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Aggressive Homeless 2

Original post made by Kate on Mar 2, 2007

I was unable to post a second comment on the issue of aggressive homeless individuals in downtown Palo Alto and so I continue that discussion here.

One solution that might be beneficial to both the homeless population and the citizens of Palo Alto is to require drug testing at the Opportunity Center. By doing so, we could insure, as best we could, that those in the Center are serious about improving their lives. We are not doing the population that lives at the Center, or using it on a drop-in basis, any favors by allowing some at the Center to continue to ask for money from downtown patrons and then use the money for drugs or alcohol. Let's get serious about this problem and stop enabling those that are taking the Opportunity Center and Palo Alto for a ride. Let's continue to help those that are serious about building a better life for themselves and stop enabling the rest.

Comments (43)

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2007 at 11:36 am

I agree that being homeless is not a crime, and I would never advocate percecuting anyone based on their homelessness. However, there are some people in our society who have definite problems and do not belong in our society at large. These persons need to be dealt with, be they simple homeless folks or CEOs, for the protection of the rest of society. Anyone who starts kicking the dog you are walking would fall into this catagory.

Many people with major social issues like that will be homeless, and when you invite the homeless you invite those folks too. We need a filtering mechanism to remove the dog-kickers and aggressive people. I don't know if you could get away with drug testing anyone who shows up at the shelter, I think there might be problems with that approach. But the police will be able to track which individuals they have had to speak with in the past, and they can assist in the removal of true undesirables. That's why I advocate dialing 911 as fast as you can: get that person on record as having been a problem.

I am TOTALLY opposed to boycoting the downtown area. I don't think we should relinquish it to the mentally disturbed, the downtown shops have suffered enough already and I don't see punishing them further, I don't think this is a problem that our downtown retailers should deal with alone, and letting our downtown degrade will only hurt all of us in the long run. We need to defend our downtown, not abandon it.

Posted by fortunate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 2, 2007 at 1:26 pm

My other post got cut off - there was a reference to a timely article: Web Link

Mainly from the last quote:
When I started outreach work a decade ago, one of my clients died in the night from heart failure on the footpath of a retail precinct. Wrapped in his swag, he was there for a whole day before anyone noticed. People had been stepping over him while they shopped. I have always hoped this would not become a symbol for how our city deals with its most vulnerable citizens.

Posted by Thinking Out Loud, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2007 at 1:58 pm

The worst offenders are the mentally ill. Testing negative for drugs may be exactly the wrong desire for their and our well being.
And on the subject of drug/alcohol use affecting behavior - were do you start, or end, when it comes to addressing domestic violance, child abuse, and annoying neighbors? How about wreckless driving, littering, and general rudeness?
We should all be as willing as you would like them to be in submitting to testing every time we leave our house to interact with the public, and when we go in to interact with our families.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2007 at 2:45 pm

I regret to confess that I have a brother who is a drug and alcohol abuser, and I have noticed that there are really two of him. When he is not abusing he is okay and easy to deal with, converse with, and so on. Once he falls off the wagon his behavior is erratic, irrational, and downright scarey. Some of the drugs do thing to your mental stability. Police have reported that it is much harder to stop people on PCP with stun-guns. Much of the "mental health" behavior we witness may actually be due to the drugs they are on, so the problem becomes an addiction problem, not mental illness, unles you want to define addiction as a mental illness.

I cannot describe my intense hatred of illegal drugs, but that hatred does not extend to the users. I loath the behavior, not the person. My actual desire is to rescue the person from that behavior. But I see no reason to allow that person to practice that behavior at our risk while we are trying to help him/her.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Out of pure self interest all cities need to provide camping accomodations with sanitary facilities at some agreed location, possibly with some hostel-like accomodations for those tentless ones. The poor farm also needs to be reconsidered. As nice as it may be to insist on high standards of housing for everyone, sometimes perfection is the enemy of good enough. Everybody has to be somewhere.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 3, 2007 at 7:02 am

It appears that the first thread on this subject, Aggressive Homeless, is now operational again, but since Agressive Homeless 2 is already started I'll just continue on from here.

I agree with JustMe. Also, drug testing is a method of providing a service to individuals that need help. To allow the homeless population, one that has increased substantiallly over the last year, to take drugs and drink alcohol at will without checking if they are a user, is madness and disrespectful to the homeless population that we are supposedly helping. How can you help someone without having the facts? Certainly, an expensive rehab center would never operate in this manner. Noone would pay for that service. Also, we as residents of Palo Alto have a right to expect that when a facility like the Opportunity Center is built near a high school and the downtown area, that those in charge of that center will act responsibly. Part of acting responsibly is to take a realistic look at the effect that the Center is having on Palo Alto and to adjust the rules and regulations accordingly.

My Westie is lucky to not have any serious injuries from the attack by the homeless man the other day. I took a walk downtown yesterday and did carry my phone just in case there was another encounter with an angry homeless individual. I also sent an email to city council about this incident and others that I have witnessed and I again encourage all residents who are tired of attacks and aggressive panhandling to do the same. For all of the above reasons, I would encourage everyone, in their email, to ask City Council to insist on drug testing at the Opportunity Center as a prerequisite for service. Here's City Council's email again:

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2007 at 7:12 am

The crazies and the dopers are not going to disappear just because we disapprove of their actions. Everybody has to be somewhere, and if we deny them the right to be anywhere then we damn well be prepared to lock them up, because they are not just going to wrinkle their noses and appear elsewhere. I don't want my worst enemy to get crushed in a dumpster, and I don't want the law to find no wriggle between arrest and rousting. There needs to be a non-custodial facility where the homeless can be taken.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2007 at 7:21 am

Another possibility is to camera downtown so that criminal acts are recorded. In some communities the cameras ar acessible to anyone over the internet, so a full time police watcher is not needed.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 3, 2007 at 1:04 pm

There is no reason that you can't actively mandate in a facility such as the Opportunity Center that drug testing will be mandatory. If some in the homeless community do not want to be tested, then they will have to find another source of help. It's called tough love. Whether they stay or leave is irrelevant at this point. Right now we encourage even active drug users to come and use the Opportunity Center. Denying or providing services to a homeless individual based on their decision to use or stop using drugs is something that should be under the control of the community. If services are denied to those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, then Palo Alto becomes less attractive to that group of homeless individuals. There is nothing wrong with a community that does not want to encourage drug addicted homeless individuals to the downtown area. Let's not forget that this facility was placed a block away from Palo Alto High School and adjacent to the Town and Country Shopping Center---a place where the kids from the high school hang out during breaks, lunch and after school. Also, if everyone would stop giving money directly to the homeless, they would not be able to go down the street and buy alcohol and drugs. Give the money to an organization that is helping the homeless by providing food and shelter. Stop handing the money directly over to the homeless. You are NOT helping them. You ARE enabling them to hurt themselves and others in the process.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2007 at 2:06 pm

People who are clean, sober and cooperative are unlikely to need shelter services. When you toss dopers out of a shelter they do not just disappear in a puff of smoke, they go back to sleeping in dumpsters, crapping in doorways and spreading disease.
If a shelter is available you can justify arresting them for sleeping outside available shelter. If you throw them out of the shelter for not being a choirboy, then their status is less sure. It is not for compassion that I urge campgrounds, it is selfish interest in public health and safety.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2007 at 3:38 pm

When you test the homeless utilizing the shelter for drugs, it does not mean you have to kick themout if they are dirty. They all need help, but each person needs help targeted to his/her needs. Detecting a drug or alcohol problem simply allows correct targeting of solutions. The alternative is to treat every one of them for drug issues, even if they have never used. That does not make sense to me at all.

We can help them, if we know what they need.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2007 at 6:35 pm

So if they won't submit to a drug test throw them out?
Because most of them won't.
There are an abundance of assist programs available to those who will cooperate with the program. The homeless need be reeled in cautiously lest they shake the hook. A warm dry place to sleep, sanitary and shower facilities and unconditional consideration, then perhaps some can be brought alongside, but at least they are not making sanitary nuisances. Sometime, you take what you can get.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 4, 2007 at 4:57 pm

If some of the homeless using the Opportunity Center don't want to be tested for drug use, then we, as a community, should not feel compelled to attract more of the same via facilities like the Opportunity Center. Those that want a second chance at a better life can find it at the Center, but monitoring for drug use should be a prerequisite for that help. It's common sense. The Center is near downtown and near a high school. There shouldn't even be a question about whether the individuals the Center is attracting and servicing are drug user or not. That should be a known fact to those in charge there at the Opportunity Center.

I for one am tired of walking on eggshells about this subject. We don't have to allow some in the homeless population to bully us, our children and our pets as we utilize the downtown area. Part of really helping the homeless population is to take a realistic look at what the Opportunity Center should and shouldn't be to the homeless community and the city where it's located. I support providing help to those that want it, but I don't want to provide services to those who only want to take advantage of the Center as a place for food or shelter and then proceed to walk a few blocks to the downtown area and harrass others for money or, in some cases, no reason at all.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 4, 2007 at 5:23 pm

I just wanted to let everyone know that there is a Palo Alto City Council Meeting tomorrow, March 5, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall on Hamilton Avenue. I am going to attend and speak for a minute about my experiences to date with some members of the homeless population. Anyone else who thinks the time has come to address this issue in earnest should also attend and plan on speaking. You only need to say a line or two about your view and/or experiences with the homeless population. It's a way to educate City Council on this subject with facts supplied by residents of Palo Alto.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2007 at 6:24 pm

If they were reasonable they likely wouldn't be homeless. We can't just roust them because they just find another hiding place. If there is a place with shelter and sanitation we can direct them there and discourage their excursions. An analogy, Kate. You are using dog training logic on cats.

Posted by kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2007 at 7:33 pm

Good for you, Kate Crescent Park. But check the time of that City Council Mtg. Usually they start at 7:00. Call the City Clerk's office tomorrow to confirm WHEN residents can speak on non-agenda items. There may be some sort of a 'study session' or issue hearing before the regular mtg.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2007 at 9:02 am

CORRECTION: The City Council Meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. today, 3/5/07 NOT 6:00 p.m. as previously stated.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2007 at 7:34 pm

By the time I was able to get to the Council meeting (7:10 p.m.), public comments on non-agenda items had already occurred. I'll attend the next meeting to voice my concerns. I hope someone was able to make it to the meeting and speak.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 6, 2007 at 9:45 am

I took a walk last night after returning from City Council meeting. There were four homeless men sitting in front of Walgreens shouting at those that passed by. They were obviously drunk or on drugs by the way they slurred their words. Why is it that the police don't seem to know that the majority of the homeless that cause problems hang out in front of Walgreens, Longs and Starbucks? If they do know, why aren't they handling the situation and enforcing the law? A police car drove right by with its passenger side window down and didn't even stop to evaluate the situation.

Instead, I read in the Daily News that the Police and City Council want to use Restorative Policing, which is short hand for "do not arrest the homeless". I find it odd that the Police are intending to instead go after Longs, threatening arrest of employees at Longs, if an intoxicated homeless person is sold alcohol. If the Police don't know that some members of the homeless community are drunk or on drugs most of the time in the downtown area, then how are they going to know when and if Longs sells alcohol to them?

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2007 at 10:00 am

Hmm, let's see,...
"Restorative Policing,...."
"Don't arrest the Homeless,...."
It sounds like that translates to "Don't fill up the jails with problematic vagrants because there are too many of them."

As a citizen of Palo Alto, when I do downtown, I expect to have no problems or confrontations. I don't think that this is an unreasonable expectation. I further expect that if there is someone or a group of people that are harrassing innocent people, that the police will intervene on behalf of the innocent to get those people to cease and desist, or to remove that problem by whatever means is proper. I do *NOT* expect the police to look the other way and allow bad behavior to continue.

The question is: At what point do the police feel the need to get involved. In this case, probebly not until someone called for help with a specific complaint, not just a generalized "They're obnoxious". They don't arrest people for being obnoxous. They *DO* arrest people for kicking dogs, and should deal appropriately with people who block passage, aggressively panhandle, or steal purses.

Just out of curiosity, suppose the owner of Longs refused to sell a drunk homeless person a bottle of Wild Turkey, even though he had the ability to pay. Wouldn't the owner be risking a lawsuit on behalf of the poor homless person who only wanted to transact business? Sounds like Longs may be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2007 at 12:46 pm

JustMe, I'm with you on your line of thinking. Here's a reason: our family travelled to NYC recently -- the BIG city -- and felt wonderfully safe each and every time we walked through Times Square, even when loaded down with purchases in shopping bags, walking through massive crowds. I didn't have one single encounter with an intimidating person! Midtown is so inviting and merchants and restaurant managers welcomed our business. We enjoyed ourselves as we should as visitors. I understand this pleasant situation is attributed to a former mayor cleaning up Times Square (which had been unsafe and filled with druggies and more...) and the mayor instructed police to not tolerate even minor infractions, like graffiti-spraying and turnstile jumping in the subway. When you enforce all laws, everything improves all around - the general environment. In line with many on this thread, I am not particularly inclined to go to University Avenue to shop or eat. I am sorry for the merchants and restaurant owners, this isn't their faults. Does anyone with the downtown group or city read our comments on threads like this?? Many of us have seen quite open illegal behavior in downtown - I have seen a guy swigging liquor out in the open as I drove down Lytton one early morning!

Posted by Just Thinking, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2007 at 4:52 pm

Out of curiousity, Kate, how many homeless or unhoused people were at the meeting? Did they voice an opinion?

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 6, 2007 at 5:13 pm

I arrived about 7:10 and public comment on non-agenda items was already over. Only one person spoke and I don't know who that was because I was probably trying to find a parking spot right about that time.

Posted by Just Thinking, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2007 at 5:20 pm

You skipped the first question - Where there any homeless/unhoused persons there at the meeting?

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 6, 2007 at 6:59 pm

I didn't scrutinize the audience that carefully. Why?

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2007 at 8:46 pm

How would the homeless (city's term is "unhoused" ) know that this subject would come up at the City Council meeting - unless they use computers at the Opportunity Center or at a library and monitor this site? This homeless subject was not an agenda item.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 7, 2007 at 8:43 am

Just Thinking - Are you trying to make a point about homeless individuals attending the latest City Council meeting? Do you know how many homeless attended the meeting?

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2007 at 9:50 am

you know, all this shows how difficult it IS to get help with this periodic but persistent problem (being confronted/panhandled/attacked) by aggressive street persons who may be drinking or on drugs. Why should Kate have to go to a city council meeting to try to get a little attention on this?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Some folk don't want to be rescued, they just want to be let alone. Accomodate that need without any expectations other than sanitation.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2007 at 2:48 pm

I am game to allow anyone to life their life the way they choose, as long as that choice does not include interfering with other people's choice to live as THEY choose. This means that if someone wants to abide by the laws and common courtesy, they can do whatever they like. And yes, the homeless centers can probably accomodate this. Again, Palo Alto MAY not be the best place, but at that point it would be their choice.

Wasn't there a homeless man that recently leapt onto the train tracks to pull someone to safety? These people are not bad by definition, nor are they necessarily burdens. They can be, but it is not a given.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 8, 2007 at 9:29 am

I don't think anyone is condemning all of the homeless for the unlawful acts of some. The point that begs discussion is how we, as a community, would like the city to proceed from here on in. Yes, we now have a homeless shelter in downtown Palo Alto and, yes, we now have a homeless shelter a few blocks from the high school, but now what? Most can agree that there has been an obvious increase in the number of homeless in Palo Alto and that this increase is a direct result of the opening of the homeless shelter. The problem is that it is not an option for most residents to just allow the shelter to attract homeless individuals to downtown Palo Alto and then expect the residents here to cope with the negative impact that some of those in the homeless population bring to our city. To have no plan on how to manage or discourage uncontrolled migration by the homeless to Palo Alto is incompetent behavior on the part of City Council and potentially dangerous to residents and the kids that use the downtown area.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 8, 2007 at 10:01 am

Kate, I am afraid I mildly disagree with you. Just the fact that the homeless shelter was created means that a huge and attractive welcome mat has been thrown out to the homeless. Why create a shelter and expect it not to attract the people it is designed to serve? I just don't think expensive Palo Alto is a good place to bring the poorest people, it is not fair to them.

Migration of homeless people to that shelter will happen and will be uncontrolled, there is no real way to control it without simply taking away the welcome mat and closing the center. People have the ability to move about freely and that shelter will attract homeless like a turd attracts flies.

The REAL problem is that along with the homeless that we want to help we also attract a very poor criminal element. The scariest of those are not the dog-kickers or in-your-face panhandlers, though they are scary enough. The ones that REALLY frighten me are the ones who might seek to augment their incom and pay for their drug habit by selling drugs to our children. I would be VERY surprised if thia has not already happened, though how much is happening is an open question. But I would rather have my beloved dog kicked to death than have one pusher sell meth to my kid.

We need increased vigilance and enforcement from police, not the "restorative policing" policy alleged to be in use now. I am willing to help people who need help, but I am not willing to risk destroying the lives of the children of Palo Alto in the process. I am very fearful that we may be importing a drug problem, and all that it implies. If the police aggressivly "keep the peace" on our community by arresting troublemakers, and testing them for drugs while they are incarcerated, then we can begin to get a picture of what is going on there.

Posted by Just Thinking, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I don't have net access at home so I do use public outlets when I can.

Kare, why do you question the motive for the question? I was also at the meting, but since the drive of this thread is your experience, I thought it could be enlightning to know what you observerd.
As far as "them" knowing, "they" know more than you think. And the ones you don't see are, I beleive wrongly, amused by what people believe they know, but do not.

Oh, the answer is, one was there at the mtg.

Another place to express you concerns is the Human Relations Commission, but everyone involved with the problem knows that. Tehy meet tonight at 7 PM, Council Conference Room.

Part of the reason for my question was to learn if you wanted to learn about the problem, or whether you already had a set agenda on it, knew the answers that should be achieved, and who was responsible for resolving them as desired, and where the money will come from.
Please don't say again that it is not a Feredal problem. Then the county might think they should give back the $9+ million they just got from HUD, $500K plus to keep people housed in NORTH COUNTY (that's HERE). I'm not sure you want 100+ in town and 3k+ in the county dumped back on the street.

It seems this thread could benefit from a cooling donw, and and objectibve Q&A with someone with OBJECTIVE information, not just a best guess.
Often when "best guess" drives the bus, presets call the route and anger determines the riders.

Posted by Just Thinking, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2007 at 5:12 pm

Apologies regarding the typo. The question was for Kate, not Kare.


Posted by Amused, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2007 at 6:39 pm

I think Just Thinking Got an answer to his/her question!

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 8, 2007 at 7:51 pm

JustMe - I totally agree with you about Palo Alto being the wrong place for the shelter to be located, but that ship has already sailed. The question now becomes how to best help those that can benefit the most from the help and admit that we cannot help everyone. Drug testing becomes a first step in helping to determine just that. I also agree that the police have to take a pro-active approach to homeless situation. Troublemakers should be arrested and dealt with through the criminal justice system. It's not perfect, but then neither is our new homeless shelter. Surely, the justice system would be more able to provide the services that some of the homeless need.

I believe that they are only considering restorative policing right now. It has not been officially implemented yet.

Posted by Idea, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2007 at 10:40 pm

How about getting the homeless to do the weeding behind Gunn. They could be paid the same as those that pick up litter downtown.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 9, 2007 at 9:22 am

No argument on dealing with troublemakers via the justice system.

However, while the homeless shelter in Palo Alto is an undeniable reality, there is still much that could be done with it. There are a bunch of homeless shelters around the bay area, right? If they all worked together to effectively locate the homeless in places best suited for them, all these shelters would probably be more effective. Each shelter should draw up a list of the things they have to offer. Palo Alto, of course, offers proximity to Stanford Hospital, for instance. Then, when working with a given homeless person, determine their needs and help them select the shelter that best suits those needs, and help them get there. I am not talking about force relocations, I am just talking about finding the best situation for each case. There should probably be some outlying shelters included in the list for those with fixed income and a need for inexpensive housing. This probably, (hopefully) is already being done. But if not, it should. I would hate to think we were pouring money into the problem without applying the most effective solutions.

Posted by suzie, a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2007 at 9:50 am

High vacancy in store/restaurant properties (story on Palo Alto online page).
Hmmm I wonder why?
Could homeless/agressive panhandling have anything to do with the high vacancies? Store and restaurant owners are to say the least disheartened to see their businesses go down the tubes and what does Palo Alto do about it? Zero.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 10, 2007 at 8:33 am

Palo Alto City Council has an obligation to closely monitor the increased homeless population and its negative impact on local residents. They can't do this by asking those that support the shelter, no matter what impact it imposes on locals, because those individuals will inevitably provide filtered information for City Council consumption.

Why weren't the residents of Palo Alto surveyed about their opinions on bringing a homeless shelter to downtown Palo Alto before it was considered? It certainly would have provided first-hand information about the subject.

Also, the city usually scrutinizes the projected use of a building before allowing it to be located in the city. Clearly, the negative impact of attracting additional homeless was not thoroughly investigated. City Council failed to provide oversight and should now step up to the plate and do so before the problem further escalates. The city cannot simply drop the shelter downtown and then allow advocates for the homeless to dictate how the city and its residents should respond to them. How many of the "advocates" actually live in Palo Alto? How many actually have to experience the impact of having the shelter downtown? The residents and merchants certainly must deal with it on a daily basis.

Posted by Mayfield Child, a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 20, 2007 at 3:41 am

Growing up in Palo Alto, going to the downtown area was always a joyful place to visit..windowshop, see great decorations at Christmas and other holidays and see movies on Saturdays..(never did win the bike at the Varsity..threw some popcorn tho, hate to admit it!) But it was always a great adventure from the time I was old enough to enjoy the downtown May Day Parades til I was old enough to drive myself and friends to the Penninsula Creamery for a thick milkshake... All was good. I could not remember any homeless people!! No one hanging out in the doorways sleeping or asking for handouts..........Not until the late 1960's when young people started asking for "spare change".......It seemed that was the beginning of people coming out of the woodwork...Some people used to brag that they made very good money in such a short time, they didn't need to work doing anything elce. Those with the silver tongues were fed free food from those who did not want to give them money, but they would buy the person food from the Burger King and watch them eat it....They always seemed to have money for cigarettes and they had oversized pockets for that little bottle of whatever-it-was that they drank out of...Most all of them that are still around today either have emphasema or enlarged livers from the poor choices...
I would suggest that the Shelter who accepts tennents send them to the County Hospital for a work up first...Each and everyone there is there because of some circumstance that needs to be delt issues are the number one cause...Let them go through detox. Many have been on the streets for a long while. They have no social concious as they do not have any one or thing to relate to as they have lost touch with the true meaning of LIVING...
Walter, where would you suggest we put those tents that you are talking about???!! There isn't ANY land in Palo Alto that I am aware of where such a pipe dream could be made into a reality! Unless it would be far up in the foothills by Stanford..but who would bankroll that one?? I wouldn't mind living further back in the hills myself! (But don't think I would make it in a tent, personally) The one problem is that there isn't really anywhere elce in this town for a campground that could accomodate the problems that would go with that idea...(am I wrong?!)
Also, I think the Palo Alto Police Dept. should place policemen downtown that ACTUALLY walk the beat, mingle with the public. I think that would actually cut down on crime.......AM I WRONG???? I think I am VERY right on target with that suggestion. Will the City Council back me on THAT one and ask the Chief of Police to respond?!!
Yes, it would be like Mayberry, right here in Palo Alto. It is time to take back our streets and put some good looking policemen/women out to do some public servicing work, and raise the brownie points of our local police! ! !
Thanks for reading my suggestions. I really hope the latter comes into reality for all of us. I know it would work...........

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 20, 2007 at 9:16 am

I actually want two types of police on the streets in Palo Alto. The first type should be the uniformed cop that keeps a high profile, makes his/her presence known, chats with people, and makes us feel safe. The second type I want is a plain-clothes cop that looks like the rest of us, or actually looks like the weaker and more vulnerable of us, so that the police can smoke out the troublemakers that lie low until the uniformed cop is gone. Of course, they would both need clearly defined rules-of-engagement for how to react to people. If someone asks the plain-clothes for spare change, he/she would get a polite "No, sorry." If that person then continued to ask, block movement, or threaten in any way, they get a trip to the bars for a free meal. A small digital sound recorder could easily back up a claim of aggressive panhandling, and since it would be a public place there would be no expectation of privacy.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Mayfield Child - I think requiring the Opportunity Center to schedule a work-up at County Hospital (or locally at the shelter if that is a possibility) before any services are dispensed is a great one. You..Opportunity Center....are not helping the homeless when you enable them to continue to use alcohol and/or drugs by refusing to provide an initial workup. How can you help someone when you're not even sure of their health and/or mental status? There is a real lack of common sense being used at the shelter. We, as responsible Palo Altans, should not be funding this project or allowing it to stay in close proximity to the downtown and the high school unless the City of Palo Alto has sufficient oversight and the ability to require a mandatory health/mental work-up.

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