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 just announced that they have accepted the Relocation Impact Report (RIR). 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”
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.”