In Silicon Valley, even mobile homes are getting too pricey for longtime residents

By Tracey Lien
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The expansion of tech companies in Silicon Valley has significantly increased demand for real estate in the area. In turn, some long time residents are now facing skyrocketing rents, threats of displacement and evictions.

SUNNYVALE, Calif.

During the last week of March, Apple reached a record market value of $754 billion, Google tweaked a policy to protect its $22 billion-a-quarter advertising business and Yahoo inched toward closing a $4.83 billion sale. Meanwhile, Judy Pavlick drove around her Sunnyvale, Calif., mobile home park collecting plastic bottles and empty drink cans to save her future.

At a recycling rate of 5 to 10 cents a bottle, the 70-year-old’s attempt to raise $10,000 to campaign for a rent control measure seemed like a long shot. But living in the heart of Silicon Valley, where rents keep soaring, outside interests are encroaching and protections for renters are scant, what else was she going to do?

“People are looking for somebody to save them, and they’re not looking to themselves,” said Pavlick, a retiree who has lived in the Plaza del Rey mobile home park since 1989.

The mobile home park sits on more than 65 acres of some of California’s hottest real estate.

Its 800 tidy modular homes are less than 2 miles from the campuses of Apple, Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn. One of the world’s largest private equity firms, the Carlyle Group, bought the land two years ago for $151.1 million. And in its first year owning the park, it increased space rents (the amount that homeowners pay to lease land) by 7.5 percent, the largest in Plaza del Rey’s 47-year history.

Pavlick knows how this goes. She’s not going to wait to be priced out. She’s rallying her neighbors: Plastics. Cans. Put ’em out, now.

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