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Simitian Applauds Palo Alto Effort To Preserve Buena Vista


PALO ALTO – County Supervisor Joe Simitian today applauded the City of Palo Alto after City Manager Jim Keene released a memo setting aside $8 million in affordable housing funds to prevent the closure of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. “The City of Palo Alto has really stepped up,” said Simitian. “This is a community that has long supported affordable housing, and that support is reflected in the actions of City leaders.”

The $8 million set-aside announced by Keene provides a match for the $8 million set-aside announced last month by the County of Santa Clara. The City’s action brings the total amount of funding available to $16 million, in the hope and expectation that early and significant commitments by the County and City will draw interest from other potential partners. Simitian noted that, “These additional funds from the City are key to generating additional support.”

“The goal remains the same,” said Simitian, “to prevent the eviction of 400 residents and to preserve the site for affordable housing.”

In his memo, Keene said, “I am directing staff to set aside $8 million in affordable housing funds specifically for use in conjunction with the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park if the Council should so direct after the pending appeal has been resolved... I am directing that the staff segregate the $8 million in a separate fund to preserve them for Council action at a future time.”

Keene went on to note, “It is my hope that this action – following on the County's recent pledge of an equal amount – will inspire those who are concerned about the future of affordable housing in Silicon Valley and Palo Alto specifically, to come together and work toward a solution that will work for all.”

“This is terrific news,” said James Zahradka, Supervising Attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, which represents the Park’s residents. “A month ago we had no public sector financial support for preservation,” said Zahradka. “Today we’re looking at $16 million and a meaningful commitment from both the County and the City. It’s extraordinary progress in a very short period of time.”

Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, located on El Camino Real at Los Robles Avenue, is the last mobile home park in Palo Alto. It provides an affordable home to about 100 mostly low-income Latino families, about 400 people in total. The owner is currently trying to sell the property for market-rate development, which would displace these 400 residents and permanently remove a rare source of affordable housing in an extremely expensive part of Santa Clara County.

In mid-January, Simitian proposed that the County set aside $8 million from its affordable housing fund to prevent the relocation of 400 residents in the Park, and to preserve the site for affordable housing. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Housing Trust Silicon Valley, the Asian Law Alliance, Working Partnerships, Neighborhood Housing Services, the Palo Alto Council of PTAs, TransForm, three members of the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education (as individual community members), and more than 40 other members of the community wrote or emailed to express their support. Buena Vista Mobile Home Park residents were among more than a dozen speakers urging the Board to vote for the motion, which was unanimously approved.

“What once seemed like a longshot,” said Simitian, “is starting to look like a real possibility. But we’ve still got a big hill to climb.”