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Mitchell Park has become a haven for the unhoused

Original post made by ssquared, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 21, 2006

Has anyone else noticed that Mitchell Park (near the library and community center) has become a parking area for the homeless (unhoused is the preferred euphemism). You know the kind of car I mean, low slung or a microbus full of clothes and other items with windows covered up. Do these cars stay there overnight? Isn't that illegal? What I saw the other day was the ultimate low we have become. Someone was sleeping on the grass next to the teen drop-in center. Teens were playing ball at the center. Do we want Palo Alto to join the ranks of San Francisco as a homeless haven?

Comments (11)

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Posted by Joseph
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 21, 2006 at 10:48 pm


ssquared wrote: "Do we want Palo Alto to join the ranks of San Francisco as a homeless haven?"


No! I'd rather keep Palo Alto conceited and pretentious, and callously indifferent to the needs of those less fortunate than you and I.


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Posted by South PA Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2006 at 11:05 pm

Yeah, me too.


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Posted by milan
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 22, 2006 at 7:30 am

why don't we do what the leaf-blowers using gardeners often do:blow them over to somebody else's property and pretend that our property is clean.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 22, 2006 at 7:49 am

Mitchell Park isn't the only area affected. Sheridan/Grant between Park Blvd & the railroad tracks, Downtown North Johnson Park, near the Avendias Senior Center, along San Francisco Creek are also areas that I have seen homeless on a consistent basis. Some are well behaved, others less so. As a parent, I don't feel having children unsupervised go to parks these days.


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Posted by Phil
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 22, 2006 at 8:23 am

There is one apparently unhoused person who I often see reading a book in (or around) the children's play area in the evening in Mitchell park. I get the impression that he's politely waiting for us all to go home.

At one time, in another state, I lived out of a van for a while. I had a job, but because I had no living-room I ended up spending a lot of time in coffee shops, the public library or parks. At that time, I felt like I was a solid, responsible citizen who just needed to find some affordable housing,-- but who certainly needed to park his van near a public-access restroom.

Because of my past experiences, I like to think that I'm not unsympathetic to the situation of the unhoused.

Additionally, in my current role as a parent of a young child, I try always to be aware of the safety of the physical and social environment my child finds himself in: older men, without children, hanging around a children's play area raise at least a yellow flag for me.

I can imagine a variety of scenarios for why they might be there: some benign, some less so.

Once, after seeing a different, older man hanging around the Mitchell Park play area for a couple of days, I visited the California registered sex offender web site and thought that a picture of one of our local registered sex offenders looked a little like that man. I wasn't sure that it was that man, though.

He didn't appear to be unhoused, just a little creepy to my eye. Eventually, he stopped hanging around the play area, which was a relief to me.

...I'm not sure what the correct response is to the unhoused in our parks. I wish I knew. Their presence does cause me concern.


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Posted by Joel Henner
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2006 at 8:48 am

There are at least three unhoused "permanent residents" of the Rinconada Park, Library/Community Center campus at Embarcadero and Newell. I see them daily when I walk my dogs. Technically, the park areas close at 10PM, as posted in the park, however, these individuals do not appear to be causing any disruption, or to be a threat. I would rather see our police step up enforcement of the traffic laws at this location (speeders, red-light runners, etc...see my other posts on this subject) before they spend any time "cleaning up" the parks of the homeless. I am more likely to get attacked by a yuppie driving a BMW while yacking on a cell phone and speeding through a red light than by one of these homeless people.

An article in Wednesday's Weekly about the new Urban Ministries building in Palo Alto says "...The five-story building, which took $24 million of fundraising and nearly a decade of planning by the Community Working Group, offers permanent housing to the homeless -- along with comprehensive services such as healthcare, food, clothing, showers, case management and more..."

Let us hope that first priority for permanent housing goes to those unhoused already living in our parks, and not to "out-of-towners".


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Posted by curious
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 22, 2006 at 12:55 pm

An article about San Francisco Golden Gate Park & homeless people:

Web Link


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Posted by Al
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2006 at 1:52 pm

I cannot agree more with Joel!
Perhaps we should turn our concerns to our city reps and PAUSDistrict. They should help finding a permanet place to live for these people. Our government spends so much in wars and other countries and every day less and less in our own people.


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Posted by ssquared
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2006 at 2:13 pm

My concern is for the youngsters in the teen drop-in center and for the hordes of elementary school children using the Mitchell Park library (they walk there from Ohlone, Fairmeadow and JLS). Transients may or may not be harmless, but every once in a while, something happens (the Jessica Smart case in Utah, e.g). Palo Alto has done more than its lion's share of care for the homeless (unhoused)--Urban Ministry, Food Closet, now the Opportunity Center. This is a regional problem. How about Los Altos, Mountain View, Menlo Park chipping in?


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Posted by Tim
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 22, 2006 at 9:30 pm

HA HA. Some people pay $0 to live in a $1 million dollar neighborhood. Makes me wonder who's smarter and who's crazier?


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Posted by A thankful mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2006 at 12:06 pm

My Exhusband lost control when watching my two year old son when I went shopping and spanked him so badly that my son was black and blue from his waist down to his ankles....I called the police the next morning when I found the marks and had him thrown out of the house by the police when he returned from work...the police took my son from me and put him into a temporary foster home for the night while they investigated on the story...I was horrified. We went to court over it and nothing was done to him..I was not working and lost the house we were renting here in Palo Alto. I soon there after got into an auto accident when a woman plowed into the side of my car, which left me in such pain I did not ever fully recover. I was fortunate enough to get into HUD housing here in Palo Alto and stay in the area that I grew up in. If it were not for that program, I and my child would have been homeless........I could not imagine myself hanging around Mitchell Park homeless...thank god it didn't end up that way, but I was one of the fortunate ones who found housing in time.
There are many stories of why people end up homeless...they are not all child molesters..........but good to keep your eyes open. Not only for men, but for suspicious women, also. Our culture is now more aware of these preditors than in the past...THANKFULLY... and it is now just a way of life that we keep our thoughts of this in the back of our minds for our safety.


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