Only one Palo Alto church offers parking to campers Palo Alto Issues, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Jun 27, 2012 at 10:14 am
Out of 42 Palo Alto churches only one congregation is offering its parking lot so that people who live in their cars can get off the streets. City officials are likewise not offering public land as a place for vehicle dwellers to park, Curtis Williams, director of planning and community environment, told about 40 people at a community meeting on Tuesday night.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 9:59 AM
Posted by not consistent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 10:14 am
"City officials are likewise not offering public land as a place for vehicle dwellers to park, Curtis Williams, director of planning and community environment, told about 40 people"
What about the two obvious long-term (several months) campers at the Main Library parking garage? I'm undecided on whether this is appropriate, but if I left my car there it would have been cited and towed long age. If unregulated then more will come, and now one of them has really "moved in" with a shopping cart and other belongings outside the vehicle, which is imo not appropriate.
Posted by randy albin, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 27, 2012 at 10:16 am
one person who grew up in palo alto is me. this kind of a situation reflects very poorly upon palo alto. there needs to be more community service organizations to deal with this. bay area people who were raised in the bay area have to contend with this cost of living
Posted by Edward, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 10:43 am
It should be obvious that street camping is not wanted -- by anybody. The City won't provide it, churches don't want it, residents certainly don't want it. WHY is it still allowed to go on? Could homeless groups rent space in trailer parks to get them off residential streets? The city government shouldn't force residents to have campers in front of their homes -- not acceptable. The city can't wimp out (as usual) on this one. Just same old ineffectiveness and being clueless and making residents into victims.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 11:06 am
>Jesus would let me park there.
But the City will not, and most churces will not. Most residentialists don't want it, as well as most businesses. Palo Alto, due to its lack of an ordanance prohibiting car camping, has become a magnet for it. However, there is still the possibility that those who are promoting the rights of car campers will show personal compassion, and offer their own homes. Will they? I doubt it, because they are hypocrites.
Just don't let them live anywhere near me. I admit it, straight out.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 27, 2012 at 11:09 am
Edward - your city IS wimping out. I am surprised that the churches aren't being more helpful, but unsurprised that your snotty city won't let them stay on city property (which they're doing now by default). The crappy outcome is that they'll stay on city property in front of peoples' homes, which just causes more problems & adds to the tension.
PA just truly doesn't want to deal w/the issue, as they've shown by their inaction. It's pathetic. If I still lived in PA, I'd prefer that the city get organized about the issue rather than contribute to the problem by the lack of leadership.
There was a land owner here in EPA who finally decided to make changes to his property & a whole encampment had to be evicted. People were rude about him - even though he'd allowed them to stay there for quite some time already.
Finally, I'll say, as one who does business in PA constantly, I resent having to deal w/the homeless when they're ill-behaved & interfering. I've had some bad experiences & they're unforgettable.
Posted by No, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 11:50 am
I live near the church on Louis and do not want them there. Why don't some of you offer up your driveways for these unfortunate people living in cars - its too easy to offer someone else's neighborhood.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm
I was raised in Palo Alto, and the homeless/bum issue has always been somewhat of a problem. However, it is much worse now. I used to play baseball over at the Little League. It used to be full of bums. My mother embarassed me by insisting that she stay there during all practices and games, because of the bums. Somehow, that field got cleaned up...no more bums. Now I see kids just getting dropped off by parents, the way it should be. Maybe the city council should talk to the Little League folks, because they finally figured it out.
Posted by Cur Mudgeon, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm
At least a few of the Cubberley homeless car dwellers are long term PA fixtures. I've seen them (vehicles) in other locations, at other times. The occupants are all ages. In years past, Greenmeadow's facility has been used for "midnight" showers before doors were locked. Maybe it still is. The walkway at the north end of Cubberley field at the Nelson Dr. end reeks of urine.
Posted by Longtimer, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm
No surprise at all. The people of Palo Alto are in it for themselves and nobody else. But we've known that for about 10 years now as we watch our once great "Community" regress into the "Me First, Me Only" city it now is. Now it seems to be just a mish mash or people driving around in MBZs and Priuses while being rude and angry towards others.
Posted by Unfortunate Neighbor, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm
There is a very good reason why the City will not allow car camping in their parking lots and why the churches don't want parking on their property. If they allow parking on their property they must buy liability insurance and the City refuses to do so. They say they are self-insured!!!
Meanwhile, the City encourages camping out at Cubberley because the School District carries liability insurance!!!
Meanwhile, the car campers say they police themselves. Then why when I walked through the Cubberley parking lot this morning a yellow camper had sheets of cardboard and plastic on the ground around it.
Posted by Edgarpoet, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm
I resent your attitude, I worked for over 34 years, paid my share of taxes and NEVER did I beg anybody for anything. Your assumption
that every car dweller is a "drunken Bum" is totally off the wall
and uncalled for. You set yourself up as judge? what do you think gives you this right? YOU ARE THE PROBLEM Vicki ( and other bigots like yourself!) If you think that social staus makes you somebody you are totally wrong. I will pray for you and your mental problems.
Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm
Sam: The "bums" left the Little League fields because their bathroom facility was taken away (Mitchell Library).
The reason the walkway at the north end of Cubberley field at the Nelson Dr. end reeks of urine is because a homeless guy lives behind the girls softball shed behind the used book place. He has lived their for years and years.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm
>Sam: The "bums" left the Little League fields because their bathroom facility was taken away (Mitchell Library).
WRONG! Mitchell Park bathrooms have been open for many years. The Little League park was an open cesspool for the bums, and their liquor bottles and nastiness.
The Little League cleaned up its act, period. The City should talk to them about how they accomplished this community good. It is good to see young players being dropped off by parents, with no special regard to safety. I walk through that park, on occasion, and it amazes me how much better it is!
Posted by Edgarpoet, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm
It is ironic that the public perception of the homeless is based upon the most extreme examples that they can find, such as "elanor" who drives that yellow delapidated van now parked at Cubberly.
This type of person is a result of Ronald Reagan balancing the State budget by cutting out spending on the mental hospitals.
Now we have these people on the streets, downtown, in parks, etc.
Many people find it easy to just lump ALL homeless people into one pot and call that the hopeless pot. This no longer shows inteligence
or anything close to "compassion".
For the Palo Alto churches to also use excuses why they refuse to extend help to a segment of the homeless population is complete
hypocracy, and as stated in the Bible: "God hates the hypocrite"
No amount of bigotry will solve this problem, no government program operated by "poverty pimps" will solve this problem.Only social change and true human compassion will solve this problem, and by reading most of these comments, these things are in short supply in this western wealthy community!
Posted by PA resident, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm
Glad to hear this church is stepping up and providing a space for these individuals. Many local churches are already hosting day programs, preschools, daycares, and food closets, some which might not co-exist well with a camping space for vehicle-dwellers.
I don't think it's appropriate to "chide the churches for their poor or tentative responses" without considering their current ministries or obligations.
Posted by Pragmatic, with a heart, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm
Why not have a list of all the people in Palo Alto that would be willing to host a camper, in front of their home (neighbors need not agree), and as long as the person is considerate, and a "good neighbor" to everyone, let them stay there.
The city could help with giving the host families some sort of incentive, similar to the $75. SF is giving, for a homeless person to adopt a dog (that's an awful idea, but you get the picture, it's an incentive, and it shows that everyone is working together.)
I do not think church parking lots are a good idea for these reasons:
1- It makes a church parking lot into a real encampment and it would be difficult to oversee, should a camper (or two, three or four) not abide by the "house rules".
2- It is too much to ask for an entire neighborhood to accept it. I lived next door to a church years ago. I'd not have liked an encampment next to my family.
3- As long as the campers are "handled", it removes any and all responsibility for the city to address, and in the case of liability, the city's response would be something like, "Well, church members, you asked for this, so it's YOUR problem. Tough luck."
4- A church is not intended to be a hotel.
I think any Palo Alto resident that individually wanted to "host" a camper, ought to identify himself/herself, and the City should work with them, to make it happen.
A church can step in and "adopt" a camper, supplying some needs to the host family, so that no one is on his/her own, and stuck with a problem. Host families could be selected around some businesses (like gas stations) where bathrooms can be used, and/or camping equipment can be supplied by the city. Urine ought not be anywhere.
When a camper is not 'neighborly', then Palo Alto can do what Gavin Newsom did in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, give them bus tickets out of the city. GGP campers came to Palo Alto, courtesy of VTA. Provide a reverse bus ticket to them. Common sense must be used.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm
Another thing to consider is that Palo Alto already plays host to a myriad of services and programs that caters to the homeless. It's safe to say that at least regionally Palo Alto carries the bulk of that burden. Unfortunately it also comes with more than its share of related problems and issues.
Palo Alto is known as an affluent, tolerant, and compassionate community. There does reach a time however when limits must be considered and placed on these attributes. We cannot possibly become the keepers and providers of homeless resources for our entire region. Our neighboring cities don't even come close to providing the outreach that's extended at both the public and private level in Palo Alto. And, I have to question what percentage of Palo Alto citizens or those with legitimate roots and ties to our city are actually using the services. I could be wrong, but I'm speculating that the majority of the homeless or those in need are coming in from outside of the city.
The many outreach services that Palo Alto provides includes but is not limited to the Opportunity Center, prior to that the Urban Ministry, Downtown Streets Team, All Saints Food Closet, and Hotel DeZink Shelter Program, as well as many other private donors . Many of these programs are also funded in part with local tax dollars. The Opportunity Center alone draws a six figure annual contribution directly from city funds. Again, how many Palo Altans are utilizing these resources? No other city in our region has the track record that Palo Alto has sustained in this area for many, many years.
Before anyone tags me as being insensitive or callous, please hear me out. I support outreach programs and services to those in need. I know these resources are vital. I have done and continue to do volunteer work at food banks as well as providing job training skills. I know that there will always be poor and homeless people who need assistance. With that said, I also have an expectation that every city and community needs to pull their fair share of the weight in this regard. Quite frankly, I think many of our neighboring cities are very happy to allow Palo Alto to carry the bulk of the load.
These programs are vital, but again, with that comes many issues and problems. There is definitely an impact and effect on petty street crime, substance abuse, public drunkenness, mental disorders, blight, homeless encampments, and other health and safety issues. I'm not suggesting for one second that all homeless people or those seeking outreach services fall into one of these categories. Of course not. But, I do believe from my own personal experience in working with social services that a disproportionate number of the people that are on the street do. That is simply a reality.
All I'm asking and expecting is that the burden of this social responsibility be carried more evenly. We should not have our compassion and generosity be taken advantage of by surrounding communities who simply defer to us. If people wonder why the tolerance level for these programs seems to run thin in Palo Alto, you only have to look at this dynamic to begin to understand why.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm
Edgar's 2nd post has some cogent points. I don't fully agree w/him, nor do I need to. He is right about some of the politics behind the homeless problem. He needs to know that the more obvious homeless are the ones we notice - not the ones working, or on meds that work well for them, or otherwise fit in to society so that they're not noticeable.
I don't have real answers to the problem, & it's a problem that I don't care to deal with, given the issues I've run into before w/the homeless. I feel like I paid my dues & am done, but that doesn't take care of the problem. So I donate money & food, locally. I'm helping a sick neighbor right now so they don't end up homeless.
Frankly, many of the issues that make people homeless, or that they face once they lose their residence, are hard for many people to learn about, stay on top of & do anything about, besides putting tax dollars to work.
Many churches aren't equipped to handle car campers. They rent out space, or have small parking lots, or have enough events that preclude having campers there every day of the week. I don't want to go to a church wedding & have to deal w/a homeless camp. Do you? I don't want to take a class at church & deal w/homeless in the restrooms. I deal w/that at the library & parks, all of the time. There have been numerous times I haven't been able to use public facilities due to the presence of the homeless of the mess/problems they've caused. The homeless that don't cause problems aren't as marginalized & so I can't comment on that, but I think we can do more for them.
The homeless being marginalized is a result of being homeless. I am not sure that this recent cultural push to integrate them w/our daily lives is a great idea for all of us. They have their own society, which I am happy to generally steer clear of, while still donating money & food for their needs. I am honestly not sure how much I want them included in my life. It's not nice, but it's honest.
Posted by NoName, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm
Palo Alto is an area now where numerous ho
meless congregate. Why add to the already prevalent problem of beggars, drunkards and drug addicted losers by welcoming a homeless encampment in church parking lot? For gods sake, who is coming up with these ideas and what are they smoking? I cant even enjoy the park anymore because homeless bums who are drunk sleep and pee everywhere. It is truly disgusting.
Posted by Edgarpoet, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm
I would NEVER work for any nonprofit that takes funds from needy people and feeds them recycled food while living in million dollar homes with 2 mercedes in driveway.
Personal attacks seem to be what you wealthy palo alto folks excell at! Any one of you have a better idea how to HELP the car dwellers?
How about this: STOP paying cheap labor to mow your grass, wash your car, change baby diapers and clean your houses. Yes I am talking personal responsiblity here! You very people that try and convenice
others that ALL homeless people are lazy Bums. I want to ask you people who write these bigoted comments: Where is there a job around here that will pay enough to afford rent. And please do not show your ignorance by comparing the unsheltered to illegals that are ALL on government give away programs, they got most of the HUD housing vouchers so that I have to live in my vehicle. You got a job for me?
Let me know OK? Not too lazy to work for decent pay!
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm
Edgar, I manage to have a job that pays the rent. I know a lot of people who also share housing to reduce costs. Can you get help w/first & last & deposit & move into a studio or a shared housing situation? The cleaning lady I've employed is housed. So are all of the various caregivers I know. They don't live in mansions, & most of them don't own homes. But I know 2 nannies who own their own places.
Have you contacted agencies in San Mateo County to get into a rent-controlled place? Can you live somewhere less expensive than the immediate area and carpool or take public transit to work?
Your anger works best when it's part of the fuel that propels you toward your goal.
Posted by peeopel, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm
the united states gives aid to people from other continents who immigrate, but do nothing for their own citizens. whats going on ? especially non white people who no faultof their own , are in a world that does not like or respect them.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm
> Not too lazy to work for decent pay!
Edgar, if you start off with taking a job for indecent pay, and you have the talent, you MIGHT get a job with decent pay, assuming you prove your work ethic. If you refuse, you are just another bum. I am just hoping that, until you prove yourself, you live nowhere near me. I don't like bums. Bums bring down down our community.
Posted by PA Neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm
Do you remember many years ago when our Lieghtenant Gov was Mayor of SF he emptied out Golden Gate Park by loading all the homeless on buses and leaving them off in cities like PA who would accept them. I wonder if they made their way back to Golden Gate Park or if they're still here?
Posted by Eileen Altman, a resident of another community, on Jun 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm
The story is misleading in that it suggests that churches have refused to participate in such a program at all, whereas the reality is that the small minority of the 42 Palo Alto faith communities that knew about this proposal have not agreed to participate in a pilot program.
The request for churches to participate in the pilot program presented many challenges for faith communities. They asked for a very quick decision and the program parameters were vague, especially in dealing with some of the questions that community members would have, such as those raised in this comment stream.
My congregation (First Congregational) would be willing to have a discussion about participating in an established program in which the city and its partners made clear all of the details of how such a program would work. This discussion process would take time, in that it would need to proceed through a church decision-making process that would take at least two-three months, and would need to include a plan for how to engage church neighbors and the programs operating in our church facility in conversation about how such a program would be run and how problems might be dealt with.
I suspect that other faith communities and local businesses might also be willing to engage in a decision-making process about a well-defined program. There may be very good reasons that a faith community or business chooses not to participate that have nothing to do with a lack of compassion for our unhoused neighbors.
My hope and expectation is that all of us in Palo Alto faith communities will continue to try to work toward ways to more fully embody loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Posted by anonymouswriter, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm
Palo Alto is an area now where numerous ho
meless congregate. Why add to the already prevalent problem of beggars, drunkards and drug addicted losers by welcoming a homeless encampment in church parking lot? For gods sake, who is coming up with these ideas and what are they smoking? I cant even enjoy the park anymore because homeless bums who are drunk sleep and pee everywhere. It is truly disgusting.
Posted by Economics, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 5:26 pm
Thanks to Obama, there are so many more jobless and homeless people now than there were just a few years ago. What do you want them to do - jump off of a bridge? Don't answer that - I think some would say "yes" - reminds me of pre-Nazi Germany.
Sharin, how nasty can you be? What a piece of work.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm
"I was shocked at the level of vitriol and trumped-up concerns,"
Mr. Kosits is hopelessly out of touch with this Christian duty thing. He's obviously reading too much Gospel and too little Revelation. Being Christian today means going to church on Sunday, blasting liberals, preparing for Rapture, and voting Republican.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm
> Eileen Altman, a resident of another community
What other community? Have you opened your home to a homelss person/bum from Palo Alto? If not, why not? You are very preachy.
I am very tired of the 'holier than thou' lectures from the hypocrites.
Spare me the Jesus/religious talk...I am not a believer.
I notice that Aram James is in typical form, claiming that the proposed ordinance criminalizes a way of life. Yes, absolutley, because that way of life is a threat to all of us in Palo Alto. James, can invite a few bums to live with him, if his neighbors will put up with it. I am grateful that I am not a close neighbor of his.
This car camper nonsense has gone way too far. It is time to shut it down, with an ordiance banning overnight street camping, like our neighboring towns. Way past time.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm
Sam - Eileen Altman is clergy. IIRC, her church has done good work w/the homeless. But I totally sympathize w/you re the car camping & your being tired of it. Further, many churches help a LOT w/homeless issues - to the point of being tiresome in my pissy opinion. My sister's church does a lot, the churches here in EPA. St. Anthony's in Menlo. I know a number of clergy who personally help homeless on the peninsula- members of PIA as well as individual clergy members who do their own donating of $$$ & food. It's difficult, tiring work that never ceases.
Economics - how is Obama responsible? I've worked 1:1 w/homeless & disadvantaged folks in this bad economy. It's been Obama's policies that HELPED these people - jobs, job training, funds for community orgs to assist w/food & shelter. He inherited a MESS from Bush. All that $$ going to fight wars instead of solve problems at home. But I truly want to know what he's done that you think has caused an increase in homelessness. You're right about Sharin's nasty comment. I flagged it.
Paul - your comment was really funny! It appealed to my very cynical side.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm
Hmmm, I don't blame Obama. I am just tired of the bums who are popultating our streets. It will be an ever incrasing problem, until we pass an ordianace against it.
These bums refuse to take a low wage job, like they are some special high level species. I don't buy it.
Our PA city council needs to have the balls to shut it down, just like our neighboring towns. I think people, like Aram James, have our council intimidated. Our council should talk to the Little League people, because they cleaned it up.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm
Sorry for the confusion - my Obama comments were for Economics, whose post mentioned blaming Obama.
I really understand your frustration. I think some of the politics about outlawing it are a mix of genuine compassion for them mixed w/pride/ego for how Palo Alto used to be.
The other thing is that if the city did something about it, they'd have to put $$ into it. They'd prefer to put $$ into other silly these. So by doing nothing, they keep laying it at your door. Your city has a total racket going w/this issue, which you're supposed to tolerate. Just like the fancy art center, improvements to Rinconada Park & other extraneous things, it adds to civic pride to be more tolerant than the surrounding communities. But it really sounds to me like most of you have moved beyond the desire to take civic pride in allowing vehicle dwelling.
As one who no longer lives in PA, but has to deal w/it on a professional basis, I often vote w/my feet. If there's a homeless situation in PA that disgusts me, I take my business elsewhere. If Victor Frost is acting up, I don't go to Whole Foods. If I want to deal w/life at that level, I'll watch "Cops".
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm
No, I don't think so, Sharon. I just flagged your disgustingly arrogant comments. Besides, we're not stupid enough to pretend that we're all-tolerant here in EPA. I'm sure you're perfectly well situated to help the homeless- you can fly them out of town.
Posted by DDee, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm
Sam and the rest of the PA NIMBY society....
Before you pass judgement, why not try volunteering to help out at a Hotel de Zink and get to know the people of whom you speak... The majority of today's homeless are people who do work, families, and especially in Palo Alto, the elderly - many of them local people.
They are not the mentally ill who have nowhere to go, nor the addicted who do not have the wherewithal of a Lindsey Lohan of endless cycles of getting busted and going to expensive recovery, but instead subsist on the streets. And even these more difficult situations are worthy of an understanding - at least an honest acceptance that our society has not implimneted comprehensive policies that work elsewhere and reduce the numbers of human beings who fall entirely out of society.
Where are our clean public toilets with employees to keep them decent and acceptable, toilet paper and all the means for a human being to use them, take a sponge bath, etc? Where are our "poste restante" services so that homeless can get mail and bet help from family and friends? We don't do those "socialistic" things, then we complain about the consequences... so who is it really who is in denial?
Let's say you are a 50 year old unemployed college graduate whose company moved over seas and left you with a home you lost to the bank, a student loan you are still paying off, $0 retirement fund, and you spent down your savings in the last 2 years on helath care because the company stripped those before moving offshore. You are on your own in a city that is not the one where you know people, but was the last one you fond work in and you now have the option of taking a part-time job that pays $7 an hour and requires you to show up each day in clean clothes and bathed. That might bring in $606 a month. But transport costs you $2.50 round trip, 6 days a week, so it costs $65 a month to get to work and back; between $21 and $30 to keep your clothes clean at the laundermat; $130 a month to pay $10 three times a week to shower at a gym or Y (if you can find one, and if the hours for such services do not coincide with your work schedule)and, in order to eat cheaply, you limit yourself to a $7 and change fast food meal once a day. So at the end of the month, you have actually spent $216 in order to keep your job, $210 to eat poorly and that does not include any money for rent or medicines or anything else. So you will have actually made $180 in the month --- AND, YOU WILL HAVE LOST --- any rights you may have had to food stamps, health assistance, housing aid waiting lists, etc. Tell me, is that job "affordable" for you.
Don't judge, and if you must, inform yourselves... honestly.
As for the parking program, churches and others have limitations, but should definitely do more to justify their tax emptions on property and clergy earnings than simply do their Sunday thing, or use their property income to subsidize their staff salary. If churches and clergy and big California corporations were actually taxed like normal folk, we would not have these revenue problems and could deal with issues in a better and more comprehensive manner. Like Alaska and Texas, why doesn't Chevron pay us for the oil and the gas taken from our subsoils, and generally, why is California and Palo Alto so bass akward in doing what works well and is more humane elsewhere?
In the meantime...
The car program should be linked with the Hotel de Zink program. That way, there would be restrooms available, some volunteer provided meals and also paid overnight staff to keep order and make sure the cars were gone in the morning, just as is done with the Hotel de Zink clients. It would also provide a tried and true existing mechanism for working with these people and getting them connected.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 27, 2012 at 7:16 pm
Sure, right, Sharon. Go on - get it done. I'm sure all of EPA, a land & water locked small city w/high density population will welcome you're plan. In fact, I'm sure you can spearhead it because you clearly are so wise & knowledgeable. I'm sure the more-organizations-than-you-can-count will welcome all of your help. But really, you reap what you sow & your town has sown legal car dwelling, so you have to deal w/it.
Posted by DDee, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 8:18 pm
Some may be, most may be, out of towners, I couldn't say. But "attracted here for a free meal" ---- you make me laugh.
Why do YOU live here?
If you were homeless, the weather would be a major factor in what direction to take. Perhaps THE major factor. Not too hot (as many poor seniors die of heat as freeze during winter in other states or in Southern CA), but hot enough most of the time; not to wet (not the northwest); not so sandy and dusty as to make any effort to stay comofortable impossible (as is most of southern CA and the southwest); no snow; no tornados (well, not until recently with climate change anyway); little flooding... remember... location, location, location.
So if that is the reality, what do we gain by getting all huffy about "them outsiders" but not tackling the issue with some l;ong-term planning. AND... since it IS a national problem, why isn't the Federal Government the first in line to provide these solutions and funding?
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm
If I was homeless or in need of a free meal, I'd go to Saint Anthony's Dining Room. If I was a senior, I'd go to Little House - I hear their meals are pretty good. Plus, they have kundalini yoga classes & knife sharpening once a week. What more could a housed person want - a meal, some exercise/spiritual growth & an edged weapon?
Posted by Dean, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm
Once again, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a former Mid-Towner.
Sometimes, I miss Palo Alto.
This thread reminds me why I should not.
I'm not sure if it's the churches who are so hypocritical or those of you who have never leant a hand (I'm not expecting you to lend dollars) to some of the most needy on God's green earth.
Each of us is trying to find a small piece of land where we can live peacefully.
Many in Palo Alto, and some, but nearly as many of us, in Phoenix have found such spots.
What of these homeless?
Could the fine denizens of Palo Alto find it in their collective hearts (or those 42 churches and other 501c3 in "The Tall Stick") to build a modest "Human Services Campus" to temporarily house, feed and offer job placement assistance to these folk?
Think what you might about Arizona and Phoenix and yes, Sheriff Joe, we have built one of the largest and most modern Human Services Campuses in America (with private money), just adjacent to our downtown.
The Central Arizona Shelter Services and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul jointly run the campus. It meets the temporary and sometimes not so temporary needs of 1000s.
Yes, I do have a dog in this fight. I am proud to be a member of the Society since 1986, a spirit I can trace to my roots in Palo Alto in the 1950s and 60s.
You see Phoenix is a very hetergenous city with some of the poorest and richest folks you'll find anywhere. Many of those rich and not so rich like me and my fellow Vincentians realize "to whom much is given, much is expected".
Palo Alto, alas, is far too homogenous I have come to realize. The brightest minds that emanate from PA do not always produce the biggest hearts.
Why not take some of that money you squabble over vis a vis Riconada, the new and improved animal shelter, and other projects that serve the interests of those in PA who have clearly made it and offer a hand to those around you who you pass by and scoff at each day.
As a "compassionate conservative", I long ago realized Palo Alto is inhabited largely by progressive democrats. It's time to man up and live out what you preach.
What a pleasure it would be to brag to those in Phoenix about the world class Human Services Campus residents of my boyhood home have built.
In doing so Palo Alto would truly be recognized as an "All American" City (as Phoenix has numerous times).
Posted by Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern, a resident of the Greendell/Walnut Grove neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 6:24 am
I am dismayed by the number of people who characterize people who sleep in their cars as "drunken bums" or beneath contempt. Being poor is not a crime nor an indication of moral failing. It is a misfortune that could happen to any of us, and my religion calls upon me to do what I can to alleviate poverty and create justice.
Our Board gave this pilot serious thought, and declined with great regret. We have a longstanding and deep commitment on housing issues, from giving generously to help create the Opportunity Center to working for below-market-rate housing in Palo Alto to being founding and enthusiastic participants in Hotel de Zink, and it was hard to say no to this pilot. However, we recognized that for the pilot to be successful, someone from our congregation would have to be on our campus each morning to make sure the transitions went smoothly, and we simply do not have the paid or volunteer staff to make that happen on a nightly basis.
I hope we can all remember that the cost of housing relative to income has risen drastically throughout the country, and take action to address the problem at its roots, even as we offer short-term assistance to those most affected.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 8:48 am
Dean, that's the point, Palo Alto already provides top notch human service programs to the homeless and those in need. That's what people keep forgetting here. In fact, our services have been extended to the point where the majority of the people being served do not live in Palo Alto. Our city has a stellar track record of being generous, compassionate, tolerant, and inclusive in dealing with the issues of poverty. I resent it being characterized any other way.
For example, Palo Alto opened its doors and plays host to the Opportunity Center and housing project, truly the only one of its kind in our entire region. Palo Alto tax payers contribute a six figure annual allowance to help keep this facility sustainable. Prior to that the Urban Ministry operated out of the Red Cross building for nearly three decades serving as a food bank and drop-in center.
Palo Altans also contribute over $30,000 annually to help fund the Downtown Streets Team, an affiliated non-profit organization that employs homeless and qualifying low income people who pick up litter and keep our downtown streets clean. There are also several private and faith based organizations that operate in Palo Alto as well. Two good examples are the Hotel DeZink program which provides temporary shelter to adult males at a consortium of churches within the city, as well as the Food Closet which serves out of the All Saints Church located downtown.
It is very apparent that Palo Alto carries the bulk of the load when it comes to providing services and outreach programs to the homeless and those in need. Far and above over any of our neighboring cities. Show me any city in our region that does more. As someone who has and continues to volunteer at the food bank and providing job training skills, I am very proud of Palo Alto's track record in this regard and refuse to acknowledge anyone trying to deal us the guilt card.
Again, Palo Altans have been compassionate and tolerant. With that has come more than our fair share of the unfortunate fallout and negative impact that goes with being the home of so many homeless service programs. I truly believe that most of us fully realize that not all people who are homeless or down and out are criminals or pose anyone a threat. However, a highly disproportionate number of people living on the street got there for reasons more complicated and tragic than simply finding themselves suddenly unemployed. I would say that the circumstances leading to them being on the street usually involves either a criminal background, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or a severe mental disorders.
I'd never advocate for Palo Alto to stop being generous and supportive in dealing with this difficult issue. I would just like to see other cities in our area take on a greater share of the responsibility. At times I feel like our generosity is being taken advantage of and not appreciated or recognized for what we already provide. Let's not lose sight of that. And sadly if anyone mentions imposing some limitations, they are quick to be branded as being insensitive or uncaring. Please, consider the big picture here.
Palo Alto cannot simply become a magnet for those seeking services from our entire region. Other cities have to pitch in. We're willing to help, but we cannot be left with all of the included baggage of the very real issues involving public drunkenness, petty street crime, homeless encampments, public urination/defecation, and an often time negative impact on our quality of life.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 8:54 am
How can someone who is homeless be called a Palo Alto resident?
If someone loses their Palo Alto home and is living in their car temporarily until such time as they get over their rough patch, I see no reason why we in Palo Alto shouldn't be helping them.
If someone is from out of town without any PA connections, I would imagine that their own community should be helping them.
And again, if someone is long term, habitually living on the streets and refusing help or even to help themselves, it is a different problem and not one that we in Palo Alto should even attempting to solve as it is a society as a whole problem and needs to be tackled from a regional, state or national solution.
Posted by Unfortunate Neighbor, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:06 am
Tony from Community Center wrote: "One word: Liability. Who will be sued when something goes wrong?"
Further back Unfortunate Neighbor wrote: "There is a very good reason why the City will not allow car camping in their parking lots and why the churches don't want parking on their property. If they allow parking on their property they must buy liability insurance and the City refuses to do so. They say they are self-insured!!!
Meanwhile, the City encourages camping out at Cubberley because the School District carries liability insurance!!!"
Nobody picked up on this but it's the real reason there will be no car camping in church parking lots or on City property.
Posted by Edgarpoet, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm
Please do not judge or call other people "bums" drunkards, losers
or other negative terms. You people posting these terms do not know
me or anyone else who are "forced" to live in our vehicles. You are only showing your Bigotry and ignorance by lumping a whole segment of society into your little shoe box for your own gratification.
For your information: My wife and I are victims of the housing mortage meltdown, We do not do drugs, drink, beg on street corners
or pee in your flower bed. We paid our dues by the tens of thousands of dollars of taxes subtracted from our pay checks. What happened to us when we asked for government help? We were made fools of because to get any government help:
1) you have to have dependant children
2) you have to have either a social, mental or dependancy problem
3) you have to prove residency
4) you have to prove that you have less than$1200 in any bank account
Needless to say, we did not qualify because WE ARE TOO NORMAL.
The churches do not help any homeless actually get back on their feet
although they do feed the homeless and give out clothes.
The service providers do not help the homeless because if they did
they would NOT have a job tommorrow!
The employers do not help because of the stereotyping we see right here on this forem.
(i have excellent references and I haven't been hired yet)
For you folks telling me to accept a low pay job, That won'y get me out of my vehicle. Landlords want $3600 in cash to move into a place
And that may take me 1 year to save that much on $8.70 an hour.
Do your math, OK?
I am very blessed NOT to have SOME of you folks for neighbors!
Posted by Rus Kosits, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 11:34 pm
First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto looks forward to working with the city and neighborhood to develop an effective, if only in part, solution to the issues that arise with vehicle dwelling in Palo Alto. At present, there is no pilot program, our churches "yes" was to participate in a pilot that has not yet been developed (in the hopes that we might help develop it). We are not yet at a starting point, but hope, indeed, to get there.
A pilot program should be a risk - no reason to 'pilot' it if its a sure thing. Steps should be taken to provide the highest level of accountability, evaluation and feedback. A pilot might even be successful, but if it consumes more resources than the benefit it provides, not be continued.
I would like to encourage those businesses, churches, and indeed the city, who decided they could not risk participation in pilot program, to reconsider. The perfect should never be the enemy of good when it comes to addressing complex social, economic and political issues.
There are many prudent reasons not to take risks, most of which, when evaluated in the context of duty we have to each other in living in a community that is all that we might hope it can be, are not in the end good reasons, just convenient ones.
Let's be creative, and each offer the resources we have to effect positive change.
Posted by Sarah, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2012 at 11:57 pm
I have seen this very large, almost to the ground , huge older car.It's white and I don't know the model or make ( sorry). I would offer help, I see him sleeping in his car at all shopping centers. I was hoping to find out how I can possible help some of these people like him or even this poor homeless soul.I would like to know how. I think if I just walked up to some people I may offend? Is there a way to offer help?
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 8:10 am
Ms. Franks, may I suggest that you volunteer your time, or make any contributions (food or monetary), to one of the many organizations in our area that provides outreach services to the homeless and those in need. I truly believe this would be the most effective and wisest approach to extend your generosity and time.
Posted by Tony, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 8:26 am
You are correct in that Palo Alto draws the poor and homeless from other communities due to the services it provides. However that is because the social service industry has set it up that way for the opportunity center is run and funded by InnVision which serves the entire Santa Clara County and I believe San Mateo too.
To PA Neighbor,
You dislike and criticize the actions of Gavin Newsome dumping the homeless upon Palo Alto, yet you in turn want to perform the same act by dumping long time Palo Alto residents onto other cities.
There are probably a dozen people who work full-time or close to it who do not take aid from any social service agency who are forced to live out of their vehicles because the cost of rent is too high in East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Mtn. View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, San Mateo etc... These people work at jobs providing you your goods and services. They violate no existing laws.
Given the high IQ and education level that exists in this community I find it amazing at how illogical the conclusions are determined by members of the community to what they attribute the cause is to the significant rise in homeless people.
Posted by Chucky, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 8:37 am
Right on Tone, and I might add, many of the above comments are referring to homeless people in general and not limiting their comments to those persons using vehicles which is what the subject matter is about. It is a disservice to the debate going on when the negative actions of some individuals are attributed to an entire group of people when many of them are not committing the offensive acts cited.
Posted by Tony, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 9:02 am
Lets draw Phil’s and PA Neighbor’s arguments to their logical conclusion:
FACT: People are living out of their vehicles for a variety of reasons.
1) People shouldn’t be allowed to live out of their vehicles in our City, homeless people should not be allowed to use vehicles in our city.
2) Palo Alto prohibits the use of vehicles by the homeless.
If Palo Alto can lawfully prohibit the use vehicles by the homeless then so can all other cities in the United States, thus it becomes unlawful for homelss people to use vehicles through out the United States.
RESULT: Homeless people move out of their vehicles and into the public parks, sidewalks and other public spaces creating an even greater eyesore and burden upon the community.
3) To address the new complaints and problems from the increase in visibility, the city of Palo Alto enacts an ordinance prohibiting the existence of any person who sleeps on public property and or possesses on their person for more than three consecutive days; a back pack used for camping, or a sleeping bag, or more than two changes clothing,or hygiene products etc..
4) The city outlaws every conceivable homeless activity and therefore in affect outlaws the existence of homeless people without directly placing the language "homeless people" in the ordinance.
5) If Municipalities throughout the U.S. can outlaw the use of vehicles by homeless people, then they can outlaw the use of everything else by homeless people.
Without ever stating that it is illegal to be homeless, the entire U.S. can effectively outlaw the existence of homeless people and banish them to jails and prison at a cost of $20,000.00to $40,000.00 per year per homeless person.
Phil, how much are willing to spend to house, clothe and feed the homeless in jail so that you don't have to look at them?
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 9:16 am
And that's precisely my point. Consider this. The Opportunity Center was developed in Palo Alto in large part due to the tolerance, generosity, and compassion that our city has long been known for. It also replaced essentially the Urban Ministry Program which operated out of the nearby Red Cross building for over three decades. I highly doubt this project would have been welcomed and embraced by the vast majority of the cities in our region. As I recall, no other city was clamoring to get the jump on Palo Alto in becoming home to a large, new shelter.
You also mentioned that the Opportunity Center is run and "funded" by InnVision. Not true Tony. Palo Alto tax payers contribute a six figure annual expenditure to help sustain the facility. This is another example of the generosity that Palo Altans have extended and continue to extend to those in need.
Because of these programs, and the many other outreach resources that are readily available in Palo Alto, I have an expectation that other cities in our region need to step up and share more of the responsibility. Especially since the majority of people these resources serve are not from Palo Alto. I too want to be tolerant and compassionate, but in becoming the keeper of our region when it comes to homeless services, we unfortunately are left with the very real issue of the negative fallout.
Again, I fully realize that not all people living on the street have a criminal background, are drunkards, substance abusers, or disrespect people and their property. Unfortunately and sadly, a disproportionate number of them do. I would never want Palo Alto to stop being generous and providing for those in need. All I'm asking for is other cities and communities to pull their fair share of the load. We cannot be expected to play host to a mobile homeless shelter for car dwellers. As a city we do more for the homeless than anyone else in our region. It's somebody elses turn to step up.
Posted by Ken the antique guy, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 9:24 am
I paid a lot of money for my house and perpetually pay property taxes to ensure a certain status level and quality of life. I shouldn't have to view homeless people in my neighborhood whether they are in a car or not. This community has set a certain bar of acceptance, (financial and behavioral), and if a person cannot meet or exceed that bar then they should be excluded from the community. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 9:32 am
I understand the frustration Ken, but your take might be a little steep. I too made many sacrifices and worked hard to afford to buy in Palo Alto, and yes, with that comes a certain expectation as to our quality of life.
The bar of expectation for people should not be set to their current economic state, but entirely in their behavior and the choices they make. There will be poor always, and the reasons people get there are many. At the same time there must be some limitations to the tolerance, compassion, and generosity that we as a community are expected to extend.
Posted by Tony, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 9:35 am
then I should expect you to contact the City leaders of Menlo Park, San Mateo, Redwood City, San Carlos, Mtn. View, Sunnyvale etc. and ask them to repeal their Vehicle Habitation Bans so that those persons who are originally from those cities will be able to return to their home cities. Perhaps you should start a petition demanding that these cities repeal their ordinances and take financial responsibility for the poor and homeless that they exiled to Palo Alto.
Another good idea would be to document the exact expense that Palo Alto residents are spending on these residents from other cities and file a lawsuit against those other cities in order to recoup our losses due to their negligence.
You seem capable enough, would you be willing to initiate a lawsuit? I'd be willing to ante up an initial $350.00 for the filing fees.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 10:00 am
Come on Tony, so we can't have a discussion on a public forum without someone giving us a homework assignment? LOL Besides, it's in poor taste to issue some challenge in an attempt to discourage or negate someone's point of view. We're just people exchanging thoughts and ideas already.
Here's what I have done however. I have volunteered for over thirty years working in homeless outreach services, food banks, as well as provide job training skills to those in need. I believe that every dose of assistance must come with an equal dose of higher expectation. People emerge from poverty and become self-sufficient when they raise the bar of expectation for themselves, sometimes with a little help from others. Entitlements alone and low expectations simply maintains the status quo.
I was also actively in support of the municipal code ordinance that prohibits car dwelling at least in residential areas. I'm willing to help the homeless and poor, but yes, I do have an expectation that people will not be living out of their car in our neighborhoods. Like most people in Palo Alto I worked very hard and made many sacrifices to afford to buy a home here. I came from very humble beginnings and had to earn it every step of the way. I don't feel guilty about my place in life for those reasons, and with that I expect to maintain a certain quality of life.
Posted by Tony, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:00 am
the homeless person living in the car on your street moves into a room in the house across the street from your house. Someone else pays for it. Nothing else changes, and the homeless person continues to hang out at his vehicle for many hours of the day and night.
He's acceptable now according to you based upon his geographic location, because he can now place a fixed address at the end of his name as apposed to a postal box.
Your comeback will be that he has access to facilities which he did not before.
My reply is, he had access before factually based on the absence of any litter or other remains, you just did not want to acknowledge it.
You really like to flaunt your good deeds of volunteering your time to the very services that is attracting the residents from other communities here and then criticize those services and other communities for forcing the homeless here yet you don't want to lift a finger to actually accomplish what you desire.
You are aiding that practice which you criticize and refuse to help do what you want them to do.
My offer is still good if want to walk the walk instead of just being all talk claiming that you don't want to do homework.
here's a link to what I believe most Palo Altans believe.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:27 am
It is hard to fathom all this knee-jerk guilt by local do-gooders. I am very happy that I do not live next to a local church, becasue I could see it all coming my way, if the church/temple leaders get sucked in by the guilt trip.
Why aren't these bums offering to wipe down cars at the local car wash? I actually saw a couple of white people doing this recently, and the one who did my car told me that she is willing to work hard and take any job. She is going somewhere, because she is not a whiner. Most of the bums sit around demanding the perfect job, instead just a job. Makes me sick.
Here's a scenario for you: You decide to sell your house, in Palo Alto, and the realtor tells you that the bum camping near your house will scare away potential buyers. Currently, it is against the rules to move him/her on. This is much more than a simple guilt trip, it is a serious economic issue.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:43 am
Tony, quite the contrary. My response lies in the "someone else pays for it" statement you made. And who would that be? I make great financial sacrifices and work very hard to afford to live in this community. I pay an elevated property tax as part of the package in living here. As local tax payers we already contribute more money and open our doors to more homeless service networks than any other community in our region.
And now you want "someone else" to provide housing for the homeless. Well that someone else is the hard working, responsible tax payer. The funds don't materialize out of mid-air by some benevolent, never ending flow of generosity. Palo Altans already do more than our share of outreach. Not everyone can afford to live in Palo Alto, nor should those seeking assistance expect or feel entitled to live wherever they "want", especially on someone elses dime. You don't always get to live where you want. What you do have is an opportunity to earn where you get to live, just like the vast majority of Palo Altans who have worked hard to earn that. This is just a little something called reality.
I believe I have walked the walk in terms of working hard, making sacrifices, and leading a responsible life. I have done my best to be generous with my time and money in order to give back to our community, especially with those impoverished and in need. As a Palo Altan I have supported the outreach programs at many different levels, and I resent being characterized as being uncaring or out of touch just because I advocate some reasonable societal limitations and expectations. I believe that most Palo Altans feel the same way.
The way I see it your argument is based very much on flipping the guilt card and expecting these entitlements to not only continue, but increase. You are a problem identifier, but offer no tangible solution that doesn't involve more entitlements. All that society truly owes people Tony is not a guarantee of success and self-sustainability, but an opportunity to achieve that. Those opportunities are created from within. If you make poor life choices, like many people living on the street have, then they must deal with the consequences, including having society place reasonable safeguards to insure their quality of life. If you really want to help, save that 350 bucks and invest it into some job training for someone in need. Better that someone learns how to make their own way in life rather than depending on others.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm
Phil, your comments have many grains of truth in them, but they drip w/pretension & the snobbery/smugness that make Palo Alto a joke to many. This is vein of truth that you *haven't* mentioned:
Most people in this area work hard. Working hard & making sacrifices isn't specific to your city's residents. InnVision has several locations. Palo Alto has been generous, but your repetitive comments make it seem that your city has the market cornered on helping the homeless. It's frankly, typical of the Palo Alto attitude to constantly be mentioning how it helps others w/out acknowledging what others do. If you all didn't think about the results of "attracting outsiders" to your fair town w/The Opportunity Center, then you all failed in planning for the inevitable, which is what you're now complaining about.
I truly understand your frustration, as well as your compassion & generosity - it's a mixed bag because there's no over-arching solution if in your vision you want to get rid of the homeless (which is markedly different from solving the homeless problem in your town). But I will repeat: your constant referral to your sacrifices & hard work, your town's contributions to help the homeless result in the distorted image that PA is doing so much more than any other town when the truth is that it's a combo of your LACK of vehicle dwelling laws PLUS the Opportunity Center that result in the current situation. You're conveniently ignoring the very real homeless problems & solutions in neighboring towns. Oh, yeah, & the neighboring towns are smart enough to outlaw car camping.
Question: If you're so frustrated by what you consider to be the unceasing, unappreciated generosity of your town, what are you doing to change it?
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm
I hope not to sound like a snob or self-serving. I'm just attempting to express my perception on these issues, much of what comes from my personal experiences. Often time I believe that what sounds like an elitist attitude, stems from having to defend oneself from accusations of being uncaring.
You have to recognize and acknowledge that Palo Alto has been a long standing leader in terms of providing homeless outreach and assistance. You mentioned the Opportunity Center, which is the largest facility of its type in our region, and the lack of local vehicle dwelling restrictions that attract so many of those to Palo Alto seeking services. You fail to mention however the many programs and services that Palo Alto is home to, or the local tax payer contributions that are made to help fund many of these programs.
I do acknowledge other service programs that other communities provide. I respect those efforts, and have and continue to volunteer at outreach programs outside of Palo Alto. And you know what? When you look at the services that other communities provide compared to Palo Alto they don't even begin to stack up. Not even close. So where you perceive resentment and snobbish, elitist behavior on the part of Palo Alto on this issue, I conversely see a severe lack of appreciation and acknowledgement for what we have done and continue to do. We don't just play host to and fund the Opportunity Center at the tune of a six figure annual allowance, we are home to a myriad of other resources that you neglected to mention.
To answer your last question, I have attempted to work on this problem in very real ways by volunteering at numerous homeless outreach programs not only here in Palo Alto, but in San Francisco and South Bay as well. I have contributed countless hours to provide job training skills on the peninsula, including in your own city of East Palo Alto. My family and I make annual charitable contributions to other service programs. These are just one aspect of solving this problem and providing a safety net.
I have always believed that with every gesture of assistance, should come an equal dose of expectations. In my own business I have employed several people who had once lived on the street and wanted to become self-sustainable. They were provided job training skills and the necessary tools that would give them the best chance for success. Some failed, many succeeded. It's all about giving people a chance to succeed and stand on their own. That's what I believe in. This is another part of the solution.
I also have tried to responsibly influence our local government as a resident, voter, tax payer, and someone who has spoken at city council meetings. I have tried to become part of the solution and not just someone who simply identifies problems. Part of the solution at this government, societal level has to involve some sort of reasonable expectations and limitations on how much our city is going to spend, and to what level we're willing to go to extend these services. Considering the leadership role that Palo Alto has played in this arena, and the disproportionate number of services and programs that we offer compared to our neighboring cities, I don't see how it's elitist to suggest some reasonable limitation. We as a community have been very generous and tolerant in reaching out to the homeless. With that there must be a balance in what we're expected to endure as far as the negative fallout.
In summary, I am proud of what our city contributed to this cause, and will not be made to feel guilty. Sorry, but the facts are the facts. Instead of sneering with resentment and expecting more, please stop and consider that what we contribute is already off the scale.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm
>You have to recognize and acknowledge that Palo Alto has been a long standing leader in terms of providing homeless outreach and assistance.
Yes, that's the problem. Build it and they will come...then build even more, and more will come. The solution is to deconstruct the incentive to come. Unless, of course, private citizens, of the do-gooder variety, want to adopt a bum.
The proper solution is to force the bums to take any job available, anywhere, and stop listening to their whining.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm
"We as a community have been very generous and tolerant in reaching out to the homeless. With that there must be a balance in what we're expected to endure as far as the negative fallout."
Your town has created the perfect storm for what you consider to be negative fallout, in large part to not outlawing car campers like everyone else has. Why this wasn't taken into consideration when all the planning for The Opportunity Center opened is beyond me & probably beyond you. It's not that wanting limits isn't reasonable - it's too reasonable for a city that loves its "look at me, look at me & all the cool stuff I've done" reputation. That reputation has been in place for decades, even as many of its "newcomers" are less tolerant, creating the current disjointed situation.
Part of the issue, which is surprising to me that you haven't mentioned, is that many of your programs for the homeless are part of county programs. You all are now hamstrung by your own legislation & lack thereof. Go after Mt. View to take a turn at helping the homeless if you're tired of it.
I think you're so reasonable you'll be continue to be ignored by your city leaders.
I've gotten really burned out by the needs of others, so I focus on animals. From a distance, I still help the poor & homeless. But I also call the cops on car campers.
Posted by Edgarpoet, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm
Heh Sam , Please do not keep showing us readers your ignorance
Palo Alto real estate has continued to climb in value even through this last 4 year recession that the rest our our United States has suffered through. Kindly do not refer to other humans as "Bums"
There are reasons why somebody ends up homeless, or incapable to function to your level in society. Many of these reasons can be corrected by simple gestures of kindness. I worked as a house manager at a foster home where abused children were housed and
some of these ended up as homeless adults. Was it their fault
that the parents abused them? Sam, you view the hardships of others
through rose colored glasses, not seeing the reality of the situation
but only judging with your limited viewing capacity.
Perhaps a bit of hardship should befall you to enable you to
gain an understanding of the real world around you. Your own great success on this Earth is great, don't let it swell your head,
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Good points all Hmmm, and I did support the local legislation to support a restriction on overnight car dwelling both privately and in the public arena. The democratic process is just that, a process. At times in my humble opinion our local government's common sense can be disabled at times out of fear of being tagged as insensitive or uncaring. They too need to be reminded of the disproportionate services our city already provides in terms of homeless outreach.
And you're right, many of the programs that we've discussed are indeed funded in part by county programs. The difference is is that Palo Alto is home to those programs, a point that I'm sure our neighboring cities have absolutely no problem with. Also, in the case of the Opportunity Center, Palo Alto is the only municipality that allocates an annual six figure allowance of tax payer money to sustain the program. Again, I think we're closer together on this issue than when our discussion began. Palo Alto is responsible for creating a home and supporting many homeless services, but it has also opened a Pandora's Box of problems that goes along with that. That's why I'm appealing for people, and our local government to consider the big picture, realize that we carry the bulk of the burden in our region already, and balance our outreach efforts with our quality of life in mind.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm
It would be really nice if another local community - not EPA - helped w/the car camping issue. Through the years, I've known a number of car campers -some employed, some not, some sober, some addicts- & it's a harsh life.
It does seem to be a pretty uneven allocation of resources from PA. I've both laughed at & been disgusted by the Opportunity Center folks I've seen at Town & Country & near PAMF - not all of them, but a number of them. Their lack of concern for their surroundings & other people adds to my cynicism.
Too bad the city won't hire part timers to work at the churches dealing w/the car campers since they've been wanting the churches to solve the car camping problem. I am sorry that I just see this as your city leaders passing trying to pass the buck to the churches rather than really find a solution. Maybe I'm wrong, but the whole thing really seems like dodging responsibility. The community is reaping what it's sown but instead of the farmer leaders sucking it up they're wanting someone else to fix it.
Part of why I believe in affordable housing in EPA is that it truly keeps people housed. I have neighbors living perpetually on the edge who can remain housed because they know what their rent will be in the future. Sure, some of them are ne'er do wells. But the majority are hardworking or elderly and/or disabled. As well, those in transitional housing can get into a place much easier when they know what their rent will be & it's affordable.
Phil, can you imagine if there weren't any lower cost options for housing in EPA how much worse the problem would become?
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm
>Perhaps a bit of hardship should befall you to enable you to
gain an understanding of the real world around you....
Edgar, you are a real wimp. I spent my youth in very hard circumsatnces. I was lucky to have not had an adult mentor like you. My adult mentors told me to, " buck up, kid". You are not only a whiner, Edgar, but an enabler of failure.
Your days are over, Edgar. Palo Alto citizens don't want any more of your stuff. Bad for business and taxes and property values.
Posted by Mr. Natural, a resident of another community, on Jun 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm
"It is hard to fathom all this knee-jerk guilt by local do-gooders. I am very happy that I do not live next to a local church, becasue I could see it all coming my way, if the church/temple leaders get sucked in by the guilt trip."
Most of the local do-gooders and church/temple leaders don't live next the local church they are volunteering for the homeless vehicle program.
Posted by Sam, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm
>Most of the local do-gooders and church/temple leaders don't live next the local church they are volunteering for the homeless vehicle program.
Wait until more of the churches and temples (perhaps a mosque?) get caught up in the guilt stream. There is always a martyr church/temple leading the way to celebrate how they want the rest of us to suffer.
Not me, period. I am not willing to let religious cultists to lead me into the sophistry of guilt. If they want to expiate their own guilt, then have them volunteer to adopt a bum or two or three, into their own homes.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm
"Palo Alto citizens don't want any more of your stuff. Bad for business and taxes and property values."
Sam, the above first sentence is clearly not true. It's also not true for the last part of your second sentence. If the first was, your fearful city "leaders" would get busy passing a law against vehicle dwelling. If the second was, property values would have plummeted.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2012 at 10:42 pm
Tony, there is absolutely no denial on my part. Just accepting my responsibility and expect others to do the same. My parents were European immigrants who moved to San Francisco. They did not speak English, but they did teach me to value education, have a strong work ethic, and to respect other people and their property. Many would say that our life was at the poverty level by even today's standard, but they accepted humble employment and saw it as an opportunity. We never accepted public assistance. If there were more needs, the solution was to work harder. Anything less would be compromising one's self-respect and honor. We also did our best to make positive, productive choices in life that would prevent us from achieving our goals.
I took advantage of the public education that was offered and worked hard even though I was never the best student. I worked multiple jobs through high school in order to pay for college, and with that I received a graduate degree. As a young engineer I worked tirelessly to gain experience and credibility. I was able to invest in a small property in Palo Alto, and later moved to a larger home as our family grew. I started with nothing, zero. The odds were stacked against us as poor immigrants, but we persisted and succeeded the old fashioned way, we earned it.
Palo Alto has become a highly desirable place to live due its location, proximity to Stanford and other resources, nationally recognized school system, beautiful neighborhoods, and the many advantages that it has to offer. The housing and rental markets reflect that as well. It costs more to live in Palo Alto because of what it has to offer. The people who live and own homes here pay for that privilege with a high real estate market and property tax rates. I believe that I am like most Palo Altans, and resent being characterized as someone who was born into money or just had everything handed over to me. Nothing could be further from the truth. Again Tony, the only thing that society owes you is an opportunity to succeed. How someone takes advantage of that opportunity lies solely in their hands. Ultimately the decisions you make will dictate the life that you lead.
So for all these reasons, no, not everyone can afford to live in Palo Alto, just like I can't afford to live in Atherton. It's something called reality. You have to earn your lot in life. No one is entitled to live wherever they want to just because it's something they desire. Again, it has to be earned. No one owes you anything and there are other more affordable communities where people can begin their life. Remember, like many others, we started living in poverty. We got out by working hard and not expecting others to bail us out. We were not special, exceptionally talented, or blessed with advantages, so excuse me if I'm not too sympathetic. I'm just expecting more people to try and do the same.
To answer your questions specifically, let me state emphatically that I never once called for homeless people to be banished from Palo Alto or anywhere else. That is a lie plain and simple. I am very proud of our cities track record, as well as my personal efforts to volunteer at outreach programs, make charitable donations, as well as provide job training skills for those in need. I know and respect the human experience that many of these people are enduring. With that assistance, I also expect an equal balance of expectation and higher personal standards. True change will only occur when people begin to take on that responsibility.
On your other question, yes, absolutely many of the good folks working at Whole Foods and many other establishments here in Palo Alto are hard working people. With that said, no, nobody has the "right" to live in Palo Alto. Living in Palo Alto, or wherever you choose to live, has to be something that you can afford and have the ability to achieve. It's not a right or an entitlement. It's something that has to be earned. Something that people made many sacrifices in order to achieve, so if you're expecting society just to hand over a house or an apartment to you then you're not only unrealistic but delusional as well.
Again, I've never called for the homeless to be banished from our midst. I work with and currently employ many people who once lived on the street. I've always felt that many deserve a hand, just not a handout. I accept the existence of the Opportunity Center and the many other homeless outreach programs that our city plays host to and funds with tax payer contributions. I also acknowledge and honor the many private donations that are made by Palo Alto citizens to these organizations.
All I'm asking for Tony is that other cities in our region share some of the burden, because quite frankly, to take on anything more like a mobile shelter would be just unfair. People are willing to help, but as a community we do have to deal with considerable problems with the homeless being involved in activity that compromises and effects our overall quality of life. I'm not saying all, but certainly a disproportionate number, and it's getting old.
Posted by Tony, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 1:11 am
Why kind abode did you live in growing up?
What did your parents do for work and how much of their income went to housing?
Phil you state, “No one is entitled to live wherever they want to just because it's something they desire. Again, it has to be earned.”
Then you contradict yourself by stating, “let me state emphatically that I never once called for homeless people to be banished from Palo Alto or anywhere else.”
“Again, I've never called for the homeless to be banished from our midst.”
Actually Phil when you state that no one is entitled to live wherever the want, you are stating that they are not allowed to continue to live in America unless they earn it and since they are not earning according to you, they should be removed because they can’t earn the privilege to live here.
Then to the question regarding whether or not “Whole Foods” workers should be allowed to live where they work. Phil you state: “With that said, no, nobody has the "right" to live in Palo Alto. Living in Palo Alto, or wherever you choose to live, has to be something that you can afford and have the ability to achieve. It's not a right or an entitlement.”
You love that word "entitlement" don’t you Phil?
THERE YOU HAVE IT EVERYBODY, BLATANT DISCRIMINATION, PHIL BELIEVES THAT HE’S ENTITLED, THAT HE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO LIVE NEXT DOOR TO PEOPLE WHO CUT HIS FISH, CLEAN HIS PRODUCE, CHOP HIS BEEF, BAKE HIS PIES AND BREW HIS COFFEE BECAUSE HE’S SUPERIOR TO AND BETTER THEN THEM AND BECAUSE HE’S AN ENGINEER WITH A COLLEGE EDUCATION WHICH MAKES HIM A GOOD PERSON UNLIKE THE LOW WAGE COOKS AND SUCH.
Where should the employees from Whole Foods and other retailers live Phil?
What would happen to Palo Alto if all of the low wage employees of all of the local businesses moved to Nevada and no new employees came to replace them?
I bet you dollars to donuts that the landowners and business owners and the developers and city leaders would come together on how to figure out how to provide a living wage for those who provide numerous essential services.
Phil then you state, “so if you're expecting society just to hand over a house or an apartment to you then you're not only unrealistic but delusional as well.”
Did anybody ask for a house or apartment, Phil, I don’t think so?
The homeless are not asking for anything from you Phil, just their right to exist in America.
Obviously you don’t believe they have a right to exist in America because they don’t have a college education.
That’s where you are in some kind of delusion Phil. Suppose everyone was as brilliant as you and everyone became an engineer or a doctor or an astronaut. Who would take out the garbage?
Tell me Phil, if push came to shove, what percentage of Americans could build themselves a viable and decent home in the mold of Lincoln’s Log Cabin?
Don’t give me so long winded b.s. about obtaining and using modern materials and building techniques compliant with current safely codes which have been around for less then 0.0000001 percent of human existence.
We know the answer don’t we Phil, even if you don’t want to admit it. The majority of American’s could build themselves a decent structure for their families to live in, in less then six months.
Once built, their time is freed up, (Liberty), to pursue all the other things of life.
You stated, “the only thing that society owes you is an opportunity to succeed,” you are mistaken Phil, society nor the U.S. Constitution owes us that. The Constitution owes us our Constitutional Rights something that you want to take away from the homeless.
Based upon your statements Phil, you believe that only Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, Professors and the like should be allowed to own homes and live in close proximately to where they work and that all other Americans should shove it.
I believe that everyone should bear the fruit of their labor without being forced to perpetually hand over 70, 80 and 90 percent of their incomes to someone else just to live I a box.
Some estimates place the full-time working homeless as high as 40% of the homeless population. One of those individuals is living in white mini-van next to your house right now and you don’t even know it.
You keep blaming the victims for the economic cause to homelessness, the “out-of-whack” shortage in supply of housing related to demand.
I do agree with you in one respect, despite appearances of successes, funding should be pulled from the majority of homeless and other services that provide subsidized housing and shelter for that only perpetuates the problem by not allowing the market to correct itself by building a surplus of housing everywhere there are jobs.
But you and your neighbors don’t like that and will not want that because your property values will go down.
And now we are at the root of the problem Phil. GREED.
Currently on Craigslist there are about 55 to 60 units of housing available in Palo Alto. If there were consistently 500 to a 1,000 units of housing: studios, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms, small homes and condos available most of the homeless including the drunks would disappear into the woodwork availability.
But you and your like minded neighbors will not allow that to happen because you are putting your greed of a few thousand dollars in property value above the necessity of others, as a result they and the community as a whole suffers.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 8:18 am
Tony, six of us living in a one bedroom apartment in the Mission District of San Francisco. My mother and father worked two jobs. They worked in canneries and iron works by day, and cleaned offices at night. All of the children worked from their early teens. Despite the high crime and impoverished conditions, no one in our immediate family used that as an escape by choosing the fast buck by committing crimes, or diluting ourselves with alcohol and substance abuse.
Despite the grueling work and difficult conditions we saw that as an opportunity not a burden. We were committed to forging a life in America. Realizing that education was one of the keys, we took full advantage of our public education and made the most of it. All the while we maintained our dignity, self-respect, and honor and never once sought or received public assistance. We were not privileged, exceptionally talented, or blessed with advantages by any stretch. In fact, the odds were very much stacked against us. So again, please excuse me if I'm not too sympathetic.
Everyone has the opportunity to succeed in this country if they choose to take advantage of those opportunities. That's all that society truly owes you, that opportunity. As for my reference to entitlements, it has nothing to do with not wishing to live near or interacting with the people who are down and out or lived on the street. If that were the case Tony, then why would my family and I have spent many years volunteering at numerous homeless outreach programs throughout the bay area? Why would I have spent countless hours with at-risk youth and young adults helping to develop job skills? Why would I have sought those in need by giving them employment in my own business when most others wouldn't have even considered it?
We were not driven by guilt. We were motivated to help others because of our own very humble beginnings, and wishing to share our blessings with others. At the same time, I also believe that with every dose of assistance there must be an equal dose of expectations and higher standards. It's a little something called accountability.
The market will generally drive the affordability of housing. I'm sure that my parents who could not speak English, had no formal education whatsoever, and barely a dollar to their name would have loved to move into a home in Palo Alto when they arrived in this country, or anytime afterward for that matter. You mention our Constitution and the people's right to life, liberty, and happiness. You left out one very important part of that. It's the "pursuit" of life, liberty, and happiness. That pursuit part Tony, that's your responsibility. That's the part you're not grasping. You state that Constitution "owes" you you're rights. No, the Constitution should preserve your rights to "pursue" what this country has to offer. How you go about doing that will determine the measure of your success.
Now you've been very emphatic in questioning me about my background and beginnings, let me ask you a question? You claim to reside in Professorville, a very nice neighborhood indeed. How does your personal background effect your perception on this issue? What did you do or not do to achieve your place in life? And finally what have you done to inspire others, provide assistance, make financial contributions, or offer assistance?
You can respond if you wish, but I'm tapped out discussing this with you with all due respect Tony. I suppose we can simply agree to disagree. I do admire your conviction and wish you the best in your future endeavors.
Posted by Church Neighbor, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 8:51 am
I would not judge a church too harshly based on this vote. Most churches know they are part of a neighborhood and they have to be good neighbors. Most of us did purchase our house only to have a camping ground of any kind in the lot behind us- regardless if the people are rich or poor. Many churches throughout Palo Alto host homeless people LIVING in their church area for a month at a time. If you ask around most of the churches have been doing this for years. As a church neighbor I support it but even so it still adds to the noise in the neighborhood which we didn't bargain for when we moved in.
My observation has been that many of the people that have been the biggest supporters of the onsite homeless programs have generally been not the immediate neighbors or actual homeowners, but people that would probably never approve of that same program in their backyard-
Homelessness is a tough issue. It is ironic that the city with all their land is trying to get the church to take care of their problems.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 11:30 am
Public sanitation and public safety must be factored in. COncern for persons in dire circumstances must also.
Living on the streets or in a temporary arrangement like a car/van is not a real, permanent, workable "lifestyle."
The government at all levels should work for SOLUTIONS to problems of homelessness, the unemployed, the mentally ill. I strongly oppose displaced or homeless or vehicle-dwellers "dwelling" in city parks, near schools, churches, or in front of private property (workplaces, homes) for anything more than a brief period of time. Don't flame me - I speak from reality. I am sympathetic up to a point, but we live in 2012 and have modern amenities like bathrooms, and these need to be safe and clean for the general public and those essentially living on the streets need to be assisted into viable living circumstances rather than just hanging out and (sometimes) endangering the general public. I think Palo Alto needs to be careful about attracting outsiders (just like San Francisco) -- that doesn't solve anyone's problems.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm
I think that the hyper-focus on the homeless in PA is a mistake, when talking solutions. The whole peninsula, from SF-SJ has expensive housing. This is a major, major issue which both counties face constantly. I understand the focus on PA of course given the article & lack of car camping law. But since this issue goes well beyond Palo Alto looking just to its churches is silly.
The car campers are stuck. If they work in the vicinity & car their vehicle home, why would they move? Where would they move to? Trying to plan long range would be mighty difficult. In a capitalist, democratic society, we are tasked w/taking care of those less fortunate. But to what degree? We want them to do what we want them to do if we're footing the bill.
What I've noticed w/many homeless but is rarely talked about, is how difficult many of them are. I don' mean the full blown mentally ill ones. But I've known a number of them who end up homeless in part because they don't build or keep relationships & therefore don't have anywhere to turn when personal disaster strikes. I've turned my back on a number of personal cases I've helped w/due to their obstreperous, difficult personalities. They make things harder w/their poor choices & lack of willingness to get along. I'm certainly not saying this is true of all of them, but I've noticed this was many of them. That's largely why I've distanced myself from them, aside from assisting w/their pets. This leaves a huge gap between what they expect society to do for them & what society is willing to do.
This is the irony - where would they be if Palo Alto didn't have legal car camping? The resentment toward Palo Alto is great in the pro-homeless posts, but they still can live in their cars.
Posted by Tony, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm
Once again Phil. I nor the working poor nor the homeless are asking for a house or an apartment for nothing. They just want to reap the fruit of their labor yet given your inability to address some of the questions directly I have to assume that you support the exploitation of those who serve you given that you have admitted, indirectly, that you should not have live next to them.
Phil you state, “You mention our Constitution and the people's right to life, liberty, and happiness.” “You left out one very important part of that. It's the "pursuit" of life, liberty, and happiness.”
The Constitution does not state anything about “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” nor did I. The above is written in the Declaration of Independence which as no legal authority.
However since you brought it up, I have had the fortunate opportunity to get to know a person who is quit content with “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” 1 Tim. 6:8 and that this is his pursuit of happiness.
He doesn’t take anything from social services. He does not use drugs or alcohol. He has lived for decades in the arboretum and other areas of foliage at Stanford. He has caused absolutely no harm to this planet from using or depending upon fossil fuels or other deleterious conveniences of modern society.
Based upon your position, you would deny him his pursuit of happiness because he chooses to live in a manner that is not acceptable to you.
You acknowledge that the Market drives affordable housing, but instead of acknowledging that the Market is driven by our choices of how we want society to be structured, you revert back to your pride of your parents being exploited and therefore justify that exploitation today.
That’s analogous to a senior fraternity brother justifying violent hazing because he himself was violently hazed.
As far as what I have done to get to where I am at, I suggest you start with John Perkins first book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit man.”
I never asked you to identify all of your charitable actions, you chose to flaunt them, something that I will not do for pride goeth before a fall.
I have accomplished what I set out to do, and that is to reveal who you are, which exposed the fact that you obstinately reside in very narrow and selfish perspective of the world and if anyone intrudes or challenges your view think outside the box which you have labeled “normal” you hide underneath the rock of “denial.”
Good luck to you and your family when the earthquake comes and the bay rises 20 feet, but being an engineer you should do better than most.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm
And you seethe with contempt and bitterness. You offer no solution other than vilify others. You are problem identifier and never a problem solver. You extend no respect or acknowledgement to those who have a achieved and done their best to assist others, I'm guessing because it's a sad reminder of what you have failed to achieve in your own life. For many of the those waiting for entitlements like yourself, the path to success that I have experienced and described is just too hard. No problem, this is who you are, I get it. I am done with this conversation because you are truly out of touch and incapable of seeing both sides of the issue. But don't worry, I'm not angry despite my rather pointed and candid tone. Quite the contrary. I just feel sorry for you.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 30, 2012 at 1:16 pm
Tony - how about pooling funds & getting a place on the west side of E. Palo Alto? Thanks to corporate greed buying up all of the places so they're under the same landlord, most of them are under rent control.
Posted by Tony, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm
Actually I am a problem solver Phil. That is what I do for a living. The problem is people like you who don’t want implement the solutions that would solve the problems because you’re selfish and greedy.
It’s a simple case of economics, something that Martin Luther King understood.
How much did a top of line apple computer cost 12 years ago?
How much does one cost now.
They’re a lot cheaper now because of mass production.
If we as society mass produced housing like we did every other product, like we did from the 1940’s through the 1960’s, then the teacher who is educating your kids in Palo Alto schools could afford a house in the same community as you instead of commuting 130.2 miles every day losing four hours of her life every day so that you don’t have to live next to her. A loss of 20 hours per week that she spends on the road instead of with her own kids.
The majority of teachers in Palo Alto under 50 don’t live in Palo Alto because according to you Phil, they did not succeed enough in life to be entitled to live in Palo Alto.
I pointed out another solution, which you refuse to aid in, and that is to file a lawsuit against neighboring communities to take responsibility for their share of the burden of the poor and homeless who have been banished to Palo Alto due to their ordinances and economic policies.
You whine and complain about all of these homeless bums being given handouts from the social service industry and that they do not deserve to be given housing or exist in Palo Alto because of bad life choices, yet you refuse to provide a solution.
If they shouldn’t exist in Palo Alto which community do you plan to exile them too, I’m sure they will want to know.
I am not jealous of anyone Phil, least of all you. In fact I am grateful that the blinders were removed from my eyes so as to see the truth. Instead of challenging your comfort zone by exposing yourself to other perspectives such as John Perkin’s you choose to remain in blissful ignorance.
Declining wages, in turn, have put housing out of reach for many workers: in every state, more than the minimum wage is required to afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent.  A recent U.S. Conference of Mayors report stated that in every state more than the minimum-wage is required to afford a one or two-bedroom apartment at 30% of his or her income, which is the federal definition of affordable housing.
If anyone is seething here with bitterness and jealousy it is you. You’re bitter that you put all that time and work in to achieve a superior status, to keep up with the Joneses, and you can’t stand the fact that there are others out there who didn’t and therefore should not be allowed to enjoy this world like you. Guilt has funny ways of expressing itself.
You keep stating that I’m waiting for entitlements which I have never stated and which I have no need of.
So why do you keep putting words in my mouth Phil?
Once again you expose your conceitedness by claiming that you feel sorry for me. You should feel sorry for yourself especially since you like to compare achievements, more pride.
You glorify the poverty and struggle that your parents went through and were it as a badge of honor, yet immediately ridicule and despise present day people who are doing the exact same thing and are living in even harsher circumstances.
You admit that you would not want your parents living next door to you because you’re wealthier than they are therefore better than they are.
Your street in your world looks like this:
Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Young, Larry Page, Phil, Engineers, CEO Angelo Mozilo, CEO Kenneth Lewis, CEO Meg Whitman, Dorothy Dugger, Harry Weis, Richard Peery and others.
You despise a world in which your street would look like this:
Mark Zuckerberg, soccer coach, NASA scientist, grade school teacher, Meg Whitman, Whole Foods butcher, car salesman, message therapist, coffee barista, artist and Jerry Yang.
Why, because you hate the working poor and blame them for not achieving success as you have done which allows you to justify in denying them homes of their own, denying them the fruit of their labor.
Twice now you have stated that you are done with this debate, lets see if you can be a man of your word.
Posted by Sarah Franks, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jul 1, 2012 at 12:04 am
Thank you for passing on my email! I have been able to help a few people out, and whomever did pass on my email to these people you are wonderful people!
P.S. Phil I am already doing volunteer work at Lucille Packard, and have donated to other orgs.(clothing etc)
Thank you for the list, I wanted to help someone directly though.I have no fear! I know you are looking out for my best interest. I do appreciate that. Thank you for the info and again thank you for the passing along of my email ! I was able to bring some blankets to a family and also some shoes too an elderly woman :)These people are waiting on a housing list, and many have been laid off without families (locally), if you get to know some personally, it makes you think on another level. I don't know what is wrong or right, but this just feels right to help people. I have lived in Palo Alto for forty years, and not new here. Just want to help in a small way. I do feel that snobbier thing, but, I am thinking maybe it could be people are just afraid to help, and not snobby at all. Just scared to connect. But, I still try. Peace and love!
Posted by Sarah, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jul 1, 2012 at 12:20 am
I will be bringing some more shoes and sandwhiches this week,( in afternoon) if anyone wants to join me. Please email me. Emailanangel@aol.com i could use some help. But, I understand if you are all busy. I can do it. I will do it alone if I have too.
Thank you again. :)firstname.lastname@example.org
hey, I should call my new club, shoes and sandwhiches!!! :)! peace and love all.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jul 1, 2012 at 10:56 am
Yeah, Tony, thanks. Gee, I'd never thought of that about EPA & climate change! We're on a flood plain, like Palo Alto - I've already lived through a flood. Wow, thanks to you, I can now prepare my survival kit AND I know your excuse for not making any plans to move into an affordable apartment. This is a good example why I contribute from a distance - otherwise, all of the eye rolling gives me a headache.
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View, on Jul 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm the_punnisher is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
I've waited for the MASTER-DEBATERS to show up and I haven't been disappointed.
A FORMAL debate means that PERSONALITIES STAY OUT OF THE DEBATE!
I know, my public speaking class had me defending MARXISM ( a cruel joke from my CALIFORNIA college teachers )and I learned Robert's Rules of Order.
I'm surprised that the P.A.O. has let things degenerate so far. I'd have pulled the plug on a regular site and asked people to go to our troll site. That is a suitable site for name calling and character assassination.
The truth is that some people call their homelessness a LIFESTYLE CHOICE. Many are the people who stand on street corners with a " Please Help " sign with no intention of actually getting ANY help!
I'll tell you a (not so) secret. Places back East have their fair share of " homeless as a lifestyle ". These are the SNOWBIRDS that cadge a bus ticket to the SFBA and other spots on the West Coast. Getting a bus ticket is easy, just clean up with the help of a local church and say you have relations in X ( anywhere the snow DOESN'T fly in winter ).
Another do-gooder has helped the " homeless problem "!
In Denver, The " homeless people " that choose to stay have staked out and defend their steam grates and panhandling spots. Every year or so, these fights end up with a DEAD "transient".
There is no question that these permanently homeless are hurting business. Denver just had to pass a " no street camping " ordinance downtown. OWS was part of the problem, but the real problem was the the many " homeless as a lifestyle " were taking over the streets at night, hassling the customers of the theaters and bars in LoDo ( which used to have MANY empty warehouses and buildings to set up camp before a successful urban renewal project cleaned up the place ).
The missions and help places moved to where the " action " was...
FIVE POINTS ( Denver's EPA! )
My opinion: The SFBA including SFO has got to make the hard choice of not supporting people who have made homelessness a life style choice.
People who are allowing the homeless to receive " help " have to do a better job of screening ( called " intake " by government agencies ) to make sure that our society is not ENABLING the " homeless as a lifestyle " people. Giving " homeless by choice " people a place to stay and handing them money makes the REAL homeless problem WORSE!
I don't claim to have a solution; maybe the many empty buildings I saw in the South Bay Peninsula could be used in a pilot program to help the many people who WANT to HELP THEMSELVES escape the NEW situation they have found themselves in.
One thing is certain ( and this is another " touchy subject ), there has never been a situation where homelessness had been a problem in AGRICULTURE.
That is, until ILLEGAL ALIENS have showed up to " Take the jobs AMERICANS won't do!
Many years ago, our family ( living in the SFBA ) faced a similar financial meltdown. ( yes, history repeats itself! ). Our answer
Back to Northern WI and Grandpa's dairy farm! There the rules were direct & to the point: NO WORK, NO EAT!
I won't go into details. You have the Imperial Valley and LOTS of agriculture.
Posted by Outsider, a resident of another community, on Jul 3, 2012 at 8:15 am
Tony, be quiet.
Phil, thank you . You don't need to justify your ability to manifest the American dream and thank you for providing the most cohesive explanation of homeless service history in Palo Alto.
To the city, it's long overdue that you pass ordinances that make the local laws on par with our neighboring cities to level the playing field. It's time to work with our neighboring cities to get them to step up to the plate.... If we all have the same laws, then we may become less of a magnet for homeless and our existing services may be able to handle our load.... Not the load of the whole peninsula.
To the churches, thank you for being leaders in the community by establishing the food closet, opportunity center, hotel de zink, etc. Keep up the good work, BUT don't risk your own survival ... The community needs you. Participation in religious organizations is declining and I can't say that homeless encampments are the best way to attract new members. The city has shirked it's role in handling the problem and is once again trying to shift responsibility to the faith community.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jul 3, 2012 at 11:34 am
As much as everyone wants to crow happily over PA's doing so much for the homeless, I think the city is shirking its duty & trying to put it on the churches. Sure, churches are supposed to minister to the poor & those in need. That also includes their housed members, not just those on the streets.
The city is playing a big game here. They are refusing to outlaw car camping BUT not taking responsibility for that decision by organizing the situation. So they're asking the churches to help. As others have mentioned, they didn't give the churches much time to decide & churches are facing major budget crunches & can't afford to help. The city knows that residents aren't likely to approve of them adding a budget line to help car campers, thus the attempt to get churches to help.
Posted by Tony, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jul 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm
To the_punnisher is a member,
thanks for validating my position. "Housing First" socialism from a supportive environment. Without Grand-Pa I suppose your family would have been living out of a car.
To Outsider, according to you all that a local state or city government needs to justify in enacting a law is due to neighboring states or cities having already done so. Based upon that rationale California should have enacted all of the Jim Crowe and segregation laws of the south.
Ultimately this issue is not about social services, its about the economy which results in the necessity of social services.
Joe Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate economist, is uniquely qualified to explain how the economy really works, or more precisely, how and why it’s working far better for the top 1 percent than the bottom 99 percent.
"That’s right. America has become the country with the least equality of opportunity of any of the advanced industrial countries."
The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America's Middle Class
They had good, stable jobs - until the recession hit. Now they're living out of their cars in parking lots.
Prior to the Great Recession, Adkins owned and ran a successful plant nursery in Moab, Utah. At its peak, it was grossing $300,000 a year. She had never before been unemployed – she'd worked for 40 years, through three major recessions. During her first year of unemployment, in 2010, she wrote three or four cover letters a day, five days a week.
Janis Adkins' car because she is homeless.
How many of your out there believe that by taking away Janis Adkins' car because she is homeless and because neighboring cities have already done so will actually make the problem better?
Outsider, like many of his ilk, just wants to punish people for being people going through difficult times.
Posted by Tony, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jul 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm
The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America's Middle Class
The Safe Parking program is not the product of a benevolent government. Santa Barbara's mild climate and sheltered beachfront have long attracted the homeless, and the city has sometimes responded with punitive measures. (An appeals court compared one city ordinance forbidding overnight RV parking to anti-Okie laws in the 1930s.) To aid Santa Barbara's large homeless population, local activists launched the Safe Parking program in 2003. But since the Great Recession began, the number of lots and participants in the program has doubled.
Curtis and Concita cates spent the better part of a year sleeping in their Nissan Titan pickup with their 13-year-old son, Canaan, in the parking lot of the Santa Barbara Community Church. The pickup was one of five authorized vehicles in the lot, which is three miles east of the church where Adkins parks. To the north rise the low peaks flanking San Marcos Pass, and an overflow lot across the street offers a view of the outspread city and the ocean beyond it. The Cateses had met Nancy Kapp by chance at the Salvation Army, where they'd gone in search of food. She'd given them a white permit for the front window of their pickup. When they arrived at the church, they found a Safe Parking porta-potty at the corner of the lot.
The Cateses ended up in the Safe Parking program after losing their jobs almost simultaneously. Curtis installed and repaired fire sprinklers in Phoenix; Concita worked as a pharmacy technician. Their combined income averaged $60,000 a year. Before the Great Recession, they had never been jobless. They lost their home after exhausting their available cash and the money in Curtis' medical savings account. Their oldest child was in college, and they were able to send their next oldest to live with his aunt. With Canaan, they drove to California to stay with relatives. When they arrived, however, they found that another family, also recently homeless, had already moved in. There were now 11 people, all but one of them unemployed, sharing a single small house.
Posted by N, a resident of the Evergreen Park neighborhood, on Jul 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm
It is amazing to me how the homeless are always lumped together and seen all as drunk bums. Are people with homes better, more law abiding, more clean, etc.? Persons without a fixed residence are legally descriminated against in so many unnecessary ways.
I am a professional working in Palo Alto. But, I don't earn enough to afford housing here. And, because I don't have unnecessary material needs, my comfortable pickup is a ok home, really. I am well educated and presentable, even in PA circles--except if you see me get out of the back of my vehicle (which is registered and clean). I pay taxes like everyone else. And, I should be allowed to use public space just as much as anyone who owns/rents a home.
The attitudes I see here, and the legislation being considered is discriminatory. Just because other cities are doing it, doesn't make it right or fair. If you don't like public urination or public drunkeness, that should be the issue. If you don't like law abiding, tax-paying citizens who live in their vehicles, you should reexamine your morals.
I work providing an important service in PA. You should be ashamed of yourselves for calling me names and trying to push me out.
How will you want to be treated if you loose your job or your home? Would you be a lesser citizen? It could happen to you, too. People do this best they can with what they have. And, not everyone believes they need a big rent or mortgage debt to be an equal citizen. My lifestyle happens to be more environmentally sustainable than yours.
This is no different than any other racial, ethnic, gender, or class discrimination historical or current. Your money and fancy home gives you no right to be cruel. Money should not equal power. I applaud those few that are trying to do what is fair and equitable for all citizens.