FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2016
BIG WEEK AHEAD FOR BUENA VISTA MOBILE HOME PARK
Palo Alto – The residents at the Buena Vista and their supporters hope this year’s Posada (to take place on Saturday, December 3rd from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.) will be the last to take place under a cloud of uncertainty.
For more than four years the residents have fought to stay in their homes. Early next week two key steps will take place that should clarify the path forward.
On December 5th the lawsuit by Buena Vista residents will be heard in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The judge will be asked to determine if the relocation proceedings held by the City of Palo Alto were adequate.
If the ruling is in the favor of the residents, the City may need to recalculate and potentially increase the relocation allowance received by each mobile home owner. If the ruling is in favor of the City (and the property owner, as the real party in interest), then the path to close the park is cleared, and it’s possible for the property owner to issue eviction notices after paying relocation allowances.
Housing Authority to Consider Action
Not without some irony, the very next day, December 6th, the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara will meet in closed session to discuss acquisition of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, in partnership with the City of Palo Alto and the County of Santa Clara, as a way to ensure the permanent availability of this important affordable housing resource to the entire community.
Since reaching a tentative agreement with the City of Palo Alto and the County of Santa Clara regarding funding for the acquisition (the agreement was unanimously approved in June by all three governing boards), the Housing Authority has been engaged in an extensive “due diligence” process that included everything from obtaining a fair market value appraisal to securing a potential operator of the park should the acquisition move forward.
The Housing Authority’s Executive Director, Katherine Harasz, explained, “This is an extraordinary opportunity to preserve affordable housing for low-income residents, including at least 100 children, in a region where it is desperately needed. Over the past six months, we’ve worked diligently on behalf of those families to understand the details of a potential purchase, and our Board will determine how best to move forward with our partners, the County and the City.”
Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who has championed the County’s efforts to preserve the Buena Vista since January 2015, said, “After almost two years of effort, our goals remain the same: to preserve 117 units of desperately needed affordable housing; to prevent the eviction of more than 400 members of our community; and to ensure that the property owner receives full and fair market value for the property.
In advance of the Court Hearing and the Housing Authority vote, the residents of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park will be coming together to celebrate a traditional Posada. This re-enactment of Mary and Joseph's search for lodging in Bethlehem prior to the birth of their child takes place now at the Buena Vista at a critical point in their own search.
In addition to the procession, children from local schools will perform traditional dances, local elected officials will speak, and food will be shared.
First organized in 2012, the Posada has become an annual event celebrated by the entire community, says Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt. “The Buena Vista Posada is something we all look forward to each year that brings together the whole community. It has become a tradition and a treasure.”
Erika Escalante, President of the Buena Vista Resident’s Association, notes, “This is a time of much uncertainty at the Buena Vista, but we’re hopeful that good things are just around the corner. We are thankful for the communitywide support we’ve received and hope that at next year’s Posada we have even more reason to celebrate!”