Palo Alto to appeal court order

City Council votes to challenge December ruling from Santa Clara County Superior Court

by Gennady Sheyner / Palo Alto Weekly

Palo Alto will appeal a recent court ruling in which a judge overturned the city’s decision to allow the closure of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park.

The City Council voted unanimously in a closed session on Jan. 9 to file the appeal. City Attorney Molly Stump said the appeal would be filed early Friday.

The city is challenging a Dec. 21 ruling from Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Brian Walsh, who reversed the council’s 2015 decision to approve the closure application from the Jisser family, which owns the mobile-home park off El Camino Real. The council’s 2015 vote came several months after Administrative Officer Craig Labadie reached his own decision on the closure application and deemed it to be complete.

Read full story

Buena Vista Owners Get $36M Offer

Housing Authority seeks to buy the mobile-home park

The Housing Authority of Santa Clara County has made a $36,072,500 offer to purchase the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, Executive Director Katherine Harasz said on Friday. The offer was made after the housing authority’s board of directors unanimously authorized the agency on Dec. 20 to negotiate the sale.
The Jisser family’s attorneys received the written offer on behalf of their clients on Wednesday or Thursday, which is based on the property’s appraised value, Harasz said. She and the Jissers’ eminent domain attorney Norman Matteoni said they did not anticipate a response from the family until perhaps sometime in mid-January. After then, Harasz said she hoped the housing authority and the family and their representatives would have a sit-down meeting to discuss the possible sale.

Court Rejects Approval of Buena Vista Closure

Judge rules Palo Alto mobile home park’s relocation package based on inadequate information.

The Palo Alto City Council abdicated its duty when it approved relocation payments for Buena Vista Mobile Home Park residents, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge ruled on Wednesday.
The decision by Judge Brian Walsh found the city did not have sufficient evidence to support its finding that the relocation assistance offered by the park’s owners is adequate to prevent adverse effects on the park’s 400 residents.

County Seeks to Acquire Buena Vista


Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian today praised the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara’s Board of Commissioners for authorizing the potential acquisition and improvement of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto.

In a meeting held earlier today, the Housing Authority Board considered an appraisal of the value of the mobile home park, and voted unanimously to allow their Executive Director Katherine Harasz to send an offer letter to the park owner and begin negotiations.

The Housing Authority’s action is the most recent step forward in implementing a three-way collaboration (approved earlier this year in June) that includes funding from the County of Santa Clara and the City of Palo Alto.

“This is an important step forward,” said Simitian. “With everyone pulling together we’re well positioned to preserve 117 units of affordable housing, prevent the eviction of 400 low income residents, and ensure that the current property owner receives full and fair market value for the property.”

“We have a mission and challenge to preserve affordable housing for the people of our community,” said Harasz. “With this effort, we hope to secure this park for today’s residents and future generations.”


Buena Vista Residents Sue
Palo Alto

Lawsuit seeks to prevent evictions, requires more relocation assistance

{Read full story…]

It is clear that the residents are not asking for monetary damages from the city and that the legal action was required to meet a deadline to protect the rights of the residents to appeal in the event that the negotiations to purchase the property did not work out. A number of readers commenting on the story understood this reasoning. One of them wrote:

All this talk about legal fees — the City’s attorneys are already being paid by us and the lawyers representing the residents are working pro bono. That’s a very strong charge to make and may have no basis in fact.

As near as I can tell, it’s just a necessary thing the residents had to do or they would lose any bargaining power they had. Now that there is real money available to help buy the park, it would be a silly thing to do not to retain their rights before the deadline expires. It sounds like there are good faith things happening behind the scenes that none of us knows about, and nothing may ever come of this.

It’s not the greatest for PR, but I can’t see any reason for all the exaggeration.

But if you are in a business negotiation, the talk softly and carry a big stick holds. If you no longer have a stick, even if you would never wield it except in the most extreme circumstances, you lose. The talking is over.

And another added:

Residents of Buena Vista, like residents of all mobile home parks in California, are protected from arbitrary eviction by state statute and local ordinance. I have come to know many Buena Vista residents over the years and have found them to be people who work hard (often at more than one job), who have strong family values, and who don’t have the education or skills to qualify for high income jobs. More than anything, they want their children to have a chance to get the education that the parents missed out on, so they’ll have a chance at better jobs and higher incomes.

I’ve lived in Palo Alto for 30 years. My children graduated from Palo Alto schools and went on to college. If someone had attempted to throw me out of Palo Alto and I had any legal way to prevent them from doing so, you can bet I’d have pursued my legal options to the fullest. If I did so, I would not have considered myself greedy (though apparently some others might have considered me to be greedy).

I think our city is a better place for having a mixture of low, middke and high income residents. Others may disagree. But must we call the residents of Buena Vista “greedy” because they pursue every legal recourse to hold onto what the rest of us want (and, by the grace of God, HAVE)?

The Fight to Save a Silicon Valley Trailer Park

Palo Alto, Calif., has a dilemma: what to do with its only mobile-home park


PALO ALTO, Calif.—Here in the center of Silicon Valley’s tech boom, one of America’s wealthiest enclaves is wrestling with an uncomfortable dilemma: whether it can afford to lose the city’s only trailer park.

A block from multimillion-dollar homes and a few miles from the headquarters of GoogleInc. and Facebook Inc. sits Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, with 117 units that are home to about 400 residents, many of them Hispanic laborers.

Erika Escalante, 29 years old, has lived in the park much of her life. The mobile home she owns with her husband is watermelon red with white trim. The yellow trailer three doors down, where she lived during high school, is still home to her parents and youngest brother. Her sister’s family has a green unit in the park, where some rusty trailers still sport Christmas decorations in summer.

Soon, they may be forced out. With property values soaring, the park’s longtime owners, 44-year-old Joe Jisser and his parents, are fielding inquiries from developers eager for a rare large slice of Palo Alto. The value of the park’s 4.5 acres could be as much as $55 million, local real-estate agents say.

[Read Full Story…]

$29 million effort to save Palo Alto’s last mobile home park

“I was a peddler, a con artist, a vinegar man,” he says, recalling years of relentless travel as a seed salesman. “If you didn’t get ’em with your BS, you got ’em with your fancy footwork.”
Now, Cope is just trying to stay put. He and 400 of his neighbors in the mobile home park await the outcome of a frantic effort by one of America’s richest cities to preserve what is, by far, its poorest neighborhood. For the past several months, city and county officials have conducted public hearings on the park’s possible closure that had more feel-good endings than a Frank Capra movie.

Thank You – Palo Alto City Council

Palo Alto approves funding to bolster chances of preserving mobile-home park

Santa Clara County Pledges More Funds

Supervisors allocate another $6.5 million,
contingent on match from Palo Alto

Santa Clara County supervisors on Tuesday upped the ante in a bid to preserve the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park when they unanimously voted to allocate an additional $6.5 million toward the cause, contingent on a similar match from Palo Alto.

With little discussion, the Board of Supervisors voted to contribute $6.5 million from its affordable-housing fund for the purchase of Buena Vista. The new allocation raises the county’s potential contribution toward preserving Palo Alto’s sole mobile-home park to $14.5 million.

On June 29, the City Council will discuss Buena Vista and consider its next steps. If the council chooses to match the county’s contribution, the total set aside by the city and the county would go up to $29 million. All of the contributions pledged by the city and the county thus far would come from funds designated for affordable housing.

[Read full story…]

Exhibit of Buena Vista Portraits

Press Release

Palo Alto Art Center Presents Life-Sized Portraits
of Palo Alto Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Residents

jdphillips01          jdphillips02          jdphillips03
Visitors to the Palo Alto Art Center will stand toe-to-toe with multiple generations of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park residents depicted in life-sized, highly detailed portraits by Oakland-based artist Joel Daniel Phillips, during his residency at the Art Center from June 18-August 29.

Phillips will offer the public a glimpse into his creative process as he draws his subjects using a combination of charcoal and graphite in the Art Center’s Glass Gallery on Thursdays from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

My work focuses primarily on portraiture at a monumental scale,” says Phillips, who will create up to eight new drawings during his residency. “I am fascinated by the intricacies and commonalities that we share, and search for moments when our projected sense of self is transparent—allowing deeper, more truthful emotions to become visible.

Phillips is interested in highlighting communities that are often overlooked. His artistic process begins by spending time with individuals and families from those communities that are open to having their stories told through visual means. Reference photographs are then brought back to his studio where he spends several weeks painstakingly rendering his figures at a one-to-one scale.

He has exhibited his artwork in galleries throughout San Francisco, including Hashimoto Contemporary, Spoke Art , 111 Minna, and Intersection for the Arts, as well as in Los Angeles at the Hero Complex Gallery and in New York at Bold Hype Gallery . Phillips received the Tom Anderson Art Award from Westmont College in 2010-2011, and the Ludington-Parshall Art Award from the Santa Barbara Art Association in 2009-2010. He studied at the New York Center for Art and Media Studies, and received his BA in Fine Art in 2011 from Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

In addition to his regular studio drop-in hours at the Art Center, Phillips will be meeting with the public and creating his artwork during Friday Night at the Art Center, 7-10 p.m., on June 19. At the end of his residency, his drawings will be presented in the Art Center’s upcoming exhibition, Front Yard/Backstreet, which runs from Sept. 19-Dec. 13.

The Artist-in-Residence Program was established to reinforce the mission of the Art Center, and to build important connections between the recognized exhibition and studio programs and the community. Through this program, the Palo Alto Art Center will actively collaborate with artists throughout the region. During their residency, participating artists will engage with community members in a variety of Art Center programs, culminating in an installation project.

The Palo Alto Art Center’s Artist-in-Residence Program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

About The Palo Alto Art Center:
The Palo Alto Art Center is your place to discover art. See, make, and be inspired because everyone is an artist. Created by the community, for the community in 1971, the Palo Alto Art Center provides an accessible and welcoming place to engage with art. We serve approximately 70,000 people every year through a diverse range of programs.

The Palo Alto Art Center, Division of Arts and Sciences, City of Palo Alto is funded in part by grants from Silicon Valley Creates and the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation. The Palo Alto Art Center Foundation gratefully acknowledges support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Yellow Chair Foundation, private donations, and members.