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Growing Encampment Homer Street Underpass

Original post made by Mike, University South, on Jul 26, 2014

The number of people seemingly living under the tracks at the Homer Street Underpass is growing. This is a school route for Paly students getting to school. With school starting soon this needs to be addressed. What can be done?

Comments (24)

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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2014 at 8:36 pm

If you call the police, they will clear them out. However, unless there are shelter beds available, they will likely just move somewhere else in town. You could try talking to them to find out what are their specific needs and issues that may be solved on an individual basis.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 26, 2014 at 9:58 pm

The police and city should be addressing this problem. Individuals do not have the authority to solve these problems on a one on one basis. The first priority is safety for the children who are using that location for going to school. Same for Cubberly - that is a child zone - off limits for homeless.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2014 at 11:16 pm

The problem is that homelessness is an individual problem. One size fits all programs have never worked anywhere. The only programs that have a chance of working are those that help with the individual issues each person is dealing with.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 27, 2014 at 8:21 am

The topic of this article started out as public safety with emphasis on the children who use that specific area for crossing. PUBLIC SAFETY is the specific job of the police department. Individuals on a one on one basis are not empowered to legally work the issues of public safety.
The overall problem of homelessness is a global problem which needs to be addressed as a separate topic.


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Posted by Walker
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2014 at 9:41 am

I walk this route 5 times a week. The homeless are not sleeping there ( I get there very early) but are usually there on my return route later in the day. I have routinely seen police out there talking the with homeless people sometimes making arrests. But I was told they have a right to sit there as long as they want. It is a public place, where the public is allowed to sit.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jul 27, 2014 at 10:21 am

Walker - Good to know the police are aware of the situation.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2014 at 12:18 pm

I think there is a public safety question with an underpass and people loitering about, homeless or not, if school children are using the underpass as part of their route to/from school. People have no business hanging about in an underpass.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jul 27, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Unless a person in a bike path is blocking access or violating some law the police will not ask the person to move.

For much of the time since last September, a homeless young man has been sitting, eating and sleeping in a new bike path, one that was opened specifically as a safe path for children to use to get to school. Last year some kids were afraid to pass him, while others were fine using it.

The police response was that as long as he was not blocking passage the city's official policy was one of tolerance for transients. Something for neighborhoods to keep in mind when potential new bike paths are being discussed.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2014 at 5:59 pm

My experience has been that people are sitting on the terraced planting area on the ECR side of the tunnel (I ride my bike through there). They do not hang out in the tunnel itself.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2014 at 8:16 pm

If they're not blocking traffic and not hiding in the shadows and not bothering anyone, then I don't see a problem. If you're worried about safety, reckless car drivers are a tremendously bigger hazard to our children than the homeless. These bike paths do a good job of separating kids from cars.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 27, 2014 at 8:46 pm

We have had a number of situations where people were robbed while going through an underpass in the downtown area. There is no predicting what type of people are hanging out in that area. As in the Cubberly situation where a man was photographing a lady in the women's room - this last week - you don't know what you are dealing with. Why do people have to run the gauntlet from point a to point b is beyond me. Especially young children.
They are now releasing prisoners because the jails are full.

There was a guy at the Safeway that started following me to my car in the parking lot. This was during the day. If I see that guy again than it is a call to the police.

One of the top priorities in this city is the school system, students, and teachers. They have the trump cards here. The homeless do not have the same priority. Once school starts we should demand that there is a security force in that area while the students are transitioning in the morning and afternoons.

I was at the PAMF in the morning and there was a security person near the underpass at that location. At least someone out there understands the problem here. There is a homeless opportunity center on Encina so that is probably where they are coming from.
Also - when I was checking out the San Francisquito Creek there was a homeless encampment down in the creek where Cowper intersects. The fence at the top was removed to make transition up and down easier.
I understand that the homeless have a non-profit group that is lobbying in PA / Santa Clara for more entitlements but that does not have priority over the students. Our job is to make the city safe for the children and adults who are in the city.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2014 at 11:10 pm

>> As in the Cubberly situation where a man was photographing a lady in the women's room - this last week - you don't know what you are dealing with.

And, a guy walked in the same direction as you in the Safeway parking lot - during the day? Since when is that a crime?

Are you conflating homeless people with violent criminals or sexual predators? Of the crime reported here in PAO I have heard of a couple of cases of problems with "purportedly" homeless people committing crimes or causing problems in years. Compared to everything else the people who are really homeless in Palo Alto seem not very dangerous and not criminally inclined if one looks at the history. Maybe they would be lawyers or bankers if they were criminally predatory. ;-)

Look, I really don't like getting stuck standing up for these people. I don't particularly like them, but there is a guy among them, or formerly among them that I used to go to high school with ... decades ago. He is actually not a criminal and very passive. He can't stand authority and cannot hold a job. I believe he had some family problems growing up. He lived here all his life until his parents died. So, I see these people, at least most of them as unfortunates with issues. I don't like it that some here want to deliberately make this lives worse when they have not really done anything to anyone. People who are in the way, but not too much in the way, and not really criminally threatening.

Every once in a while some other outside person or people come in. I would guess ... guess ... the fights at the Opportunity Center and Cubberly were probably started by such people, but I don't know for sure and no one bothers to find out what happened. Most of them want to be left alone. I don't really see the problem. The numbers are not jumping up and they are not criminals as is claimed by some of the over the top rhetoric here.

I think it's not a good place for them to hangout in that underpass. This is where cameras might come in in the beginning in Palo Alto and expand. We need some simple surveillance and deterrent.

Nothing is 100% but most of the problematic violent crime that really scares me is randomly on the streets of Palo Alto like the robbery a few days ago. If there had to be a choice I would much rather use resources to protect and prosecute those crimes than a few harmless homeless people.


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Posted by ?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 27, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Where is the Homer Street underpass? I only know of the Embarcadero underpass.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2014 at 11:49 pm

It's the extension of Homer St. under the train tracks to access the Palo Alto Medical Center and Town & Country on the other side of the tracks.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2014 at 12:22 am

To add to CPA's description, it is a pedestrian and bicycle underpass...built when PAMF moved from their old location (Heritage Park) to their current location on ECR...which also backs up against the CalTrain tracks at the Alma/Homer intersection.


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Posted by Skip
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2014 at 9:03 am

These homeless are NOT harmless! I have a good friend who closed up his shop in the Downtown, because his customers left him, because they did not like all the homeless hanging around, with some of them panhandling them.

The homeless should be criminalized and forced into help. The era of civil rights for the homeless is coming to an end. Finally.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Skip
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2014 at 1:18 pm

[Portion removed.] My friend called the police, many times, with little effect. His customers left, and so did he, eventually.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 28, 2014 at 3:04 pm

On any one day the interpretation how dangerous the homeless are in an enclosed situation - underpass - is relative to whether you are a young man, older man, young woman, older woman - or worse child. I believe that the people who were robbed were older - therefore more vulnerable.
It is harder to rob a 25 year old male who is athletic than a 50 year old woman. So who ever is interpreting the outcome and general safety is in the eye of the beholder relative to age and sex. But the 25 year old cannot assume that in all situations any outcome would be the same.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2014 at 5:47 pm

The censor at Palo Alto Online is more dangerous than the Palo Alto homeless.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Resident1 ... when was the last time a civilian, i.e. a non-homeless person, was robbed or hurt by a real homeless person? Bonus points if you can find links to the last two times so we can see how often it happens versus how often non-homeless people cause problems?


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Posted by anon - this time
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2014 at 11:43 pm

You could give the Homeless a batch of the Palo Alto Weekly to sell to passers-by under the bridge. After that fails, we can all experience the revelation that it's the real estate agencies who pay the Weekly about a thousand dollars for a full page ad, which amounts to over $20,000 per issue, which the homeless get nothing but a batch of free newspapers to sell that promote the views of reporters who are indirectly on the real estate agencies' payroll. Like the Daily Post.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 29, 2014 at 6:58 am

There is another post that Crescent Park Anon is responding to in this on-line system concerning violence, and there is a separate one concerning an incident at Stanford Shopping Center. Is someone going around and quizzing people as to if they are homeless or just violent? I guess Crescent Park Anon is conducting a survey. Not my job to survey the scene - just pick up on what is, and has been reported. And if in the area note who and what is occurring - always be aware of what is going on around you.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 30, 2014 at 8:53 am

If you go to the sequence on the 3.85 GPA for college admissions it will be obvious where the priorities are in this city. It is the students!! That is a huge series with great participation, entries, and helpful advice.
Concern for the health and safety of all of our students at whatever school, elementary, middle, Paly, Gunn, etc. is the big priority of this city. It is everyone's job to make sure that the "children areas" are safe and clear of any problems. That includes the Cubberly Community Center where the kids are at the library, band classes - all ages, sports fields, and a grammar school.
Back to the topic - an underpass is an enclosed area for transition. It needs to be clear of transients and their "stuff". The city needs to make sure that is the status quo for all underpasses in the city.
The city is contemplating more underpasses in the East Meadow and Charleston crossings so safety is the concern for all underpasses. Lots of kids with bikes, etc so need total clearance. Those are key transition areas.


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