If the 89-year old Buena Vista Mobile Home Park closes, it will result in the single greatest displacement of adults and children in our town’s history. Of the 130 Buena Vista children, 104 are PAUSD students.
We insist on a solution that includes Buena Vista residents continuing to live here with their children in our schools.
Goals of Buena Vista Residents and Supporters:
- Ensure residents have the option to remain in Palo Alto.
- Ensure students will be able to finish their education in Palo Alto.
- Preserve or replace the 117 units of Buena Vista affordable housing.
- Guarantee fair treatment for residents, and uphold their rights.
Current Situation: (Updated March 14, 2015)
- Most residents own homes, renting a space from the property owner.
- In 2012, Buena Vista’s owner filed with the City to close and “relocate” residents. He has the right to do so but must comply with state and city laws.
- This “closure process” will continue well into 2015, if not beyond. A 3-day administrative law hearing was held on May 12-14, 2014. The residents have appealed the decision and the Palo Alto City Council heard that appeal on April 13 and 14, 2015
- Most residents will lose everything if forced out – homes, jobs, friends, a safe community, good schools, medical and elder services. Many children will lose extended family members (grandparents, aunts and uncles) with whom they have always lived.
- Legally required “relocation payments” from the owner to residents will not be enough to afford Bay Area market rents and area mobile home parks have few empty spaces, so residents will have to move out of the region.
- Redevelopment will happen on the 4 acre Buena Vista site – unless we find a resident friendly solution. In June 2014 the original developer filed a ‘quit claim’ deed with the county, terminating it’s agreement with the owners. (see story)
Why Residents live at Buena Vista:
- For the same reason many of us live in Palo Alto – so our children get a good education while living in a safe community with good services.
- A Palo Alto education is a family’s way out of poverty – a golden door to a better life.
- It enables one-quarter of residents to live with extended families, owning separate homes while providing mutual support for their children and elders.
- It’s affordable. The city deems it to be an important source of affordable housing.
- Nearly 400 people live at Buena Vista, many for decades.
- 67 households are families with children.
- 104 of the 129 children are students, most at Barron Park Elementary, Terman Middle School and Gunn High School, including 2 autistic children in special high quality programs.
- About 12% of Barron Park Elementary students live at Buena Vista.
- Not a single BV students has dropped out of school (compared to 29.3% for Hispanic students in Silicon Valley) – they graduate from high school.
- Affordable housing allows young adults to afford tuition to attend college – often the first in their family.
- Senior citizens make up 21 households, some of whom are disabled.
- 95% of adults work; 55 of them in Palo Alto or Stanford, cleaning schools and homes, and working in our markets, restaurants, and offices. Some own small businesses. Most are what is termed the “working poor”.
PAUSD Recognizes Student Diversity as a “Fundamental Principle”:
- PAUSD policy states, “…diversity of the student population and staff enriches the learning experience for all students”.
- Most of Buena Vista households are low-income Hispanic; others are European, Tongan, and Chinese-American.
- Buena Vista is the single source of Palo Alto’s ethnic and economic diversity.
Children Should Not Be the Collateral Damage of Palo Alto Redevelopment:
- Studies repeatedly show the quality of a child’s educational experience is a principal determinant of that child’s life course as an adult, including both socioeconomic wellbeing and health status. Losing the opportunity provided by Palo Alto schools could irreversibly alter the trajectory of these children’s entire lives. (Amado Padilla, former PAUSD school board member & Prof. of Education, Stanford)
- Buena Vista students are 100% in graduating from high school and most aspire to college.
- PAUSD must keep its commitment to diversity and its Buena Vista students by working to ensure children finish their education here.
The City Must mitigate loss of “Essential” Affordable Housing:
- Buena Vista is the single greatest unsubsidized resource of affordable housing in Palo Alto.
- City policy states: To the extent feasible, the City will seek appropriate local, state and federal funding to assist in the preservation and maintenance of the existing units in the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park.
- In April 2015 the City Council held a public hearing on whether the relocation plan is adequate to actually allow residents to relocate to a comparable community.
A Solution Must be Found:
- A way to buy all or part of the property with city, public and private funds may be possible. A singular solution may be needed for the unique situation.
- The owner has a right to sell his property, but also has a responsibility to the residents he will displace, as does the developer.
Community Support for Buena Vista Residents is Strong:
- Palo Alto School Board: Statement of Support for Buena Vista families and students.
- PTA Council (PTAC) Resolution: ratified by all 17 PTAC representatives.
- PTA, Sixth District (3 local counties)
- Community Working Group (CWG)
- City of Palo Alto Human Relations Commission: Resolution of Support.
- ACLU Mid-Peninsula
- Palo Alto Forward (PAF)
- Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ)
- Nine Palo Alto churches, justice committees and Congregation Beth Am.
- Peninsula Interfaith Action (PIA)
- The League of Women Voters of Palo Alto
- The Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
- Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
- Friends of Buena Vista: Palo Altans from all neighborhoods who actively support residents and affordable housing
- Buena Vista Mobile Home Association
For more information or to support residents,
email: Friends of Buena Vista