Town Square

Post a New Topic

Vehicle-dwelling ban in Palo Alto moves forward

Original post made on Jun 26, 2013

Palo Alto's Policy and Services Committee voted on Tuesday night to move forward an ordinance that would ban vehicle dwelling in the city, despite fierce resistance from many of the more than 60 residents who filled the Council Chambers.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 12:51 AM

Comments (121)

Posted by Christian Straight, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2013 at 1:46 am

I take issue with this new ordinance. It seems to be aimed at criminalizing the less fortunate residents of Palo Alto. I just don't see how this will address homelessness in this city and I haven't heard any real justification for the ordinance. It seems the police might better use their time apprehending the real criminals who have started operating in our neighborhoods: the bank robbers on El Camino Real, the carjackers on California Avenue and the sprinkling of armed assaults around town.

I live in a neighborhood where vehicle dwellers are often parked. In the 10 years we've lived here there has never been a single incident to us personally or any that I've heard about regarding the vehicle dwellers. We leave them alone and they leave us alone. To cite a single incident and arrest as the basis of a new ordinance that in effect criminalizes the entire group is ludicrous and unbecoming of the fine exemplary city of Palo Alto. To argue that we're doing this because everybody else is doing it, highlights the attitude that if we just push people we don't like out of town the problem will go away. In fact, I believe the exact reverse should be happening - that the other cities and communities should as well open their cities rather than turning them into walled fortresses.

I hope this ordinance is reviewed very seriously and deeply. The target of this ordinance have no voice or representation in these decisions. They not criminal, they're disenfranchised and this ordinance will push them further into helplessness and hopelessness. I don't know how anyone could be proud of supporting this.


Posted by anon, for now, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2013 at 2:43 am

What the opponents of the ordinance didn't seem to understand was with Kniss running the show, there was no meaningful hearing by the committee. It was more like "give them a fair hearing and hang'em".
They should have boycotted the hearing.

This is by no means the only problem that Kniss has created in the past, present, and in the future. She's worked the system and the committee to give herself a 3rd term in office and to codify the extension of term limits, where the city charter should instead be amended to disallow non-consecutive terms as well as more than 2-term consecutive term limits. Her dishonesty is also paramount – if she had disclosed her illness before last year's elections, she would not have been elected. There should be serious questions concerning her capacity. Her history on the county board of supervisors should also be critically questionable, especially in terms of county hospital health care and how similar issues might be handled with Stanford Hospital and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation which could require city council intervention. I believe we shouldn't take a chance with her sneakiness.

So I think it's time to start a voter recall against Kniss. (I live in Palo Alto and I am registered to vote here)


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2013 at 6:19 am

Christian Straight writes "To argue that we're doing this because everybody else is doing it, highlights the attitude that if we just push people we don't like out of town the problem will go away"

You fail to mention all the services that Palo Alto does provide for the less fortunate: the Opportunity Center (provides shelter for the homeless), the hundreds of BMR units (both ownership & Rental units), the grants which have totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. I doubt that if Palo Alto wanted "push out" the less fortunate, they would have invested tens of millions of dollars in the above services.

Christian also writes " In the 10 years we've lived here there has never been a single incident to us personally or any that I've heard about regarding the vehicle dwellers" Read the postings, and enlarge your circle of neighbors that you talk you; read the letters sent to the council. You'll get many more examples.


Posted by Yay, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2013 at 8:21 am

Great news! Palo Alto is not a campground.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2013 at 8:59 am

Do we have a definition as to what "vehicle dwelling" really is?

We are attempting to move on those poor individuals who have no home other than their vehicle and expect them to be able to find somewhere to park and sleep which is not our town. They will go somewhere else, but then of course it will be their problem and not ours!

But, what about private RVs on private property? As a child I remember many happy sleepovers in friends' RVs parked on their driveway as well as in our own tent erected in our own yard. Is this now illegal?

What about legitimate use of RVs on private property as cheap emergency sleeping/cooking/eating while work was being done on the house or family in town?

Start by defining the terms and look for some solution rather than just a ban.


Posted by GM Resident, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 26, 2013 at 9:02 am

It seems very disingenuous for people in other parts of Palo Alto to say there is no problem here. At GM we have see increased vagrancy and vandalism and our kids are being reined in by concerned parents to avoid many parts of cubberley. To say there are no incidence in years is just plain wrong and out of touch with reality.
Next hearing on this subject, I plan to be there and so will many of the neighbors. This ordinance is a great start and there is plenty of community support for it.

Greenmeadow Resident.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

> I don't know how anyone could be proud of supporting this

I am. It is long past due. Those who want to moralize can simply open their own homes up to the campers. So far, I have not seen any of that happening; even the churches have refused to open up their parking lots.

What the supporters of car camping fail to address is the open-ended invitation to attract the campers...there is, apparently, no theoretical cap.

>Great news! Palo Alto is not a campground.

I agree, entirely!


Posted by Anon, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 26, 2013 at 9:34 am

I'm sorry but the folks in PA need to learn that there is ugly stuff in this world. Sweeping it away doesn't make it not exist. It just means you don't have to look at it. If that's your goal be honest about it. But good people would not just shuffle less fortunate folks around. They would try to help.

How about working with the authorities to open shelters or provide services to get these people out of their cars and eliminate the problem that way? Many need medical attention that could help them get back to a "normal" life. Many are just down on their luck and could use some help. And yes, there are some who prefer to live that way. But when you fix the majority of the problem those who chose that life will be so few that they will not be a problem.

That being said I do not advocate allowing them to park in space such as Cubberly. The liability to the city if they were to have sanctioned this would have been huge.


Posted by 35 year resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2013 at 10:25 am

Craig has it right. For those that are opposed to the ban, go out and find someone to park in your driveway for weeks at a time. I'll bet your opposition changes within a few days.


Posted by CfF, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 26, 2013 at 10:25 am

Agree, since you are so caring and awesome, go to Cubberly and invite just one to camp or live at your house.
I will send a donation to the opportunity center -- but I am done with having my neighborhood robbed and vandalized


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2013 at 10:43 am

Christian Straight says "It seems to be aimed at criminalizing the less fortunate residents of Palo Alto." What makes them "residents of Palo Alto" if they do not have a Palo Alto address (own or rent) or pay property taxes in Palo Alto? A mailbox does not make someone a resident.

Yay says "Palo Alto is not a campground." I wholeheartedly agree. It's also time to clear out the stoner RV encampment congregating at the end of San Antonio Road, near the Shoreline Park entrance.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2013 at 10:50 am

I welcome the progress. PA provides plenty of programs for the less fortunate. As does some of the other communities in the area.

I am still in favor of establishing a "campground" within the PA city limits where car/RV campers may go for the night. The site would be supervised/patrolled, registration required, alcohol/drug use prohibited, etc. Restroom facilities. Must check in (sober) by 9PM and be on the road by 8am the next day. Red Cross or another city outreach program could have an office trailer at the site; outreach and program communication/support. This would be an appropriate use of city funds. And the result should be a win-win for everyone.


Posted by Cur Mudgeon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:03 am

Crescent Park Dad has it right. Like the post-Katrina FEMA trailer villages. If one is observant, there are other "pockets" of car dwellers--around Leghorn/Independence in Mountain View, and on the streets of the 60's and 70's industrial parks with empty buildings in Sunnyvale. So it's not just a south Palo Alto problem, but having it so close and in our immediate neighborhood makes it our problem, as well as at a community center where seniors and children congregate.

I hope a humanitarian solution that everyone can live with can be achieved.


Posted by resident, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:03 am

I agree with the ordinance. When you consider "Numerous less fortunate homeless (from anywhere) camping at Cubberley" versus "Palo Alto Children who are now getting scared to go to Cubberley (library, piano lessons, volleyball, etc.) because of the ever increasing number of homeless people and the ever increasing police calls", the choice is clear. Cubberley is a Community Center, and hosts many programs for children. I am glad that the committee made the right decision.


Posted by Cur Mudgeon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:08 am

resident, Fairmeadow--
Unfortunately, the ordinance does not specifically address the greater problem at Cubberley which is also now a "destination" for those without cars.

The other take-away is that if this ordinance is "not" enforced, or only weakly enforced, and the court system is not willing to uphold the law for those charged with being in violation, then it is another useless waste of time and money in enacting a law that is ignored.


Posted by Anon, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:13 am

Saying "why don't you invite them into your home" to those who advocate for homeless is the same as us telling those who want to move them "if you want to move the homeless guy from your street why don't you go move him."

I would suggest we work on logical, possible, reasonable arguments instead of using third grade level debate tactics.


Posted by wwCd, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:18 am

We have laws against beating someone unconscious.
We have laws against robbing and vandalization.
We have regulations that allow the police to be called for complaints.
We do not need this law.

We have 30-50,000 deaths a year on our highways. Shall we declare them dangerous locales and shut them down, clear them out?

Clearly those who park at night at Cubberley need services and supervision, as was planned in the church-based program, that failed when churches asked all neighbors for cooperation, and some refused.

Those who peacefully park at night in my neighborhood do not need to be shooed out.
People here care about them. They have it rough enough. Some of them used to be us.
We do not need this law.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:21 am

>I am still in favor of establishing a "campground" within the PA city limits where car/RV campers may go for the night.

Crescent Park Dad,

Where?

If you are talking about that undedicated 10 acre (anaerobic digestion) site, I could get on board with you. Actually, break it up into two parcels: 1.5 acres for the car campers, and 8.5 acres for an employee commuter parking lot, with bus shuttles into Downtown.

Such a solution would be environmentally, and fiscally friendly. It would eliminate the anaerobic digestion fiasco (a huge waste of $$), and spare the car traffic/CO2 emissions, due to the efficiency of bus shuttles vs. individual cars travelling to Downtown.

I do disagree with you about the campers being out by 8 AM. That just causes increased traffic. Just be honest about it...it will be a homeless encampment, period.

Would this work for you?




Posted by Jeff H, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:26 am

The purpose of a vehicle is to move, to offer mobility. What Palo Alto is saying is not that "homelessness is illegal" but that the city wants those who live in their cars to move out of Palo Alto.


Posted by Simon Says, a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:50 am

Councilwoman Gail Price: "Are we really doing them a favor when what they really need is intensive help and referral to support services?" she said. "If we don't focus on increasing support services, we're failing everyone."

We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files
We'd like to help you learn to help yourself
Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes
Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home


Posted by Jan, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Good news for Palo Alto!


Posted by noper, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm

most need finances, not patronizing ''services''. most people these days dont have enuf savings to last 6 months ,even housed working people.blamingh the poor for the countries wasteful policies. millions on useless space cameras and junk.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Maybe w/this news, folks who want to walk their talk about being pro-car camping will get together to fund & create a place or solutions to the issue.

Would car campers be amenable to receiving help to get out of their vehicles & into a non-moveable home?


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm

> The ban defines "human habitation" as "the use of a vehicle for a dwelling place, including but not limited to, sleeping, eating and resting,

One doesn't have to be a lawyer to realize that this definition is nothing short of moronic (which is not a legal term). By this definition any of us by this definition are guilty of "human habitation" any time we are in our cars ... I wonder why they even bothered to make that distinction if that was all the thought they were going to give to it?

This law makes so little sense just in its construction that it continues to confirm the saying "the law is an ass" ... or maybe it is just the lawmakers - and like the major foolish laws like the drug prohibitions the main reason some of these laws exist are to be abused, and lower overall respect for the law.

> Last week, police arrested Marcelo Martinez, a 23-year-old homeless man, at Cubberley for beating another man with his fists until the man lost consciousness

Why is this fact in this article? Was it mentioned in the meeting last night, and if so did anyone bother to qualify it ... that is, is Marcelo Martinez in fact a car camper, and what is his car camper status? Was he a resident at Cubberly, for how long and under what circumstance. The mentioning of this case without any background is an attempt to lead people into conclusions that may not be true and are not proved.

This is the shoddiest of a law-making process, and the shoddiest of reports, and while we're at it a pretty shoddy discussion when people are allowed to make comments of no relevance or just flat out lie.


This will not fix any problem in our city and will not make anything incrementally any better, just another do nothing item our city government gets paid for.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm

>This will not fix any problem in our city and will not make anything incrementally any better, just another do nothing item our city government gets paid for.

Yes it will. We will stop digging the hole deeper. We will, eventually, be able to call in complaints to the police, and get the campers out of our neighborhoods.

The parking restrictions have improved the situation in College
Terrace. I appreciate that. However, the camper ban will need to be passed, in order to assure that the campers don't game the system.


Posted by Juno, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm

It seems to me that, on most issues, we have a reactionary City Council that reacts way too late. Only when the problem gets to the point where it's a huge problem that starts to affect even the personal friends of the Council Members does the Council do anything, and then they do the wrong thing.

Council blocks out the "white noise" of the regular citizenry, and gives special attention to the well-placed. Someone well-placed must have finally gotten the ears of the Council on this issue. Again, many years too late.


Posted by Ding, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Finally -- paly isn't a campground


Posted by Ding, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Finally -- paly isn't a campground


Posted by Sounds Dickensian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm

This actually sounds like 18th and 19th century Britain, where being unemployed, poor, or in debt of any kind was criminalized. Australia, New Zealand, and the American Colonies of Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia were used as penal colonies for such people. The prisons of England were so full that prisoners has to be " transported" elsewhere.

They also criminalized being Irish, Welsh, Scottish, or Manx. How far is this going to go? t seems like this country has really regressed. In Europe, the governments take care of such people ( most of the time...some people always slip through the cracks). This is usually not true in the US. Once unemployment runs out, you are on your own or on welfare ( which, by the way, you cannot get if you have no physical address).



Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Sounds Dickensian,

How many homeless live in your own home? If you have them, have you notified your neighbors?


Posted by ndnorth, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Dog owners want more dedicated city space for their dogs, within a nice areas, plaid by the city, aka all of us. Those not fortunate to have a house, even those tax payers contributing through their taxes to the dog park, will be banished somewhere else and given real rules that house inhabitants or their dogs do not have to comply with.Am I fortunate to live in such enlightned community or what?


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Larry Klein is right, Palo Alto can not solve this problem alone. We have instead become a magnet for homeless people. This ordinance is long overdue to preserve the quality of life in our town. Now let's try to coordinate with other communities to come up with a fairer system to help these people.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I've been poor before, but always housed. Of course, if I'd needed help, I'd turn to family/friends instead of toward services. This is because I've never considered myself a victim, even when I've been one. This has meant, at times, working 70 hours a week, living very frugally, and deferring things that mattered to me.

Not counting the folks w/mental illness, because that is a whole different reality, if car campers who are the working poor, sans mental illness, wanted to be housed, how hard would it be, really? I don't know nowadays what it takes. Anyone informed care to comment?


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm

>Larry Klein is right, Palo Alto can not solve this problem alone. We have instead become a magnet for homeless people.

He denied that it was a serious problem, for a long time. So did Gail Price. I am happy that they, finally, woke up. They have decided to listen to PA citizens, it appears.


Posted by car camper, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

So, Car Camper - what would it take to get you out of your vehicle & into an apt. or house? Do you have a job? Are you mentally ill & in need of some help? Why are you a car camper? What do you like about it?


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm

@ car camper: name calling and insults are going to shut this thread down. Everyone has an opinion and they are entitled to express their opinion. You don't have to like it and you don't have to read it. But getting personal isn't productive at all.


Posted by most of us support it, a resident of Ventura
on Jun 26, 2013 at 5:54 pm

I bet at least 80% of residents support the ordinance, but the issue isn't important enough for us to go to a city council meeting to voice our support.


Posted by Sounds Dickensian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm

When we had an extra bedroom or two, we actually did take in a homeless person on two separate occasions. At least until they got a job, gt some money saved up, and got an apartment elsewhere ( or moved I to a rooming house).

Now, we have two adults and two small children ( our son and his family). Unfortunately. $100,000/yr will not buy a home in this part of the Bay Area. Our son and his wife work in RWC and San Carlos, respectively, and this location keeps their commute to a minimum. A house to fit all of them would run $7000/ month here, so they live with us and pay a small rent, which pays the copay on some VERY expensive infusions I need. It is symbiotic. They also need childcare only on the days of my infusions, saving them a bundle.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Our elected officials are representing the overwhelming majority of Palo Alto citizens who support this local ordinance. It only makes sense. Palo Alto has and continues to be among the leaders in the entire Bay Area in providing outreach to those less fortunate. That tolerance and generosity should not extend to allowing open camping and people sleeping overnight in their cars on public streets and places. Done deal. Time to move on.


Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Woo hoo! I don't know how many times my todder and I have seen naked men walk out of their dilapidated cars and vans to urinate on the bushes near our preschool, which is at Cubberley. Totally inappropriate. I hope this law passes.


Posted by pa resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm

It's possible that some of these folks (the ones with jobs) are having trouble coming up with the deposit needed to rent and apt. Perhaps PA can help RV-housed "residents" with low interest loans for rental deposits in EPA or other nearby, but lower-cost communities. This would probably be cost-effective in the long run.


Posted by homeless , a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2013 at 9:26 pm

First, after reading these posts ; who is saying again that homeless are mentally ill? And what is the benchmark to measure it? There is no proof that homeless are more mentally ill than the ones who make such statements. What is mental illness any way? And where does it come from? In my opinion it comes from sick people in one's environment , often family that cannot function without making one family member ' labeled ' as mentally ill. So unless one really knows who is mentally impaired , please stop labeling homeless as mentally as such. . Also group thinking is dangerous; ganging against someone in a group, come on, everyone be civilized and think for yourself and stop supporting each others opinions . This is on online news to express one's opinions and not a chit chat room .
Second: why not install cameras around cuberly especially in the back where the abondened, unregistered blue car is or was. And if it's still there city needs to have it towed away! Video cameras will show what is going on in there, which is nothing except one bullying trouble maker, Who was and if still is there, is a car camper. Not going to repeat my earlier post, except that the cameras if installed will show there is nothing else going on except peace and quiet nights.
3rd; focus must be on the issues; housing, lack of income, nutrition, showers and open bathrooms and not on homeless individuals who are in desperate need of these services.
4. It is criminal and cruel to tell someone to go and leave when that person has no place to go.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Homeless - you clearly know little about mental illness, nor did you correctly interpret my posts.

It's not criminal to tell someone to leave an area. You may think it's cruel, but it's not criminal.


Posted by Palo Altan, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 26, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Most people realize the need to get a job, whether it's even low-level as a grocery store bagger, at a fast-food restaurant, or as a janitor. If a person is homeless, the person has no family to turn to, which mean their family has given up on them too. Therefore, if they prefer to be unemployed and homeless, wouldn't they have to be mentally ill or a substance abuser?


Posted by alex, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2013 at 10:59 pm

I think the solution involves churches and property taxes. Why aren't they taking the lead here? These are large pieces of land. They aren't used for much, are they?


Posted by Palo Altan, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:07 pm

@alex: The City Council asked churches in town to allow homeless to sleep in their parking lots and only one church offered their parking lot. Doesn't religion preach to help others?


Posted by avid reader, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 26, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Statistically ~50% of homeless men and 80% of homeless women suffer from some sort of serious mental illness. The rates of homelessness increased rapidly in the 80s as state mental hospitals were shut down and community day treatment centers failed to materialize. However, the homeless mentally ill in Santa Clara county cannot be Palo Alto's sole responsibility.


Posted by Regional problem needs a regional solution, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

I think it is very important to remember that we have become a "magnet" because ALL of the cities around us: Menlo Park, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos...have implemented vehicle dwelling bans. They pushed these folks out, so they came here.

Before everyone gets angry at Palo Alto where we do provide lots of services and staff has struggled to find a more humane solution, perhaps you should point a finger at these neighboring cities who cynically dumped the problem on us.

Ask those cities to work together with us to develop a regional, more humane solution. Palo Alto cannot, by itself solve the homeless problem of the nearby region.


Posted by alex, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2013 at 6:08 am

@Palo Altan: Eminent domain could be an option to be considered. At least to acuire part of the churches' land. I think they need to be held responsible.

As far as being a regional magnet, homeless access to the land could be managed carefully.


Posted by Jean, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 6:30 am

I suppose all of these people will now drive 2 miles to Menlo Park to live.


Posted by anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2013 at 6:32 am

I've been homeless in Palo Alto on and off for many years, but I've never used Cubberley for camping or sleeping. I don't see much problem for the city manager to enforce a no-camping situation there because a homeless residential presence deters the park and facilities use for others. I don't know for certain why no-camping hasn't been enforced there, but I suspect the deliberate neglect has been to provoke the neighbors into supporting the overbroad vehicle habitation ordinance.

Similarly, in College Terrace there's a van collector, about a dozen homeless looking vans. Instead of enforcing the no-vehicle-storage ordinance, the city intentionally did nothing for a long time. I suspect this neglect intentionally provoked the neighbors into supporting the vehicle habitation ban.

What the Cubberley neighbors need to understand is that the $25 million dollar so-called Homeless Opportunity Center, touted by the Palo Alto Weekly, has always had the capability of opening its bathrooms, showers, kitchen, and rec rooms to vehicle campers. Instead, the Opportunity Center management has been happily agreeable with their no parking signs 11pm-5am.


Posted by alex, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2013 at 6:37 am

Ok, this is what I would do:

1) Acuire part of the churches' land through eminent domain. Make them understand
that eminent domain is a legal possibility.
2) Convert that part into both a homeless area.
3) Convert another part into a dog park.
4) Manage the whole thing carefully to avoid being a regional magnet.

Basically, this is holding the churches responsible to practice what is preached by them.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 27, 2013 at 8:25 am

Alex - There were churches that were willing to allow car camping, but their neighbors protested. All of the churches in Palo Alto are either in residential neighborhoods or abut them.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

> Acuire part of the churches' land through eminent domain.

Ok, now that we have heard from the twilight zone and had our laugh...

The issue of the city government taking more and more control and more liberties with people's rights, so expertly rationalized by making it about the nasty old homeless, is really just more curtailing of the rights of the average citizens and property owners - because we all know that people with big huge houses in Palo Alto can do whatever suits them. Palo Altans are being treated like they live in a Palo Alto development complex, like peasants.

Why is this not a further oppression of people's property rights not to be able to park an RV in their yard, or even temporarily in front of their street, or have visitors? See this for what it is, a loss of service of your own property.


Posted by why not synagogues or the new mosque?!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

There has been a sudden shift in focus on this thread to demanding to "acquire part of the churches' land through eminent domain.." (above post)
I have read past threads lamenting local churches haven't opened their parking lots to anyone. And there are likely a lot of reasons why not.
huh?!
I believe local churches have done their part to aid those in need.
I think it's time that local synagogues and the new mosque being built on San Antonio Rd step up to offer their services as homeless shelters and car camping sites.
Time for the Palo Alto vehicle dwelling ban and a clean-out of the Cubberley Center, so it can be safely used as it is intended.
Palo Alto: quit attracting the vagrant homeless to this suburban city.


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:59 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

When I was able, I visited parents in M.V. I did not sleep or use my RV becausee I KNEW THE RULES. When my family wanted to vist S.F. I PAID THE SAME AMOUNT OTHER CITIES CHARGE FOR A FANCY HOTEL ROOM just for an RV spot!

When I had to use thr REACH program at Cubberley ( they have since moved to Sunnyvale ), the homeless and vehicle dwellers were starting to be a problem for using the facilities the disabled had to use. That along with the abuse of RESERVED HANDICAPPED PARKING SPOTS by yuppies and the dilapidated facilities is why the Foothill College REACH program left.

The TAXPAYERS of Palo Alto keep getting victimized by the many homeless people WHO CHOOSE TO REMAIN HOMELESS rather than seek out the MANY ( taxpayer funded ) resources that Palo Alto has offered for DECADES.

" you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink " applies here. Palo Alto TAXPAYERS have been patient, however enough is enough.

To the professional homeless: THE FREE RIDE IS OVER!


Posted by justin, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm

think how many criminals live in houses and apartments! most criminals DO have homes! nobody talks about the real issue, which is ,that people are these days are ---SCARED! the posts here reflect fearful people. dr. andrew weil, a noted health researcher said that people lragely are ruled by FEAR and GUILT and that makes people very dangerous. the attitudes heere about the ''poor'' certainly reflect that. you can have your opinions ,but there are those, like dr. eel, who know you are scared and feel guilt. thats a dangeerous combination. what youve read here is the last word on this subject.


Posted by homeless , a resident of another community
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Nothing makes sense here, when I think about the homeless issues, as Cuberly that has at least 3 huge gymnasium sitting there totally empty and vacant at night time. Why not offer one of those gymnasiums as a shelter? Basically the entire building is in lock down at nights including bathrooms. Open the doors for people to sleep! That does make sense to me. One gymnasium can house both men, and women with a wall in between; that would be wonderful starting point. It's is everyone's responsibility to try to find solutions and then to implement them.That would be a starting point. Why the churches, synogues, mosques are not saying anything here? They don't even pay property taxes. Let people in for God's sake, the poor and helpless .


Posted by alex, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm

To: why not synagogues or the new mosque?!

The point is that no, they haven't done their job. I don't want to call them hypocrites, but that's the word that comes to mind at the moment.

I'm sorry, but no, they aren't doing what they're supposed to be doing. They're doing something, but not nearly enough. They need to be held responsible. They enjoy paying no property taxes and they have to pay for that luxury.


Posted by alex, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm

To address safety concerns, there has to be a police presence that is low-key, but present. That's all.


Posted by Not clear, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Regional problem - you have it backwards: YOUR city is the magnet because it's chosen to be one. The surrounding cities wisely chose, YEARS ago, to ban vehicle dwelling. It's not really a "regional problem" because you created the "attractive nuisance" by not banning it decades ago. It's not regional because...wait for it...vehicle dwellers don't like to be called homeless. So it's not a regional homeless problem - it's a Palo Alto car camping problem. Don't you know that car campers from *all over* know that they can go to Palo Alto?


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:28 pm

>YOUR city is the magnet because it's chosen to be one.

Hmmm, exactly. Thank you for pointing out the obvious.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Craig - this is what is annoying - people w/the high quality of life in your town like to blame surrounding communities for problems. Crime? It's EPA. Homeless? It's everyone else. Car dwellers? It's regional. A lot of bs contained in these myths. In truth, your town is conflicted about how to deal w/these types of problems. This is good because it's indicative of a community conscience, but it's also bad because the problem festers, people who knew/understood the history & roots of a problem may be long gone, mores change, needs change.

For example, I used to worry about my profiling crime/criminals when I'd contact the cops - white guilt at work. But I quickly became adept at profiling behavior, not race or ethnicity. This means not being as tolerant in some ways as I was raised to be, & tolerant in ways that I never knew I'd have to be.

This whole peninsula has changed greatly in the past years & there's a lot of work involved w/staying current, trying to get enough info to make good decisions. Then there's the very real, difficult truth about our own limitations, as an individual, a family, a community. Or- wanting to impose limitations to maintain a decent quality of life. Since this is subjective, it's very controversial.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Looks like this thread is becoming a forum to bash Jews and Muslims by claiming that they are not doing anything. Do you actually know what the local synagogues an dmosques are doing for the community? I doubt it.
And equally disturbing is the fact thatbthe editor has done nothing about those posts.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Hmmm, I can tell that you have street cred, and you are willing to express it. Most, in Palo Alto, do not. Thank you for your views.

Regards,

Craig


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Hah! Man years of living & working here in EPA (college was an education similar in learning curve as moving here) - not from being raised in Menlo & Palo Alto.

I do hope that this spurs those who care to organize & do something for the car campers who need/want a safe environment, but not at the cost of scaring or lowering the quality of life for others. It's been pretty easy for those who say they care to be tolerant when their town allows car camping but they don't deal w/its downside ongoingly.


Posted by Big Bill, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 27, 2013 at 8:18 pm

The sooner palo alto changes its laws to conform with neighboring communities, and enforces said laws, the better off we'll all be, and the city will not be the magnet for people living in cars that it is.

I can't imagine having someone living in their car in front of my house, and my yard reeking of **** and **** because when you have to go, you have to go. As soon as any of the city council members personally deals with this disgusting prospect, it's all warm hugs and kum-by-ya quips from palo alto city council, embracing people living in their cars, and then promptly dumps the responsibility and problems with situation on it's residents.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 28, 2013 at 4:35 am

Big Bill, a resident of the Charleston Gardens
> I can't imagine having someone living in their car in front of my house, and my yard reeking of **** and **** because when you have to go, you have to go.

What a bunch of BS. One person makes the unsubstantiated charge and just the nastiness of the charge has people believing this. I can tell you if someone used my yard for this the police would be there so fast it would not have time to "reek".

The continued demonization of the homeless, who are a different group from car campers, who are also a different group from criminals, sex-offenders, belligerents, etc - but most of those who are pro-this-law just lumped it all together with lots of innuendo and keep throwing it out there until it sticks.

Again, the camper/RV laws in this city restrict home owners from being able to do what they want with their own property. You cannot buy an RV and keep it on your property, nor can you have someone visit you and park in front of your house - even if invited.

This undignified "legislative process" has been all about provoking emotions and being dishonest because one or two people went on the warpath against some folks they had trouble with ... and most of it was in the past already.

Any good social scientist or statistician will explain to you about peaks and valleys in crime stats, and the number of complaints in Palo Alto is relatively small so lumping them together for purposes of drawing conclusions is invalid. If we wanted to drive this by anecdote someone could at least interview a few police officers and get their take on the problem - they are the ones who see both sides of the problem.

I'll also bet there are a lot more "home-ful" people who go to the restroom in public than there are homeless people. In my own area Eleanor Park has no restroom. What do you think people do when they have to go?


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2013 at 8:52 am

CrescentParkAnon -

First, let me state that I was one of those residents who actually had someone use my yard as a toilet. And no, the police can't do anything unless THEY catch the person in the act. This person (who still has vehicles floating around Professorville) would spend 2-3 days in front of our house living in his truck. He was very good about moving it every 72 hours. There was also a lady in a yellow van who would sleep in front of our house, moving it every couple of days too. Until the Main Library closed for renovations, she was "living" in the covered garage near the library, complete with her chairs set up to enjoy the outdoors.

As far as you comment about Pardee park - do you know why the Park doesn't have restrooms? Because the neighbors were worried about it become a magnet for the homeless. Do you know why benches at parks are now short? So they aren't used for the homeless as homes/beds. We have spent lots of energy using other ways to discourage homeless encampments. It hasn't worked and it is time for us to stop being the only town in the area without vehicle dwelling laws.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 28, 2013 at 9:46 am

Again, common sense has dictated the city's response to this ongoing challenge. As a community we have gone far and above in being tolerant, compassionate, and generous in providing outreach to the homeless. Our efforts have exceeded that of any other city in our region, and in fact, the greater Bay Area.

With that has come more than our fair share of the negative fall-out. Most people certainly realize that the majority of those living on the street are not criminals or pose a threat to society. However, we must also acknowledge that a disproportionate number of them do find themselves in that predicament due to a criminal background and/or mental disorders.

Most every other city in the Bay Area have local ordinances prohibiting car dwelling or camping in unauthorized public places. It's for good cause that covers a litany of issues ranging from basic health & safety to upticks in crime. Again, it's only common sense. The homeless services and outreach programs located in our city already attract those seeking assistance from throughout the Bay Area. A six-figure local tax allocation helps fund many of these services. Considering what we already provide, we must set limits that will not infringe on the privacy and peace of mind that we should reasonably expect in our own neighborhoods.


Posted by verbiage, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 28, 2013 at 11:34 am

verbiage, the more words the more useless commentary.,


Posted by bob, a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I'm truly embarrassed to have grown up in Palo Alto. Silicon Valley is evil. Disgusting display of decadence.


Posted by homeless , a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm

the vehicle must be registered and insured and owner be in possession of valid driver license . The state does not criminalize one for not having a physical address for a vehicle , it can be a PO Box. Therefore, if the state issues these motor vehicle registration, how is possible city can ban vehicle dwellers as long as the vehicle is on the parking lot of US post office or within the delivery area? City is going against the state. If the vehicle and it's owner has address out of town, by law maybe that person could be asked to move to the location wherever the vehicle is registered.
I don't believe property owners would be banned from parking campers etc as long as they are properly registered to the home address , and visitors can park for sure.
Department of motor vehicles does not criminalize in issuing driver licenses to homeless, who don't even have a PO box. State issues DL having address as ' General Delievery' and that is a valid CA driver lic, and to go around law such a person is a resident of that community to whichever United States post office the DL was sent to for pick up. These persons should be able to park and sleep on the post office parking lots and within the mail area distribution area . And the above should apply to all towns. Bathrooms might be a problem though! Uh!


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I realize that there are varying opinions about the quality of the "The Daily Post" - but today there is a pretty good article about what has happened at Cubberly in terms of car camping, homeless and the impact on the facility, the daily users (parents/kids/etc.). It is not available online as of yet.

re - the lady in the yellow van. Her van is pictured in the TDP as now parked at Cubberly. Before camping at the library, she would also camp on Homer (across from Heritage Park) and at Stanford. BTW - why did the city let her park in the library carport 24/7? She has been living in the van for at least 15 years in this area. Approach with caution BTW - definitely has some mental health issues and can be verbally abusive/mean (personal experience).

Anyway, back to TDP article - for those non-believers about all of the issues at Cubberly, TDP provides data on camping/homeless numbers at Cubberly, numbers of complaints, verified abuses of the facility, etc.

IMHO - churches, temples, synagogues, etc. are not obligated/required to help the homeless. Though I expect that most do provide some sort of support for people in need --- just because they aren't doing it the way some people would want, doesn't mean that they are not doing something. Lambasting our local religious communities without any verifiable facts is not cool.

The comment on using a gym as a shelter - I'm not perfectly in the know on this, but I'm pretty sure that the city rents out the gym on daily and nightly basis to camps, recreation leagues, etc. and has been doing it for decades. I remember playing in the Industrial Volleyball League and we would have games as late as 9/10pm at Cubberly. Plus the Opportunity Center (and programs) was built to help solve those very problems. BTW - don't forget that it is a matter of time (not if, but when) that PAUSD is going to take the site back.

And PA is not the only city with a homeless problem. I was in MP fairly early on a weekday morning a couple of weeks ago. Homeless sleeping on benches on Santa Cruz Ave, as well as behind the downtown buildings.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Don't be embarrassed Another Community Bob. You're not considering the multitude of homeless outreach work that is done to assist those less fortunate, especially in your hometown of Palo Alto.

Palo Alto tax payers allocate an annual six-figure expenditure to help support numerous homeless outreach programs.

Palo Alto is host to the Opportunity Center Housing and Day Drop-In Center. This is one of the largest of its kind in the entire Bay Area.

Prior to the Opportunity Center, Palo Alto was home to the Urban Ministry which provided food and resources to our area homeless population. This resource operated in PA for over three decades.

Palo Alto sponsored the Another Way Project, which gave people who wished to donate money to assist the homeless without giving it directly to panhandlers who often used it to purchase alcohol and/or drugs.

Palo Alto helps sponsor the Downtown Streets Team which employs qualifying low income and/or homeless to assist in cleaning the sidewalks and streets downtown.

Downtown Palo Alto plays host to the Food Closet Program at All Saints Church. This daily food and clothing distribution center which relies on contributions has operated downtown for many years.

Numerous Palo Alto churches formed the Hotel DeZink Program which provides temporary shelter to qualifying individuals that are homeless and in need of assistance.

So you see Bob, and to others who might feel the same way, Palo Alto goes above and beyond in terms of our tolerance, generosity, and outreach to the homeless. No other community in our region even comes close to what we already do. Do not allow those taking advantage of our tolerance and generosity to make you feel guilty or ashamed of not doing enough. People have worked hard to succeed and shouldn't be ridiculed in this general sense. Those that have built this community have every expectation of some reasonable limits on what we allow as a society.




Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Crescent Park Dad - thanks for the tip on the article - that's helpful to know.

While Menlo certainly has a homeless pop, it's nothing compared to Palo Alto's - & they're not as rude or frightening, in my experience. My friends & I quit taking classes at Cubberley due to the homeless there - we had some lousy incidents.

Recently, I endured listening to a homeless cretin talk about me sexually while I was waiting nearby for someone, in Palo Alto. It was so disgusting that I left, called the person I was meeting & waited elsewhere for them. I also called the business whose chair he was sitting on outside & told them that it would no longer be one of our regular dining spots if they allowed the homeless to hang out there. While I considered taking his photo & calling the cops on him, I didn't have time to deal w/the drama - it was a work-related meeting, too, that I was about to start.

When I spoke to a friend, a sex crimes investigator, about our concerns w/Cubberley, he admitted that Calif was not handling sex offenders well & pointed me toward Jessica's Law (Prop 83) which was impacting the state's ability to keep track of registered sex offenders. This local story, while San Francisco-centric, is illuminating: Web Link

This report is very helpful in understanding the management of sex offenders & their likelihood of being homeless: Web Link

Sure, Crescent Park Anon can talk about how we're demonizing the homeless & they aren't criminals or sex offenders or use private property as toilets, but he's wrong. We must stay safe while we go about our lives, otherwise we can't help *anyone*.

Personally, I'd love to know how many of the Cubberley campers are peaceful, how many have criminal records & if any are sex offenders - registered & not.


Posted by SU SU SUSHI, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 28, 2013 at 10:02 pm

So do something already about the guy that has been camping in an ancient RV for the last 15-20 years in Professorville and Old PA! He changes streets every night, but ever changes the same two neighborhoods!


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 29, 2013 at 1:35 am

Given Phil of downtown's list -- apparently no good deed goes unpunished.


Posted by alto's pal, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 29, 2013 at 12:52 pm

decadence embarrasing, that is silicon valley. you must fit a category or you dont count for anything.


Posted by Edgarpoet, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Well now, who wants to throw the first stone? Will one of you complainers be the first? Lets arrest a 93 year old woman who
has made her nest in an 1973 Dodge yellow van. This van has become the poster child of the pro-Ban groupies. If I were a police officer,
I would have to hide in shame if My job required me to arrest a 93 year old woman who never harmed a flea.

For you of the ignorant club, the opportunistic center is only a
defacto front for a few grant writers who are making a great living off the backs of the less fortunate and street people with mental problems. Those running the place are not transparent with finances.
The actual percentage of persons being helped is also not made public
for if the public knew that only 5% are being housed, there would be a huge outcry about the mis appropriated funds! So your solution to
homelessness has already failed!
Churches whom are not participating in helping those impoverished
are comprised of citizens of the area, and most "Christians" do not read the Bible. In Acts 4:32 through 35 it explains how nobody suffered with homelessness because those who had property or wealth helped out those who did not have. This true act of Christianity has long ago disappeared and is replaced with "I got mine, too bad for you"
So , now we have the ignorant club and the "act good on Sunday club"
When we have to witness bad human behavour ( which I have many times
while walking to work in San Francisco) It can and does null our
compassion down to almost nothing, because un-moral smelly people
give us such a bad impression of the homeless. This does not even
give excuse to the people who want to ban these type of people from
"their town" Our society will be damned if we do not find a way to
help those who can not help themselves. This does not mean providing them a room in my house, this means to stop playing games with our
mental health service providers. Stop pretending that there is actually help for the dis-enfrancished. Yet if you are a member in good standing in the ignorance club, I guess there is no educating you.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Let's play Devil's Advocate.

Hypothetically, let's say that churches, mosques and synagogues and other religious buildings in Palo Alto allowed the homeless to park overnight in their parking lots.

1. What would the neighbor's do, would they be happy? Would neighbor's accept a homeless encampment in the parking lot next door?

2. Would churches, etc. buildings have to be left unlocked so that bathroom facilities could be accessible?

3. Would churches, etc. need to have nighttime security personnel to protect the building from theft and vandalism?

4. What time in the am would the parking lots have to be vacated? Many churches etc. have early morning bible studies, etc. and need their parking lots from 6.00 (?) am on weekdays mornings, let alone Sunday or Saturday mornings.

5. Many churches, etc. have evening meetings and need their parking lots until 10.00 pm (or later?) on multiple evenings per week.

6. How would those attending these early morning/later evening meetings feel with having to use street parking while the homeless used the parking lot as a campsite?

7. How would neighbor's feel about church members parking outside their homes because they couldn't use the parking lots?

8. Would churches be forced to provide shower facilities as many of them may not have such facilities at present?

9. What would happen about litter in the parking lots?

10. Would the churches continue to be good neighbors to their neighbors? Would their neighbors suffer loss of housing value? Would the churches need permits?

11. How does anyone other than those who attend a particular church really know what that church does to help the poor. Quoting Bible verses is fine, but not all of the religious denominations actually use the Bible or the New Testament, or are you only aiming Christian churches to do this homeless outreach and none of the others.

We have many religious buildings and asking Christians to be the only ones to do this sounds a little odd. Perhaps you can find verses from the Torah, the Koran, the book of Mormon, and what ever religious writings the Unitarian and other churches use so that you can be inclusive. When you have found these verses and answered the above questions you may start to make sense.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Woodside
on Jun 30, 2013 at 6:50 am

Speaking of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, in which MANY in Palo Alto base their morals off of. It is explicit that you allocate a corner of your crop with those less fortunate. Let them pick the immaterial fruit that hangs over your property line.

You may fail in this test and placed into their position in the next life. Think about spending the day in 100 degree heat, badgered by the world's richest and most fortunate people to get out of sight.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Bob - is there a homeless problem in Woodside? Does your town have a vehicle dwelling ban? Perhaps ironically, the folks I know who use corners of their gardens to grow food for the poor live in EPA & Palo Alto. My famly did the same in Menlo for years. Do you do the same, or does your town help the hungry & poor in any significant way?


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 30, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Hmmm,

I think Palo Alto is beginning to get serious about the problem. I notice that the College Terrace situation has improved.

I would like to give props to the few folks who have stepped up to the plate, including you (and Doria). There appears to be no more vans around the JJ&F block, and Doria is the primary reason. However, the co-opted CTRA did not have the guts to push the solution, shame on it.

Thank you Doria and Hmmm. Two very strong women.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Bob of Woodside, in an earlier post I itemized a list of the many homeless services and outreach programs that Palo Alto is home to and/or helps supports with local tax dollars. Clearly Palo Alto already does more in terms of homeless outreach than any other community in our region if not the entire Bay Area. Certainly more than in the city in which you currently reside. So explain to me why Palo Alto is deserving of your biblical lecture?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Craig - you're welcome - although I haven't done much at all & I'm not a resident.

I strongly believe that the state should do more for the homeless & those who only have vehicles. By this I mean used tried & true methods to assist them, rather than leaving it to cities. That's a whole other subject, of course. But I also think that ethically, your town is still on the hook so that folks aren't criminalized unnecessarily.

An EPA property owner got a lot of flack for kicking out a homeless encampment, but he'd let them use his property for years. It is interesting that if a person or group decided to make changes to something that they have a right to, they get a lot of flack.

I'm glad that the situation in your area has improved. It's hard to balance all of these public safety needs.

Phil - I don't get those comments from Bob, either. It's not like Woodside is a model town of how to help those in need - I've spent a lot of time there & in many ways, there's no there there - which is how the residents seem to prefer it.


Posted by homeles, a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I don't want diamonds or mountains. Just leave the yellow van alone. I'm her friend and will watch over her above u all evil peopled


Posted by as long as, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm

as long as the furthur bus stays im fine with it


Posted by Chris Gaither, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Solution - simply build one building that would house all the current vehicle dwellers - this could come out of the City's affordable housing fund. Of course, where i.e. land is the challenge. Unfortunately, the city missed out on purchasing the former Comprades Restaurant site - but the former Manpower building is still up for sale (on El Camino). Get rid of the 9 Minute Oil Change place - buy them out, and - Voila! One building for all vehicle dwellers - sounds like a great project for the Working Group.


Posted by Not clear, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2013 at 8:10 am

FYI Woodside restricts car camping with this law in their muni code.

"No person shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle on any street for a period of time longer than 30 minutes between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. of any day."


Posted by homeless , a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm

@ as long as... cool! Thank you, she is a retired teacher, 93 -94? I love her faith and courage and long age. She should be the first one to offer her a senior citizens retirement place without no long applications or waiting lists . Apartment should be ready to move in; offered to her with no questions asked. She is very sharp , kind and caring and may appear unfriendly , propably bc she is hard in hearing. Otherwise very active and well with her senior citizen activities. To offer her an apartment would be a starting point towards the resolution of the issue here. One person at a time can get helped to transiruon off the streets in Pali Alto.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm

> she is a retired teacher, 93 -94?

Where did she teach? Why did she end up on the street? How did she end up in Palo Alto, ultimately at Cubberley? Why have the sensitive supporters of her not stepped forward, and invited her into their own homes?

One thing for sure, if the ban passes: She will no longer be living in that van at Cubberley, or anywhere else in Palo Alto. However, she will be criminalized, so that she is forced to get help. It sounds like that help will be out there for her.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Gosh, how can someone of that old age do okay in this heat? In the winter? I really hope that some of the pro car campers who own a home in the city rush forward to help this elder. It sounds like she deserves it. Maybe they have a little cottage, in-law unit or spare bedroom that they can offer her?


Posted by anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2013 at 12:35 am

I am the on-and-off homeless guy above.

I visited the Cubberley area a few days ago to see what's been going on there. There were about a half dozen homeless camping vehicles. But I noticed that the whole area is so big, and often so
unused that it is unlikely that the homeless camping vehicles would deter other people's use of the place, such as for sports, recreation, building use, or other parking use. In my previous posting I was misled by the press and propaganda to believe the contrary. Not so.

I am therefore retracting some of the first paragraph of my previous posting above. From what I saw, there is no need to enforce a no-camping situation. If there are any acts of substantial interference with others' use of the community center, then there are community center rules and regulations that can be used. These were discussed last year at a city council committee meeting and with the city manager. This morning there was a Daily Post letter to the editor on the same topic.



Posted by bob, a resident of Woodside
on Jul 2, 2013 at 11:00 am

I'm not kicking out 90 year old homeless retired teachers out of Woodside. I know the Job's have a tract of land here off of Mountain Home, unused and vacant. Possibly they can step up and allow camping on their property? I believe that is the root of the problem, wealth hording, cost of living vs wages and inflated real estate. I don't think it will be long until we see CPA's and Attorneys car camping with their families in Professorville.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

>I'm not kicking out 90 year old homeless retired teachers out of Woodside

Bob, Will you invite her to live in your home, in Woodside? I would also add that you could invite her to park on the street in your neighborhood in Woodside, except that Woodside does not allow car camping. Perhaps you can lobby Woodside to open up car camping...?


Posted by Not clear, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2013 at 11:57 am

Bob,

Woodside is not kicking her out because she is not welcome to live there.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

If the folks on this thread that have been so concerned about the elderly car campers organized to help them, they could immediately assist them in this heat wave. Get the elderly who are exposed to the elements to cooling centers during the day & into motels at night. See what can be done for them on a longer term basis.


Posted by homeless , a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm

now we are talking. Cpl of other seniors there also: one lived in his car for 30 years. He loves cats and has one inside his car. When I became homeless I had to take Walter, my cat, his litter box, food and all his stuff with me. It was really hard, and I think best approach with homeless would be to empower the homeless , and find out what he or she wants. Being homeless is traumatizing and homeless are more paranoid and vulnerable compared to housed. There is no law or rule that one has to have a home, there is freedom for not having to be stuck with mortgage, property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance , nasty neighbors etc. vehicle dweller can relocate if place is not comfortable. Rules are made by groups of people, and I learned homeless people often are independent thinkers, which I think is wonderful . I don't like large groups of loud arrogants people nor social activities myself, go figure. There is no reason to fear 'homeless' or homelessness .


Posted by Palo Altan, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm

McDonald's is hiring everywhere. Sure, they pay only $8.75/hour, but at least these people could save up and every other night, pay for a motel room, or find a pal and stay in a motel all the time. If not mentally ill/substance abusers, these homeless are just plain lazy and stubborn. The immigrants see America as a land of opportunity but Americans are too spoiled.

Web Link=

Web Link=


Posted by homeless, a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm

@Palo Altan. you are not native from here yourself . You 3rd , 4th or 5 th generation immigrant brat, apparently . Homeless in Palo Alto cannot work in McDonalds. One cannot go from being homeless to a job! You sound racist to me? I hope not. What is your problem? Post it over here so you can get some support you need.


Posted by homeless, a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm

To suggest for homeless to work in Mc Donald's for $8.75 per hour is redicillious solution. $350 per week in Palo Alto would cover 2 nights in a motel room, if not that after taxes. People who work in McDonalds substitute their existing income. McDonalds is their 2 nd job. McDonald's allows homeless in to rest and use the amenities, because they understand .


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Homeless - serious question, why can't the homeless in Palo Alto work for McDonalds? Is it something about Palo Alto that prevents you from working at McDonalds? Do you need an address? I believe the Opportunity Center will accept mail for homeless people. $350 a week is better than $0 a week.


Posted by homeless , a resident of another community
on Jul 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm

serious answer; the hands of homeless are not fit to handle food ; we eat garbage from left over food and many of us due to lack of dental, medical care: don't have teeth. Profits would go down for McDonalds.


Posted by clarkg, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 3, 2013 at 1:25 am

Really pure evil. Pure beurocratic tyranny over the poor by the rich. Criminalization of the less fortunate. How about this problem -city-sanctioned police harrassment of people who aren't bothering anyone? Or blatantly using textbook "beard" fallacy (1 hair means there's a beard) to cause real people real problems? Old school good-ol-boy backroom political slime play where they use 1 hair (in this case "clubberly community center") as an excuse to advance their agenda city-wide, by hugely over-inflating the problem. All just so they can legally harrass, fine and potentially imprison people throughout Palo Alto who already have enough problems. I really hope that these city council folks don't have any political aspirations outside that board room, since this will stick to them for the rest of their fragile, voter-based careers. Also, who do they think these people are? I'll tell you - many are your dishwashers, bathroom cleaners, bar backs, housecleaners, gardeners and other folks who work in Palo Alto but couldn't possibly afford the crazy local rents on their salaries. Get rid of them & restaurant (etc) prices really go up, since now they can hire only people who can afford to live in the area. Dumb, mean, grossly incompetent contrived political farce. Dare you to publish this uncensored. Also, other than for swearing, your "Staff" has no business "Deeming" any comment "innaproppriate" since you have already stated your opinion on this issue very clearly, having taken the side of the homeowners in a previous article.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 3, 2013 at 11:44 am

>Criminalization of the less fortunate...

That is exactly what is needed. Otherwise, they cannot be forced to get into better circumstances.

The real evil is to leave them in their own painful conditions, while diminishing the quality of life for the neighbors. Rudy Giuliani, in New York, took on this issue, and he succeeded in cleaning up the streets in NYC, and forcing the homeless to move off the grates and into housing (against their will).


Posted by clarkg, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 3, 2013 at 11:57 am

Please freely republish this and my previous comment w/ my permission and also would really appreciate if someone could see that (one or both) are read by someone in the council deciding this issue(please).

Here is a practical solution:

If someone causes a specific, legitimate problem, give that person a warning. 3 problems equals 6 month suspension of ability to car-dwell in PA. Permanent suspension if that person has any violent, sexual or drug-dealing felonies on their record in last 10 years, or even a misdemeanor if it was a sexual charge of any kind, espeially against a minor.

Beyond that, if Palo Alto's "Elite" choose to harrass innocent people without any serious criminal record, that in itself should be considered a misdemeanor, with second offense a felony. This needs to apply to 1. The police officer or parking attendant involved and 2. Any person up the political chain who authorized the harrassment of a law-abiding citizen who hasn't caused any specific problems.

Collective punishment is (almost always) an unacceptable solution, when all you're really talking about is a case of a few bad apples causing most of the problems.

Here's another thing - by definition, if someone lives in their car; They Are Not Homeless(!). They don't technically become homeless until you force them out of their car and into the elements. Also, there are people with, for instance, $20k Westfalia campers (in nice shape inside and out) throughout Palo Alto (look around, folks), who live this life happily and by choice, and don't need some snobby, power drunk politicians insisting that they have some "plight" that needs to be solved at all(!). Some people, believe it or not, don't want to spend millions of dollars just to be stuck in one place that can have it's equity (and years of hard work) stolen by the stroke of a pen on Wall Street, which is what put half of these people in this position in the first place. There but for the grace of g-d go all of us.

The real problem with the homeless in PA is these dirty, grimy people on University Ave and elsewhere who collect money (lots of it) from unsuspecting tourists, and purpously keep themselves looking as rough as possible to gain sympathy, when a lot of them are making more (tax free) money doing that than they would working a real job.

I would also say that "car-dwellers" don't need to be parking directly in front of residential homes, there are plenty of other places to park in PA, so that's a legitimate gripe, but with the simple, easy fix of saying "can't park in front of entrance to a residential home."

That's it. Again, please freely redistribute and try to get this in front of the council so that they don't have the excuse of "no other viable options."

These people might not have homes in Palo Alto, but they do have registration stickers on their cars, and those stickers represent the fee they have paid to have a legitimate right to park or drive on any street in California, period.

Thanks.


Posted by clarkg, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Regarding comment by Craig Laughton:

Please Craig - Guliani had 2 problems - the homeless and a lot of unused property and apartments rotting away. He put those two things together & that's how he "forced" these people into homes. This situation does not exist in Palo Alto, so you're just forcing law-abiding people to be institutionalized, and come out of jail as actual criminals, with records, who then will never be able to find housing or a job, and will further fill up the welfare rolls as they seek free counseling and psychiatric help to fix these now "basket cases" that surviving prison violence inevitably causes them to become. Learn some empathy - what if you lost your job & didn't have money? Would you agree with you, personally, spending time behind bars & getting a criminal record?


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm

>so you're just forcing law-abiding people to be institutionalized

They won't be law-abiding, once the ban is in force. At that point, their supporters can step forward, and invite them into their own homes, or donate to various causes which attempt to help them.

This isn't rocket science.


Posted by Phoenix, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Late to the game here... But couldn't keep quiet.

>>>Not counting the folks w/mental illness, because that is a whole different reality, if car campers who are the working poor, sans mental illness, wanted to be housed, how hard would it be, really? I don't know nowadays what it takes. Anyone informed care to comment?

Let's say you have two part time jobs, each paying 9.25 an hour. You work 40 hours a week and earn $1512 a month. Even in EPA, you'd be hard pressed to find a decent apartment for this price.

Let's be realistic here.

There is immense competition for jobs and housing. Well-to-do people are constantly moving to this area from all over the county - heck, all over the world. This causes rent prices to skyrocket, pushing out the locals who have lived here their whole lives.

Also, another reality check. A month on the streets will make anyone mentally ill. It is a traumatic experience, and trauma DOES change your brain chemistry.

Many homeless were once in foster care - another broken system - who have nobody to turn to.

Palo Alto needs to stop living in a bubble. This town has the means to provide for the less fortunate. It is downright irresponsible and childish to think criminalizing poverty (let's call it what it is) is a solution.


Posted by Not clear, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2013 at 10:58 am

Pheonix,

You are right minimum wage jobs wont allow one person to live alone in this town. Minimum wage jobs were never meant to. The solution is to improve one's job skills and make more money, in the meantime, live in an area one can afford and get roommates. This is what the majority of us did.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Phoenix - thanks for the info. As a long-term resident of EPA, I'm one of the few people I knew who lived alone here for a number of years - my choice. Most of the folks I know here either have roommates or family members living w/them, regardless of age. If one takes home 1k/month & has roommates/family members, one can have a decent quality of life if they all pull together. I've seen a lot of that - it's not easy, but it's a common way of life.


Posted by Edgarpoet, a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Palo Alto parent:
I would like YOU to work at McDonald's and earn 350 a week,
then show how YOU can live in Palo Alto ( or surrounding area)
for that amount. I would love to see your creative bookeeping!!!


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Given that some homeless are mentally ill or have addiction problems that preclude them from working in decent jobs, etc. - the reality that California minimum wage doesn't provide enough income to live in Palo Alto does provide a significant hurdle.

Perhaps this maybe considered a bit callous (not my intent), I have to ask the question why those who are able to work, want to work, etc. ... why not move to another area where the costs of living are less expensive than PA? There are plenty of other SF Bay Area communities that are less expensive than PA.

Why insist on living out of car/RV in PA when you can possibly find affordable housing otherwise? Take a look at craigslist - there are studio apartments in Santa Rosa for as low as $675.


Posted by Palo Altan, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Edgarpoet, you are challenging the wrong person. At one point in my life, after college, I held three jobs at once: day job, waiting on tables and retail in the evenings. I worked from 8AM to 11:00PM everyday for 3 years. This is the beauty of America; anyone who is willing to work hard needn't be homeless. And my first job at age 15? McDonald's for $3.15/hour, and the bus was my transportation. So I have no empathy for homeless (unless they are substance abusers or schizophrenics). Those who lose their jobs can find jobs - it's just a matter of pride. I would be not living in Palo Alto if I could not afford it. People can wish all they want but they have to do what is practical. I would even live in a dangerous city if I could not afford elsewhere - anything so I could save money and improve my life.

Hmmm, good posting about the EPA life.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Palo Altan - thanks for the support. When I graduated from school, I too had multiple jobs, rented a room from a family and took the bus to work because it was cheaper than driving and paying for parking. I lived in a safe, but not very desirable town.

Edgarpoet - not everyone can afford an apartment by themselves. If you look on Craigslist, there are many rooms for rent in the area. As Hmmm said, that is a common way of life.
There are people who supplement their income by renting rooms and occasionally older people who would like some companionship and perhaps some errands in exchange for reasonable rent.


Posted by Palo Altan, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 10, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Ah, I have found the answers to why the homeless don't want to work: Attitude problems.

From the posting of "homeless": ". . . the hands of homeless are not fit to handle food."

"To suggest for homeless to work in Mc Donald's for $8.75 per hour is redicillious solution. $350 per week in Palo Alto would cover 2 nights in a motel room, if not that after taxes."

My suggestion to the homeless is to live elsewhere, not in an area of million dollar homes where prices are highest. Check the East Bay (Newark. Oakland, etc). And look for janitorial employment or work in the fields picking fruit in Watsonville. Anyone who thinks zero income is better than $8.75/hour has an abnormal attitude problem and will find any excuse to stay unemployed.


Posted by Smith, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Remember the guy who ran for office in New York the rent is too damn high. now the opportunity Center is open Monday through Friday close on weekends close on holidays so the homeless are not homeless on holidays or weekends. has anyone ever studied the budget of the opportunity center and studied in law did it look into the fraud. right now the weather is fantastic but in the winter gets so damn cold about 6 p.m. you freeze your b*** off if you were homeless and you were lucky enough to maintain insurance and drivers license in a vehicle is running you want to crawl in there get warm too. so go ahead think like that criminalize homelessness and I will become like San Francisco will be peeing in your door ways. living under your bridges. Its a city council is so stupid that they can't organize a place with facilities like bathrooms yes bathrooms in her bathroom shower and maybe a wake up early where you can go in the back and park your RV somewhere decent a person of a decent safe existence then the hell with you all I will just become vagrants on the street. honestly as human being I've been have my ups and downs you push them down so low they just going to commit suicide I called the Caltrain to death train


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 15, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Palo Alto Parent - the saying "where there's a will, there's a way" comes to mind here. But once someone has lost housing & is homeless or living in their vehicle, it's very hard to get out of that.

I know a recovering addict who was in that situation. Somehow, she got into a shelter & transitional housing. I helped her & her 2 kids a lot. A mutual friend employed her & helped her find housing since she didn't have a car. Same mutual friend was also a landlord & eventually rented a place to her. She's the rare case, though. And while she's still housed & a nice person, she continues to be her own worst enemy in a number of ways. Same w/the formerly homeless guy I knew who had a decent job for a long time, ok apartment & a pet. He got fired - due to his own laziness & attitude problem & instead of getting a roommate or leaving w/out being evicted & becoming a roommate (several people offered their places), he decided to go back to the streets. I never did find out what happened to his pet, but I think it was ok - I think it was rehomed.

Like many of you, I've worked multiple jobs right out of college. My parents have, too, even though they're highly educated - & this was *years* after getting their degrees. I recall working 50 hrs/week, commuting, plus working 8 hours on Saturdays for a friend in my 30s. Whether you want some extra "pin money" or have a serious second job that eats up a lot of time so that you can pay off debt, buy a car or save up for education, vacation, opening your own business, etc., it takes dedication. What's lousy is when it takes so much just to make ends meet, & you feel that you're not sacrificing for a dream or self-improvement. But that's where roommates come in if you don't have extended family that you can co-house with.

There are even parts of the Peninsula that are affordable w/roommates if you're low income & find a good landlord. It's harder now because rents are insane, but it can be done.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Veggie Grill coming soon to Mountain View's San Antonio Center
By Elena Kadvany | 24 comments | 3,543 views

Is HBO's Silicon Valley Any Good?
By Anita Felicelli | 23 comments | 2,340 views

Finding mentors in would-be bosses
By Jessica T | 0 comments | 2,009 views

A memorable Paly prom
By Sally Torbey | 7 comments | 1,175 views

Passover Joke
By Paul Losch | 6 comments | 398 views