News

County looks to set aside more funds to preserve Buena Vista

New proposal would add another $6.5M to county's allocation for purchase of mobile-home park

Santa Clara County supervisors are preparing to raise the pool of money available for a possible purchase of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park by setting aside an additional $6.5 million for the cause.

The contribution is being proposed by Supervisors Joe Simitian and Dave Cortese. The full Board of Supervisors is set to consider the request on June 23. If the board approves the allocation, it would raise the total contributed by the county for Buena Vista's preservation to $14.5 million.

The proposal to adopt the extra funds comes less than a month after the council approved the request from the Jisser family to close Buena Vista, the city's only mobile-home park. On May 26, the City Council voted to allow the family to proceed with the closure after a contentious, two-year application process. The vote allows the Jisser family to begin the six-month eviction process for the roughly 400 residents who live in the Barron Park community.

Earlier this year, Simitian and Cortese led the effort to allocate $8 million in affordable-housing funds toward Buena Vista's preservation. After the board agreed to do so in January, Palo Alto City Manager James Keene set aside $8 million in local affordable-housing funds for the potential purchase of the park.

Much like its earlier $8 million allocation, the county's $6.5 million contribution would come from a fund set up by Stanford University as part of its General Use Permit. That fund currently has more than $16.8 million.

The contribution is also contingent on the city contributing a similar match toward the purchase.

If the board approves the additional allocation and Palo Alto agrees to match it, there would be $29 million available for the purchase of Buena Vista. The mobile-home park would be owned and managed by The Caritas Corporation, a nonprofit that specializes in mobile-home parks and that is now in the process of putting together an offer.

According to a report from Simitian and Cortese, the plan is to supplement the public funds with money from a tax-exempt revenue bond that would leverage the cash flow from space rentals from Buena Vista. Contributions from philanthropic sources could potentially help reduce any remaining funding gap, according to the county report.

In making a case for preserving Buena Vista and its 117 units of affordable housing, the supervisors pointed to the increasingly difficulty working-class families have in obtaining housing.

"As development pressures continue to increase in Santa Clara County, more and more working class families are finding it harder and harder to keep their foothold in our community," the report from Simitian and Cortese states. "Rather than drive them out, we have an opportunity to ensure they will always be welcome at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park."

Simitian is part of a growing group of former Palo Alto mayors, council members and school board members that is working to preserve Buena Vista. Eighteen school board members, past and present (including all five members of the current school board), co-signed a letter on June 1 urging the council to "make every effort" to preserve Buena Vista. The list of signatories includes Carolyn Tucher, Diane Reklis, Gail Price, John Barton and Dana Tom.

A similar letter was issued on June 8 and co-signed by 24 former council members, including Larry Klein, Nancy Shepherd, Enid Pearson, Emily Renzel, Vic Ojakian, Judy Kleinberg and LaDoris Cordell.

"If the park closes and its residents are forced to re-locate, Palo Alto will not only be poorer for the loss of those 400 residents, but finding a way to replace close to 120 lost housing units will pose a daunting challenge for years to come," the letter states. "The most practical solution is simply to preserve the units in place at Buena Vista."

The Weekly has compiled an archive of news coverage capturing the many voices of the people involved in the fight over Buena Vista.

Comments

74 people like this
Posted by Carrie
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2015 at 7:04 pm

Close the mobile-park. Whystrap the people of palo Alto do be paying for this.


64 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2015 at 7:11 pm

"A similar letter was issued on June 8 and co-signed by 24 former council members, including Larry Klein, Nancy Shepherd, Enid Pearson, Emily Renzel, Vic Ojakian, Judy Kleinberg and LaDoris Cordell."

Well,if there was ever a good reason to close the park, the letter from our former council members is it.
First of all these are fiscally irresponsible who year after year have wasted tax payer money. Second, this is a perfect example of our " many state" government. These former council members obviously still feel that they are smarter than the average citizen. Therefor they must lecture the unwashed masses on what they should or should not support.


55 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Why saving it?
Is it for sale?
What for?

Let's move on....


80 people like this
Posted by This is nuts
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2015 at 7:53 pm

This is truly nuts. The city and county are committing tax payer money like money grows on trees! Of course during a boom like what we are in currently, no one cares and this foolishness too will probably pass along with the many others that are sailing through in this environment. If by some serious mischance, the Jissers sell this and the city ends up in the trailer park business, we the taxpayers will pay for decades to come. As many have pointed out earlier the costs of upgrading and maintaining the park will be in the millions. Someday I hope that I will understand why the residents of that particular trailer park have such special treatment when the rest of us who dont make any more than them try to live within our means and receive no support at all.


48 people like this
Posted by Last of the self-reliant
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Each unit at BV is guaranteed at least $60k in cash for their equity and other compensation from the current owner. That seems like quite an income/asset base for someone to be claiming a priority on the majority of City and Counties low income housing fund.

There are so many impoverished families and individuals on the BM housing waiting list (living in cars, on the street, in shelters, etc.) that don't have access to those kinds of resources. Will the BV residents step aside with their tens of thousands of dollars and allow the truly needy to be the ones who will benefit from the city and county BM housing fund? Or will the BV residents claim it all for themselves ?


53 people like this
Posted by Merry
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2015 at 8:06 pm

So, these residents will not be helped. If, I mean if, Caritas manages the property, residents must go to bring it up to code.
It is an impossible situation. Let the Jissers do what they want to do. It is their property! The taxpayers should pay for this ....why??


24 people like this
Posted by Iconoclast
a resident of University South
on Jun 16, 2015 at 8:13 pm

"The city and county are committing tax payer money like money grows on trees!"

Unlax, Doc. The place ain't for sale. This money won't be spent at BV. This showboat is an authentic cheap feelgood thing. We need more like it.


45 people like this
Posted by Supporting residents
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 16, 2015 at 8:32 pm

I am happy that the Board of Supervisors is putting forth a plan to use affordable housing funds, generated from Stanford's expansion, to preserve the ability of Palo Alto residents to remain in the community. Until the housing shortage is addressed across the Bay Area, I don't see how we can expect these Palo Alto residents to find new places to live. There are thousands on wait lists across this region. If private and governmental entities have affordable housing funds available, I think that making a market-rate bid for the land is laudable.


62 people like this
Posted by Walter
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2015 at 8:51 pm

This is nuts. All the reports suggest that the "units of affordable housing" are dilapidated trailers that wouldn't pass any sort of safety code inspection. Assuming the Jissers' would even consider a sale to the County, the trailers would need to be ditched and real affordable housing would need to be built. Who pays for that? Then it should be administered as real low income housing, as in, there are rules who gets to live there, and who does not, etc. I have not read anything to suggest that the County doing anything more than trying to buy property for the exclusive benefit of the existing tenants. It's still nuts.


26 people like this
Posted by BVD
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 16, 2015 at 9:21 pm

"...the trailers would need to be ditched and real affordable housing would need to be built. Who pays for that?"


Ah, man. Stuck on the details you are. It's the gestalt that matters, man. The gestalt. Remember the gestalt. Forget the details. Trust the gestalt.


18 people like this
Posted by Last of the self-reliant
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2015 at 9:37 pm

@BVD : " Trust the gestalt"

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” ... Inigo Montoya


18 people like this
Posted by Politicians
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2015 at 11:01 pm

Our local politicians + Their Economic proposals = More votes for them + Bad Financial decisions + Negative Impact on taxpayers


37 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 17, 2015 at 12:01 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

Wow, so the government is going to spend $247,863 for each unit, which have already been appraised at being valued at about a tenth of that. That is dumb, and why the city, county, state, and country are deep in debt. Hey, I have some one dollar bills I'd be happy to sell to Joe SImitian for $10, and maybe I'd kick back a couple bucks for his reelection.


11 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 17, 2015 at 7:57 am

Hulkamania is a registered user.

"...the trailers would need to be ditched and real affordable housing would need to be built. Who pays for that?"

Aren't there thousands of FEMA trailers being sold for pennies on the dollar?


40 people like this
Posted by SuperD
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 17, 2015 at 9:55 am

Stick a fork in it and turn it over, it's done. Why should the county and the city of Palo Alto be allowed to use tax payers' money for this folly? Come on. Should we really be using the money for low income housing when our police station and emergency operations reside in a building that will not likely withstand a strong quake? I think buying Buena Vista is not a priority. We have other places to spend the dough that should take priority.


34 people like this
Posted by Dump Simitian
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2015 at 10:44 am

My views on this issue have never completely settled, but, one thing is crystal clear and that is I wouldn't support Simitian, or any of the politicians who politicized the process, for Dog Catcher.


12 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 17, 2015 at 10:56 am

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Please Weekly, please, some facts!

I heard part of the City Council discussion in April and some facts were presented. Could the Weekly summarize?

How many units are in Buena Vista?
How many of the units are mobile homes? How many are converted RV's? Others?

How many people live in each unit? I believe there's been quite an increase in the number of residents in the Park in the last fifteen years. Was that legal? Are there any applicable housing codes for number of people in a mobile home or converted RV?

People keep saying if the park is sold and managed by the Caritas Corporation, the units and the utilities will need to brought up to code? Is this true? If so, what is the cost estimate?

Are there any applicable laws for the number of parking spaces per housing unit? Is the Park in compliance?

Has the City ever inspected the Park for code compliance? God forbid if there was a fire and some number of units did not meet City codes, would the City be liable?

If there are code violations, has Mr. Jisser ever been told to make upgrades? Have they been done?

How many of the park residents work in Palo Alto? Are there any Palo Alto police officers or firefighters or other public servants that live there?


13 people like this
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2015 at 12:30 pm

If the Buena Vista Mobile Home park is purchased by Caritas using City and County money and the residents have to move while the property is being rehabilitated, then the City and County will be responsible for relocation payments to the residents of about $6,000,000 in addition to the millions of dollars already set aside for purchase of the land. The search for contributions from philanthropic individuals and organizations could be used to pay for any required rehabilitation, but why would any of those individuals and organizations want to relieve the City and County of the burden of paying for the relocation expenses?


Like this comment
Posted by Just wondering
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2015 at 1:49 pm

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Criminal and lawless. The needs of "social justice" as defined by politicians completely trump rule of law and equal justice under the law. Buena Vista is a perfect symbol of Democratic party governance during the age of Obama and Jerry Brown. Palo Alto voters-- are you paying attention for once? Or do you only care about these sorts of abuses of power when they directly affect you? Sadly, I suspect the latter, but I'd be delighted to be surprised.


38 people like this
Posted by Chandler
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2015 at 2:30 pm

About to stop paying my taxes... tired of hearing about this. How many resources have we burned up on this? Where's my rent support? I'm living check to check, help me out.


5 people like this
Posted by Ashamed
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2015 at 3:01 pm

[Portion removed.]

What is our lovely city becoming? So you'd rather see the land sold to a developer who could put maybe 30 units on that land and kick out 100 families who are servicing YOUR homes, schools, offices, restaurants etc? The county money is not taxpayer money --read the article -- it's money set aside for exactly this purpose. How much do you think it would cost to buy property and build 100 low income units in Palo Alto? That a charity is willing to come in and upgrade the Park and administer it is terrific. [Portion removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2015 at 3:02 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

STOP WASTING OUR TAX MONEY.

It's ours. Not yours.


10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 17, 2015 at 3:06 pm

"are you paying attention for once? Or do you only care about these sorts of abuses of power when they directly affect you?"


Well, I was royally ticked when W trashed the balanced budget that Clinton left him with, but what's any of that got to do with BV?


26 people like this
Posted by Ruff Rider
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 17, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Time for some clarity from the politicians:

1) Since 20% of current Buena Vista residents earn too much to qualify for affordable housing, won't they have to move no matter what happens to the park?

2) What is the estimated total cost of buying and upgrading the property? (Assuming the current owner changes his mind about selling.)

3) What will be the maximum occupancy of the upgraded park? (The current number of residents, approx. 400, is too high for the parcel size.)

Then comes the essential question that is too important not to end up as a referendum: Is buying Buena Vista the best use of public funds, i.e., does it bring the greatest good to the greatest number?

The politicians and Buena Vista supporters don't want this debate - the public must insist upon it.


19 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Here's the rub folks - you have to continue to pay your taxes. If you don't, the Feds and County will put your house up for sale without missing a beat! If you are renting, a lien on your paycheck or whatever it takes to satisfy that tax debt. Plain and simple.

Simitian's proposal will be coming from all tax papers. Where else would you think Joe gets his money from? So, be prepared for a tax hike on our parcel taxes if this deal goes through.


5 people like this
Posted by Suzanne Keehn
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2015 at 8:06 pm

There are many reasons to keep and support Buena Vista. If we really want a diversity of people and incomes in Palo Alto, BV gives us that. If we really want lower income students in our schools so that they have a shot at a good education and a positive future, keeping BV does that.
It seems to me that whatever it ends up costing, low income housing for 400 people would cost more, even with the upgrades that must be made.

Maybe Palo Alto is only for folks making well into six figures, if that is so then we as a community loose.

The Golden Rule is in every spiritual tradition and philosophy, which applies to all income brackets.


26 people like this
Posted by can't we do better?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 17, 2015 at 9:04 pm

Palo Alto BMR roperty sales: Web Link

Palo Alto Central 1/15 1bed/ 1bath $151,700 186
Barron Square 3/14 1bed/ 1bath $159,700 40
Palo Alto Redwood 7/13 1bed/ 1bath $145,938 194
Colorado Place 5/13 2 bed/ 1.5 bath $119,600 85
Ashby Drive 11/12 3 bed/2bath $253,119 28

120 Buena Vista units for $40M....$330,000 each and that's just for the land!

Why are politicians no longer looking at this problem rationally. Choice between a rundown unit on a non-conforming lot for $330,000 or a renovated BMR house.

Why are they trying to save BV?


42 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

This is ridiculous. In fact, it borders on lunacy.

If the city or county wants a cheaper method of providing similar living conditions, then why not build a large apartment building. It would probably be much nicer than dilapidated old (and insanely overpriced) trailers that would have to be replaced or "brought up to code" and would also provide more units. Of course, this amounts to "government housing projects" that typically have more negative stigmas and consequences attached to them.

The funny thing is that Palo Alto could buy 250 trailers, move them to Palo Alto and install them in one of our precious city parks transformed for this purpose. Of course, that wouldn't work. No one wants a trailer park housed next to them -- especially if it takes away a park.

Let's just allow this old trailer park to shut down. The Jissers have gone through enough. The people will adapt like the rest of us who have gone through similar circumstances (and never received a windfall for it).


15 people like this
Posted by BV on Yelp
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 18, 2015 at 12:34 am

[Post removed due to copyright infringement.]


6 people like this
Posted by BV on Yelp
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 18, 2015 at 1:16 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


5 people like this
Posted by Winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2015 at 7:25 am

Normally I don't read "Comments", but I just read several and was struck by a number of really hateful and hurtful ones about BV residents whom the writers clearly don't know. I do. Even a person posing as a BV resident saying crazy off the wall stuff. BV folks are good neighbors as any others are in Barron Park, and don't get anymore police attention than the rest of us. Nearly all adults work, many in Palo Alto and Stanford - the long time manager of Mollie Stones deli and bakery, the coordinator of PAMF programs for seniors, manager of Whole Foods Produce, etc. The 67 familes are raising good kids - many of whom are friends of our children and grandchildren. They don't deserve cruel comments. You embarrass yourselves. .


3 people like this
Posted by six of one
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2015 at 7:43 am

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 18, 2015 at 7:54 am

PAmoderate is a registered user.

"If we really want a diversity of people and incomes in Palo Alto,"

We are not an island. We are part of the San Francisco Bay Area. You should be including East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Menlo Park and Redwood City when you think of diversity of people and incomes.

Changes things, doesn't it?


3 people like this
Posted by Merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 18, 2015 at 8:39 am

[Post removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 18, 2015 at 10:16 am

I really don't have skin in this game and my property is not in Barron Park. However, as a community, I have to speak up on this nonsense. The rationale that 400 BV residents represents diversity for PA indicates a very poor comprehension of the US Bureau Cencus data. I am not going into it here but anyone can google the latest data from the US Bureau Cencus inorder to learn how race/income/family size distributes around this State. Like someone had mentioned above, we all live in the SF bay and it is as diverse if not more when comparing to the rest of the areas around California.

In addition, if we wanted to talk about subsidized housing, then let's talk about subsidized housing for the entire Santa Clara County. If Mr. Joe Smitian wanted to use public dough i.e. bonds and our City Manager is willing to match this amount then let's put this on the ballot for voters.

QUIT MAKING A UNILATERAL DECISION ON BEHALF OF THE TAX PAYERS.


18 people like this
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2015 at 11:16 am

"Nearly all adults work, many in Palo Alto and Stanford - the long time manager of Mollie Stones deli and bakery, the coordinator of PAMF programs for seniors, manager of Whole Foods Produce, etc."

If the BV residents are holding these types of jobs then what qualifies them for subsidized housing? Should our tax dollars be going to subsidize their lifestyles while the rest of us, earning similar salaries, fend for ourselves?

It seems to me that recipients of any subsidies should qualify for them and they should be fairly distributed to all in need not targeted for these "special" folks that are being displaced from BV. What makes them more deserving than the many renters that are routinely asked to leave for varieties of reasons (property sale being very common). The voters of Santa Clara county need to weigh in on this before public monies are spent. It appears that not only PA money is being targeted but SC county funds as well. It's gone too far.:,


19 people like this
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2015 at 11:25 am

The censorship that PA Online practices is disconcerting. They already deliver to us biased reporting then censor the comments when no terms of use have been violated. Then when you complain about the censorship they censor that too. Look at the number of posts deleted. Are we all being naughty? Or simply exchanging thoughts and ideas with which the moderator disagrees?


32 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2015 at 11:30 am

This is insane.

You can buy a circa year 2000 mobile homes (3 BR, 3 BA) in Mountain View --- in a much more beautiful park, up to date trailers that meet code, park that has a pool and a clubhouse, attend decorated Mountain View HS for ...

$174K

Yet our local representative wants to spend money (that doesn't belong to him) on run-down, out of code units, in an awful park for almost double the price. Next he'll want us to buy a bride in Brooklyn.

More data from Craigslist: You can buy a 10yr old 29ft Winnebago for $36K. $300K less than what JoeS wants to spend per unit. (Which will also be in far greater shape than any of the trailers at BV).

This is classic grandstanding and but much worse --- intellectually criminal level waste of public monies.


15 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 18, 2015 at 11:31 am

I really don't take this newspaper seriously. Many posts mine included were removed just because we, the tax payers, voiced our concerns on a public issue.

Seems to me they just wanted to hear themselves talk. I am sure this pist will be removed too!


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 18, 2015 at 11:31 am

..."bridge"...


14 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 18, 2015 at 11:33 am

[Portion removed.] What Simitian and his junta are trying to do would get them thrown out an economics 101 class. His gang of failures in real estate economics 101 really no longer exist (very much) in silicon valley. Again on the internet: The end of rent control the catastrophe in Capitola and the great Santa Cruz land swindle. [Portion removed.]

George Drysdale, a social science teacher


9 people like this
Posted by Merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 18, 2015 at 11:40 am

Why is diversity protected?


25 people like this
Posted by more biased.reporting
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 18, 2015 at 11:41 am

The weekly has from the beginning provided a biased coverage of this issue in story after story. Questioning or criticism of winter and her group had been censored. There is no balance whatsoever in their reporting. The weekly needs to disclose the nature of it's relationship a winter and whether they stand to profit from the saving oh BV.


18 people like this
Posted by Last of the self-reliant
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2015 at 2:04 pm

San Jose has several homeless encampments (for example the one formerly known as "the Jungle" and another growing one forming under 280). The County should be mindful of the magnitude of the homeless and low income problem we face, when considering allocating all its BMH funding for a $40M Palo Alto trailer park.

"Few Options for Homeless as San Jose Clears Camp"...
Web Link

"this homeless camp in the heart of Silicon Valley — a full 68 acres of mismatched belongings, shopping carts, clotheslines and wooden shanties — is widely seen as the nation’s largest."


18 people like this
Posted by Last of the self-reliant
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Santa Clara has the nations largest homeless encampment. Per the article Web Link the City
and the county claims to lack the funding to help the people residing there.

Meanwhile at Buena Vista and per @Winter
"Nearly all adults work, many in Palo Alto and Stanford - the long time manager of Mollie Stones deli and bakery, the coordinator of PAMF programs for seniors, manager of Whole Foods Produce, etc."

and per the RIR approved by the city council each rental unit will receive AT LEAST $60k in compensation and payments for equity relocation and rental assistance from the owner of BV.

Given the above, the county proposes to allocate $14.5M assuming the city of PA matches with $14.5M for a total of $29M. Then the city is to issue a non-recourse revenue Bond for the remaining $11+M for a total of $40M+ in public monies to buy a 4.6 acre trailer park.

So, we have $40M+ available to either:
a) Buy a 4.6 acre Trailer park for the current mostly employed renters with min $60K resources, or
b) Help find and provide housing for hundreds of homeless people in the nations largest homeless encampment

Why is buying the trainer park the compassionate choice ?


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm

"Nearly all adults work, many in Palo Alto and Stanford - the long time manager of Mollie Stones deli and bakery, the coordinator of PAMF programs for seniors, manager of Whole Foods Produce, etc."

Ok....so go out there and pay market rate rent like anyone else. Why is Mr. Joe S. demanding that we save this particular group? Makes no sense whatsoever


17 people like this
Posted by mmmmmMom
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 20, 2015 at 6:42 pm

This is absolute insanity. I can't believe the County Board of Supes is even giving this one second of time. This is MY TAX money you want to spend. As I've posted before on this topic, there is sufficient housing & subsidies of low & low, low income families. And NO HELP for lower middle income people like myself, who pay taxes to support/subsidize the lower. I waited over 10 years for a BMR house to purchase..... for naught. Yet, if I worked just a little less, or had more than 2 children, I would have been able to rent for 75% less than what I paid myself (zero help). It is way past time to help people making just a LITTLE BIT too much for the low income housing, & see what can be done for that group of people. For nearly 20 years the lower & middle income people are being squeezed out, Palo Alto is NOT a mixed income community: It is only the very rich, & the poor. Those extremes do NOT make a mixed income, diverse community.

This low income bracket gets help @ every turn. Housing, food, health care (yeah, I even take care of them @ VMC - where I work!), education. They really know how to game the system.


10 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2015 at 5:53 pm

@mmmmmMom wrote:

"It is way past time to help people making just a LITTLE BIT too much for the low income housing, & see what can be done for that group of people. For nearly 20 years the lower & middle income people are being squeezed out, Palo Alto is NOT a mixed income community: It is only the very rich, & the poor. Those extremes do NOT make a mixed income, diverse community."

If you ever run for City Council, you have my vote. Thank you for standing up for the hard working people who all to often get the short end of the stick. Palo Alto used to be a mixed income community, and had a lot of blue collar folks. We need to provide affordable housing for the middle class and lower middle class, and stop trying to take so much of their hard-earned cash away. I hope they are welcomed back to Palo Alto, as it would make the town a lot more vibrant and a better place to live.


9 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2015 at 9:23 pm

@mmmmMom - I very much feel for you. Here is the excerpt from a posting that I have used above:

"Nearly all adults work, many in Palo Alto and Stanford - the long time manager of Mollie Stones deli and bakery, the coordinator of PAMF programs for seniors, manager of Whole Foods Produce, etc."

Some of these residents mentioned probably bring home more disposable income than you. Yet the politicians continue to pander this idea of using tax payers funds to buy out BV park for this group. By pushing this scam, they know very well that their action has nothing to do with diversity for PA.


15 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2015 at 11:48 pm

"This is absolute insanity. I can't believe the County Board of Supes is even giving this one second of time. This is MY TAX money you want to spend."

The supes are playing a bluff. Their worst nightmare is Jisser agreesto sell at their terms. Then they're stuck with a triple dilemma: maintain the status quo in violation of city and county codes, or evict a substantial number of the tenants to achieve compliance, or find the additional ton of money to build a proper BMR development in the face of intense opposition from the neighbors.

Their hope is they win their bluff, keep the money, and with due sanctimony deplore the loss of an affordable housing opportunity at BV.


5 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2015 at 12:09 pm

I agree with Curmudgeon. But I don't understand the need to double-down on a county fund promise. They can just keep talking and posturing instead.


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2015 at 12:17 pm

"But I don't understand the need to double-down on a county fund promise. They can just keep talking and posturing instead."

Double the treasure, double the fun.


15 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2015 at 5:02 pm

>The supes are playing a bluff.

Could be, but it shouldn't be. I predicted this many months ago, and it has come to pass, despite many denials. No public money should be spent on this turkey. If a private donor wants to do this deal, along with fixing up the place, fine by me...but NO TAXPAYER monies should be spend on it. Shame on PACC for even considering another liberal guilt boutique project, when it cannot even figure out how to build a new police station.

This is a good example of where it should be put to a vote of PA citizens.


4 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Here is a follow-on concept: If the BV owner refuses to sell, then PA can use eminent domain to force a sale to built a new police/public safety facility. It would benefit the entire community, and it would be in a very good location.


2 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2015 at 5:39 pm

"If the BV owner refuses to sell"

I thought this all started because the BV owner wanted to sell the mobile home park. My understanding, perhaps incorrect, is that the issue is the sum to be paid to the residents to relocate. Isn't this compensation supposed to be paid by the property owner rather than the taxpayers? The compensation I am referring to is the mitigation costs mentioned here: Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by NancyK
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2015 at 6:36 pm

Just a few questions for those against preserving affordable housing in Palo Alto:

Our community depends on many service employees who do not receive the six-figure salary necessary to purchase a home in Palo Alto.

We need janitors to clean our schools and medical clinics. We enjoy picking up a meal at the grocery store deli, or a coffee at a coffee shop.

How far a drive will you impose on these low wage earners, who help us and our children on a daily basis?

I spoke with groundskeepers in our schools. One told me he kisses his sleeping children goodbye at 4:30 a.m. so he could be at our schools by 6 a.m., to keep the school grounds nice for our children.

Why not make it a priority to have affordable housing in our community, for the people we depend upon, for our children and ourselves?

How do you define "community"?


5 people like this
Posted by GoeOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2015 at 7:27 pm

@Kazu
"I thought this all started because the BV owner wanted to sell the mobile home park. My understanding, perhaps incorrect, is that the issue is the sum to be paid to the residents to relocate."

No.
The owner wants to close the park. He now has permission to do so.
To close down, he needs to serve the renters 6 months notice, and pay the renters the mitigation costs in excess of $60k per unit as concluded in May by the city and per the RIR hearings over the past years. The owner pays these costs.

Once closed. the owner wants to redevelop the land himself.

This article above is only about the County and City trying to come up with tens of millions of dollars to make a financially attractive offer to purchase the park from the owner before the owner closes it. They know the land as currently zoned is worth about $50M if he sold it. More if he develops it himself.


11 people like this
Posted by Ruff Rider
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 22, 2015 at 8:19 pm

NancyK -

Probably most of us are in favor of affordable housing in Palo Alto. What we don't like is politicians offering pots of other people's money for a project (buying and upgrading Buena Vista) that makes no economic sense.

Simitian's latest idea is to throw another $6.5M of county funds into the kitty PROVIDED the City of Palo Alto matches the added amount. Our city manager has already set aside $8M to equal the county's first offer, and now Simitian wants PA taxpayers to increase the city's commitment to $14.5M.

Even if most of the $29M in city and county funds is earmarked for affordable housing, that does not mean that spending it all on Buena Vista is a good use of the money. And another $10M or so would still have to come from "non-recourse tax-exempt bonds issued by a public entity." Now we're at approx. $40M which is still not expected to be enough. The hope is that one or more of Palo Alto's six billionaires, plus some of its many multi-millionaires, will donate the final $5M that will be needed. Total price to buy and upgrade Buena Vista would be $45M, plus or minus.

One-fifth of the Buena Vista families earn too much to qualify for affordable housing and will have to move no matter what happens. Current park occupancy is about four hundred, which is too high, so the BV families whose income exceeds the threshold cannot be replaced by outside families who would otherwise qualify.

$45M to provide affordable housing for approx. eighty families comes to almost $600k per family. This cost is much higher than it would be if an alternative approach to affordable housing is pursued.

Of perhaps two hundred Buena Vista residents who work, possibly one hundred fifty work in a service capacity. There are far more than that number of service personnel in our city so where do all the rest live? Redwood City, Mountain View, San Jose, etc. Why are current Buena Vista residents entitled to special treatment? Those other cities house tens of thousands of service workers - they don't all live in the Central Valley.

I personally favor affordable housing in Palo Alto, just not at the cost of $45M for eighty families. There is a better way to do this.

The politicians and Buena Vista supporters have no compunctions about sticking the taxpayers with the bill for buying and upgrading Buena Vista, regardless how outrageous the cost. This proposed giveaway is not democratic or compassionate, it is a violation of the public trust, and so the issue must be put to a referendum.


6 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2015 at 8:28 pm

>Why not make it a priority to have affordable housing in our community

@NancyK: When the elite neighborhoods in Palo Alto start to build stack-and-pack subsidized housing in their own neighborhoods, perhaps your query will have some bearing on reality. Until then, stop dumping subsidized housing on the non-elite neighborhoods. As an example, if the rich folks in Crescent Park want to house their own gardeners and maids and utility workers, next door to them, or on their own properties, your concept might work. What are the odds?

You claim to be from Barron Park. Why not demand a secret ballot vote of Barron Park residents, to see if they want to preserve that decaying trailer park in their neighborhood.

To answer your question about commuting: Organize buses and vans from Tracy, Salinas, etc.


6 people like this
Posted by GoneOnTooLong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2015 at 9:54 pm

@Ruff Rider

One small correction.
4.6 acres at current zoning (RM-15) is a maximum of 69 units.
The land butts up against RM-1 so there is also supposed to be a transition (something less than 15 units per acre as you approach the RM-1 boundary). Thus something less that 69 units is allowed IF the current zoning and code is followed.


7 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2015 at 10:04 pm

"When the elite neighborhoods in Palo Alto start to build stack-and-pack subsidized housing in their own neighborhoods, perhaps your query will have some bearing on reality. Until then, stop dumping subsidized housing on the non-elite neighborhoods."

Credit me with a big amen to that. Our least efficient land use is in Crescent Park and Old Palo Alto. That's the logical place for the kind of multifamily housing that exists nicely in my 'hood. Great neightbors them, BTW.

"The land butts up against RM-1 so there is also supposed to be a transition (something less than 15 units per acre as you approach the RM-1 boundary). Thus something less that 69 units is allowed IF the current zoning and code is followed."

The code can and will be duly amended for the occasion. Or simply ignored. I've seen it in downtown; BV is a far more tempting opportunity than anything here. Better keep your referendun committee on alert.


11 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 22, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Why dance around this white elephant in the room? It's "subsidized" housing and the proposal to purchase BV park is nothing more than a scam. It sounds harsh but if you wade through the wordings of Joe S., he's calling for the use of bonds and other non- discretionary housing funds that even he himself has not figured them out yet.

Bottom line, using IOU to purchase the park is obscene and a betrayal in public trust. This is a clear indication that local government has definitely gone amok.


7 people like this
Posted by Ruff Rider
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 22, 2015 at 11:52 pm

GoneOn -

I'll agree with your figure of 69 units max and that makes the unit cost even higher - about $650k each.

What is most disturbing is that no politician or Buena Vista supporter has a clue what the final cost will be, nor do they care. There is no plan other than to throw someone else's money at this. And those of us who realize what's really going on get accused of not caring about others.

OK fine. This will go to a referendum. And Simitian's white elephant will lose by 2 to 1, I would say.


6 people like this
Posted by dennis
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 24, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Truly Liberalism is a mental disorder, and we are at the center of it.


2 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2015 at 11:23 pm

@NancyK wrote:

"Our community depends on many service employees who do not receive the six-figure salary necessary to purchase a home in Palo Alto.

We need janitors to clean our schools and medical clinics. We enjoy picking up a meal at the grocery store deli, or a coffee at a coffee shop."

True, but we are Shallow Alto, snobbish, uptight, oh-so-perfect and enlightened, and so rich we wizz money. We can't have mere commoners living among us now, can we? That would give our dear citizens the vapors. Let them eat cake... er, go live somewhere else.

Seriously, we do need the people you mentioned. I think it would be a good thing for Palo Alto if they were here. Sadly, the facetious words I posted above really do reflect the attitudes of quite a few Palo Altans. Their line of thinking seems to go: Afforable housing = new development = evil incarnate, therefore shoo, go away, eeek! Maybe we can swap out some of the elitists and replace them with the hard working Average Joes and Janes you mentioned? In all fairness, this by no means characterizes all of our residents. There are still some really good, friendly, open-minded, down to earth people here.

"How far a drive will you impose on these low wage earners, who help us and our children on a daily basis?"

Apparently, only long enough so that we can complain about the traffic. God forbid that low wage earners would be able to walk or bike to work.

"I spoke with groundskeepers in our schools. One told me he kisses his sleeping children goodbye at 4:30 a.m. so he could be at our schools by 6 a.m., to keep the school grounds nice for our children."

A perfect example of a hard-working Average Joe. I would be happy to have such folks move into our community.

"Why not make it a priority to have affordable housing in our community, for the people we depend upon, for our children and ourselves?"

Bingo! Of course, most in the anti-growth movement would get their knickers in a twist if we built affordable housing - or any new housing. Then there are the elitists, who would likely have a conniption fit at the thought of having lower income residents here.

"How do you define "community"?"

Does that still exist in Silicon Valley? ;-) If it does, then it would be a place with community-minded individuals, ones who do not look down their noses at others. Believe it or not, Palo Alto used to be just such a place.

The non-bazillionaires have a place in Palo Alto, too. Prior to 1980, Palo Alto was a mixture of ordinary folks - professors, engineers and doctors, but also the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. That being said, I don't think the government should be getting into the mobile home park business. They should be working with private developers to build plenty of affordable housing with all due speed.


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