Trials and Tribulations

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Trials and Tribulations

Compiled by Court Tefft and Patsy Dodd
(a work in progress)

Excerpts from Relocation Benefits Trial

Testimony – Housing 8/12/77

By Mr. Christ:

Q Mr. Schneider, those structures were built without obtaining any zoning approval from the planning staff—Planning Commission or the city council; is that correct?

A I believe that’s correct. I didn’t go through the procedures for any of those houses; they’re not my residences.

Q To your knowledge none of the people did; is that correct?

A That’s right, Mr. Crist.

Q And no building permit was granted by the City of Palo Alto for any of those structures; is that correct?

A Not to my knowledge.

Q MR. CRIST: That’s all I have.

MR TALLETT: No questions.

THE COURT: Mr. Schneider, what is the general area, that is to say, the size of the area within which these structures are located?

THE WITNESS: Your Honor, those structures are all located I would say within fifty acres of each other, perhaps a little less.

Testimony – Housing 8/12/77

THE WITNESS: Maria Wheatley, 32100 Page Mill Road, Los Altos Hills, California.

THE REPORTER: Would you spell your last name?
THE WITNESS: W-h-e-a-t-l-e-y.


Q Maria, how long have you lived there?
A Well, starting my sixth year; came in August 1972.

Q ’72?

A Mm hmm.

Q And your house is one of the houses that His Honor has seen in the photographs; is that true?

A Yes.

Q When did you build that house?

A We started about the last week of August in ’72 and initial house was built by the end of September, and since then we have done three – - yes, three additions onto the house.

Q Do you know how much you spent in time or money on that house?

A Time? A lot of time because most of the wood that we used in the structure was recycled. There were houses that were being torn down on Moody Road, and the owner said we could take the lumber that we needed, so my husband and I went down and we stripped the tar of the roof and took all the boards that were usable and built that, and as for money, there was insulation; gas, of course, to acquire that lumber as well as the other lumber that we bought. We have two water systems; one is a pure spring system and another is an irrigating system. We have a hot water system, which connects to the wood stove and bought the wood stove as well as the gas stove. The Gray Water System that we put in; windows; skylights, which was all brand new; tar paper and roofing supplies, I can’t really give you an estimate about that. We also have brand new fencing, and built the fence posts that we cut out of trees that were downed and put a fence around about a quarter of an acre, and a greenhouse, a hen house, and the old barn.

Q Judge Leahy has indicated some interest in the deployment of the houses or the distances between the houses. Could you give us some geometry on that, please?

A My house is located in a very small meadow at the bottom of a very steep hill. It’s about 300 yards on about a 50-degree slope from the nearest house, which is Mr. David McConnell’s house.

Q How far away is that?

A 300 years. The nearest house down from that is across the creek, which I would say would be at least another 300 yards.

Q Well, what I’m trying to get –

THE COURT: That is sufficient, counsel. What I really was inquiring of Mr. Schneider was whether all the houses were –

MR. LEINWOHL: Clustered?

THE COURT: Apparently. That is sufficient.

MR. LEINWOHL: Thank you, sir.

Q (By Mr. Leinwohl) Did you ever meet or speak with Mr. Eldridge when you first moved on?

A Not when I first moved on. I met him but I didn’t know who he was at the time and that was in May of ’75.

Q What happened?

A I was digging holes for an orchard that I was putting in, tree holes, and this man came down to where I lived, and since where I live is extremely secluded, I’m rather skeptical and I always inquire of people who they are and what they’re doing here, so I said sort of, you know, in a real – well, in a method of affrontry. I said, “Are you out for a walk?” And he said, “Yes, I am. It’s really beautiful around here,” and I said, Oh, yes, I like it very much,” and I said “If you’re out for a walk be sure that you watch where you put your cigarettes and you don’t build any fires,” and he said, “Oh, no, I don’t intend on doing that. I’m only out for a walk.” And he said, “Do you have some water I can have?” And I said, “Yes,” and I went in the house and got him a glass of water. And he said, “It’s really beautiful here.” It’s May and all the flowers were blooming and everything was green, so I directed him across the creek, across the bridge to a particularly nice meadow, and that was it, but I didn’t know who he was until he walked into the court room.

Q When?

A Two weeks ago.

Q Had you ever had any other conversations with him?

A No.

Q When you met him, was he in—was he within sight of your house when you saw him?

A Oh, yes. He came right through my gate. He came through the upper gate and went out the lower one across the creek, and he was, you know, he stayed on the porch when I went in to get him a glass of water.

Q And that’s about the extent of the conversation?

A Mm hmm. I knew who he was when I saw him. He had the same expression and everything, and I was just shocked because I had always envisioned the Mr. Donald Eldridge, who I had never met, to be a far more imposing character.

MR. LEINWOHL: That’s all I have.



Q Mrs. Wheatley, you were present when Mr. Eldridge testified in front of Judge Kennedy’s court?

A Yes, I was.

Q And you heard Mr. Eldridge testify, did you not, that he never gave anybody permission to enter, use, or occupy the premises within the last five years; is that correct?

A I don’t know if that’s exactly how he worded it.

Q Do you recall my reading from a little green book—do you recall my reading from this book when I was asking him the questions?

MR. LEINWOHL: Can we know what book that is?

THE COURT: That is a deposition.
MR. CRIST: Deposition of Eldridge.

A Yes, I remember.

Q (By Mr. Crist) Dated February 23, 1977?

A I remember you reading from the deposition. I was taking notes and didn’t know what the color of he book was.

Q Do you remember me asking him the following question:

“And it’s your recollection, is it, that at no time did you grant permission to any of these parties that you met within the past five years that you authorized any person or persons to use or occupy the land? “
And he answered, “That’s right?”

A I remember that, yes.

Q Okay. Now, you were one of the 32 defendants that were involved in the first action; is that correct?

A Mm hmm.

Q And you were represented by yourself or by an attorney?

A I was represented by Mr. Thomas McHugh.

Q Mr. McHugh informed you that on August 5th Judge Kennedy rendered his decision?

A Yes. I was quite well aware of that.

Q Did Mr. McHugh tell you that the Court found that each of the defendants is guilty of unlawful detainer?

A Mm hmm.

Q Did he further advise you the Court finds that each of the defendants is guilty of malice.

A Mm hmm.

MR. CRIST: I have nothing further, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Counse, questions?

MR. TALLETT: No questions.



Q Were you present in Copuirt when Mr. Eldridge testified?

A Yes, I was.

MR. LEINWOHL: Page 3 of the transcript. Do you have a transcript?


Q (By Mr. Leinwohl)) The question asked of Mr. Eldridge on the stand, quote:

“And did you feel that you had a tacit understanding with the people on the property during that period of time?” and Mr. Eldridge’s answer, quote:

“I guess that’s the best way to put it,” unquote.
Do you remember Mr. Eldridge saying that?

A Yes, I do remember him saying that. I was quite terrified when he said—

Q Don’t be terrified.

A Terrified now.

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Q You're still under oath, Mr. Jaynes.
Do you recall the occupants of the Pernam property?

A Yes I do.

Q Do you recall their names?

A Mrs. Hartnett, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson and their daughter, and there were two college
students, their names escape me.

Q Do you know if those people received relocation benefits?

A Yes, they did.
Q Do you know if they were tenants?

A They were not tenants.

Mrs. Burns wants the hippies off the land whose title is still being disputed in court. At this point she has title.
Mr. and Mrs. Burns under examination by Land attorney Mr. Leinwohl
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Open Space District plans ambitious land purchase.
Excerpts from P.A. Times article 4/14/77
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Ex-aide of park district now helping "The Land"
by Jay Thorwaldson 5/7/77

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They call themselves "The Land"
Ex-Official to Aid Evictees
San Jose Mercury 5'9'77
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