Palo Alto votes to shut down Cubberley 'shelter'

After weeks of debate, City Council votes to keep community center closed at night; devote funds to aid the homeless

The countdown to Cubberley Community Center's closure as Palo Alto's "de facto homeless shelter" officially began Monday night, when the City Council approved a package of reforms that include closing the sprawling facility at night and devoting resources to aiding the homelessness.

Acknowledging that this is just the beginning of a long and complex effort, the council voted 7-1 on Monday, with Councilwoman Karen Holman dissenting and Councilman Marc Berman absent, to keep Cubberley and other community centers closed between 10:30 p.m. and sunrise. The decision was prompted by years of complaints from residents of the adjacent Greenmeadow neighborhood about the sharp uptick in the homeless population.

Police have also reported a significant rise in crime, including recent incidents in which one homeless man challenged an officer to a fight and another in which a homeless woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell.

The vote came after weeks of heated City Hall hearings, each of which attracted dozens of homeless advocates and Greenmeadow residents to the Council Chambers. While the meeting wasn't as heated or crowded as prior discussions, the council once again heard from both sides of the issue. Some, including homeless advocate Chuck Jagoda, characterized the council's actions as mean-spirited and unwarranted. There is nothing at Cubberley to be scared of, he said.

"I can't believe any of you were taught at home or in your religion education that meanness was the way to solve anything," Jagoda said. "That's what you're doing."

But residents argued that they have spent more than two years waiting patiently for the city to act, to little avail. Meanwhile, the homeless population at Cubberley has gone up, more than 20 people regularly camping out there. Rob De Geus, assistant director of the Community Services Department, provided a catalogue of Cubberley problems: fights between campers; people bathing and cooking in bathrooms; aggression toward Cubberley custodians; and syringes and personal items found throughout the campus.

Carolyn Dobrovich was one of several Greenmeadow residents to speak out in favor of new restrictions at Cubberley.

"In this case, I do not think more or better options will come about until you begin the process of returning Cubberley to its original use, as a community center and potential school," Dobrovich said.

Councilwoman Liz Kniss, who chairs the Policy and Services Committee, characterized the council's approach as an attempt to tackle both issues: the increased Cubberley activity and the broader and infinitely more complex issue of homelessness. The council's action devotes $150,000 for programs to assist the homeless. Staff and the city's partnering organizations from the nonprofit community will present a specific proposal for homeless assistance in October.

Another $100,000 would be provided for subsidized housing -- a sum that would be matched by Santa Clara County.

"We have not taken this lightly. We have taken this on I think with a determination and almost a ferocity that says, 'We will solve this problem,' " Kniss said. "We will be able to provide services to those people in the community who are so needy."

But at the same time, she said, safety and public health in the Greenmeadow and Charleston Meadows areas need to be preserved.

Council Larry Klein, who also sits on the Policy and Services Committee, agreed and said neighborhood residents have been patient long enough.

"I think our first obligation is to protect our neighborhood, protect our community center and also do what we can to help those who are disadvantage in a variety of different ways," Klein said.

Vice Mayor Nancy Shepherd and Councilman Greg Schmid both talked about the broad scope of the complex dilemma and argued that county involvement will be crucial to tackling homelessness. Upon Shepherd's suggestion, the council agreed to designate Kniss and Councilwoman Gail Price as liaisons to the county to advocate for homelessness assistance. Like others, Shepherd emphasized the need to find compassionate solutions for the homeless who would be displaced from Cubberley.

"I think the interest I have of course is to make sure that everyone in Palo Alto has that type of security and housing that every human being deserves," Shepherd said.

The Monday decision came two weeks after the council took an even more contentious vote, to ban vehicle dwelling. That ban, which passed 7-2 with Holman and Councilman Marc Berman dissenting, became official earlier in the meeting when the council approved it on a formal "second reading." The vehicle habitation ban is set to take effect in 31 days.

Councilman Pat Burt and Councilwoman Karen Holman suggested giving a larger role in this discussion to the Human Relations Commission. But their proposal to include the commission met resistence from their colleagues, with Mayor Greg Scharff and Klein both arguing that this would only cause further delays.

Councilwoman Gail Price, emphasized that the Monday action is "just the beginning of many conversations" that the council will be having on this topic. But she also stressed that it's time to act.

"We could continue to converse for another three years or more," Price said. "We do it very well.

But I know several of us feel -- including the public -- we need action that makes a difference for people -- something that's meaningful."

The next big conversation is set to take place in October, when staff and a newly formed coalition of nonprofit groups comes forward with a specific plan for assisting the homeless. The Rev. Paul Bains, who runs the WeHOPE shelter in East Palo Alto, said he and other members of the nascent Homeless Services Task Force will be working over the next 30 to 60 days on coming up with a plan for addressing the problem of homelessness in Palo Alto. The plan, he said, will have short-term and long-term recommendations.

Bains called the council's allocation of resources an "excellent start" for tackling the"complex and confounding issue" of homelessness. He also said that the the group, with its range of resources and concentrations, would be able to "achieve a great deal."

"We'd like to say that none of us is as strong as all of us," Bains said.


Posted by "Neighbors Helping Neighbors", a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Dear Neighbors,
Most of our current 'homeless' both 'vehicle dwellers & other unhoused folks were Palo Alto residents living in homes or apartments in Palo Alto. Plus, many have jobs but unable to afford rents anywhere in Santa Clara county.  A portion are people who work here and compute from long distances which makes going home nightly impossible. NHN serves Palo Alto residents. There are too many on our groceries rooster who are becoming homeless. These folks were your upper & middle income neighbors.
      Please consider that there are good 'alternative measures' rather than a droconian ordiance which will make the circumstances of your neighbors who are failing horrifyingly worse. WE HAVE SEVERELY INADEQUTE 'SAFETY NET SERVICES'. The gaps and cracks in social services will not happen over night nor will there suddenly be adequte services in 6 mos.

      It is false to believe that right now there are 'shelter beds' for street homeless or car campers. NHN peer counsels many homeless. And there has been NO available beds in quite sometime (except isolated incidents).
There is NO 'motel voucher' program in Santa Clara county. Previsionally, some faith groups have given money for motel stays but it is so little to match the true need for folks in dire circumstances. This immediate motel shelter is so important to keep our most vulnerable with health issues & children out of harsh elements
Of the 500+ residents in need, housed & unhoused, which NHN provides peer counseling not one of them (even though they quailify) has been approved for public housing unit(s) in Palo Alto. Many of these folks (singles, seniors, couples and families) has submited public housing applications repeatedly (2004-2013).
Since Oct. 2012, Neighbors Helping Neighbors has been successfully, offering alternatives to unhoused and housed our 'neighbors in need' with low/no cost emergency, temporary and permenant housing, job network and help with transportation.
As well as groceries.
       If you or anyone you know (Palo Alto resident) who has difficult circumstances pls contact us.
                                      What We Do:
We are a group of volunteers striving to provide groceries to Palo Alto families, seniors and singles who are unable to qualify for 'safety net' programs like Cal Fresh (formally food stamps) or food closet assistance. However, extra food items collected are given to local food closets. Also, our City of Palo Alto Family Resources trained volunteers provides peer counseling and referrals for other life's challenges (housing, healthcare, professional counseling, legal issues, etc.) for those who may need extra help.
Palo Alto Online Palo Alto Weekly: Catching neighbors who fall through the gap (January 25, 2013)
Web Link

If you or anyone you know (Palo Alto resident) who has difficult circumstances pls contact us.

Posted by W.W.G, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2013 at 11:38 pm

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

The Vehicle Dwelling Ordinance passed by the city council makes it a crime in PA to eat, sleep, or rest in a car. I suggest that I have seen many many people doing these acts on a very frequent basis in PA. If citizens were to call the police every time that they see another individual doing any of those things -- perhaps outside a restaurant, or in the parking lot during soccer practice -- just any time really, just to be a good citizen and report the fact that it MIGHT be a homeless person, because after all they are habitating in a car through the act of eating or resting -- then the police would be less enamored of the task they have assigned themselves.

Posted by Alan, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Thank you City Council. After years of patients the situation was getting out of control. It is time to return Cubbereley to the community center and place where the local kids can play, that it once was.

I will remember the council members that voted for this and support them in the future. And Karen Holemen can forget about having my support for anything she runs for in the future.

Posted by Your Neighbor, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:55 am

East Palo Alto says to Palo Alto...."Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Posted by businessdecision, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 7:00 am

Time to accept how bad everything is getting and not dream of a golden age where your kids could go over there and play the way you could.
Accepting would mean giving these people back what you just took from them, sighing, and saying this is just how it is, and let's not make them be the only ones who pay.
Soon enough everyone will be engulfed.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2013 at 7:20 am

I understand why this has had to happen and agree with it, nevertheless I am saddened.

The sad part is that it doesn't solve the problem, just moves it.

This is helping the neighbors, but not those with nowhere to go.

This regional problem needs a better solution that just banning them from wherever. We do need to provide something, somewhere, for those who are temporarily living in vehicles and real help for the hopeless.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:10 am

> many have jobs but unable to afford rents
> anywhere in Santa Clara county.

It would be far better for people like this poster to provide some real data about the employment status of the people camping out in Cubberley, rather than making these wide, unsubstantiated claims.

Maybe helping these folks find work in places closer to their actual homes, would be something that would make more sense than trying to fill in gaps in unsustainable situations.

Posted by Get Real, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:11 am

[Portion removed.] "Most of our current 'homeless' both 'vehicle dwellers & other unhoused folks were Palo Alto residents living in homes or apartments in Palo Alto. Plus, many have jobs but unable to afford rents anywhere in Santa Clara county. A portion are people who work here and compute from long distances which makes going home nightly impossible."

Those people are stubborn and can't accept that they cannot afford to live in Palo Alto anymore. If they truly are commuting to jobs, they can find cheap rent elsewhere: East Bay, San Jose, East Palo Alto. At least EPA is willing to "give back to Palo Alto" since their residents frequent our city.

Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:23 am

The campers and their advocates are astoundingly naive. They should have applied for PC zoning.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2013 at 11:00 am

This was the wise and sound move to make, and I applaud our city council. Any decision that involves those less fortunate in our midst is always difficult. On the heels of the vehicle dwelling ban, this will at least begin to even out the playing field when it comes to our region's approach in dealing with the homeless. I am gratified that our city council members applied some common sense in making this decision, as opposed to being played by the guilt card which is inevitably tossed in these matters.

Palo Alto has long been a magnet for the homeless because of our overall sense of compassion, generosity, and tolerance. Unfortunately there are too many people, especially the homeless advocates, that wish to take advantage of these attributes. They perceive this all to be never ending and without limits, offering little or no regard to the impact it has on the overall quality of life in our neighborhoods. Any past attempts to place reasonable limits have been met with accusations, many of which are repeated on this post, of people being uncaring or out of touch. That's simply not the case.

Quite the contrary. Palo Alto as a whole has carried the burden of the homeless outreach efforts in our region for decades. No other city in our area, if not the greater Bay Area, comes even close to Palo Alto in terms of allocating public funds for homeless outreach, playing host to facilities that serve those less fortunate, as well as having no restrictions on vehicle dwelling, or in this case, allowing people to use public party in the form of a community center as a mobile shelter of sorts. Every other city already has an ordinance on the books prohibiting such activity, and on top of that, have few resources if any allocated toward homeless outreach. And people wonder why Palo Alto has a disproportionately high number of homeless and people living on our streets?

Again, I hope this will begin to spread out the responsibility when it comes to homeless outreach in our region, and give our city some tools that will enable us to preserve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 20, 2013 at 11:38 am

What is the status of the (former?) ITT property next to highway 101?
It would not cost much to pave a small piece of it over and provide
some electric lighting and set up a short term permitting system for
folks down on their luck to dwell in their vehicles there.
This would give them somewhere to go while all the other pieces of
the assistance plan have time to get into operation and be fine tuned.

Posted by Concerned Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2013 at 11:44 am

Phil: Thanks so much for your excellent comment.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2013 at 11:53 am

What about some of the homeless becoming roommates together? I know of three people who receive at least $800/month, and are living in their cars in this city. Several of these people own property & assets over $30,000 each, but they are set in their ways of living in their cars and eating at the various places around town.

Posted by Good Decision, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2013 at 11:55 am

At last our City Council has shown some backbone and actually made a decision, instead of endlessly talking around it - thank you City Council. I will not be voting for Karen Holman again.

At my last count there were 5 large campers parked at Cubberley. These people are not poor if they can afford campers like that. If the owners look around there are many other places they can park; State Parks, Federal Parks like Yosemite. Oh yes, you'd have to pay a fee but if you can afford a huge rolling home like that you can afford to pay a parking fee.

The only reason the owners of those huge campers stay at Cubberley is because its free. Now it's time to move on.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Crime/illegal drug use concerns are valid - just read plenty of recent news reports; public health/cleanliness issues/appropriate use and access of public facilities are valid concerns; safety of children should be a priority; safe access to a central community center is a community value: yes, shutting down the de-facto "shelter" made perfect sense.
Please support government social services, and the many charities that support homeless or mentally ill.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm

None of the efforts [portion removed] will solve the problem, because there is no cap. The same arguments were used when the Opportunity Center was being proposed. Even Victor Frost said, at the time, that word was on the street, and the OC would be overwhelmed with move-ins. He was right. Now, the magnet has attracted much more. [Portion removed.] There is no end in sight, until homelessness is criminalized, and we shut the gates...we already do too much for them.

Those who oppose my views can simply do two things:

1. Open up a bedroom in your own home for a homeless person

2. Demand that each neighborhood be able to vote on any new low cost/high density projects in Palo Alto.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm

It would be nice to find housing for those willing to move in but lets face it we live in a darn pretty expensive spot. Some of those who are most likely living in a RV might have found that way to keep a roof over their head. Others they just chose to live in a RV but again I don't know every persons story on the how and why they ended up living in a car, RV or sleeping on the streets.

I have seen people lose their homes, their jobs and everything else. It is kinda of sad when you do have to bounce back up in a place that has to be one of the most expensive places in the U.S. Just because they are homeless doesn't mean they have left behind a world of debt, troubles, bad credit, bad health or a divorce.

I almost became homeless over a divorce.

Posted by Linda, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Besides near 101 where is the ITT site?

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm

How you can be become homeless over a divorce. Lose your job, then your child, then your home, your wife, your credit and then your health.

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Maybe my earlier comment on this issue had an effect on the activists so I will repeat it again:


It's time to put your " Compassion " where your mouth is.

Since that comment has not been acted upon, we now know who are the " Limousine liberals " that live in Palo Alto.

Go ahead and enforce many of the laws already on the books that deal with this issue; The LEOs are responsible for not doing their jobs in the first place. They already know that not enforcing a law weakens the rest of the laws.

Until YOU have actually given a place for even ONE homeless person, you should SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN at any public government meeting.

The REACH Program left Cubberley. Want to know one of the reasons why?

We handicapped had to deal directly with this problem. We had to have LOCKED BATHROOMS for our use; I found out why when I walked ONCE in the other areas of the Cubberley campus.

On the surface, it appears that PA was more concerned about the " professional homeless " than the handicapped people using the REACH Program for rehabilitation.

I won't go into the other reasons REACH left, the On-Line could have a complete story just about those other issues.

So how about inviting a homeless person to share YOUR residence?

Or are the many " Advocates for the Homeless " want to force people in PA to share their homes along with paying the taxes that give the " professional homeless " a free lunch?


Posted by Susan, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Subsidized housing rates are currently being greatly increased in Palo Alto to people who are already qualified. Adding in a load of homeless into the subsidized housing program will only stretch the dwindling funds to the breaking point. EVERYONE will have to pay more and most are on fixed incomes as opposed to NO income.

I am all for helping the less fortunate and disabled but please consider the burden that will be transferred to the system that is already has reached realistic limits. A friend of mine is faced with a 139% increase that he cannot afford to pay. Tragic!

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Punnisher - I don't ride in or drive a limo. I took in a homeless person & it was an utter disaster. I've helped other individual homeless people. I fed one from the time I was in high school until he disappeared years later. I helped another one for months (actually, years), literally, & still lend aid & she's no longer homeless. For her, it took the county (& w/in the county, numerous organizations), her own commitment, an animal shelter, & dog rescue group, DAILY help from me & a couple of others & her practice of sobriety to get her up & out of her self-created hell. I don't think her family did much.

Now, we donate $$ & goods instead. Our volunteer efforts that take more sweat & effort lie elsewhere. Why? Because that is our right & our calling. Helping the homeless isn't important to everyone, obviously. Some of them really don't want to be helped, obviously. We also put our personal safety first. In fact, one of the homeless I helped years ago harassed & stalked me - it was frightening until the police caught him. Oh, & in the intervening years he'd become a sex offender.

Trying to blame individuals for not doing more is ridiculous. If REAGAN hadn't come into power in California, releasing so many of the mentally ill, our conversation online about this might well be quite different. It's generally the "limousine liberals" who put some safety nets in place & the GOP who remove them.

So, what're you doing to help?

Posted by Anna, a resident of Monroe Park
on Aug 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm

1. I would like to see Palo Alto Online interview some of the people who camp at Cubberley. What's their story and monthly income? Are they so poor that they can't afford to rent anything in the Bay Area? As others have said, there are cheaper parts of the bay such as parts of San Jose, EPA, etc. It's hard to believe that camping at Cubberley is the only opinion for these families. Again, no one has interviewed any of these people. Some of these people seem very stubborn and won't consider alternative living arrangements until they are banned from Cubberley.

2. Why aren't the religious organizations offering to let some of these people camp in their parking lot at night? A lot of churches participate in Santa Barbara's Safe Parking program. If Palo Alto wants to copy Santa Barbara, then religious organizations should step up.

Web Link

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2013 at 4:20 pm


Contrary to what some people have said on this board, the majority of people living on Palo Alto streets, or utilizing resources such as the Opportunity Center, have few if any community roots and ties to Palo Alto. That I learned from being involved in numerous volunteer organizations over the years.

On the issue of our faith based community and churches getting involved to form a coalition of mobile shelters, it has been well publicized that only one church in Palo Alto stepped up to the plate.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Get real, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Ever check put the rents for low-income housing? My daughter found a low-income apartment: one bedroom, $850/month, 2-year waiting list. Too expensive and too small for a divorced mom of two. But, hey, it IS in Palo Alto

Posted by Jackson B, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Hallelujah! It's about time the City did something! Staff, especially Rob deGues, have known about the problems (public health & safety, drugs, fights, sexual assaults, threatening and harrassing Cubberley employees) for years and have chose to sweep it all under the rug and do nothing. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Moochie, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:24 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Good Decision, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I think some of these vehicle campers simply prefer to live like that because they can't be bothered to maintain a house or apartment. I don't buy it that they are all poor, many of them receive their social security retirement funds but looking after a fixed home is just too much trouble. Why would you when you can live at Cubberley rent free!!

Posted by resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm

I volunteer at Friends of Palo Alto Libraries. We have a trailer by the tennis courts. There is a big oak tree and couple of cars are always there. Windows are shaded, chairs, sometimes dogs and people. They are the same people I see every time I come. They mind their business and I mind mine. Until one day as I come out of the trailer and approach my car I am attacked by the furious woman who calls me names, threatens me and moons me. It happen last week.

Posted by Jack , a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Phil states:

that most of the homeless who live in Palo Alto and use the services have no roots here and therefore do not deserve to be here.

Phil is the one who is incorrect. It is true that many people whom he has come in contact with at the O.C. are not from Palo Alto, but the O.C. is not just for Palo Altans, it is a regional service provider, thus people from Mountain View, Menlo Park and Redwood City have every right to be here.

Secondarily Phil comes into contact with people who seek hand outs from the service providers, Phil does not come into contact with the 20 homeless individuals who work either full-time or part-time and do not need or want charity. These people Phil never sees unless of course he happens to glance at one exiting their car and then wrongly assumes that the person must be a leach on services. About half of these ten have deep roots in Palo Alto living here from 20 to 50 years who even graduated high school here.

The problem with Phil and his ilk is that he believes that unless you are making six figures you do not have a right to live in Palo Alto even if your job is in Palo Alto, even if you are a full time School Teacher teaching Phil's kids their "A, B, Cs."

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm

You were mooned, Resident? That's very 1975! But seriously, what you experienced was awful, & it's unsurprising. My friend & I quit taking classes at Cubberley due to the harassment we experienced from the campers there. We didn't get refunds, & since we're non-residents, we paid higher fees. It's too bad that the campers ruined it for us & of course, we discourage anyone we can from taking classes there. A friend of mine, new to Stanford, from a tough part of the world, didn't believe me & checked out classes for herself & family. She passed on them & realized that I hadn't exaggerated.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Dear Jack,

I will state the obvious in expressing what I believe. No one has a "right" to live in Palo Alto. One lives where they can afford to live, and should not expect others to subsidize their housing just because they "want" or "demand" to live in a certain place. It's called reality. Some people can't afford to live in Palo Alto, just like I can't afford to live in Atherton or Hillsboro.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Allow me to add another thought Jack. I maintain as stated originally that the majority of people living on Palo Alto streets, or seeking homeless outreach services have few if any community roots and ties in Palo Alto. I didn't say all, but certainly a majority.

You are correct in your observation that the Opportunity Center is indeed open to anyone seeking assistance at the drop-in center, and/or if they should qualify for housing at that facility. People come in from all over the Bay Area and even reaches beyond. For that reason it clearly makes my point. Palo Alto plays host to the Opportunity Center along with many other homeless services. Additionally, Palo Alto tax payers allocate a six-figure annual allowance to help support the OC.

This all leads to the point that I'm trying to make, so thanks for bringing it up. Palo Alto is by far the leader in our region for providing homeless services and tax payer funding for those services. As a result we end up with a disproportionate number of homeless people, as well as the many problems and challenges that comes along with that. Trust me, I realize that not every person living on the street is a criminal or threat to society. I get it, so spare me the histrionics already. I also realize, and common sense dictates, that an equally disproportionate number of those people do not find themselves in that situation simply because they lost their job or are experiencing financial difficulty. That is not the case. The majority do suffer from varying degrees of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and have criminal backgrounds that makes it difficult if not impossible to find employment.

Palo Alto cannot continue to host all of these services, and not have local laws prohibiting things like vehicle dwelling on public streets and parking lots. Palo Altans have a long history of compassion, tolerance, and generosity. We deserve some reasonable limits and boundaries that these laws provide in preserving the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2013 at 11:24 pm


you are wrong on several points. There are 7,631 homeless people in Santa Clara County. There at most 157 homeless people who utilize any services in Palo Alto.
Web Link

There is only one shelter of 15 beds in Palo Alto and that is not the O.C. The O.C. does not have any shelter for the homeless. There is housing located in the same building as the O.C. but it is not apart of the O.C. operations. This long term housing for the poor can be utilized by people who are not homeless, people who are just poor. Even so, the wait list is about 2 years from what I have been told.

Most of the shelters and services are in San Jose where most of the homeless reside. Sunnyvale housed 150 shelter beds.
Web Link

Since 1992, the Homeless Fund has awarded more than 2 million dollars to shelter and homeless service providers. Some of these grants have funded the following: the San Mateo County Winter Shelter; the Maple Street Shelter in Redwood City and the First Step for Families Shelter in San Mateo; the Catholic Worker Hospitality House in San Bruno; the Clara-Mateo Shelter in Menlo Park; the Bethsaida Family Living Home in Redwood City; and Free At Last's Walker House in East Palo Alto. The Homeless Fund also provides grants for additional homelessness prevention programs and permanent housing projects.
Web Link

Your statement that, "Palo Alto is by far the leader in our region for providing homeless services and tax payer funding for those services," is not true and therefore is misleading the public.

InnVision which operates the O.C. has a 16 million dollar budget, yet only a small fraction of this is spent in Palo Alto with the majority spent in other communities and on staff salaries.
Web Link

There are approximately 663,000 long term homeless people nation wide with a 1,600,000 experiencing short term of homelessness each year. Of those given one night of shelter in January 2010 26.2% had a severe mental illness and 34.7% had a chronic substance issue. That leaves about 39% or 624,000 homeless people who are not mentally ill or have a substance abuse problem.
Web Link

Why do you persist in falsely portraying a large portion of the homeless population?

Posted by Tom, a resident of Professorville
on Aug 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Dear Jack,

I will state the obvious in expressing what I believe. No one has a "right" to live in the United States or Planet Earth for that matter. One lives where they can afford to live, and should not expect others to subsidize their housing just because they "want" or "demand" to live in the United States just because they are a United States citizen. It's called reality. Some people can't afford to live in the United States, (even if they are citizens), just like I can't afford to live on Mars or Venus.

This isn't the 1800s where a man could build himself a cabin in 3 to 6 months, ala Abe Lincoln, from fresh cut trees and be freed from sweating away for one's home. This is the 21st Century where society fraudulently constructs laws demanding that every man, woman and child shall slave-away for property owners 30 to 50 hours a week, year after year until the day they die if they want to avoid be sent to jail.

The Vehicle Habitation Ordinance and the Anti-Camping ordinance at Cubberley are nothing more than tools to extort the fruit of the working poor's labor into the hands of the wealthy property owners and that's the way it ought to be.

Posted by Frank, a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2013 at 7:39 am

Palo Alto can always "exile" it's homeless population:

South Carolina City Approves Plan To Exile Its Homeless

Web Link

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2013 at 10:47 am

I think somehow we should go out and find out the causes of why, when and how these people become homeless. Drugs, Alcohol abuses, poor education, mental illness, physical illness, bad luck or victims of lost housing.

We all talk about if you can't afford here, go live somewhere else which is fine but what about our jobs. You could have a job and be homeless. I think moving homeless people out of parks, community centers, school grounds is great thing. But we do need to find housing that they can afford in the area.

Posted by why?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm

"But we do need to find housing that they can afford in the area."


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Doesn't the housing need really depend on the job situation? If the job is an exceptionally good one, I can see getting together w/others to get an affordable place. Or move in w/someone else, save as much as possible & get your own place.

So many of the people I grew up w/have moved from the immediate area because they can't afford it. That's rational, whether they moved to a condo in San Mateo, a rental in Pacifica or bought a place in Morgan Hill or Atlanta.

There are other factors at play for the unwillingness to relocate to a safe place that is a legal dwelling.

Posted by Bob , a resident of Community Center
on Aug 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

No other city has any 'homeless'? No other city has a problem? No other city is concerned?
There should be no finger-pointing at Palo Alto, and other cities should do some soul-searching and collaborate on this problem. It is well known that homeless hitchhike from colder climes - including San Francisco to a place with marvelous weather and up to now with a 'welcome mat'. We have "soup kitchens", food closets, clothes 'closets". Some statistics show that Palo Altans contribute more per resident to charity needs than any other Santa Clara County area per capita. (No, I cannot cite the statistics, but it was in the press last year.) I am fed up with this Palo Alto 'bashing".

Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Hey Bob,

How many people hitchhike in California per year?

Posted by agree, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2013 at 8:42 am

I agree with Bob!

Posted by Bob , a resident of Community Center
on Aug 22, 2013 at 10:11 am

Correction. Hitch hiking is rather 'passe'. Instead, call it "riding the bus" or even CalTrain from SanFrancisco and San Jose or some mode from New York. "It is rumored" that some welfare personnel even give some help and a push on a good location. Recently, Nevada put mentally deficient patients on a bus and shipped them to the Bay Area. That's been a prominent news story. Palo Alto has been a 'magnet" for years.

Posted by Norman Carroll, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm

The suggestion of advocates taking in one unhoused person is silly in many respects. I live in a studio apartment, neither of us would be comfortable for long. Secondly, my lease states that I can only over-night vistors seven nights per moth or face a lease violation.

I guess I could volate my lease, and add to the unhoused population.

Why not help keep house and let someone live in garage??????

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