The Barron Park Association

Feb 232014

The following article, written by Winter Dellenbach, was published in the Spring 2013 issue of the Barron Park Newsletter.  It is being posted here to provide information to all Barron Park residents about the human costs if the closure of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park proceeds, to remind us all about the people who live in Buena Vista and what is at stake for them.

The City of Palo Alto announced on February 20th, 2014 that they have accepted the Relocation Impact Report (RIR) provided by the owner and deemed it to be complete. The next step in the process towards closure, as defined by the ordinances of the City of Palo Alto, is a hearing by a City appointed Hearing Officer within 60 days of the acceptance of the RIR. That hearing has been scheduled for Monday, April 21, from 10:00 to Noon at the Cubberly Community Center Theater, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA.

You can find out more information about the issue and view other documents on the City’s webpage City of Palo Alto/Buena Vista and read a companion post recently published on our site, Buena Vista Mobile Home Park RIR Deemed Complete”

Editor’s Note:  The Board of the Barron Park Association has been closely following the closure and planning process for the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, but has not taken a formal position. As of March, 2013, a relocation specialist is preparing a Relocation Impact Report (RIR) that involves interviewing the individual households (as required by an ordinance adopted 10 years ago after considerable debate and discussion).  There has been no action on the developer’s plans for a 180-rental apartment project since the Winter 2012-13 BPA newsletter article. Winter Dellenbach lives in Barron Park.

By Winter Dellenbach,   Friends of Buena Vista

Seldom has a Palo Alto land use issue had the power to move nearly 400 people out of Palo Alto, redefining our neighborhood and city in the process. Yet that may happen in Barron Park. The 86-year old Buena Vista (BV) is in the early stage of closure, to be sold by the owner. The closure process will likely go well into 2014. A developer quietly waits in the wings. Residents will be the collateral damage of redevelopment and will lose everything. We neighbors know little about our Buena Vista neighbors. This is an introduction to them and the issues they face (names changed for privacy).

Why Live at Buena Vista?

For all the same reasons we live here. BV offers affordable space-rent for residents’ homes. Our safe community, with its high quality medical and elder care, offers needed services, and children get to go to good schools.

To Quote Bruce Springsteen ~ “We take care of our own”.

There are over 60 elders at Buena Vista, several of whom are disabled and dependant on extended family’s support and care. An example is Angela, a Gunn graduate who moved to BV when she was 14. She now owns a home there, as does her sister, and both help support their elderly parents, longtime BV residents. Angela works at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and her husband is a produce manager at Whole Foods, while their son attends Barron Park Elementary. Angela’s brother is able to pay college tuition because he lives with their parents, sharing expenses. Everyone helps with childcare. BV’s affordable housing makes this critical mutual support possible.

Residents Consider Buena Vista to Be the Land of Opportunity.

Of the 125 children living at BV, 104 are students attending Gunn, Terman, Juana Briones, and Barron Park schools.  They comprise 12% of Barron Park Elementary’s enrollment.

Two autistic students are thriving in high quality programs they will not find elsewhere – a boy at Terman and a girl at Gunn.

Stanford professors and students are working with BV families. An education professor and pediatrician cite studies that 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.

If BV neighbors are forced to leave town, some of us may think, “Oh good, more room in our schools”, while others may think, “Oh no, there go lots of nice families and my children’s friends.”  BV parents will think, “This is a disaster.”

Continue reading »

Bookmark and Share
Feb 222014

The City of Palo Alto just announced (February 20, 2014) that they have accepted the Relocation Impact Report submitted by the Jisser family, the owners of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. This is one of the steps required by the Palo Alto Municipal Code that would allow the Jisser family to close Buena Vista. You can download the City’s press release – Buena Vista, and read more about the issue and view other documents on the City’s webpage City of Palo Alto/Buena Vista . The next step, as written in the press release is a hearing: ” A  City-appointed hearing officer is now required to hold a hearing within 60 days to decide whether the mitigation measures offered by the mobile home park owner, including relocation benefits, are adequate to mitigate the adverse impacts to displaced park residents, subject to limitations in the law. The hearing officer acts independently of the City and may also request additional information prior to rendering a decision.”

The most recent Barron Park Association Newsletter, Winter Issue 2013-14, contained an article I wrote with background information about the issues involved, from both the property owner and the BV homeowners’ perspectives.  Because this issue has now come front and center, the article is being posted below.

The Buena Vista Mobile Home Park (BVMHP) is owned by the Jisser family who announced about a year ago their intention to close it and sell the property to Prometheus, a large privately held developer of apartment buildings in Silicon Valley. Prometheus disclosed their concept for the 4.5 acre section of the mobile park site directly behind the stores (Barron Park Newsletter, Winter 2012). Their plan is to redevelop the site, removing the 104 trailers and 12 cottages and replace them with a 180 unit rental apartment complex. Continue reading »

Bookmark and Share
Feb 172014

Community Meeting

Thursday, Feb. 20th at 6:00 PM
Creekside Inn; Top Floor Tower Room
Presentation of Risk Assessment
By the City’s Consultant

Please attend this Important Meeting

Some background:

  • A series of spills and releases of toxic materials starting in 2006 alerted Chimalus residents that large quantities of cyanides, acids, and other extremely hazardous materials are used on a daily basis right behind our homes.
  • CPI maintains a plating shop on the second floor of Building 2. This is particularly dangerous in an earthquake environment.
  • CPI was allowed to vastly increase the amounts of hazardous materials on this site without any notice to the neighborhood or any public review.
  • The City of Palo Alto ordered a study of the toxics, possible amortization, and zoning updates that was to have been completed by December of 2012. Now, over a year later, the report will be presented.

What can WE do? What can the City do?

  • Hazardous Materials and Plating Shops should not be near families and children.  Safety requires Distance between toxics and people.
  • We, the residents, MUST DEMAND Zoning Changes – Amortize the CPI Plating Shop – Move it AWAY from our homes!
  • Fire Department oversight is NOT ENOUGH: Accidents and unexpected events occur.

Residents have followed this for 8 long years  – since the nitric acid fume release in February 2006.  Here is the timeline of events and actions.  Click for a clearer, enlarged view.

Feb 022014

Information and commentary provided by Lynnie Melena

The Transportation Division held the second of the Maybell – Donald – Georgia Bicycle Boulevard Community Outreach Meetings on January 28, 2014

Approximately 25-30 people attended this meeting. At the beginning and again at the end, people had a chance to pore over sets of plans showing concepts for the Maybell-Donald-Georgia Bicycle boulevard.

You can view the detailed presentation drawings here: Maybell drawings 01.30.14 They consist of five sheets:

#1 is along El Camino Way from West Meadow to El Camino and on Maybell to Thain Way. Starting at El Camino Way and W. Meadow, one concept showed bow-outs at that intersection (mostly to benefit peds) and pavement markings to direct bicycles through the intersection.  There was also a proposal to prohibit parking on west side of El Camino Way approaching the intersection with El Camino in the morning bike commute, and to increase the size of the waiting area for bicycles waiting to cross El Camino at El Camino Way/Maybell.

#2 and #3 are  two alternatives along Maybell from Thain Way to Donald Drive. Of the several concepts for Maybell,  the most significant one was to create a 12-foot wide “shared-use path” (bikes and peds) on the north side. How it would be delineated (pavers or paint) has not developed. Parking would be prohibited on the south side. Other concepts include painting “sharrows” on the roadway (indicating the roadway is to be shared by bikes and cars).

#4 is the Clemo to Amaranta section on Maybell (three alternatives) and Coulombe intersection (two alternatives). One concept is a raised textured or painted area within the intersections of Maybell-Amaranta and Maybell-Clemo, or both, or just raised sidewalks, to slow traffic and alert drivers that this is a special area for pedestrians.

#5 is along Donald and Georgia to the Gunn HS Spur Trail. One concept was to create bow-outs where the present bike/ped path from Gunn meets Georgia and to realign the path (slowing bicyclists down a little) to improve safety for students entering Georgia at that point.  It would also highlight this bike access point to drivers.

These drawings were all meant to be preliminary ideas, responding to comments from the first meeting, for which staff was seeking feedback.  Most of the “group” part of the meeting was Q and A.

The timeline for this project going forward is as follows:
  • Spring 2014–Community Meeting #3 or present concept plans to Planning and Transportation Commission
  • Summer 2014–Council approval of concept plans
  • Fall 2014–Final design and environmental assessment

You can view Jaime Rodriguez presentation here: Maybell Bike Blvd – 2nd Meeting – 01 28 14 Presentation

Jan 122014
A bit of sad news. Leland Smith passed away on December 17th. I saw his obituary noticein the January 11th issue of the  Daily Post. None of us should be surprised, knowing that he had been in failing health. Nonetheless, it is sad to learn of the death of one of Barron Park’s originals, a talented musician and scholar and a very gentle and kind person.Leland was an emeritus professor of music at Stanford.  A memorial gathering will be held at the Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18. The center is at 660 Lomita Drive on the Stanford campus.An obituary notice appeared  in the Stanford News on January 10th that reviews his impressive academic career.

Leland was appropriately very proud of his pioneering work in creating a computer coding system, SCORE, for  typesetting music that is still in use today.  Not a musician myself, I first heard about his work in this area from Leland himself, about a decade ago, one Sunday morning at Bol Park while he was watching over the donkeys. Many residents of Barron Park know Leland for is his many contributions to the donkeys, and his devotion to them is recognized by noting that his family has asked that memorial gifts can be made to the Palo Alto Donkey Project.

The Smith connection to the Barron Park Donkeys
Both Leland and his late wife, Edith,  along with Inge Harding-Barlow and James Bronson, were very instrumental first in creating  the “donkey project”, which  insured that the Bol family donkeys would have – and continue to have – a home in Barron Park after the Bol property was sold to James Witt, and then in creating the donkey handler group who have cared for and supported the donkeys.Many references to the Smiths and their activities with the donkeys over the years are in the BPA newsletters, including a long article by Zoie Nicholas in the Spring 2003 BPA newsletterand in a number of photos that I have posted below.Art Liberman

Leland feeding Mickey in 1997

Donkey handlers: From top left, Ted Thomas, Pat Rogow, Edith Smith, Leland Smith, bottom left, Doug Moran and Inge Harding-Barlow in 1997.

Perry and Niner visiting Barron Park School kindergarten class in 2000, Leland on the right


Dec 232013

It has been a privilege to have been the President of the Barron Park Association during the past eight months. The BPA Board updated the BPA Bylaws this year, setting a one year term for the President. So, in that context, my period of service is not unusually brief. But, I’ve decided it’s time for me to move on and to let someone else pick up the reins of leadership. At the November BPA Board meeting, Markus Fromherz was elected President and Peter Mueller as Vice President.

I want to thank the Barron Park community for the opportunity to serve and hope that I have provided some clarity to you on some of the issues facing our community and our City.

To recap, during this year the BPA Board took some positive actions for the neighborhood.

  • The Maybell-Clemo project was controversial and so the Board decided to first ask our membership by a survey/vote whether to financially support the signature gathering effort to put the measure to a referendum; the response was an overwhelming (but not unanimous) yes.
  • We altered our bylaws to establish an annual election cycle for the BPA President and Vice President.
  • We responded to the comments and concerns of our members and developed guidelines for subscribers and also (for the first time) guidelines for the list manager of the BPA email lists.
  • We also responded to comments from members and voted to sever our relationship with the Boy Scouts of America as a BPA chartering organization next year because of their discriminatory policies on adult volunteers. In actuality, there hasn’t been an active connection between the BPA and the scout troop for some years.
  • We worked with City officials and the bicycle community and convinced the City to install ‘share the path’ signs along the Bol Park Bike path as safety reminders to both walkers and bicyclists.
  • With the energetic involvement of Dick Placone, we were able to have the City complete the multi-year effort to convert the space alongside the Matadero Well site into an attractive pocket park.
  • With the participation and expertise of Dick Whitmore, we helped facilitate an agreement between the Acterra/Donkey Handler group and James Witt over the use of use of his property as donkey pasture for the Barron Park donkeys.
  • And we’ve continued our ongoing activities; we produced quarterly issues of the BPA Newsletter under the editorship of Nancy Hamilton with articles contributed by Doug Graham and others; used our website,, to regularly publish posts with news and information of interest to the neighborhood along with events on a community calendar; organized several social events during the year, including a highly successful repeat (the 36th edition) of our May Fete coordinated by John King, and added some new events – a Chinese New Year’s celebration with Lion Dancers and a Movie Night in the Park – both organized by Lydia Kou.  Our Membership Chair, Lisa Landers, has compiled the Babysitting list and distributed to those who requested it, and our Welcoming Chair, Gwen Luce, prepared and delivered information packets to newcomers. And during the year I voiced the concerns of the Barron Park neighborhood on the pace of development and the concerns about traffic at numerous neighborhood and City meetings.

I have tried very hard to represent the interests of the membership as a whole, to respond to your comments and concerns, to provide information to you about the Board activities and the measures the Board deals with and votes upon, to support initiatives that I feel are of benefit to the community and oppose those that conflict with our mission as a community organization.  In short, to make you – each member of the BPA  - aware of the issues that come before the Board and hopefully interest some of you , especially new residents  or older residents who haven’t been active before, in participating in the Board activities. It can be a very rewarding experience.

To keep BPA Board vital, it needs an infusion of new faces , people with new ideas about how and what the BPA can do to enhance our community life– and with the energy and drive to carry them out. Please step forward and devote some of your time and talent to our neighborhood association.

Posted by Art Liberman

Dec 072013

The Transportation Division has just started collecting additional traffic data along the Matadero, Margarita Bicyle Boulvard route. This is in response to comments from the Planning and Transportation Commission when Jaime Rodriguez, the Chief Transportation Official,  presented the proposal in mid-November. Several commissioners expressed concerns about the safety of bicyclists who would use the route and others raised questions about the lack of data about the number of bicyclists who now use the route and the projected future volumes.

The data will include both bicycle and vehicle data. The bicycle counts will be collected using video cameras for 7-days with someone subsequently reviewing the video in an office.  Roadway tube counters at the same time will collect vehicle counts/speed data. The following image shows the locations where the data will be acquired.

The proposal for the bicycle boulevard  followed two Barron Park community meetings, in May and September of 2013. Photos of the design concept were previously posted on the Barron Park Association website,

The proposal includes:

  • Laguna/Matadero Intersection : crosswalk and bike markings to aid pedestrians and alert drivers to presence of bicyclists
  • Along Matadero from Laguna to El Camino : speed humps to calm traffic and sharrows painted on the roadway to position cyclists
  • Tippawingo/Josina/Matadero intersection: 3 new crosswalks, including one raised (speed table) across Matadero, and pedestrian refuge areas at the Josina corners

No bicycle lanes were contemplated and none were included because Matadero itself is too narrow to accommodate them.

According to the Transportation Division, it is unlikely that the proposal will come back to the PTC before early February.  If the project does moves forward, the speed humps/tables on Matadero could be installed in late-summer.


Nov 302013

The City Council will be holding an important meeting on December 2nd that will have a lasting impact on the future of Palo Alto. This meeting and the subsequent meeting on December 9th were scheduled in response to the stunning election victory by the opponents of Measure D and the reversal of the Council decision for a Planned Community (PC) rezoning of the Maybell-Clemo property.

The agenda topic is : Initiating a Community Conversation on the Future of the City Including  the Comprehensive Plan, Planned Community Zoning, Parking and Traffic Strategies and Related Matters

This agenda item is expected to take up most of the evening, starting at 8:35PM and continuing until 11PM, according to the Council agenda. The Council is calling this a Study Session, and they are providing an opportunity for input from community members.

The title of the City Manager report, Planning The Future Report #4294, indicates the important objective of this meeting. This is the first of two sessions the Council has scheduled to discuss long term vision of planning and development. Come to this and the next Council meeting (December 9th) if you can.  If not, follow the Council’s decision very carefully. You can track the Council meeting on Channel 26 Public Access.

Art Liberman adds the following …..Neilson Buchanan, Downtown North neighborhood leader, provided the following comments on this meeting and on the City Manager’s staff report:

#1  The Council seems to be ready to delay or stop Planned Community decisions.  This is within their spectrum of options…primarily a political response presumably addressing public outcry and calming parking and gridlocked traffic.

#2 The staff report is very strong (see page 25) on legal opinions that property owners are for the foreseeable future entitled with well-established property development  rights.  My concern is that the Council is not addressing the fact that dozens of “entitled” developments in total seem to have as much if not more negative impact that the J Paul and Arrillaga/Stanford Office building projects seeking PC designations.

Furthermore, the Planning Department with Council blessings continues to make serial negative impacts for developments (around the Calif and University Ave commercial cores) when if fact there is clear cumulative negative impact on neighborhood parking and traffic.  This is a double standard that warrants immediate political pushback and competent legal challenge from a growing number of afflicted neighborhoods.  At some point I hope at least one Councilperson will ask the city manager where tenants of these developments will park their vehicles.

#3  The staff report once again makes very selective use of excerpts from the Comprehensive Plan.  See page 2 of the staff report.  Senior city staff including the city manager fail to ask the Council to address Comp Plan Page I-3 stating a much more important vision for neighborhoods:

The Plan establishes the physical boundaries of residential and commercial areas and sets limits where necessary to ensure that business and housing remain compatible.  It encourages commercial enterprise, but not at the expense of the City’s residential neighborhoods.‘ ”

Mr. Buchanan has written a short note about how he views the issues facing the city How Will the Palo Alto City Council Manage Opportunities Driven by the 2012-2017 Economic Boom?

Nov 182013

The Jay Paul Company has announced it will hold two public meetings to describe their project: a planned community development (PC rezoning) at 395 Page Mill that would add two office buildings, totaling 311,000 square feet on the same site as the 220,000 square foot AOL building, and a three story 44,500 square foot Public Safety Building (the public benefit) and associated Parking Garage opposite, at 3045 Park Boulevard.

WHEN: Nov 20th and Dec 4th, 7 PM

WHERE: main conference room 395 Page Mill Road

Ray Paul  will be there along with his architect, Tom Gilman. Also speaking will be someone from Fehr & Peers, the traffic consultants hired by the city (apparently the city is aware of this even though their report is not final), and Paul Krupka, the Traffic Demand Management TDM consultant hired by Jay Paul.

The following provided by Art Liberman…..

These new buildings would add as much office space as currently exists in all four buildings of the Palo Alto Square development – including the two 10 story buildings , while the size of the property is about half the size of Palo Alto Square.

The proposal includes 1700 parking spaces, so even though it is close to Caltrain’s California Avenue station, the project will certainly result in a huge increase in traffic in the El Camino/Page Mill/California Avenue area.

One of questions is whether the Council is so desperate for a new public safety building that they are willing to overlook the projects’ negative features – the traffic snarls, the problems it would create for the nearby residents, and also the issues with placing a Public Safety building on road with poor connectivity to the main arteries. Park Boulevard, the location of the proposed public safety building and the parking garage it would share with the new commercial buildings, is certain to be crowded with pedestrians and road traffic, which would impede the deployment of public safety vehicles. It is also slated to become one of Palo Alto’s new ‘Bicycle Boulevards.’

Project overview:

An Environmental Impact Report is being prepared. More information about this project is on the Planning and Department website:

Jay Paul public meeting invitation

Nov 112013
What is going to be done: installing new 2” polyethylene gas mains and new 1” service lines to replace aging pipelines. The formal name of this capital improvement project is Gas Main Replacement Project (GMR) 19B/20/21.
Where it is going to happen:  Following map  indicates the  (blue lines on map) streets  where work will take place (click on map for enlarged view):

Pipeline repair map Barron Park 2013

LaDonna from Barron to Kendall and down Kendall to El Camino,
La Selva
Matadero from Josina to El Camino
Laguna from Laguna Oaks to Shauna Lane
Ilima Court & part of Ilima Way
San Jude
Cass Way

Contractor for the project: Daleo, will be starting work on the streets indicated on the attached map* next Tuesday November 12th.  Residents whose gas service may be impacted got a direct notice-  (*Laguna Avenue, Ilima Way, Ilima Court, and San Jude Avenue)

If you have questions about this project: contact Debra Katz (contact info below), or contact contractor directly:
Project Contractor:  Daleo, Inc. (408) 846-9621
Utilities GMR Project Engineer: An Le (650) 566-4528
Debra Katz
Utilities Communications Manager
City of Palo Alto
PO Box 10250
Palo Alto CA 94303
(650) 329-2474