With funding boost, plans advance for redevelopment of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park

Posted on: December 23, 2023

Housing Authority receives $24M grant, submits plans for rebuilding Palo Alto mobile-home park

Source: Palo Alto Online; Author: Gennady Sheyner;

Homes inside the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto on Feb. 14, 2023. Photo by Magali Gauthier.


For the second time in the past decade, the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park is facing the prospect of demolition.

This time, however, the city and the community are embracing — rather than fighting — the redevelopment of Palo Alto’s only mobile-home park.

The Santa Clara County Housing Authority, which purchased the park at 3980 El Camino Real in 2017, submitted this week plans to redevelop the park and turn it into Buena Vista Village. According to the newly submitted plans, the rebuilt park would include an apartment building with 61 units, ranging from junior 1-bedroom apartments to 3-bedroom ones. It would also replace existing mobile homes and RVs, many of which fail to comply with local codes, with 44 new coaches of various types.

The project also includes replacing all utilities and constructing a community room with a shared courtyard and patio spaces, according to the application. The standalone building will include a teen room and a homework club, a bike room, a laundry room and storage area, the plans note.

Newly submitted plans for redeveloping the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park call for a three-story apartment building and new coaches. Rendering by Van Meter Williams Pollack, LLP


The Housing Authority noted that an important aspect of the proposal is “to be able to provide homeownership to all current owners and avoid permanent displacement for current residents altogether.

“Making the park more resilient by completely replacing deteriorating utilities has also been an important goal,” the application states.

The goal of retaining residents marks the project as very different from the prior redevelopment proposal, which would have replaced Buena Vista with a high-end condominium development. That plan, which was pitched by the Jisser family in 2013, ran into massive community opposition and ultimately prompted the city and Santa Clara County to facilitate the Housing Authority’s purchase of the Barron Park property.

This time, the project is expected to encounter little resistance. Earlier this year, Housing Authority CEO Preston Prince emphasized in a presentation to the City Council that in pursuing the redevelopment, it is “inspired by the values of equity, preservation and anti-displacement.”

“What it really boils down to for us is pretty simple,” Prince said at a February public hearing on the project. “It’s about making sure that the kids who currently live in Buena Vista and the hundreds who will call Buena Vista home over the next 20 years, that they have the opportunity to attend one of the best schools in the country. We have the skills and experience to bring this to fruition.”

In the near term, however, the 260 current residents will have to decide what to do during the construction period and determine whether they want to return to the new Buena Vista Village once the project is complete. In response to an inquiry from this publication, the Housing Authority noted that residents are still living in the park and will continue to do so until the renovation starts.

“Since the Housing Authority has taken ownership, collaborative efforts with residents have been underway to incorporate their vision for the Park,” Fidel Contreras, communications program manager at the Housing Authority, told this publication. “In addition, the agency has been meeting with each family to discuss their own individual housing plan. Once those plans are finalized, the agency will again collaborate with the residents and partners to formulate a relocation plan and begin redevelopment.”

Newly submitted plans for redeveloping the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park call for a three-story apartment building and new coaches. Rendering by Van Meter Williams Pollack, LLP


The Housing Authority received a boost in this effort this week, when it received a $24.6 million grant from the state government to facilitate the redevelopment. The money comes from the first installment of the Manufactured Housing Opportunity & Revitalization Program run by the Department of Housing and Community Development, which focuses on improving conditions at mobile home parks. This supplements a grant of $5 million that the Housing Authority had previously received from the state’s CalHome program, which helps low-income residents purchase or retain their homes.

Prince lauded the latest grant and noted Thursday that in his 30-plus years of experience in building affordable housing, the Buena Vista project has been “one of the most complicated deals I’ve ever been part of, because of the aging infrastructure, the replacement of the current mobile homes, and the lack of resources available to preserve mobile home parks.”

“We are thrilled to receive this MORE award, this unique program gets us one step closer to providing these residents with a new community and opportunities they very much deserve,” Prince said in a statement.

Not everyone is excited about the redevelopment. Earlier this year, some Buena Vista residents told this publication in interviews that they are concerned that once the redevelopment happens, they would be relocated to smaller spaces as part of the Housing Authority’s effort to make the park code-compliant. Resident Josefina Martinez noted at the time that her son, also a Buena Vista resident, was relocated from a larger unit to one about half its size.

But Melodie Cheney, who has lived at Buena Vista for more than 20 years and who was one of many residents who had opposed the prior redevelopment proposal, said in a statement Thursday that she is “ecstatic about what’s to come.”

“For years, we have been advocating for the improvement of the Park and I feel like it’s finally happening, and I am very thankful to the Housing Authority for providing us support through this process and making our dreams a reality,” Cheney said.

Others who were at the forefront of the effort also celebrated the recent grant announcement. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who helped orchestrate the purchase of Buena Vista by the Housing Authority, called it “a big win for the community.”

“It proves that collaboration really can be the key to success,” Simitian said in a statement. “From the beginning, the Housing Authority and their team have been determined to ensure that Buena Vista remains an affordable community in a great neighborhood and school district. I am really gratified by this award from the state, which will let us preserve and improve this very special neighborhood.”

Palo Alto Mayor Lydia Kou said the funding award from the state will “advance this important affordable housing project preserving and rehabilitating the mobile home spaces at Buena Vista for the Buena Vista community and Palo Alto residents.

“Buena Vista has always been a tight-knit affordable housing community within our city, and we are committed to supporting Buena Vista families thrive here in Palo Alto,” Kou said.

Homes inside the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto on Feb. 14, 2023. Photo by Magali Gauthier.


Read the full article here.

Posted in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Van Meter Williams Pollack LLP