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City looks to displace, aid Cubberley's homeless

Original post made on Aug 14, 2013

With Palo Alto's ban on vehicle dwelling set to kick in early next month, city officials are scrambling to construct a safety net for the dozens of car campers who will soon be displaced from Cubberley Community Center.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 13, 2013, 10:55 PM

Comments (35)

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 1:10 am

Thank you for this common sense approach that should have been taken years ago.


Posted by pa_eye, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 14, 2013 at 8:38 am

I attended the meeting last night and would like to thank Capt. Watson of the Palo Alto Police for providing background on the situation at Cubberley. Capt. Watson stated the additional police presence at Cubberley required overtime by the police (at a cost of $14,000/month). It has resulted in a number of arrests.

The most recent 10 Report Logs from the Palo Alto Police Department are posted on their web site. Here are entries for Cubberley and immediate vicinity, which also includes the events mentioned by Capt. Watson.

August 12 From Palo Alto Police log, Middlefield and San Antonio, the nearest major intersection.
Individual arrested. The description is Narcotics and Drug Possession. Individuals residence listed in Palo Alto.

August 11 From the Palo Alto Police log, 4000 Middlefield, Cubberley Community Center
Individual arrested. The description is Narcotics and Drug Possession, including 4 felony counts and an outside warrant.

August 10 From Palo Alto Police Log, 4000 Middlefield, Cubberly Community Center
Report of suspicious activity

August 6 From the Palo Alto Police Report Log, 3922 Middlefield, the shopping center adjoining Cubberley, Listed as Narcotics and Drug Possession, one felony and one misdemeanor. Individuals residence listed as Concord.

(The oldest Police Report) July 30 From Palo Alto Police Report Log, 4000 Middlefield, Listed as resisting arrest and public drunkenness. Two misdemeanors.

Not included, but mentioned in the staff report and a speaker at last weeks Council meeting, was an arrest for assault with a deadly weapon. Newspaper accounts indicated the indent resulted in one homeless person being arrested and the other taken to the hospital.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2013 at 9:07 am

> With Palo Alto's ban on vehicle dwelling set to kick in early
> next month, city officials are scrambling to construct a safety
> net for the dozens of car campers who will soon be displaced
> from Cubberley Community Center.

Why is the City of Palo Alto doing anything for these people. They managed to find their way here without the City's involvement. They will move on, and that will be that.

This is another waste of political capital, and taxpayer's coin.


Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 9:56 am

Dear Joe,

There, but by the grace of God, go you.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2013 at 10:23 am

> There, but by the grace of God, go you.

Maybe .. but I was brought up by parents who were both children during the Great Depression. My Dad made a note of telling me many times--there was always work around, if you were willing to do it.

The idea of self-reliance has been bred out of the American people, I think. The idea that people need a government handout, rather than doing for themselves, seems to now be one of the core rights that far too many people have come to expect.

There is a lot of work in the Central Valley, particularly for unskilled workers. We look the other way while millions of people sneak across the border to work in our fields, yet we can't seem to expect that native born work in our fields, or anywhere else, for that matter.

I promise you that if I get to that stage in my life--I will be my father's son, and move to somewhere that I can take care of myself.

One of God's grace's is to think for yourself, and exercise free will. I feel luck to have been blessed with that singular grace.


Posted by Eye Witness, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 14, 2013 at 10:24 am

Police overtime at 170,000 a year is a strain on police services and the people in uniform tasked to deal with the situation at Cubberly? I am sure the police would want to spend such time and money in a better way and this measure is a step in the right direction.


Posted by Green Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 10:45 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2013 at 10:49 am

Joe - you & I know that this has little to do w/the grace of God or any other deity. It has to do w/mental health & supportive family & friends, as well as addiction. It also has to do w/attitude, education & skillset.

Many of the people I grew up w/in this area moved to more affordable places. The one former car dweller I know who also grew up in this area has still had a lot of financial troubles even though she sobered up & received a LOT of help from a resourceful boss and me. But after a few years, she was sued, her business floundered & foundered & she had to leave her profession because of it. Much of this is due to her shaky judgement combined w/this being a difficult area to survive as a small business owner & single mother. But she does have a lot of friends, so that's helpful. I don't want to see her living in her car again, but I can't make her decisions for her. Some people have constant "bad luck" that is a result of things beyond their control combined w/ongoing poor judgement. I've seen that frequently amongst those on the fringes of society.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

It is not a matter of lack of compassion. It is not healthy to live in your car/van. Learn to accept/seek help from agencies that do provide services/resources/alternatives for your situations. Everyone is struggling. Take responsibility instead of making excuses and blaming others for your struggles. Everyone is struggling. Cubberley is a school that was closed once before. Don't camp out and drink and demand that we put up with your addictions/poor choices/"bad luck" etc.


Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 11:35 am

Joe, you and I are both children of the youth of the great depression. My grandfather's wealth was wiped out and my father, to the day he died, would eat apples core and all because they had been such a rare treat during the depression he learned to eat everything but the stem. I know of self-reliance, been there, done that, and I am still standing.

But not everyone is fortunate enough to have that background, your children are not, and the lessons of your father are probably ancient history to them. The lessons you learned are part of the "grace of God" that make you what you are. What if you had not learned those lessons? What if, in your carefree and experimental youth you had been offered Meth? What if you had PTSD, or other mental health issues? What if you had been raised with a sense of entitlement by your parents that left you with an aversion to work? You might need a place to exist while you sorted out reality from fantasy, or while you worked to find a job that would lift you out of poverty, or recover from some low-blows that life has dealt you, or whatever. We cannot legislate these people out of existence. True, some of them should probably be locked up, either in jails or in institutions, but others just need a chance. To lump them all together as equally hopeless and criminal and condemned is wrong and grossly unfair, and just plain un-Christian. (Yeah, I know there are other religions out there, but the only ones I respect are the ones with some concept of compassion and charity and forgiveness.)


Posted by Jolene, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 14, 2013 at 11:42 am

I'm glad to hear that there will be a ban on vehicle dwelling at Cubberley. There are way too many children's classes and sports held at Cubberley and it is simply not a safe place for children to be walking around alone getting to classes and using the restrooms.


Posted by Cubberley neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Very relieved that city action is underway.

During the day time hours of operations, who will be enforcing the many violations at Cubberley to support the children, families, students, seniors who attend classes and/or work at Cubberley and Greendell?

Who will address the current day time campers, loiterers, the weird folks watching private dance classes, people cooking & bathing in the bathrooms, those with substance abuse/mental illness/legal issues, all the unattended belongings stashed everywhere?

These behaviors and activities are in violation of health and public safety for all concerned.


Posted by bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm

And not a mention of a larger number simply camping out who don't have cars. Close all facilities at some time in the evening and do not open them until after 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning.

Joe has it right. Because a person can't deal with life, doesn't mean the government has to support them. But I am impressed with the people who take this task on without pay.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm

"Who will address the current day time campers, loiterers, the weird folks watching private dance classes, people cooking & bathing in the bathrooms, those with substance abuse/mental illness/legal issues, all the unattended belongings stashed everywhere?"

My kids used to play Little League baseball on Middlefield. There were so many homeless [portion removed] there, it was scary. Today, the Little League Park is all cleaned up. Maybe you should ask them how they got it done. I have heard that they have a couple of guys over there who take care of business, and don't back down.


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Susan - the Little League park is private property so they can ask people to leave and they must leave. Right now, we don't have the ability to do that in our public parks and community centers.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2013 at 5:23 pm

"Susan - the Little League park is private property so they can ask people to leave and they must leave. Right now, we don't have the ability to do that in our public parks and community centers."

Why not? The Little League was overrun by them, until they took a stance. Palo Alto does not have to put up with them. It just takes the nerve to deal with the problem.


Posted by Bedelia, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 14, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Susan - I meant that Palo Alto currently legally does not have all the tools they need to restrict vagrancy. Restricting the use of all the community centers after a certain time and banning car camping give the City some valid legal tools.


Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2013 at 6:16 pm

"Susan - I meant that Palo Alto currently legally does not have all the tools they need to restrict vagrancy. Restricting the use of all the community centers after a certain time and banning car camping give the City some valid legal tools."

palo alto parent, OK I understand your point. Palo Alto needs to get back to where is was decades ago, when sleeping in cars and in parks was illegal. It seems that we are now, finally, headed back to that common sense period.

I just wanted to give a warm regard to PA Little League for leading the way. It is hilarious that LL needed to lead the way in PA, but it is true!


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2013 at 9:05 pm

@palo alto parent - there is the New York/Bryant park model. It used to be a drug dealing ghetto and legitimately dangerous place. Now it is privately run, cleaned up, and a huge asset to that part of Manhattan. Lease Cubberly to a private entity to run it.


Posted by Alan, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 14, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Many of the vehicles are not parking in a legal spot, and most disturbingly right next to the likely path a kid would take on their bike to get past the soccer fields/track!

Why at least with school about to start (and a path to school my daughter could take, but won't) can't the police get those van's, campers to move?


Posted by Preschool Programs, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm

One problem is a pedophile whose been hanging out near the young children's pre-school programs. Last week a cop car was parked for hours near Greendell. That alone must cost the Police Department a bundle.

If I had pre-school children I would not put them in any of the programs at Greendell or Cubberley.


Posted by Alan, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 14, 2013 at 11:28 pm

@Preschool Programs

>> pedophile whose been hanging out near the young children's pre-school programs. Last week a cop car was parked for hours near Greendell.

I recall seeing that car on one of my walks. This really goes to the heart of why so many Greenmeadow residents wants this out of control situation dismantled. Cubberly is a place a lot of Greenmeadow kids use ti go, but it just doesn't feel as safe as it once did. Among the 50 or so homeless people that are hanging out there, it takes just one - pedophile or mentally ill person - to create a tragedy. With school now starting that situation needs to be dismantled soon rather than later


Posted by Cubberley neighbor, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Cubberley Center and Greendell school provide services and playing fields to THOUSANDS of peninsula citizens (children, students, families, senior).

To protect all who use Cubberely, the day and night campers/transients (with or without cars) need to be escorted off the premises permanently. The site needs regular surveillance as it serves so many children which attracts so many risky people who are quite skillful in their lifestyles - deviant, dangerous, unhoused, who knows what.

All codes/ordinances need to be enforced, and new ones passed if necessary.
The behaviors and the individuals Palo Altan's have put up with for years at all parks and community centers have hit the tipping point. We need to put safety first and demand it.


Posted by "Neighbors Helping Neighbors", a resident of Midtown
on Aug 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Dear Neighbors,
Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) and Stop the Ban Coalition members are developing a comprehensive plan for "immediate needs" of our unhoused throughout Palo Alto. This is enclusive of NHN's "passion projects" for jobs and emergency housing networks that we have found very successful with those we have been serving. If you know of anyone unhoused or housed 'neighbors in need' please have them contact us.

                                          What We Do:
We are a group of volunteers striving to provide groceries to Palo Alto families, seniors and singles who are unable to qualify for 'safety net' programs like Cal Fresh (formally food stamps) or food closet assistance. However, extra food items collected are given to local food closets. Also, our City of Palo Alto Family Resources trained volunteer(s) provides peer counseling and referrals for other life's challenges (housing, healthcare, professional counseling, legal issues, etc.) for those who may need extra help.

Palo Alto Weekly article, "Catching neighbors who fall through the gap." Dated Friday Jan. 25, 2013
Web Link

JOIN OUR eList, send message to,                           NeighborsHelpingNeighboors2013@gmail.com

Receive our monthly "wish lists", NHN updates and invitations to special events. Next event, NHN & Silicon Valley Tour de Coop, free T-Shirt for volunteers.

Like us on Facebook, www.facebook.com.  

                NeighborsHelpingNeighborsPaloAlto


Posted by curious about the downtown food closet, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I spend a lot of time downtown, does anyone know why so many of the patrons of the food closet downtown are older asians? Is there an issue we should be aware of and perhaps helping with?


Posted by Chairman Mao, a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2013 at 12:37 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Neighbors Hating Neighbors, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Amnesia Glasscock, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 18, 2013 at 5:21 am

Penny Ellson's plan to drive the homeless out of Cubberley by turning off the power and water is good but it is too passive. These are homeless people. They aren't like you and me. They won't leave due to not having electricity and they don't care about having conveniences like restrooms. We need to have some police raids where we roust these people and send the message to "move along." Then we should set up a blockade around our facilities to make it clear that they are for the lawful citizens of Palo Alto only. We need to take care of our own. Thanks to Penny Ellson for leading on this issue.


Posted by J.S., a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 18, 2013 at 7:22 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Ellson fan, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2013 at 7:23 am

Thanks Penny for standing up to the homeless on behalf of the rest of us. Ignore the yelping of the liberal class. They are always bleating about compassion, but what about the right of Cubberley neighbors not to have to look at those junky RVs?


Posted by G. Zimmerman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Its important to remove this element from our public streets and facilities but how can we expect PAPD to handle it? its a big job. we need a concerned citizens' committee to support the police. it seems like what we need is some kind of relationship with PAPD so that citizens can volunteer and have some of the powers of the police like being deputized. The volunteers could even have special t shirts and badges made. If we see suspicious people who seem to be living in their cars or who just seem out of place in PA we ca follow them.


Posted by Norm Carroll, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I think it's great that our council wants to re invent the wheel..."HOT" program was a happener in 2006. And the idea of housing 10 on $100K......who are you trying to kid, I live in one of the most inexpensive units in the city and the market rate for it is $1020.... Smoke and mirrors again.................................


Posted by Chairman Mao, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm

[Post removed.]


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