November 19, 2015

Property Rights Battle in Palo Alto

By Property Rights Battle in Palo Alto

Should a retiring mobilehome park owner be forced to pay millions of dollars to his tenants simply for the right to close his rental business and take his property off the rental market? That question is at the heart of this federal constitutional lawsuit filed by Pacific Legal Foundation and the Jisser family in Palo Alto, Calif. The Jissers are a hard-working immigrant family who came from Israel in the 1970s. They scraped and saved thirty years ago to buy a mobilehome park property, but now want to retire.

The City has told the Jissers they must pay roughly $8 million dollars to their tenants due to a lack of alternative affordable housing in the city, or be forced to forever run the business they simply want to close. But it is the city’s own land-use policies that have created the housing shortage that makes it all but impossible for young families, retirees, and people of modest means to live their. And it is unconstitutional to force the Jisser family to pay for public benefits that, in fairness, should be borne by the public as a whole.

learn more about

Jisser v. City of Palo Alto, California

The Jisser family owns the last mobile home park in super-expensive Palo Alto, California. They wanted to retire, leave the business entirely and close down the park, but the city demanded that the Jissers pay $8 million to the tenants to obtain the required permit. Representing the Jissers, PLF sued on the ground that the city’s demand was nothing more than extortion prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. A federal district court judge dismissed the case because he erroneously believed that the Jissers had to pursue state court remedies first. While the appeal was pending, the city agreed to give up the fight and purchase the mobile home park itself. The appeal is stayed pending resolution of the settlement.

Read more

What to read next