Mar 132014
 
If the 88-year old Buena Vista Mobile Home Park closes, it may result in the single greatest displacement of adults and children in our town’s history. Of the 129 Buena Vista children, 99 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:

  • Work together to ensure residents have the option to remain in Palo Alto.
  • Ensure students will finish their education in Palo Alto.
  • Replace any of the 108 units of Buena Vista affordable housing that may be lost.
  • Work with residents to guarantee their fair treatment and their rights upheld.

Current Situation:

  • Most residents own homes, renting a space from the property owner.
  • n 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.
  • 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.
  • Prometheus Real Estate Group wants the city to up-zone the 4+ acres to build “180 upscale apartments for young tech workers” but no below-market-rate units. 

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 terms it to be an important source of affordable housing.

Demographics:

  • About 375 people live at Buena Vista, many for decades.
  • 65 households are families with children.
  • 99 of the 129 children are students, mostly at Barron Park Elementary, Terman and Gunn, including 2 autistic children in special high quality programs.
  • About 12% of Barron Park Elementary students live at Buena Vista.
  • BV students don’t drop out; they graduate.
  • Affordable housing allows 7 young adults to pay tuition to attend college.
  • Elders make up 21 households, some of whom are disabled.
  • 95% of adults work. Fifty-five 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”. One makes sandwiches at Driftwood Market, one is in charge of Mollie Stones bakery and deli, one is manager of Whole Foods produce, and one is a janitor at Gunn High.

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”.
  • 82% of Buena Vista households are Latino, and others are European, Tongan, and Chinese-American.
  • Buena Vista includes much of Palo Alto’s ethnic and economic diversity.
  • Most households are low or very low-income. 

Children Should Not Become 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 108 Units of “Essential” Affordable Housing:

  • 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.
  • Prometheus wants a zoning change to build bigger than current zoning allows. The City should grant nothing until residents’ housing needs and the loss of affordable units must be resolved responsibly.  

A Solution Must be Found:

  • Many continue to work on a solution, including Buena Vista residents and supporters, Community Working Group (Opportunity Center, 801 Alma affordable housing), city staff, and elected officials.
  • 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
  • City of Palo Alto Human Relations Commission: Resolution of Support
  • Peninsula Interfaith Action (PIA)
  • The League of Women Voters of Palo Alto
  • Eight Palo Alto churches, justice committees, and Congregation Beth Am
  • Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning
  • Buena Vista Mobile Home Association (includes most park residents)
  • The Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
  • Friends of Buena Vista: Palo Altans from all neighborhoods who actively support residents and affordable housing

 For more information or to support residents, email:

  One Response to “Support Our Buena Vista Neighbors”

  1. Yes, I agree with the above.
    Further: what about tenant organizing here, maybe toward rent control?

    I’ve met several families who when I ask about their interest in a current issue they say, “yes, but we are not sure if we can stay here, my landlord bumped my rent $500”.

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