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on Feb 20, 2014
I think the City Council only cares about BMR housing unless a developer is making money on the deal. Clearly the city has enough money to LOAN the residents association enough money to buy the property. Further they could help the process along by not upzoning the property to stack and pack density. All the hoo ha ha about BRM housing is just that if Buena Vista gets turned into 184 $4000 a month luxury apartments. Pretty much shows you where the community values are.
This changes little as far as the effort to keep Buena Vista residents in Palo Alto. Given how many times the property owner submitted his report to the City, it was understood that eventually the city would find the report to be complete. That is what has happened. This in no way was a determination of anything beyond this legally required being finished - finally.
As to the proposed legally required relocation plan and proposed payments, they will not last long and are hardly sufficient compared to the harm residents are to absorb. Most own their homes and almost all will have to leave them behind. They will not, unless alternative affordable housing is found, be able to remain in the bay area due to housing costs. So they will all lose their livelihoods and we will loose their services - at Mollie Stone, at PAMF, at Driftwood Market, Whole Foods and many other places in town where residents work to all our benefit.
And the 99 PAUSD BV students will loose their good schools, safe community and possibly their hopeful future. Will they be the collateral damage to redevelopment and profits?
The property owner has a right to sell - that has not been in question. But the bigger question is, are we a town that will find or not find a way to prevent the biggest displacement of Palo Altans in our history? This is not only a matter of private property rights, but of human rights.
And will we lose 108 units of affordable housing that the city deems "essential"? This is not only a legal matter, but a political matter.
Support residents and Buena Vista, our children, and our affordable housing. Become a Friend of Buena Vista by emailing: email@example.com
If I were a resident of the park or even a resident of palo alto, I,would be very concerned that there is a " friends" group associated with this issue. Look what happened when the Friends of Alma Plaza got nvolved with that development!!!!!
The residents of Buena Vista have had a cheap ride for many years. San Francisco is a good example of what happens when properties are rented below market rate: the owners have no incentive to maintain, and the renters feel entitled to their special deal in perpetuity.
Well, the BV owners have a right to develop their property within the constraints of the zoning regulations. That's because they're the owners. Nobody in Palo Alto has the right to prevent this, either legally or morally. The city has dithered for 15 months since the application was submitted in November 2012, before finding it "complete".
It must proceed without further delay. To do otherwise opens us, the residents, to the possibility of a lawsuit that we would lose, and would cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars for each month that we illegally delay. If it comes to that, city manager Keene and city attorney Koller will be responsible. This would be ironic, because Koller's job is to protect Palo Alto from making such costly mistakes.
Although it's sad to see this community dissolved, I'm less worried about the children and their schools. Children move schools for many reasons and at many times in their educational process. They are remarkably resilient and adaptive. PAUSD has historically not done well by its low-income students. The test scores for these children are about the same as test scores in Ravenswood. Pushy parents are what raise the scores in PAUSD.
No offense...but I don't think the city should loan money to anyone at anytime! I don't care if it is BV, PAHC or any other organization.
Are the Friends of Buena Vista another group like the supporters of the Maybell project that used subsidized housing as an excuse to give a developer more market rate housing than the zoning allowed? Real friends of Buena Vista would say they are for keeping the existing RM-15 zoning before they solicit the names of supporters. I know about these things because I invented the concept of front organizations.
As someone very involved with the effort to stop the upzoning of Maybell, and alarmed by the developer giveaway you mention, I can promise you unequivocally that the effort to save Buena Vista is not a developer giveaway, and saving BV will also prevent the upzoning of that parcel. As far as I know, there is no other developer agenda or organization that I am aware of. In fact, if the residents are evicted, there will be another battle with a developer over that property as it is in the same neighborhood as the Maybell property, and the new developer has an application in for far more than the zoning allows.
So, first of all, the residents of Buena Vista have not been getting a "free ride". They have been willing to live in small trailer park homes in an older park and paying market rates for it. This is NOT subsidized housing, it is less auspicious and thus cheaper housing functioning within a normal market, as normal as it gets around here, and is the last big patch of ACTUAL affordable housing in Palo Alto. These residents never asked for nor received any handout nor subsidized housing.
Secondly, the City Council with their massive giveaways to developers has distorted the local market. The developer who wants to take over the trailer park and evict the residents has an application in for about 4 times the density of the existing zoning and expected to get it without much of a fight. One could easily argue that if our City Council had respected our zoning rules and required other developers to live with them all along -- not forcing local residents to fight and fight and often lose, like at Alma Plaza -- the residents of Buena Vista would still be living there in peace and not facing this takeover.
To Crescent Park Dad - you may not wish for the City to loan any money, that is your prerogative. I think it's important that we have people with different perspectives on every issue for fiscal restraint and discussion. But the reality is that they do loan money, and they have an extant affordable housing fund whose funds are dedicated for that purpose. If just the money they loaned at Maybell were reallocated to be loaned to the nonprofit that represents BV, it would be enough to make a more comparable offer to the owners, and in some ways, a more favorable one.
I think most Palo Altans would be much more happy saving an existing community of their neighbors with that money, than for it to enable the next attempt to upzone someone's neighborhood the next time a really large property comes up as in the setup "Josef" alluded to (if we don't find a way to forbid the scheme they tried at Maybell - it is a way some cities do business).
Affordable housing is much more achievable in older housing stock. Developers already have plenty of profit incentive to build new dense housing, the state density bonus rules only give away the farm and provide incentive to evict existing low-income residents (on a pretense of giving back a small fraction of the units in below market-rate housing, which won't be very affordable).
If the City loans the nonprofit at BV the money, they can require a regulatory agreement that ensures the property remains affordable into the future. But it also means the residents will have some ownership of the property itself, too, and an incentive to improve it. Additionally, if they are a nonprofit co-op with a regulatory agreement for affordable housing, they could be eligible to apply for state funds to improve the park. As everyone knows, they have plenty of volunteer legal help, and are a close and active community - it's very doable and will almost certainly be done, so I think people have little to worry about that it won't be improved - the will, desire, and ability to apply for funds will be there..
Greenacres, you don't know the motivations of all the people who are trying to "save" Buena Vista. For example, take a look at what Donald Barr of the Community Working Group had to say during Oral Communications at the May 13, 2013, City Council meeting:
"Donald Barr recalled the compromise which led to development of Oak Court and Woodmark condominiums. The only alternative to maintaining Buena Vista as a mobile home park was a collaborative, cooperative joint development providing affordable housing and market-rate housing on the site."
If you want to read the minutes directly, Barr's comments are on page 4 at this link: Web Link
@ Josef Stalin,
You are right, I don't know the motivations of the people involved. Although WD is not one of my favorite people because of her uncivil behavior toward me and others personally (sentiments reciprocal, obviously), I support her efforts to save the park, am amazed by all she and those close to her have done, and am pretty confident that her motivations are genuine and the community members she works with are just trying to do whatever they can to help retain the residents of the mobile home park in affordable housing locally.
I sure hope you are wrong that anyone is eyeing the park for a high-density-mostly-market-rate boondoggle using some affordable housing (that is never as good as the real affordable housing there now) as an excuse. The link you gave was in May, well before the Maybell referendum. I think anyone involved would be well aware of the results of pushing the same kind of thing again, especially in the same neighborhood, especially since there is now a formal group based in that neighborhood to fight overdevelopment. And especially since that group could be a help to save the park itself as the interests and wishes align to save the park.
Regardless, logistically, such a scenario where the park would be razed and eventually a mix of market-rate and affordable units is put up is speculative and sounds eerily like a repackaged version (from the neighborhood's perspective) of what is on the table now: someone razing the real affordable housing of over 400 long-time residents in order to put up new high-density buildings with market-rate and a little bit of BMR housing that isn't that affordable anyway.
New construction is by definition not affordable and keeping rents down with new construction means giant subsidies. Better to spend far less money and save the ACTUAL affordable housing of the trailer park. It allows for far more low-income housing, cheaper, and indefinitely. It's also so much less disruptive to the lives of these long-time Palo Alto residents and the surrounding neighborhoods to just save the park.
it would be much more difficult to save people's resident status with the new construction scenario you bring up anyway, it's far simpler and cheaper to just save the mobile home park. Would it be possible to save the park in exchange for, in the future and through renovation and attrition, making some space for an affordable housing development? Possibly. It might be a potentially positive quid pro quo with the City in exchange for the necessary funds - such as the City providing the money needed to make a competitive offer in exchange for eventually controlling a portion of the land to build on -- so long as it was done with sensitivity and fairness (and without a fight over high-rise buildings next to R-1). I do not know if such a thing is on the table, though, anyway.
Having such concerns is no reason to avoid trying to save the mobile home park, in fact, it should be reason to get involved and redouble efforts to save the park and ensure the residents are able to continue living there in affordable housing that is market-based and controlled by THEM, not part of someone else's dependent government or other program. I am not denigrating charity here, I'm just pointing out that the BV residents chose the park over applying for programs, and I'm guessing autonomy factors in for many of them.
The mobile home park is market-based affordable housing, the last large tract of it in this overly expensive town. Many of our most ardent affordable housing advocates do not differentiate between "real" affordable housing and subsidized programs, when the difference to the dignity of the individuals can be huge. To be very frank, some of the advocates can be so incredibly patronizing (I have seen too many things where it seemed for all the world like they regard low-income residents like some glorified form of human pet — worse, their own private personal pets in their domain — it's just so patronizing).
I think the cost of measures the City could take to really save the park -- a low-interest 30-year loan for a similar amount as was going to be loaned at Maybell already anyway -- less than they're going to spend at the golf course, and in the case of a low-interest loan, they would ultimately recoup the funds anyway -- plus a public promise from the Council to the neighborhoods nearby that they will not approve any upzoning at that location -- are really negligible in cost compared to the alternatives. Allowing the residents to remain autonomous and for so much affordable housing to remain essentially market-based in Palo Alto (albeit more controlled than before via the residents' own nonprofit) is the simplest most doable path and worth fighting for.
I have an idea to float for the lawyers --
How about doing a crowdfunding to raise the difference between the current offer and what the Jissers would find competitive?
Crowdfunding could take the form of outright donations.
Or... What about setting up something like a low-interest bond that matures in 30 or 50 years? The mobile home's non-profit repays it in rent like a low-interest loan. It could be a crowdsourced investment in our neighbors.
Or... What about letting people "buy" small chunks of the park through a crowdsourced purchase, with owners having some regulatory agreement with the nonprofit at BV to keep it low-cost over time. People could then buy and sell their small chunks (subject to the regulatory agreement)?
Having the regulatory agreement may be necessary for allowing the nonprofit to apply for other funds to upgrade the park later, I don't know. Question for the lawyers.
Pioneering something like this would be worthwhile also as a template for how to save existing affordable housing in Palo Alto in the future. Although, BV is the ultimate test, as it is THE big chunk of actual affordable housing that we have left here.
It's a lot of work, but possible. So the big question is:
Can Jissers entertain other offers? If so, how much is enough?
If there is a definite and doable goal, a crowdfunding in some form could be another option. If done right, by people who know what they are doing and can rapidly do the groundwork, it could change everything within a month. (Open Source Affordable Housing!)
Greenacres, could you please contact me privately by email to darcy30 at fastmail.fm. I agree with your views and would like to chat privately.
184 luxury apartments in Palo Alto will sell for well over $92M. The up-zoning to allow the increase is a huge give away to the developers/property owners.
The property owners should be able to develop their property to its best use under its current zoning without much interference. If they want the zoning changed the public should get their share. The public has to deal with the impact of the up-zoning.
It's true, the property owners should be able to do what is best for them without much interference. The thing is, though, they have been operating and benefitting from profits from renting a mobile home park that has rules attached to how they can close it, and they have lease agreements with residents who paid for and own and having been paying taxes on their mobile homes. The process to evict the residents is and should be difficult. So that is part of the owner's calculation when deciding what to do. What can those of us who want to save the park do, lawfully and in good faith, to make it an easy choice for him to choose to let the residents keep the park?
I think there is very little (no) chance the public is going to let a bigtime developer upzone that property at this point. The public has to deal with the consequences of the land use forever, and a big upzoning gives them the short end of the stick. Most people here would rather keep the mobile home park, possibly even so it can be upgraded over time.
Greenacres. You are wrong. Articles say owners have been there for 25 plus years. The city ordinance was passed on or around the year 2000. Being the only mobile home park in PA tells me the owner is not happy that the city passed an ordinance impacting only their business. This tells me he is doing all this to sue the city. If he wanted the really close the park down, he would only have to raise the rent. As you know rent control does not exist it PA
Greenacres, I am pleased that you are pretty confident that WD's motivations are genuine. All I am asking is whether she is WD-15 or WD-40. In other words, is she for the current RM-15 zoning or is she willing to rezone the property to RM-30, RM-40, PC, or some other zone district denser than RM-15. As I said in my original post, "Real friends of Buena Vista would say they are for keeping the existing RM-15 zoning before they solicit the names of supporters."
I'm neither a lawyer nor close to what is going on at BV at the moment (though I woud like to help), but even I can use Google to see that there is a special set of STATE laws governing mobile home parks, including their closure and rents called the MRL
Tenants in mobile homes need special protections because they are both tenants and property owners, and mobile homes aren't really mobile - not just these homes, pretty much everywhere, once they go in, the homes are sold in place, they aren't moved with the owner.
I think you are making a bunch of conclusions that do not follow from the facts, but to which ordinance from 2000 are you referring? I also think you are concluding things about the landlord that don't follow from his behavior. I think the Jissers seem like really decent people, and if a more reasonable offer could be made, would likely favor the tenants.
Greenacres---please contact me as I have lots of info about the mobile home park, email me at darcy30 at fastmail.fm or eight five seven, nine four six five. Thanks for your support!
Oops, I was addressing Jane there in my post, Josef, we must have posted simultaneously.
Well, you have made some very good points there. I can't answer them except to say that WD has taken the lead to help retain the park and I hope she will not risk a good outcome by pushing an ideological agenda over getting the best chance of winning via the strongest community support. I see no evidence of it and wouldn't let speculation stop me from supporting the saving of the park and residents. I think WD knows how the neighborhood feels about upzoning even when neighbors have to choose between something they value like affordable housing. That said, some of BV is RM40, isn't it? I think WDjust doesn't want to leave any stone unturned, but giving residents coop-like ownership was I thought the goal.
Greenacres - It looks like all of BV is zoned RM 15 per the Palo Alto zoning map Web Link map #12
Greenacres, According to page 2 of this December 17, 2012, staff report (ID #3367) (Web Link), the Buena Vista mobile home park site is zoned RM-15. The Prometheus Real Estate Group development proposal is for rezoning the site from RM-15 to RM-40.
If the BV site is zoned RM-15, what is the density of the trailer park as built today? Is it in compliance? If the property were to change hands, I would imagine that the layout of the park would have to comply with the zoning requirements. Something to be aware of before going too far down the road...make sure that an unknown consequence doesn't cause any problems.
Thank you for the info on the zoning of BV. I think that's another reason to protect the mobile home park as is, isn't it? Because there are something like 108 units on it now, where existing zoning would only allow 60 units. It is a higher density, low-income property in the middle of Palo Alto without requiring a subsidy. Seems like it's worth going to some effort to save, especially since it's at far less cost, and certainly far less controversy, than any other alternative, and it does a good turn for a very large number of long-time Palo Alto residents.
I think it would be foolish for WD to pursue higher density options, not only because of the logistical issues of retaining the residents and their homeowner status in light of new construction (plus subsidy issues, etc), but also because if upzoning is an option, Prometheus will claim it. Again, I don't think she is, though, I think she's just looking at every possible option and not excluding anything.
The number you provided is for a business, Paula Drake Investigations, a PI firm. Sorry, but that's just a wee bit creepy. Is there a spokesperson who works with the residents that people can contact? Winter Dellenbach, are you the spokesperson?
Those of us out here who would like to help but are just residents -- what can we do? is there a petition?
My apologies, Maria. I just read this: Web Link
Will contact you.
Everyone should read the above, an article from Congregation Beth Am website.
who would have imagined that palo alto would become something like this? lower class people must depart immediately. how incredibly atrocious for the peninsula and bay area to be this smug. come back down to earth quickly
Maybe your high horse can't see over that overbuilt monstrosity on our border with Mountain View, built by Prometheus, the same developer who is behind the effort to evict the residents and raze the mobile home park. If you could, you'd see the support among Palo Alto Residents to save the park and keep the longtime residents as our neighbrs is extremely high. The City Council has some support too, though it remains to be seem whether they will put their money where their mouths are in regards to affordable housing when it doesn't also advantage a developer.
Everybody who wants to save the park really needs to put their money where their mouth is. this owner has owned the park since the 80's. The land was purchased with a specific zoning and regardless of what the developer wants it still remains to be rm-15. At that zoning the land has a value. If the owner want so to sell it then their must be someone out there who wants to buy it. At the current land value there is no way for the park to remain open. ie. even if the tenants or the "Friend of the park" buy it, the rent will have to at least double to make that payment (even with a zero percent loan). Then tenants cannot no afford to be there if the rent doubles. that being said, the only solution is for the city to subsidize the rent (about $700 per month per space) I've lived in Palo Alto for 55 years now. I really dont want my tax dollars going to support that kind of subsidy and I know many who feel the same.
Greenacres - you are so emotionally attached to saving the park, that all logic is out of the window. The value of the park is the value of the park. if you want it preserved, start a petition that the tenant sign. If they all agree to pay $700 more per month then the owner will find many other buyers who want to buy the park to simply run it as a park.
This owner has put his money where is mouth is. That in itself should give him /her more say in this issue than the rest of us.
You are incorrect about the financing. The Resident's Association non-profit is working with a specialist in financing mobile home parks. The residents will be paying the same rent they are now. They will have a very small additional payment for their buy-in. For the residents to buy the park, they need to come up with more $ for the owners to come closer to the developer's offer. That's it!
Maria. You are way off by saying this. The reports states the offer us over 30 million. Residents are at 14 million. That's more than a "little" off.
You are right, at $14.5 million now, they are too far off. That is what Maria, I and many others are saying. Maria has just told you "they need to come up with more $ for the owners to come closer to the developer's offer." I've been saying the same.
That $ can come in many forms, but it's absolutely NOT necessary to do some kind of monthly subsidy, you're wrong about that.
If you just look at that article - assuming residences at Buena Vista are bringing in only on average about $800/month (which is a low estimate), that's still over $1million in rent annually. If the City were to make a low-interest loan for 30 years like at Maybell, there is more than enough to service that loan and others. Plus, with a nonprofit running the co-op, they would be eligible to apply for other state and federal funds.
Also, the will exists in the community to help find other ways to come up with funds to get closer and make a comparable offer. I think Jissers would probably be only to happy to get their money sooner than later and not have to evict the residents anyway, which is an uncertain and expensive process involving lawyers anyway.
The question remains, does their contract with Prometheus allow them to entertain other offers? And would they accept it if they got a more comparable offer?
Let's make Buena Vista Park exactly what it should have been in the first place... A PARK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I AM DREADING all the traffic from 184 more residences being along the El Camino and into the neighborhood. Pollution included....Yuuch. Go figure that there would be be AT LEAST two more cars per unit...(cough~cough).
I hope you are suggesting the mobile home park remain a mobile home park and not become a regular park -- because keeping the mobile home park as it is will then mean no more added traffic. The logical best place to add parkland in the same neighborhood is simply by saving the orchard at Maybell.
If you are dreading traffic, please get involved with the redo of the City's comprehensive plan. Did you know that the state requires us to have things like a traffic circulation element and a safety element? Why don't we have those? Because the subjects got kind of rolled up into other areas when we were a little sleepy burg and never got separated back out now that we are a city. In the meantime, the current development crazed Council ignores those things and puts things like densifying South Palo Alto especially El Camino as goals in the comp plan. (Nevermind safety or traffic circulation.)
Greenacres, I just ran the numbers on my calculator. 15 million plus taxes works out to $750 every month per space. to get to 30 million that number has to double. rather than us seniors pay the bill for this "subsidy" why don't the tenants agree to pay $1500 a month.
I worked at a bank for 25 years, at $1500 per month ,assuming there is 110 units they would be able to borrow the 30 million.
I dont believe the tenants could afford that, and I know as a senior in palo alto that i cannot afford any more taxes to subsidize places like this.
that way the current owner can go away, the park will stay and us (the neighbors) dont have to keep paying for people to stay. the question can the tenants afford to pay this much?
If the park were run by a nonprofit, would they be exempt from state and local property taxes?
@not an issue - I think that for a non-profit to be exempt from property tax in California, the non-profit needs to be for charitable, religious, scientific or hospital purposes, I don't think that would apply to BV.
Using the mortgage calculator on bankrate.com, and assuming 108 units, I still don't get anything like what you are getting. What is the interest rate you are assuming? I think you could reasonable assume the City would be making a very low interest rate loan available, as they were going to at Maybell, and in addition, I don't believe the $14.5 million is a loan, is it?
I also don't think they need to come up with a total of $30million to make a comparable offer, since the park people wouldn't be asking the owners to spend the money to evict the residents, a comparable offer would be the total minus whatever the expected costs of the eviction would be. (And of course, a bird in the hand now is worth something, too, if only to tip the balance in favor of a comparable monetary offer.)
In the end, the residents may be able to make a reasonably comparable offer with another $10million, which they could definitely afford to make payments on, especially if our City made a low-interest loan out of the affordable housing fund. They would also be eligible to apply for funds in the meantime to perhaps accelerate the payback.
Can't say what an acceptable offer might be, but it would likely be far north of $30 million. It wouldn't be unusual for a large deal like this to have a "breakup" fee that could be in the millions of dollars. Furthermore, like the Maybell property, the open market value has increased since the appraisal several years ago. That's why the real estate developer put the owner under contract.
Sorry, but if you can't match the offer, you just wasting your time. As someone else mentioned above, the real estate taxes on the property could be between a quarter to a half million a year even if your offer wins.
greenacres. I was using a very modest 3%. 30 million over thirty years assuming 110 units is about over 1500 monthly not including maintenance and utilities. This is why the trailer park can no longer exist. As land prices go up, people have to build up or pay a premium for the house. This is why my home which was purchased years ago was less than 100k. Today it's near 2 million.
Also as bob said maybell was purchased for 15 million for half the land size of BV and has gone up nearly 20% in the past year. Therefore BV will go for more than 30million. The tenants will have to pay near 2000 monthly. To cover taxes, utilities, hoa and etc. who would pay that to live their? Reality is a tough pill to swallow. These are real numbers.
The residents have $14.5 million -- why calculate with the entire 30million? I was using 3%, too, I came up with around $1k/month.
If it's operated as affordable housing by the non-profit, wouldn't it be exempt from the new real estate taxes as the Maybell property would have been?
Seems to me the people working with the residents know what they are doing. I think our City should be working with them to save the park - ultimately saving the park will be a cheaper way to maintain affordable housing in Palo Alto than subsidizing brand new properties. You don't like the idea of subsidizing rents, Jane, you'll be paying a lot more if the money is spent to acquire new properties. I don't like having to feel like the City is eyeing to take over my neighborhood to completely change it in the name of "affordability", which they can get much cheaper by saving the existing low-income patches like Buena Vista.
Has Maybell gone up? I'm hearing the lenders are leery...
"Can't say what an acceptable offer might be, but it would likely be far north of $30 million."
Why? $30M is the Prometheus offer, and they were counting on a 4X upzoning, which they will NOT now get.
Well the owner may just play a game chicken. Close the park and then just hold out until he and/or the developer get their way.
We see this downtown all the time...raise the rent and the current business has to move out. Then the space remains empty for months if not years.
RM-15 to RM-45 is 3X, no? PAHC'S Oak Creek apartments is adjacent and RM-30. Montage across the street is RM-30. Villa across the street is PC. The site is on a state highway, heavily travelled transit corridor. Planning in Palo Alto wants highrise development along both sides of El Camino. 400 people on the site now, 360 on the site after the new development. RM-40 will be an easy change.
Owner submitted the RIR six times with essentially the same net payout to the park residents. $30M is his bottom price. Say, $5M breakup penalty to void his current deal. You'll need $35M to get in the game. Sorry.
bob - finally, someone that understands business and Palo Alto prices. This goes back to my original statement. Regardless, of the zoning, RM15, 30 or 40. (currently rm15) the price is high enough that the mobile home park will have to go. even if the city loans the money at 0%.
How this mobile home park has been here this long is beyond me. This owner really did the tenants a favor for many years. anybody in his/her position would do the same.
@greenacres - I think the BV reports state that the average current rent is $675 or so, not the $800 you were estimating. Even a zero interest loan of $30 million would cost each "owner" at least $850 a month and that assumes no property taxes, insurance costs, homeowner fees, utility payments, etc. In addition, the owner of a Park in Santa Monica sued the City for $50 million when they continued to try to block the sale (which recently got approved for something like 350 units on a smaller piece of land than BV). I thought there were also issues related to long deferred utility upgrades that would need to be addressed if the Park stays open.
@bob - I think the Park owner actually lowered his payments to the residents in his last RIR, the one that was approved, he agreed to pay the appraised value of the trailers instead of a fixed payment which would have been more $$ for most of the residents.
Keeping the Park open is a big challenge financially.
That's precisely why my theory that the owner will just close the park is front of mind. The city can't block the closure once the requirements have been met.
The sale and any zoning requests are a separate matter and can't be used as a means to hold up the closure. If he wants to close the park, he can close the park.
I just hope the owner doesn't sue the city. It would not be right for us tax payers to be penalized because of the people that we elected into office. The article says it took the owner 15 months to complete the report after six attempts. That sounds like the city is screwing with him (for a lack of a better word).
Also @ crescent park mom. Why would the city reject his earlier report with the higher offer then accept his last report with a lower offer? Something sounds wrong with this story
"That's precisely why my theory that the owner will just close the park is front of mind. The city can't block the closure once the requirements have been met.
The sale and any zoning requests are a separate matter and can't be used as a means to hold up the closure. If he wants to close the park, he can close the park."
Is that true, or does closing the park require an ordinance? Can that be referended? What are the land use/rights issues?
It's true, he could probably close the park anyway, but if Prometheus decides they aren't interested in the new land use climate because they can't upzone, and residents are able to come closer to that $30M, why wouldn't he decide it's not worth the trouble to close and evict, and just take the easier offer and let residents stay?
That's the problem with City Council having beat the NIMBY drumbeat so hard over at Maybell, they can cling to the idea that maybe the neighbors won't care about Prometheus putting in a market-rate monstrosity. Not.
@palo alto mom,
Assuming zero interest, as you suggested, $30 million over 30 years is $1M per year. Divided by 108 households, divided again by 12 months, I get $771. Am I missing something? Further, they've already come up with $14.5 million. So half that again is less than $400 each per month.
The fact is, the City has been talking a big game about valuing affordable housing for a long time. This is the biggest and most long-standing patch of real affordable housing in this town. They should put their money where their mouths are and find a way to help save it.
I'm not suggesting the City do anything to get anyone sued, I'm suggesting the City figure out how to facilitate an attractive offer. Which would you rather take, an offer today as is, or the same amount of money after tearing down the property and going through an eviction where you could be sued yourself by affordable housing advocates? The City needs to figure out how to make a more attractive offer, and the residents have already done a great deal. Could they, for example, help facilitate a crowdsourced purchase (meaning, everyone out there can buy a tiny patch of BV and hold it for many years, maybe even sell and trade) to raise the extra money?
I don't see the City breaking a sweat to help the residents, and I'm going to remember that at voting time. I'm told our former Mayor Scharff was head of acquisitions for Prometheus. Let's hope that's not influencing their inaction.
Greenacres. That is exactly why the city is limited here. If they over step their authority and prevent Prometheus from a development simply to scare them off. The owner will not simply sell to the tenants. The land value is to high. The owner will most likely sue the city and still close the park down. He would capitalize on the law suit and still be able to sell the land for more $$$
Green acres. Also 3% on 30 million is 900k a year. So the total is about $1400 per space plus taxes and insurance and hoa. 0% is not practical.
But they don't need to borrow 30M, do they, they already have half. The point is, you and I are wasting our breath, our City Council should be trying to figure this out.
@greenacres - you said the residents already have half of what they need - is someone giving them $14.5 million or loaning it to them? If it is a loan, they need to pay that back at some point. And the City can't be sued by affordable housing advocates, the City has no grounds to deny the sale, only the zoning changes.
All of you are way ahead of yourselves, the city has not held the hearing yet, which is the next step in the process to close the mobile home park, as set forth in the ordinance. The hearing officer may not accept the relocation offer made by the park owners which might give the owners incentive to accept the offer of the resident's association.
Maria, I'm not a professional in this field. But simple logic tells me that if a hearing officer is hired by the city, then he/she represent the city. the decision made by the hearing officer can be used to sue the city. The final relocation offered to the tenants is going to have to be reasonable to the landlord or I can see a lawsuit happening.
Just what the residents of Palo Alto need. more wasted funds.
Well, there goes a large percentage of Palo Alto's low income housing ( as required by ABAG). Guess the developers will have to build some more uglies to replace the loss.
Time for this eyesore to be bulldozed away. Good riddance
You live in Adobe Meadows, with wide streets, trees, and mostly single story houses. I live in the neighborhood of this park and it's almost all hidden from the street. The majority of the neighbors who live here would much rather have the park than a giant high-density high-rise (or fighting to make sure it doesn't get upzoned, which we will do). You know what's going to happen if these residents are evicted? The City is going to let the developer put in a higher density than currently allowed by zoning for a few units of below-market rate ("affordable") housing, that won't really be that affordable. Neighbors will fight this. No one wants a high-density high-rise there, we've already had enough of that over here.
That's a really hateful thing to say, too. How would you like if residents of North Palo Alto said the same thing about your neighborhood? The residents of the park are real Palo Altans who live and work among us. If the residents of the park are able to purchase it, especially as affordable housing with a regulatory agreement, then they can apply for funds to improve it, and probably will. Unlike a landlord who just wants to get as much money as possible, the residents will have an incentive to improve it if they have some ownership. The ability to make it look nice from the street won't take much, since so little of it is visible to the street.
I see a lot of people arguing above that something CAN'T be done without many of the facts or exploring what CAN be done first. Somehow residents have managed to come up with $14.5 million. That's amazing! Now what needs to be done to save the park?
Can a City loan work? What about 40 years loan if 30 is too short?
Can crowdsourced funding work? What if you could own a patch of BV that you could buy and sell like a share? And donate at some point for a write off?
It comes back down to: Can the owners entertain an offer from the residents, and what will they accept? If that is clear, then it comes down to: is there some way to raise the funds so that the park can be retained and operated into the future as affordable housing in Palo Alto by the residents?
I don't think that's a question you or I have the information to answer, Jane. I think you sound like you have some investment in evicting those residents, or you are just so incredibly pessimistic, I wonder why you feel you have to chime in like that? You keep talking about wasted City funds, but I'm not sure what you mean. If a developer wants to build there, it's going to cost the City a lot more, and I don't mean just the controversy. (Why is it that developers aren't paying all these costs?! Especially the ones asking for building outside of zoning?) If we get hundreds more kids because of a giant high-rise there in our schools, it's going to mean we need a new middle school campus, and that's just a start. And we will, because this location just fills up with people who want to send their kids to the local schools. We don't get more money for more kids, we're a basic aid district. And then there are the infrastructure issues, the traffic, etc etc.
greenacres, I have no interest in evicting the tenants nor am I a pessimistic person. I think of myself as a realist living in a time when people have certain right. This owner want so to sell, they should have the right to do so. At today's prices the tenants CANNOT afford the land. let me repeat that because you seem to not understand that 14.5 million is way off of the 30 million mark.
So yes, the owner should sell it to the tenants if they can come up with the market price. BUT THEY CAN'T.
Stop the "I am entitled attitude". Everyone here has the right to live in Palo Alto, Atherton, or Beverly Hills for that matter as long as he or she pays fair price for the property + land. You can bulldoze my neighborhood down if you wish as long as you pay me fair market value for my property which was recently assessed at 2.7 mil.
On the other hand, the owner of buena vista park wants to sell the land, have been bending over backward to compensate these occupants. The city is holding the land owner hostage using bureaucratic red tape to slowdown the process. It's prime time for these occupiers to move on and let the sale complete. Last I check, this is still America and NOT Red China.
@wall - I second that motion. well said
Hey, Jane, I think it's pretty clear that the person posting as "Greenacres" is really WD. She likely has two motivations: make it seem that there is a large outpouring of neighborhood support for BV, and spread information that's "not quite true" without implicating herself.
For example, neighborhood zoning is obviously a hot topic after Measure D (which WD supported). So, RM-15 to RM-45 becomes "4 times the density" when in reality it's 3. The proposed Prometheus development (currently suspended) gets called "4 to 5 stories tall" when plan was 2 stories near R-1 homes and 3 to 4 stories near El Camino. As you've discovered, the biggest tale is about financing. The residents haven't raised $14.5M. Instead, the BV residents worked with a set of consultants and believe they could FINANCE that amount from federal HUD and state MPROP programs (see: Web Link)
Nobody with a heart is happy to see others loose their homes. But, the residents will receive compensation from the BV park owner. Others who aren't covered by quirky state and local laws loose their homes or apartments and receive absolutely nothing. The residents themselves are already represented by two aggressive public interest law firms. So, the residents will certainly get the best deal allowed under the law.
I resent the manipulation surrounding the closure of the park. If the BV supporters cared about the elderly residents and children, they would be working to place them in local affordable housing. Instead, these supporters are asking for millions of dollars in hand-outs and bad mouthing anyone who disagrees with them. BV has reached the end of a useful life. It's time to move on.
@ Bill: I think you meant to say "lose", not "loose".
Thanks Bill. - that clears things up. I was tired myself of all the manipulation and twisting of words. If Greenacres is WD she should be ashamed of herself. Well explained in your post.
"I think it's pretty clear that the person posting as "Greenacres" is really WD."
Winter Dellenbach, who made the second post in this thread is the long-time, not anonymous, supporter of the residents at Buena Vista whom some have referred to as WD. She even gave you her email address if you want to sign up to become a Friend of Buena Vista.
The anonymous Greenacres is definitely not WD.
I agree with Bill. At this point, BV is simply a landlord tenant issue. If you want to do a deal with the owner, do your deal. The BV residents have already lawyered-up. If you want support, at least be straight with people about what you hope to accomplish.
Your negotiations with the owner probably would have gone better if you hadn't called him a greedy bastard in the national and local press.
Bill and Jane,
WD supported Measure D, as you said, Bill. But Greenacres was adamantly opposed--go check the threads.
Greenacres did consistently call for support of retaining Buena Vista as affordable housing even as she worked hard to overturn the affordable senior housing project at Maybell-- although maybe not under that handle.
This is all angels on the head of a pin. We will end up with no affordable housing on either of these sites, and instead the highest density possible market-rate housing. Some people are fine with that (those who think affordable housing is a feature of "Red China", I guess). Some people aren't so fine with it, but the reality is that putting together a workable financing package for affordable housing in a high-cost place like Palo Alto is hard. Opponents of Measure D (including many fine community members like the editor of this paper), lost sight of that fact. Now there are some people who still haven't learned it. They will.
>We will end up with no affordable housing
There is no such thing as affordable housing in Palo Alto. The proper term is welfare housing.
I don't have a particular view about the BV trailer park, other than I don't want PA to spend any money on it, either through loans or lawsuits. It is a private property issue, at base, and I don't want PA to get involved, either way.
I think this is one of those major issues that should come to a secret vote in Barron Park. There have been some vocal voices in BP that support BV...if they think they represent the majority, they should welcome a secret vote.
Do not twist my words.
Who said affordable housing had to be in Palo Alto?
This half baked rationale clearly supports those who think everyone is entitled to live in the most expensive part of the country whether they could afford it or not.
When the city which is being supported by my tax $$, delays or obfuscate a simple democratic process in the transferring of land, I call it injustice and dictatorial like.
Thus the Red China comment.
I do wish that in general, affordable housing advocates would be a little more practical. Trying to build affordable housing in a City with some of the most expensive real estate in the country is an uphill battle (one Downtown store relocated to Manhattan, NY because it was cheaper). This is truly not a NIMBY comment, but a practical one. Housing built in a less expensive town could house many more people for the same $$.
I am probably going to regret opening old wounds by saying this, but I am most definitely not WD, and she would probably take umbrage to the suggestion as (while I respect what she is doing at BV) she and I don't even get along and I'm still waiting for an apology for the extremely uncivil way (to put it mildly) she interacted with me over Measure D (not going to happen, I just thought I'd mention it since she likes to be the civility police with everyone else).
I do, however, know many of the No on D people and they mostly support keeping the trailer park. Most are pretty uniformly AGAINST anything there involving upzoning. The Prometheus application was for 180 units, so you are right, it's THREE times rather than 4X the density - so what? Anything more than 1X is unacceptable.
So once again:
BUENA VISTA MOBILE HOME PARK IS NOT WELFARE HOUSING. PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE HAVE CHOSEN LESS-AUSPICIOUS MARKET-RATE HOUSING ALL THESE YEARS IN ORDER TO AFFORD TO LIVE HERE. THEY ARE NOT PART OF A PROGRAM NOR IS THEIR HOUSING SUBSIDIZED.
Our government, including our City government, puts money into subsidized housing in order to have low-income housing in Palo Alto. That's not BV. New housing stock costs FAR more than older housing stock. Here, for a significantly lesser amount of money, perhaps without even any subsidy, we could retain the largest patch of actual affordable housing in Palo Alto. It might have to transition to a co-op model - which is better for residents anyway - and it certainly will in some capacity involve some public funds (the 14.5M). Perhaps with crowdfunding (Jane), the money could be raised in a way that doesn't exceed what the residents can afford even in your wildest most pessimistic imaginings. You say CAN'T before you have even TRIED.
It's actually a much more cost-effective way to accomplish in saving it than razing it Razing it means evicting all those people who are long-time Palo Alto residents, and getting a highdensity new high-rise (with all the public costs that entails, such as all the kids who will flood the nearby schools like Gunn - the primary reason people move to this neighborhood, at greater public cost) or market-rate with a few BMR units that none of those people could afford, and if history serves, will probably go 90% to people from outside of Palo Alto not existing Palo Alto residents. It's a developer giveaway under the guise of affordable housing provisions, and further burdening our infrastructure and city services. And the developer will, ironically, almost certain ask for a density bonus for "affordable" housing!
Once again, I have NOT suggested even once that the property should be sold for less than market-rate, I think I have repeated many times (Jane) that the question is how to come up with a comparable or more favorable offer, no?
For Craig and those who are against "welfare" housing -- then you should be for saving the mobile home park, because the government is going to spend the money, we have the funds set aside -- and the subsidy involved here, if any, is significantly less than when anyone tries to take over property and build entirely new housing. Saving BV would still retain an element of ownership and market-rate forces, not be entirely welfare housing as you object to.
The residents of welfare housing, whether the surrounding community discriminates or not, generally experience a sense of stigma for being put in such a fishbowl, in this case, a gilded fishbowl. The residents of BV have eschewed signing up for "welfare" subsidized housing, even though they would have qualified, in order to live in market-rate housing and remain independent. I think it's worth making an effort to retain this. The kinds of help residents need now pales in comparison to the costs of fully subsidized housing. And we retain the mobile home park and avert having to pay the City services and other costs of the usual developer subsidies if it is densified and built UP.
If the park is somehow razed and the developer tries to put anything more dense than RM-15 -- taking advantage of "affordable housing " allowances to densify the property after chucking out all those low-income residents, the ensuing battles will be the poster child for getting rid of state density bonus rules, which are providing incentives to destroy existing affordable housing stock (and none to save it).
Well said, Greenacres! Please contact me! Thanks!
>For Craig and those who are against "welfare" housing -- then you should be for saving the mobile home park, because the government is going to spend the money, we have the funds set aside -- and the subsidy involved here, if any, is significantly less than when anyone tries to take over property and build entirely new housing. Saving BV would still retain an element of ownership and market-rate forces, not be entirely welfare housing as you object to.
This is a private property issue. The owner wants to sell that property, and he will win that issue, I think. The alternative is that he might sue the city of PA...no way we should get involved in that mess. After all, we need a new police station, and that will cost a lot of taxpayer money. What are the chances that PA voters will approve more taxes for that police station, if our leaders spend money to support the BV issue?
> we have the funds set aside --
Don't spend those funds on welfare housing...spend them on infrastructure, like the new proposed police station.
No one is suggesting anyone violate anyone's private property rights. The residents of the mobile home park have private property rights, too. The owner made a considerable amount of money both operating the mobile home park and in appreciated land value over the year. Mobile home parks, as I have already mentioned, are a unique real estate niche because the residents are both renters and property owners. Effectively, once the mobile homes are on site, they aren't really mobile anymore. No one sells them, they typically stay in place. That's everywhere, not just here and now. The residents rent the property but own the home. Kind of like Gunn High School. How would we feel if Stanford wanted their land back without giving us a chance to purchase the school site (at market rates)?
As a result of this unique situation with mobile homes, there are state laws governing the closure of mobile home parks. The owners have to follow the rules, and as I said, the owners of the mobile homes are property owners with rights, too. It is not "welfare" or actionable to expect those rights to be honored.
"This is a private property issue. The owner wants to sell that property, and he will win that issue"
So, what exactly are you assuming here, that he doesn't have the right to sell the property? Who is saying he doesn't have the right to sell the property? I'm not. I'm saying, the interests of Palo Alto residents, especially in this neighborhood, align with the residents of Buena Vista mobile home park, to help them assume ownership of the property and retain the park as affordable housing. That's all. Assume ownership by making a competitive offer. How many times do I have to say that before you realize I am in no way suggesting anyone's private property rights be breached?
You don't want to have to pay more taxes? Then don't support developer giveaways that result in the putting in of more high-density projects on this side of town, because they will be filled with people trying to send their kids to Gunn HS, and Terman Middle School (which is maxed) - you want to have to approve more taxes to open and operate more schools? (And you know very well that you will lose on the tax issue if it comes to more school funding.) Because that's not an incremental expenditure, we're maxed now, and putting in hundreds more kids means another couple of schools. High-density new construction is not without its costs, and those new residents do not pay for all of the City services they use, we already know that. If a developer comes in and puts in a high-density high-rise, you won't have any choice about paying for the services of the residents who move in, and it will be more residents than already live there.
Better we retain the existing mobile home park. It may be possible to do without a huge expenditure, or any ultimate public subsidy at all.
So again, the question for us bystanders is:
1) Can Jissers, under their contract with Prometheus, entertain other offers to buy the property, and
2) What would constitute a comparable offer (considering a purchase by the mobile home park residents would not have to involve the expense of evicting them and closing the park, and could involve some write off in any amount were donated to the nonprofit, if that were a desirable choice for the seller. Doesn't have to be. Again, what constitutes a comparable offer? Jisser gets his money faster this way and without the risk and expense of closing the park - under state rules, and state defers to local rules if they exist, but that's state law).
3) What can those of us who care about saving the park do to ensure that comparable offer can be made? We have many high-tech mavens in this town -- Will anyone step forward and put some energy into a creative solution?
Again, to make up the difference, I suggest considering the possibility of selling "shares" in Buena Vista, or half of Buena Vista, so that people can buy tiny plots of land in Silicon Valley that they can sell or donate back to the nonprofit over the years. Do we not have any young high-tech social entrepreneurs who want to figure out how to make non-profit co-ops work as a new model for retaining (market-based) affordable housing in this horrendously expensive place? On a kickstarter model, the sales wouldn't actually go through unless the goal amount were raised and the seller agreed. Or what about just a crowdsourced donation effort to save the park?
I'm not is suggesting you open your wallets necessarily - let those who want to save the park do that - just your minds and your hearts.
@greenacres- I'm going to play devil's advocate a bit and call you on your conviction that Palo Alto residents are interested in keeping Buena vista open. Many of them support affordable housing but think that BV is an eyesore. being blunt here. As far as the school argument, there are already 100 or so students at BV so a replacement housing development wouldn't necessarily add any students. Would our energies be better spent finding new housing for the residents?
Greenacers. You are really off on this issue. The owner is not selling the land. They are closing the park to redevelop it. So far there has been no development plans submitted. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out. The owner has been there for 25 plus years. The city ordinance was passed in 2000. Imagine our city officials passed an ordinance that impacts a single investor. That in itself is cause for Law suit.
Further, there has been evidence that the owner is selling. Perhaps this is a joint venture between the land owner and the developer.
Imagine you own land that you want to develop and you can't because the tenant leasing from you (whose leases has expired by the way) won't leave.
1. The ordinance is against the law.
2. The tenants signed leases that have expired.
3. Time is money. The owner made a deal. There is no reason for the owner to enertain another offer
4. The city has used delay tactics. Really, 15
Months and 6 revisions for a report to be approved!
This is America people! Try to put yourself in the owners place. I'm shocked a law suit hasn't been file yet
1. the ordinance is not "against the law".
2. the tenants leases were never renewed annually as required by city ordinance.
3. the owner has milked this cash cow for decades. if the place looks run down its because the owner has never repaired or replaced anything unless it was falling down and/or an authority forced him to. you can see his picture under slum lord in your dictionary.
4. the city did not accept the owner's paperwork because it was incomplete. the owner though a shoddy job would suffice on the paperwork as it has on his compliance with city codes.
so sorry you hate the diversity that the historic trailer park contributes to our community. have a nice nite.
@palo alto mom from Paly,
"I'm going to play devil's advocate a bit and call you on your conviction that Palo Alto residents are interested in keeping Buena vista open. Many of them support affordable housing but think that BV is an eyesore."
You support affordable housing... unless a trailer park you have never seen (let's be honest here) has a landlord who does a good job putting up an attractive entrance to El Camino behind the gas station it sits behind? A small entrance that could be made to look modern and beautiful from the street with $15,000 in landscaping and hardscape? Really? You think Palo Altans are that shallow? How many people who say BV is an "eyesore" have any idea what it even looks like except judging by the Valero station entrance, or what it could look like if the residents had a chance to own and improve it? If they promised to make the entrance pretty, that would make you care?
I live in this neighborhood, and I have just spent months working with my neighbors, and most of us prefer the mobile home park to a high-density high-rise apartment, and more than that, we think it's worth considering how to help the residents stay there -- especially since it can probably done with a little creativity and a lot less money than building new housing (if you really support affordable housing). I think the vast majority of the neighbors prefer sunlight, views of the hills, keeping their neighbors who live there, and not adding more density and overdevelopment here, and think making the entrance to BV a little more attractive isn't such a huge a problem.
If you think it's an eyesore, give the residents a chance at ownership - then they have an incentive to improve the park because it's theirs.
>"As far as the school argument, there are already 100 or so students at BV so a replacement housing development wouldn't necessarily add any students. "
You're kidding, right? You think 180 new units wouldn't add more students to this district? I still remember being promised that Arbor Real would be mostly older retired people (who like 3-story homes). While I have many friends who live there, the promises about minimal impact to the school were just delusional -- it's mostly people with kids who want the local schools. And we're not just talking numbers here. The 100 or so students at BV make up 10% of the students at Barron Park Elementary, and are part of the community. Districts generally let kids stay in the school they've been at for at least 3 years if they move out of boundary (but in town) because it's so disruptive for kids to leave the school they've grown up in. It's not just disruptive to the BV students, it's disruptive to all the students to leave their friends. BP is the last overflow school, and the BV residents are part of what's stable about it and make it great.
Have you read this article yet?
So what if the owner milk the cash cow. He's a businessman and he's doing exactly what many other smart business owners do and that is to reduce cost and to maximize his profits. It's a trailer park and renters lease the lot in order to park their trailer. [Portion removed.]
Now the BV owner wants to exit the Trailer Park business and move on to something else and that should be his prerogative. This smells like a tort. PA city needs to pull their heads out of the sand. Where is our City Attorney? This is what my tax$$$ going out to? Res Ipsa Loquitur!
It's hard to even answer you since you are so unacquainted with the actual facts here or the laws in California that apply. You just keep expressing a strong opinion over and over without trying to become acquainted with the facts. I'm not expert either, but I can use Google and read. I live here -- what is your agenda that you have such a strong and aggressive, but uninformed, opinion on this?
You could start by reading the state of California's Mobilehome Residency Law, and at least start by searching on the word "local" because it will bring up about a zillion mentions of where the state law intersects or defers to "local ordinances".
I asked you before to state which ordinance from 2000 you think is illegal, and if so, where is the legal challenge to it that would have taken place? Mobile home parks are unique housing niches and require their own ordinances, and BV was the only mobile home park in Palo Alto. Thus it's going to have ordinances that only affect it. You think that makes them illegal? Again, what is your agenda here?
Yes, time is money. And the owner made a deal with big developer when the big developer thought it could come in and put up anything it wanted and the City Council wouldn't bat an eyelash. That has changed. It doesn't mean it necessarily changes what the owner can get for it, but it might make a comparable offer now -- bird in the hand -- from the residents more attractive. The owner could start investing and living his life with all that money sooner by letting the residents purchase than having to go through the eviction process. And he has a cleaner conscience, that's worth something, too, especially if he gets a comparable offer. That's just a smart business decision.
Link to the state Mobilehome Residency Law
Greenacres and Maria. Did you really ignore the fact that the owner is NOT selling?
The owner filed with the city a report to relocate everybody. Nothing has been presented for development. Ever ask yourself why?
You are trying to buy something that is NOT for sale. The owner simply wants his land back
Maria, I'm glad you agree that the leases expired. Leases that expire generally default to month to month. So the owner should have no further obligation other than a 30 day notice to move. Think of the reverse, if a tenant wants to move out with an expired lease, Can the owner force them to stay forever. I think not. A tenant would generally leave a 30 day notice and move. So why should the owner be forced to pay large amounts of money to get his land back once a lease expired.
So if the land is NOT for sale why are the tenants trying to buy it. Further Maria if the landlord is such a slumlord why are the tenants fighting so hard to stay.
greenacres, the city ordinance that making the landlord jump through all these hoops was passed in 2000. If you are so good with google. Then google Palo Alto mobile home park ordinance. This ordinance was placed into law years after the owner purchased the land. This is precisely why it is not legal
Enough is enough already.
Sigh. I thought the Weekly deleted when people kept repeated themselves over and over and over.
For someone who asks a lot of questions, you never answer any. I'd like to know your agenda, you clearly aren't a disinterested party for someone who doesn't live in the neighborhood.
"The Jisser family, who own the property, announced plans last November to convert the 4.5-acre parcel at 3980 El Camino Real into 187 high-end apartments. They signed a contract with Prometheus Real Estate and Property Management to develop the property, contingent on the city granting a zoning change."
Joe Jisser, the Buena Vista property manager and joint owner of the park along with his parents, is in contract with Prometheus Real Estate Group, to whom they plan to sell the park. Prometheus hopes to redevelop the land into luxury apartments.
Jisser’s parents “are older now,” he reasoned in an interview. “It just came time” when “they don’t really want to manage real estate anymore like this.”
Sounds to me like Jisser is closing the park to sell it to Prometheus so they can put up a high-density luxury apartment, like all the newspapers have been saying. Maybe you're right, maybe they are going to develop the property WITH Prometheus. The papers say they're going to sell. Do you know something no one else does?
Their prospects of getting that zoning change have diminished to about zero since that article was written, though.
Jay Paul had the foresight to withdraw when they realized this. Presented with a comparable monetary offer that didn't involve time, money and legal action, if I were Jisser, I'd take it. Especially since the motivation they stated publicly was to get out of the real estate business. (Again, does the contract with Prometheus allow them to consider it?...)
Sorry, but Cities make ordinances applying to things that cities have jurisdiction to make ordinances over, including mobile home parks. That's the state law. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it's not legal. If Jisser thought it was illegal, why didn't he challenge it?
Before you say the same thing over and over again, will you just real the state mobil home park laws? The landlord has to jump through hoops because there are laws governing mobile home parks, most of them governed by the state, unless there is a local ordinance (which legally takes precedence).
You keep alluding to this 2000 ordinance but don't seem able to provide a link or a better description of it. I can't find it. Please provide a link (and when you do, read it yourself along with me).
>"Further Maria if the landlord is such a slumlord why are the tenants fighting so hard to stay. "
If the tenants bought the property, obviously, they would be controlling the park themselves and would not have the landlord. They would also have the ability and incentive to improve it in a way a landlord planning to close it would not.
You also wrote, "The owner filed with the city a report to relocate everybody. Nothing has been presented for development. Ever ask yourself why?"
The link above is to the "3980 El Camino Real (Buena Vista Mobile Home Park) - Application to close the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park and rezone site from RM-15 to RM-40 and build a 180-unit apartment development consisting of a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments." On the City website. The development proposal.
You don't even have a basic acquaintanceship with any of the facts here, about the park, what's happening with the park, what's been proposed, or even what the laws are, and yet you have a strong opinion about evicting the residents. Even though in the end, the new proposed development will cost us more as a City. And involve the relocation of over 400 longtime Palo Altans including over 100 children (read that article I linked if you want to challenge your prejudices about who they are).
This page linked above is enlightening, Holy cow, that hotel site on the corner of El Camino and Arastradero went from 3200 square feet to 22,000?! No wonder council thought they could put whatever the hll they wanted in that neighborhood. And clearly none of them drive round that corner or they'd never have put the driveway of a large hotel there. Hey, everyone who takes that corner at Arastradero and El Camino, guess what? Their answer to that problem is going to be to take away that dedicated right turn lane! Happy getting home from work and school!
I think because of that alone, the City should not put another large development on El Camino Real just a few blocks on the other side of Arastradero. How do you like the traffic there now? It's already going to get worse from development that snt yet finished. You want yet another 4-story building on that segment of the El Camino Tunnel Projèct? On an overdevelopment of 4 acres behind it? No thanks. Here's where it's easy to do the right thing and mitigate some of the overdevelopment by helping the residents purchase the park.
Greenacres, what Jane is referring to is the Palo Alto Mobile Home Park Conversion Ordinance Chapter 9.76 Web Link
I work with a local law firm in Palo Alto, and we have been watching this process very closely. The unprecedented portion of this ordinance (I believe what Jane is saying is illegal) is that it was written in general terms while the City Counsel and City Attorney had full knowledge that BV was and is the only mobile home park in PA. Further, the owner of BV did at the time make it clear that the mobile home park was to close. However to City Counsel at the time offered benefits to the owner, in order to keep the rents down and the park open for an additional ten years.
In short, the owner, has kept that promise, and in turn the city rewarded him with zero benefits and placed into law the above mentioned ordinance.
Further, if the benefits awarded to the tenants exceeds what is written in the state mobile home park law, which is define as reasonable relocation cost. At that point, we are predicting the owner will file suit against the city(remember the state law overrides the city ordinance). This will be a costly process for the city, and further if awarded damages, the owner has already submitted documents proving that the land is worth the same at the current RM15 zoning or the asking RM40. I believe it is near the $30M mark. Thus the variance between the current value and the existing RM15 value will be a good measure to determine damages. Something the city cannot gamble on.
Further if the ordinance is found to be unconstitutional, then the owner will be able to proceed with the closure under the state law. This will in turn reduce the current offered benefits drastically. Thus putting much risk on the tenants if they or their attorneys attempted to ask for what is said to be "reasonable" costs.
Again, my opinion is just that an opinion. However, I can tell you there has been much talk about this issue around here.
hope this clarifies things
Well, it does clarify things in relation to the ordinance, thanks. I looked at it and it seems pretty standard stuff - I couldnt tell you if i's more than the state law allows, but it doesnt seem unprecedented - it seems intended to ensure residents arent just chucked out or that rents aren't used as a de facto way of evicting the residents. Quick question, what were the benefits you mention promised to the owners? I can't find them in the ordinance.
But it also does not change my basic point, either, since I am suggesting the residents would need to figure out how to come up with a competitive offer (Equivalent to the Prometheus 30M) in order to purchase the park. Are you suggesting that if a comparable offer were made, it would still be rejected because it's personal for the owners against the residents and they'd rather go through the eviction process for the same money?
I'm not a real estate professional. That being said, one has to wonder that even if the BV property were to remain RM-15 --- there there still might be plenty of room for a tidy profit if sold at the reported $30mil. In other words, a developer would still want to work the property - whether RM-15 or RM-X
@greenacres - I don't think LP said anything about the owners wanting to evict the residents because the owners have something against them. I think his point is that the City can't hold up the sale and if they try, the Owners can sue the City, which we don't want to have happen. It also sounds like the residents should have know about this for more than 10 years.
Greenacres: you sure got lots of time to post here. I hope you are not a city employee.
If so I would consider your time posting on this board to be fraud, waste and abuse of our public funds. As a Palo Alto homeowner, I expect the City Manager to crack down on this type of abuse and waste.
However, if you are independently wealthy, carry on. However, I find your postings to be repetitious, one sided and contain several erroneous facts as pointed out by several people here.
Actually the owners strategy thus far has been more than interesting. Any landlord offering tenants that much for relocation would generally increase rents. With this type of income levels. $50 monthly can be the difference of staying in the park or being evicted. Over the past year and a half a rent increase has not been implemented. This is either a sign that the owner is trying to do right by the tenants. Or .....
The more I read on this subject, the more I fear a big tort against CPA (that means us citizens of PA). CPA should back off, period. This is a private property issue.
I can see both sides on the paperwork issue...and that's what it is.
It appears that the paperwork is now in order and that the offer to the trailer owners will meet requirements.
Unless the city comes up with some bogus issue, I'm guessing that the BV closure is imminent.
BV can be sold at anytime. The city can't stop that.
However, I don't think that any lawsuit challenging CPA over its (presumably) decision not to up the zoning would be successful. At a minimum, the city can point to the Measure D results and can truthfully say that the residents of PA are against up-zoning.
Sure he can sue CPA based on tortious interference with a contract. There are 4 elements to prove this case in a civil court and I believe the city hits on all 4. As a Palo Alto tax payer, I do not wish to have to pay for this ineptness through property tax increase.
Any newly mint law grad can easily litigate this case for the BV owner. An experienced counsel will have CPA for lunch
> Sure he can sue CPA based on tortious interference with a contract.
Almost seems like a plan, doesn't it? First, write a mobile home closure ordinance that doesn't require approval of a redevelopment plan for the site. Second, include pie-in-the-sky promises to park residents payable on closure which are obviously non-enforceable. Third, when the closure happens, put the weakest attorney (the former Enron deal guy) on the case. Now, the City's hands are tied with a legal mess and the City has to approve the zoning change or endure a costly lawsuit.
Residents could place another referendum on the ballot to reverse the zoning change, but that's not likely to happen for a site along El Camino. Even if they did, the mobile home residents will be long gone by then. As CPD said, the site is still worth more at RM-15 without the park than with it. Lex Luthor (Web Link) would be proud.
That site is along El Camino and well into Barron Park, it's 4 acres. I think you may be right that if it were upzoned at one time, there might not have been a stink, but now, I think residents would referend. We are so incredibly impacted here by so much recent construction, without commensurate attention to our infrastructure.
I am not a City employee. I live in the same neighborhood and care that if there is a solution, one be found. Not one that violates anyone's property rights, I have no idea why everyone keeps jumping on that, I am only speaking for myself and am not part of the current legal efforts. I try to be as accurate as possible, please point out any factual errors in what I have written above? (Please refrain from just restating a negative point of view, but rather, stick to the facts.)
I am suggesting it's worth the effort to problem solve this and see if there's a way to save the park and make the owner just as happy. Prometheus won't be happy, but they'll soon find some other corner of our town to ruin or another wall on El Camino to build like San Antonio and El Camino, one that doesn't involve evicting over 400 longtime residents from their homes and our community.
We've had teachers at the local school who couldn't afford to live anywhere else nearby - and when it's gone, it's gone -- I think it's worth trying to do something, especially since the ease of upzoning in the past almost certainly contributed to this situation. If the property is worth just as much not upzoned, why would anyone submit an application for upzoning, since it costs more and is more trouble to build more units?
Regardless - I'm not arguing that point, please don't jump on it again (Geez, there's why I repeat myself, people like Jane jump in without actually reading what I wrote and repeat THEMselves) the owner sees the property as worth $30M, so if it is to be saved, that is the target offer, no? If Jisser got an offer for $30M in total and no need to proceed with the eviction, or even $30M minus cost of eviction, and weighed that against $30M only after eviction -- most people would choose the path of least resistance for the same amount of money.
I'm saying, there are many reasons we should want to keep this park open:
1) It's real affordable housing, not some highly-subsidized program.
2) It's a lot of people, and they are part of the community, especially the school community. Unfortunately not a part of Zuckerberg's part of town, because he could save the entire park for all 400+ residents for less than the purchase of one of the homes around him. But an important part of this side of town where we are glad that we have more diversity.
3) Saving the park is ultimately a cheaper way to have affordable housing here than building large new properties at a cost of many tens of millions of dollars for a few dozen spaces. This situation highlights a problem that should be addressed: which is that the incentives to save existing affordable housing, which is more cost effective, not only don't exist, but the system works counter to saving existing affordable housing.
4) Saving the park means we don't even more density and traffic near the corner of El Camino and Arastradero. (!!)
5) Saving the park means that 4 acres stays 1 story long into the future, and we at least save some sky and sunlight on that one patch of El Camino. It's currently more dense than the zoning would allow, so in a sense, it is high-density, but less impactful than if it is razed and built up.
6) Saving the park means the parcel won't add the additional students to our nearby schools which are at a limit right now, especially Terman. Maybe the district would like the excuse to add another bond for Cubberly and a new middle school - well for that I lose on this point.
7) Saving the park means we avoid the whole eviction and/or upzoning mess/fight. Simplest path.
I could add more reasons. But I don't have another $10-$15million to give/loan the residents, or I would have done so already. (Geez, there's your answer to independently wealthy. No, I just care, like a lot of my neighbors who don't write do.) The question then becomes - is there a way to come up with the funds. The people trying to help the park residents have come up with $14.5 million, which is an astonishing feat. Now, is it possible to come up with the rest?
The City was going to loan $7.2 million from the affordable housing fund at Maybell. I heard it was likely to mostly be forgiven over the course of the loan, so I don't want to get into a discussion of what's affordable to the residents, that's for everyone involved to decide. Point is, our Mayor has suggested those funds could be made available to the residents of BV, and she hoped they would apply for them. For those of you who hate subsidized housing, that's $7.2 million already dedicated to affordable housing (can't be spent on something else), that will save existing residents who will still have some ownership, rather than going to build another new far more expensive subsidized property that will cost tens of millions more to house far fewer people. Is this suggestion realistic? I don't know, I'm just suggesting it's worth looking at.
We have a lot of young people concerned about affordable housing, not just in Palo Alto, but in this whole region. What about looking at developing a new "crowdsourced co-op" model, where someone sets up a way for people to buy shares or a small patch of Palo Alto real estate by Internet? Shares that would retain their value or even grow in value over time? That people all over the region and country could buy? That residents could buy back, and people could donate to their nonprofit co-op for a write off... If something like this could be done, what else could be done, in San Francisco for example, to crowdsource co-ops to retain affordable housing? Because older housing stock is instrinsically more affordable, and finding ways for people to have some ownership in the cheapest way possible is ultimately the most cost-effective way to provide affordable housing.
Maybe no one will want to do that. Maybe there's no way to do it legally. But maybe there is. Maybe someone will get a high-tech social entrepreneurship thrill out of meeting that challenge. It's worth bringing up, because there are over 400 low-income residents whose residency here is at stake. People who care about property rights seem to think the owners rights are the only ones that count. The residents of the park are not just renters, they also own property, and I submit that their investments in their properties, by percent of income, is probably greater than Jissers' outlay was. Multiplied by hundreds. I'm not saying that as any argument about laws, I'm saying there's an awful lot of one-sided ideologically-driven arguing here.
So, you supposed young people who care about affordable housing -- put that idea out there on social media, and see what you come up with. Any more ideas?
You see, there are no new ideas under the sun: An article in the WSJ about crowdfunded real estate, which mentions that one of the best possible applications would be such as crowdfunding housing for a low-income buyer:
There are EXISTING crowdfunded real estate sites. Why not use them as a model for a low-income crowdfunded real estate site, where the goal is for people to have ownership, but similar in principle to the Palo Alto BMR model where there's a regulatory agreement that keeps the price of the property more stable, even while people are able to gain some equity?
To those of you who don't live in the park as I do,the only reason the residents here don't want the park to close is, where else can they go and do what ever they please [portion removed.] The owner never is here only during the time to collect rent. Most of the resident here [portion removed] love being in a place where they feel free do do as they want.Don't get me wrong my husband is from Central America and is here legal,he also feels these people know will be hard for them living elsewhere due to the fact they have had it too easy living in the park.It's time for them to see what it's really like living here,obeying our laws ect,it;s time for the park to close after living here for 14 years it's a time for a change and the rent space here is not cheap close to 850 a month,but it's easy for those who live 8 or 9 to a trailer,I will be happy for Palo Alto to get rid of this slum.
Joe, a resident of Barron Park: I agree with your analysis. People named Joe are smart. Here is the vote on adoption of the ordinance:
AYES: BEECHAM, EAKINS, LYTLE, MOSSAR, OJAKIAN,
NOES: BURCH, FAZZINO, KLEINBERG, WHEELER
If all of LisaL.'s points are correct, and I said "IF", then they are a reflection on the style of management that has been afforded to the park residents and the larger Barron Park and Palo Alto community by the current owner. It is my understanding that the former owners, prior to the current owner purchasing the park, were a very lovely family who actually resided in the single family home in the park. When the current owner took over, the single family home was rented out and no on-site night and weekend manager was provided to the residents (as required by state law). If as LisaL. says, the residents are scofflaws, well, so is the owner and by several orders of magnitude greater. When the park is owned by the resident's non-profit, conditions will greatly improve for those living in the park and the greater community.
@Maria - so what you are saying is that after we help the "scofflaws" buy the park, they will reform and become better people? Hope springs eternal!
No, Got it, I'm saying that once the park is owned and operated by the non-profit Resident's Association, the park rules will be enforced.
All the people living there are not drug dealers and scofflaws, otherwise our school district needs different standards in its hiring, for one. Well, Lisa L may be right about some things going amuck with the recent landlord, but she's just feeding a lot of ugly prejudices in people who don't know better. Maria is right, if a non-profit Residents Association runs the park, that's the best way to improve it and get rid of any scofflaws. I'm sure the majority of people living there would appreciate it, too.
Maria and Greenacres. The "rules of the park" don't sound like they are the problem. FYI the city and state have rules as well. We call it the law. Sounds like the law is being broken. Not the rules set by the owner.
Yes, Jane, the current owner is out of compliance with many local and state laws and has been for years with very few repercussions. Again, sorry you dislike poor people so much, not to worry, soon Palo Alto will be completely free of the poors! Keep up your good work!
>soon Palo Alto will be completely free of the poors!
So what is wrong with that? If someone cannot afford to live here, then move to where you can afford to live. We should not become a beacon for the poor, and the welfare conditions that that implies.
Above all, don't spend any PA funds on this private property issue.
@ CL: I don't disagree with your POV necessarily, but sometimes you can be a bit harsh.
I believe the property owner has the right to evict and/or sell. Moral judgments can be made, but I am not his maker so I stay out of that. I'm all for and completely support private property rights.
Whatever your position is, the conversation is most focused on whether the BV site can be saved or purchased by the current residents. It is not about attracting additional residents who cannot afford to live here or subsidizing non-residents so they can move here.
I am also against the city loaning money to anyone or anything. But if you read the above conversation - the leading question is what can be done to help the BV residents stay in their current location. Th is not about attracting additional low income residents - so in the interest of keeping emotions in check, maybe you don't have to rail on that issue in this thread?
A suggestion is that the city provides a loan for a portion of the purchase price. I'm against that idea, as are you. OK, the opinion is out there. No need to go off on tangents about subsidized BMR, etc. and create additional animosity in this thread. Just my two cents.
[Portion removed.] I don't think PA should get involved with trying to save BV, if it is going to cost us money...it is a private property deal, and PA citizens should not feel obligated to help the tenants, if they are forced to move. If this POV is harsh, then I plead guilty.
I didn't see your entire post as it has been "streamlined" by the moderator. But I will say that what is left is not harsh at all and clearly states your POV. Works for me.
If the Jisser family is already under contract to sell BV to Prometheus, is it even possible for another entity to purchase the Park?
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