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Lawyers squabble over rules in appeal of Buena Vista's closure

Original post made on Jan 1, 2015

When the new City Council convenes for its first substantive meeting of the year, it will immediately plunge into one of the city's most emotionally charged and legally complex issues: the fate of Palo Alto's sole mobile-home park and its more than 400 residents.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 1, 2015, 9:11 AM

Comments (55)

Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 1, 2015 at 10:01 am

Legal standing determines which parties may participate in an action. Whether or not a party has legal standing is critical is deciding if the action presented by the party is valid. For the appeal of the Buena Vista closure application, none of the individual residents appealed the decision. Instead, public interest law firms firms filed a single appeal on behalf of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Residents Association (BVMHPRA).

In the upcoming City Council agenda, City staff misinterprets the owner's position about the "standing" of the BVMHPRA. Staff erroneously summarizes the owner's position that the appeal filed by the association is invalid because the appeal was not filed by an "aggrieved person" as specified in the ordinance. Staff believes the key point in the owner's argument is the word "person" and also that owner relies on the fact that the association is not a person in the ordinary meaning of the word. Staff applies the definition of "person" from elsewhere in the Palo Alto Municipal Code which has a broader meaning. As a result, staff believes that the resident association is entitled to file the appeal acting in a representative capacity for the residents. Staff draws the conclusion that the appeal addresses park closure compensation issues in a manner that will be "applied consistently" to all park residents and is therefore a valid appeal.

Unfortunately, this analysis is completely flawed because the key word in this part of the closure ordinance is not "person", but "aggrieved". The resident association's appeal has many problems, starting with "redressability" or how the negative effects of park's closure on the residents should be mitigated. The major problem with many of the arguments in the association's appeal is that some issues could only be ameliorated by keeping all or a portion of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park open forever. This is in direct contradiction to the closure ordinance itself, and would violate the owner's constitutional rights. Thus, the association's claims by themselves are invalid because providing relief to "any aggrieved person" would involve violating the park owner's rights that are more fundamental than provisions of mitigation in the ordinance. Without a way to meet "redressability" the association's appeal fails to meet an essential test of legal standing.

Staff is also wrong about the legal authority of the resident's association to act in a representative capacity for the residents. This is well settled law under a "prudential limitation" that applies a three element test to obtain representative capacity and file the appeal on behalf of the park residents. One of these elements is that relief for "an aggrieved person" must not require participation of individual persons in the action. For example, the association could appeal a zoning change if that were part of the closure process. But in this case, each mobile home owner has compensation that is individually calculated based on the type, age and condition of their trailer as well as their own income level and disability status. As a general rule, any claim that requires individualized proof fails this test - (see: Bano v Union Carbide Corporation - "no Supreme Court or circuit court case has approved of representational standing in cases seeking monetary relief"). Thus, the appeal by resident's association is obviously invalid.

Since the only appeal filed is invalid, there is no reason for the Palo Alto City Council to take any further action on the closure of Buena Vista.


Posted by Jeff
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 1, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Thank you Joe for completely sanitizing the Buena Vista situation, cleansing it of all those human elements, city policy interests, affordable housing concerns, and most of all, the nearly 400 people living there. It is now so much easier to deal with without that annoying complexity. I, like you, have found it is easy to be heartless online when anonymous. Instead, I invite you to come on by Buena Vista and explain your legal theories to residents there - in person - you might not be so adamant. If the law were so black and white we wouldn't need even a single lawyer to interpret and argue the law, and you would be out of work - just like the Buena Vista folks will be if they are forced out.

I am sure we all would be puzzled and angry to hear that 400 Palo Alto residents could be forced from the homes they own, from the schools they attend, and the jobs they hold with no city hearing with their council members - as you promote above. And as the article notes, "With respect to the general public speaking at the appeal hearing in this matter, the Park Owner would submit that ... the public's opinion is irrelevant," Nanda =[owner's attorney] wrote in a letter to the city on Nov. 20".

So if I understand this right - town residents at BV or otherwise are, in these views, irrelevant and without further rights or recourse in Palo Alto. Hey - this is Palo Alto where residents matter - we just voted on it, remember?










Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Jeff-- does the owner of buena vista, jisser, have any rights? Will he be forced to maintain Buena vista as a mobile home park, despite his desires to shut down his property? The city set standards for closure of the park. Jisser has met those standards. Are the people that want to keep buena vista open only interested in the rule of law when it benefits them?
I am not sure why all the people that are clamoring for buena vista to be kept open do not pool their resources and buy the park. I am sure that many of these people have equity in their homes that could be parlayed into a loan for this cause they feel is so noble.


Posted by Clear
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 1, 2015 at 7:32 pm

@Joe - great post! Thanks.


Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2015 at 7:46 pm

BTW, Jeff, jissers lawyer is correct-- the opinion of the public is irrelevant. But also remember that we do not know what the publics opinion is on this matter.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm

@ Jeff: one minor detail that you conveniently fail to acknowledge. The residents either own or rent the trailers...but they don't own the land on which the trailers are parked.


Posted by 37 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 2, 2015 at 11:13 am

Jeff....exactly how does closing the mobile home park force people to lose their jobs? Exactly how are these residents being forced from the homes they own? They are mobile homes and can be moved to another location. They do not own the land they are on. This is a legal issue and the owner of the land has met and exceeded everything required of him to close the park and sell the property. Public opinion is irrelevant.


Posted by PolicySage
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 2, 2015 at 11:15 am

Nobody has the "right" to dwell on another person's property without that owner's consent. The "appeal" should be denied, the the 400 residents should be given a deadline for their departure, along with humane recognition of their economic status (at least in the case of some of them) and need for assistance in relocating to other, less expensive, places to live. End of debate.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 2, 2015 at 11:52 am

Another comment: it is not the property owner's responsibility or fault that a renter's trailer is no longer able to be transported to another site. The trailer owners are responsible for their own maintenance.


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2015 at 11:57 am

Of course people have the right to live on property without the owner's consent. It happens all over the place. There are squatter rights and tenant rights. When codified into law, sometimes they trump the imagined rights of the owners. This is one crucial reason that being a landlord is a lot of responsibility and the local laws must be adhered to.

In this case, there are procedures to follow and of course lawyers to squabble over everything. In this case, the landowner will ultimately assert his rights. It is complicated because it's a mobile home park. We all know that, or by now we should.


Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 2, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Stop dragging this out. The owner of the property has the right to sell his property. Close the park and move the residents out now. Mr. Jizzer is giving the residents more than the law requires. Its time to stop stalling this effort.


Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 3, 2015 at 8:07 am

Plz stop wasting our tax money on this issue. This has been dragged out long enough. The closure process has been reviewed multiple times through several courts and final ruling decision by the court needs to be executed. No emotional or grand standing here. Just obey the law for once!


Posted by legal maneuvering
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 3, 2015 at 12:10 pm

The BV residents undoubtedly know that BV will eventually close. However it is in their best interest to prolong the process so that they will have more time to reside in PA and can hopefully obtain greater compensation from the owner.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 3, 2015 at 11:38 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

One question that lingers over the Buena Vista closure is the position of Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ) leaders and supporters in the last two elections--the referendum on Measure D and the recent city council election. One of the subtexts to the last election was that PASZ was not opposed to affordable housing, as evidenced by PASZ's statement of support for residents of the mobile home park on the Paloaltoville.com website.

Now is the time for that support to be brought to bear on the discussion of what the city's role should be in the matter. The comments so far in this thread show how important it is that the full range of support for the residents of Buena Vista, from Friends of Buena Vista to Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, be established.

Voices saying that public opinion and government involvement are distractions to resolving the Buena Vista conundrum are outside the mainstream in my opinion, given the many expressions of support for the concept of affordable housing, specifically support for the low income residents of Buena Vista. Let's hope the new city council can come together on a plan that will benefit Buena Vista Mobile Park residents, the current owners and the city over the long term.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 4, 2015 at 6:39 am

The property owner has followed all of the rules and has legally met all requirements. With all due respect, you can't change the rules in the middle of the process. Certainly such an attempt can be made, but that will certainly result in a lawsuit in which the city will lose.

The owner has obliged the city for ten years on this. Time to move on.


Posted by long view
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2015 at 11:41 am

long view is a registered user.

While the owner has the right to sell his property, it is an open legal question whether he has met the requirements to close the park. (read the requirements yourself - google palo alto mobile home park closure ordinance) There is no comparable mobile home park, because there is no other mobile home park within the PAUSD, which greatly increases the value of the park. So how do you even determine compensation, when the standard is to something that does not exist? Is the value of the compensation packages enough that the residents could become market rate renters in Palo Alto? No - certainly not in the current hot rental market. Selling the property without closing the park may be the only clear legal exit strategy. Who would want to purchase a mobile home park? The current tenants, perhaps with assistance from HUD and/or the City of Palo Alto. A successful appeal may move the parties closer to this desirable outcome.


Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 4, 2015 at 1:47 pm

@long view - comparable schools were specifically NOT included in the "comparable mobile home park" definition. There are also no comparable parks because many of the "mobile homes" at BV are actually RV's, not the modular/mobile homes that are in other parks.

It seems as if the owner has complied with all his legal requirements and should be allowed to close the park and do what ever he would like with it, within current zoning.

As concerned citizens, helping the residents of BV find affordable housing would be a more productive use of our time, energy and $$.


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Palo Alto Resident - you're incorrect. The matter isn't due to the housing being RVs.

It's not clear that Jissers have done everything correctly, and if course it behooves the residents to delay as long as possible.


Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Actually, memories, the hearmg officer says that jisser met the obligations for the closure. So, once again, I will ask does jisser have any rights or do the desires of the residents and the friends of buena vista trump his rights. and of course the question is are these groups just trying to squeeze more money out of jisser. I think that if the council does not set a date for closure that his lawyers file a lawsuit against, the city, the residents and the friends of Buena vista.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 4, 2015 at 11:28 pm

There are two mobile home parks in Mountain View, near El Camino and Highway 85. Mountain View / Los Altos high school district...just as good as Paly and Gunn (some would say better).

Use those for comparison...of course, you would need to apply some sort of price differential because the residents of the two MV parks have immaculate homes that are in perfect shape with a club house and pool. Much better place than BV. Not exactly an apples to apples comparison unfortunately, but it's something. There is also a mobile home park on East Bayshore in Redwood City. Again, better shape than BV, but another to look at.


Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 7:45 am

@memories - my point about the RV"s at Buena Vista - and Crescent Park Dad's comment about the other local mobile home parks - is that there really isn't a "comparable" Park. BV's is full of mostly rundown mobile homes many of which are converted RV's. As CO dad pointed out, the mobile home parks in Mountain View are filled with well kept true modular homes.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Barron Park

on Jan 5, 2015 at 8:27 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Posted by Hello
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 8:39 am

Didn't the hearing officer rule that the owner met the terms of the ordinance? What is @memories taking about


Posted by PolicySage
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Thank you, Memories, in the interest of brevity I did not note that it is property owners who have complied with the law who have the right to remove persons from their property. It is very clear that the Jissers have. Please, City Council, show some nerve and end this now. Thank you!


Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2015 at 2:35 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Even if other mobile home parks exist they might take older trailers or RVs.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Barron Park

on Jan 5, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Posted by Property rights
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Four crown jewels of a free society are freedom of speech, freedom to elect your own leaders, a solid legal and criminal justice system, and property rights. We are chipping away at critical foundations of a free society especially when we destroy property rights.

Why does Palo Alto want to put the entire burden of low income housing on Jisser? From everything I have read he is a kind landlord, he charges below market rents, and he has offered a generous sum for the tenants to move. But, Palo Alto claims they need Jisser to continue to rent to his current tenants so Palo Alto has low income residents and housing. If Palo Alto prides itself on creating low income housing then all of the citizens of Palo Alto should bear the burden of low income housing. The citizens/government of Palo Alto should offer to buy Jisser's property for the fair market value and/or the $32 million he was offered by a developer.

To make Jisser bear the full burden of low income housing destroys his property rights and is one more step in the path of destroying this country.


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2015 at 7:08 pm

This is a ludicrous exercise in that Jerry Underdal and I are the only ones here, out of 30, willing to post under our own names and that PAW consistently manipulates public opinion further by deleting comments partly based on their pro-developer bias, but:

If We the People stand firm and communicate that we are not upzoning to accommodate the greed of the developer here, he will take his fair profit and go.

That leadership has not brokered that deal months ago is a sign of how compromised we are, even with the so-called Residentialist push-back.

That an outcome of the recent election cycle did not include a precipitation along those lines proves how morally bankrupt we have become, or bereft at least. In fact, on the contrary, Molly Stump sought, contrary to law, to gag we candidates here.

And we have spent $2 M plus to gut the Comp Plan in favor of further development, at the expense of resident control, rather that even discussing a more obvious topic: RENT CONTROL.

How many middle class families will be forced out here? How many more...?

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2015 at 7:17 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2015 at 10:24 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2015 at 8:15 am

Oh, don't worry, Property Rights. You should be happy to know that California is very pro-property rights with regard to real estate, and pretty anti-tenant. Mobile home parks are a complicated business, and the Jissers know that, and it's the main reason this has gone on for awhile.

I should ask you to clarify, however: are you referring to real estate property rights, or all property rights, including the rights of those who own property such as mobile homes and RVs?


Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 6, 2015 at 8:22 am

I don't think anyone wants to see the property up zoned or given any PC consideration. If we have to do another Measure D, so be it.


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2015 at 8:27 am

I'll say it again for those confused by my comment: it's not clear that the Jissers have done everything correctly. The hearing officer saying so doesn't make it so. Maybe the Jissers have, maybe they haven't.

And my comments about comparables should be obvious - that there aren't local comps because most of the locals don't have RVs, do they? I think one of the East Palo Alto parks does.


Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 6, 2015 at 10:06 am

This is the problem we currently have within our society. Just listen to the tone of several comments above such as " just because the hearing officer saying so doesn't make it so.." The same type of people that challenge the police when they are being stopped. Our society relies on laws, statue and processes. Grievances can be had through proper hearings and at the end of the process, all parties must abide by these rulings.

Where do we stop then if one group ignores all statutes? We would have chaos as in recent looting and protests across the country just because one group feels it was wronged. If this will be the norm then why bother owing property if one cannot sell? Or why invest in anything at all if at the end of the day you are told that your hard earned investment now belong to a certain group of people?

This is definitely not how America was founded.


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Really? Me - Go live in a police state. Yotr anaplgi is terrible, btw. Authorities aren't always right, including hearing examiners. That's why appeals are allowed, as well as other potential avenues for a decision reversal. I'm amazed that readers assume that the residents' attorneys would just accept the hearin examiner's opinion when found it didn't favor the residents. Why would the residents just roll over and accept the opinion? Would you?


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Mark Weiss - do you really believe rent control would be allowed in Palo Alto? What do you actually know about it? How about the application of Costa-Hawkins? The horse has long been out of the barn.


Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm

>Four crown jewels of a free society are freedom of speech, freedom to elect your own leaders, a solid legal and criminal justice system, and property rights. We are chipping away at critical foundations of a free society especially when we destroy property rights.

Why does Palo Alto want to put the entire burden of low income housing on Jisser?

BRAVO! Life, Liberty and Property.

This is an issue between the property owner and the renters of his property. I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I have always worried that the City will get dragged into paying $$ to mediate it. It has already done so, by hiring outside conultants...NO MORE!

Don't change the zoning either.


Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 6, 2015 at 3:04 pm

memories-yes I would since I respect property ownership in this country. I last check and America has not turned communism yet! Besides the BV residents do not own this property that their trailers sit on. The owner of this property must have the right to proceed with this closure. Or the residents can pay for the amount that the owner listed for. End of story


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Clearly, it's not end of story, and it's still capitalism. Owning property that people live on is complicated, for good reasons. Deal with it.


Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 6, 2015 at 4:26 pm

It's absolutely not complicated at all if property ownership rights are respected. I don't need to deal with anything since I am convinced that these rights will be protected under the US Constitution i.e. Protecting Economic Liberty and Property which is part of the Fundamental Rights Protection interpreted under the Constitution.

Of course you and the BV residents would know this. The Appellate Court will soon show you all the way.


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Of course it is complicated. If it wasn't, the property would've been sold already. Your dedication to obtuseness is amusing, but not very useful. Anytime a property owner rents land, ending tenancy of those who've not broken the law can be fairly complicated, especially in places where residents own their home but not the land. Why you refuse to acknowledge this is bemusing. It's not that Jisser won't sell, it's how much he will pay that is at issue.


Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 6, 2015 at 7:25 pm

memories- actually it's either your incomprehension of the situation or naivety maybe both is making me laugh so hard. They went through several review cycles already on this and the lawyers are trying to extort more money out of the landowner. It took this long because the residents now are technically squatters. And of course squatters are nothing new in this country. It's just a matter of time when the appeal process complete its cycle and eviction starts. Kapeesh?

Ownership is not a hard concept to grasp but then reading some of your low brow posts here I can sympathize in your difficulty to articulate this to your own self

Over and out!


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 7, 2015 at 7:49 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Bravo to Mr. C. Laughton for joining Jerry U. and I as the rare 7 percent of Palo Altans, or at least of PAW posters, to admit by name to their views.

I agree with him precisely: don't change the zoning. Tell Jisser that. Jisser will take his fair 40 percent profit and leave. Why should we promise him a 200 percent return?

I am not saying rent control or RENT CONTROL would work. I have no idea. I am not an economist. (although my former Gunn Titans 1981 Champions basketball teammate Brian K. Evans is, or he teaches such at Foothill at least, and by the way both Fuchs and Arrow had boys in the program as well). I am just pointing out that is it taboo to even mention it and it has not been discussed.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Rent Control
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 7, 2015 at 9:48 am

City of Palo Alto imposed rent control on BV. This reduced the owner's profit, making it more likely that he would choose to close BV.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 7, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

With Craig and Mark we now have three named people posting on this topic with different views on what to do about the challenge of having at least some housing remain affordable to people who intend to live and work here.

Craig's position has the value of consistency. He doesn't want the city to intervene in the closure of the Mobile Park. In addition, he doesn't want the zoning changed. I think he added the last line to pre-empt an argument that the park should go but the property should be developed with increased density to provide affordable housing for current residents.

Mark suggests we consider rent control, at least to educate the public about what economists and others have to say. It's a natural issue to raise. I worry about unintended consequences from intervening with rent control but would be interested in such a discussion.

It seems to me that, long-term, the only way Palo Alto will continue to have housing for people who don't make or have a great deal of money is with development targeted to produce affordable housing for the full range of economic circumstances. Buena Vista could be an opportunity to do this.

The Buena Vista debate will bring out these positions and many more.


Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 7, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Jerry, this is, imo, a private property deal. That's where it should stay. PA has already become too much involved. My greatest fear is that PA will need to take on a major lawsuit by the property owner...one can only guess how much that could cost the city. My next greatest fear is that PA will actually throw money at this deal...that one should definitely go to a referendum of the entire city. If private money can be found to swing the deal, AND proper upgrades are made, contingent on approval, then I don't have a problem with it.

I oppose changing the zoning, because it will allow for increased density in a local neighborhood...which is why Measure D failed. I also oppose subsidized housing, but that is a secondary issue in this case.


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2015 at 7:51 pm

Me - I've laughed at your posts, too. I'm neither naïve or misunderstanding the situation. Given my profession, I'm betting I know more about this topic than you do.

The fact that you cannot understand my understated comments about the attorneys and residents is evidence of your bias. I'm merely watching the game play out, as I have had many times before, and it's interesting to me because it rarely happens around here since there are so few mobile home parks.

The residents are technically squatters? Please cite your source. Their attorneys are attempting to extort money out of the owners? Please cite your source.

At least you and I are proudly anonymous, happy to not use our real names. Let's try to work up some righteous indignation to support maintaining our anonymity!

Jerry Underdahl - please save your righteous indignation for something that really matters. Mark bringing up rent control at this point is utterly ironic. Where has he been for for past 30 years?


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 7, 2015 at 11:44 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Memories,

Sorry to offend.

However, I hope you noticed that Craig's post following mine was straightforward and informative about his position. I found it helpful. And Mark had a serious point when he bemoaned the absence of any serious mention of rent control. It may be obvious to you why it wouldn't work because you have knowledge you could share. I'll take Mark's word for it that he's not an expert on the topic and yours that you do know a lot. Looks like an opportunity for a conversation to me.


Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2015 at 8:42 am

@Memories - The last I heard, Jisser is not planning on selling the property, he is planning on developing it himself. Even at current zoning, there is plenty of room for profit. And I personally think that people are naive to think that more building more housing in Palo Alto will make housing more affordable. Even with more housing, there will be a limited supply because more people will still want to live here than there is housing available.


Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2015 at 1:04 pm

You're right, Palo Alto Resident, which is why my giant eye roll regarding rent control. Affordable housing for more than a lucky few left this area a long time ago.

Jerry - look to East Palo Alto and Berkeley for elements of rent control that you think might fit Palo Alto. Look to Mt View to see if they're actually doing anything to help displaced tenants. I'm not sure that they got anywhere with it. I think it would be futile, but it may inspire you or at least satisfy your curiosity. Here's a big hint: Costa-Hawkins will keep anything from being affordable. As I said before, that horse is long out of the barn.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Memories,

Thanks for the tip. I'll google Costa-Hawkins to better understand your point about rent control's limitations in California. My skepticism about most forms of rent control goes back decades to an Urban Economics class where I learned that price controls of all sorts tend to yield less production of whatever the "good or service" is than the market would produce and consume if it had the chance.

Stories about "key money" demanded by occupants of rent-controlled apartments before they would vacate in favor of another renter, who would get to keep the old controlled rent were common at the time on the East Coast.

So though I'm in favor of many forms of protection for renters, I'm not sold on rent control per se. But there may be new approaches to controlling rents in 21st century California that I should know about before rejecting the concept out of hand, if only to be better able to explain to someone desperately looking for hope in this ultral-tight market why rent control is not the answer.


Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2015 at 6:19 pm

I used to rent out another house in Palo Alto, before we (my wife and I) sold it to the current renter. I never raised the rent, until the tenant moved out...then I was a market maker...the real estate guys used to ask me, "So, what are you getting this time?" In the end, it is supply and demand, as always. I had to lower the price, once, when the market tanked.

I also took an option on a house next to me, remodeled it on my own (actually with a friend...we did all the work ourselves). Barely got out of it, with just a small loss...all our time/sweat was for naught.

Being a landlord is not what I want to be again. If I ever had to face rent control, I would dump the place, immediately (even with a loss). The only way to make money on home rentals is to bet on an increased real estate market...then sell. When the market is hot (like now), it looks good, but then the bubble bursts....


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Let's charge homeowners the imputed rent.


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2015 at 8:06 pm

And, yes if I had known 30 years ago or detected that America including Palo Alto rather than progressing would revert and regress to Neo-Feudalism, quasi-fascism and Dark Ages, Orwellian surveillance society, I would have, in 1984, dropped oout of Dartmouth sans bacculauris, kept my $100/week gig at PTT, and who knows we could have saved the 7,000 American dead in Iraq and Afg--BVMP would be as easy as picking drupes.


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