Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (1/30/13): Who lives here?


Not far from where I live there’s a trailer park that’s at the roiling center of a local controversy.  It’s located on El Camino Real (in Palo Alto, CA), a bustling street with high property values in a residential neighborhood at the heart of Silicon Valley.

Now, of course, a developer is considering developing it for other purposes.  The controversy is about whether or not this is about maximizing property values by displacing people who don’t have a strong voice in city politics. 

Suppose you’re an investigative reporter trying to figure out a bit of the backstory here.  A few questions would spring immediately to mind.  And these questions are this week’s search challenge.  It's not immediately obvious how you might search these out, but I hope you'll find a way.  Tune in tomorrow for the story of how I did it.  
(1) Who lives there now?   Can you tell me the ages and ethnicities of folks who live there?  (As a group.  Don’t give us a list of their names!)
 
(2) What’s the history of the place?  How long has it been there?  When did it start?
 
(3) For extra credit:  How much were a dozen doughnuts at the café in the first few years after it was established???  

As usual, please let us know HOW you solved the problem, and how long it took you to find the answers.  If you can... 

Search on! 



20 comments:

  1. (1) Who lives there now? Can you tell me the ages and ethnicities of folks who live there? (As a group. Don’t give us a list of their names!)

    I didn't find any reliable sources, but I can assume (based on https://soundcloud.com/peninsula-press/sets/buena-vista-mobile-home-park/) these are hispanic mostly, with high count of kids and elderly (there are ~30 people with disabilities).

    (2) What’s the history of the place? How long has it been there? When did it start?

    Buena Vista began as a tourist camp for travelers, part of a 5,392-acre property purchased by R.E. Ashley in 1926.
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=26776

    (3) For extra credit: How much were a dozen doughnuts at the cafe in the first few years after it was established???
    it served 16 varieties of doughnuts for 35 cents a dozen in 193x years

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1.400 residents,115 low-income families, many with school-aged children and others who are disabled
    2. Buena Vista began as a tourist camp for travelers, part of a 5,392-acre property purchased by R.E. Ashley in 1926.
    3. 35 cents a dozen
    search '"el camino" palo alto trailer' and I got "Buena Vista" then search for '"palo alto" "Buena Vista" mobile' and got a few links

    ReplyDelete
  3. Search for [trailer park El Camino Real Palo Alto, CA] tells us it is the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Search for [Buena Vista Mobile Home Park] lead to a number of Palo Alto Online articles showing that the park is inhabited generally by elderly, low income and single parent families of Mexican descent.

    One article in particular (http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=8405) is titled "A history of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park" and states that: "Buena Vista began as a tourist camp for travelers, part of a 5,392-acre property purchased by R.E. Ashley in 1926"

    From that same article the doughnuts cost 35 cents a dozen.

    ReplyDelete
  4. (1) A fairly wide mix, from students to seniors. There appear to be many hispanic residents. [8 min]

    ["el camino real" "trailer park" "palo alto"] identified Beuna Vista Mobile Home Park, and a satellite image search in Google Maps confirmed the name.

    [buena vista mobile home park] led to a front page result regarding an October 1, 2012, city council meeting at which over 30 residents attended. Adding the [site:cityofpaloalto.org] operator, I located minutes of the October 1, 2012, meeting at which presentations were made on behalf of students, the disabled and seniors, and single mothers. Most presenters were Hispanic, but one lady with an ostensibly non-hispanic name was the head of the "Friends of Buena Vista" and spoke to the demographic diversity of the park.

    (2) The park was established as a tourist camp in 1926, with primitive hookups going up during WW2 and permanent trailers in established in the 1950s. [2 min]

    ["buena vista mobile home park" history] lead me to a "Palo Alto Online" news article with these details.

    (3) The same article mentioned in (2) cited the oral history of a Joe Weiler, son of a previous owner of the park, who said donuts used to cost 35 cents a dozen in 1932. [1 min]

    ReplyDelete
  5. (2) started as a tourist camp for travelers in 1926
    (3) 35 cents

    Both (2) and (3) took about 30 seconds:
    Entered into Google:
    trailer park El Camino Real Palo Alto, CA

    The 4th link is a story at paloaltoonline.com. At the bottom of that story is a link to its own website saying "Read a history of the Buena Vista mobile-home park". Both (2) and (3) are answered in that article.

    Now onto the tougher (1)...

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  6. I did this search challenge along with my colleague Anne, who grew up nearby and remembered it very clearly. We actually had the most trouble finding the answer to question 1. We started out doing a search on Google for which led us to an article in Palo Alto online which had a link to the history of the site. This site gave us the answers to questions 2 and 3. We found out the site was started in 1926 as a tourist camp. After WWII primitive trailer hookups were installed and housed war workers and others and then later in that decade trailers became more permanent.

    The answer to the extra credit question was at the end of the Palo Alto Online article on the history of Buena Vista Trailer Park. A dozen donuts cost $0.35 back then.

    Trying to find the info on who lives there and their ages was much more difficult. From the newspaper article we knew the population was diverse and there were lots of kids but also that there were lots of senior citizens. We did a search for neighbors on whitepages.com using the physical street address and found most of the phone listings were for people with Hispanic names. Then we tried the US Census site. It was very slow so it was difficult accessing the data. We realized from looking at that site that we needed the tract number. We did a search in google to find the census tract number for that address and found it by doing this query ; first result was this> FFIEC Geocoding System and we got the number from that site. We went back to the US Census site and using that number we were able to get the census info for the address. It appears that most of the people are senior citizens but then the next biggest group are middle aged people in their late 40's to early 60's. But from all of the articles it sounds as if there are quite a few school aged children as well. While this trailer park is considered a low income site some of the residents wouldn't be considered low income in other places. One resident is a graduate of Stanford Univ. and is a math teacher. His income of ~$60,000 doesn't allow him to live anywere else nearby.

    We got the answers to questions 2 and 3 in few minutes. The answer to question number 1 took much, much longer but mostly because the census site was so slow and took forever to reload.

    ReplyDelete
  7. By searching - Palo Alto Trailer park near El Camino Real - that worked well, and the Palo Alto Online news page mentioned the age and income status. The news page also linked to a very interesting backstory of the Buena Vista trailer park and the "Chat and Chew" cafe. 35 cents a dozen, and boy oh boy could I go for a donut now.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Started at 8:23 am
    maps.google.com, started looking in palo alto CA.
    The curved road at the intersection was what I looked for. Found easily.
    8:26 Found location by zooming in on maps, Buena Vista mobile home park
    8:27 searched google under news for terms: buena vista mobile home park palo alto ca
    Found http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=28112
    "The possible razing of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park on El Camino Real to make way for 180 high-end apartments is expected to receive close scrutiny. Advocates for Buena Vista have vowed to try to retain the 127-unit, low-income park or make sure its residents have other comparable accommodations in Palo Alto."

    8:30 standard google web search for the same terms found:
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=8405
    2) "Buena Vista began as a tourist camp for travelers, part of a 5,392-acre property purchased by R.E. Ashley in 1926."
    3) "According to an oral history by Joe Weiler, Fran's son, it served 16 varieties of doughnuts for 35 cents a dozen, Graham said."

    8:32 expanded search to include term "ethnicities"
    Found: http://gunnoracle.com/2012/12/buena-vista-trailer-homes-face-possible-demolition/
    1) "125 students and their families, totaling 375 people, " "They see the residents, which include people of lower-income, disabled citizens and elderly citizens as important contributors to the city."

    Search complete at 8:34.

    11 minutes of searching, including documentation of results.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I found the name of the Park through normal Google search

    Searched for: Buena Vista Mobile Home Park history

    Buena Vista began as a tourist camp for travelers, part of a 5,392-acre property purchased by R.E. Ashley in 1926

    16 varieties of doughnuts for 35 cents a dozen

    census by zip code 94306
    Brought me general age race info but I have no idea how to get detailed census data for just the park.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Okay. My initial search was [palo alto trailer park controversy] which led me to this article as the top hit http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=27909

    I then did a google map search for [Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Palo Alto]
    and zoomed in in satellite view to confirm that this is the right site.

    1) Not sure how to characterize this. I found quotes like this

    Supporters of the Buena Vista families hope the residents stay in Palo Alto’s viable housing. They see the residents, which include people of lower-income, disabled citizens and elderly citizens as important contributors to the city. “There’s a wonderful mixture of people and a lot of different ethnicities that live there,” Dellenbach said. “They are a very diverse group, which is a valuable thing for Palo Alto. They represent a nice chunk of our economic and ethnic diversity. It would be Palo Alto’s detriment to lose these people.” from http://gunnoracle.com/2012/12/buena-vista-trailer-homes-face-possible-demolition/ search [buena vista trailer park palo alto ethnicity] I'd tried other words for ethnicity like demographics and got similar results.

    2) It was started in 1926 as a tourist camp with the café mentioned in the third question. http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=8405

    3) 35 cents.

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  11. It took me about 30 minutes, mostly because I started searching in San Francisco and not Palo Alto. [palo alto el camino real trailer park] got me the Buena Vista and after that the search went quickly.

    1. I couldn't find any stats but the residents seemed pretty varied, from children to students to young families to senior citizens. The only nationalities I saw were American and Mexican.

    2. The camp was started in 1926 but took on it's current form in the 40's and 50's.

    3. Doughnuts were 35 cents per dozen in 1932.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Buena Vista Mobile Home Park.

    1.A majority of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park's residents are very low and low income, seniors or disabled, according to the City of Palo Alto.

    2. Started in 1926, the park settled down into a permanent trailer camp in the 1950s. By 1966, most of the trailers were no longer mobile and were occupied by long-term owners or renters.

    3. " According to an oral history by Joe Weiler, Fran's son, it served 16 varieties of doughnuts for 35 cents a dozen."

    Searched for El Camino Real Palo Alto in Google Maps, scrolled down the street until I saw the swimming pool and L-shaped building. Clicked on "What's here".

    Searched web for Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, found this story about the redevelopment plans
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=26776

    and this about the history
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=8405

    ReplyDelete
  13. Must confess, this one threw me - totally lost my focus & track of time after being seduced by the notion that there were 16 varieties of doughnuts for 35 cents a dozen at the Chat & Chew... Mmm... Donuts!
    sprinkles please
    more alluring than the cupcakes favored by former employee #20.
    After being lost in the doNutin Universe, I gave up on Jisser's Promethian project, but did come to wonder how many asses there are in Palo Alto (there must be a tool/app for that?) - seemed a reasonable search challenge and was able to confirm at least 2: Pericles & Miner Forty-Niner -
    Shrek source dunkey
    Perry
    both having a bit of a hard time themselves currently... hope they recover and the Buena Vista folks are able to work things out & Palo Alto maintains some of its quirky eccentricity without excessive homogenization. Not everything can fall under the heading of scholarly SearchReScorch...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. supplemental: "The Prometheus development proposal is on hold"
      Barron Park Assoc.
      Negrita
      Bol Park history

      Delete
  14. ["trailer park" controversy Palo Alto CA]
    Found: http://www.pmcfinancialservices.com/recent-news/news/

    [Buena Vista Mobile Home Park history]
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=8405

    [dozen doughnuts buena vista cafe 1926]
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=8405

    ["Buena vista Mobile Home park" census ~statistics]
    ["Buena vista Mobile Home park" ~demographics]
    [Barron park demographics] I searched this because of the Zip Code. Not sure it is the answer Dr. Russell wants. found: http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Barron-Park-Palo-Alto-CA.html



    (1) Who lives there now? Can you tell me the ages and ethnicities of folks who live there?

    A: I couldn´t find specific answer for Buena Vista Mobile Park residents. I searched in many ways and with many words and I'll have to see the answer tomorrow.

    I found only: Buena Vista, which currently includes 104 mobile homes, 12 studios or cabins and one single-family residence, is one of the few developments that directly addresses Palo Alto's frequently cited shortage of affordable housing.

    (2) What’s the history of the place? How long has it been there? When did it start?
    A:It started in 1926. Located at 3980 El Camino Real. Buena Vista began as a tourist camp for travelers. The site had a store, lunch room, gas station and hot and cold showers. Buena Vista, Spanish for "beautiful view," could have gotten its name from the grove of large and ancient oaks that populated the site. Period photographs show clusters of automobiles gathered under the huge trees. In 1932, Fran Weiler purchased the property, including the café, gas station and trailer park. During World War II, primitive hookups for trailers went in. the late 1940s, the trailer park began to look more like it does today

    (3) For extra credit: How much were a dozen doughnuts at the café in the first few years after it was established???
    A: According to an oral history. It served 16 varieties of doughnuts for 35 cents a dozen in the late 1930s

    ReplyDelete
  15. SEARCH for name: Buena Vista Mobile Home Park BVMHP
    SEARCH BVMHP history: It was started in 1926 as BV Auto Camp...donuts at the Chat & Chew were 35 cents a dozen. via Palo Alto Online

    Could not locate any census-like data specifically for BVMHP despite a good hour just on this. But did find various general references indicating that 103 of the 375 residents attend local schools. GunnOracle offers this about BVMHP: "people of lower-income, disabled citizens and elderly citizens as important contributors to the city. “There’s a wonderful mixture of people and a lot of different ethnicities"

    So, about a minute for questions 2 and 3 and an hour reading lots and trying to answer 1 with specific numbers.

    Theirs is a common dilemma. I shall follow on to see how it plays out.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Google Images...nothing

    ["trailer park" "el camino"]

    ["trailer park" "el camino real"]

    ["trailer park" "el camino real" "palo alto"]

    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/08/us/palo-alto-journal-hidden-away-trailer-park-watches-as-silicon-valley-drives-by.html

    Buena Vista Mobile Home Park

    41yo and 92yo live there

    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=26776

    "Buena Vista, the only surviving mobile-home park in Palo Alto..."

    "...property owner/manager Joe Jisser [the first week in September 2012] informing them that his family is exploring redevelopment options...They are working with Prometheus Real Estate Group in San Mateo."

    "But Jisser said that [in 2000] the city noted the park had a 10-year life span before its infrastructure, including water and electrical facilities, would need upgrading.

    "We're at 12 years now. We're starting to get a feel that the infrastructure won't hold up too much longer. We figure the utilities might last another two to five years," he said.

    "If you do upgrade, the cost would be enormous,' he said."

    "A majority of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park's residents are very low and low income, seniors or disabled, according to the City of Palo Alto."

    Also 6yo and 9yo children live there.

    Direct link: http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=8405

    "Buena Vista began as a tourist camp for travelers, part of a 5,392-acre property purchased by R.E. Ashley in 1926."

    "According to an oral history by Joe Weiler, Fran's son, [the Buena Vista Café] served 16 varieties of doughnuts for 35 cents a dozen, Graham said."

    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=27909

    Direct link: http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=27918

    "Jisser has said for a number of years that increasing maintenance problems led to his decision to finally arrange a redevelopment deal. The poor condition of utility connections on the property have led to ongoing sewage back-ups and other problems, and making the necessary major infrastructure repairs without displacing the residents infeasible."

    Direct link: http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=26995

    Judging from the photos and names, they are generally Hospanics. They appear to represent all ages.

    ["Buena Vista Mobile Home Park"]

    http://peninsulapress.com/2012/10/29/redevelopment-worries-seep-into-daily-life-at-palo-alto-mobile-home-park/

    Confirms basic facts including history and demographics.

    This took me about 15 minutes, including confirming facts.

    Jeff Deutsch

    ReplyDelete
  17. Searched: Demographic El Camino Real (in Palo Alto, CA) and came up with http://www.city-data.com/zips/94306.html on the first page. It was then just a matter of deciding exactly what section of the area it was in and I did that by doing a side-search under Barron Park and then narrowing from there.
    Ages:
    Median Male 42
    Median Female between 34
    Lots of Kids
    Ethnicity:
    Majority White followed closest but still a long way away by Hispanic
    For a history I searched: Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Palo Alto CA and clicked on http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=8405 and that is where I also learned that, it started as a tourist camp for travelers in 1926 and in the 30’s the Café, called Chat & Chew, sold a dozen donuts for 35 cents.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Searched for "Trailer park Palo Alto" on google.com and the 1st item was this: http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=26776, with almost all the answers. Buena Vista Mobile park was founded after WWII and is the only trailer park still in Palo Alto. Most of the residents are seniors or low-income residents. Redevloping the park for small apartments will mean most will have to move - something few can afford.
    BTW, the cost of a doughnut in the 1950's when this was established was 5 cents (coffee was a quarter). I found that at:http://www.chacha.com/question/what-was-the-price-of-a-dunkin-donuts-donut-in-1950 by searching for 'doughnuts cost 1950's' The whole thing took about 3 minutes.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is likely a repost but I wanted to share my find for Question 1 (2 &3 were much easier).
    I like the 411.com and Polk Directories (Canada its Henderson Directories - available most libraries)
    reference- not sure ages available for 411.ca
    Here goes -not confirmed.
    Query [free demographic data by address usa]
    http://www.cdyne.com/free/demographic-data.aspx
    Results for address 3980 El Camino Real Avg Income$68791 Avg Home Value$1179000 Avg Age39 Years Old Gender %49.02% Female50.98% Male Marital %39.84% Married6.60% Divorced35.67% Never Married1.68% Married Other2.20% Separated14.01% Widowed Race %68.23% Caucasian5.38% African American16.76% Asian0% Indian0% Native Hawaiian6.35% Other3.27% Mixed

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