Simitian Proposes $8M County Funding for Buena Vista

SAN JOSE – County Supervisor Joe Simitian today proposed that the County use $8 million from its affordable housing fund to help prevent the closure of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto.  “If the park closes,” said Simitian, “that’s 400 low-income folks who are out on the street. And God only knows if and when, and at what cost, we’ll ever be able to replace that supply of affordable housing.”

Supervisor Dave Cortese, President of the Board of Supervisors and Chair of the Board’s Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee (HLUET), joined Simitian in making the referral to the full Board, which will hear the proposal on Tuesday, January 27.

Simitian’s proposal, if approved by the Board, would direct County staff to:

  • Enter into discussions with the City of Palo Alto, local housing organizations, the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Residents Association, and other interested parties for the purpose of securing the long-term viability of the mobile home park as deed-restricted affordable housing.
  • Set aside up to $8 million from the County’s Stanford GUP Affordable Housing Fund (established to create and preserve affordable housing within six miles of the University) to provide a portion of the necessary funding.

“The conversation about Buena Vista to date has been almost exclusively about compensation for tenants upon closure,” said Simitian. “I’m hoping to start a new conversation about what it would take to keep the park open for the foreseeable future.”

Buena Vista, 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 property is privately owned, and 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.

“Mobile home parks are an important part of our affordable housing stock in this County,” said Board President Dave Cortese. “We need to take a stand for those dependent on these homes by pulling existing resources together.”

“I know it’s a big lift. I know it’s a complicated issue,” said Simitian. “I know that mobile home park law is a quagmire. But my hope is that some significant County funding – and I think $8 million is significant – might prompt others to step up and ask how they can be part of the solution.”

“I doubt that any single agency or entity can pull this off alone; but maybe if everybody takes a piece of the problem, we might find a solution,” added Simitian.

Local advocates already working to find a way to keep Buena Vista residents in place welcomed the potential County support.

“A pledge of this kind of funding from the County could make a huge difference in preserving the Buena Vista residents’ affordable housing,” said Kyra Kazantzis, directing attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, which represents the park’s residents. “We hope this pledge will leverage other funding sources to help get us closer to a viable solution.”

Simitian emphasized in his referral to the Board that he is not proposing that the County either own or operate Buena Vista. “My hope is that the commitment of County funds will spark other agencies or organizations to step up and put together a deal with partial but significant funding from the County.” He said has an “open mind” as to what a successful outcome might look like.

“But,” he added, “the clock’s ticking.”

Read Letter to Board of Supervisors