The Barron Park Association

Jun 232014

1)  Proposed Project at 4146 El Camino Real

PASZ Website explains proposed 21-condo project at 4146 El Camino Real (near Barron Square and Maybell Avenue)

2) Housing Element Community Panel Meeting

(Public comments expected during final 15 minutes)

Thursday June 26, 2014
Lucie Stern Center-Community Room
1305 Middlefield Road
4:30 TO 6:30 pm

3)  City of Palo Alto Alternative Futures Forum

Tuesday, June 24, from 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Elk’s Lodge, 4249 El Camino Real

YOUR ideas needed to help design Palo Alto’s future.

We will recap the previous two meetings and discuss potential alternatives to the “what happens if we do nothing” scenario.  This interactive meeting will give participants the chance to help design possible futures for Palo Alto.

Did you miss the first two meetings?  Catch up on what you missed by visiting our website and participate in the online version of the Critical Issues Forum.


Feb 232014

The following article, written by Winter Dellenbach, was published in the Spring 2013 issue of the Barron Park Newsletter.  It is being posted here to provide information to all Barron Park residents about the human costs if the closure of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park proceeds, to remind us all about the people who live in Buena Vista and what is at stake for them.

The City of Palo Alto announced on February 20th, 2014 that they have accepted the Relocation Impact Report (RIR) provided by the owner and deemed it to be complete. The next step in the process towards closure, as defined by the ordinances of the City of Palo Alto, is a hearing by a City appointed Hearing Officer within 60 days of the acceptance of the RIR.

The hearing on the closure application that was previously set for Monday, April 21, 2014 10:00 AM-12:00 PM has been CANCELLED.

The hearing has been re-scheduled to the following dates and times:

1.       Monday, May 12, 2014, 6:30 PM -9:30 PM
2.       Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 6:30 PM-9:30 PM
3.       Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 6:30 PM-9:30 PM

The hearings will take place at Avenidas located at 450 Bryant St., Palo Alto, CA 94301.  Parking is available directly across the street at the Bryant/Lytton Parking Garage located at 445 Bryant St., Palo Alto, CA 94301.

You can find out more information about the issue and view other documents on the City’s webpage City of Palo Alto/Buena Vista and read a companion post recently published on our site, Buena Vista Mobile Home Park RIR Deemed Complete”

Editor’s Note:  The Board of the Barron Park Association has been closely following the closure and planning process for the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, but has not taken a formal position. As of March, 2013, a relocation specialist is preparing a Relocation Impact Report (RIR) that involves interviewing the individual households (as required by an ordinance adopted 10 years ago after considerable debate and discussion).  There has been no action on the developer’s plans for a 180-rental apartment project since the Winter 2012-13 BPA newsletter article. Winter Dellenbach lives in Barron Park.

By Winter Dellenbach,   Friends of Buena Vista

Seldom has a Palo Alto land use issue had the power to move nearly 400 people out of Palo Alto, redefining our neighborhood and city in the process. Yet that may happen in Barron Park. The 86-year old Buena Vista (BV) is in the early stage of closure, to be sold by the owner. The closure process will likely go well into 2014. A developer quietly waits in the wings. Residents will be the collateral damage of redevelopment and will lose everything. We neighbors know little about our Buena Vista neighbors. This is an introduction to them and the issues they face (names changed for privacy).

Why Live at Buena Vista?

For all the same reasons we live here. BV offers affordable space-rent for residents’ homes. Our safe community, with its high quality medical and elder care, offers needed services, and children get to go to good schools.

To Quote Bruce Springsteen ~ “We take care of our own”.

There are over 60 elders at Buena Vista, several of whom are disabled and dependant on extended family’s support and care. An example is Angela, a Gunn graduate who moved to BV when she was 14. She now owns a home there, as does her sister, and both help support their elderly parents, longtime BV residents. Angela works at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and her husband is a produce manager at Whole Foods, while their son attends Barron Park Elementary. Angela’s brother is able to pay college tuition because he lives with their parents, sharing expenses. Everyone helps with childcare. BV’s affordable housing makes this critical mutual support possible.

Residents Consider Buena Vista to Be the Land of Opportunity.

Of the 125 children living at BV, 104 are students attending Gunn, Terman, Juana Briones, and Barron Park schools.  They comprise 12% of Barron Park Elementary’s enrollment.

Two autistic students are thriving in high quality programs they will not find elsewhere – a boy at Terman and a girl at Gunn.

Stanford professors and students are working with BV families. An education professor and pediatrician cite studies that 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.

If BV neighbors are forced to leave town, some of us may think, “Oh good, more room in our schools”, while others may think, “Oh no, there go lots of nice families and my children’s friends.”  BV parents will think, “This is a disaster.”

Continue reading »

Feb 222014

The City of Palo Alto just announced (February 20, 2014) that they have accepted the Relocation Impact Report submitted by the Jisser family, the owners of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. This is one of the steps required by the Palo Alto Municipal Code that would allow the Jisser family to close Buena Vista. You can download the City’s press release – Buena Vista, and read more about the issue and view other documents on the City’s webpage City of Palo Alto/Buena Vista . The next step, as written in the press release is a hearing: ” A  City-appointed hearing officer is now required to hold a hearing within 60 days to decide whether the mitigation measures offered by the mobile home park owner, including relocation benefits, are adequate to mitigate the adverse impacts to displaced park residents, subject to limitations in the law. The hearing officer acts independently of the City and may also request additional information prior to rendering a decision.”

The most recent Barron Park Association Newsletter, Winter Issue 2013-14, contained an article I wrote with background information about the issues involved, from both the property owner and the BV homeowners’ perspectives.  Because this issue has now come front and center, the article is being posted below.

The Buena Vista Mobile Home Park (BVMHP) is owned by the Jisser family who announced about a year ago their intention to close it and sell the property to Prometheus, a large privately held developer of apartment buildings in Silicon Valley. Prometheus disclosed their concept for the 4.5 acre section of the mobile park site directly behind the stores (Barron Park Newsletter, Winter 2012). Their plan is to redevelop the site, removing the 104 trailers and 12 cottages and replace them with a 180 unit rental apartment complex. Continue reading »

Nov 302013

The City Council will be holding an important meeting on December 2nd that will have a lasting impact on the future of Palo Alto. This meeting and the subsequent meeting on December 9th were scheduled in response to the stunning election victory by the opponents of Measure D and the reversal of the Council decision for a Planned Community (PC) rezoning of the Maybell-Clemo property.

The agenda topic is : Initiating a Community Conversation on the Future of the City Including  the Comprehensive Plan, Planned Community Zoning, Parking and Traffic Strategies and Related Matters

This agenda item is expected to take up most of the evening, starting at 8:35PM and continuing until 11PM, according to the Council agenda. The Council is calling this a Study Session, and they are providing an opportunity for input from community members.

The title of the City Manager report, Planning The Future Report #4294, indicates the important objective of this meeting. This is the first of two sessions the Council has scheduled to discuss long term vision of planning and development. Come to this and the next Council meeting (December 9th) if you can.  If not, follow the Council’s decision very carefully. You can track the Council meeting on Channel 26 Public Access.

Art Liberman adds the following …..Neilson Buchanan, Downtown North neighborhood leader, provided the following comments on this meeting and on the City Manager’s staff report:

#1  The Council seems to be ready to delay or stop Planned Community decisions.  This is within their spectrum of options…primarily a political response presumably addressing public outcry and calming parking and gridlocked traffic.

#2 The staff report is very strong (see page 25) on legal opinions that property owners are for the foreseeable future entitled with well-established property development  rights.  My concern is that the Council is not addressing the fact that dozens of “entitled” developments in total seem to have as much if not more negative impact that the J Paul and Arrillaga/Stanford Office building projects seeking PC designations.

Furthermore, the Planning Department with Council blessings continues to make serial negative impacts for developments (around the Calif and University Ave commercial cores) when if fact there is clear cumulative negative impact on neighborhood parking and traffic.  This is a double standard that warrants immediate political pushback and competent legal challenge from a growing number of afflicted neighborhoods.  At some point I hope at least one Councilperson will ask the city manager where tenants of these developments will park their vehicles.

#3  The staff report once again makes very selective use of excerpts from the Comprehensive Plan.  See page 2 of the staff report.  Senior city staff including the city manager fail to ask the Council to address Comp Plan Page I-3 stating a much more important vision for neighborhoods:

The Plan establishes the physical boundaries of residential and commercial areas and sets limits where necessary to ensure that business and housing remain compatible.  It encourages commercial enterprise, but not at the expense of the City’s residential neighborhoods.‘ ”

Mr. Buchanan has written a short note about how he views the issues facing the city How Will the Palo Alto City Council Manage Opportunities Driven by the 2012-2017 Economic Boom?

Nov 062013

My thoughts on the day after the election…..

I think those of us living in Barron Park and Greenacres can agree that we have just been through a period that has challenged our community’s cohesiveness. The PAHC housing proposal along Maybell had its supporters but it brought out an amazing outpouring of anger and opposition from many in the neighborhood.

The Measure D campaign was contentious. People had to choose sides. But now that the election is over, it’s time to repair frayed personal relationships, and to learn from this experience and just accept the fact that good friends do not necessarily share similar political views.

Arguments and disagreements, private and public, are not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s how democracy is supposed to work.  It is a good thing if people are willing to listen to what others have to say, are willing to learn something new, to compromise even if they disagree on some points, and are not hyper-sensitive to slights or criticism. On the other hand, it’s not good if disputes get out of hand and possibly rupture long standing bonds of personal friendship. There’s been lots of back and forth debate, some of which has been less than illuminating or edifying.

So, we should take some time to reflect on some of the heated exchanges and see if problems were caused by what was said or how it was said…or written – some heated exchanges were in emails. People sometimes will say things in email that they would not say in person, and sometimes regret it immediately afterward. Reflect and take a deep breath, and reread your message before you push that send button. When using our BPA-issues, my suggestion is to direct your argument and comments to the entire group of subscribers, not to a single individual, try to elevate the discussion rather than denigrate the author of a previous email, and avoid cheerleading.

Even after taking care with your message, it’s sometimes not possible to avoid becoming embroiled in a heated exchange when people misconstrue your words.  Folks can misread your words in ways that are difficult to anticipate, and those preoccupied with real or imagined slights are quick to counterattack and the exchange can elevate and become personal and unpleasant. In those cases, there’s not much you can do about that besides halting the exchange if you see yourself caught up in a debate with someone like that.

This year’s street scape Halloween decoration featured the red and yellow of the lawn signs and countersigns. It’s now  time for us to pull back from confrontation as we pull up the lawn signs, and repair whatever bonds we can that were broken within our community.  Let’s all try to reengage each other with respect – respect different opinions, accept that others can honestly disagree with you, listen to what is being said before reacting and immediately sending off a response. Think independently and don’t necessarily rely on any group for answers. Let’s return our community discourse into a more civil tone, and not allow any leftover bitterness, alienation, and divisiveness within our neighborhood have any long-lasting effects upon future cooperation among friends and neighbors. We’re going to be living together after this election and probably the next election, and a long time after that.

Art Liberman