Firefighters battle morning blaze at Paly Around Town, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on May 24, 2012 at 9:48 am
An early-morning fire that erupted at Palo Alto High School Thursday will likely delay construction of new classrooms, a Palo Alto fire official said. The fire, which was near the bicycle path, ignited insulated construction pipes, causing $100,000 in damages.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 24, 2012, 8:35 AM
Posted by Raymond Lucas, a resident of East Palo Alto, on May 24, 2012 at 10:23 am
Why should a Homeless Encampment be allowed to exist so close to a High School? Are they going to wait until some poor kid is missing to give it the attention it deserves? Could childrens safety be more important than burglaries of 'well to do' residences perhaps?
Posted by Jim H., a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 11:03 am
That "encampment" has been there for a while. Amazing they've let it stay there given the incidents a couple years ago of a man exposing himself right in the same area. It's also located right near a sign that says "don't lock bikes to fence".
Posted by Sylvia, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 11:05 am
Rats!! I've taken years and years of Spanish classes at Paly at night, and parking there has been nothing short of a nightmare since the construction began. I suppose this will mean an even longer period of jockeying for places to put our cars for the Adult School folks.
Posted by Carl King, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 11:55 am
re: "Why should a Homeless Encampment be allowed to exist so close to a High School? Are they going to wait until some poor kid is missing to give it the attention it deserves? "
Do you have any data that says that homeless people commit more crimes resulting in "missing children" than committed by people in the general population? Being homeless in itself is not a crime and I personally do not support what is likely baseless demonization of them. I'd prefer the homeless were all safely (for them and us) tucked away at night in shelters, and I think the police should fully enforce laws they might break, but let's not engage in witch hunts. Not In Our Town.
BTW our kids are probably much more likely to get run over by a texting or speeding driver than kidnapped by a stranger (115 incidents in the whole U.S. in 1999 Web Link )
Posted by amazomg, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm
It is amazing that we do allow the encampment. I called on one in downtown north already. It is a big hazzard in so many ways. The one I called they were having a bbq amongst the weeds. they also use it as a bathroom and it will only bring more rats and other critters. Lets get a handle on the situation
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm
You're right Carl, however common sense tells us that the majority of people living in homeless encampments aren't exactly there for positive reasons. I know full well that not everyone having to live on the street is a criminal or capable of doing something evil. At the same time I realize that very few are there because they simply lost their job last week, are fully functional, and are just down and out. I would say those are in the distinct minority.
From my own experience working in outreach programs it is safe to say that a majority of homeless people, certainly a disproportionate number, find themselves on the street because of the poor life choices they have made. That would include alcohol abuse, drug abuse, failed to take advantage of educational opportunities, or some form of a criminal background. There are other who suffer from various mental conditions that limits there ability to function in society.
Regardless, with this case serving as one example, not many positives are going to come out of most homeless encampments. In addition to the inherent problems that the people themselves have to cope with, there are also serious health and safety issues that not only effects public safety, but also the general quality of life in the neighborhoods where homeless encampments exist.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on May 25, 2012 at 9:46 pm
Phyliss, most people believe and understand that our homeless population does include those that you describe. Sadly the majority of people living on the street find themselves there for reasons that are more negative and self destructive. This fact has nothing to do with hate, and I can assure you that I have spent many, many of years of assisting and volunteering in outreach programs. I have attempted to do so with compassion and understanding, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to ignore the facts and reality. What have you done may I inquire?
Posted by Phyllis Kayten, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on May 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm Phyllis Kayten is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
What have I done? The link above doesn't show up with the name. It is Shelter Network, and it provides multiple levels of assistance to the newly and chronically homeless, with full cooperation from the police, mayors and state representatives - they currently serve San Mateo County, but work in concert with organizations in Santa Clara. I volunteer, do outreach (evangelizing) and sponsor their work to get the homeless off the streets, and where possible, help families get back on their feet and back into market-rate housing with and jobs and resources to keep them off the streets forever.
Shelter Network provides comfortable transitional housing (Haven House in Menlo Park is one of their facilities), along with child care, nutrition education, financial counseling, assistance in finding jobs, interviewing skills, clothing to wear to interviews, emotional counseling and support to adults and children (who are often suffering from the aftermath of abuse and the shock of living on the street. Some of these people are the ones living in their cars after they can no longer afford rent and don't have friends and relatives who are able to take them in. The cars are often parked in the church parking lots where volunteers serve dinner - yet the neighbors want those dirty crazy people in those cars to be shooed away, hidden from sight. So, the family is living in a car, the parent is trying to find a job, go on interviews when they have no clean clothes, or a bathroom to clean up in, having to make sure their children are safe in school so they can go to job interviews, work the hours they can work, before it's time to get their children and make sure they are safe with them - and try to get some sleep in their car - their home - hoping that no one will discover them and tell them to leave and find another place to live.
Yes there are some people who are mentally ill and living with their shopping carts and their bags filled with dirty clothes and cans. I don't believe that Santa Clara County's government and community is as invested in helping the homeless, even these hopeless mentally ill ones. I don't believe we can just say those with mental illness should be pushed along or pushed over the border to another municipality.
When Shelter Network renovated and reopened the Vendome Hotel in San Mateo city they were able to move 13 chronically homeless men into SRO rooms - these are the men who you see on the streets. This was only possible because of successful partnering with a number of local businesses, including Salesforce.com, Winsom’s Hardware, Ching Lee Laundry, and San Mateo Lock Works, all of which donated time and materials to the renovation.
Palo Alto, and Santa Clara County, sadly, do not have a comparable program - network, or system of networks. The process is part of Shelter Network’s “Housing First” program. The key concept of “Housing First” is that homeless families and individuals benefit most from returning to permanent housing as quickly as possible. Case management services, assistance with increasing income streams, and addressing other needs can take place after people return to permanent housing. By focusing efforts on moving families into permanent housing even faster, Shelter Network can further improve the outcomes for these parents and children and use facilities more efficiently, as more people can be served.
What I have done - is to tell as many people as I can that there are better ways to help the homeless and our community at the same time.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on May 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm
Palo Alto and Santa Clara County are not as invested in helping the homeless? How can you suggest that Phyliss? Palo Alto alone plays host to numerous homeless outreach programs including the Opportunity Center. The Opportunity Center is funded partially through a six figure annual allowance that is entirely based on local taxes. Prior to that Palo Alto was home to the Urban Ministry, which, like the Opportunity Center, serves relatively few people with any real ties to our local community. They operated out of the Red Cross building for nearly 30 years, and the Opportunity Center is one of the largest facilities of its type in the Bay Area.
From the private sector and faith based outreach, Palo Alto is also home to the Hotel DeZink program as well as the downtown food closet. In the greater Santa Clara County area there are also two large shelters that operate on a seasonal basis in both Sunnyvale and San Jose. So I have to disagree. If anything Santa Clara County, and especially Palo Alto has carried more of its share of the burden and unfortunately the fallout when it comes to homeless outreach.
You describe the transitional homeless scenario of someone who just lost their job and is temporarily down as if it were common place. I have no doubt that there are cases who fit that bill, but by no means does it represent the majority of those living on the street. In addition to those suffering from various mental disorders, the vast majority have put themselves in that position due to poor life choices be it a criminal background or substance abuse. We have to have some form of safety net and be compassionate, but not to the extent of enabling people through entitlements. At some point people have to take some responsibility for themselves and be accountable for their actions.
Posted by Ken the Antique , a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on May 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm
Local Girl & Raymond Lucas,
There was no active campsite for over a month when the fire broke out. Thus, you have convicted a person for crime he did not commit.
You vilify all homeless people because of the actions of one homeless person.
Why do you not vilify all home owners when one homeowner accidentally burns down his home?
Why do you not vilify all apartment tenants when a few of them accidentally burn down their apartments?
Why do you not vilify all landlords as slum lords becase one landlord fails to maintain the safety of his property?
Why do you not vilify all teachers as child molesters because a few teachers molest children?
Why do you not vilify all sea scout leaders as child molesters because one sea scout leader molests a child?
Why do you not vilify all soccer coaches as child molesters because a few of them molest children?
You do not vilify the actions of the sub groups above as a whole because you are not prejudiced against those groups. You vilify all homeless people when one homeless person commits the same act as any of the above because you are prejudiced against homeless people based not on the content of their character but on the color of their appearance.
“Firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after 4:30 a.m. and managed to contain the flames to the sorting room, where the nonprofit group organizes its activities and accepts donations. John Burt, a volunteer with the Friends group, said a homeless man who frequents the Cubberley campus with his dog saw the flames and alerted the Fire Department.”
PALO ALTO — A two-alarm blaze that destroyed a Palo Alto home and displaced a family of four Friday caused an estimated $1 million to $2 million in damage, a fire department spokesman said. The fire was reported at 7:07 a.m. at a large house located at 1005 University Ave.,
Four-alarm fire guts apartment complex in Mountain View
Approximately 60 firefighters respond to blaze on Dana Street Monday afternoon
A two-alarm fire Thursday destroyed at least one apartment in an East Palo Alto complex that has a history of fire safety problems, officials said.
Palo Alto middle school gym teacher Bill Giordano was sentenced to four years in state prison Friday for repeatedly molesting a female student in the 1990s, prosecutors said.
A high school teacher in Union City was arrested Thursday on criminal misconduct charges stemming from a suspected sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student.
(08-25) 04:00 PDT PALO ALTO -- A Palo Alto man accused of molesting a boy last month was arraigned yesterday on additional charges alleging that the former Sea Scout leader had molested two other youths.
Sunnyvale soccer coach molested, took porn of girl, 13, police say
Posted by John DT North, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on May 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm
There is a pot-head who lives in a 3 million dollar house in Professoreville who has not worked for at least the last 15 years and probably the majority of his adult life. He is a sloth who provides nothing substantive to the community. There are two mentally challenged individuals, one who owns a house in Professorville, and another who owns a house in Downtown North, neither of whom has done anything productive for the community in over two decades. There is a maintenance drunk who lives in a home in downtown north who accomplishes very little for the benefit of the community.
I could go on and on. The are many, many more people in our society who are dysfunctional who do not receive any kind of benefits nor are plugged into any kind of case management who are not homeless. Many who are raging alcoholics, who live in houses and apartments, who beat their wives and kids. Many more who stump to major pharma to sooth their psyche with legal drugs to cope with life’s difficulties.
You are basing your assumption of the majority of homeless people based upon your limited experience with those individuals who seek out services. There are hundreds, thousands, who keep a low profile whom you would never know were homeless because they do not seek a hand out from the poverty industry.
There are millions of housed people who act and behave just as those few homeless whom you have described and criticized yet you do not rail against them, why?
Because they are out of site.
There is no difference in the houseless people whom you criticize and the housed people whom you do not when it comes to self destructive behavior.
The housed people simply have enough money and support system to be housed.
There is only one true cause to rampant rise in houselessness, the lack of affordable housing.
12 dollars an hour equates to appx. two grand a month and after taxes it is lowered to $1,500.00.
A typical studio goes for a $1,000.00 a month in the area.
You want to get rid of the houseless phil, provide real affordable housing without subsidizing it through non-profits and the government.
If there were consistently a surplus $500.00 studios available in Palo alto and every city from San Jose to San Francisco above the demand do you think there would be very many houseless people?
If there were consistently a surplus $500.00 studios available in Palo alto and every city from San Jose to San Francisco above the demand do you think society would have to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars to social service/poverty industry?
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on May 28, 2012 at 6:08 pm
On this subject John DT there is a huge difference when comparing the housed and homeless people who struggle with substance abuse, addiction, and mental disorders. Here it is. At some point the housed people were responsible enough to keep a roof over their head and are not asking for subsidized housing.
People from all walks of life have to cope with life's challenges. It's difficult enough as it is without others expecting you to put a roof over their head. You know what, I worked hard my entire life to put a roof over my family's head and be in a position to give our children a better starting point. I was not privileged by any stretch. We tried hard to make the right decisions, avoided the negative pitfalls, and struggled to get ahead. It's all we can do to keep ourselves ahead, how can we be expected to support others, especially when a disproportionate number of those seeking assistance got themselves into that predicament through their own poor life choices. What did they think was going to happen to their lives?
Spare me the guilt card. Subsidies and entitlements do nothing more than remove incentive and perpetuate the root problem. Charity should be extended through private donations, faith based programs, etc. The government has created a welfare state and kept people dependent upon others rather than depending and succeeding on their own. Another example of lowering the bar and expecting nothing from people in return.
The cause of homelessness is not due to a lack of affordable housing. It's caused by too many people who made poor life choices and failed to take advantage of the opportunities this country has to offer. Don't punish those who have worked hard to succeed by expecting them to support those who have squandered life's opportunities.
Posted by Chuck Jagoda, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on May 28, 2012 at 11:03 pm
I thank you for your outreach. I, too, do that but it's not really outreach. I'm IN the homeless community. I try to help and provide services and learn. One thing I learned is that even though I'm homeless, hang out with other homeless, participate in meals and other services for unsheltered people--there are many more than I know and there are many more who DON'T participate in the programs and services with which I'm familiar.
In other words, you do help and mingle and hang and all of that. But trust me, you don't know ALL the unhoused, why and how we became that way, what skills and education we all have, and what we're capable of.
You talk about the housed being able to get it together to buy a house? Do you actually think that none of us out here on the streets EVER did that? I owned two houses during the recent housing boom and now they're both gone in foreclosure.
One unsheltered guy I know had very responsible Silicon Valley computer programming jobs once upon a time and lived in a nice apartment. But he got to his 60s and the salaries and jobs weren't there any more.
I've got to split now--this Starbucks is closing. But let me just ask you to not assume you know so much about us. I really don't think you do.
And I agree with some others above who think you may be pre- and misjudging some things about us.
I don't really LIVE in Barron Park. That's just where I park my car to sleep in it.
Posted by John DT, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 12:25 am
You state, “It's all we can do to keep ourselves ahead, how can we be expected to support others,…Spare me the guilt card. Subsidies and entitlements do nothing more than remove incentive and perpetuate the root problem.”
Did I say anything about supporting others, Phil. Nobody is asking you to support anybody Phil.
This is what I said Phil, “provide real affordable housing without subsidizing it through non-profits and the government.”
DO YOU GET IT? Do you understand? STOP subsidizing the poverty pimps and the industry that supports them.
Glad to see that you acknowledge that the SYSTEM for supporting life in this country is even difficult and taxing upon someone as yourself who appears to have a lot of ability in supporting yourself and your family.
Now imagine if you suffered a medical problem while you were say, 24 years old that put you on your back for three years with no insurance or family support and then sapped of much your strength and abilities for the rest of your life due to an accident not of your doing.
You state, “The cause of homelessness is not due to a lack of affordable housing. It's caused by too many people who made poor life choices and failed to take advantage of the opportunities this country has to offer.”
Facts are facts Phil and you cannot deny facts so you twist your way out if by denying the facts by refusing to even address the facts, your mental state is cognitive dissonance.
1.5 million adults who would be living on their own ten years ago are now living at home because they cannot afford a place of their own.
Census finds record gap between rich and poor
Income ratio of 14.5-to-1 nearly doubles 1968's low of 7.69
Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor, said while the U.S. has developed policies to combat poverty, it has trouble addressing ever-widening income inequality. “
“We're pretty good about not talking about income inequality," Danziger said.
In 1965 a single person’s housing cost in Palo Alto was 43.5% to 65.0% of the Federal Minimum Wage.
In 1970 a single person’s housing cost in Palo Alto was 44.9% to 64.4% of the Federal Minimum Wage.
In 1975 a single person’s housing cost in Palo Alto was 37% to 44.6% of the Federal Minimum Wage.
In 1980 a single person’s housing cost in Palo Alto was 77.6% of the Federal Minimum Wage.
In 1990 a single person’s housing cost in Palo Alto was 98.8% to 127.4% of the Federal Minimum Wage.
In 2000 a single person’s housing cost in Palo Alto was 145.6% to 194.0% of the Federal Minimum Wage.
In 2010/11 a single person’s housing cost in Palo Alto was 94.8% to 142.2% of the Federal Minimum Wage.
In 1965 a 2 bedroom house cost $23,000.00
In 1965 a 4 bedroom house cost $36,000.00
In 1965 a Machinist earned $8,500.00 a year
In 1965 a Custodian earned $5,100.00 a year
A Machinist’s yearly salary was 37% of the cost of a 2 bedroom house.
A Machinist’s yearly salary was 23.6% of the cost of a 4 bedroom house.
A Custodian’s yearly salary was 22% of the cost of a 2 bedroom house.
A Custodian’s yearly salary was 14% of the cost of a 4 bedroom house.
In 1975 a 3 bedroon house cost $61,000.00
In 1975 a Delivery Driver earned $7,200.00
A Delivery Driver’s yearly salary was 11.8% of the cost of a medium quality house.
In 2011 a 3 bedroom house costs $1,200,000.00
In 2011 a Delivery Driver earns $22,000.00 to $30,000.00 a year
A Delivery Driver’s yearly salary is 1.8% to 2.5% of the cost of a low end quality house.
Sources: The “Palo Alto Times,” the “Palo Alto Times-Tribune,” the “Palo Alto Weekly,” and “Craigslist”
The ability to buy a house in Palo Alto went from:
22% to 11.8% to 2.5% in the last 45 years.
If the Cost of Housing were comparable to the percentage of the Federal Minimum Wage used in 1975 to cover the cost, the cost of housing for a single person, (a one bedroom apartment in Palo Alto), would be between $429.00 to $517.00 for a $1,100.00 a month apartment.
I can see your response now Phil, “Delivery Drivers, Custodians and Machinists don’t below in Palo Alto.”
But you sure do love the lower paid workers slaving away over you at CVS, Whole Foods and Starbucks.
Over the last three decades the top fifth of earners saw their cash flow jump by 65 percent while the bottom fifth of earners saw their incomes increase by less than 20 percent. But it's among the top 1 percent where the growth was breathtaking. That contingent saw their incomes spike by 275 percent.
"It is really stunning the degree to which rewards have been concentrated at the top," said Josh Bivens, an economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. "We have now returned to Gilded Age levels of inequality."
Phil, You State, “Don't punish those who have worked hard to succeed by expecting them to support those who have squandered life's opportunities.”
What do you mean by this Phil?
Who is punishing you Phil? How are they punishing you?
The only people who are being punished are legitimate United States Citizens who are human beings who happen to be poor. And they are being punished as a collective group by those like you who do not want to be bothered with having to view poverty. The poor are punished as a whole for the actions others, a few, because you refuse to differentiate between character and status, between integrity and ethnicity.
Kevin Smith used to think he led a comfortable middle-class existence that included a car and a home in a subdivision in Raleigh, North Carolina.
But then he lost his job and felt himself slipping into the have-not corner.
He, like a majority of Americans who responded to a new survey issued Wednesday, believes the gap between America's rich and poor is getting wider. He isn't resentful of people who sleep in mansions and drive swank cars, but he is angry at a system that he says allows the greedy to take advantage of people.
"I am not angry at rich people," said Smith, 51. "I am angry at the people who manipulate the system."
Phil you blame the poor and homeless for their predicament as a result of their own life choices.
Who are the ones refusing to build housing that meets the number of people who need it?
Did the poor take all of the land and create a shortage of housing?
Who are the ones refusing to allow the thousands of poor people from building apartments and homes for themselves to live in?
From the 50s through the 70s and even into the 80s, an average person spent very little on housing, and rightfully so, due in large part to a supply of housing that exceeded demand.
Please explain to me why it would be harmful to our society to have affordable housing like it was in the 50s and the 60s as you have suggested.
Do you seriously believe that if there was a surplus of housing that there wouldn't less homeless people on the streets?
FOR THE RECORD:
The pot-head did not buy his own house, his multi-millionaire parents bought him the house because he was not and is not capable of doing anything for himself with the exception of enjoying his marijuana.
Similar situations have provided for the others, so none of them have it together, they just happen to have private support systems. Those who don’t have private help, well they end up at the mercy of the system which does not reward the hard work of delivering your food to you.
Posted by 1 paycheck away, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm
Thanks John DT for your reality based commentary and references,
All it takes is an uninsured medical emergency to destroy a family or an individual.
Although teh City of Palo Alto does not provide affordable housing for teachers, employees, police and fire. "Those employees" can rent and not have equity or tax breaks... or better still they can own, commute great distances, and not have time with their families. Our society - however wealthy, apparently believes that quality of life is deemed only for the elite.
We do however provide housing for the city manager.
Posted by Chuck Jagoda, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm
Another thing I want to say to you: You talk about housed people having it together enough to put a down payment on a house and contrast that with unhoused who didn't get it together.
You are missing the cyclicality of life. It's not like a person reaches a plateau and then stays there. Stuff happens. We all know the possibilities: disease, injury, job loss, foreclosure, economic upheavals, etc. Maybe a person reached a plateau and lost that position and had to climb up SEVERAL times in his life and you happen to know of him or her at a trough in that cycle.
Maybe YOU'LL be in that trough next quarter. Maybe he'll be up on top in a year. The chances are better that you'll survive than that he will. Unhoused people die at 4 x the mortality rate of housed folks.
We're not all that different. Just at different places in our journeys. Don't get hung up on temporary states of being. Many of the presently housed USED to be unsheltered and remember that and know how easily it can happen.
It's tempting to divide us all into two groups: housed and unhoused. Those are categories like age--they can change. Don't think for one moment--no matter how separate you may now feel from us unhoused--that you couldn't be one of us someday.
Please look at us as--but for the grace of God--you. We are your former school mates, military, teachers, parents, neighbors. Someday we might even be you. Love us as you would yourself.
Posted by Phyllis, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on May 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm
DT, and 1 paycheck away, thanks so much for chiming in and Chuck, you are a great spokesman. Thanks Starbucks and public libraries for supplying wireless access and access to computers that allow the homeless to be visible, communicate with others and search for and find work that might (and note the word 'might' ) help provide the cushion for money for that first, last and current month's rent and clothes that are presentable enough to wear at wrk and money for public transportation to work and school and to pay for prescription medications and doctors ... Once you enter the whirlpool of poverty and homelessness it's hard just to tread water let alone climb out, Phil. It only gets worse. poor choices account for fewer homeless than you imagine.