News

Eminent domain may be used to prevent Buena Vista's closure

Santa Clara County, Palo Alto and Housing Authority of Santa Clara County prepare fresh bid to buy mobile-home park

In a fresh attempt to prevent the closure of Palo Alto's sole mobile-home park, city and county officials have teamed up with the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County for a new bid to buy Buena Vista Mobile Home Park -- one that may involve eminent domain.

If the new offer is not accepted by the Jisser family, which owns the property, the Housing Authority could invoke eminent domain to compel the sale, the agency's executive director Katherine Harasz said at a briefing conference Wednesday morning at Palo Alto City Hall. (Watch the press conference here).

The announcement came at a time when the Jisser family, the City of Palo Alto and the Buena Vista Residents Association remain embroiled in two lawsuits surrounding the potential closure of the mobile-home park, which is home to about 400 low-income residents.

Both the Jisser family and the residents are suing the city (in federal and state courts, respectively), with the Jissers protesting the relocation package that they are required to provide to the residents and the Residents Association challenging the City Council's decision in May 2015 to approve the park's closure.

Santa Clara County and the City of Palo Alto had already pledged $14.5 million each in funds designated for affordable housing to purchase the mobile-home park from the Jisser family. But last August, after Buena Vista residents filed a lawsuit against the City, the Jisser family pulled the plug on negotiations, with its attorney stating in a letter that the family "will not be coerced into accepting a sale agreement by the use of litigation as a strong-armed tactic."

Now, county and city officials are preparing to try again and they now have a new partner and a new set of tools at their disposal. Santa Clara Supervisor Joe Simitian said Wednesday morning that all three partners believe that they now have "a path forward, which will allow us to prevent the closure of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park here in Palo Alto, preserve the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park so that it can continue to be home to 117 families and 400 residents."

Purchasing the park, he said, would also prevent "the loss of 117 units of affordable housing that we desperately need here -- not just in Palo Alto but in the entire Peninsula and the South Bay."

In introducing the Housing Authority as the new partner, Simitian lauded the agency as one that has sufficient funds, when coupled with city and county funds, to acquire and improve the park.

The Palo Alto City Council, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners will all have to approve the agreement for jointly pursuing the purchase (the three bodies are set to consider the memorandum of understanding on June 21, June 27 and June 28, respectively).

"I'm hopeful, frankly I'm optimistic, that all three bodies will approve an agreement so that the City, the County and the Housing Authority together can fund the acquisition and improvement of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, preserve the park as a mobile-home park for the foreseeable future, preserve it as a supply of affordable housing in perpetuity, prevent the eviction of residents at the Buena Vista and make sure the housing is here for the people who need it and for a community that desperately needs it for a great many years to come," Simitian said.

The Housing Authority's involvement, Simitian said, has a certain logic because it is "the one governmental entity in Santa Clara County that exists to create and provide affordable housing." It also has experience with eminent domain, having used it to fund Opportunity Center in Palo Alto.

Harasz said that while the agency has invoked the power of eminent domain sparingly in the past, it will consider it for Buena Vista.

"We believe the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners is willing to entertain it in order to preserve this very important affordable housing source," Harasz said.

She said that the Housing Authority will have to have the property appraised by an independent third party. That will be the basis for determining the fair market price that would be paid to the Jisser family, should eminent domain be invoked.

"When you want to build a bridge or you want to preserve open space or you need a parcel of land to create affordable housing and keep people from being homeless, the power of eminent domain is there for the government," Harasz said.

She added that eminent domain is commonly used by government agencies for a variety of public uses.

"It is my personal belief that affordable housing is as much a part of our community infrastructure as preserving open space, setting aside land for roads and bridges and, consistent with our purpose, establishing and preserving affordable housing," Harasz said.

Erika Escalante, president of the Buena Vista Resident Association, said at the Wednesday announcement that the park's residents are grateful to county and city officials for the new development. The partnership, she said, "presents us with a new plan to potentially save our homes and we couldn't be happier."

"It looks like there will be a light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

While Simitian called the deal a "game changer" and said he is now more optimistic about the preservation effort than he had been for the past year and a half, the Jisser family's attorney called the announcement of a possible use of eminent domain "shocking" and told the Weekly that there is "no way it will stand."

Larry Salzman, the attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the Jisser family in the federal lawsuit against the city, said the family sees the latest plan as "an outrage." It suggests, Salzman said, "that anyone's home or business can conceivably be taken and used for public benefit."

"The park is not for sale," Salzman said. "The whole point of the Jissers' federal lawsuit is that they want to close the park and keep the land in the family for the future. The idea that in America you can have your land taken from you simply because government bureaucrats think they can put it to a better use than you can is an outrage."

Related content:

At Buena Vista, new hope cheers stressed families

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

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Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

363 people like this
Posted by hello
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:28 pm

How would the use of eminent domain benefit everyone other than a small selected group? This is highly illegal and can be easily challenged


152 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:44 pm


"The park is not for sale," Salzman said. "The whole point of the Jissers' federal lawsuit is that they want to close the park and keep the land in the family for the future. The idea that in America you can have your land taken from you simply because government bureaucrats think they can put it to a better use than you can is an outrage."

This is why the community should be up in arms against these bureaucrats who push their welfare projects at the expense of private and rightful owners. I immigrated from a country where the legal system is a joke and the politicians will ignore property rights to promote their vote-getting initiatives. Never thought this would be allowed under the consitution of this country.


23 people like this
Posted by Obvious
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Eminent domain has long been the completely obvious solution to this problem. The question is, why did it take Simitian and the city so long to figure it out? It's not exactly rocket science.


19 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Who cares about this other than the residents of the mobile park and the wack PACC? No one, that's who.


32 people like this
Posted by hello
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Unbelievable


50 people like this
Posted by Obvious
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Providing affordable housing is solidly within the scope of eminent domain. It's why the Housing Authority has the authority in the first place. The idea that it's illegal is laughable.


4 people like this
Posted by Obvious
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:54 pm

[Post removed.]


64 people like this
Posted by John Simpson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 15, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Really, this is outrageous! Sad day for property rights and our way of living.

The shooting in Orlando was truly a sick violent crime against humanity and our way of living. Our soldiers have died to save this country from harm of foreign threats, while our local politicians are slowing killing our constitutional rights.

Sad to say, I have backed the tenants at BV for years. The law suit they filed was wrong and unjust. And now this is over the top. I will start a go fund me page to raise money and begin steps necessary to defend the land owner


39 people like this
Posted by crazy
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2016 at 4:20 pm

A win-win-win situation was possible here if the instead of trying to force Jisser's hand, the city had simply upzoned this land to allow for several apartment buildings and had conditioned the upzoning on the current residents having the opportunity to move in at the same rates they had been paying before. PA would look a lot nicer and fresher. We'd have created more affordable housing - not just for the people of BV, but others as well. And the land would have become even more valuable for the Jissers. Why didn't the neighbors support that? Would they really prefer to live next to a dilapidated trailer park rather than shiny new apartment buildings that could have had nice neighborhood amenities, like a playground or pool or dog run? I personally wouldn't want to live next to a trailer park "in perpetuity" and as a BV resident, I would have gladly traded in my trailer for a modern apartment.


20 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2016 at 4:20 pm

The Jissers need a new lawyer, somebody who can cite the law instead of reciting Libertarian ideology. Start with the Fifth Amendment.

OK, suppose this goes through. Is the city then exempt from enforcing its own codes at the site? If it must and does enforce them, how many housing units will it lose?


37 people like this
Posted by winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Dear Jisser Family - If there ever was a time when land should simply continue its present use, it is here now at Buena Vista. The human suffering has been awful and will be a hundred fold worse if residents are dispossessed and the loss becomes part of Palo Alto's history. Take the money, be rich and happy and live a good life with blessings for all. Notice that whether you want to sell or don't want to sell, the result is exactly the same - you take the money, be rich and happy and live a good life with blessings for all. Please consider and sell as you had planned all along.


274 people like this
Posted by Disbelief
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Simitian waited until after the election to make this announcement......hmmmmm.


30 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 15, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The problem is that acquisition by eminent domain is strictly limited to achieving a clear public purpose. IF the property is acquired in this manner then it may only be used for low income housing and the current use may not meet that standard. And any proposed low income housing may well be faced with the typical Palo Alto NIMBY response leaving the property in limbo forever.

From the Jisser's perspective a forced sale via eminent domain allows them to defer any capital gains tax.


59 people like this
Posted by Really???
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2016 at 5:10 pm

The latest development is completely ridiculous. Eminent Domain to save a trailer park? I hope the Pacific Legal Foundation takes this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They also might want to look at the legality of PACC extracting funds for developments even though the citizenry of Palo Alto never voted in any election to force money into the Palo Alto Housing Corporation. This is political correctness run amok...........all paid for by our property taxes and developer fees!!!! Stop the nonsense.


415 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 15, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Dear Palo Alto residents,

There is no version of future events where you don't get screwed over.

If the Jissers win their lawsuit:
Palo Alto will likely pay damages at some point, the Jissers will repurpose the property as they wanted to years ago, and Palo Alto will have spend all those taxpayer dollars for naught.

If Joe Simitian/Palo Alto win and acquire Buena Vista:
Palo Alto/Santa Clara County (*cough* you taxpayers & residents *cough*) will be forced to pay for upgrading the infrastructure of BV to meet current standards, then be in the ironic position of having to evict or replace the housing for a subset of the residents. If Palo Alto tries to exempt BV from housing codes, the residents will sue Palo Alto/Santa Clara County for substandard living conditions...and they'd be right.


Mark my words, one of the above 2 scenarios are guaranteed to play out. Heh, and you just elected Simitian again...smooooooooth.


322 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2016 at 6:06 pm

This misapplication of "eminent domain" is shocking. In fact, it would almost be comical if it weren't so sad. My opinion of Joe Simitian has been lowered a few notches.


62 people like this
Posted by BlatherBuss
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Cronyism and corruption at its highest level. Spending $30+ million on about 117 homes is a gross misuse of taxpayer funds. If we can recall Judge Persky maybe we can recall Simitian and Harasz?


247 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2016 at 6:48 pm

So if the county & city use eminent domain, what's the decision process for determining who lives there? or is this using the power of the government to seize private property for the benefit of a few?

There have people waiting for a below market rate (BMR) unit for decades - shouldn't they be helped first?

And are they so sure that each household at Buena Vista meets the BMR income and asset limits? and what if a household exceeds the BMR income limit - will be forced to vacate?

Why doesn't the City look at one it's many properties, like Gamble Gardens, or Cubberley? Since it already owns the property, the cost of acquistion is zero, and the $30+ million could be used buy new manufactured housing, or build high density housing for the Buena Vista Residents.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

I think it would be appropriate for PASZ to state its official position on this matter since influencing zoning and housing density decisions are central to its purpose.

I think it would also be helpful to have the Barron Park Association weigh in on this project. The location of both the Maybell affordable housing for seniors project (now defunct) and the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park proposal (very much alive) is in Barron Park.


120 people like this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:12 pm

This is truly nuts. Joe Simian and side kick Katherine Harasz appear to relish the thought of almost stealing private property by eminent domain. The Jissers would get something, but almost certainly much less than a private sale.

I envision a lengthy, and very costly process in the courts. Neither Simian, Harasz, city of PA, or county of SC care because it isn't their money they are wasting, it's ours!


272 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:37 pm

I laughed when Simitian said the deal (to buy the property by applying eminent domain if needed) would cost...exact quote... "pennies on the dollar."

If I were the Jissers attorney, I'd use that quote in court.


37 people like this
Posted by Mercury
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 15, 2016 at 10:39 pm

I have lived in Palo Alto for several years and I'm proud that our leaders have chosen to take a bold step towards preserving this wonderful mobile home community. Affordable housing will keep our city diverse, and open to all people. Isn't that what makes Palo Alto great?!? Further, the funds will come from affordable housing fees, not taxpayer dollars--a very important distinction.


247 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 15, 2016 at 11:21 pm

@peninsula resident

An additional way Palo Altans get screwed over with eminent domain is the property produces zero property taxes.

If the Jissers redevelop, the property will be reappraised for significantly higher, probably a factor of HUNDREDS of times more. I don't think this property has seen any renovation in decades. It's Prop 13 basis is likely extremely low. That's a ton of money for the city, school district, and county.

If a government entity takes ownership, all that property tax revenue is lost, year after year.


27 people like this
Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2016 at 11:32 pm

Why not eminent domain some nice big lots in Crescent Park? It would only displace a couple rich families who can easily relocated. Then build some public housing projects, and help integrate the neighborhoods and schools. Heck, you don't need eminent domain. Take the 28 million and just buy some nice houses and replace them with multifamily dwellings.


32 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 5:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If the new offer is not accepted by the Jisser family, which owns the property, the Housing Authority could invoke eminent domain to compel the sale, "

Actually if the Jisser's refuse the new offer the eminent domain laws require a new and independent appraisal of the current value of the property and then and only then can the court compel the sale. In no case can a sale be compelled at less than the full fair market value.

"Just compensation is the fair market value of the property being acquired by the agency. California Law defines fair market value as "the highest price on the date of valuation that would be agreed to by a seller, being willing to sell but under no particular or urgent necessity for so doing, nor obliged to sell, and a buyer, being ready, willing, and able to buy but under no particular necessity for so doing, each dealing with the other with full knowledge of all the uses and purposes for which the property is reasonably adaptable and available."

"Contesting The Condemning Agency's Acquisition Of The Property
Provided there has been no withdrawal of the amount deposited, anyone with an interest in the property can challenge in court the agency's right to acquire or condemn the property. However the right to challenge the acquisition must have been preserved at the hearing on the Resolution of Necessity.
The agency’s right to acquire the property by eminent domain will be decided by the judge, not a jury."

"The Eminent Domain Trial
Typically, the purpose of an eminent domain trial is to determine the fair market value of the property, including compensable interests such as lost business goodwill caused by the taking or severance damages. The trial is usually conducted before a judge and jury. Anyone with an interest in the property and the agency will have the opportunity to present evidence of value, and the jury will determine the property's fair market value. In cases where the parties choose not to have a jury, the judge will decide the property's fair market value. Value testimony is almost universally presented by expert testimony. Generally, each party to the litigation must disclose its respective appraisals to the other parties prior to trial.
If the owner challenges the agency's right to acquire the property, the eminent domain trial will also determine whether or not the agency has the legal right to acquire the property. In such cases, the judge (not the jury) will make this determination before any evidence is presented concerning the property's fair market value."

Web Link


10 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2016 at 6:32 am

The property is zoned RM-15, and at 3.7 acres - based on recent sales of tear downs, it's worth about $50-55 million. Between the City & County they will provide $29 million. So where is the other $21-26 million going to come from?


30 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Lawyer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2016 at 7:15 am

I applaud the effort by Joe Simitian and other officials to save the Buena Vista mobile home park. As someone committed to the value and strengths of diversity in our community--and concerned about the direction of changes in the Palo Alto community that are undermining diversity (as a result of larger economic forces and skyrocketing housing prices)--I support this move to retain what little diversity remains. The Buena Vista is a long-time, ethnically diverse, low-income community that should stay in this town -- for the benefit of us all.

As Simitian said, this move will preserve the supply of affordable housing in perpetuity, prevent the eviction of Palo Alto residents who have lived for years in the Buena Vista--many of whom are part of extended families with children and grandchildren enjoying the benefits of living as neighbors in a close-knit community--and make sure the housing is here for the people who need it and for a community that desperately needs it.

Also, while eminent domain may not be popular with many, it is not "stealing" private property. It is authorized under the Constitution as long as "due process" and "just compensation" are provided. There are many legal protections for the landowner in this process, and the price will be fair market value, as generously defined in one of the posts above. It is a very common practice for government, and an important tool for any civilized society, to serve the greater good and protect individual rights in the process; without eminent domain, as a society we would lose many important public benefits and opportunities and the greater good would not be served.

When we elect public officials, this is part of their job, to weigh the public costs and benefits in situations like this. And if the public doesn't like the policy choices they make, then the voters can make their views known and vote the politicians out if desired. But meanwhile, to exercise the powers of eminent domain is not "stealing" any more than is voting to appropriate funds for a new highway, or for Head Start, or for a gas tax. It's all part of government's function, subject to the ballot box and court review. It's a huge distortion of the facts to call it stealing or unfair. It's an important power that government has, granted to it by the people, part of our constitutional legal system.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 7:28 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I laughed when Simitian said the deal (to buy the property by applying eminent domain if needed) would cost...exact quote... "pennies on the dollar."


Please provide a source for that "exact quote". It does not appear in the Weekly story.


27 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 7:37 am

Just another delay tactic which results in keeping the RV/trailer park open a few more years instead of closing it and eliminating this blighted area from the neighbor and town.


50 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2016 at 7:50 am

@Palo Alto Lawyer
(1) Is public fund spent for the selected few (current BV tenants) a fair process under eminent domain
(2) Is saving BV as mobile home park an efficient way of addressing the low income housing issue. If not, how can general public influence the process? After all, it's the public fund at stake


18 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:24 am

"My opinion of Joe Simitian has been lowered a few notches."

My opinion of him has been lowered by 14.5 million notches. The city and county created this Gordian knot, they couldn't untie it, and now the county is going to swing the sword. They might find they are hanging themselves (and the people) with what remains of the rope. The Housing Authority isn't elected, but there are elected officials who do support this fiasco and are behind this nonsense. Time to boot them out the next time they run for office.

"I think it would be appropriate for PASZ to state its official position on this matter since influencing zoning and housing density decisions are central to its purpose."

This does seem to be the kind of nonsense they support. Maybe Palo Alto Forward will chime in? Six or seven story buildings could provide far more affordable housing than a bunch of mobile homes. Then again, this doesn't really seem to be about affordable housing anymore, if it ever was.


15 people like this
Posted by A Resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 16, 2016 at 9:30 am

@Palo Alto Lawyer - while I generally agree with your points about eminent domain, there's a distinction in this case. Generally, eminent domain is used to take blighted properties in order to enable civic improvement. In this case, the government wants to buy a property the owner wants to improve, in order to keep it blighted. This is an "only in Palo Alto" (OIPA) scenario. I'm not familiar with any examples like this - if you are, it would be great to hear.


93 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 9:53 am

Peter Carpenter wrote:
> Please provide a source for that "exact quote".

I "Peter Carpenter". The '"exact quote"' is "19 minutes" into the "video".

Web Link


> It does not appear in the Weekly story.

"Of course."

Keep in mind that my point is that that's the kind of soundbite that can bite people in the rear in the future and can play very well in court.

I think this entire fiasco is a huge abuse of the power of eminent domain, and every true American should be appalled by this attempt at an abuse of power. I hope Simitian, Santa Clara County, the Housing Authority and Palo Alto lose spectacularly. Our liberties depend on it.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 10:07 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Kazu

"This does seem to be the kind of nonsense they support."

My guess is that they will be split on this issue. Part of the leadership of PASZ is firmly in the property rights camp, thus not likely to appreciate the use of eminent domain for affordable housing. Another part, more visible to the public, has consistently supported the Buena Vista residents in their fight to retain their homes, for example by joining with PAF colleagues on the city council to pledge $14.5M towards purchase of the property.

We'll see which position PASZ takes to the electorate in the fall.


10 people like this
Posted by place your bets
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2016 at 10:09 am

"Palo gets to cap it's cost at 14.5M, Santa Clara gets to cap it's cost at 14.5M and the gap will funded by the housing agency which will get this property for literally pennies on the dollar. "

It was preceded by another comment noting that the property will be appraised at a fair market value so I don't know how that comment ends up being "literally pennies on the dollar".

Perhaps he's just trying to say the agency gets the property at the 29M discount. However, given the property is likely to be appraised at north of 60M now, those are pretty big pennies.


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 10:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

peninsula resident - Thank you for the link to the video of the pres conference.

It is worth watching the entire video.

My take aways are:

1 - Simitian's comment about pennies on the dollar referred to the cost to the housing authority not to the price to be paid to the owner.

2 - Everyone understands that eminent domain is a complicated process and must provide the owner with fair and full market value.

3 - I seriously doubt that the three participating agencies will be able to raise the purchase price plus the noted $10-12 million required for deferred maintenance.

4 - No one addressed the issue of how current residents who do not qualify for low income housing would be relocated - an essential element of the "public purpose" argument for eminent domain is that exercising such a right cannot be done for the private benefit of individuals.


8 people like this
Posted by not a lawyer
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2016 at 10:53 am

per the comments from Palo Alto Lawyer

Not surprised that you're a lawyer. There are many, MANY examples of eminent domain being used for the benefit of a real estate developer with no real public benefit. Such as in San Jose where dozens of families were displaced for yet ANOTHER flat wide shopping center.


13 people like this
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 10:54 am

How much would it cost to convert city hall into multi-unit housing?

We already have plenty of parking below.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 11:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Low-income individuals and families are defined as households making 80 percent or less of the median income. In Palo Alto that would be about $52k. Any current BV resident with an income in excess of that amount would have to be relocated - at significant expense to the Housing Authority.


24 people like this
Posted by Eminent Domain Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2016 at 11:45 am

I don't know where Palo Alto Lawyer got his law degree, but he left out part of the takings clause of the constitution (which discusses eminent domain). In addition to just compensation and due process, in order to satisfy the Constitution, any taking has to be for a "public purpose". While the Supreme Court has been notoriously promiscuous in applying this clause, it's never ruled directly on a case that presents the issue a potential Buena Vista case might. (I.e., Despite PA Lawyer's paens to "diversity", that rationale has never been tested in an eminent domain context, and it's quite easy to see this case argued as being for the private benefit of the BV tenants - not for the "public").

I don't know how the case will be decided if it gets that far (and neither does PA Lawyer), but the Pacific Legal Foundation which is handling it for the Jissers is probably the preeminent firm in the property rights area so the argument will get a thorough legal airing.)

So for the government agencies or the public to treat the eminent domain claim, as many on this thread seem to be doing, as a slam dunk, is very premature.


22 people like this
Posted by PA Person
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:02 pm

I support this use of affordable housing funds to retain the existing use of the land for the Buena Vista Mobilehome Park.

This effort is not just about preserving units of affordable housing it is about protecting a community of families. It is not just about aiding the Buena Vista residents it is about maintaing benefits for the entire City of Palo Alto including much needed workforce housing and economic and ethnic diversity.

This affordable housing neighborhood is a Silicon Valley success story. The graduation rates of the children of Buena Vista far surpass similar groups in the County. You could use these funds to buy or build new units of affordable housing but you could not buy or build a successful community. You could not buy or build optimistic, thriving children.

Palo Alto residents should be proud of their role in the success of the Buena Vista Mobilehome Park and we should support every reasonable effort to safeguard this flourishing community.


10 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Too much vitriol in many of the posts. The press conference shed light on things, but I'm still left with many questions, some of the same ones other commenters have mentioned.

As I see it, what is being attempted is to make the park into an affordable housing park that will meet all the state mandated quotas passed down to us via ABAG, and thus getting credit for housing 400 people towards that target. Peter Carpenter and 'common sense' made good points about this. The park was never set up to match any of the modern criteria for affordable housing. It just happened to be a place where housing was more affordable. So here we are. Do all the households match the new criteria? Maybe, but probably not, and what about those other people on the BMR wait list? The only fair way is to start all over with the park residents and screen them to make sure they meet all the required income and asset limit levels. If they don't they have to go, as cruel as that sounds. Otherwise there will be cause for more litigation, and we've had too much already.

Also, it sounds like the Housing Authority will be able to find funding for the gap amount, the difference between the $29M from the county and city and the fair market appraised value once the appraisal is made and the gap amount is known. And if I understood it correctly from the press conference, they would also be the property owner, and manager. With their status as an agency would the county get any property taxes from the property? Will they be solely the ones to set the new rent rates for the residents?

Another question...notice I ask questions but don't offer solutions, like so many do that don't know much about or understand the laws, eminent domain, etc. Joe Simitian commented on the estimate of upgrading the park, making improvements, and bringing everything up to code. He threw out a dollar range of $10M-$12.5M. As we've learned from experience we might as well double that right now since that's closer to where it will probably end up. Who will pay for that? And how will that work be done, working around all the units there?

And another prevailing question I have, along with several other people, is, "Could the total cost (my new estimate is $75M, which includes purchase and infrastructure costs) be better spent on new modern affordable housing facilities, not just preserving a very old and maybe even worn out mobile home park?


32 people like this
Posted by A
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:09 pm

I think the City of Palo Alto and Santa Clara County could better use eminent domain on properties that are near Buena Vista (on El Camino Real) and are vacant. There are two such sites just down the street from Buena Visa that have been vacant for at least 30 years! There is also another parcel vacant next to the Zen Hotel. Why are these locations left vacant?

It is a waste of taxpayer monies to get involved with private property negotiations. If I were to sell my house and leave Palo Alto, I could not return to buy another house. Am I going to scream and cry that I can't live here any more? No. I am going to find a place I can afford. The US is a big country with countless options. There are other nice places to live and we are not sending these residents to face a gulag. What the City and County should be doing is helping relocate the residents of Buena Vista. In the end they are going to lose.

The Jisser's own the property. They have the right to do as they wish. Let them develop the land as they see fit!


32 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If the total cost of acquisition and deferred maintenance is $75 M then the cost per unit would be about $650,000. That does not include the considerable cost of relocating ineligible residents.

Is that the most cost effective way to provide low income housing in Palo Alto?


13 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Looks like PLF is on this already

Web Link


24 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2016 at 1:03 pm

... and PLF arguments in the above web-link are spot on. This is clearly an inappropriate use/threat of eminent domain. I am not a lawyer so can't speak to whether or not it is technically "legal" to use it in this case, but it is definitely a wrongful application that should make all of us worried if its allowed to proceed. To me, dealing in common sense instead of legal technicalities, eminent domain should be for projects that are for the common good, for things that can't be achieved in any other way. Roads wouldn't be possible if they had to snake around lots of property exceptions. If the "common good" in this case is to provide affordable housing, preserving the low density trailer park for the benefit of current residents is both NOT the only way to provide affordable housing and isn't even anywhere near the most efficient way to expand affordable housing.


29 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2016 at 1:25 pm

If this moves to an eminent domain trial, it will be a very important case with many interested parties and implications.

Unlike other states, CA law states that eminent domain must be for a public purpose that everyone (or most everyone) can use. Examples include city parks, schools, roads, etc.

In this case, the city will have a very difficult time arguing that Buena Vista is a "public" facility. Since only a very small number of people can actually use Buena Vista, somehow an indirect benefit must be alleged.

Such a ruling would be likely to open wide the set of legally permissible use cases for eminent domain, since every possible case can be described to having an indirect public benefit to some degree at least.

If the city wants to take your house and others on the block to allow a developer to build a new hotel, it can argue that the hotel will serve "public" purposes by allowing people to stay there while doing business or visiting the community, or even stay at the hotel if they choose.

The city is embarking on a very large, expensive, and controversial undertaking with eminent domain.

On a separate point, from my perspective as a supporter of public housing, the city has done very little to support it, and there are many less difficult and less controversial things they could do to provide public housing.


17 people like this
Posted by another rv park
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 16, 2016 at 1:29 pm

We already have a low-income mobile home park in Palo Alto: it's called El Camino Real. Since overnight car-camping was allowed in Palo Alto but not surrounding communities like Menlo Park, the number of RVs along the Stanford side of ECR has increased to at least 20. Do those count towards our ABAG requirement?


51 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:13 pm

"based on recent sales of tear downs, it's worth about $50-55 million. Between the City & County they will provide $29 million. So where is the other $21-26 million going to come from?"

"2 - Everyone understands that eminent domain is a complicated process and must provide the owner with fair and full market value.

3 - I seriously doubt that the three participating agencies will be able to raise the purchase price plus the noted $10-12 million required for deferred maintenance."


Prediction: PA, SCC and SCHA will try to argue that they can buy/acquire it at the fair market value *of its current state* as a mobile home. They'll try to exclude what the lot could actually go for if it were sold in the open market to developers (to be repurposed).

They'll then try to factor in the cost of rehabilitation, the 10-12 million mentioned. It would not surprise me if they try to make the case for a "fair market" under $25 million. I'm not saying they'll succeed, but I bet they'll try.

You watch. Let's see if I'm wrong.


51 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

BV mobile home park is 4.5 acres.

If it were rezoned to RM-40 (high-density multi-family residential)it could accommodate over 360 units.

Would this not be a better "public purpose" use of this land than simply accommodating the current 110 mobile homes?

How would the neighbors feel about such rezoning?


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Just compensation is the fair market value of the property being acquired by the agency. California Law defines fair market value as "the highest price on the date of valuation that would be agreed to by a seller, being willing to sell but under no particular or urgent necessity for so doing, nor obliged to sell, and a buyer, being ready, willing, and able to buy but under no particular necessity for so doing, each dealing with the other with full knowledge of all the uses and purposes for which the property is reasonably adaptable and available."

That definition (ALL the uses and purposes for which the property is reasonably adaptable and available) does not leave the wiggle room that peninsula resident proposes might be used to reduce the fair market value to under $25 million.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Let's keep in mind that Buena Vista, through its economic and ethnic diversity, is an important and rare component of our
Palo Alto community and our schools. Overall, affordable housing is a precious resource and we should do what we can, within reason, to ensure it continues to exist in our community.


31 people like this
Posted by diversity
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Having a concentrated area of the city with predominantly Hispanic and low-income residents does not make the city of Palo Alto, as a whole, more diverse. To do so, one would need to have many smaller BMR units distributed throughout the city.


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

And to all those people attacking Joe Simitian, just stop it. He was re-elected overwhelmingly and for good reason. Most of us like what he's done and is still doing in and for our county and municipalities. That doesn't always square with his position on our city...his city...which he's proud to be a resident of, and PA's problems. But he has a lot of cities and territory to care for and worry about.

But, on the other hand, and it didn't serve him or his cause well, when he made the comment about teachers and firemen having to live so far away and then supporting our gardeners, maids, home care providers, et al., to be able to live here, in BV, in their own enclave, far away from the rest of the typical PA population. We will only see them when they come to serve us! But he's right. Most of us will never really be close friends of the people in the park and there will be no reason to go there.

Let them come and serve us, then go back to their little park homes, their enclave, and a very caring and loving community of neighbors and friends. It's a very complicated world we live in.

I'm kinda old, 79, but I might not live long enough to see the outcome. This sounds like it's in for a long drawn out battle, and could go on for many years, with lawyers getting rich from it, on the way, and PA residents, most, not even knowing what's happening, only us wild and crazy online posters.


27 people like this
Posted by weak
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 16, 2016 at 3:38 pm

attempt at a strong arm tactic to get them to sell at a reduced price. This really pushes eminent domain beyond where it should go. City of PA will lose this fight and waste more of our money, but its not like they care.


194 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

IF " Overall, affordable housing is a precious resource " then it makes no sense to preserve a 110 unit mobile home park rather than utilizing the same space for 360 low income units. And, like other projects managed by the Housing Authority, eligible current residents could be give vouchers that guaranteed them a unit in the new units that would replace the mobile homes.


6 people like this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2016 at 3:58 pm

I do remember well the case that went all the way to the US supreme court. For summary purposes here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
"Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)[1] was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another private owner to further economic development. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified private redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment."

There you are. Eminent domain is perfectly permissible in the Buena Vista case.
Going to court will tie up the matter for some time but in the end, it's absolutely legal what the city wants to do.


6 people like this
Posted by Lifelong resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2016 at 4:02 pm

If the property owner isn't willing to negotiate, and eminent domain is used, he'll be paid just compensation. That seems fair to me in light of the incredibly important priority of preserving affordable housing.


Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Thank you 'diversity'. You nailed it...a very succinct post and message...but a powerful one. They are just a small non diverse segment of our population. They are in their own little enclave community (not exclusive by design, but also not diverse within their own community either). We can only advertise that they are because they are part of our city's population and they come out of their enclave to do day work in our city. Bad advertising. Let's tell it like it is, just like you did! Honest, open, caring, and from the heart. Not a shred of a political agenda or activist involvement. Ever been tempted to run for PACC? Think about it!


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2016 at 4:07 pm

[Post removed.]


131 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 16, 2016 at 4:30 pm

"That definition (ALL the uses and purposes for which the property is reasonably adaptable and available) does not leave the wiggle room that peninsula resident proposes might be used to reduce the fair market value"

We'll see. You have more faith in their honesty than I do. I hope you're right.


"Kelo v. City of New London"

That may-or-may not be directly applicable here. Note that in the case you cite, one of the cited reasons the eminent domain was a public benefit was that tax income was projected to increase. That's definitely not applicable here. It's highly questionable that this attempt at applying eminent domain is a true public benefit.

Also, note this quote from the dissent:
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

Boom. Spot on.

To those of you who think that applying eminent domain in this manner is beneficial...you are being incredibly naive. Enabling the government to seize property for goals you like is enabling the government to seize property for goals you don't like.


13 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2016 at 4:42 pm

@Peter Carpenter

Your comments are eminently logical, so chill. This is not the place for them.

The principals have determined to save the Buena Vista Trailer Park as the Buena Vista Trailer Park. Nothing else will do. Symbolism is everything here. Affordable housing is secondary, if that.

Maybe it's the quaint picturesqueness of a trailer park for people who do not live in a trailer park and may never have seen a real one before but, whatever, Palo Alto must have a trailer park just like it must have an airport.


9 people like this
Posted by June
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 16, 2016 at 6:47 pm

Can Barron Park have its own vote on this trailer park issue? One possibility is that the park is closed, and the rich neighborhoods in Palo Alto agree to provide affordable housing for the current residents.


6 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 7:05 pm

As a longtime Palo Altan, I strongly support having affordable housing in Palo Alto. And I don't want hundreds of residents displaced from their homes.

Supervisor Simitian should be commended for trying to find solutions to keep some affordable housing in town.



16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 7:48 pm

This new strategy did not just materialize after the election. The possible use of eminent domain was not part of Simitian's campaign. or disclosed by him until just a few days after the election.

I did not vote for him and I certainly do not think he is worthy of any praise is what he is doing with our tax dollars.


7 people like this
Posted by around town
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:07 pm

After they sold the Maybell site, which was targeted for affordable housing, it's kind of hard for them to argue that they a valid reason for using eminent domain to buy this site.

All the arguments so far for using eminent domain appear disingenuous. There are a number of other vacant lots of over an acre around Palo Alto. This isn't the only one.


Like this comment
Posted by Watching this area
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:10 pm

Mountain View has used eminent domain to take one property from an owner and to give it to another owner to develop. It has been legal. Palo Alto would win, if they were sued about this. It's not nice. But it is legal.

That is the problem with having made our US Constitution a "living document". It can morph into something really awful, and be unfair to certain parties, and be 100%legal. Cities have free rein to do whatever they want, and therein lies the rub.

Make sure our elected officials are representing the interests of the majority, and that they have thought through all consequences and that they are getting good advice from staff, that are the people with the most power.


11 people like this
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2016 at 10:04 pm

casey is a registered user.

Any way that we can thwart this attempt to seize the trailer park by eminent domain at the ballot box?


15 people like this
Posted by Nope
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2016 at 10:04 pm

"There you are. Eminent domain is perfectly permissible in the Buena Vista case.
Going to court will tie up the matter for some time but in the end, it's absolutely legal what the city wants to do."

Even this situation is worse than the New London case. Plus anyone know what happened after that case? Pfizer moved out of New London and the city fell apart. Case wont go the way of the city this time.

"Mountain View has used eminent domain to take one property from an owner and to give it to another owner to develop. It has been legal. Palo Alto would win, if they were sued about this. It's not nice. But it is legal. "

Here arent they taking it from one owner so that it can stay as a trailer park? Thats not development

For all of you who think this is a great idea...why not sell your house at a fraction of its value to the city so these people can move into your place?


20 people like this
Posted by Cool
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 16, 2016 at 10:06 pm

"As a longtime Palo Altan, I strongly support having affordable housing in Palo Alto. And I don't want hundreds of residents displaced from their homes.

Supervisor Simitian should be commended for trying to find solutions to keep some affordable housing in town."

Let them take your place, sound good?


Like this comment
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 17, 2016 at 9:29 am

There are other cases not just the New London case. It is absolutely legal to take by eminent domain the way the city wants to. I remember some cases in new Jersey where the same happened even recently in Ocean County. But in NJ you have the NJ Supreme court ruling known as "Mount Laurel doctrine" in which a jurisdiction (city, etc) paying another to build low income housing as to satisfy the ruling.

Instead of fighting the obvious with empty arguments those against the project should see how it's possible to control the outcome because if the city wants to take by eminent domain it will.


9 people like this
Posted by Bill Kelly
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2016 at 9:31 am

I come back to my argument about Buena Vista from the beginning of this issue: it fails zoning for a mobile home park in Palo Alto, which started this whole process. If the park is to be kept as a park, 50% of the existing residents will have to leave to decrease density in the park. How will that work????

Bill Kelly
Barron Park


12 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 17, 2016 at 10:22 am

Isnt there lots of land in PA that could be taken for affordable housing? Why not take over a piece of the Stanford campus. Seems like they have lots of land.


12 people like this
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2016 at 10:23 am

Isn't this over YET?! Geez!


11 people like this
Posted by Eminent Domain Skeptic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 17, 2016 at 10:42 am

I don't know where those of you opining on the "legality" of what the city is contemplating get your information, but it's clear you've not kept up with (or don't understand) the state of eminent domain jurisprudence. As stated above, while the Supreme Court has been notoriously loose of late in applying the "public purpose" requirement of the eminent domain clause of the Constitution, it's never been applied to a case like the BV Park seizure would present.

There are logical arguments on both sides of whether "diversity" or low income housing is a public purpose, and whether taking land for benefit of a relatively small number of beneficiaries without the putative increase in tax revenue that was part of rationale in the Kelo decision satisfies the public purpose requirement.

I don't know how the case will be decided if it gets that far (and neither does anyone else here), but the Pacific Legal Foundation which is handling it for the Jissers is probably the preeminent national law firm in the property rights area so the argument will get a thorough legal airing.) They've won seminal property rights cases at the Supreme Court and are known for litigating cases vigorously and to the hilt.

So for the government agencies or the public to treat the eminent domain claim, as many on this thread seem to be doing, as a slam dunk, is very premature. The city will spend a lot of unrecoverable legal fees if they choose to go up against the PLF with uncertain outcome.

Of course the whole purpose of this (as demonstrated by the Simitian press conference) is virtue signalling on the part of our narcissistic elected representatives. As many have pointed out here, there are numerous ways the city could spend the money its contemplating spending on the Jisser property that would house many more low income people. But that wouldn't attract nearly as much attention to the government phoobahs as this does.


15 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Can anyone answer (without being snarky) these questions?

1.) What are the reasons that Joe & Co. want to keep the trailer park open?

2.) How does the trailer park benefit Palo Alto (versus redevelopment)?

3.) If the city's goal is to save these "victims" from being relocated outside of Palo Alto, then why can't the city purchase a vacant tract of land and relocate the trailers there -- especially since it would be cheaper than another decade of litigation?


18 people like this
Posted by Progressive Fascism
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm

The government tells us what we can say, how we can think and now in what way we can use our property. Grocery bag taxes (Even thought they are paper and not plastic), authorized plant lists and trailer parks as community assets.

Bear in mind, Palo Alto has been preventing the owners from selling the property since the year 2000. [Portion removed.]

When can we get back to a government of the people by the people for the people?


14 people like this
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2016 at 3:47 pm

I don't understand why the city takes such lofty moral authority to save a crummy trailer park.
Is this their job?


16 people like this
Posted by V
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Eminent domain should be preserved for hospitals, highways, dams, and other major works for which there is a pressing community need. [Portion removed.] This is an egregious misuse of eminent domain! For the proponents of this action, would you feel differently if the city took your house away, [portion removed?] These causes are always much more attractive when the money comes from someone else's pocket. Watch out, if you allow the government to use bully tactics, sooner or later YOU will will be the one being targeted!


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I don't understand why the city takes such lofty moral authority to save a crummy trailer park."


"liberal guilt

Empathy for the poor or working class and shame or remorse for one’s own affluence."


24 people like this
Posted by let it die
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2016 at 4:02 pm

This entire situation has gotten completely out of control. It was cute for the first year and half, sure ignore the law and allow the residents to appeal, give them their moment to shine. Then it got out of hand, having the appraiser threaten to quit because City Council thought they could do his job better than he could. Now Simitian and friends have gone completely off the deep end.
It is ridiculous to, in the 21st century in Silicon Valley, provide affordable housing by building a trailer park.
It is ridiculous to spend tens of millions of dollars on a trailer park.
It is ridiculous to take property away from an owner who doesn't want to sell so we can spend tens of millions of dollars on a trailer park.
Lucky for the sane among us, emotions do not supersede law, and Joe Simitian's desire to play Mother Teresa does not invalidate the Constitution. Best of luck to the Pacific Legal Foundation. Get 'em good.


5 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2016 at 10:23 pm

The Palo Alto Way has struck again. At least it's good for lawyers. It's not at all clear how it's good for Palo Alto or Santa Clara County. But it will tie up the property for years before the City and County loses and has to pay legal fees and penalties.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Barron Park

on Jun 17, 2016 at 10:58 pm

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


8 people like this
Posted by John G
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2016 at 11:00 pm

How about Maybell? Didn't the city own that and sold it for $22M. Should have made a mobile home park and moved the tenants their


13 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 18, 2016 at 9:04 am

Not again!!!!!
Option to this, use public money to buy the land build affordable apartment units for teachers, fire fighter, police and VA and Stanford Hospital workers.
It is unfair to have current park residents to have a lock for the place!


19 people like this
Posted by impolite question
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2016 at 10:51 am

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2016 at 2:15 pm

[Portion removed.]

"Option to this, use public money to buy the land build affordable apartment units for teachers, fire fighter, police and VA and Stanford Hospital workers."

A great idea, and I agree that the current residents should not be the only ones eligible for affordable housing at Buena Vista. Better to build sufficient housing there to also accommodate other people who work in our city. The sixty units of low income senior housing that Maybell refused to allow could be included in the redevelopment.


7 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2016 at 2:36 pm

I don't believe Joe S is as dumb as he looks, I have a funny feeling inside that the residents are about to lose the case and this is a way to keep it in litigation. Joe keeps saying a win win win situation except the landlord has to sell (or else). I wonder if this will wake the other property owners in the Bay Area.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

"I agree that the current residents should not be the only ones eligible for affordable housing at Buena Vista."

I'll be interested to see how this works out. Once the details for eligibility are worked out, I'm sure that many of the concerns raised here will have been addressed. Twenty-five years from now it's likely, due to natural turnover instead of eviction, that few of the current residents and the mobile homes they occupy will still be at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. Yet it will remain a permanent source of low income housing in a city which needs it.

We need more forms of affordable housing for a range of income levels. That's a future challenge. The current opportunity is to lock in 117 units of low income housing. Let's do it!


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 18, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The current opportunity is to lock in 117 units of low income housing"

Why spend ~$80 million for very low density single story housing?

If BV were rezoned to RM-40 (high-density multi-family residential)it could accommodate over 360 units.

Would this not be a better "public purpose" use of this land than simply accommodating the current 117 mobile homes?


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 18, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

It's hard to get all the information necessary to understand the entire issue. We only get it a little bit at a time, by drips and drabs, like we're being spoon fed pablum. So, even tho I have asked many questions online in my posts, most have gone unanswered. But thanks to the Weekly and their 'Behind the Headlines' program on Friday, I'm slowly inching towards a full, or at least better, understanding. It shouldn't take this long in my opinion. It was an interview with Joe Simitian and Winter...sorry I forgot her last name, but a very avid spokesperson for the residents of Buena Vista, most of whom she knows. He gave a good summary of the history and current events surrounding Buena Vista.

New things I learned from watching:
1. In addition to helping fund the purchase of the property, the Housing Authority would be a facilitator in finding a property manager, and a familiar name, Caritas, was mentioned. So, I guess the Housing Authority will have oversight of the manager but not be involved in day to day operation? Right? Who will decide on what will be added as upgrades, beyond just meeting city code requirements for infrastructure? Basketball court, soccer field, new restrooms, washer/dryer facility, et al?, (will it be safer, less scary, and w/o moaning, just because it's new?) and who pays for all of it? County and city, just keep your caps on...you take them off and you could get a very severe sunburn! lol! Will the Housing Authority be the real owner, by county records of title? Who will set the new rent rates? Who will sort out who is still eligible to stay as low income residents? The whole eminent domain premise seems to be based on that and if that gets messy, and I'm sure it will, then it won't work.
2. RM-15 is the current zoning of the property. I think I heard Simitian say that limits the number of units to 15 per acre. If that is the case then the 110-117 (that number seems to vary depending on who's posting) units there now would exceed the limit. Right? So, do units have to be removed to comply? Of course not, just change the zoning and that can be done at PACC in just minutes, with no discussion and a unanimous vote. See how easy that is?
3. Simitian commented on the units in the park, some very old, including RV's, motor homes, mobile homes, many not mobile anymore at all, and in various states of deterioration and disrepair. But he revealed something new, at least to me, that there is Federal funding available to help in that situation/cause. So, here we go again, getting another government agency involved to patch up/fix up, units that have long outlived their normal life, at least in most people's minds...I think. And of course that will involve someone going thru the park and evaluating all the units and determining which ones should be eligible for funding on a priority basis. Bureaucracy at it's highest level at work.

Yes, I accept the moniker of the 'questioning guy'. When I get all the answers I'll stop questioning. Fair enough?

If you read back to all my posts on this subject you will find that I really was, finally, convinced and in favor of saving Buena Vista, for the families living there, the educational opportunities available for their children, and for the benefit they give to our community as hard working residents...I didn't say 'citizens' because I don't know if they are and that is not my biggest concern. Finding a way forward looks like it will take a long time and get dragged out in courts. But in the meantime, residents of Buena Vista, just enjoy your time there and here in PA. You are Palo Altans, just like the rest of us, no class, race, socioeconomic, ethnic distinctions made.


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm

"Would this not be a better "public purpose" use of this land than simply accommodating the current 117 mobile homes?"

Peterrrr. I already covered this in another thread. OK, for ready reference:

The objective of saving the Buena Vista Trailer Park is to have the Buena Vista Trailer Park. Maximizing affordable housing is a secondary consideration, if at all. To some people, trailer parks are way more picturesque than high density housing projects. Contemplate the 801 Alma project and you'll see why.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2016 at 5:16 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter

"If BV were rezoned to RM-40 (high-density multi-family residential)it could accommodate over 360 units."

The mathematics are right. But not the politics. What do you think the chances would be to get that through over the local opposition to higher density housing that tanked the low-income seniors project on Maybell. I'd say about zero.


Like this comment
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 19, 2016 at 3:01 pm

[Post removed due to inaccurate information.]


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