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Palo Alto Trailer Park Owners and City Headed for Court

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The owners of Buena Vista Moblie Home Park, the 400 residents on the site, and the city of Palo Alto are locked in a dispute that has landed in federal court, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. It boils down to this: The owners (Tim and Eva Jisser) want to sell the site. The city is requiring them to pay a relocation fee of about $20,000 apiece to the occupants. That works out to $8 million, a fee the owners say is too high.

The Jissers filed suit in San Jose, trying to avoid the city order. According to the Chronicle, the couple has enlisted the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) for help. That organization's website says it is a legal organization that "fights for limited government, property rights, individual rights, and a balanced approach to environmental protection." In the newspaper's report, they describe the $8 million relocation package as "the unconstitutional taking of money." A lawyer for the PLF said: "The high cost of living in Palo Alto is not the Jissers' fault." He told the Chronicle the couple would be willing to pay residents a lesser amount.

Many of the residents of the park are reportedly elderly and there are about 100 children. Residents interviewed said they would not be able to live in the area if they had to leave. One of them, a woman named Erika Escalante who is a 19-year resident and president of the residents association, told the Chronicle: "We're not trying to take anyone's land away, but everyone has to follow the rules. The laws are very clear. [The Jissers] have their rights, and we have our rights as well."

A lawyer for the residents of the site claims the land might be worth as much as $50 million to developers.

· Palo Alto trailer-park landlords fight tab for tenant relocation [SFGate]
· Pacific Legal Foundation [Official Site]