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Palo Alto ponders rules for people who live in their cars

Original post made on Nov 19, 2012

Palo Alto's deeply divisive debate over whether to ban vehicle dwelling could get closer to resolution Tuesday evening, Nov. 20, when a City Council committee considers the staff's latest proposal for dealing with the topic.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, November 19, 2012, 8:09 AM

Comments (94)

Posted by Angelique, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 19, 2012 at 10:29 am

This story is interesting in that we all pay through our noses to live here and pay taxes and parking and homeless advocates want the city to give them a free pass. While most homeless people are harmless, I have recently encountered two who scared me. One in Mountain View, who picked a big stone from somwhere and hurled it on a pillar just as my kids(both under five) and I walked by. No idea why he did it but when I called the police they said since no one was hurt, they will not come out. The other incident happened at the UPS store on middlefield where a homeless guy walked into the store last week and cooly helped himself to pens on the counter and walked out before the staff could call the police.

Homeless people should not be left to walk about and live wherever they want to unless those who advocate for them make sure they are accountable for what they do and how they behave.


Posted by Berry, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

That wacko in Collage Terrace has like 15 vans spread across Palo Alto. He keeps a few parked next to JJ&F market, a few parked across the street from Sundance, and a few more parked in front of Palo Alto Square. Where do we draw the line?


Posted by Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 19, 2012 at 10:59 am

There's a dweller in the Main Library parking lot next to the garden too.

I agree they should not be given a free ride when we all pay huge mortgages to live in Palo Alto and we should feel safe on University Avenue and in our city. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
It's interesting that churches, who preach to help others in need are not offering their parking lots. Hypocrits.

This should be put to a vote so the City Council doesn't have to make the decision. It's only a minority who are fighting for the homeless to stay. I'm guessing the liberals who have lived here since the 1950-70s will vote to allow them, but people who have moved to Palo Alto in the 90s and beyond will want them out.




Posted by Angry, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 19, 2012 at 11:24 am

I am terrified of the homeless man who lives on Oxford near my house. He had made it clear that he has no intentions to work or move in to a home soon. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

Kill two birds with one stone: Apply permit parking (or parking meters) on public streets throughout Palo Alto, including business districts. This will chase the car campers away, and provide relief to residential neighborhoods.

College Terrace did it, in large part, and it has been a success. I think that the entire College Terrace, including the business block should be included in our parking permit system...this will take care of that dude who parks his multiple cars surrounding JJF.

If there are public officials who think that nothing should be done, then please let them encourage car campers next to their house, on the public street...be interesting to see how their neighbors like it!

For those knee-jerk liberals who want to demand that we put up with it, let them offer their own driveways or, even better, a room in their own homes. The fact that the churches are not offering their own parking lots suggests to me that they are all talk, no action hypocrits.


Posted by Major Problem, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I find it interesteing that the city wants other people to solve their problems or better yet they just want to let sleeping dogs lie. Maybe they should offer their garages, why do we the citizens of Palo Alto have to put up with car and van dwellers. They aren't all harmless. Many are drug users and do thier wheel and dealing out of their cars. It is a huge problem in the downtown Palo Alto. Believe me we don't want what is happening in Eugene, just came back from there and there is Occupy Eugene all over the downtown. There is ton of crime and high drug use. Maybe use the Redcross area for everyones car and vans dwellers with bathrooms and showers. Then at least the homeless aren't using our parks as bathrooms. disgusting


Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I feel for the homeless; I don't have as much sympathy for Palo Altans who have to pay taxes on their million-dollar homes and on their no-doubt-more-than-adequate incomes. But while we're at it, why don't we check out the corporations whose property tax on their buildings never needs to rise?


Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Kudos to First Presbyterian Church for walking their talk. I'd certainly like to see more of that around... and definitely more compassion.

There but for fortune, folks!


Posted by Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm

To anyone who wants the homeless to stay: Post your addresses and invite the homeless into your driveways and homes, give them your hard-earned money. We Palo Altans WORKED for our money and deserve to live here. I know of people who would be homeless if it weren't for their enabling families. And they are in their situation because they are LAZY. These homeless people are homeless because even THEIR families have given up on them. This is not a socialist country nore would Americans want it to be a socialist country. It is NOT our duty to support homeless people.


Posted by Anon, a resident of University South
on Nov 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Live and let live, man. Maybe we need more of those "liberals" from the 50s and fewer of those "90s" that want to live in a bubble.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Since the city refuses to sensibly manage do anything realistic about the Palo Alto Baylands, why not expand the restroom facilities and create more parking lots out there, and allow people to park their RVs and cars there if they are going to sleep there?

The Baylands are totally useless right now, although if you concentrate these people together it may be more of a problem than it is, at least it will be centralized and away from the city. If people get out there, at least we will hear about how noisy it is from the airport and have some people out there to report if bad stuff happens.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

> They aren't all harmless. Many are drug users and do thier wheel and dealing out of their cars.

Really, and what do you base that on?

There is a lady who seems to sleep in the Palo Alto Post Office over the night who seems very harmless, but from her speech and mental state I doubt she could find a job anywhere. Noticed her one night when I had to mail a letter after business hours.

Suggestions here are to send them to another city? Pretty ridiculous, thoughtless statements in my opinion from some pretty mean people. Palo Alto did not use to be like this. We also did not ever use to have homeless people on the streets until Reagan closed the state facilities, because I remember it and then starting to see people in the streets.

I do think its a problem. There is one old hunchback lady with a disgusting matt of hair that walks around in the Apple Store. There was one shopping cart pushing guy who use to sit all day in Borders. There was a bit blonde guy that started out sleeping on University with his girlfriend, then his girlfriend left him ... he is still there like over 20 years later. But these people don't seem to even have cars. There are the many people who hang our around Whole Foods - because people give them money. There is a black guy who I see riding his bike up University from EPA and then back and night who hangs out in various places and begs for money. And a lot more, but all the ones I see are "polite" or at least do not really bother people, and they don't seem to be selling drugs anywhere.

Want to talk about anti-social people, what about those who buy a house in Palo Alto, and lord it over everyone about how much it costs, but then have so many people with so many cars they have to put their cars all over the street so no one who visits the neighborhood can find a place to park?

There is irresponsibility at all levels, so how come we seem to always hear mainly form the hypocrites and nasties?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I don't think neighbors of churches would want the church parking lots used by the homeless. To begin with all the bushes, etc. would become latrines. Since many of the lots are quite secluded from the street, drugs, etc. would become another problem. Lastly, if they were there all night how can the churches guarantee that they would leave when there are often very early services or evening meetings which will need the parking spaces. This will mean that church parking will have to use the streets.

Don't start suggesting that church parking lots could be used without thinking it through first, please.


Posted by Concerned Retiree, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Palo Alto does many things and offers many services for the homeless. This should not extend to allowing dangerous or desperate individuals to live too close to our homes and children.

We need as a city to be more restrictive in the limits we impose. Let them just keep moving, hopefully out of Palo Alto to somewhere else. Charity is not limitless, especially when it threatens our residents.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Anon (Crescent Park),

Let me see if I understand you. Do you have any additional space in your driveway? Do you have any empty bedrooms in your house? If so, why are you not helping out that lady with "disgusting" hair?
If you want to express your heart, you should be willing to pay the price.

I think I already know the answer: Hypocricy. If you disagree with me, just use your real name, as I have, and let us all kwow what you plan to do. No need for you, or others, to blame Reagan for your own deficits.

Palo Alto simply needs to apply the same restrictions as our neighboring cities. Short of that, the parking permit system works pretty well.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm

> Posted by Craig Laughton
> Do you have any additional space in your driveway?

Do you think the entire budget of the country and the state should be shut down for any type of social services to help needy or problematic people?

If not, then you have answered your own foolish question and I don't need to ... If so, you are being consistent, but we just disagree on the way the world and the government should work, and there's little else we have to say to each other.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I agree with Resident's comments about Churches. What are they supposed to do during services? Who is going to clean up the parking lots or oversee that the homeless stay on that property. Maybe one or two cars for people with temporary needs, but trying to turn that into a city service is a bad idea with no good way to evolve into something better.

Also I agree with Concerned Retiree, but who can prove that these people are dangerous, or that desperate means dangerous or criminal?

As I said what about the Baylands, there is a lot of room out there, and the Baylands needs to be build more facilities such as restrooms, and it is just far enough and uncomfortable enough and noisy enough to motivate people to think seriously about a better lifestyle.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm

>Do you think the entire budget of the country and the state should be shut down for any type of social services to help needy or problematic people?

No, I don't. However, people in distress should be compelled to comply with helpful government services, including commitment to state/charity instituions. Since this is not the case, thanks to the liberals that insist on legal freedoms for mentally disabled people, we are left with those who just want/demand to live as they please, including in front of our homes. This must end.

Once again, I ask you what you are willing to do in Palo Alto, now? How about that driveway or extra room? Also, please tell me your real name. No need to duck that question, if you are serious.


Posted by homeless now a crime? , a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm

"Homeless people should not be left to walk about..."

Wow! I guess we should lock 'em all up. Failing that, have Police at all entrances to Palo Alto checking IDs and verifying that people coming here either on foot or in cars actually have a home to go to.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm

> people in distress should be compelled to comply with helpful government services

There is a balance here somewhere to be found, but one criteria should be whether in the long term those services really are "helpful", or just to an excuse to resolve a situation that for some is unpleasant because they are unwilling to do so in some continuous legal framework. It's not like 30 years has not been long enough to come to some kind of legal resolution of this problem - so what do you suppose the issues really are, or should it be all about Palo Alto property owners and their rights?

> How about that driveway or extra room?

I think you are intelligent enough to excavate the meaning of my last statement to you, but you are unwilling to see my point and merely return to your same line of questioning, which is dumb ... quite dishonest and quite unwilling to actually have a discussion on this. it's like saying that if one is for the common defense they must be willing to fight in the war themselves and I don't want to hear it out of you again, if you are talking to me.

If you are dishonest and insincere about that simple thing why would I engage further in an honest discussion with you? I don't care about your name, why do you care about mine? Though I will state that I am not homeless and do not live in my car if that is what you are thinking.


Posted by Angelique, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm

My concern stems from what I experienced with the homeless guy hurling that big stone whcih if had chosen to would have hit me or worse my kids. The other guy who walked in the UPS store and stole the pens in plain sight. Both cases we were paralyzed by fear. Why should I sympathize? i was not harming him. I do not think any of us should have to be looking over our shoulders constantly or living in fear. What is the line at which we say this is serious? There are enough people in this thread who have had negative experiences with homeless people . To those who posted "is being homeless a crime now" yes it is if the homeless do not live like the rest of us and scare kids by hurling stones and steal stuff frome stores or walk the intersection iin full sight of moving vehicles, being homelss does.not give them an excuse to indulge in anti social behavior.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

@retired teacher, I'm happy that you and your peers have "no-doubt-more-than-adequate incomes" but not all of us have such pensions. Regarding "corporations whose property tax on their buildings never needs to rise," those taxes tend to increase 2 percent every year, rain or shine. It might take a broad definition, but I wonder whether the County should tax vehicle dwellers for possessory interest on their parking spots.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Angelique, just curious, how do you know in either case whether the people you are talking about were homeless, lived in their car or any other information about them? Could you be conflating multiple issues here, and are you arguing that the homeless are given special privileges by the criminal justice system. How relevant are your complaints. How many and what kind of complaints are really directed to the Police and the City I wonder? How about some real numbers?

I agree we have all had bad experiences with homeless people, but what are they really? Are they having rocks thrown or pens stolen ... not for me. For me it is mostly nuisance and unsightliness. I don't think they should be in stores. The guy I talked about that used to hang out in Border's made the whole part of the store he was standing in stink unbearably to where I would just leave. That lady that hangs out in the new Apple store make me want to puke truth be told. Why is it fair to basically execute her or dump her one some other city? I don't know if she has a car or not.

The issue is being clouded here unproductively I think by narrowminded people who do not care about the solution and most likely are not really even bothered much by the homeless either ... or by people who live in cars, which is the real subject here.


Posted by Angelique, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Anon, the guy wh hurled the stone at the pillar seconds after as I walked by with my little ones had a shopping cart fulll of non-store stuff and he walked away from me with teh shopping cart, when I yelled at him and called the cops. The cops told me since none of us was hurt they will not come out whcih made me wonder what their definition of hurt would be had one of us been hit. This was ar 8 pm. The other guy stinking to high heavens leaves his cart outside and walks in and steals stuff from the UPS store and non one dares say anything because we have no idea what he is carrying or his state of mond is. I used to empathize with those who have fallen on hard times bit I am not sure with the kinds of louts I came across if they deserve it or not. What would you have done if you had to go through this? My opinions and sympathies for homeless people changed after my two very recent incidents. I dont care how they look or smell but I saeriously care if they generate fear and are a threat to me. Maybe one bad apple or two but I have no way of figuring out which in the basket can be saved and law enforcement was unwilling to help.That is why I argued earlier if those who advocate for them are willing to have the homeless folks live like the rest of us, and take responsibilty for those who are seriously ill or a danger to the kids, or folks in general, advocate away.


Posted by jan, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm

We need to show understanding towards the homeless. I was homeless once, when my husbands business failed and we lost everything.


Posted by Finley, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Just what we need......N O M O R E B U M S please... We have enough crime as it is. Brunging encampments will be like livung in Berkeley!
Ni No. Double No, get a frkn clue city officials (morons)


Posted by Isaac, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Angelique, if your story is true, then the police were wrong not to respond in my opinion for what seems to me like assault, unless it was unintentional or provoked
.
For the pen stealing guy, that is the problem of the store and they have only themselves to blame for not doing anything, and perhaps that is why things got to this point to begin with.

I'm mystified how either story relates to homeless living in their cars?


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Isaac, if that is true you should have to prove it and make allegations against someone who is not able to defend themselves here. If it is public knowledge, did you inform the church and what did they say about it?


Posted by Homeless in Stanford, a resident of Stanford
on Nov 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Try outreaching churches in Atherton, Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley and Woodside. You can go as far as Hillsborough. Businesswise, how about Facebook, Google, HP, LinkedIn, Yahoo and AOL (this one is definitely a great outreach target as the office building on Embarcadero and the adjacent parking lot is almost always empty. I am sure they will welcome us with open arms.


Posted by Isaac, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 19, 2012 at 6:40 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Isaac ... I'm not saying you are right or wrong, but I assume the Church is making some kind of what they think of as responsible judgement call -- not a Christian name, but what do you think Jesus would do?


Posted by Homeless Bum, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Depends on what you call homeless, I know of some that living the free life is great, other have drug or a drinking problem. Others just have bad luck or lost their homes. If they are causing trouble, throwing stuff then yes they needed to be removed. Trailer Parks are disappearing, Motels and other kinds of units are rare. Look how much a studio apartment costs


Posted by Community member, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Just like all stereotypes, not all people who live in vehicles are drug dealers, criminals, or dirty vagrants. There are honest people out there, too. I know a person who lives in his vehicle in Palo Alto. He is a clean, quiet, respectable person who looks out for the neighborhood. He's done no wrong. Car camping is a symptom of the exorbitant cost of living. I myself have looked at moving into a home on wheels just to stay afloat. I fear that's my next step. I work full-time and just recently took on a second job. What if I lose my job? I will be spending a lot more time in my car.


Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

It's embarrassing to read the uncharitable and demeaning posts here. Thanks to those of you who argue for tolerance and charity to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Isaac, I'm not sure what you want the elders at First Pres to do--stone him? People who have served their time do need to live somewhere, not to be hounded by hateful, vitriolic people when they are not committing crimes.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Who exactly are these homeless advocates that seem to have more influence than residents of palo alto or even city council members? Do they have the interests of Palo Alto in mind? Why don't we pass an ordinance to have the dwellers live at the homeless advocates residence and park in their driveways.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I may be missing something here, but why are mentally ill people allowed to live on their own? If they are ill, shouldn't someone, somewhere (like a government agency or even their families) be taking care of them.

If these people are mentally ill do we just ignore them? Shouldn't a caring society be responsible for those who can't look after themselves. I don't mean by inviting them into our homes, but by giving them a roof over their heads where they can't hurt others or themselves. We house prisoners, do we have to wait until they commit a crime and then cart them off to prison? Wouldn't it be better to look after them before they commit crimes?

What happens when an elderly person lives alone and develops say alzheimers and just wanders off? Do we just let them?

I don't know the solution, but I just don't understand it.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm

> Shouldn't a caring society be responsible for those who can't look after themselves.

Yes, when you find one make sure you tell all the mentally ill people where to go and how to get there. ;-)

Elderly people are legally conserved by the state - if they have property, and that property is sold to pay for their care. Relatives are notified if possible.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Why not let the people of Palo Alto vote on it? It is apparentlya big enough iszue that the city council can't figure it out for the rest of us. Stop the finger pointing, the moral compass preaching, the guilt trips, the holier than though posturing, the blame gamers...just let us decide for ourselves.


Posted by Toshy, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 19, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Is the person who parks his nasty vehicles all over College Terrace the same guy who rents them out to people to live in?


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm

> Is the person who parks his nasty vehicles all over College Terrace the same guy who rents them out to people to live in?

If that's true, and there is so little posted here today that is, if you can prove it I think it is illegal. Since I am not a lawyer I am probably mistaken, but isn't automobile renting is a regulated business, let alone as a place to live? Whoever does that should be liable for arrest and conviction.

What about someone's relatives that come to visit in their RV and want to park on the street? What about someone who has had too much to drink and tries to do the responsible thing and pull over for some sleep to sober up, assuming they do not get arrested for driving drunk?

Love it how all these Palo Altan have so much money but do not want to pay for the people they have to hire to service their needs, and who must drive a long way from anywhere they can afford to live to get here.


Posted by Parking A Lot, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm

The most effective advocacy is treating the homeless that are passing by our city with compassion, perhaps helping them with gas, food or a nites stay in their travels or during a difficult journey.
The people we see now are homeless and taking advantage of our community compassion. Their intent is to make Palo Alto their camp ground.

What do other cities do that have reasonable ordinances to curb overnite camping?


Posted by RetiredTeacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Resident, the state of California used to have many programs for the mentally ill--outpatient programs, living places, group homes. Governor Ronald Reagan abolished most of these programs, and Governor Brown (in his first term) continued the cutting. That's why so many people who used to have care and support are now on the street and living under bridges.

It doesn't do credit to our state.


Posted by admin, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm

"Where do you want to go today?"

I agree with Toshy and the others that say that Palo Alto should not be the homeless preferred landing spot.

Not to be cold here but Palo Alto really does need to tow all lived-in vehicles before this gets out of control. In front of out-of-town talent that I'm trying to recruit to move out here, well, it is just embarrassing. Then is becomes uncomfortable after lunch the homeless hit us up for a hand out.

ENOUGH!


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm

admin ... do you even live in Palo Alto?

You too seem to be conflating these issues. Most of the homeless do not live in cars that I can see.

I agree that the problems you are talking about are sometimes irritating, but why should you be embarrassed about it? Most people have seen homeless before. Anyone who does not accept a job in Palo Alto because they saw a homeless person is probably better off not getting hired. I'm assuming at some point the city will hopefully figure out something to do about this. I'm glad to hear they are working on it, but most of the other things the city "works on" they pretty thoroughly mess up though.

When I go downtown I have a problem with people claiming little nooks to sleep in. There is one place downtown, the red brick bank that has an alcove with an electric socket in it where one guy used to sleep. People have been there for years, and why doesn't the bank put a lock on it? There is a guy who sleeps in the bench outside of the Post Office by the bus stop. How many of these people are there, and now many have Palo Alto pasts?

I went to high school with one guy does odd jobs and sometimes lived in his van. He lived in Palo Alto all his life and would have no idea where else to go. His family was pretty dysfunctional. He's got some kind of problem, but he is a very peaceful, very civilized nice guy no police record and just chose a very tough life for himself.

Give these people a place to go and I think they would go there with minimal "help". Some of them probably won't because they mostly are scared of people. It is not fair to treat these people like monsters though or portray them all as dangerous or sex criminals. The problem would get solved better if people did not spew such bile at these people, they are sick or disabled in some way.

As far as being hit up, I have no problem walking by these people and ignoring them. I've lived in Palo Alto since 1969 and only once have I ever had a problem, a minor one, or been spoken too rudely by a homeless person, whether or not they had a car.

Most of them do not cause any problem, and those that do are well and effectively handled by the Police.

I speculate that many of these people are where they are because of the "entitlement attitude" or some successful people to exploit, abuse, insult, bully and in general be major jerks to people - mostly those who did not ever deserve whatever it was that gave them such power.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 19, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Anon - the issue is car camping, not sleeping in the streets. Since it's legal in your city but not other towns, it's going to remain a problem. The police here are pretty responsive to car camping calls. There are no public facilities close by - same as in many of your neighborhoods, so I understand why there's a real public health component.


Posted by I concur, a resident of University South
on Nov 19, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Please pass an ordinance against living in vehicles. Some of the people who have dropped anchor (mixed metaphor, I know) are indeed frightening. I also worry about the hygiene issue.

Yes, I am sad. I have as much empathy as the next person -- perhaps more. But we need social services instead of squatters on our streets. Compassionate conservatism got us nowhere, did it?

BTW, Heritage Park has had several homeless people sleeping there intermittently in the past month. Would the Police Department even do anything if I called to tell them?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Thanks retired teacher, you taught me something I didn't know.

Now I have another reason to dislike Jerry Brown.


Posted by Agree With Craig, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Anon: Its great to see such compassion that you have for the homeless. However why are ducking every question about what YOU are willing to do? Why do you want the rest of us to listen to your arguments while you provide not a shred of evidence of what YOU would do? For the record I am with Craig - in favor of a ban on this. I have no intention of living in a slum and regardless of whether it is politically correct or not, I am sorry if I want my money's worth. I paid to live in a nice place and I will not allow it to become a dump.
Now why dont you answer Craig's question: How about your driveway or spare room?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Hah! What about Marky Mark's Funky Bunch - the guards 24/7 in their cars in front of Mark's house in Crescent Park? How come they're the only "car campers" there?


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Agree With Craig, it doesn't bother me who you agree with or what you think, but Craig's point, and your's now about trying to say if someone does not want to let these folks live in their house they are hypocritical or bad is just dumb.

> However why are ducking every question about what YOU are willing to do?

Not true, I am "ducking", not ducking really, the foolish point that to something I must be willing to let someone live in my house. Now, tell me, is that plain stupid or what? And why do my arguments have any relation to do with I or anyone else what would do to resolve a citywide problem? What is the point of that except to try to attack me for expressing my opinions. What kind of argument is that. I can say for sure my arguments are more positive than either of yours.

I'm willing to listen and discuss, to hear the ideas that come up, even your's or Craig's if they are sensible. I never said it was not a problem. I think the non-solution of sending them to another community is a waste of time.

Are Palo Alto City Council meetings online? Can we attend them virtually with Skype? Or would they just be filibustered by frivolous comments?

The city does not seem particularly disposed to poll or listen to the citizens of Palo Alto on any other questions, so what pray tell do you think I should be willing to do? Maybe the city has experience with trolls wasting time at meeting? I think your attitudes help prevent community discussion.

A little information on what the laws are now, why, what kind of framework they can be changed in, and the magnitude of the problem might be nice, but we never get any real information from the city or the police here in Palo Alto Online. About all we get is whiners and a place to whine in whatever flavor, Liberal or Conservative people like their whine.

I am not willing to do is to read nonsense from people who are not even addressing the issue and who just make fun of others. When is this country going to have enough of that? I mentioned the Baylands as place where perhaps people could park cars or RVs - no comment. It's much easier to be sarcastic and accuse people of having too much compassion for the homeless. The extent of my compassion is that they, most of them anyway, are human beings and American citizens and have some connection to Palo Alto.

You and Craig just seem to want to vent your emotions non-constructively and attack people who might want to see something positive done for homeless people, and spin even idea of a positive conversation as some kind of hypocrisy based on the idiotic suggestion that people should take homeless people in their houses.

If it was a problem for me I'd figure out a way to do something about it, but I've never seen it around here. Do either you or Craig actually have this problem or know someone who does? If not seems like you are just trolling.

And what do you mean about a ban? What kind of ban, what kind of language would you use? What kind of parameters? You be specific! What do you do to those who are homeless and have nowhere to go? Put them in jail? Drive them to the edge of town and beat then up? Are you and Craig willing to do that? Pay more taxes for jails, or go into more debt? Clean up an incompetent City Council.


Posted by I don't give $, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Once I gave a sandwich to a person without money and he was hungry. So I bought a sandwich and drink and gave it to him, but he didn't want it, he wanted $$. I won't give money.
May be not right, not sure, but I don't do it.


Posted by Homeless in Palo Alto, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 20, 2012 at 12:16 am

If those of you are so unhappy living in Palo Alto, why don't you move? Go somewhere else. I would not live in a house nor in apartment next to you for free. So very hateful and cruel comments on homeless. Issue is lack of affordable housing. Why don't you arrogant 'bullies' find someone else to pick on and take inventory? Find someone ' stronger' than your self to bullie and segregate.shame on you. At least get your statistics right about who the real criminals are. I'm sure 'you' the hateful do not represent the rest of the 65,000 palo alto residents when it comes to homeless. We do have rights and we are no different from you, except we don't have a warm place called home. Why don't you come and find out who we are instead of posting cruel hateful messages. I feel sorry for the angry postings targeting the weak who have no or little bargeining power left.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 12:28 am

Hey Homeless, I for one appreciate you having the guts to weight in, thanks. I agree with you. So do you have any ideas about how to solve this problem?

If we added up the magnitude of the crimes in this country it's a lot of the people with the biggest and most homes that have caused a lot more damage than homeless people. People like Bernie Madoff, CEOs of ENRON, WorldCom, Goldman-Sachs, Countrywide, etc, but even if they want to jail, which they don't, they's still be in nice warm places to live.

Good luck to you, God bless.


Posted by PA Resident, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2012 at 2:17 am

Several years ago there was a plan for several Palo Alto churches to rotate housing the homeless ("Hotel de Zink" it was maybe called?). I seem to recall that churches dropped out one by one due to liability issues — insurance companies not being happy with the situation, the extra insurance cost being too high, etc.

In this litigious society, I can understand both the legal and insurance issues that hosting the homeless could bring up. Plus, there may be various ordinances requiring them to offer restroom or shower facilities if they sign up, which would mean opening up the church/business buildings all night (and presumably hiring security staff during those times), or at a mimimum putting up unsightly, smelly Porta-Potties.

If that's a major impediment, then it may be very difficult to get many churches or businesses to sign up for a program allowing homeless camping. It makes me surprised that they could even get a signup from one church.

I don't know what special arrangements Wal-Mart has with its insurer(s) whereby it allows RVs in its parking lots overnight (if it still does). Maybe it only allows one-night stays, and figures that if folks at least have an RV, they've got some money, and Wal-Mart will get some business from them.

In any case, this is not a trivial situation for the churches and businesses legally, financially, or logistically, humanitarian impulses aside.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 20, 2012 at 2:32 am

@Anon, Bernie Madoff went to jail, for a long time. We should ask him whether he'd rather be homeless in Palo Alto.


Posted by KevinGreen, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 6:45 am

I think facebook and google are civic minded enough to open up their massive parking lots, their private parks, etc. and look the other way when they are used off hours.


Posted by Agree With Craig, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2012 at 6:52 am

Anon: Just as you think you have a right to my property I have a right to my OWN property - and that means living in peace in a neighborhood that I honestly paid to live in. Squatters are NOT welcome. This has nothing to do with compassion but basic rights. Squatters and car dwellers have NOT paid to live here. Did you earn your own property?

Instead of your ramblings posts accusing others of hatred, why dont you do something constructive - like offering your name, your driveway or your room?

This will be my last post on this topic. Nothing gained by discussing with you. A lawsuit will be easier and a more convincing manner to settle this.


Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2012 at 7:41 am

PA Resident, churches still offer Hotel de Zinc type programs. People who volunteer to help with these programs find it very rewarding. Also, All Saints Episcopal Church in downtown Palo Alto runs a food closet, heavily used by homeless folk. I went to a service there recently, and I was impressed by the way many of the congregation stopped to say hello to the homeless people sitting on benches across the street from the church, on their way in to the service.

It's amazing that not all homeless people are not perfectly behaved, super-middle class paragons of virtue. Is it not equally amazing that not all well-off people have a sense of charity toward the less fortunate? It's easier for me to be tolerant of those who have almost nothing.

Agree with Craig, your demand that people sympathetic with the homeless offer their name, their driveway, or their room is a classic example of a red herring fallacy. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2012 at 7:59 am

The City funds a number of services for the destitute, homeless, and low income people - Opportunity center, the grants to charities who provide services, the BMR rental housing.

There are a set of car dwellers who try to stay as anonymous as possible, they try to courteous, and probably most people would not have any issue with them.

However there are a set of car dwellers who infringe on the social norms - verbal abusive, using private property as their bathrooms, misdemeanor criminal activity which an understaffed police department prioritizes low. These are the ones who the city needs to address - the city needs to prioritize enforcement of laws to get the bad actors to move on (how many have current car registrations?, enforcement of public urination rules, etc.)


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

>Why not let the people of Palo Alto vote on it?

Good idea. It allows the city council to punt to the public, as they have done in the past (remember the historical home issue?).

>If those of you are so unhappy living in Palo Alto, why don't you move?

Why would I want to move? I just want to ban car camping, like our neighboring towns. Once that happens the car campers can decide to move.

Put it to a vote. I think my side will win.


Posted by Agree With Craig, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2012 at 9:20 am

Retired Teacher: I unfortunately have to break my promise and respond to you! You claim to be the paragon of virtue and compassion but what do you have to offer constructively?

So many of the posters here (and I) would have absolutely no problem if the city were to offer the homeless food, shelter or services to help those on hard times get back on their feet. Do you offer that suggestion? No!

What do you offer instead? Useless rhetoric that those of us who object to squatters and campers are hard hearted or not compassionate.

Dont hide behind your "kindness" logic - offer suggestions that we can all get behind. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

And for what its worth I agree again with Craig. Put this to a vote and lets see who wins.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2012 at 9:21 am

Homeless problems with cars, vans and RV's, one thing we can do it build a trailer park, with showers, etc. Also how about a SRO, to house more people. Not all homeless want to be living on the street, not all homeless are out to cause troubles. If you cause troubles or break the laws then by all means you have to deal with the PAPD.


Posted by Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 20, 2012 at 9:27 am

"Dont hide behind your 'kindness' logic - offer suggestions that we can all get behind. And above all realize that if you are really for the homeless you would offer help to them - not pursue a political agenda that is transparent for all its shallowness."

Well said, "Agree with Craig"!

We do need to vote on this. The City Council is probably waffling because they don't want their houses tomato-bombed by homeless advocates who are the same mentality as the pro-life people who don't adopt babies.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 10:58 am

As I suggested above - put it to a vote. Like it or not - the ban on car/RV camping would pass with ease. Write the law to match Menlo Park and/or Los Altos. For out of town visitors - have a process to buy a low-price "permit" for the 4 days your relatives are in town. Put a reasonable time limit for a visit and also require that there is an x-number of months between visits (track by license plate or VIN) - to prevent system abuse. This would also facilitate communication to PAPD so they won't have to make a stop to investigate.

You can advocate one side or the other without casting guilt trips or getting personal. I appreciate constructive conversation by both sides. But in the end, at least for me, I would be very unhappy to have nightly camping in front of my home or in my neighborhood. Does that make me a bad guy? Maybe to some. However, we annually donate to the "Downtown Streets Team" as way to help with the situation. Still want to call me a bad guy - fine. At least I know I'm doing something more than just whining.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

> The City Council is probably waffling because they don't want their houses tomato-bombed by homeless advocates


If you think your side is so right, why do you always have to resort to this kind of slander. Show me an example of homeless advocated using violence to get anything done? Most of the support for the homeless does not resort to name calling and or twisting the facts or expressing much hostility. They don't make ridiculous claims that to honestly care about the homeless, not even the subject here, someone should be willing to allow people to sleep in their house.

It seems to me most of what you are calling "homeless activists" just want to see any solution that is planned or implemented is a compassionate human solution on a reasonable citywide, not just be a just get rid of them like they are lepers.


Posted by greenmeadow, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

Sleeping in my car saved me from getting a DUI a few times when I would come back from college for vacation and had a few too many drinks. I wasn't safe to drive, so I went to sleep in my trunk (SUV) and drove in the morning after I sobered up. My alternatives at that decision node were to either walk (drunk in public charge), drive (DUI), or sleep in the car. I think most would agree that the last choice is the most responsible.


Posted by jerry99, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

There are three campers parked on El Camino, one on in front of Baja Fresh, one on the next block south across from the veterinarian, and one next to the motel on Maybell. These people have children going to school in Palo Alto and live in their Winnebagos to skirt the system. With Palo Alto rules they only have to move their motor homes 4 feet once/week to be legal. I have complained to the police more than 20 times but the people refuse to leave and want to steal our money by sending their kids to Palo Alto schools. Get rid of all Motor Homes parking on El Camino and neighborhood streets now.


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 20, 2012 at 11:34 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

One of the underlying problems is that Santa Clara County is known as SANTA CLAUS County both South of the border and every where else. Hey, if you want to share in the Golden State Giveaways, why not do it in the place that has a reputation of very liberal tendencies and the money to support them?

You are going to see the " Hard Core Homeless " from the rest of the country, especially during the winter months. When the weather turns freezing, many hard core homeless want to share YOUR " Golden " streets.

When the winter temperatures start showing up, these professional homeless just convince any local church or homeless activist group to give them a one-way bus ticket to the ( streets made of ) Golden State. " I have relatives or people out there who can help me " is the usual spiel they spin. " Two Problems Solved " think the do-gooders..

It's time to enforce the laws and be stern about the facts. Hard core homeless WILL take advantage of liberal policies that lets them live ( and sponge ) the way they have made a lifestyle choice.


Posted by RT, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I see this like the marijuana dispensary issue.
I'm ready to vote.


Posted by I used to camp in my van, and I never bothered anyone, a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I used to rent in palo alto, then i moved away and would frequently visit and often sleep in my van instead of the guest rooms or sofas that were offerred. I would shower, cook, and "do my business" indoors. I have never begged for handouts, accosted strangers, or been an undue burden to the neighborhoods that I visited. I was friendly towards people and they were friendly towards me.

Sometimes I was working short contracts or odd jobs.

Life hasn't been brutal to me, but it hasn't been a cake-walk, either. One thing that I can say for certain, is that the closer you are to the margins of society, the harder it becomes to get back into the flow of productive life. The more people kick you when you're down, the harder it is to get up.

In this thread, I see a few big-mouthed mean-spirited haters, and a few compassionate warm-hearted folk speaking up for tolerance (thank you), and I see some reasonable folks with reasonable concerns...there *IS* a spectrum of pro-social and anti-social behavior in the ranks of those with no fixed abode, and if someone is being burdensome and menacing, then they should be dealt with on that basis and that basis alone.

For the uptight and arrogant folks who've been harshest and nastiest in this thread, please remember that palo alto is so expensive that most of your public servants can't even afford to rent in palo alto. If you're going to behave like arrogant 1%ers all the time, then why don't YOU just move to some place more stuffily exclusive. Trade in your $1.8 million upgraded eichler (originally affordable housing, would you believe it?) and go buy a $6 million manse in a gated community with $2000/month HOA fees! I don't see why palo alto needs to tolerate arrogant jerks any more than smelly homeless people...personally, I find them more offensive.

25% of children are born into poverty in the USA. And our social safety net doles out as much shame and indignity as safety.

What is it with the people in this nation nowadays? I grew up in the "Commonwealth" of Pennsylvania and it pains me to see that so few Americans can really wrap their heads around the very notion of COMMON WEALTH as something to promote and protect? I'm encouraged that Prop 30 passed... And that we successfully avoided Mitt Romney.

I moved to the California Republic because I like the cultural fringe and the culture of tolerance and inclusion. It's more lively here than lots of other places. Don't screw it up to create your sterile nirvana of outrageous real-estate values and hyper-caffeinated 1% disdain for those facing the very real challenges of the human condition.

Just we need a few germs every now and then to keep our immune systems from getting bored and attacking our own bodies, as human beings we need to face the have-nots enough to retain our sense of humanity.

My apologies for rambling: to quote Blaise Pascal, "I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter."

...darn...now I'm late for my haircut! :-)


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I just sent the following email to our city council:

Council,

Just put it (car campers) to a vote. You are probably not capable of standing up to pressure from the car camper activists (although I would admire you, if you did). If you put it to a vote, nobody can do a guilt trip on you, and the vast majority of Palo Alto citizens will vote for it.

I remember when Palo Alto citizens stood up against the local activists, who intimidated council with the historical home issue. When council put it to a vote, the citizens prevailed, and that crazy issue went down in flames. Are we headed down the same path with this car camping issue?

Just punt to the citizens, and let us decide. However, if you decide to do nothing, there will be a very big response.

Regards,

Craig Laughton
College Terrace


Posted by I used to camp in my van, and I never bothered anyone, a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm

re: city council meetings

someone asked about access to city council meetings...

they're broadcast by the stanford radio station KZSU 90.1... like most college stations, it's relatively eclectic, but I recommend KFJC 89.7 as more entertainingly eclectic.

...and now, that haircut...


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Does anyone know if or why this issue has/hasn't been voted on before? What would it take to get it on your ballot?

Today I offered some expensive, untouched lunch leftovers to a homeless panhandler downtown, explaining they were untouched. He said "No thanks, I can get food." He gave me a look like he was on to my "scheme" of offering food instead of cash. Silly me! I'll be extra thrilled to donate to Ecumenical Hunger since it helps others AND I don't get attitude.

I feel for you all w/the car camping issue - it's not an easy one whether you're against or one of the campers w/a conscience.

Regarding the RV occupants in south Palo Alto, how do you know that they don't work & pay income tax in Palo Alto? Heck, in Europe, those who live in their caravans do all they can to keep their kids OUT of school, they don't live in them in order to allow their offspring to go to good schools.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

No one is suggesting that we kick out the homeless - or arrest people for sleeping it off in their cars. Most of the residents of Palo Alto just want to ban living in your vehicle. For most of the "advocates" of allowing people to live in their vehicles - I bet no one has parked in front of your house and used your yard as a bathroom and garbage can. I bet your kids have never been afraid to play in the front yard because of the van parked at the street, the front seat filled with trash and the other windows boarded up for privacy. We are a compassionate town, but most people have also worked very hard to live in a safe, comfortable, lovely town.


Posted by CommonSense, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

The BOTTOM LINE is: those who do NOT have hobos parking their shabby vehicles full of junk in front in their houses, are sooo tolerant and compassionate.
But if you have to look at them and drive by or otherwise being affected, day after day, you can get fed up really fast.
The Chestnut Ave area at the park looks like freak carnival of rusty wrecks and trash on trailers.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm

>The BOTTOM LINE is: those who do NOT have hobos parking their shabby vehicles full of junk in front in their houses, are sooo tolerant and compassionate.

Bingo! And don't forget those parents with children, who have to face the fear of the unkown. And let us not forget the diminished property values (similar to the historical homes issue, back in the day).

If our city council wants to avoid a huge fight it needs to:

1. Ban car campers, like our neighboring towns do...or

2. Put it to a vote of the citizens of Palo Alto ...or

3. Enact parking zone regulations, which will have the effect of banning the car campers, and solving the various parking issues in Palo Alto.

Doing nothing would be a HUGE mistake.


Posted by renter476, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Heh...I'm not sooo compassionate. I bet $1M that voters anonymously will vote keep the street s clear of loungecars.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Yeah, it's probably a pain in the neck to have people camping in cars, but in most of Palo Alto where this is parking on the street people will park their cars that they do not have room for in their garage, driveways, in the front of their houses in front of other people's houses.

I don't think anyone is suggesting that it be OK to set up camping in front of anyones house, certainly not me. I don't even like my neighbor's cars in front of my house. If you buy a house here, either limit the numbers of cars you have or remodel to be able to park all your cars on your property.

Theoretically what is right and wrong has nothing to do with anything, because it doesn't matter, it's whatever nonsense comes out of the City Council.

I have no problem with campers occasionally on El Camino, it's not residential and they have found places where they do not bother people. I think people should be able to visit the city for a limited time in approved places, but I know of no improved place.

But at least for me what I think is fair and just has nothing to do with whether it's my house or your house or El Camino or whatever, simply was is fair, just and safe.

If there are known people with problems, why can't they be handled within the bounds of the law vis those problems?

People like " I used to camp in my van, and I never bothered anyone" has some good points as well as the other homeless people. The people like Craig and others should be able to get the police to run them off if they are bothered by them, but if someone parks briefly and is not complained about, what is the City Wide Emergency to have take care of it?

Most of the problems I have heard about conflate some part of the homeless population with car campers, mixed the whole problem up. I want information from the City Council on this issue, maybe published to the Palo Alto City website, with statements from advocates of all sides. A vote by the people is probably not a bad idea, or just an informal poll so the city knows where people stand.

I am not in favor of a binding vote for the same reason the Ca. Initiative process is so broken, a vote is not a thoughtful legislative process.

Also the claim that as far and wide as Mexico people are coming to live homeless in Santa Clara county is insane. I have not noticed that there are more homeless than there ever were, and I don't think I've ever seen, at least in Palo Alto one homeless person who looked Mexican.

Some just want to use their unpleasantness to rile people up and direct their negativity, and this is an issue that should be solved calmly with facts. I am fine listening to Craig's concerns, but he is so off the wall in presenting them it's hard to find any detail to them except he is against all car camping. OK, fine with me. Write the City Council, pursue your interests, that's how the country works. But the off point silliness does not help your case.

Allowing people to live in Church parking lots sounded like a bad idea to me from the moment I heard it. I still it would useful to have a place, like out in the Baylands with some kind of regulation where visitors could park under controlled conditions temporarily.


Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Agree with Craig,

I'm pleased (and amazed) that you would be in favor of spending Palo Alto tax money to help the homeless! I commend you for your new and progressive views! You're so right, I should have offered such a suggestion so you, Craig, and others could enthusiastically support working with the homeless instead of trying to push them out of Palo Alto.

I do have bad news for you--there is no such thing as "kindness logic." Logic has to do with clear thinking and reasoning, not with feelings of goodwill to people less fortunate than ourselves, for example. Both are worthwhile, but they don't belong together.

Perhaps we can all work together, now that you've become so positive in your attitude, to give people forced to live in their cars some safe places to stay at night!


Posted by Native, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm

While the SANTA CLAUS joke is funny, it should be directed at other services rather than homelessness. Regarding homeless people, I agree with other poster who notes that homeless people are American, not Mexican immigrants (who work hard and will stay with extended families). The homeless I have seen are the ones who were born in America and are familiar with the generosity of the system and their fellow Americans. Immigrants are grateful for the opportunity to be able to work and earn money rather than our lazy Americans.


Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2012 at 7:37 am

Punisher and Native,

Before we think of Santa Clara County as SANTA CLAUS, let's consider the great State of California, ranked recently as the WORLD'S eighth largest economy. This great state has no universal medical coverage, has thrown mentally ill people out on the streets from a formerly excellent system of care, and has gutted its welfare system in the past few years. Could we afford to be more caring and generous? Of course we could. We choose not to.

Generous Santa Clara County? Well, maybe, compared to more conservative--and less well-off counties. But in terms of shelter, food, medical care, safety, job-training programs, support for the mentally ill, we are not all generous by any reasonable measure. Could we be more generous? Well, yes and no. We do depend on the state, which has failed miserably for a goodly number of years now.

As for lazy Americans and hard working Mexican immigrants, it's good to know stereotyping is alive and well in this city. Why stop there, Native?

I don't suppose you've heard of factual studies of the homeless which suggest that slightly different conclusions are possible.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 21, 2012 at 10:22 am

The council subcommittee punted...to nowhere.

Larry Klein said it is not a problem, except for those residences that are directly affected by it (car campers). He said he asked about a dozen of his friends if it as a problem, and they said "no"; he then reversed the question and asked if it would be a problem if the campers were in front of their own homes. Guess what, they reversed themselves and said it would be a problem. In other words, for Larry, it is whose ox is getting gored...to hell with the current complainers. Thus far, nobody is parking in front of his house, but that could easily change.

Then I saw that clergyman from the church in College Terrace. He came off as a religious fanatic to me, claiming that we should all open up our hearts to the car campers. However, why was his church parking lot not offered as part of the solution? Hypocrit, IMO.

The City and the churches do not want to touch the issue (too complicated and expensive). Explanation: We don't want our ox to get gored, just let 2-3 neighborhoods suffer the consequences.

One of the issues they did not want to discuss is the devalution of property values, when campers set up camp. Just the other day, Larry Klein was talking about the increased property values, if a neighbohood has parking limit controls (he seemed to want the neighborhood to pay a fee, relateed to their increased property values). Thus, Larry understands property values, related to various parking/camping issues. As long as it doesn't affect him directly, he is quite willing to turn a blind eye.

One positive thing came out of last night's meeting: There was mention of placing 'no parking between 1-4 AM' to cover various commercial zones, especially including the JJ&F area. This would be a very welcome action. That dude that has set up his parking lot for his many vehicles would get nailed. Maybe he could just move his junkers over to Larry Klein's neighborhood...nice little cul-de-sac at the end of his street, very near his own home. Larry might get the message, at that point.

Bottom line: Put it to vote.


Posted by Agree With Craig, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Retired Teacher,
I am afraid that your sarcasm is working poorly. You are yet to offer any valid reason why it is preferable to allow someone to live in their car and why that is superior to offering someone down on hard times the genuine help they need to get back on their feet.
If someone wants to live in their car that is a lifestyle choice. If someone is forced to live in a car because they are on hard time BUT could accept services to get back on their feet that is a different issue. You are clearly in favor of a lifestyle choice. This is no different than the legal pot clinics (which the city thankfully voted against).

Be honest and open about what you pushing as an agenda. We can all agree that you are in favor of a lifestyle of living in cars. And I am opposed to the lifestyle of living in cars - especially if it means camping in this town.

Every other town is not stupid to have banned this. If Palo Alto wants to go down the slippery slope of Berkeley or Eugene that is something which the city council (and you) might want but the city will almost certainly vote against. No worries - this debate looks like it will end in a vote since there are enough people on both sides that feel sufficiently strongly.

My prediction is that once it goes to a public vote the outcome will be no different than the pot clinics - because at the end of the day this is about a lifestyle; not about helping people in need. Good luck to living in that car - and make sure your driveway is always open!


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Some kinda of rules are needed, trash, health reason or safety. The homeless issue is not just one sized fits all. Low income workers, people who have lost homes due to meltdown, lost of job, health issue, marriage break up (this one made me homeless), or bad luck. You have mental, physical, abuse of drugs and alcohol, social issues or bad luck. You do have people who love the idea of living on the street, or a RV, or some reason of why. One size does not fit all. I support rules and laws about drinking, drugs use in public, treatment and building of low income units. I know once you are homeless, it is pretty hard to get away from being homeless, unless you have a good family support system but if you don't it gets harder and harder


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

If anyone wants to get involved in putting this up to a vote, to ban street car camping, please let me know.

Note: You will need to 'man/woman up' and use your own name, eventually, on the petition. Please contact me, if you have the intestinal fortitude of your own convictions.

Regards,

Craig Laughton
claught1@earthlink.net


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 21, 2012 at 10:54 pm

> to offering someone down on hard times the genuine help they need to get back on their feet.

The problem with making a big huge thing about this is that such help does not exist that has a reasonable probability of success, and some of these people do not want to or cannot change.

It's not that anyone wants problem people around town in front of anyone's house, I think but:

1. The city says it is not a "major" problem.
2. The resolution of a "major" problem would require a lot of time thinking and resources and upset a lot of people on all sides of the issue.
3. If it is a "minor" - ie. specific problem for any one person, my understanding is they can call the police and the police will do something. They mark the car, and tow it in three days or something. I think none of these people want to make enemies so they find other places to exist. It is a tough existence, but there is no reliable help for these people.
4. Whatever is done I think and hope the city doing something humane, positive and helpful about it [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I'd like to offer an anecdote of someone I once knew peripherally in High School, PALY as a matter of fact, decades ago.

This person had hardly ever left Palo Alto in his life, so I bump into him every year or so eking out a living, sometimes living in an apartment, or with friends, in garages, etc, and occasionally in his car. This guy was one of the nicest people you would, or would not, want to know, meaning he bent over double-backwards to not aggravate and be nice to people but he hardly fits into the typical Palo Alto circles. He would help out old people move and sometimes charge them nothing for it, even though it put him out. He did odd jobs, painting and such in the area, and would hook up with others and work as a team. This guy did not have the management skills to manage his life or work and on one occasion when I would talk to him I understood the devastating effect that messing with these people can have on them. He had had his van towed and did not have the money to pay to get it out. All his tools and possessions were in the van so when it was towed his survival was at stake. Without money he could lose his car, his tools, his phone connection to get jobs, and whatever else I cannot think of at the moment and spiral into totally unproductive homelessness, maybe malnutrition and get sick and be more of a burden to the city and the state. When possible I try to throw this guy some work if I think it is something I think he can do but long term relationships are hard for him to manage unless they are just right for his "style", but they do exist and he has many "friends". He does seem a bit nuts to me, but we Palo Altans should think about people like this in discussing such issues, not the straw villains that some are tossing out there to rile people up. As long as I've known him I've never known or heard of him vandalizing, stealing or even being rude or even unkind to anyone.

There are a lot of people out there like this guy, who live in the interstices of the economy, and their very existence seems to draw the anger and ire of some fired-up people who have their own fixed ideas of what the world should be and how it should run and either do not know or do not care about anyone else or the effects of what they do as long as they can play the Alpha male game. What bothers me is the seeming social darwinism of someone why wants to clean the streets, but does not want to deal with how, or what is cleaned up, as long it is out of their site. Then, if the safety net is raised as an issue they make strident statements against that as well. Such people are truly not worthy of Palo Alto, any religious or moral community, and allowing them to be leaders of the community or push the city or rally the people into these efforts seems repugnant to me. A whole city of people like that would be worse than having homeless people around.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 22, 2012 at 7:55 am

>Such people are truly not worthy of Palo Alto, any religious or moral community...blah blah

Until you are willing to help out this fellow by offering your own driveway or a room in your own home, you are in no position to lecture others about morals.

Please provide your address, so this fellow can drop by. Otherwise, you are pushing the issue onto other people's homes and businesses and parks. BTW, I took a swing through Crescent Park the other day, and I did not see any evidence of car campers. Must be nice, eh?


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 22, 2012 at 10:59 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 22, 2012 at 11:40 am

From Santa Barbara

"Safe RV Parking Program

Due to the alarming increase in vehicle dwellers in south Santa Barbara County, coupled with the crackdown on overnight parking enacted by the City of Santa Barbara, New Beginnings currently operates a program to provide safe overnight parking for individuals and families who find themselves living in their vehicles. The program is a cooperative between New Beginnings, area churches and non-profits whereby participating institutions provide parking places for vehicle dwellers registered with the New Beginnings program. The program currently includes various dispersed locations in the county. The purpose of the program is to provide a level of stability needed for vehicle dwellers to effectively make positive changes in their lives. A safe place to park, together with the social services and case management provided by New Beginnings case workers, are the tools used to achieve this end. Interested parties should direct their calls to case worker at (805) 284-3463 for Nancy or (805) 637-6242 for Roslyn."

Such a program might have some potential in Palo Alto. However, notice the critical phase "coupled with the crackdown on overnight parking enacted by the City of Santa Barbara"

Until car camping is made illegal (and enforced), there is no chance to get a handle on the problem . Homelessness, in general, should also be criminalized, so that compulsion is allowed.

As to the moral issue, it is indeed on those who want to dump the problem on others to step up and offer their own driveways and/or rooms. No getting around it, despite all efforts to do so.


Posted by I used to camp in my van, and I never bothered anyone, a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Craig Laughton: your citation of the 'Safe RV Parking Program' is one of your few posts with a constructive spin to it. Thank you for that. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Anon, Retired Teacher, Garrett, and probably a few others whose posts I skimmed: thank you for being persistent in offering thoughtful, compassionate, and reasonable reflections on the issue.

Anon and Retired Teacher, for touching upon some of the institutional failings that have created and exacerbated the problem.

Garrett, thanks for highlighting some of the many reasons that reasonable people might need to crash in their cars for a while...too tired or otherwise temporarily unable to drive safely, domestic explosions, etcetera...

To reinforce garrett's point, I used to come to palo alto for work and drive in the off-hours from my home 3 hours away...I had a home, but not when I visited the center bay area. Sometimes I would misjudge my stamina and have to stop somewhere en-route to sleep. Sometimes i would arrive very late and not wish to disturb my hosts. Sometimes i had a guest room available to me, but it was just simpler and more comfortable to sleep on my own bed in my own well-maintained van and greet my friends in the morning.



To the let's put it to a vote folks: majorities often create policies that are harmful to minorites. It is the government's role to protect "little guys (and groups)" from "big guys (and groups)". That's why the case against Prop 8 (anti-gay-marriage) has been taken up by the conservative/liberal lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, who opposed each other in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case, said that gays and lesbians who cannot marry were made into second-class citizens by California's voter-approved ban, known as Proposition 8, in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Their victory against prop 8 has been reinforced, through several rounds of appeal, in several federal courts above the california supreme court. I very much like the reasoning that's gone into the case against proposition 8 and recommend reading about it...
Web Link and Web Link

Regrettably, the van-dwelling hippies, harmless passers-through, homeless, and otherwise displaced in our society do not have the organization and means to defend themselves from being kicked even further down the socio-economic ladder. Nevertheless, they deserve the same Equal Protection under the Law. The same principles apply.


To Everyone: As Garrett mentioned, vehicle-dwellers are not a one-size-fits all issue... Outright criminalization or oppression of that group is NOT A SOLUTION...and finding the right solutions on a case-by-case basis requires a level of insight and understanding that few have and few discuss. And, it's very hard for the media to address the issues in an effective and compelling way, which is why I was pleased to hear last week's BBC Documentaries podcast, which I recommend for a bit more insight...

BBC Documentaries podcast -- Poor Reporting, Tue 20 Nov 12

What does it take to get people in the rich world engaged in the issue of global poverty? How can you avoid clich', sentimentality and callousness? What stops people turning off?

24 mins, Download 11MB, Web Link


Posted by Zuck, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Take a look at the issue. You have no idea. I mean come on people. Where is it going to end? This is getting to make me question what PaloAlto living is about - what kind of people live here and what type of community is this becoming? It is clear that there is a right and a wrong.It is important to act as we would if no one were looking.


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