News

Housing Authority votes to acquire Buena Vista Mobile Home Park

Letter with an offer for purchase will now go to property owner for consideration

Buena Vista Mobile Home Park residents received a hopeful pre-holiday present from the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara on Tuesday when its board of directors unanimously agreed to seek acquisition of the mobile-home park during a closed session meeting.

The decision authorizes the Housing Authority to make an offer to purchase the Palo Alto mobile home park, whose 400 low-income residents currently face eviction. The buyout, if accepted by the property owner, the Jisser family, would put the park's ownership in the hands of the housing agency. Funding would come from a three-way partnership with the City of Palo Alto and the County of Santa Clara.

The city and county pledged $14.5 million each to purchase the park, but negotiations with the Jissers broke down last August after attorneys for the residents sued the city over its May 2015 approval of the relocation package, which residents said was inadequate. The Jissers filed their own lawsuit against the city, which was rejected by a lower federal court in June.

The city and county decided to try negotiations with the Jissers again, this time through the housing authority. The three entities approved a tentative agreement to acquire the park in June.

Housing Authority Executive Director Katherine Harasz said she will make a written offer to the Jissers based on the property's assessed market value. She declined to specify the amount, saying she wanted to give the owners the courtesy of making the offer in private before discussing it publicly. She said she expects the offer will be made quickly. After that, a period of negotiation would be required.

City and county leaders have viewed the purchase of Buena Vista as a way to ensure the permanent availability of an important affordable-housing resource for the community.

The Housing Authority has been working extensively to do “due diligence" since its June tentative agreement with the city and county to identify a fair market value appraisal, secure a potential park operator and renovate aging facilities if the acquisition is successful, said Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who has spearheaded efforts to preserve the park since last January.

“I think we're on the right track and that's very gratifying," he said. "After almost two years of effort, our goals remain the same: to preserve 117 units of desperately needed affordable housing; to prevent the eviction of more than 400 members of our community; and to ensure that the property owner receives full and fair market value for the property.

"We're well positioned to make all of that happen," he said.

Erika Escalante, president of the Buena Vista Homeowners Association, said "I have to say we are very excited about the decision from the Housing Authority, we feel very positive. It is one step closer to saving our community."

Winter Dellenbach, founder of the group Friends of Buena, said she is thrilled with the Housing Authority's decision.

"This has been a long time coming," she said. "While we certainly don't see this as the end, we are hopeful that it is perhaps the beginning of the end."

"We are very hopeful the family will seriously consider the offer," she added. "I'm thinking 2017 may be the lucky year for everybody."

Harasz called the housing agency's move an "extraordinary opportunity" to preserve affordable housing "in a region where it is desperately needed.

"Over the past six months, we’ve worked diligently on behalf of those families to understand the details of a potential purchase, and our board will determine how best to move forward with our partners, the county and the city," she said.

The Housing Authority took an unusual step when it agreed to consider buying Buena Vista. The agency is in the business of owning low-income housing, but it had never owned a mobile-home park. If the agency successfully purchases the property, it would give operations over to a nonprofit group with experience in running parks, Harasz said. (The Housing Authority has an exisiting negotiation agreement with The Caritas Corporation, a nonprofit that maintains and manages mobile home parks throughout California.)

The new agreement with the Housing Authority could also pave the way for taking the property through eminent domain if negotiations for a purchase fail, Harasz said. In that case, after the period of negotiation to purchase the park, the housing agency would go back to its board to decide on an eminent domain resolution of necessity.

If the purchase is approved, the Housing Authority will file a petition in Superior Court for eminent domain, Harasz said. In such proceedings, the housing agency would have to show a legal issue such as a necessity under the law and that it can offer just compensation, she said.

Norman Matteoni, an attorney for the Jissers, said an offer would be sent to his client on Tuesday.

The possible offer "was not unexpected," he said. In August the Housing Authority asked to send an appraiser to the property.

"I'm certain my client will review the offer and consider it," he said.

Matteoni said he did not know the amount of the offer.

Matteoni did not address the issue of potential eminent domain proceedings in relation to his client. From the perspective as a land-use attorney, however, he said that challenges to eminent domain cases have become more frequent in the last 10 years.

This is mainly due to a 2005 case, Kelo v. City of New London, which challenged eminent domain of a residential property by the city of New London, Connecticut, for an economic redevelopment plan. Prior to the challenge, only seven states prohibited eminent domain for economic development except to eliminate blight.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of New London. It sparked major public backlash, resulting in many states adopting more stringent requirements for eminent domain other than for roadways, schools and waterways, Matteoni said.

"Some of those challenges (to eminent domain) have been successful," he said.

The Palo Alto Weekly has created a Storify page to capture its coverage of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park since 2012. To view it, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.

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Comments

113 people like this
Posted by Wise spending?
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 20, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Is this the right way to spend public funds, and benefit a small group of people who feel entitled to live in one of the most unaffordable cities in the country? What about spreading the benefits to a wider group by picking a more affordable location? 99.9% of people have to live in areas they can afford.

This is the problem when politicians spend money that is not theirs.


34 people like this
Posted by Lynn Huidekoper
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 20, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Dear Wise Spending,
You sound like Scrooge-mean spirited and at Christmas of all holidays! You need to do your research to see where all the money comes from. It is one of the few affordable housing areas in a city that boasts 8 billionaires.

Hundreds of caring folks, including public officials, support the residents of Buena Vista who have had to endure 4 years of stress wondering if they were going to be evicted or not. The property owners,who are immigrants themselves, were about to receive the amount of money they originally asked for over a year ago. Instead, they chose to file lawsuits,etc. to drag this out forever with absolutely no empathy for their tenants. Apparently, their lawyer specializes in kicking out mobile home tenants who are often low income people. How mean can you be?!


6 people like this
Posted by Harriet
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2016 at 7:00 am

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by Winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 7:28 am

A great thanks to everyone from every neighborhood in Palo Alto, to faculty and students at Stanford, to the many community groups, synagogues and churches that for over 4 years have insisted that the 400 residents of Buena Vista remain here in their community. Palo Alto values of caring for each other shine brightly this holiday season and the 130 children at Buena Vista will rest easier tonight.

Thanks for the vital help from the City, from Supervisor Simitian and the County, and of course from the Housing Authority for likely finding a way to ensure the long term viability of Buena Vista.

While there is more work to do before success is assured, it seems we are well on our way and hope for the best.


24 people like this
Posted by Winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 7:44 am

added to the above -
Had not the Buena Vista residents organized themselves immediately, they would not be here today. Residents were led by a board of natural born organizers and other talented residents who immediately introduced themselves to the City Council and allied with the new Friends of Buena Vista support group.
They also have fine pro bono attorneys who have gone above and beyond in providing counsel and support.
It really does take a village to save the village of Buena Vista with its 4 acres of affordable housing.


74 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 9:03 am

Time to close the RV/trailer parking area instead of spending more public money.


22 people like this
Posted by how does this work?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 9:28 am

"Housing Authority Executive Director Katherine Harasz said she will make a written offer to the Jissers based on the property's assessed market value. She declined to specify the amount, saying she wanted to give the owners the courtesy of making the offer in private before discussing it publicly. She said she expects the offer will be made quickly. After that, a period of negotiation would be required."


Only problem with that is that the Jisser's don't want to sell the property.


14 people like this
Posted by Eminent domain
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 9:42 am

The answer is eminent domain -- the Jissers don't have to want to sell the property. I would think that's one thing that the even what I will politely call "those who are not moved by the plight of people with less money and/or a different skin tone" would agree with. [Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by how does this work?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 9:53 am

"Trump was solidly in favor of eminent domain in the campaign."

Says it all really.


53 people like this
Posted by Closer
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:38 am

Why spend this money on so few people. Improve transportation for all instead.
Close the park.


6 people like this
Posted by I_Got_Mine
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:39 am

A similar situation played out in Evergreen,CO. A landowner who saw $$$ in their eyes wanted to build an apartment block in Evergreen. The main problem: public service facilities are built-out and cannot support the extra water and sewage loads on existing facilities. Jefferson County Open Space wanted the land to build a new park and made an offer to the owners. They rejected that offer. When the land owners finally got around to developing the property, they found the " tap fees " were high because of the new facilities that would have to be built to support the high-density housing which would not be in keeping with the Evergreen rural community. The result: JCOS made good on their offer and now a new park along the hiking and biking trail with athletic fields and a children's playground greets the traveler to the town of Evergreen.


59 people like this
Posted by Macky
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:47 am

Why is no one talking about how poor condition all the units in the park are?? Are (we) aware how much money it would cost to bring each unit up to code? Are the new owners prepared to spend millions on renovations? I bet not. Focus is needed elsewhere.


86 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:53 am

To put the problem of affordable housing on the back of one person/Jisser is ridiculously unfair. They are being punished for not developing the property to its potential a while ago. Politicians spending money where it is not used efficiently - what a shock. The money they will have to spend on this property could provide 5x more units elsewhere. Another waste


17 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

See the interesting comment below from the PA Weekly article about the recent announcement of the sale of the small shopping center on Middlefield in PA that went for $15m:
"$15MM seems really inexpensive even just for the land. Don't some homes sell above this price on the north side of town or in the hills? The article say it's only 18,555 sq ft or a cost of $822 per sq ft. By comparison, the Buena Vista Mobile Home park site is 4.5 acres or about 196,000 sq ft. So at $822 per sq ft, the Buena Vista Mobile Home park site would be worth over $161 million.
(Just sayin', so you know how to feel when the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County makes their offer.)"


90 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

I'm not a lawyer - but generally speaking, eminent domain is used for projects that benefit the greater public, not a select few. Such projects are parks, libraries, police or fire stations.

If the owners don't want to sell - I don't think eminent domain is going to qualify. Especially since the owners want to develop housing themselves.


22 people like this
Posted by Jared Bernstein
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 21, 2016 at 11:00 am

Jared Bernstein is a registered user.

Seems like a good thing, in principle, but do we want to support unsafe, inefficient housing that's there.
I suggest we spend even more money and re-develop the property for dense, mixed use. Mobile "homes" are not what I want my money used for. Let's make some nice, safe, energy efficient units ... maybe 3 or 4 stories high.


31 people like this
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 11:17 am

This place needs upgrading, some of those mobile homes are in terrible shape. There is no green space for the children.

Can someone explain to me who will be paying for all that?

How will other low income people benefit from the public $$$ spent on this one mobile home park?

The Weekly is not giving us enough details about the deal as a whole.


20 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 21, 2016 at 11:30 am

Thanks Joe Simitian for your leadership.
It didn't happen without your concerted effort.

Hope this gets done to make 300 families dreams come true to make their lives better.

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Happy New year!

Respectfully


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2016 at 12:12 pm

[Post removed.]


47 people like this
Posted by No
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2016 at 12:15 pm

Why are these residents so special? Everyone else who can't afford rent or mortgage has to move out of Palo Alto. Joe, can you help me with my mortgage too?


4 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2016 at 12:23 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Move all the tenants into the vacant basements of the newly built houses in PA that are draining our water tables and making every foundation unstable and sinking.


26 people like this
Posted by Jemaho
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 21, 2016 at 12:43 pm

While I applaud the efforts to save this low income housing, I think the property should be developed to provide low income housing for many more people than those who are already residing there, both BMR purchase and rental properties. Certainly the current residents should be given first priority.


6 people like this
Posted by Rich should get richer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm

My heart is breaking! The Jissers might get plus or minus 14 MILLION dollars.
Oh the sadness, my Christmas is spoiled.
Only 14 MILLION.

The rich should get richer. That's the Palo Alto way.$$$


25 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2016 at 1:51 pm

If the sale goes through, AND new higher density, properly managed low income housing is built there, that is a good use of public funds. If on the other hand, public dollars are spent to preserve, what is widely recognized as a collection of dilapidated trailers for existing tenants, that is an extremely poor use of public funds.


19 people like this
Posted by @PAFreePress
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2016 at 2:52 pm

Without question quality low income housing is disparately needed. What I strongly object to is spending taxpayer money without the benefit of public debate. As the story relates, discussions were behind closed doors. Comment from the housing authority should be warranted


18 people like this
Posted by just a citizen
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 21, 2016 at 3:20 pm

How about a referendum on this purchase?


13 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2016 at 3:38 pm

"How about a referendum on this purchase?"

Let's do it. I propose that any purchase by the Housing Authority requires what we would consider a "medium" housing density of 1 unit per 400 sqft (using SF standards).

At 4.6 acres, there should be at least 500 units on this piece of land.

At 117 units, we're not even close to it.


23 people like this
Posted by Buena vista
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Just a little FYI from a Buena vista Resident: the funds been use to purchase the park do not come from you tax payers (just like us) they come from developers fees and are only allow to be use for affordable housing, housing authority will purchase the park but will have a nonprofit manage it, and no hosing authority is not investing any money in our homes to bring them up to code, each house is improved by its owner so don't worry we won't use your hard earn money. I hope you never find your self in our situation, and if you ever do and need help we would probably help you. If you have any questions or need correct information please let us know. Merry Christmas and a bless year 2017!!


6 people like this
Posted by Carrie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 4:18 pm

What more can we give them!


17 people like this
Posted by Abitare
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2016 at 5:32 pm

It is within the purview of the Palo Alto City Council and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to authorize appropriate funds for making an offer.

We elect officials to take such decisions, and if they have misread the will of the people, we can vote for change at the next election.

But, for me, it goes too far to employ eminent domain to seize the property from the rightful owner(s). In this case, the benefits are simply too limited, helping a small group of people rather than the community at large.

Additionally, my feeling is the coalition is not so much negotiating as threatening.

Hopefully, this will be resolved amicably for all parties.


1 person likes this
Posted by ho hum
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 5:48 pm

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by Winter
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 6:19 pm

I seldom circle back to read comments but someone asked that I do in this case. Let me say that there is a great deal of misinformation in the comments above - too much to address here, and most of which have been repeatedly addressed in the past. I will say this since it may be new to folks -

The Housing Authority of Santa Clara County is a public agency whose mandate and mission is to acquire property, build housing, manage below market rate housing, and administer federal section 8 housing. It does this all over our county, including in Palo Alto. The HA will own Buena Vista, and Caritas, an experienced non-profit mobile home park operator of long standing will manage it day to day. The residents may stay and the site will remain affordable and have an infrastructure upgrade.

BV is just completing its routine State code inspection to ensure the park and the homes meet health and safety code standards.

It has been made clear over more than 4 years that there is overwhelming support in Palo Alto for these 400 mainly Latino, mostly low income hard working good neighbors to remain here in a safe town, with their kids in good schools, their extended families together, and their many contributions to our greater community continuing.

This is a great result when one understands all the circumstances and possibilities. That a way was found to show that four hundred of us weren't expendable is reason for all Palo Altans to celebrate.



19 people like this
Posted by Misinformed.
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Winter often speaks of the tenants and their rights. Let's wait and see what the HA offers the Jisser's. then we will circle back and discuss the owners rights.

Something tells me their version of fair market value is way below the market.


12 people like this
Posted by Hulkamaina
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 21, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Well said Winter.


Like this comment
Posted by Jake
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 7:46 pm

[Post removed.]


28 people like this
Posted by Jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2016 at 7:52 pm

The trailer park is a fire trap and eyesore and would need to be completely renovated for people to continue to live there. For the homes that are near the trailer park, the broken down structures significantly degrades our property values and we have been hoping and praying for 30 years that [it] would be closed and something worthwhile could be built on the property.

Palo Alto and other low cost housing money needs to be spent on new structures with all Palo Alto residents having an opportunity to move in, not just the same people that already live there. That completely discriminates against all other low income people in Palo Alto that need affordable housing.


1 person likes this
Posted by dennis
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 21, 2016 at 8:07 pm

[Post removed.]


30 people like this
Posted by Referendum needed
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:21 pm

@Winter, how are you so sure that there is "overwhelming support" in Palo Alto for the current residents? Just because the majority of people to turn up a council meetings are supporting does NOT mean there is overwhelming support across the city. I would like to know how you are reaching this conclusion? Only a referendum on how to use the funds could give us a clearer picture of the support across Palo Alto.

Personally I support affordable housing in Palo Alto but believe acquiring BV in its current dilapidated state would almost be an abuse of public funds. If the Jissers are willing to sell let modern, safe, and space efficient affordable housing be built at the location. It also does not seem right that such a large amount of public funds should be used to clearly benefit one group of people. Let new BMR housing be built and subject to applications, lottery, or waiting list as is the usual procedure.


13 people like this
Posted by Something to Consider
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm

Something to Consider is a registered user.

When Barron Park was annexed, special commitments were made by Palo Alto to protect ithe semi-rural nature of the neighborhood.

They include specific policies opposing rezoning to increase density as well as adding or expanding roads.

If an external housing authority purchases and operates the land at Buena Vista and attempts to build a larger housing project it may violate that agreement.


11 people like this
Posted by Lynn Huidekoper
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 22, 2016 at 3:25 am

It's interesting that the bulk of the people responding with negative comments are residents of Palo Alto. To afford to live in PA you have to have a sufficient income. To deny people who aren't as fortunate as all of you is pretty un-Christian. I notice that quite a few of the comments were removed meaning they must have been nastier than the ones they allowed to be seen. Unbelievable!

I have attended many of the hearings related to Buena Vista in the past 2 years. There is WIDE support for them. In fact, if you have attended the yearly Posadas held at the Park you would have not only seen the large number of attendees but also enjoyed seeing a celebration of Mexican Christmas traditions with home-made tamales, pozole, spiced juice and seen beautiful women and children dancing traditional Mexican dancing in native costumes. It's very inspiring. Where else in PA are you going to benefit from Hispanic culture?

What folks aren't aware of,because they haven't bothered to research the issue, is that the amt. that PA is chipping in(and Winter has as said its mainly user fees from developers not residents) is only HALF of the funding.

Someone mentioned public debate. You must not have attended the numerous City Council, Board of Supervisor meetings and court hearings that
have occurred over the past 4 years!! There has been a LOT of public debate.
I have attended many of them where there was plenty of time to step up to the microphone.

As I understand it the Jissers want to sell the Park to a developer to build high-end condos NOT low-income housing. It would be great to build more low-income housing as it's seriously needed. Is Palo Alto only going to be a city of affluent white people?

The families and seniors who live there are happy in their homes. Who are you to judge the quality of someone else's residence? You can afford to live in nice, expensive housing. There are thousands of homeless people who can't afford to live in PA who would love a roof over their heads! I don't see why it's an "eyesore". It's off the road recessed and the gas station is much more visible.

It's sad to see how many uncaring people live in PA. It shows tremendous insensitivity to fellow human beings' circumstances. You wouldn't take any of the jobs these hard-working residents take. Are you all so cold-hearted to deny this small number of people their hopes and dreams for their children?

[Portion removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by not in my backyard
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 22, 2016 at 7:17 am

To the post above:
Do you support Menlo Park spending millions of dollars to save a dilapidated, run down trailer park to benefit very low income people for "racial diversity" in your neighborhood? If so, then let us know where that would be?? Many hundreds of low cost housing units could be provided with this $14 million in funds from the County where the land costs are MUCH lower. I also think this is a BAD precedent, why is this development entitled for such special treatment...........what about all the other thousands of hard working, mid-income residents that move because Palo Alto is too expensive?
As far as the argument that this is developer fees that go to provide LOW INCOME housing, to me this is unconstitutional. I never voted for this, Palo Alto should have a referendum! If it passes I will know at least the voters got a say in this matter.


5 people like this
Posted by Jean Libby
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 22, 2016 at 7:54 am

I have been despairing of remaining in my Palo Alto home of 48 years because of very low income. The action of the Santa Clara County Housing Authority gives me hope that we are valued as much as the land on which we reside that is eyed by greedy vultures.


3 people like this
Posted by Jim Nelson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 22, 2016 at 9:04 am

I don't think eminent domain is a legal option. If the people of this community think this is a good investment why not? My understanding is they will buy it with bonds and will pay the bonds off with revenue from the community. There should be no out of pocket expenses from the taxpayers or else this should not be done.


62 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 22, 2016 at 9:48 am

The primary issue I have with this matter is local government and the courts dictating what the property owner ultimately can or can't do with their holdings. If they wish to develop the land to their advantage, or sell it for profit, they should be able to do so without question. I assume they have paid their property taxes and played by the rules. That should fulfill their obligation. Otherwise they should be free to do with the property as they wish.

The fact that this is a "mobile home" park already puts it into a category that lacks any long term expectations. It had it's day. Now it's time to move on. Progress will always occur, especially if it lends to the greater good of the community. This property could be developed into a desirable destination, be it new housing, retail, or mixed use. The greater community would benefit from eliminating this eyesore. Who could blame the property owner for wanting to fully profit from their holdings and investment? The critics need to ask themselves that question.


11 people like this
Posted by Harriet
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 22, 2016 at 6:16 pm

When can I sign up for my share!
Who is getting paid off.


20 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 22, 2016 at 9:08 pm

This park should have closed years ago. This is a travesty.

If anything, the park should be closed with the city buying a portion (away from El Camino Real) where they can build REAL affordable housing that would be better than dilapidated old trailers that might never pass an inspection.


3 people like this
Posted by Cybele
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Dear Mr. Jisser, I have but one quote from Mohandas Gandhi: "We (the collective community) have enough for everyone's need, we can not have enough for everyone's greed." Please consider if you have enough lucre' (Italian for money) and are willing to accept the generous collective offer from the City of Palo Alto, the County of Santa Clara, and the Santa Clara Housing corp. IMHO - Enough already! Cybele LoVuolo-Bhushan


10 people like this
Posted by Land Grab
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 24, 2016 at 1:23 pm

@Cybele "I have but one quote ..."

Actually, you hade one quote, one comment, and one opinion laced with sarcasm.

I have but one quote for you "charity begins at home".


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 24, 2016 at 1:50 pm

The same quote could also be applied to the resident of the RV paring area when they turn down the generous payout for the same reasoning. They will try to get more.


6 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 24, 2016 at 2:53 pm

@ Winter: If the property is purchased at market value, will the property taxes also increase to that level? Palo Alto simply cannot afford to give up property taxes.


9 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 24, 2016 at 3:08 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by @Lynn Huidekoper
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 25, 2016 at 10:07 am

Your comment asking if Palo Alto is going to be made up of only affluent white people is a reach and presumes that non-white people in Palo Alto cannot or are not affluent. Your premise is completely off-base. If BV closes, there won't be low-income families left in Palo Alto? It's funny to me how many people use the dichotomy of white / Hispanic, and completely gloss over all of the other diverse cultures that are represented in Palo Alto.

I have minority friends who are renting in Palo Alto to send their kids to school here. Nobody is saying to them, "hey, let's swallow up somebody else's land for your personal use so that you, your family, and extended family can live together." They moved from another city and are sacrificing personal gratification for the sake of their children. Are you and the other posters here who support essentially ripping off the Jissers aware that there are thousands of great schools in the US and other areas where people can thrive. Why must it be that the residents must live in Palo Alto?

That's a good question for the residents. Most citizens in Palo Alto understand your plight, but you are in effect saying "we don't care who owns this land, you must do as we want or desire." Maybe you should put yourself in the owners' shoes. Imagine if you were the property owner and had to fight a nasty fight all because the people who currently occupy it seem to think they have a right to be there. Thousands in our country make the tough choices to move to other areas to improve their lives. It seems the people living at BV don't want to make these tough choices. Uprooting a family and moving somewhere else is something thousands of people make every day.


3 people like this
Posted by Nonsensical Arguments
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 25, 2016 at 11:05 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


6 people like this
Posted by Lynn Huidekoper
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 25, 2016 at 3:33 pm

I have attended most of the Palo Alto City Council and Board of Supersisors meetings held about Buena Vista and have lived in this area for 30 years so I think I knw the demographics of this area. I meant that the population is PRIMARILY caucasian-that's who attend thess meeting and attend many other meetings. You very rarely see African-Americans. The Indo-Asians are mainly in high tech can afford the homes so have a high income. The Indo-Asians care about others.
In all the years I have been here I can't recall a Mexican event being held in PA.
The Jissers are not poor. And they are getting $7 million more than their original asking price. You need to research ALL of the facts such as the source of the County money.

The small number of negative PA folks posting here is way less than the FOBV supporters because they are more caring and generous esp. at Christmas time.

They care about low-income residents who have been here quite awhile and give to this community their hard work and caring. How much do you do for others?


Like this comment
Posted by Handouts
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 25, 2016 at 3:57 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by low income and wealth
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 26, 2016 at 10:55 am

This city is a place for the very rich or the very poor. I understand the plight of the BV residents and never wanted them to be forced to move. BUT this city does little for the people who have lived here for long periods of time and who cannot afford their rent due to rent hikes. I have watched this happen, my kids friends HAVE to move because they can no longer afford to live here. Constantly one is hearing if you can't afford to live here then leave. For the lower middle income families, who don't quite qualify for affordable housing, there is no support, regardless of whether or not those people have contributed hugely to community.

I think this whole situation for the BV residents shines a light on housing in general and how to make it affordable to everyone not just the low income and wealthy families but the families in the middle.

Or are the middle income families just not worth the effort these days?


7 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 26, 2016 at 10:56 am

36 million is a joke of a lowball offer.

If the county wants to use eminent domain, it will be legally forced to pay market rate for the land. The fact that the offer is 20% more than FOUR years ago is irrelevant; Current market is what matters, and current market is a minimum 6000000 higher.

36 million will lose in court.

You people are hilarious!


3 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 26, 2016 at 1:46 pm

@ Lynn H: I asked Winter about this. She did not reply. Can you give me an answer? Thanks ahead of time.

If the property is purchased at market value, will the property taxes also increase to that level? Palo Alto simply cannot afford to give up property taxes.


3 people like this
Posted by Patrick Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 26, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Patrick Burt is a registered user.

@low income
You are right. Although our BMR housing programs are among the strongest in the region, they only help around 2500 units in total, a fraction the need. A narrow majority of the city council just supported increasing our Housing Impact Fees that are charged to developers, but even these dollars (along with our share of the recent $900 million County Measure A affordable housing bond) will barely make a dent.
We may now need to consider stronger renter protections as have nearby cities, such as Mountain View.


6 people like this
Posted by Lynn Huidekoper
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 26, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Thanks, Pat Burt. As Mayor of PA for posting. You know well the housing situation all over the Peninsula. If these PA residents who are posting here want to make an impact they should attend PACC meetings and go up to the mic and voice their wishes and concerns. Posting in a blog gets you nowhere.

Pat has indicated that other cities, such as Mt. View and their ballot Measure V, are addressing the rental/ housing crisis.

It's the developers/landlords, who want to make lots of money, who control the ridiculously high rents that very few people can afford. Renters are being priced out of their housing forcing some of them into homelessness. There are homeless women/families with children out on the streets. Students are living in their cars. And the Jisser family is getting $7 million more than they originally asked for!!

Buena Vista is a very unique situation in PA but it is happening elsewhere. Mobile Home Parks are low income housing and having high end condos, which there are plenty of, replace them is discrimination and sad. Does a community not care that it should be diverse and only have middle- and upper middle-class residents?

The Park qualifies for unique Stanford dollars(which has several requirements on how they are to be spent) so that's why the county can kick in $14.5 million and PA dollars are from developer's fees. And the housing authority Board voted for the additional $7 million. Why shouldn't the residents benefit from those dollars ?

Why would 12 public officials (PACC and BOS) have unanimously voted to support these residents? This has been well thought out. It's been going on for 4 years!!! There's been plenty of time to get involved. The BV plight even reached the pages of the Guardian, one of England's largest newspapers.


Scott, Answering your original post, I am not an expert in taxes. I don't think property taxes are changed by this one sale. I suggest calling the City for an answer.


5 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 26, 2016 at 5:46 pm

@ Pat Burt: Since Winter did not reply, and Lynn H. doesn't know, perhaps you can answer my query:

If the property is purchased at market value, will the property taxes also increase to that level? Palo Alto simply cannot afford to give up property taxes.


2 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 26, 2016 at 6:16 pm

@Scott

The assessed value of the land is a little over $3M so its not like they're contributing a huge amount relative to what the property is actually worth. The poster above said the property has a market value of $60M which would mean they're paying far less than 0.1% of its current value anually.


8 people like this
Posted by Ironic
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 27, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Pat and Lynn. The Jissers offer was never disclosed. The appraisal was $30m not the offer. Is that correct? Also the offer was made back 4 to 5 years ago. Land and housing have gone up tremendously since then. Why would anyone assume the Jisser's will accept a $36m dollar offer. The fact that you offered them $7m more than the appraisal that is five years old is meaningless. Maybell sold for $22m 3 to for years ago and it is half the size. Such a ridiculous offer is not a real attempt to give them a fair market value. A term that Joe Simitian keeps addressing to the media. Seems to be more delay tactics by government against a family to achieve goals rather than finding a solution.


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Scott@Midtown, Todd@Another Palo Alto Neighborhood,

Assuming that the Santa Clara Housing Authority meets the exemptions that other BMR Housing meets, there would be very little property taxes. For example, Oak Ct Apartments (53 units) near Downtown Palo Alto, has an Assessed value of $24,000,000, yet the property taxes are $13,000 (there is a $23,400,000 exemption on the assessed value).

By the way, to qualify for a rent of $593/month for a 2 bedroom apartment at Oak Ct, the maximum household income is $28,560/year. The $593/month is about what the cost is of renting at Buena Vista is. There are also 2 bedroom units which rent for $1,245/month, and max income is $57,560 for a household of 4.

No one has reconciled the income level of the current residents of Buena Vista with the income limits for BMR housing.


7 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 27, 2016 at 2:36 pm

@ resident: If it is as you say, then we Palo Alto citizens are subsidizing this project to a huge extent. The proper comparison is between a full market-based valuation and the proposed subsidized compound, which would appear to pay almost nothing in property taxes. Such a result would rob our coffers of much needed tax funds. We are already in debt and, as has been pointed out by others, we have major unfunded pension debts.

@ Pat Burt: Can you please explain if the about reasoning is incorrect?


5 people like this
Posted by Lynn Huidekoper
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 27, 2016 at 10:09 pm

To answer soe of the questions put forth here's some info I found on the Internet:

11/09/12: Property Owner applies to close the Mobile Home Park in accordance with Palo Alto Municipal Code Chapter 9.76 and California State Law.

Jul 26, 2013 at 9:25 am
What this story misses is the bigger picture. There are two competing sets of rights and interests here among owners, with very different outcomes foreseen for each. The Buena Vista landowner wants to sell (likely going from merely rich to "wow" rich), while the homeowners lose everything - homes, jobs, schools, community, friends, and for many, family, as they are forced from the area. The required compensation to residents will never make up for the loss and misery (though it must come close as possible).

Forgot to get the source of this statement but it is accurate from a news article a few years ago:
The Jissers also own the retail strip at 3990 El Camino and Los Robles Avenue that fronts the mobile-home park. The lessees include a Jamba Juice, Baja Fresh, and C2 education center. A spa is scheduled to move into the former Blockbuster video store. They also own property under an adjacent Valero gas station and a quarter-acre behind it, but those properties are not part of the redevelopment, Jisser said.

PA Online Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 9:41 pm:

The property owner, the Jisser family, has a contract with developer Prometheus Real Estate Group, who would acquire the site at 3980 El Camino Real for an estimated $30 million -- if the city approves a zoning change. Prometheus wants to build 180 high-end apartments on the roughly 4.25-acre parcel.


6 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 28, 2016 at 9:32 am

I don't know why this has to be rehashed every time, but no one is trampling on the owners' property rights. When you invest in a savings account, or a money market account, penny stocks, or municipal bonds, the investment has different conditions and risks. Home ownership is governed by different rules than rental apartments. Each involves different circumstances, risks and responsibilities for owners/occupants. The laws for rentals are intended to create some fairness for all parties, but acknowledge that a rented living space is not the same as, say, an investment in a piece of art, or an owned home.

Mobile home parks are a different kind of investment than SFH's and ordinary rentals. For the majority of the BV units, for example, it's more akin to the faculty housing at Stanford, where Stanford is able to offer the housing at a below market rate because Stanford owns the land and faculty own just the houses. The faculty still have a housing investment, though, despite the arrangement differing from home ownership where people own their land. Thus, they are more vulnerable in their relationship with Stanford than if the faculty owned the land, too, or if they were purely renting.

This is exactly the case with mobile home parks. The laws and rules are different than for rental apartments or SFH's (although there is overlap) because the circumstance is different. Mobile home parks are a housing option almost exclusively for the low income or elderly, because it is generally considered substandard housing. Thus, the government does have an interest in protecting residents from unscrupulous behavior by investors beyond simple rental-type rules, because mobile homes are an investment for low income citizens, and the law acknowledges that the majority of homes aren't really mobile once in place. The laws and rules are unique to mobile homes, because they are a different living and investment circumstance.

That wasn't exactly a surprise for the owners, or should not have been. People above who are thinking only of simplistic property rights are just wrong, owning and running a mobile home park is different than investing in an empty field somewhere, just as owning stocks is different than investing in a speculative art investment. True market advocates would recognize that investors have responsibilities, too, including for assuming whatever risks are part of the chosen investment. This is the process, and all parties have exercised appropriate rights, including the residents of BV, most of whom have made significant investments in what is probably their only major asset.

If the public entities buy the land, it would be a cost-effective public
investment, because, first of all, building affordable housing for that many residents is more than $30 M even in this market. (It's a good public investment, too, because once it is made, the costs stabilize. This is the calculation most homeowners in the area make when they take on the pain of homeownership. I wish the City would consider that now, similar to what the Los Altos Community Fndn is doing in Los Altos, because it may be the only model for retaining a semblance of civic life. Just as we invest in public land and facilities which stabilizes the cost of those, we may just have to invest in publicly owned land to ensure some diversity of incomes, and a vibrant retail sector into the future to serve all residents, i.e., even BMR retail spaces.)
Secondly, this kind of housing in particular makes it possible for low income residents to continue making investments and getting out of poverty. Grants to improve the park would still mean the public investment was comparatively reasonable for this many residents in this area.

The owner knew they were getting into a complex investment. Over the life of the investment, they benefited as landlords from the greater responsibility of residents who own rather than just rent. They seriously benefited from Prop 13 and the extraordinarily low tax they had to pay all these years for the investment. They benefit from due process and public subsidies of the court system where they are exercising their rights now. They benefit from the public subsidy of the infrastructure that creates the value of their property that would be far less valuable in the middle of nowhere with no roads and schools etc. They even seem to have benefited from the lawsuit dragging out and increasing the value of the land so much. It is part of that kind of business that they have rights, benefits and responsibilities.

It is part of that kind of business that they have to buy out the reaidents if they want to evict and cash out. The legal protections are necessary because residents are not simple renters and are uniquely vulnerable to losing their investment and becoming homeless, which the public has an interest in preventing, whether it be out of compassion or overall concern about public costs, or even propery rights of the residents.

It really is a reasonable provision for a buyout that equivalent housing be available, because that sets the actual market value of the precipitously lost investment (for the mobile home owners). It's not enough to say that a single unit somewhere far away sold for X, so therefore that's the value of the home, because, first of all, if 400 residents are seeking that single spot, that's a different market condition and price. If residents need to find equivalent housing in a market that has no other mobile home parks, that doesn't obviate the responsibility to follow the rules. Because whether one agrees that they are reasonable or not, those are the rules, which the City had a responsibility to make, and which the owners had the right to contest when they were made. They clearly have no trouble taking up their rights legally. So those are the rules, and the current legal challenges on both sides are part of interpreting those rules fairly. That is our system, the owner has plenty of rights and has been exercising them. The residents of the mobile homes have rights, too, that are necessarily greater than simple rental rights. The circumstances created by not only throwing people out of their homes but suddenly basically destroying their stable home investment necessitated laws, and it is appropriate that those laws be followed now. All the judge has done is ensure the laws are appropriately interpreted and followed.
I
While the owner has benefited from the delays in the value of the property, that may not always be the case, but that is a business decision. Working out a deal now could be beneficial for all involved. While the owner has benefited from the delays in the value of the property, that may not always be the case, but that is a business decision that comes with the territory. Working out a deal now could be beneficial for all involved. I am thankful for the community members, including BV resudents, who have been willing to stand up for those who otherwise could not have stood alone for themselves. Happy New Year everyone.


7 people like this
Posted by Is affordable housing the goal?
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 28, 2016 at 11:54 am

Is affordable housing the goal? is a registered user.

@Greenacres - I don't agree that working out a deal would be "beneficial to everyone", it would only be beneficial to the BV residents. If the true goal is affordable housing, the site should be used to build a great deal more units of housing than is currently on site. A recently approved affordable housing project in Mountain View is building 116 units on 1.93 acres. Web Link, based on that project, BV could be 270 units.


I also question the "equivalent housing" portion of this process - many of the units at BV are converted RV's not actual mobile homes, so there really isn't any comparable housing possible.


2 people like this
Posted by Patrick Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 28, 2016 at 12:15 pm

Patrick Burt is a registered user.

@Scott
Here are my best responses to your questions.
First, I believe that Todd is generally correct about the current property tax payments being low due to the BV owners benefiting from Prop 13. In theory, a sale of the property for commercial development would result in significantly higher property taxes, of which the city only receives 9 cents of each property tax dollar. Government subsidized affordable housing projects are generally exempt from property taxes. However, that exemption would apply to any affordable housing project not just BV. The city is contributing $14.5 million in dedicated developer housing impact fees toward the County Housing Corp's acquisition of the property, the county is contributing the same amount and the Housing Corp is providing other funds to make a fair market value offer. If the city instead contributed those dollars to a different affordable housing project, the property tax impact would be equivalent. To change that impact the city would need to significantly alter the longstanding affordable housing programs which it has had for decades and which have been supported by the citizenry and multiple city councils over that time. Such programs are also part of us meeting our regional housing obligations.
Our city budget has factored in these exemptions and our property tax income has nevertheless climbed to record levels and at rates of increase far exceeding the national average.


6 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2016 at 1:45 pm

@ Pat Burt: Thank you for your response. I think I understand. We would be taking private property out of our property tax mix. If this property were to be developed to its free market potential, we would be getting a substantial increase in the taxes for that property, year after year. By putting that property into a non-profit status, we will lose all those taxes going forward, which is a very big tax loss. In other words, this attempt to provide for subsidized housing will be much bigger than the initial front end costs. Yet we are facing substantial city debt.

I think this truth should be openly discussed by our city council, so that PA citizens are aware of the true costs involved. Are you willing to do this? Any chance that PA citizens will be allowed to vote on this controversial issue? Thanks in advance.


2 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2016 at 2:40 pm

@Scott

I'm fairly sure that if it was put to the voters as a choice between low income housing and development of the site "to its free market potential" there would be a collective exploding of heads. It's a nice thought experiment - but unless you've been living under a rock you understand that there's no way anything near it's "potential" will ever be allowed there.


7 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2016 at 5:26 pm

@ Todd: I don't think I have been living under a rock, but I would ask: What would the PA voters say? I remember the Measure D issue in PA where, against major odds, the voters rejected the subsidized housing in Barron Park. Why not put it up to a vote, since there is a major fiscal issue on the line?


7 people like this
Posted by More BMR housing here
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 28, 2016 at 9:31 pm

More BMR housing here is a registered user.

I agree that the Housing Authority should be looking to build more units of affordable housing on this site. It's prime real estate for this use, $36M is a considerable sum of money, and I think the City would be very supportive given this past election cycle and the issues raised.


2 people like this
Posted by Patrick Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 28, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Patrick Burt is a registered user.

Scott,
Nearly all land use decisions by the city have both community and fiscal impacts. When we set a cap on annual office development, restrict the us of Planned Community (PC) zoning or other changes, the subsequent property taxes on development are decreased or increased. If our only objective was to maximize property value, we would only choose higher density zoning with larger and taller buildings than are currently allowed. We would also zone for more office over housing since office is higher value construction.


8 people like this
Posted by Mariam
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 28, 2016 at 10:23 pm

@Patrick Burt, can you in good conscience expect the jisser family to accept $36M for five acres of land? Three years ago the PAHC was able to sell 2.5 acres for $22 million. The mobile home park is on 5 acres making it $44 million and Palo Alto homes appreciate 24% since then. The land is worth $50-55 million. Even if you deduct the $8 million for relocation the land is worth $45 million. Am I mistaking? Do you really believe this is the best housing authority can do with $45million plus the remodeling costs of the current park?


12 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2016 at 8:01 am

Pat Burt,

This is not just a simple zoning issue (e.g. offices vs. retail vs. housing), it is a very impactful investment of Palo Alto money...and a very large loss of potential tax funds. Would you support trusting PA citizens to make the decision through the ballot?


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2016 at 11:10 am

@Scott, in this matter PA citizens are disenfranchised. When the county exercises eminent domain, the only recourse is through the courts.

Simitian won the Supervisor seat fair and square, and the majority still appears happy with that election outcome.


1 person likes this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 29, 2016 at 11:15 am

Would you show the same respect for process when Trump wants to do the wrong thing?


5 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 29, 2016 at 11:24 am

@Goal,
It's hard to compare our perspectives since clearly in your calculation, you think affordable housing units and long-time low-income resudents/community are interchangeable, and they are not. The residents of BV are an integral part of their South Palo Alto neighborhood which is just a stone's throw from Maybell. Residents there majority strongly support their neighbors at BV and low-income housing but trying to force more overdevelopment on that neighborhood which is already in gridlock will only *really* wake the sleeping giant there. There is a high concentration of schools there. If the City wants to get people out of their cars, they need to prioritize creating civic assets and spaces there since the concentration if assets in the north have become almost unreachable for south residents because of overdevelopment, significantly impacting those resdents' quality of life in ways people in the North can't appreciate.

If they want to focus on affordable housing, they should start first with supporting long-time residents being evicted from their community, i.e., BV. In that part of Palo Alto, low-density housing specifically to meet the needs of disabled residents (for whom universal design tends to dictate lower, less dense living spaces) would be welcomed and even receive considerable citizen support. This kind if housing is long overdue to meet the needs of the disabled who have been all but shut out of inclusionary housing or any new housing in Palo Alto. That area has already hit an overdevelopment breaking point and proposing to wipe out the BV community to put in high density units would make the Maybell debates look like cookies and tea. There are many parts of town that have been vocal yet have been free of overdevelopment impacts around them. Let them speak for themselves and put another few tall buildings there first.


4 people like this
Posted by Alex
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 29, 2016 at 11:27 am

Scott:

Sure we should get a vote, but it's a county agency and county tax dollars being spent, why shouldn't it be a countywide vote?


3 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 29, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Scott --

As you may recall, the Maybell referendum was the result of citizen activism. If you, or others, feel strongly, you can undertake the effort to put this issue directly before the people.

One thing we learned in November is that even with massive amounts of polling, we don't really know the will of the people until election day.


11 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2016 at 6:47 pm

I don't think it is unreasonable for our CC to put this major issue to the voters. Palo Alto is proposing to put major ($14M) into this project, as well as to assume major tax loses versus free market development (within existing zoning rules). We face major government debt in PA, even with increased tax receipts during this economic surge. Think about what happens when our economic cycle encounters a downturn.

Joe Simitian should not be in a position to set our fate as a city. We should have our own say, through a vote. Our CC can make that happen, if they want to. If the citizens of PA want to move forward with the project, our CC should have nothing to fear.


1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 29, 2016 at 8:24 pm

"the Maybell referendum was the result of citizen activism. If you, or others, feel strongly, you can undertake the effort to put this issue directly before the people."

Somebody needs to step back and do their homework--namely, is there a referendable city ordinance here, and has the deadline for referending it passed? Does the County of Santa Clara even have a referendum process?


2 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 31, 2016 at 9:45 am

@Scott and Curmudgeon,
First, the money at BV is money already set aside for affordable housing and could not be used for other purposes. It did not come from the general fund. In fact, about half of it, from City and County, was money returned to those funds when Maybell sold after the referendum. Many neighbirs consider saving the housing of actual neighbors at BV to be a better use of that money anyway, and regardless, are clearly willing to fight the rampant overzoning of the area. That's a non starter.

The mobile home park is at it exists already is more dense than zoning allows and would be grandfathered in. That should satisfy advocates if their interest were sincerely the interests of low income residents. Again, units do not equal existing low-income residents, we're not talking about pawns on a chess board. The park can be renovated through grants that would take a fraction of a new development. People talking about the cost do not appreciate the costs of new development. Again, if we forget for a moment that units do not equal existing residents (and we shouldn't), creating that many low-income spaces from scratch could not be done for nearly that amount of money. Plus, the money is going mostly to a land purchase - if the land is then City/County owned, it will never get more expensive even as the surrounding area does. There are even opportunities, where there are existing rental units, to upgrade and possibly infill without negatively impacting existing residents. The property is currently mostly zoned RM-15, though, so no, you could not put 500 apartments there without significant overzoning of almost ten times the zoning and hard pushback by people in the area who have already shown they will mobilize. I suspect if such a thing came about, the locals would also finally mobilize to make City ballots more impartial and take the ballot question away from the City Attorney.

The latrer would be done through initiative. Just a little civics 101 reminder: referendum is when citizens seek to overturn an action or ordinance, initiative is when citizens wish to create an action ir ordinance themselves. The signature requirements are greater for the latter, I believe. Given the high level of local support for BV, the fact that this is a clear situation in which real people's lives hang in the balance, and the fact that the money already legally is restricted to affordable housing, it's hard to see that anyone could succeed in countering these attempts to help.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 31, 2016 at 9:53 am

@Greenacres

Thanks. Good research and good words.


1 person likes this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 31, 2016 at 11:24 am

"Given the high level of *vocal* support for BV"

There. Fixed it.


5 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Palo Alto City Council can vote to put a referendum on the ballot. For example:

RESOLUTION NO. 7705
RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PALO ALTO
CALLING A SPECIAL ELECTION FOR TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4,
1997, FOR SUBMITTAL OF A REFERENDUM MEASURE TO THE
ELECTORATE AND ORDERING CONSOLIDATION OF SAID
ELECTION

It should be a simple matter for our CC to put this BV project on the ballot. Only at that point will we actually know what the citizens and taxpayers of PA really want.


5 people like this
Posted by More BMR housing here
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 31, 2016 at 5:25 pm

More BMR housing here is a registered user.

How does RM-15 (up to 15 dwellings per acre) jive with nearly 120 dwellings (104 mobile homes, 12 studio units, 1 home) on this 4.5 acre site? Are some of these combined into multi-family dwellings?

Could we (at least theoretically, I realize it costs $$$) establish 60 affordable fourplexes there, for a total of 240 families, instead of only the existing 120 or so families? I believe that nearly all neighboring lots have two-story buildings. So this would still be spacious and compatible and within current zoning.

I think Scott's point is reasonable, btw. I absolutely think we need more affordable housing for low- to moderate-income city workers, but I think we should be transparent and up front about what it's costing us.

Another question is whether the Housing Authority could enforce that people living here are working in Palo Alto, vs (say) working elsewhere and living here for the schools. Or is that a use we want to support?


2 people like this
Posted by Lynn Huidekoper
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 31, 2016 at 8:57 pm

Reminder;
2 points:

1) $30 milliion is what the Jissers originally asked for
PA Online Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 9:41 pm:

The property owner, the Jisser family, has a contract with developer Prometheus Real Estate Group, who would acquire the site at 3980 El Camino Real for an estimated $30 million -- if the city approves a zoning change. Prometheus wants to build 180 high-end apartments on the roughly 4.25-acre parcel.

2) The money set aside to pay the Jissers is restricted money set aside for housing,as has been said multiple times in this exchange. It is NOT general fund money(i.e PA resident or county resident taxes). Look up the restrictions for the county money which I have listed in previous postings. It is a completely different scenario from the Maybell Project.

Do you really think that the folks(12) you elected to serve for the public good would arrive at a solution if it hadn't been carefully thought out? There are only a handful of folks spending time spinning their wheels separately here compared with the hundreds of well educated, public members,including PA taxpayers, of BV supporters. Make sure to read all of Pat Burt's ( the Mayor of PA)remarks.


7 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2017 at 11:43 am

@ Lynn H: I think I am well educated. It is such education that makes me feel the need to ask penetrating questions. I have simply asked for some real answers to simple, but important questions that PA citizens and taxpayers need answers to.

1. What is the real long term cost of losing the market rate property tax valuation on this property? Palo Alto is currently in budget deficit, and it appears that things will get worse. Can we afford to give up such tax resources?

2. What is the current market value of this property. It clearly is considerably higher now than in 2013. If it was $30M in 2013, is it now $50M? Higher? We are in a sizzling hot real estate market. If eminent domain is resorted to, will that $50M value be used by a court to determine the required payment. If so, who will make up the difference?

3. Development fees are an indirect tax on PA citizens. It is a real tax, by whatever definition some might want to use.

4. While several issues are at play, it is a big decision for PA citizens. Don't we citizens deserve a vote on this issue? IF PA citizens are as much in support of this issue, like you maintain, what do you fear?


6 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 1, 2017 at 1:02 pm

"3. Development fees are an indirect tax on PA citizens. It is a real tax, by whatever definition some might want to use. "

Amen. It's about time someone here actually understood that all taxes are eventually paid by individuals. There's no such thing as a tax that is eaten by a corporation.

Taxes are costs just like raw materials, salaries, etc. that are passed to the end consumer.

Development and impact fees don't magically appear. They come out of someone's pocket - usually the people buying the market rate units on those properties. If the fees are too high, there's no development.

Of course, that's why I really think that's going on. Residentialists hoping to make it so expensive to build housing for middle class people that no one else can move in.

Keep Palo Alto (fill in your ethnicity of choice)!


5 people like this
Posted by BillA
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 1, 2017 at 5:40 pm

I read through all of the comments, but I missed if this was covered somewhere.

Would all of the current residents of BV qualify for BMR housing today, and if some do not then what happens to them if this new proposal goes through?

I am not opposed to BMR housing, but this does not seem like the best and fairest way to go about acheiving it. Recently while driving I saw another mobile home park along El Camino in Sunnyvale or Mountain View that is apparently being closed. Was there a lot of outpouring of support for that one? I do feel bad for the residents of BV, but I also have sympathy for the owner of park who is also trying to do what he wants with his property within confines of the law.


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Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 1, 2017 at 7:02 pm

The County supevisors and City council will pay whatever it takes to keep the mobile home park open since their current majorities believe this issue is an acid test on whether they care about Poverty and Racism. Under the current plans, they will have to ensure every renter at BV stays at BMR income thresholds. An institutionalized low income ghetto is ironically born. Goodbye to anyone upwardly mobile in the mobile park as a named renter. Goodbye Amerian Dream there.

Could the County BMR program instead figure a way for all BMR renters to build equity on the ground under their ground leases? For example, if BV renters pay rent on time for so many years they could get first dibs to buy a new townhouse built at BV with a low interest loan. How many BV residents now would willingly sell their ground lease to clear space for new townhouses to be built with first dibs on a low interest loan to buy that new home? That would put the BV land on a path to maximum tax revenue to the City in the long term instead of subsidizing a low income permanent ghetto.

Palo Alto did such a joint ownership sweatheart deal with a City Manager on his Bryant Street house when he couldn't afford to buy a house he wanted. After he retired and the house burned down, both the manager and City made money when th land was sold. Many BV residents have lived longer in this town than that City Manager did when he got his deal. If Palo Alto really cares about ending Poverty and Racism here, the BV residents should get same consideration that Manager did.


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