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Squatter arrested for living in Palo Alto mansion

Original post made on Apr 26, 2012

Palo Alto residents have something else to watch for besides burglars these days -- squatters. And these individuals don't inhabit dilapidated structures. They're going for empty mansions in some of the city's toniest neighborhoods.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 26, 2012, 9:49 AM

Comments (32)

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:01 am

While the article has a lighthearted tone, it is a crime to "occupy" someone else's property. The risk of a fire, illegal use of utilities, vandalizing, drug use, is all on top of the basic crime. There is NO WAY this is a positive thing.
I am sorry some guys just don't have a place to stay - contact relatives, friends, or go to a shelter.

Posted by Tracey Chen, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:34 am

If the property is only empty because of foreclosure on a crappy loan...I'd say let's fill those houses up with all our homeless. There are more houses vacant from foreclosure than there are homeless people. I wish Facebook had a search field so I could find the graphic that showed this. Well, that's just my two cents.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:38 am

At least here it's illegal. There are squatters' right still in some places.

This reminds me of the Marge Piercy story where a woman comes home to find a homeless woman living in her digs.

Posted by Garden Gnome, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

Hopefully Tracey Chen has already filled her home and yard to capacity with the homeless people for whom she has more concern that the property holders.

Posted by Tsk tsk, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:03 am

Some very very rich people are being inconvenienced. Not stolen from, not vandalized. Just inconvenienced. tsk, tsk.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:05 am

Garden Gnome - love your handle! It seems especially apt for this thread. I totally grok Tracy's sentiment, but in execution it would be a nightmare unless well-funded & well-run.

I've mentioned in threads here about the homeless my crappy experiences in helping them up close, so yeah - I think it would be the best revenge one could get on bloodless banks while providing a roof over some heads. But in actuality? Hah!

Posted by Robberies in PA, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

DON'T BOTHER CALLING 911 if you see suspicious activity in your PA neighborhood. All PA dispatchers want to talk about is the "CIVIL RIGHTS" of the suspicious person. The dispatchers are not helpful and get hostile to the citizen reporting unusual activity. I called 911 recently because I saw two suspicious guys hiding in a car in front of a house under construction in Old Palo Alto (after construction had ceased for the day). The dispatcher was rude and accused me of stepping on the two guys "CIVIL RIGHTS." 911 wasn't interested in my trying to be a good citizen and potentially averting another robbery. I hung up in utter disguist.

Posted by data please, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:13 am

Great idea re: homeless in foreclosed homes. I'm on board as soon as you can show me some data that homeless people have used similar homes and returned them in the same or better condition as at move-in and that any expenses (paid govt admin staff, turning on and providing water, power, sewer, fire damage repair) were less than in traditional shelter options for the homeless.

Posted by Fortunately not homeless, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:45 am

Many homeless people have mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, drug addiction) and have exhausted the goodwill of friends and family. Others cannot find work, or indeed are working (but have you tried living on minimum wage - cooking, transport, first and last months' rent?) There is a crisis of poverty here as elsewhere. There are very few shelters (especially for single men), and their "goodwill" expires after a few weeks as well. Why are people living in "mansions" anyway?

Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

In Palo Alto, these homes are more likely to be homes under construction than foreclosures.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

Does homeowners liability insurance cover occupancy by trespassers? Does it count as imputed income for tax purposes to live in a Palo Alto mansion rent-free? If the owner does allow squatting for any period of time, then does it require eviction proceedings to eventually remove the occupant?

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Fortunately, as much as I am cynical about the rich, they, like us, have the right to live where they choose - they often have more choice. Being wealthy doesn't mean that they deserve to have squatters in their home, as much as a poorer person doesn't deserve it.

We all know the various reasons for homelessness & we all care more or less according to our own lives. Since many of these homeless have exhausted the goodwill of their loved ones, I hope you don't expect strangers to actually care more about them - that doesn't even make sense.

Interesting...the 3 people I know the best who've been homeless actually don't have mental illness, but they have addiction issue. I know other homeless people w/mental illness as well, but some of them are addicts who don't have a mental illness diagnosis.

Posted by Raymond Lucas, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 12:21 pm

HMmmm; Feel sorry for Homeowner or Homeless? I think I'll feel sorry for those of us that work for everything we have and have very little. While I struggle to maintain at least a minimally comfortable lifestyle, others have plenty and yet others that have nothing, steal from those that do.

Such is life as I've made it for myself, which is all I care about in the end.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm

It's not about pity, imo. But I don't want to withhold sympathy for a homeowner just due to wealth. I help feed the hungry & plan to continue doing so. I figure if I can't give a little, I need to be in line to get the donations.

In this thread, I'm reacting to the commenter asking why people live in mansions, anyway. It's never been my goal, but I've known some nice folks living in mansions. Regardless if a mansion-dweller is nice or not, squatting is illegal. I'm very sorry that there aren't more options for homeless AND that many of them turn their backs on some of the better options, for whatever reason.

Posted by Grumpy Granny, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm

When I was a kid at the tale end of the Depression, I was taught that what we NEED is a roof, a stove, a tub and a bed. That's basic. Food, shelter, clothing, that's obvious. Have we forgotten the difference between need and want? Just asking.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Grumpy, I think you'd have to ask a mansion-dweller to answer that question; I don't presume to know what their wants are. Wants that are not out of control are not bad, imo. I hope most of us know the difference between want & need; we've all heard the Stones song, right? It's not like a subsistence lifestyle is the healthiest, either.

Reading this thread while listening to Terry Gross's interview w/Edward Humes re garbage's journey around the earth has been interesting: Web Link

I wonder what will happen to this squatter?

Posted by mental illness lesson?, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

>>> Fortunately not homeless:

Your heart is in the right place, but please do not lump bipolars in with drug addicts and schizophrenics.

Posted by Steve L, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Perhaps these people should start a house-sitting business.

Posted by occu, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

free housing for everyone. whites are not from americas. they from europe. show respect for the continent. it belongs to all creatures. not just white americans who are well off.

Posted by bill g, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Robberies in PA. If City dispatch behaved as you said. contact the City Manager's office or Chief Burns at the Police Dept. What you report is not to be tolerated.

Posted by brad, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Yes there should be a a giant housing unit for the homeless, but most of the squatters are drug addicts and just maybe they have exhausted family and friends! and they are sick of it, as for vets that have been forgotten by this U.S.A! and they to come back as addicts! And I mean past and Present war! unless you have served this Country then you cannot judge!! And just maybe the owner's were out of town, and when it is a crime to have money! if you had money you would do the same thing! and just maybe the owner of the house worked really hard and so did his family to have what they have now! and you do not even no that the owners don't give to orgaization's to help the unfortunate!
Don't ever assume, some of the richest people in the world give alot away to charity.

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 27, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I used to live over in College Terrace. Talk about bums, they were there big time. They occupied whatever was available to occupy, including the streets. Now the rich folk are beginning to understand what was going on in College Terrace. I have heard that College Terrace is cleaning up its act but I have my doubts. I got outta there five years ago! Maybe the bums are figuring that the toney parts of town are better pickings?

Posted by Brad, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 28, 2012 at 9:52 am

Did you go you go to College? Now the rich folk? Who talks like that except the uneducated? I don't no where you lived in College Terrace?
but I have been here for the last 15 years and there are NO bums as you say here! just alot of hard working families, and what does toney parts of town mean? who talks like that? Maybe it's good you got out of College Terrace when you did? and yes we live great here!

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm


I lived on Williams for 10 years. It was full of bums, especially on Oxford and Yale. Graduated from Stanford in 1976. I got hammered by bums asking for handouts and pissing on our streets and getting drunk. The City did nothing about it, despite many complains from myself and others. I left, finally, because I was so tired of it.

BTW, your grammar is faulty (e.g. " I don't no where you lived " should be " I don't KNOW where you lived). What street do you live on in College Terrace? Or do you live in one of those camper vehicles that have taken over the place?

Posted by Lynn Ware, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Love the house sitting idea! Is anyone trying to organize this?

Posted by Jon, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I agree with Jerry. I used to live in the Downtown area, and the bums finally drove me out. There is so much denial about this problem in Palo Alto. If the bums lived in the elite parts of Palo Alto, there would be a serious response. I recall that there was a cement bench at the corner of Churchill and and Bryant. A bum slept on it. The bench was removed.

Posted by Brad, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 30, 2012 at 9:12 am

Well Sir Jerry! My Father went to Standford, we were the first families to move in at 105-B on the campus, my father got his Phd. in economic's engineering, and he was the cheif contractor for the Alaskan pipeline. Yes !Yes !I live on Princeton street matter of fact just tell recently 2 door's down from Mark Zukenburger tell he moved to Menlo Park sorry I don't live in a Camper vehicle do you? I bought my house along time ago! own it free and clear! and many other properties in the 80's market was good! and I give Alot to charity! Do you? Graduated in 1976 that would put you in what your Late 70's or early 80's? Maybe since you do not live here anymore you should not assume there are as you say "bums" still here because there are not! Have a really great Day!

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 30, 2012 at 10:57 am

Some of these posts worry me.

Posted by Bums Need a House Too!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Ah, the Palo Alto lifestyle! Why not for bums too?

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm

This is one of the many reasons I'm in favor of low cost mobile home parks in this area. They affordable house a lot of low income folks, many of whom have mental health diagnoses & physical disabilities. I know it's not the life for everyone, but compared to living in the streets, it's a solid option for those who can take care of themselves.

Heck, one of the best EPA nonprofits was started by a mobile home resident who's working poor like so many.

Posted by danny, a resident of Professorville
on May 1, 2012 at 11:51 am

I'm a bum. I could use a house sitting gig in Palo Alto. Should I put a classified in the Palo Alto Weekly?

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm

" I recall that there was a cement bench at the corner of Churchill and and Bryant. A bum slept on it. The bench was removed."

Jon, I remember that bench, too!

This would be a good investigative story for the Weekly, if it was willing to take it on. Why was this bench removed? Who ordered it?

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