Around Town | June 21, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 21, 2013

Around Town

A WAKE-UP CALL ... Palo Alto's effort to ban vehicle dwelling within city borders has featured all the elements residents have come to love and hate about the famously thorough city — focused community meetings, long public hearings, deep divisions, frequent revisions, heavy outreach, considerations of alternatives, reconsideration of the whole process and, ultimately, a reversion to the original proposal. This week, the city will head into the final stretch of the long and unpleasant journey when the City Council's Policy and Services Committee reviews the vehicle-banning ordinance that it directed staff to draft last month. If it votes to approve the ordinance, the law would then head to the full council for final approval. Even if the ordinance becomes law, as now seems increasingly likely, Palo Alto officers won't exactly be rushing out to bang on the car windows of vehicle dwellers. Under a plan prepared by the department, the city would embark on a "robust notification progress" about the new law, personally reach out to known vehicle dwellers to couple them with social-service providers; devote 60 days to "education, outreach and transition" and give warnings for additional 30 days. Even after this leniency period ends, enforcement will be complaint-based and will "generally not have officers self-initiate contacts for violation of the ordinance," Assistant Police Chief Bob Beacom wrote in a memo. "As current practice dictates, officers will continue to provide affected parties with referrals to social-service agencies. The goal will be to assist these individuals, who violate the ordinance, to find appropriate social services and utilizing the judicial system only as the last resort."

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