The Barron Park Association

Background Information for participants taking BPA’s Buena Vista Survey


Summary:  The Buena Vista Mobile Home Park property is owned by the Jisser family who intend to close it and sell most of the property. The new owner plans to redevelop the property, removing the 104 trailers and 12 cottages and replacing them with 180 apartments in a cluster of buildings as tall as 50 feet. The shops in front that face El Camino will not be affected by the Buena Vista closure.

There are two steps in the potential redevelopment of the Buena Vista site. The first step is closing the Buena Vista Mobile Home park. Closure of Buena Vista would represent a significant loss to the City of Palo Alto’s supply of low income housing. There are approximately 104 mobile homes of varying ages and conditions and 12 permanent cottage units that are home to about 375 people. The second step is the redevelopment on that site after the park is closed. The Jisser family has a contract with the Prometheus Real Estate Group, a company that has built a number of apartment complexes in nearby communities, to sell them most of the park property following the closure of the park.

Closing of Buena Vista:  The City of Palo Alto passed a set of ordinances about 10 years ago that lists the steps that a mobile home park owner must follow to close a mobile home park. The ordinances define a set of rules for determining the impacts of the closure on each of the mobile home owners residing in the Park and for providing them with an appropriate amount relocation assistance. This information is documented in a Relocation Impact Report (RIR: Relocation Plan plus property Appraisal) that is prepared by the mobile home park owner after interviewing each of the mobile home owners, determining the value of their mobile home and whether or not it can be moved elsewhere, and defining an amount of relocation assistance to be offered to them.
The RIR for Buena Vista was filed on May 8th, 2013 but was determined by the City to be incomplete. Supplemental information was filed five times and the RIR was accepted by the City on February 20, 2014 .  A Hearing Officer hired by the City will conduct a public hearing within 60 days of that date to consider if the relocation assistance measures proposed by the park owner are adequate to mitigate the adverse impacts on the displaced residents.  The hearing will also provide an opportunity to consider objections by residents, and that determination may then be appealed to the City Council. Once a final action is taken, a minimum of six months is allowed for relocation.
The City of Palo Alto website has assembled information about the Buena Vista closure process, links to documents and other information about the current status.
Prometheus Apartment Complex.  Prometheus has not submitted a proposal to the City of Palo Alto, but they released a concept for their development that includes the construction of a 180 unit apartment complex in a cluster of buildings up to 50 feet in height with underground parking on the 4.5 acre section of the mobile park site that is directly behind the stores. Their proposal would require a zoning change from the current 15 units/acre (which allows structures up to 35 feet in height) to 40 units/acre.

Their plan includes a cluster of 2, 3 and 4 story buildings with 1- and 2-bedroom rental apartments . Here is a plan view of their proposal.

Plan view of 180 Unit Proposed Housing Complex

The main entry would be from Los Robles, closer to El Camino than the current main access point of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, and a secondary entrance from El Camino, a gated entry (residents only), between the Valero station and the shops.

Prometheus has said they are unlikely to include affordable units in this project, but they would provide an unspecified number of affordable units to the displaced residents in another apartment project they own elsewhere in Palo Alto. Publicly, they have only stated that they plan on “proposing an element of affordable housing.  We have not determined in what form this will take place.”

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