San Jose mobile park closure prompts concerns over affordable housing

- More than 100 people fear they won't have a home after the owners of a beloved mobile home park in San Jose announced they're planning to close it down.

The park sits on prime real estate in the city's west side near Santana Row. The closure has prompted the city council to approve a six-month moratorium on mobile home park conversions.

81-year-old Davlyn Jones cherishes her mobile home at Winchester Ranch. She relies solely on social security and she said the mobile home is what she can afford in Silicon Valley. 

She said what breaks her heart is if she's forced out, she won't only lose her home, but her community.

“We lived here in San Jose,” said Jones. “We love where we live. Why should we have to leave when we are old and enjoying what we produced. These are my friends. If I have to leave and they have to leave we will never see each other again.”

Park owners announced a plan to move residents out by 2017.

On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council unanimously approved a six-month moratorium on mobile home park conversions. Right now, more than 35,000 people live in 59 mobile home parks in San Jose, which is the largest amount of people in any city in the state.

“It’s imperative that we have a fair valuation for the mobile homes and the owners of those mobile homes feel confident if there's a negotiation that they are going to get every dollar they deserve,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

New policy considerations include tightening loopholes where land owners can seek a permit without the city council's review and requiring developers to ensure existing affordable housing units are preserved..

“I don't see legal ground where we can ask an owner of a piece of property to insist they stay in business providing a certain model,” said San Jose City Councilmember Johnny Khamis.

Khamis is concerned with legal ramifications and property owners’ rights. Some of the parks sit along light rail corridors where some say high density housing may make more sense. 

Still, Jones is adamant on affordable living for seniors. To her, that’s Winchester Ranch.

“Most of us have lived in Silicon Valley and we are not stupid,” said Jones. “We are not going to take anything lying down.”

A similar situation is happening at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto where a nonprofit in Southern California is looking to buy that park. Seniors at this San Jose mobile park hope the nonprofit works with them as well.

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