Sunnyvale City Council Votes: Mobile Home Park Must Go, Making Way for Five-Story Housing Complex

So, last week, the Sunnyvale City Council decided to help address Silicon Valley’s affordable housing issue by reducing the number of affordable manufactured homes…?

Providing and retaining affordable housing is a nationwide dilemma facing local housing authorities across the nation. Mobile home communities represent one of the few forms of home ownership existing for lower to middle-income homeowners.

The conundrum is that most of these older mobile home communities are located on property in our near communities where property values have increased dramatically. While park owners seek to cash in on this appreciation with developers clamoring for access to these properties, the community’s residents are left with a housing problem. Below is a prime example of such a case occurring in the Bay Area’s Silicon Valley.

Sunnyvale City Council votes against Nick’s Trailer Park!

Often, cities that publicly advocate their concern for maintaining affordable housing will overlook the valuable role mobile homes play in addressing the affordable housing issue. The following Sunnyvale City Council action might be an example of that indifference to the value of manufactured housing in retaining affordable homes for lower income residents.

Sunnyvale City Council votes to replace mobile home park with multiplex housing

Nick’s Trailer Park in Sunnyvale, California, once a home to mostly low-income families with 44 mobile homes are being replaced by a five story 108 unit apartment complex—with 22 units reserved for low-income families.

Addition by subtraction?

According to The Mercury News, the city council voted 6-1 at its July 25 meeting to give project approvals to developer St. Anton Communities. The project, known as Astria, will be built at the 2.05-acre site at 1008 E. El Camino Real. Also on the property will be a traditional site-built duplex. The developer is currently applying for a zoning change for commercial purposes.

The majority of the land was formerly Nick’s Trailer Court, which was purchased in 2014 by Sunnyvale Park, LLC and owned by St. Anton Communities Capital. (There is no mention in the report of the disposition of the low-income families residing in those 44 mobile homes.)

According to the presentation by St Anton, the 22 affordable housing units in the new project will rent from $1,045 per month for a studio to $1,552 for a three bedroom apartment.

Several at the meeting spoke in favor of the project. “This adds 108 units of much-needed housing and density to El Camino Real. We are encouraged by the 22 units of affordable housing at a low-income level placed near multiple VTA (transit authority) routes,” said Don Tran from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

“At this point, I have to err on the side of doing what we have to to take positive steps toward the housing crisis and accept there will be some pain associated with it. I gotta say it’s a close call, and I seriously hope the developer will work with staff to address concerns laid out here with the neighborhood,” said Councilman Jim Griffith said.

 Height, not potential homelessness the issue for some

The lone dissenting vote came from Councilman Michael Goldman, who said he disliked 44 mobile homes being replaced with 22 low-income apartments and that he was unhappy with the height of the project.

“I see nothing good about this project. It’s inconsistent with the neighborhood,” he said.

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