September 15, 2012

Buenas Noches for Buena Vista

We’ve dropped by the Buena Vista “Mobil Home Park,” the only trailer park in Palo Alto, a few times.  But Burbed reader Stefan alerts us that the much-maligned mobile mews may be moving on.  Thanks very much!

Burbed reader Real Estater also mentioned this article in comments.

Palo Alto mobile-home park faces redevelopment

Buena Vista residents could be forced out to make way for apartments

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff

120914-bvista-overviewBuena Vista, the only surviving mobile-home park in Palo Alto, could soon be history, according to city officials.

Residents in the 117-unit park located at 3980 El Camino Real received a letter from property owner/manager Joe Jisser last week informing them that his family is exploring redevelopment options.

The family has owned Buena Vista, located near Los Robles Avenue behind a strip mall, since 1986, Jisser said on Monday. They are working with Prometheus Real Estate Group in San Mateo.

Prometheus specializes in the acquisition, development and management of residential and commercial properties and builds apartments, according to its website. It also focuses on transit-oriented development in areas that are close to corporate campuses, such as Apple in Cupertino and Google in Mountain View.

You think 15 units per acre is too dense for Palo Alto?  Promethius Development has many more rent-paying people per parcel planned for what they’re putting in.  Try 40 units an acre.  If you’ve read this book, just imagine life in The Stacks (which are literally mobile homes stacked into slum towers).

120914-bvista-pride-of-ownershipWhy is the owner finally considering selling out, after owning the park since 1986?  Infrastructure.  Water pipes and electrical wires and transmission are nearing the end of their useful life, and state codes have changed.  It isn’t enough to replace them, they’d have to be upgrades.  Not only that, most of the mobile homes in the park are too old to handle new systems.  And not only has the electrical code changed.  So has the law on spacing the units themselves.  Keeping the park legally open is going to become very, very expensive.

Meanwhile, the City of Palo Alto has a plan for development, and that includes multifamily homes along El Camino Real.  So apartment blocks are looking pretty likely.  And the low-income folks living here may well be SOL.  There is a city law that says they should get moving-out money, but realistically, there aren’t a lot of places they can go.  Many of them will move out in advance of the paid relocation, simply to ensure finding subsidized housing elsewhere.

Be sure to check out the comments on this article.  Some posters are glad to see the park go, and some prefer it stay in favor of a denser apartmentplex.  Of course most of them are worried about all those extra kids moving into THEIR SCHOOLS.  Because anyone moving into an apartment isn’t a Real Palo Alto Resident and should never be allowed to enroll.  We can’t understand why the trailer trolls are allowed, either.

But fear not.  Even if the BV is scraped to the ground and a shiny new (and dense) apartment complex goes up in its place, there will always be mobile home living in Palo Alto.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

August 27, 2012

Million dollar education in a five and dime neighborhood

Good morning, and welcome back to another exciting Real Estate Week of Win here on Burbed!  Let’s get right to today’s spotlighted spectacular in the palatial premises of Palo Alto!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for the drive-by!

3980 El Cmaino Real #13
Palo Alto, CA 94306


120826-elcmaino-interiorProperty Type: Mobile Home (Single Wide)
County: Santa Clara
Community: Barron Park
MLS#: 81230106

Palo Alto Schools for a rental cost of $675/month! By renting in this park, children eligible to attend Palo Alto Schools. Family of 4 with children attending Palo Alto Schools moving so now you can enjoy a million dollar education without the million dollar home purchase price! Laundry facilities in park. Good family park with good neighbors all getting along. Walk to Elementary school.

120826-elcmaino-bathroomWait, you can still buy a home in Palo Alto for a million?  Who knew?  Let us know if you have any success finding one.

And if you can’t, there’s always today’s featured home!  This property shows the benefits of jaw-dropping listing copy coupled with a misspelled street address, photos with plenty of clutter,  the mandatory crapper-cam with the lid fully raised  and proudly proclaiming its crappertude, and most important of all, good neighbors all getting along.  All this at an unbelievably affordable buy-in price and a monthly space rent that will no doubt be ratcheted up the split second you finish signing over that escrow.

But this is a good family park.  It says so, right in the listing.  And it must be, because we’ve featured this park on Burbed before.

Want to see how good this neighborhood is?  Well then, why not meet a couple of your new neighbors?  We’re sure they can’t wait to make the acquaintance of you, and especially the rest of your family. 


Comments (21) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

October 22, 2011

Silicon Valley Luxury Real Estate’s Most Astonishing Webpage Ever

I read a lot of real estate sites in order to bring you Burbed-worthy features.  Recently, I found an agent’s special “Astonishing Homes” page that looked absolutely scrumptious.  Plenty of seven and even eight-figure high-end properties on acres of land with great schools.

Now I know absolutely nothing about this particular agent, but all these homes were on MLS. Member agents can detail any MLS listings in their region, and Sophia Delacotte put together a webpage with nicer luxury properties for people to get some real estate pr0n action.  But something was amiss when I took a closer look at the actual listings.


With ten different houses, that’s ten front facades and ten sets of details.  I have all that waiting for you inside, but before you join me, make your prediction how many of these ten estate properties:

  • Sold (pending within 7 days)
  • Sold (pending within 30 days)
  • Sold in a longer timeframe
  • Are still active on MLS
  • Had their listing withdrawn
  • Had a price reduction at some point

For “bunus” yucks, guess how many of these ten estate homes have marble columns.

Got your guesses ready?  Good.  Now, let’s see these Astonishing Homes and find out if you’re as Astonished as I was.


Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

September 20, 2011

Move in and make it your own. Your own housing nightmare.

Thanks to the sharp eye of Burbed reader SEA, we have found affordable housing in Palo Alto!  Thanks very much for calling out this place in comments.  Yes, sonarrat wrote this place up already.  I’m just adding some more context to the idea that you no longer have an excuse not to trade up to Gunn High School.


3980 El Camino Real #27, Palo Alto, CA 94306


SQ. FT.: 602
$/SQ. FT.: $45
PROPERTY TYPE: Mobile Home (Single Wide), Room Addition
COMMUNITY: Barron Park
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81116830
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 140 days

Now you can afford Gunn High School for your teenagers and Palo Alto Unified for your smaller children! This home is much less to own than it costs to rent in Palo Alto School District! Move in and make it your own.

If you make it your own, you’ll fit right in here!  The owners of the park make their own spelling rules!


imageYes, you can afford Gunn for your teenagers (plural) and Palo Alto Unified for your smaller children (plural).  You, your spouse, and your at least four children will delight in all 602 square feet of this expansive 3 bedroom, um, mobile home.  In a trailer park.  IN PALO ALTO.

I’m going to say this again.  Trailer park. In Palo Alto.  This is the real estate equivalent of a squeegee guy at the Ferrari dealership, or Jeff Foxworthy spilling beer on you at Bohemian Grove.

imageDid you ever think there were some properties that won’t gain value even with those amazing Palo Alto schools?  This is one of them.  140 days on the market, price reduced 4 times, and it’s still there for the taking. Part of the reason is the neighborhood, part of the reason is the neighbors, and most of the reason is you aren’t buying any land, you’re buying a tin box and the right to pay monthly rent to keep it in PALO ALTO.

Here’s what you need to know about this place.

imageMobile Home Information
  • Section 1 DOH/HUD Number: GBG1040CK
  • Leased Land
  • Unit Will Remain
  • Space Rent: $650
  • Manufacturer’s ID Number: Mayflowe
  • License Fee: $66
  • License Renewal Date: 2012-04-30
  • License Expiration Date: 2012-04-30
  • License Decal Number: EJ4778

imageThat rent seems kind of low for Palo Alto, actually.  I’m sure the park owner’s agent will be delighted to negotiate a new (read: more expensive) rental agreement with you, after you close on the cargo container and have the option of either loving it or lugging it to any other trailer park in Palo Alto willing to take you at the rent you’re willing to pay.

Remember those arguments you would have as kids, like whether Superman could defeat Captain America, or if  the 1978 New York Yankees could beat imagethe 1976 New York Islanders, or if an irresistible force could shift an immovable object or which would you rather do, be staked on a fire ant hill or have all your toes cut off with a rusty soda can?

This is the grown-up version of those questions.  Does the awesomeness of Palo Alto jack the price up, or does the loserdom of trailer park smash the price down?  How much is this sardine can going to finally sell for?


Burbed hasn’t done many mobile homes. In fact, last time we did one, the owner of the property requested the article be yanked. So we haven’t had lots of discussion on the many issues in buying a house on leased land, but check out the comments on that thread for some of them.  And here’s a brief history of this particular mobile home park.

The door of opportunity is OPEN! So move in and make it your own.

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

September 7, 2011

Gunn High School for $27,000. There goes your last excuse.

Friends, sonarrat here. I’m here for a brief visit and to give you great news: I’m happy to report that the long wait is over. The bottom of the housing market is upon us. How do I know this, you ask? How can it not be, when we have this nice, fat little plum just ripe for the picking?

3980 El Camino Real #27, Palo Alto, 94306

 3980 El Camino Real, #27, Palo Alto, CA 94306BEDS: 3

SQ. FT.: 602
$/SQ. FT.: $45
PROPERTY TYPE: Mobile Home (Single Wide), Room Addition
COMMUNITY: Barron Park
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81116830
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 138 days


Hey, where are you all going in such a hurry? My post isn’t even over yet!!!

Comments (26) -- Posted by: sonarrat @ 5:00 am

September 25, 2010

CEO Donates to Wrong School District

Facebook founder to give $100 million to N.J. school district

By Amy Sahba and Doug Gross, CNN
September 23, 2010 12:53 p.m. EDT

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's donation will help troubled Newark schools, which have been taken over by the state.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s donation will help troubled Newark schools, which have been taken over by the state.

(CNN) — One of America’s richest and youngest is giving back.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive of social-networking powerhouse Facebook, is planning on donating $100 million toward improving public schools in the troubled district of Newark, New Jersey.

The gift would be the largest known charitable donation by Zuckerberg, who Forbes magazine says is the 35th richest person in the United States with an estimated net worth of nearly $7 billion.

At 26, he and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz are the youngest billionaires on the list.

The news comes just over a week before "The Social Network," a brutal (and, admittedly, fictionalized) biopic chronicling the early days of Facebook, is set to be released. By all accounts, the film doesn’t cast Zuckerberg in a positive light, leading some critics to accuse him of making the donation as an image-booster.

Unbelievable!  A Palo Alto resident giving money to undeserving non-Palo Alto kids!  Doesn’t he realize all the unfunded needs in Palo Alto’s schools?  Why, there are Palo Alto high school students whose parents can’t afford to send them to college!  Why isn’t he helping them? 

Besides, look at how much bang for the buck a donation to Palo Alto schools creates. Take a look at what Palo Alto Partners in Education plans to do with this years’ fundraising.papie

Can you imagine what Palo Alto could do with ten million to spend on science enrichment?  They could build a scale working model of SLAC at every single one of the elementary schools!  For Technology Mentors, this kind of cash they could bring in Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison for three days to each of the middle schools!  And can you imagine the College Counseling for ten million dollars?  That would pay for a charter jet to bring in the Presidents of all eight Ivy League schools.  They could meet with every single high school student so every one of them would know which school was the best fit (and appropriate fees sent to the schools’ Development Departments for a win-win).  The remainder of the funds could pick up the Limo fees and restaurant tabs for John Hennessy

Money for Newark schools will go for textbooks, calculators and asbestos removal.  Big Yawn.

PIE raised $2.9 million for Palo Alto schools for the 2010 school year.  Zuckerberg could have totally eclipsed last year’s performance by sending that donation where it belonged… where he lives.  Instead, he blew the whole wad on a failing school district in a completely different state!  I mean, seriously, if you’re going to donate to New Jersey schools, why not Tenafly?

Do you see why Zuckerberg went wrong?  He’s 26 and he doesn’t have any children of his own.  Hopefully his priorities will change once he enrolls a couple of Facebook heirs into their neighborhood school.  But first, he’s going to have to take an even more important step and buy a house.

Zuckerberg has found all his homes on Craigslist. His first place was a sparse one-bedroom apartment that a friend described as something like a “crack den.” The next apartment was a two-bedroom, followed by his current place, a two-story, four-bedroom house that he told me is “too big.” He rents. (“He’s the poorest rich person I’ve ever seen in my life,” Tyler Winklevoss said.)

He rents.  That means he’s a transient guest.  He isn’t abiding with the Real Bay Area spirit and sinking a pile of money into a house!  More importantly, he had a golden opportunity to show his commitment to the community.  Instead, by donating to the wrong school district, he’s appeared on Oprah.  But there is one ray of sunshine:

According to an official familiar with the agreement, Zuckerberg’s donation will be the first installment from a foundation financed by Zuckerberg and focused on bettering education.

The first installment.  See, it isn’t too late to send the money where it’s most needed.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

July 7, 2010

Let’s revisit 602 CHIMALUS Dr


602 CHIMALUS Dr Palo Alto, CA 94306


Beds: 4
Baths: 3
Sq. Ft.: 2,090
$/Sq. Ft.: $808
Lot Size: 5,311 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Contemporary
Stories: 2
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 2009
Community: Barron Park
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81011503
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 115 days
Custom contemporary home on a Palo Alto cul-de-sac. Custom bamboo cabinetry in the kitchen and baths w/ soapstone and slate counter tops. Soaring ceilings. Heated bath floors. White oak floors throughout. Green features include LED lights, tankless hot water, ceiling fans, attic fans, 2 zones HVAC, and more! Palo Alto schools including Gunn High. ALso available for rent at $6250/month.

Now this house was mentioned before – let’s take a look at the way back machine…

July 24 2009

Pralay Says:
July 27th, 2009 at 10:52 pm

One more Palo Alto property that has neither buyer nor renter – 602 CHIMALUS Dr. The flipper bought the lot for $1.1M in 2007. In market from December (price reduced from $1.9M to $1.6M).

Now the flipper put it up as rental in craiglist – for $6995 per month.

Recently, burbed reader Gallileo saw that it continues to be listed, and had this additional commentary:

A house no one is worth of in Barron Park

Flipped not once but twice from 2006 to 2007, then undergoing an extensive remodel, this house first listed in 2008 in its new incarnation. All the resales and repricings–“Up! No down! no up!”–show the true desirability of this house–its so hot that no one feels worthy of it for more than a year. Even the former renters moved out. And how can you ever find the right price on a house that sells and rerents so often?

Now it sits there, stately and sideways on its half-sized lot, backed up against Palo Alto’s only light-manufacturing industrial plant, just waiting for a renter or buyer who feels worthy of it. The recent price increase shows just how desirable it is.

Alright all you creative minds out there… what’s it going to take to get this house sold? I’m thinking… increase the price even more! Let’s make it even more valuable by making it even more precious!

Anyone know what the fair market rent value of this house would be? Any good comparables?

Comments (60) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:05 am

February 7, 2010

How much would you pay to talk to the superintendent?

Should Money Buy You Privileged Access to a Public School System?

Schoolhouse In Palo Alto it does. Give Palo Alto Partners in Education — the district-wide foundation that supports all schools in the Palo Alto Unified School District — $2,500 and you get priority notification about middle and high school tours along with an invitation to a cocktail party with other wealthy donors to the district.

Give $5,000 and you get the same privileged access to information and the same exclusive chance to network with the community’s financial elite, plus an invite to a "special group event with the PAUSD superintendent."

Give over $10,000 and you get all the above, and an "invitation to individual discussion with PAUSD superintendent."

The message here is clear: in Palo Alto wealth buys differentiated access to the Superintendent of a public school district, membership of an inner ‘circle’ of local influencers and priority over the less well-off in visiting publicly-owned facilities.

Thanks to Burbed reader Herve for this find. A great post on SVMoms!

Personally I think this is a great idea. Let’s face it, we live in a market driven economy. Not a planned, socialist economy. It makes sense that if you invest more in your children, you will get better results. I don’t think there should be any outrage here.

Personally, I think you should be able to buy your grades, and even college acceptances – but let’s just start at buying good teachers and principals, without having to be all flashy and sending your kids to private school.

What? You don’t agree?

I’m tagging this post with the “Bay Area Schools” category. I’d appreciate it if you could help me find some older posts that should also get this tag.

Comments (41) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:52 am

August 26, 2009

Cupertino School District Overflow information

Palo Alto Online : School district to cancel Garland re-opening | SF Bay Area Home Price and Mortgage Insanity Blog –
Herve Estater Says:
August 23rd, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Wow. I have seen the overflow down here and it’s bad. There are 3 CUSD elementary schools in Sunnyvale …, and the worst is Stocklmeir (in enrollment). CUSD kicked the resource people out of the adjacent set of buildings and moved grades 4&5 into that complex. I think Stocklmeir has around 950 kids in the K-5 school. 950!!! It’s like a million kids per classroom!

Chief problem is the other 2 elementary schools in the area … weren’t just closed when enrollment dropped in the 70s …. They were sold to developers who bulldozed the schools. So CUSD has nowhere else to send those kids. You should see the place; portable classrooms everywhere, and by portable I mean trailer park 🙂

Also from what I hear, anyone enrolling their kids in PA school dist who are older than kindergarten has zero priority on either the neighborhood elementary school or even *keeping siblings together*

I am seriously considering moving to Mountain View now. Cheaper yet better than Palo Alto, less pressure and fewer suicides).

Solid information. Thanks Herve.

By the way, does anyone know of anyone who has actually camped outside to get their kids into a school? That’d make a great post!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:13 am

February 12, 2008

“Palo Alto Parents Lie For Kids To Attend Better Schools”

Some Palo Alto Parents Lie For Kids To Attend Better Schools – News Story – KNTV | San Francisco
Some Palo Alto parents are lying and cheating to get their children into the best schools possible.

Palo Alto Unified School District administrators said they carry out more than 200 investigations a year about parents possibly lying about their residence to qualify to attend a school.

“They do all sorts of different things,” said Steve Lawrence of the Palo Alto Unified School District. “We have people saying they are living with relatives that are really living someplace else.”

Margie Mitchell of the Palo Alto Unified School District said, “We have parents that come in and try and give us falsified lease agreements and property tax statements. We are on an overflow basis right now, especially in the elementary grades.”


One Palo Alto parent, who did not want to identify herself, said she does not feel bad lying about where she lived.

“Why should my daughter come home after the first day at school and be so depressed and sad?” she asked. “If my choice was to send my daughter to that school or and try and cheat the system I chose to try and cheat the system.”

The mother sends her children to a high performing school in the town where her relatives live. She uses their address.

“Why we don’t live there is economic reasons at this point in our life that’s where we want to live,” she said. “Under our circumstances we can’t.”

Palo Alto is not the only school district facing the residency-cheating problem. The Fremont Union High School District said it investigated about 200 fraud cases last year. Of those cases the district said it found about 10 percent of the parents cheated their way into the district.

This is the kind of stuff that makes the Real Bay Area special.

This is the kind of stuff that gives kids going to Real Bay Area schools the advantage.

Think about it… if kids weren’t exposed to these sorts of things, how would they ever become successful C-level executives? Would they even be able to fathom something as obvious as backdating options? Or getting their company to buy them a corporate jet, and pay them for using it?

Even worse – how would the kid learn that one should do things like that, and not feel bad about it?

Silicon Valley has always been about being an entrepreneur, about “asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission”, about can-do spirit. And this is how it all begins – by going to the right school.

No wonder Palo Alto real estate is so expensive. Actually… given the life lessons… it’s a deal.

Comments (26) -- Posted by: burbed @ 6:19 am