News


Under corporate hands, Glory mobile home park faces precarious future

Original owners wanted to preserve Woodland Avenue site from development

According to tenants at the Glory Mobile Home Park, fencing has been installed over vacant spaces to deter additional units from moving into the park. Photo by Veronica Weber.

This article is part of a larger story on Glory Mobile Home and RV Park in East Palo Alto headed for closure in 2020. Read the story here.

Dora Arnold always wanted her mobile-home park protected from development. It's the reason why, even with investors clamoring to purchase the 1.07-acre East Palo Alto property at 1893 Woodland Ave., she chose to sell to Kenneth and Barbara Averell in 1972.

She wanted someone she could trust who wouldn't kick out her tenants, Barbara Averell said during a recent phone interview.

The Glory Mobile Home and RV Park, now long out of the Averells' hands, today faces potential closure. City staff determined it is undergoing a change of use because its vacancy rate has reached 41%, which falls above the city's 15% threshold requiring property owners to file for a change of use.

The Planning Commission in December 2018 ordered the current owners to file a conversion-impact report. Tenants learned last November from the park's owners, Woodland Glory Investment LLC, that they plan to close the park by January 2020.

When Arnold and her husband owned the property, they called it City Trailer Park, Averell said. They purchased the land in 1943, according to San Mateo County records. Early on, they homesteaded the property, where they maintained a small house, Averell said. At some point, they began renting out spaces to weary travelers driving along the road that later became U.S. Highway 101.

"There were a lot of overnighters. Some wanted to stay longer," Averell said, and the park became a permanent destination for residents.

Arnold stayed in her home on the property, getting to know many of the tenants at her mobile-home park. She was reluctant to sell, even as offers came in.

"She was very concerned about the tenants. She knew most of the people there and she cared about them," Averell recalled.

Arnold took a liking to Kenneth Averell, however, and she felt comfortable that the couple wouldn't evict the tenants. Like the Arnolds, the Averells were not corporate investors. Barbara was an elementary school teacher; Kenneth worked for then-telecommunications firm Western Electric Company. They bought the property as an investment, but they didn't plan to develop it. "Our parents thought we were crazy," Averell recalled.

The Averells changed the name to Creekside Trailer Lodge, which was more in keeping with its surroundings and close proximity to wooded San Francisquito Creek, she said. It was popular.

"We rarely had any vacancies at all," she said.

After East Palo Alto incorporated, the city enacted a rent-control ordinance in 1988 to preserve low-income housing. The mobile-home park fell under that ordinance, which limited the amount of annual rent increases to percentages based on the Consumer Price Index. For the Averells, who already charged a low rent, making a profit was difficult.

"Our little trailer park's rents were extremely low. We had to try to keep rents down. We were trying to take care of the tenants," she said.

Because Kenneth Averell did most of the handyman work, the couple was able to get by, she said. Over the years, keeping up with the aging park's demands became difficult.

"As we got older, the park got older," she said.

The Averells sold the property to another couple in 2003, who added investors and formed 1893 Woodland EPA LLC. The park was sold again in 2015 to a group of real estate investors, Woodland Glory Investment LLC, also called MAStar Corp., which renamed it Woodland Glory Mobile Home and RV Park. They later dropped "Woodland" from the title.

County court records show that since the corporate ownerships, the park has been mired in controversy. For years, investors from 1893 Woodland EPA, Woodland Glory/MAStar and Vida Capital Partners LLC, a Palo Alto-based investment group subletting trailers at the park, have been embroiled in more than a dozen lawsuits over property ownership and other allegations.

At various times, the city of East Palo Alto and tenants at the park have jumped into the fray over rent-stabilization fees, unlawful evictions and rent. Some of the many lawsuits are still active, according to San Mateo County Superior Court records, complicating the property's future.

Averell said promises such as the one she and her husband made to Dora Arnold nearly 50 years ago are difficult to uphold given the new reality of Bay Area real estate, high housing costs and corporate control of low-income housing. Losing the park would remove an important source of affordable housing.

"It's a hard thing, especially in this climate, where so many people can't afford a place to live," she said.

Weekly journalists discuss this issue on an episode of "Behind the Headlines," now available on our YouTube channel and podcast page.

---

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

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

3 people like this
Posted by A recurring theme.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2019 at 11:24 am

The property owner can afford to do this because of Prop 13. The owners are probably paying next to nothing in property taxes because they purchased in 1943, so they can afford to sit on the property and "starve" it. This is being done by developers all over the place. They hold properties hostage to get extreme allowances for higher density and other development bonuses.

Corporations love Prop 13 so the State won't touch it. "It's the third rail," they say. "Touch it and you die."This is Republicans AND Democrats who say they support public education. VOTE. Talk with your representatives, and let them know that you have noticed the many ways that they are prioritizing corporate interests over the people. Get out there and override corporate lobbyists with your weapon. Your voice and your VOTE.

Our government is not working for the people any more--on either side of the aisle.


9 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 9, 2019 at 11:34 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

Of all of the things that one can do to alleviate the housing situation, forcing individual property owners to continue to rent their properties is the most counter-productive.

If we want low-income housing, it is time for governments to step up and provide it.


Bob


3 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 9, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Margaret Nanda is a member of Hopkins & Carley’s Real Estate Practice. She has been practicing for more than 36 years primarily in the manufactured housing industry providing representation to mobile home community owners and managers in all aspects of park ownership and management, with a focus on mobile home park closures.

Margaret facilitates this unique mobile home park closure process from inception to end, regularly interfacing directly with developers seeking to convert the use of the existing parks. Margaret was lead counsel for the seminal mobile home park closure case, Keh v. Walters (1997) 55 Cal. App. 4th 1522.

Sounds like she knows what she is doing.


24 people like this
Posted by Not Worth Saving
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 9, 2019 at 1:12 pm

>> At Glory, most of the tenants are seniors who admit they aren't necessarily interested in preserving their aging RVs and mobile homes. Many are retired or near retirement, but that doesn't mean they aren't concerned about their futures.
from the PA Weekly...

>> Asked if they were concerned about the park's closure, some residents were matter-of-fact. Relocation money and trailer buy-outs, provided they are substantial enough, would be acceptable, some said.

It appears the 12 current residents are ambivalent for the most part + they haven't done anything to spruce up the place on their own...no sense of community pride.

The land is worth more as development property than a run-down trailer park that no one seemingly cares about.

A weed patch with a few dilapidated trailers is blight...there are places near Barstow if folks wish to live like that.


12 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Aug 9, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Just like Palo Alto, there will be bleeding hearts with no common sense who think that mobile home parks in this area are a good use of land to provide low-income housing. Most of these people are probably over 50.


48 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 9, 2019 at 11:12 pm

Progress is progress. Creekside property is valuable and no one, especially a government agency, should dictate to a property owner when or how they should develop what they've earned, maintained, incurred the liability, and paid taxes on. Time for gentrification to continue to transform East Palo Alto into a more viable and desirable community.


5 people like this
Posted by EPA resident/cyclist
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 10, 2019 at 2:40 pm

Maybe they can make this into a parking lot for EPA residents that can't find parking for their extra commercial or other vehicles that they can't park in Edgewood in Palo Alto because of NIMBYs who created no overnight parking in Palo Alto.


36 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 10, 2019 at 7:29 pm

To EPA Resident/Cyclist, yes, they should absolutely look for internal solutions to the parking problems in EPA. The Crescent Park and Edgewood neighborhoods in Palo Alto should not be used as an overflow parking lot for an adjoining city in a separate county. That's why they instituted permit parking. Nothing to do with Nimbyism. It's called consideration and common sense.


6 people like this
Posted by Former Tenant
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 11, 2019 at 11:18 am

This trailer park gave me a place to live when I first moved away from home. I was very lucky that it existed, as I couldn't afford to live anywhere else in the area and remain near my family. It's sad to see it go.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 12, 2019 at 10:26 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Many Motor homes are now parked at the KMART on Veteran Ave in Redwood City across from the Kaiser Hospital. They are also parked on the adjoining streets. And yes - residents are concerned since that area is next to a harbor area with a number of water ways. They are not interested in those water ways which lead to the bay being the toilet. Also people are stealing shopping carts from the KMART = they are finding them all over the city with broken parts. Major businesses which cater to the public struggle to stay in business and then have to have a security guard at the door for people who are stealing stuff. The WALMART in Mountain View has motor homes and a guard at the door to check outgoing customers.

Changing demographics since the whole area next to 101 is now being rebuilt due to SU starting a new campus in that city and has a new hospital next to 101. The whole are next to Woodside Road and Broadway is going to be rebuilt.

EPA is being rebuilt due to Amazon and FB activity. The peninsula is a growing area for new building in a limited space.


9 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 12, 2019 at 1:03 pm

Punitive rent control is likely a driving force behind this closure. The government should not require private parties to provide affordable housing. Redeveloping the site to its highest and best use is in the best interest of the larger community and will likely provide a greater number of housing units that are clean and modern. The closure should be supported and the rent control should be abolished.


Like this comment
Posted by C
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 6, 2019 at 9:26 pm

Low income renters, and certain occupations such as teachers, should be given tax breaks. This increases the amount of money available for rentals, thus *encouraging* and increasing the available housing supply. Additionally, this will only benefit *taxpaying* residents.

Rent control is portrayed as benefiting low income renters, but actually helps middle- and upper-class renters more. An expensive apartment under rent control will still not be affordable by a lower-income worker, but it *will* be a better deal for a wealthy renter whose rents will not rise as fast.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Su Hong Palo Alto's last day of business will be Sept. 29
By Elena Kadvany | 15 comments | 4,737 views

Troubling safety issues in our fair city
By Diana Diamond | 16 comments | 1,424 views

Natural Wines?
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 1,075 views

Premarital, Women Over 50 Do Get Married
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,040 views

Electric Buses: A case study
By Sherry Listgarten | 1 comment | 651 views

 

Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info