alto. If so, then there is a REAL LOSS OF REAL HISTORY. Personally, I loved the horses and carriages on the tree lined roads of El Camino Real in Palo Alto, California. The real history once lived. It is really not available now. I think the whole closure proves that lives of people and the residents of Palo Alto are cheaper and foreigner than expected; perhaps below the Slum Area levels of behavior. I have with FOREVER in view felt the EXTREME AND ABUSIVE GREED OF HATE-MONGERS, SLANDERMONGERS, AND REAL CRIMINAL THEIVES OF MY FAMILY'S NAME GOOD REPUTE IN THE SURROUNDING AREA; AS WELL AS MY WELL REPUTED NAME DESTROYED BY BULLIES - FOR THEIR SWALLOWING MONEY TO THE LIMIT EVEN SHORT OF BLOOD SPILLED - INTENTIONED BY DESIGN AND PLANNED ERROR OF MORALS LONG MISSING.

Posted by BARB
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

If interest is aroused in Whom to Blame and Whom to Bless in the Closure of the Buena Vista Mobil Home Park, I suggest that the interested one check the very movies watched in the movie theaters. I further suggest that there are journals available with Bible Based (morals) as reading that contain a lot of the history of the Bible's development. Perhaps the view will become less clouded by wrong views of information. It is a real record of people and events.

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