Friday, June 02, 2017

After 5-Year Fight, 400 Low-Income Mobile Home Park Residents Dodge The Boot As County, City, Housing Authority Join To Buy Out Landlord For $40 Million; Earlier Plans To Sell To Developer Get Trash-Canned

In Palo Alto, California, The Mercury News reports:
  • Five years after the 400 residents of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park first heard that their homes were in jeopardy, officials announced Thursday [May 18] that a deal has been reached to preserve their rare Silicon Valley bastion of affordable housing.

    The deal will place the 4.5-acre park’s property in the hands of the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County, which partnered with Santa Clara County and the city of Palo Alto to make a $40 million offer to the Jisser family, which now owns the land.

    In 2012, the owners gave notice they intended to close the park and sell the land to a developer. Thursday’s news came as a tremendous relief to residents, who learned that years of uncertainty over the fate of their homes was over.
    Many of the residents knew that if they’d been forced to relocate, they’d likely end up someplace far away because they couldn’t afford the cost of housing in the Bay Area. Rents at the park range between $1,000 and $1,200 a month, well below the area’s median monthly apartment rent.
    The Jisser family had previously turned down an offer for $36 million — the appraised value of the of the land — but issued a statement that said they are “pleased we reached this settlement.”

    “(The settlement) will enable the families to stay here and also allow the housing authority to pursue the park’s renovation and upgrade,” the statement said.

    The family will retain a portion of the land that includes a retail pad and service station. Katherine Harasz, director of the housing authority, said that part was not included in the original appraisal. She said the family’s goals aligned with the county’s, and the price was agreed upon by taking the county’s appraisal into account as well as the Jissers’ opinion of the land’s value. Harasz said it was good to reach an amicable agreement: “We’re going to be neighbors.”

    Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who had long championed the effort to save the park, called it a “great, great day,” adding that the agreement preserves more than 100 units of “desperately needed affordable housing,” prevents evictions of low-income residents and gives the property owner a fair shake.
    Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff said the agreement provided “an extraordinary opportunity to preserve affordable housing for low-income residents, including at least 100 children.”
    Negotiations over the property’s value took four months. Thursday’s development avoided a more contentious course of action — exercising eminent domain if the family refused to sell.

    “It is important to note that the $40 million obviated the need for eminent domain,” Simitian said, “and now we have results sooner rather than later.”
    “I think it’s so important to know the role that the residents played,” Simitian said. “These are folks who have been living with the threat of eviction every day for the past five years, and yet they carried themselves with dignity and determination — it’s a wonderful outcome for them.”

    Under the agreement announced this week, the city and county put up $29 million in affordable housing funds to buy the site, with the remainder of the costs coming from the Housing Authority, which is using federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds. Eshoo worked to get approval to use such funds for the mobile park. The acquisition is expected to be completed by early fall.
Source: $40 million purchase saves Palo Alto’s Buena Vista Mobile Home Park (Owners agree to sell for $40 million, meaning 400 low-income residents will be able to stay in their homes). lot-leasing homeowners