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on Sep 16, 2013
What happens if the city doesn't approve the zoning change? Is the tenants offer than a good & reasonable one?
@Sad - They have an offer of $30 million from Prometheus. Is there any question the tenant offer of $14.5 is not good and not reasonable?
my guess is that if the city doesn't approve the zoning change, the owners won't be able to get $30 mil, and Prometheus may back out of the deal. OTOH, they will be able to get significantly more than $14.5 mil from another investor, so the residents' offer is still not a particularly attractive one.
30 million for that dump behind jamba juice and baja fresh?
the housing prices are out of control!
Well, Maybell went for something like $15 or $16 million and it's 2.5 acres, but it's a nicer location in a residential area and has 4 ranch houses of over 2,000 sq ft each, so the $14 mil actually seems like a reasonable offer to me. And Maybell was also bought assuming the market-rate developer was going to get to build higher density on the 55% of the property being built with market rate houses.
This is egregious, that the City's willingness to rezone for high-density at the drop of a hat is making it so developers are assuming they'll get whatever they want to pack onto those properties, and pricing them accordingly. (I hope high density advocates might reflect on how their unequivocal pushing of high-density is working counter to affordable housing in this town. Forget asking the City to reflect, they're too busy licking developer boots.)
The supposed high density is just not high enough. Build a 60 story residential skyscraper with thousands of units and then prices will come down.
@Sad - Maybell is 2.5 acres, and ~15million. This is 4.5 acres, so they should take less than was paid for Maybell??
I oppose high density as well, but that is a separate issue from meddling in sales between private parties. Let the new buyer own the risk of not getting rezoned.
Simple. The city council has no need to change the zoning. Tell them that only development that conforms to the current zoning will be allowed. There is no benefit to Palo Alto to make a gift of $15M to the Jissers. Then we will know what the property is worth.
Perhaps it wouldn't matter what the residents offer. The mobile-home park is going away. It's probably a done deal between the Jisser family, Proometheus and the city.
The article is wrong again. They keep saying its worth $30M with a zoning change. What they should say is that its worth $30M regardless of the zoning change. Its worth $30M once is the park closes.
With Mayfield the land sold for $6.5M per acre. $14.5M for 4.5 acres is just not going to happen in Palo Alto
the weekly better start getting its facts straight.
I think this is old news. Saw this article last week in The Daily
Money talks and people take a back seat to greed. A huge financial loss would be well deserved.
@Fred-you're right the weekly should get their fact straight before they write lies and make the readers even more confuse!!!! We offer 14.5 mil because that's what's the park is worth as is, it was in their RIR report to the city!!! And she did not get any comments from us the board members at Buena vista because she didn't try to reach us!!!
How do we block the zoning change?
As a Barron Park resident I DONT WANT 180 high end apartments built on that site. I want affordable housing and diversity. I want the residents of Buena Vista to keep there homes.
How many more people can we cram into every available corner and keep any quality of life?
If the city council changes the zoning of this property they should resign. It is like the city is handing someone $15.5 million in order to displace a large number of people. They should have learned from the Miki disaster. There is no public good only empty promises.
I live in the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park,and now it's a living hell.
Iam on Social Security now after losing my job in 2009.it's been hard on my husband and my self to pay the increasing charges that have occurred since the talk of sale of the park,Jisser's are really making it so you leave by force,wanting to get rid of as many people as they can so they won't have to pay the buy out,I offered them to buy my trailer for less and they told me it was against the law and could not do that. You try talking two the owner and he is so rude he don't give a darn about your problems,we are now 442 dollars behind and he gave me an evection notice. He gave me 30 days,we have been here for 13 years,I wish he would have bought me out so I could relocate to Oregon,now Iam so stressed I am at a loss as to what we can do,so the sale of Buena vista is a total nightmare,We are only two people who live in 86 and others are extended families who can afford the high space and ulitilies,not me.
The BV residents can see the writing on the wall: the mobile home park will close. But they want a reasonable buy-out price. The Jisser family should come up with one ($50K/family) and move on. They will still make a killing.
The BV residents have had a place for a long time and were able to afford living in PA.
I think that whatever the Jisser family does, they should really be considerate and compassionate and think about these families.
They are going to get millions whatever direction it goes.
They should be able to create a fund (heaven forbid they go at it without a tax write off!) that can be set up to give each family 50K on top of the purchase of the each home site, so the tenants can at least relocate with a possible down payment (not in this area obviously) on a new place.
I know quite a few families are really concerned about their children and having to change schools. That, unfortunately, is a reality that they need accept and start looking at where they want to go.
Personally, I think the Jissers should really let the residents buy the property. How much more money do you really need to live comfortably? It's not like you're hurting already! ♡Come On...Have a heart! ♡
I'll say it again. The land is worth $30m regardless of the zoning change. Up the zoning or leave it. $30m is the going price. Tenants should up their offer
A zoning change should never be allowed for this property!
Seriously KP? He owns the land and the tenants rent. No landlord should have to pay a tenant to leave. Not in this country anyway.
Why doesn't the city put a fund in place for the tenants. Isn't that what a government is for.
As a society, and especially in this community, we should stop this welfare and entitlement mindset. The rightful owners of this property should be able to sell this asset to maximize their profits.
How would you feel if someone told you couldn't sell your assets because at some point you rented them, and now the renters don't want to give it back to you?
This country was built on the rule of law and strong ownership rights. And on the entitlement front, nobody is entitled to live in Palo Alto. There's a price to pay, and if you cannot afford it, go somewhere else.
Carlos. ---- well said !!!
Seriously people. They are renting the land and chose to bring their homes on the land. Now the owner has giving you a year to relocate and offered to pay relocation costs.
Enough is enough. I pay a fortune to live here. If I don't make the payment which fund is going to help me out.
Mayor Gregg Scharff is working with Staff and other Council Members to make sure Prometheus Group's project gets approved.
Gregg Scharff was the Director of Acquisitions for Prometheus Group, one of the largest builders and owners of multi-family homes in Northern California. He's a real estate attorney with a big financial stake in the development community.
His vision of Palo Alto is to grow and he's described the civil war between the development community and folks who want to keep a small town feel in Palo Alto.
While buying a house in PA, we were overbid so many times with people offering more money. So?! It's an open market an any owner is entitled to get max for his property.
BV residents had almost free ride for so long. To afford the same schools and community, some of us are keeping 2-3 jobs. It's capitalism and don't blame the owner. If you can't afford something, just move.
And, where is 14.5m come from? I thought BV residents are low income.
>This country was built on the rule of law and strong ownership rights. And on the entitlement front, nobody is entitled to live in Palo Alto. There's a price to pay, and if you cannot afford it, go somewhere else.
I couldn't agree more! It is nice to see some people oppose the koolaid of collective guilt. Are we approaching a tipping point, in terms of social attitudes, in Palo Alto?
Zoning change for 180 units???
Lets say 3/4 of those new residents are couples, roommates etc. Thats a additional 135 cars on top of the 180 cars already. Thats 315 cars give or take.
How many single moms and dads or couple will be brought in??
How long before PAUSD is crying ''we need more money because of all these kids''???
Property tax increases for education will be a pretty common sight on our local elections for the next 20 years. They way city council keep approving over development.
Craig agrees about strong ownership rights, but a few months back he was opposed to Airbnb in palo alto-- which allows homeowners to rent bedrooms to visitors. Isn't allowing them to rent their homes a part of strong ownership rights.
Craig also benefits from a subsidized permit parking rogram in CT. Hypocrisy, maybe???
>Craig agrees about strong ownership rights, but a few months back he was opposed to Airbnb in palo alto
Yep, I did. Because I bought a home in a single family neighborhood, not a commercial rental neighborhood. I don't mind an occasional B&B, if it is appropriate (e.g. Big Blue, back in the day...which may have preserved it), but I don't want my neighbors to be opening rooms for temporary rentals. Our zoning laws don't allow it, far as I can tell.
Greed, greed, greed. Used to be a sin.
>Greed, greed, greed. Used to be a sin.
I'm not religious, so I don't understand the concept of sin.
What is it? Or do you mean collective guilt? Neurosis?
Thanks Craig L. Nice to know someone finally gets it. Residential homes are for a family to live in. NOT purchased to rent out separate rooms as a business.
This mobile home park is a business advertising space for rent. After 80 plus years the owner wants to close it down. Sell it and maximize his profits. Since when has that become a crime and since when do tenants have to be paid to leave!!
A rent-stabilized unit has value. It's well known in SF that it's virtually impossible to get a tenant of a rent-controlled unit to leave voluntarily, even for non-payment of rent. The going rate for getting a tenant to leave is $25-$50K. Thanks to a ruling by the City of PA, the units in the mobile home park are rent-stabilized and, consequently, valuable to the occupants. Why should vulnerable (low-income, many undocumented) residents of BV have any lower a payoff price than middle-class residents of rent-controlled units in SF?
This is news? That it took the owners took so many decades to act on what that property was worth, that's news.
Editor, I realize it is your blog to edit. However, I don't mind the arrows aimed at me by others...it is part of the democratic discussion. Just speaking for myself, but I would prefer if you don't remove posts that are critical of me, as long as they are aimed at me alone. I think it enhances the overall discussion.
I usually disagree with Mr Craig Laughton, but agree with your above comments.
Unfortunately, the [portion removed] stooges that censor this forum [portion removed] have no clue about what democratic discussion really is.
"Gregg Scharff was the Director of Acquisitions for Prometheus Group"
Is this true? Larry Klein's lawfirm represented the seller for the Maybell property, and they set the rigid financing scheme in stone (that required hugely upzoning) before any public input. He did not recuse himself.
Vote against Measure D (it will only encourage the Council to keep upzoning), and support REAL affordable housing in the same neighborhood by calling on Council to reject the rezoning of Buena Vista.
As far as conflicts of interest:
(Link to the civil jury complaint form for Santa Clara County. Any citizen can complain.)
I thought Buena Vista was about 3 acres - is it really 4.5 acres?
Palo Alto is not really a small town more like a small city, but this comment is not about that. About the B.V.
The owners of the B.V. want to sell the property to the highest bidder, 30 million dollar bid for 4 acres of ground. The B.V. Trailer Park as we know is ending its long history but not for the sale but the reason it needs to be up graded. The cost, the work that needs to be done to bring it up to modern code is costly and so much so that the owner wants to sell.
A bid for 30 million dollars vs 14 million dollars which in the game of real estate you will go for the highest bid. I doubt any of you would want to see your home for a lot less then market. Hey its free market.
The buyer wants to build apartments which I understand is a hot market right now, high income rentals are going like hot cakes. Again nothing wrong with making profit which is the way this country works.
Mostly likely what ever gets built here will only be available to those that can afford Palo Alto. If we want to keep B.V. trailer park which will mean government help and money. AKA; taxpayers which is fine with me but let the residents of Palo Alto sort it out.
14.5 million? That's an insult.
How long will it be before the "community" regulates who we can sell our individual residences to? I would not advise anyone to buy into Palo Alto knowing how close we are to a situation where our civil rights are likely to be violated due to politically correct group-think.
Jim Witt is right to make moves to protect his property now.
>How long will it be before the "community" regulates who we can sell our individual residences to?
Good question. However, I think people are starting to wake up in Palo Alto. The Maybell extortion by the PAHC, and fellow travelers, is a tipping point. Let's see how it goes in the election.
"The land is worth $30m regardless of the zoning change."
Seriously?!! You really think that property is worth the same regardless of whether Prometheus can come in and put three or four times as many units there as the existing zoning allows and violate height, setback, density, parking, daylight plane and other zoning restrictions?
Buena Vista is currently zoned as RM-15 -- that's 8-15 units per acre, and to be consistent with the general plan, on the lower end of the range next to R-1 areas. Prometheus wants to put 180 units there, and for sure not live with the 30-foot height limit of RM-15.
The City really played the residents on this one. Maybe it didn't start this way for them, but given what I've seen, I wouldn't put it past them.
Because they have all the residents on that side fighting each other over Maybell, when they would otherwise be fighting together to prevent BV from being rezoned. (It was the City who told PAHC to go after Maybell, and I know for sure the same neighbors would be fighting the upzoning of BV right now because I was in meetings where that was a conscious choice because of limited resources. In fact, it was a conscious choice to delay an initiative to put restrictions on PC zoning in residential areas up to RM-15.
That $14.5M offer would look a lot more attractive right now if developers knew they would have to live with the RM-15 zoning at Buena Vista. The City has $7.3million in loans tied up at Maybell - which is never going to happen, it's not the end of recourse even if the neighbors lose the election - if any part of that would have been available for BV instead, with a PC zoning initiative and the same political pressure going to bear there, it would be a much different calculation.
While the City is bludgeoning neighbors at Maybell with arguments of how urgent the affordable housing is (while making density giveaways to a market-rate developer who will build on over half that property, using the affordable housing as an excuse to get a high-density market-rate development in the middle of a residential neighborhood), they are doing nothing to stop the loss of many times (10 or 12 times) more affordable housing at BV and at Terman Apartments which the City says is also at risk of losing its affordable status at the same time (after only 25 years).
@sad too -
Per the Palo Alto City Website -Buena Vista was appraised at $14.5 million with the trailer park on it and $30 million if the trailer park is gone. This is using both the existing zoning and the new zoning. $30 million either way.
it seems like the safest route legally for CPA is to allow the owner to remove the mobile homes (many of which are not up to code) but not make any changes to the property's zoning.
I'd like to address comments about mobile homes "not being up to code". What code would that be? The mobile home park is not regulated by the city or the county, so the city's and county's building codes do not apply to the mobile homes. The mobile home park is subject to state regulation only. All of the mobile homes passed the last state inspection which took a full year to finalize and took place in 2011. The state inspects about once every ten years. As stated previously, the city has jurisdiction only over the actual buildings built on the land in the mobile home park, such as the office, the single family home, the workshop, the laundry and showers and the studios.
@maria - from what I understand, the utilities need to be upgraded which would require moving some of the homes and the homes themselves are too close together for current building codes and would require the removal of some of the homes.
But more importantly, why would the owner accept less than 1/2 of the appraised value of his property. The residents and their supporters should be pushing for a bigger pay out than he is offering and on finding replacement housing. Did any of the current residents apply to Eden Housing for the new building on Alma?
palo alto resident, AGAIN, the mobile homes are not "too close together" as they have been approved THE WAY THEY CURRENTLY EXIST, by the State of California, the ONLY authority with jurisdiction over them, at the most recent inspection in 2011.
The residents have not conducted a professional assessment of the utilities, but when and if that is done, and IF the utilities truly need upgrading, the upgrading of said utilities, which would require that some homes be TEMPORARILY moved will proceed.
At this point the only information regarding utilities needing to be upgraded has come from the owner, who has a documented history of prevarication. The state inspection passed the entire mobile home park, INCLUDING THE UTILITIES.
Even more importantly, palo alto resident, why would the city throw away 100 AFFORDABLE housing units in order to have 187 LUXURY units and give the owner, who has neglected the property throughout his ownership. millions?
You're not going to like my answer, but yes I would. Especially if you're not subject to the same building and permit conditions that I am.
@maria - the City's timeline for closing the park has the following steps (from the City website). No where in the list is there a provision for preventing the closure of the Park once the application is completed. They can delay the closure by asking for more info, they can deny the zoning change, but there is nothing that says they can deny the Owner the ability to close the Park and sell it. Again, the residents should be concentrating on getting the most $$ from Jisser that they can and finding new housing.
"The Ordinance includes the following basic steps in the process, and in some cases, timelines for each:
Applicant files closure application.
Applicant retains, upon the City's approval, a Relocation Specialist and an Appraiser.
Applicant distributes a Resident Questionnaire to all residents, outlining their particular circumstances (mobile home ownership and value, family and special needs, etc.).
Relocation Specialist meets individually (generally multiple times) with each household to outline options for relocation and financial assistance.
A Relocation Impact Report (RIR) is provided to the City, to address the proposed relocation assistance to be provided to each eligible household.
An appraisal of the value of the Park is provided to the City.
A hearing with a City-selected Hearing Officer is conducted to determine whether residents have agreed upon relocation assistance terms or to adjudicate disputes.
If desired by any resident, an appeal to the City Council is available to consider individual relocation concerns or objections; and
Following final determinations, a Notice of Relocation is issued and a minimum of six (6) months is afforded to residents in order to relocate from the Park and for the park owner to provide the relocation assistance required by the City as a condition of conversion.
The overall timeline for the above process is likely to take at least six (6) months, prior to the Notice of Relocation, so at least 12 months from the application to relocation."
palo alto resident, I'm sure the residents of the mobile home park appreciate your advice, however, they are being advised by extremely competent attorneys. NOBODY is saying that the owner will be forced to keep the park open. He can sell it to the residents, thus allowing the city to continue to count the 100+ units toward their ABAG requirements.
After the city accepts the owner's application, there is a hearing process, which, as you stated, upon completion, allows for appeals to the city council.
Once the appeals are resolved the owners will be able to serve the residents with 6 month eviction notices. Also, the owners have committed to "not interrupting the school year" with the eviction. Therefore, if the appeals are completed between December 2013 and February 2014, and the 6 month notices given at that time, eviction would probably coincide with the end of the school year. If not, I guess they will be evicted in December 2014 or January 2015.
Maria, I am still asking the same question - what is the source for offered $14.5mil to the owner? Are we still talking about affordable housing?
BPNeighbor, the residents are offering to purchase the park, the funding comes from HUD and other commonly used sources.
@maria - I'm sure the residents are getting good advice from attorneys. But why should the current owner accept less than half of the price he has been offered? If you owned a house and your were renting it and received an offer to sell it for the appraised value of a million, would you sell it to the current renters for $500K?
I will proceed. If I am renting and the current property owner is selling it, HUD will subsidite because I LOVE the area and don't want to move? The owner should be happy with half price of what he'll get otherwise because I LOVE his house and was RENTING it for x-years? He is called greedy? Exactly why?
palo alto resident, that would depend on whether I'd be making any profit at the lower price. For me, its a morality question. Mobile home parks are not good investments typically. In this case, if I had purchased the park for around 12M, I'd be happy with the 14.5M and sleep well at night knowing I had not deprived 100 families of affordable housing. In this case, the owners made a cash cow out of the property, examples abound. Here's one, the owners would unethically and illegally charge immigrant families rent at $100 per head, knowing the families were too afraid to complain to authorities. In a failure to comply w/city ordinance, the owners have not offered yearly leases. I know of one 18 year resident who has never been offered an annual lease. I'm certain the conditions in the park will drastically improve when the residents take ownership. The current owners had no pride in ownership and just kept on milking the cow. The owner admitted in a deposition that he kept 2 sets of books. The owners have never enforced any of the usual rules of mobile home parks, in fact, they encouraged blight. The owner was forced to upgrade the studios following a law suit. The owners will not repair anything until it falls down or they are forced to by authorities. The owners did not live up to the city requirements when they replaced the fence along Los Robles. They were required to install "plantings and irrigation". That never happened. If residents asked the owner to attend to problems, the owner would yell at the resident and throw them out of the office. I personally think that person, who did all the things above should not make millions at the expense of 100+ units of affordable, un-subsidized housing, isn't 2.5 million enough when you count the huge unethical profits gleaned from neglecting their "investment" over the entire time they owned it, but that's just me. This owner likes what he sees in the mirror!
The reason the city ordinance exists is because the owner tried to double the rents 12 years ago. He did that, because he had to buy out his partner and pay a large settlement when sued by his partner and he wanted the residents to pay for it. This is all public record.
@maria - This is not to say that the owner of Buena Vista is moral or not - people generally do not buy investment property for any other reason than to make money. He will make more money selling the property without the trailers on it. That is the unfortunate reality of life. Sounds like he has been a terrible landlord. I just think that realistically, the residents should be looking to get as many $$ out of him as possible (and the more he sells it for, the more he has to "share") and should be looking for a new place to live. The community is willing to support the residents in relocating and trying to keep the students in PAUSD, but the residents need to be realistic too.
IMO it's fine for BV residents to finish out their current academic year in PAUSD once the mobile home park closes. After that, they have no more right to a PAUSD education than an other former PA resident who moves out of the district.
You said "the owners would unethically and illegally charge immigrant families rent at $100 per head, knowing the families were too afraid to complain to authorities." Rent averages $650/unit. Are you implying that some residents have >7 people living in a single mobile home?
palo alto resident, it is my understanding that the developer will be making the payments to the residents, not the owners and the residents want to buy the park, not relocate.
Q for Maria, I'm saying that on top of the rent of $650, the owner would charge for extended family members by the head. Some of the extended families do have large numbers, that is why they have built out the mobile homes, to accommodate them.
100+ families will pay 14.5 mil of HUD assistance (where HUD $ are coming from? ), $1.4mil per family to stay in BV? Sorry, I love PA, PAUSD, but nobody providing this assistance to my family, or neighbors who left because they can't afford it here.
There is NOTHING wrong with property owner, trying to maximize his profit. On my 'moral' scale everything is wrong with trying to buy property on assistance money....
I don't want it coming from my tax dollars. It was a generous moving out assistance offer for a rental property and min pay for years. Take it.
@Maria - I understand that the residents want to purchase the property and do not want to relocate, my point is that there is no legal reason that the current Owner can't close the park and no logical reason for him to pass up an additional $15.5 million dollars in profit.
@not PAUSD - the DIstrict generally lets students finish the year or at least the semester even it they move.
Question - are there really only 30 mobile homes in Buena Vista and 60 RV's/Campers?
If the owner covers water and electricity for renters in the BV park, it seems reasonable for him to require a surcharge for mobile homes with 8+ residents.
too crowded, the owner DOES NOT cover the water and electricity for the mobile home owners, I understand that utilities can run over $100 per month for homes w/ a single occupant. The mobile homes are individually metered for electricity, but pay a flat rate for gas, water, sewer and garbage. It has long been suspected that the owner has the residents paying for the gas and water used throughout the park and they would prefer to be individually metered for those utilities as well.
If you don't want to answer, OK. Only because this is a tangential question. Exactly what does the state oversee at the park versus what CPA oversee? I'm confused because of the earlier code statements that refer to the state as the enforcement agency...yet some of the recent statements refer to CPA as the agency requiring certain code enforcement/improvement actions.
Again - not necessarily what is driving this thread discussion (sale of the property), but just curious as to who is in charge of what. Thx.
Crescent Park Dad,
The State of California has jurisdiction over the mobile homes.
The City of Palo Alto has jurisdiction over BUILDINGS inside the mobile home park, such as the office, the single family home, the laundry, the workshop, the studios and the showers.
Maria said: "All of the mobile homes passed the last state inspection which took a full year to finalize and took place in 2011." I find it astonishing that mobile homes that were expanded by owners without permits, including one that had a tree protruding from the roof, would pass the state inspection. How is this possible?
>I find it astonishing that mobile homes that were expanded by owners without permits....
Sounds like the political fix is in at the state level. However, my main concern is that CPA will get sued for interfering in a private matter. It could end up costing us many millions of dollars. I simply ask that our city government stay out of it. If the state pols want to make a play in our town, then let them try.
Confused, it is my understanding that the city arborist was contacted about the mobile home built out around a heritage oak tree. The city arborist was not concerned and deemed it "fine".
Totally agree, Craig. Let the owners' and residents' lawyers duke it out. No need for CPA to increase its legal liability.
The issue presented seems to be as follow: The park resident association believes it is making a good offer at $14.5M for an as-is evaluation of the properties. However, the resident do not believe that the owner's offer for relocation and as-is value of the property is a good offer. Why? It seems like both offers being made are based on as-is evaluation. That would appear to be an apple-to-apples comparison.
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