Uploaded: Mon, Jul 18, 2011, 10:11 pm
Homeless residents pan car-dwelling ban
Palo Alto officials asked to reconsider proposal to make vehicle habitation illegal
Homeless residents and advocates pleaded with Palo Alto officials on Monday night to rethink their plan to ban vehicle dwelling on city streets.
The City Council is scheduled to consider on July 25 a new ordinance that would make it illegal for residents to live in vehicles. The new law would make vehicle habitation a misdemeanor that would be punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.
Though the council did not discuss the new ordinance on Monday, about a dozen critics -- some of them homeless -- asked council members to slow down and consider the plan's impacts on the city's homeless population.
"I'm homeless and I live in my car and I'm not a criminal," resident Vickie Boone told the council. "I've lived in Palo Alto all my life and voted for most of you.
"I'm asking you to delay the vote you'll have next week and give us time to come up with solutions instead of criminalizing it."
Another speaker, David Gilroy, told the council that he was once homeless but isn't anymore. He asked the council not to make the homeless population's already difficult situation even more daunting.
"I'm going to appeal to your hearts that you think about the people out there in these rough times," Gilroy said.
The Rev. Greg Schaefer, pastor of the University Lutheran Church in College Terrace, also told the council to consider other options before instituting the ban. The city, he said, failed to seek "broad community input" before proceeding with the ordinance.
"I think the cart is being put way, way before the horse," Schaefer said. "To enact an ordinance without providing viable alternatives for people who will be most affected by it is irresponsible."
If the council passes the new ordinance, Palo Alto would cease to be the only city in the area that allows homeless habitation. As the Weekly reported last week, the new law would ban vehicle habitation on city streets, parks, alleys and parking lots.
The College Terrace Residents Association has long called for a ban on vehicle dwellers. Earlier this month, the associations' board of directors voted to support the proposed ordinance.
City officials said the new ordinance would be enforced based on complaints.
Posted by marry,
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm
Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 6 hours ago
People would like to feel secure in their homes, and communities. Having transients living in a vehicle in front of their homes, who have no permanent roots, or even an identity, gives permanent residents a reason for being unsettled.
Obviously Joe, these people are not transients if they are there every day, year in and year out.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 7 hours ago
However, it is the likes of Victor Frost who perpetually lives in a car and causes a nuisance by his lifestyle, that needs to be banned. It is not in-compassionate, but realistic.
Kind of like how we banned the lifestyle of the Native Americans.
Posted by Ken, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 6 hours ago
The request by Mr. James seems to be, primarily, to harass those who have participated in the process. Therefore, I would advise that the request be denied.
Ken does not want to be identified for inflicting his will upon those who have no recourse.
Posted by JustMe, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, 5 hours ago
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." Anatole France, The Red Lily, 1894, chapter 7
That's not true. The law allows people to live out of their vehicles for the enjoyment of it, camping, but not the necessity of it. There are dozens of laws that apply to ordinary citizens that do not apply to citizens who work for the government.
Posted by Lincoln Ave, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, 3 hours ago
The "car campers" defecate in whatever bushes they find convenient, even under or on fruit trees. At least two campers in our neighborhood are not mentally sound, I have no idea if they have a record.
We have no idea if you are mentally sound and if you have a record. Where's the evidence of them defecating in the bushes, I think you're lying.
Posted by Concerned Retiree, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 2 hours ago
We could also do like some enlightened cities do elsewhere and buy these people a bus ticket to their former hometown.
Then you will be giving them a bus ride to Palo Alto, for this is their hometown.
Posted by College Terrace Resident, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, 2 hours ago
Here's an example of one such fact... A few years ago I walked by a VW van permanently parked by JJ&F and watched two men cooking heroin in their van. The door was wide open and I was with my 4 year old daughter.
I live in vehicle next to an upscale house in College Terrace. I actually had to call the cops once because the residents were smoking crack cocaine and I could smell it even though I was about 150ft. away.
Posted by Eileen Wright, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 2 hours ago
This is Palo Alto. If you're down on your luck, go somewhere else.
This is the United States, everyone has the right to own and protect their property, including those who only possess a vehicle. If you hate people to the degree that you would steal from the poor because you don't like seeing them I suggest you buy 40 acres and put your house in the middle of it so that you won't be exposed to anyone who offends you.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]