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Committee to mull vehicle-dwelling ban tonight

Original post made on Jun 25, 2013

A City Council committee is set to decide on an ordinance that would ban people from living in their vehicles within Palo Alto's limits.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:57 AM

Comments (33)

Posted by justine, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 25, 2013 at 10:57 am

Clearly it is NOT a good idea from rise in crime stats. Get a damn clue city of palo alto. No more homeless dwellings. Geez.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2013 at 11:28 am

>generally officers would not self-initiate contact with vehicle dwellers and will instead primarily respond to resident complaints for violations of the ordinance.

Sound familiar? Think gas-powered leaf blowers. Despite their ban, they are still in abundance in Palo Alto, despite the called-in complaints. The car camping ban needs to be self initiated by the police. Yes, the ban (if it passes) will be better than nothing, because it provides the police with the power to criminalize it, it will have the enforcement capability of a wet noodle.

Is there even one council member that will stand up and say, "car camping is bad for Palo Alto, and it should be banned, and our police should enforce that ban, when they see it being violated?"


Posted by Mike, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

Vehicle dwelling is out of control in Professorville- which was not mentioned in this article. My children are harassed for waking them up as they ride their bikes by the cars that people are sleeping in- children are not allowed to talk while riding bikes at 8:15 in the morning. Where do the City Council members think vehicle dwellers are going to the bathroom when they wake up in the middle of the night- or early morning for that matter? Yes- in our yards, side walks, and often in our bushes (#2). It's disgusting and a biohazard. They no when homes are vacant and we have no idea of their background as cars are not registered under Megan's Law. They don't pay property taxes, but they have more say in how our Council Members vote- help me with that one? The homeless need shelters or designated parks. If our City Council wants to support the many homeless that don't like the rules that go with those places then let them open up one of the downtown garages and pay for police monitoring- and maybe put up a few out houses so they don't have to go to the bathroom outside like wild animals. I have enough- this is ludicrous.


Posted by I'd like to see, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Please name a street with an issue. thanks


Posted by Katherine, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Do something about this City Council members. The situation is gross and out of control. Cubberley should not become a homeless encampment.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I think this would be a great mix of compassion and legal tools. The police can deal with the handful of trouble makers that use people's yards as toilets and start fight while still being compassionate toward those who are simply trying to get by and do not cause any trouble.

BTW - Walmart permits RV parking in many of their lots, yet forbids it in Mountain View (and many other CA stores).

@I'd like to see:

Bryant
El Camino
Park
Kingsley
Cowper


Posted by PA Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 25, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Since the City Council already "tried" to be sympathetic by asking churches to donate their parking lots and only one church in town offered, I think the City Council will have the guts this time to ban vehicle dwelling. There is enough evidence that vehicle dwelling has negative effects on our residents. I am not personally affected by vehicle dwellers in our neighborhood but would be furious if I had to deal with it.


Posted by I'd like to see, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2013 at 1:05 pm

palo alto parent,

thanks, I'll check out Bryant, Kingsley and Cowper in Professorville in the A.M.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I'd like to know if the city has a legal definition of "live" or "car camping" here?

Living could include anything from driving or being parked in a car - presumably we are all "living" when we drive and park; to setting up camping by the side of the road, a practice that I think everyone can agree should be carefully considered and regulated - BUT NOT NECESSARILY OUTLAWED IN A BLANKET WAY EVERYWHERE AT ALL TIMES.

Is it unreasonable to have the shape of anything the City Council comes up with released for consideration of Palo Altans and discussed, or maybe voted on?

For example, I don't see why it should be illegal for someone who owns their own RV or wants to allow someone to visit them to be able to temporarily do so providing it does not disrupt a neighborhood.

In certain niches of the city I think there are places where people park and do not bother or harm anyone, and I think that is not a bad thing.

I do agree some people that do not want large cars parked on their street should have some kind of veto power to force people to move on after say 1 day, and if they are reported and identified if they return to that same spot should be able to be cited for a parking violation, unless they have permission from the person they are parking in front of or visiting.

I'm sure I'm not covering all possibilities but I tend to be open minded and to think that laws should not be trivial or pushed through on a whole city because of one or two complainers who exaggerate the problem or for whom the problem is a real obsession.

There should be a specific problem, reported and addressed, with as small a solution as possible, in keeping with the "limited government" point of view, liberty, freedom, etc. Please be aware that I am not equating the rights of homeowners with the rights of campers, there is a valid difference and a right of property to consider, but also the rights of residents to use streets, and the right of people to exist without harassment if they are breaking no laws. It is not "American" to criminalize people just because they cannot be controlled any other way.

It is also invalid reasoning to say we should pass laws because of what other cities do.

Our process should be as a said, appropriately and lightly responding to what the real issues are, and complaints such as the homeless are car camping, or that sex offenders are living on the streets of Palo Alto, or that homeless people specifically are going to the bathroom on private and public property more often than residents or that one group of people are villains or problems. I don't know for sure but I have a feeling the homeless and people living in their car are underrepresented in terms of the people arrested in Palo Alto for criminal activity.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm

>The police can deal with the handful of trouble makers that use people's yards as toilets and start fight while still being compassionate toward those who are simply trying to get by and do not cause any trouble.

Please explain. Are you willing to invite those, who are "simply trying to get by and do not cause any trouble" into your Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood? If so, please name your street. If you can get enough of your neighbors to agree, then you will probably be the new compassionate encampment neighborhood. It might bring home the issue to Larry Klein, because he lives in your neighborhood. Note: I have to admit, and I appreciate, that Larry has moved forward on this issue, although it was a move focused on the Cubberly issue, not his own (and your) neighborhood.

Having watched this car camper thing fester in College Terrace, for many years, I can assure you that I will continue to fight it, even if means that I have to get up early in the morning to call in complaints. Parking limitations have helped, but only a car camping ban will end it. The Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood could become the new College Terrace, if you would like it to be so. Do you?


Posted by I'd like to see, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Craig, name a street in CT where this is an issue. thanks


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Other camping sites:

PA art center parking lot
Alma between Lytton and Hawthorne
Stanford "varsity" parking lot
Cubberly lot and spill over into hallways


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:13 pm

>Craig, name a street in CT where this is an issue. thanks

No problem: Oxford. Also Cambridge. In the past, I have had them on my street, about five blocks up, off of College. The current law allows them to park in front of anyone's house, in Palo Alto. Which homeowner feels lucky?

Until the parking limitations were put in place in CT, there were about a dozen cars/motorcycles on those streets. Now, it has dropped back to about two or three. However, those car campers have made a stance. I went out last night, at 3 AM, and they were not there...maybe the problem has been dispersed to another neighborhood? I hope so, but I am not confident. Until the problem is recognized/felt in the rich neighborhoods, there will be no real enforcement.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:15 pm

However many time Craig Laughton want to hammer this question of who in Palo Alto wants to invite homeless people to live with them - that is not the issue here and it is not a condition that qualifies or unqualifies someone from having an opinion or the right to speak.

Statistics of rising crime may mean nothing or they may be significant. How about some deeper reporting on what is going on at Cubberly - Palo Alto Online ?

Is it one person continually calling the police and complaining louder and louder so that the number of incidents just seems to have gone up, or are there more actually crimes being committed and if so by who. Does this point to a problem with homeless people in general, or individuals, or Cubberly the location itself, or people complaining just to complain.

And, homeless people and car campers are not the same population, nor are the homeless and criminals.

Are the people who are pushing this - and it seems to me pushing it dishonestly with the continual injection into the discussion of irrelevant issues with emotional language actually having the problem or are they just obsessed with their own personal animus on this issue?


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Craig Laughton said:
> Until the problem is recognized/felt in the rich neighborhoods, there will be no real enforcement.

I really hope, and think, that is not true. I believe if you have a problem with someone on your street, or anyone in Palo Alto does you should be able to get the police to move them on once certain conditions have been met, but not that you should be able to distort and exaggerate the problem to push a solution on the city for a problem that does not exist and already has a solution to it.

Comment have been made that sound like some have permanent criminal, anti-social, guests living on your street, yet when asked specifically I don't hear that or anything like it. I wonder if any police officers can back that up?

Provocative language has been used to make this problem sound like something it probably is not and facts have deliberately been tossed to the wayside, and when questioned, the comment - are you willing to have these people live in your house is offered as a legitimate argument, which it isn't.


Posted by I'd like to see, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:37 pm

"Now, it has dropped back to about two or three."

Ok thanks then its not a current issue in CT. I'll stick looking at professorville.


Posted by Resident, a resident of University South
on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm

On most nights for the past year we have had vehicle dwellers directly in front of our place on Homer Avenue and on nearby adjacent streets including Bryant, Addison, and Waverley and they have been for the most part very considerate temporary neighbors. I am out and about at all times of the morning and night and have never once seen an issue with disorderly behavior, litter, etc. And they seem quite considerate in that they seem to move their vehicles nearly every day, probably understanding neighbors are thereby less likely to object.

I think it is important to note that not everyone whose life circumstances have led to living in their vehicles is automatically a nuisance. I find the young adults drinking loudly late at night in the playground in Heritage Park and who clearly live in the neighborhood, and the hours-long whine of leaf blowers seemingly every weekend, to be far more negatively impactful to my neighborhood's quality of life than the 2 or 3 considerate vehicle dwellers with whom we have shared our very special neighborhood for the past year.


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Did the problem deniers forget or ignore the homeless assault with a deadly weapon at Cubberly just 5 days ago?

Web Link

I love how generous Crescent Park Anon is... with other people's neighborhoods. How about Crescent park as the designated safe zone for car campers?


Posted by green meadow resident, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I live in Green Meadow neighborhood, directly across the street from Cubberley field. I have a 4 year old child, several families here have young kids, and it is not fun to live close to an unauthorized homeless shelter.

Last week, there was an e-mail thread going on in the GMCA mailing list about a neighbor noticing a tiny hole (that looks like it came from a bb gun or pellet gun) in the window above her front door - a few neighbors chimed in similar experiences. A plausible explanation would be a teen practicing his pellet gun in the backyard, or it could be something more serious. (Not to mention my neighbor's house - facing Cubberly - got TPd and egged 15 times in the past year)

This is no longer about who is a criminal, and who is not. This is about keeping all of us (that includes the homeless) safe.




Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I would guess that the meeting tonight will be a political theatre, with all the opponents of neighborhood security and traditional PA lifestyles, kicking up a fuss, and demanding the council subcommittee to retreat. If the subcommittee has the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing, and vote for the ban...then good. Otherwise, they can punt on the issue, and demand a vote of PA citizens.

It has happened before: Historical homes...and the private home owners won that one. I was part of that deal, and my side won.

I hope that the council will do the right thing, and ban car camping in PA, like all of our surrounding cities do in their own cities.


Posted by PayTaxes to Live Here, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 25, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Lincoln Ave, Bryant, Cowper, Waverly, Kingsley, Melville, Webster- these dwellers move from block to block once they get their three day warning. There is a motor home parked on the corner of Lincoln and Bryant St that has been there for 2 1/2 weeks- he moves from one side of the block to the other and then back again. Otherwise- look for a tan van- older model, two white vans- older models, the u-hual truck that parks on Alma Street across from Northface- he opens the back and it has a full living room that a number of homeless live in (no bathroom). Go for an early morning walk and you will find lots of them.


Posted by David V, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm

David V is a registered user.

I've lived and utilized Cubberly for the last 25 years. I am not in favor of criminalizing homelessness; however a "De-facto" homeless center with no oversight is unacceptable regardless of the location. The vehicle dwellers have attracted the homeless that lack a vehicle; at first they slept around the campus then disappeared during the day, this is no longer the case. Belongings stay in the hallways and bushes 24/7, restrooms are trashed, bushes are toilets. While walking my dog the other day by the "Friends of the Library drop-off trailer the van dwellers had gathered several dozen used dog pick up bags into pile with a wooden sign telling dog owners to pick up after their dogs. This shifted my thinking as these "residents" were now feeling empowered enough to be telling US what to do? Here's a few things I observed over Labor Day

A 911 call by a hallway resident; the responding Police Officer saying "this is your fourth call for no reason in the last 24 hours..."

Vomit on the bench at the rear entrance to the temporary library

Two dozen people bedding down early as the campus was empty for the holiday

Needles by the batting cages

Oleanders being used as toilets along the track/field

Scantily clad women on their way to the "facilities"

Most of the vehicles on the campus do not move every 72 hours as is the law; and stay for weeks, if not months.

In closing, there are some very respectful "residents" but they are quickly becoming outnumbered as I perceive the population is growing rapidly and growing more empowered by the lack of oversight.

Sociology 101 in action.


Posted by Friedrich Zweite, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 25, 2013 at 4:45 pm

The police HAVE harrassed people visiting relatives in Old Palo Alto. Twice, in two years, a neighbor's elderly parents, who came each August, were told they had to leave within 72 hours of parking their RV in front of their daughter's house! They were told that was the LAW, and that it was unsafe to have electrical extension cords running from the house to the RV ( even though they were taped down to the sidewalk with electrical tape). Both times, they were forced to cut their intended visit short, due to the fact that local hotels are so expensive for someone on a fixed income, and because their daughter had no spare room for them to stay in!

How mean a thing is that to do to people in their seventies?



Posted by CrecentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Mr Recycle:
> I love how generous Crescent Park Anon is... with other people's neighborhoods. How about Crescent park as the designated safe zone for car campers?

It might be nice if you would stick to discussing something that has actually been said instead of making things up.

I never said anything preferential about Crescent Park, in fact just the opposite, nor did I mention any designated zone .... so Mr. Recycle, stop making things up, stop recycling your made up claims. Stick to the facts, and if you don't know the fact stick to asking pertinent questions instead of misquoting others.


Posted by Friedrich Zweite, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm

More recently, in a neighborhood south of Oregon Expwy, my pregnant daughter and her husband decided to have their house repainted inside before the baby came. To prevent the overwhelming paint fumes from making my daughter or her baby sick, they decided to camp in their camper for three days while the house aired out. Already having a car in the driveway, and one in the garage, they had to park the camper on the street in front of their house.

Who showed up on night #2 but PAPD! The officer claimed that a neighbor had complained. My son-in-law explained the situation, and the officer apologized, but said they would have to move to a hotel because RVs were illegal to park on the street for any length of time! This was early 2011!

In order to find an inexpensive hotel, these two young people had to go all the way to Santa Clara to find an inexpensive hotel. Ridiculous!

Doesn't anyone complain about the dilapidated RV that moves from block to block all around Professorville and Old Palo Alto? It has been sighted for years and years ( like ten of them), apparently staying just ahead of police.


Posted by I'd like to see, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm

"they decided to camp in their camper for three days"
"Already having a car in the driveway, and one in the garage, they had to park the camper on the street in front of their house."
"RVs were illegal to park on the street for any length of time"

I'll bite, where was the camper parked before they painted and why did they not move the car to the street and the camper to the driveway?



Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Is the guy who tucks his RV into the bushes every night at the east end of the Oregon Bike overpass still there? He does a great job of parking.


Posted by homeless , a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm

why are u talking about homeless here as we were a separate ' thing'?' from u? homeless have same needs as u ' the loud mouths, ' sorry but that's how many of u come across yelling and bitching about individuals who have no place to go. It is absolutely criminal to criminalize a vulnerable homeless human being. First of all; homeless have a different subculture developed by and I would argue: by basic instinctual survival mode. To look at at survival, acceptance, being loved is a basic human need . Does anyone know here how it is for not being hugged? Loved? Have no control of ones space: like having your own keys to lock the door safely and going through the evening routines: a cup of tea, tv, a good book to read, sinking into a soft comfy clean bed with prayers, making that last trip to bathroom? Dreaming, sleeping about a new beautiful day: tomorrow is a new day; a new day with full of opportunities, new ideas, new people to meet and etcetera . Homeless don't think like that. All energy goes for basic survival: predetors ( people around: neighbors , law enforcement or perhaps the predetor within; the cruel bully among us. How could anyone understand if I said something ? Can I speak, and if I do would I be respected? Most likely I gave up on believing on you or believing on anyone nor trusting anyone. Being homeless is such a shamefully guarded secret, that some of us hide it so well u would have no clue if I lived from a storage room, and rode a bus and train all night, bc there is no place to rest and I have to show up at work in the morning with a smile and looking refreshed. Oh well, how about respecting everyone as an equal? Giving a smile, a hug? Asking : how are you doing today? How is your day going? That would be a start. We truly don't know who is teaching who. Why not to get a new perspective; maybe by asking what an I learning about this 'dirty looking weird' person homeless bum! Or bumress! Maybe he and when I say he includes her ; all the females. We are not a thing to be humiliated and tossed around. We need help: food, showers, clothing, a place we can call home and have safety and last but not least, control of our own space just like u do . Gnite, where ever one sleeps, whether it's a house , apartment , someone 's couch, bushes , vehicle , side walk; sweet dreams .Tomorrow is a brand new day for everyone and it's a gift from God! To be alive; so please let's cherish each other, smile and go on. The moon and sun and stars are beautiful : the same every night whether one is homeless or not.


Posted by Tennyson B. Kawasaki, a resident of Triple El
on Jun 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Friedrich Zweite--you should get in touch with Lady MacBeth, she lives in your neighborhood and a similar experience:

Web Link
"Posted by Lady Mac Beth, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 13, 2013 at 6:42 pm
There has been a car camper plaguing all of Old Palo Alto for nearly twenty years, moving to a different place every night and staying just ahead of the police. Once in a great while he goofs and stays in one place two nights in a row, and then gets ticketed.
However, back when we had a very nice camper on a truck that we would bring out of storage to load up and use, the neighbors would call and complain about its size, and the cops would show up on our front doorstep telling us there is a law agai st RVs on the street for any length of time, no matter how short!"

What a coincidence, huh????? Who would have thought????

One time, last year, we had our hardwood floors completely refinished throughout the house. We could not set foot in our house for 4 1/2 days. We went to a hotel for the time being, but our adult children and baby granddaughter, who could not afford that luxury, parked the camper in the driveway and lived in it, sleeping and cooking there.

After three days, the police showed up and knocked on the camper door at 4:00 am one morning, and told the "kids" their three days were up and they had to leave! Parked on our own property! The reason: it is illegal to live in a camper, even in an emergency, for more than three days in Palo Alto! So they moved one of our cars parked behind our house, and parked the camper there, where only the front end could be seen from the street, for the next two days. Unfortunately, this made it difficult to hook up to electricity and water, so they then had to dine out."


Posted by PA parent of 2, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 25, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I wish the PAPD would be as vigilant about encouraging owners/dwellers to move their campers after 72 hours in College Terrace and Evergreen Park as they apparently are in Old Palo Alto. I would wager that the vast majority of campers in our neighborhood are housing long-term homeless persons, rather than our neighbors who are remodeling their homes or their elderly visiting relatives


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Despite the political theatre tonight, even Gail Price switched her vote. The final vote was 3-0 in favor of the car camping ban. I think the council is starting to listen to their citizens! Not bad. Now, finally, we are heading in the right direction.

The next step will be enforcement.



Posted by Friedrich Zweite, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 25, 2013 at 8:35 pm

@I'd like to see: The camper was stored at a facility in South San Jose!

PA parent: There are a lot of complainers in Old Palo Alto!

Tennyson B Kawasaki: The neighbors one block up and the neighbors next door have had similar issues when remodeling. My daughter does NOT live in the same neighborhood, but lives in a more affordable neighborhood nearby.
Are you insinuating that you are one of the complainers?


Posted by Tennyson b. Kawasaki, a resident of Triple El
on Jun 25, 2013 at 8:56 pm

The rules state that a vehicle cannot be parked for longer than 72 hours in one location. Plus stringing electrical cords along the sidewalk can pose a serious threat for a variety of reasons. It s illegal, according to your description, to park an RV at all onthe city streets. You are upset that laws are being enforced, but yet you complain about another RV breaking the law. But why would I complain? I do not live in old palo alto.
But, friedrich, you should get in touch with lady Macbeth. Your stories are so similar that it makes one wonder.


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